Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mother's Day Giveaway

It had been years since last I saw my mother-in-law.  But there I was, standing in her little apartment at the retirement home. I didn't think this would have ever come to be. 

You see, after both my husband and I had been estranged from her for almost 15 years, we were drawn back into her life.  She needed help. And even though she lives in a town surrounded by extended family, the load of her problems rested on the shoulders of her two sonsTwo sons that had heard a lot of negativity about the women they chose to love and marry. You can turn the other cheek only so long (as in years) before you look in the mirror and realize that you can't take it any more.  So, you silently close the door and slip away.  That's what we did.  Until now.

Lace, vintage millinery flowers
Mary is a woman who couldn't handle the passing of her husband. After 12 years she, her home and her finances had come to disrepair.  She didn't know how to be on her own.  Add to that the trickle effects of dementia and you can only imagine her state. My husband had found a retirement home for her as she needed someone to tend to the details of her life... and she welcomed being moved into these accommodations! 

Pearl centers on vintage velvet flowers
Then, one night while getting up to go to the bathroom, she fell.  The nurses called my husband saying she had a heart attack and broke her hip as the result of falling.  Immediately, he called me relating the situation and letting me know that he was leaving work to drive the four hours to get to her.  I was in Charleston at the time and booked the next flight out to go home, pack a new suitcase, and drive the four hours to be by my husband's side, supporting him.  Thankfully, she didn't have a heart attack.  She had tripped and fractured her hip requiring surgery.  Now.... after almost 15 years... I was back in her life and standing in her little apartment before the ambulance arrived, bringing her back to her new home. 

Silk fabric flower with vintage millinery flower
I entered her little place with my husband beside me.  He was so pleased with her living situation!  I looked around seeing familiar pieces of furniture that had been moved in to make this her home.  Photos of her grandchildren graced the side tables.... covered the top of her organ she so loves to play.  I was pleased to see that my son's pictures took equal billing as I wasn't sure they would. 

Layers of old lace covered with trim from a vintage hat
 As I moved over to where her bed was, I noticed a sweet, little wicker basket on her night stand, filled with individual photos, some curling up on the corners with age. One piled on top of another.  Gently, I looked through them getting reacquainted with family members I hadn't seen in years.. and ones I had yet to meet.  Mixed in were a few photos of my boys.  They took my breath away as I hadn't seen these before.  There was my first born son as a toddler with his sweet little face.  There was a photo of the two boys riding on their grandpa's sit-down mower... they loved that so!  And there was my youngest looking like a Gerber baby in his birth announcement picture.  Photos mean the world to us, don't they?  It's the only way we can fulfill our wish of being able to go back in time and have those moments all over again.

I did get to see my mother-in-law before we both drove back home to Chicago.  And I must say, it was so good seeing her.  It was time to mend fences and whether it will stand firm or not is not important.  What is important is that I did the right thing. It took so little from me. And it made me feel so good knowing that she has photos of our children to remind her of the family she has in us!

So... the photos that have filled this post?  They are of a picture frame I decorated and will be giving away to a lucky winner right before Mother's Day. Three opportunities to enter.... three chances to win!

1. Leave a comment at the end of this post.
2. Become a follower (love making new friends!) and if you   
   already are, do remind me, please!
3. Post the link of this blogpost on your facebook wall so others
   will see it and have a chance to win... and do let me know so 
   I can add one more tic next to your name!
Good luck, everybody, and I will post the winner May 3rd!!!!  

Linking up to:  Blissful Whites Wednesday
                What We Accomplished Wednesday
                Centerpiece Wednesday 
                Be Inspired Tuesday
                Amaze Me Mondays 
                Tutorials Tips and Tidbits
                Share Your Cup Thursday 
                Make It Pretty Monday

Monday, April 22, 2013

Not Your Normal Tour Guide.. Part Three

Having survived the horse incident, I kept on walking down the street.  The house I was to check on turned out to be a disappointment... total rehab!  I like a challenge but not one long distance as we are still living in Chicago.  Undeterred, I continued on my journey enjoying  my leisurely pace, taking in all the sights.

Such as the lush window boxes gracing every home.  I didn't realize it, but Charlestonians are very proud of their window boxes with some residents hiring "chi-chi" designers to do their magic, creating window boxes overflowing with flowers in every color and texture. This year, the Horticultural Society has instituted their inaugural Window Box Contest.  The pressure is on, people!!

Walking past Battery Park, one is never surprised to see a young woman having pre-wedding photos taken under the overhanging branches of centuries old Live Oak trees.

 Those long, ambling branches create a lovely frame for the bride. 

Charleston is second to Las Vegas for wedding destinations.  However, this city is no "second banana", as the many different historic venues offer the bride and groom a wedding experience of a lifetime.

Still walking, I am now immersed deep within historic Charleston on a side street filled with simpler houses of many different colors and hues.  And this particular street had something so cool I can't wait to share this with you!
Do you see it?   That house on a post?  Definitely not a bird house... certainly not a mailbox.  Curiosity drew me in as I crossed the street to take a closer look.
I had never seen anything like this before!  A crafted wooden house,  complete with a glass door, unlocked, and filled with books! The handpainted sign hanging underneath said.... 
                           Little Free Library
                               Take a book....
                                   Leave a book...
                                       or both

Me, being a lover of books, felt like I had died and gone to heaven!

Someone had labored over this darling little house, filled it with books, and offered them to anyone wanting to come by and take one!  My mind whirled with thoughts of how could I replicate that!  And wouldn't that be fabulous to fill it with children's books?  Couldn't you see little ones reaching up, opening the door, perusing what is in there..perhaps plopping down on the grass turning page after page, too anxious to wait until he or she could get home to read?  I was in love with this whole idea!

It wasn't until a few seconds later, did I spy this plaque on the roof.  I made note and briskly walked back to my hotel, anxious to get online to find out more.  And did I ever!  Little Free Library was started in 2009 with the intent of reaching a goal to have 2,501 libraries built and in place.  At this moment, they have far surpassed their expectations with an estimate of 5,000 to 6,000 of them all over the world!!  I know you have questions running through your head so I am going to direct you to here... their "frequently asked questions" page.  

That night I rapidly finished reading a book I had brought along on my trip.  My plan was in place!  When morning came, I quickly dressed and headed back to the location of this Little Free Library. I so wanted to contribute.. to be part of this.  As I reached for the knob of the glass door, the "doubting Thomas" in me thought that I would see the same books, still in their same place.  NO!  I was amazed to see new books had been added to take the place of old.  And these were not outdated books, either.  Some were recent bestsellers.  Obviously, the community had embraced this project!  I proudly slipped my book into place, gently closed the door, and proceeded down the street, ready for breakfast.  What a fabulous experience!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not Your Normal Tour Guide... Part Two

The houses in Charleston go from jaw-dropping amazing to utterly charming, causing you to softly utter gasps each and every time your eyes spy one and catches you off-guard.

The slow cadence of the horse's hooves can be heard clip-clopping down the streets, lulling you into the slower pace of life down here.

Driver's, fully rehearsed in their historical knowledge, keep the passengers abreast of what house belonged to whom and what architectural features are significant to the area.  It's a peaceful way to spend anywhere from a half hour to an hour!
Ok... time to break for my own experience to share.

There I was, minding my own business, walking down Meeting Street, south of Broad.  I was on a mission!  My husband, safely tucked away in his office in Chicago, wanted me to check on a home he had seen online.  Will do, chief!!  Lovely little street and one that apparently is used on the carriage tours.  Walking along, I see, up ahead, a stationary carriage filled with passengers and a tour guide delivering his schpeel.  He takes one look at me and explains he has a dilemma.  

"I can't safely get the horses to move unless you would help me by moving the bridle over."
Huh?  We then proceeded to have an exchange where I suggest he get down and fix it himself. I'm deathly afraid of horses!  He said he couldn't do that. Apparently, it is code written down in the carriage driver's handbook that he is not allowed to leave a carriage filled with passengers!!  It was just a simple thing he was asking of me... at least in his mind.

"No, sir, I don't know what part of the bridle you're talking about nor do I want to get that close to the horses." (After all, they could charge me.. bite me.. or rear up on their hind legs and pummel me to death!  See?? Deathly afraid of horses!)  

"PLEASE!" Now there is a distinct agitation in his voice, directed at me!  What the heck!  I didn't deserve this! After all, I was merely minding my own business, trying to find a home to purchase (I didn't ask him to help me with THAT!) Realizing I was not going to be let off the hook and realizing that this was turning into a scene with a captive audience, I slowly stepped in front of the horses, figured out what part of the bridle he was talking about, put it in its proper position and immediately stepped back on the sidewalk!  PHEW!  I dramatically swipe my brow and was greeted by a resounding round of applause!  With that, we all proceeded on our merry way and I realized that some days it takes so little to be a heroine!

Yes... there is still Part Three to come!  

And I have to tell you that I was featured at these linky parties...

... for my blog post about the swap bags I created.  See it here!
Thanks, Deborah, I'm very honored!  Visit Green Willow Pond
And the Style Sisters have another fabulous blog you don't want to miss.  Always fun ideas posted!  Visit Centerpiece Wednesdays
And, I am over the moon with all of this, Stone Gable featured me on Tutorials Tips and Tidbits
Love having a place to party and a way to find new blogs to read!
Please take some time to visit these three fabulous and generous bloggers.
Thanks so much, ladies!  I'm grinning ear to ear!!

Linking up to: Pretty Things
               Outdoor Wednesday
               Tutorials Tips and Tidbits 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not Your Normal Tour Guide... Part One

We are desperately working on making Charleston our home!

I've made many trips down there searching for a place to call our own, each time getting more and more acclimated to sticker shock (cough, cough... struggle to breath!).  A home to just chill out ~ a place where we can put the key in the front door, walk right in, and pick up where we left off ~ can come with a pretty hefty price tag!  Frugal me has been battling this every step of the way but I feel in my bones there is a compromise on the horizon, headed in our direction.  And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I am there, in the right place at the right time, ready to receive it! 

In the meantime, this city where my husband and I honeymooned over 38 years ago, a place where the celebration of our married life began,  has become my own with each and every venture down there.  It helps that my eldest son has lived there for 2 years, as he tells me about the places where the true Charlestonians hang out.  Which feeds right into the way I like to discover a locale.  Give me the funny, little out of the way places, ones that sparkle with  independent, entrepreneurial spirit and my eyes light up like the fourth of July! So, come along with me as I show you a few of those places!   How about some lunch!

We are on Upper King Street straddling two overpasses.  Now, don't get concerned.  I know it looks like we are in the warehouse district. But see that sign on the wall? The fourth one down?  That's where we are having lunch.  Turn right...

...that's it ~ Butcher & Bee!  

An unassuming entrance situated in unassuming surroundings!  Belies what's inside as the food is outstanding with one of the premier Charleston chefs in charge.  Come on in!

Each day the menu changes depending on the availability of what's fresh at the market that day.  Love the long chalkboard for the menu board... love the vintage cash register... and the glass canisters for water at a "serve yourself" station.  Having placed our orders, I have time to scan the decor, delighted in their creativity! Community tables .....

Or perhaps a table for four...

Love all the one-of-a-kind seating...

Ok... now look up at the ceiling.....

Crazy, awesome art installation, right??  It stretches the entire width of the building.  I was mesmerized.. that is until our food arrived!

A tomato thyme soup with a three cheese grilled sandwich ...
and a cheeseburger, grilled to perfection, with freshly cut sweet potato fries.  Simple dishes with hints of sophistication made aware to your palette once you take the first bite!

And did you notice they were plated on small baking sheets?  Tickled me so!  I've been back to Butcher & Bee many times and each time I have not even come close to being disappointed.  Fun, funky and fabulous is the only way to go!

Next up? Let's go looking at the homes in Charleston!

Linking up to: Oh! The Places I've Been!


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Stress!!!!!!!

~ Sitting in front of the television, mindlessly watching your favorite show.
~ Getting down on the floor next to your dog and rhythmically 
stroking her paw.    
~ Walking up to your husband, wrapping your arms 
around him and giving him a big ol' hug that lingers.

Stress relievers!

Or even stepping into your studio to work on a project. That's a huge stress reliever!  I have just spent the better part of the morning finishing a swap that I had signed up for.  It wasn't a difficult task.  We had to put together 12-15 bits of ephemera for the recipient to use in their journals.  A perfect swap for me to sign up for what with all the collecting, flea marketing, and antique shopping I've done.. I had plenty to share!  Bundling up the various bits and pieces, I knew I wanted the packaging to be as equally important.

So, I'm back at it making fabric flowers!  This time I chose a bright print and added a pearl center.

Brown paper bags that were printed with a contrasting chevron stripe or a solid one.  Embellished with new lace dyed in coffee and enhanced with a bit of vintage netting.  Contrasting thread sewn with either a straight stitch or zigzag, leaving long strands hanging down.  I love that added touch of movement!

Fabric flowers glued in the centers of each bag....

and the project was completed!  If so desired, it is able to be disassembled so that perhaps a bit of lace could become a design element.  The bag could be cut apart, glued onto a journal page and words written within the lines.  Imagine doing that with the chevron pattern! And the flower? Adhered to the cover where you could make it the focal point of an illustration, adding a pencil line drawing for the stem and leaves. Perhaps a bee buzzing nearby with ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz's swirling and cascading around.  A simple swap that triggers an avalanche of ideas!  And my reward for working on these?  I have to say the tension is gone from my shoulders, my mind is relaxed and I feel tons better!

Linking up with ........ What We Accomplished Wednesday
                          Tutorials Tips and Tidbits 
                          The Style Sisters  
                          Show and Tell Friday