Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Beyond the garden gate.

With the coming of spring also comes the desire to wash windows & woodwork, vacuum furniture cushions and such.  Along with that I also like to change from the warmer earthy tones to airy pastel shades and add more white.  I've had a framed print that I've always liked for it's stately old white home surrounded by prolific rhododendron, azaleas, dogwoods, magnolia, hyacinth, peony and all other heavenly wonderful flowers that only arrive in spring.  No matter where I put it, it always got lost on the wall in a pitiful plain wall flower type homely manner.
I pondered over it again this year like I do every year wondering if I might have the perfect spot for it to bring it to life. " It's such a pretty image", I thought to myself.  "Why can't I make it work"?  It reminds me of a gracious southern well loved federal colonial with it's paladian window and the dappled sun light shining through the trees is lovely.  The flowers are so springy and happy.  It came to me that one of my favorite bloggers, Pat, of Back Porch Musings, made a sweet vignette of her rendition of Charleston remembered.  I knew I had most of the items that would go along with a similar arrangement  that I had in mind.  I would use this as well to remind me of the walks I took with my sister-in-laws, niece and daughter along the cobblestone side streets in Charleston.  I remember well the lovely wrought iron gates to side court yards filled with lush, mossy, cool foliage and prolific flowering plants.  Oh, how we wondered "what lay beyond the garden gate".
So far, this is how it came together as an arrangement.

Join me in a reminiscent stroll of the amazing private gardens of Charleston.

I love the idea of revisiting these private gardens that are so natuaral to the atmosphere of Charleston.  Spring always brings a fascination of  "what lay beyond the garden gate"  by folks who are looking for inspiration and a desire to create their own haven.   The change in spring season is lighter, softer and prettier.  The hyacinths are filling the air so frangrantly.  It gives me that boost of energy to continue on and place a few spring flowers, garden items etc. around  and will serve as my own rendition of "what lay beyond the garden gate" and a happy, peaceful reminder of a great, fun, beautiful trip with the best of company!
Charleston, you are a beautiful city full of thoughts and romance of spring with your fragrant, lush flowering plants, trees, shrubs, verandas, porticos, fountains, stone statuary, gas lights and more.


I  placed a photo of my daughter Jamie and me on the front porch veranda of the Magnolia Plantation sitting on a courting bench.  The idea was that a young couple would sit on opposite ends of the hand made bench and bounce their way to the center of the bench.  Pretty amusing item!

Jamie and me (Kris) on a courting bench on the veranda of the Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC.

I remember so well walking along this path as if it were yesterday.
While in West Milton enjoying lunch with my sister-in-laws and nieces last week, I went across the street afterward to a shop that contains local artists works on consignment.  I was excited to come across a handmade sewing basket.  Along with it was a poster of African young ladies making baskets to sell along with the story explaining a multi generational craft.  Inside the basket was a tag marked  plainly handmade in Senegal.  It was priced reasonably in the $20.00 range.  I knew I would have it and where it would go. 
Another aspect and part of Charleton's history was slavery.  Magnolia Plantation rendered a glimpse into the past and it's participation in lifestyle of a time long gone and learned.

I love it on a shelf in my living room along with the framed photo of Jamie and me while on a trip to Charleston, SC together.  Recently, I had been looking at a basket pretty much exactly like this from an on line site from Charleston as a keepsake from that trip.  I've been dragging my heels on actually purchasing the hand made Charleston sweetgrass basket for it's $80.00 + price tag.  I'm so glad I ran across this basket in my own back yard of West Milton, Ohio.  It's a basket hand made from an african young lady whose mother, aunt or grandmother taught her how to make them using the materials that were abundant around their dwellings.  Sweetgrass baskets were made in Charleston, SC by negro slaves who brought the learned craft with them from their native home and made useful vessels and items out of necessity.  This is the reason I want to have it and display it.  I love the idea of a young girl sitting with her elders watching and learning how to make something with the materials that were provided for them from nature into useful items.  I can imagine the setting being crude yes, but still the basic idea of sitting unrushed with grandmother, mother, baby in his/her own handmade basket,  aunts, sisters, cousins, friends making something beautiful, useful and necessary for their family's survival is heartwarming and endearing.
I'm loving this vignette and the way it's coming together as a spring decoration and happy reminder of a fun, happy, beautiful location.  Wishing you much happiness as well as Easter draws closer this weekend.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love is...

"Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination" ~
Voltaire (1694-1778)

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Hobby Lobby stating, "Mrs. Long, your shadow box is ready for pick up"...before I let the man finish his message, I was up getting on my shoes and heading for the door to get a project that I have known that I wanted in an arrangement for a while.  I love it!  I think it looks great against the light blue wall in my bedroom.

A fond memory of a great visit to my sister-in-law, Anita and brother-in-law, Gary's home in Portland, Oregon a few years back.
Pictured are niece, Brenda, sister-in-law Lenora, myself, niece Dawn, sister-in-law Anita holding her granddaughter, Haley.  The sweet little heart under the picture was a gift given to me by P.J., who made it as a keepsake of my visit.
  One morning, Brenda was graciously making breakfast for her guests and P.J. was sitting at the breakfast bar entertaining himself with one of his favorite hobbies of the time.  Making suncatcher ornaments for his mother and dad's kitchen window, his room or where ever a place needed some special adornment.  I love the heart ornament and  love the arrangement in shadow box form.  

  What a restful vacation it was!

I know winter is behind us and Valentine's Day is a holiday of the past but who wouldn't want to wake up to these wonderful smiles and sweet hearts to begin a great new day?  I'll always have fond memories to lift me up in blessing and joyful spirit in the morning and through my day!   The desire to create something special and memorable never leaves my mind.  I so love it when it evenutually comes to fruition!  I hope you find what inspires you today to savor a memory, fond object, bits of this and that to create something that brings joy to your world!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First family ladies lunch in spring 2010.

Last week we had three or so sunny, warm, great to get outside spring days.  It's been a long closed in winter and thanks to the thoughtfulness and organization of our neice Dawn, our once a month family ladies lunch gatherings has begun with content, togetherness and joy to see one another again.   Today was a time to catch up on  winter activities that everyone emersed themselves into until that last snow finally melted away and like clock work the desire to reunite brought a phone call of invitation to meet for lunch.  Oh, yes I will definitely be there!
We ate at Pearson House Restaurant in West Milton, Ohio, a quaint little town roughly ten miles west from where I live in Troy.   It's the kind of restaurant where you can still get a good all american old fashioned meat and potato plate at a reasonable price.  Afterward a selection of at least 25 different types of pie could be a great ending to a nice luncheon.  Pearson House is also a good gathering spot that lends itself to a lingering time that gives us a chance to fill the younger generations in on topics of interest in family history by the older generations.  Any and all our gatherings are a time to come together and savor one another's company and a chance to refill our spirits with caring and kindness that only family can offer.
Afterward, we went our separate ways to leave for home and on my way to the car could not help but pop into this little shop. 

I found a sweet little bird basket to set on my Easter table.

When I came out the sun was shining and the air was nice, no work to hurry back to so what did I do?  I took a few pictures of this quaint little town and some of what it has to offer.

This is a sweet little shop called appropriately, Really Cool Stuff.  It carries items on consignment made by local artists and ranges from jewelry, pottery, blown glass, handmade cards, scrap fabric journals, recycled paper cards, photograph prints and many other numerous handmade items.
I really liked this handmade pottery.  I especially liked the earthy elements of nature used in the design.

This shop has always intriqued me with it's hand sawn and carved wooden items.  It never seems to be open though.

The Pearson House Restaurant and a great day in spring to be out and take in the town of West Milton, Ohio.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Coming out of winter's dulldrums with a smile

Dreary, bleak, dismal...what words would you use to describe it?
I had to photograph this!  Something blown in or left behind, it's hard to tell which.  A clump of snow melting as the day proceeds.
Today it's sunny, the air is soft, the birds are chirping and flying freely.  A walk out to the mailbox turned into a little inspection for signs of spring's renewal.  The sun feels so good and warm.  It's great taking in the fresh air.  I'm now wishing I could put my work life on hold, grab my rake and weeding tools and go to a different kind of work.  The pleasant kind.  The kind that after working diligently and patiently for hours shows devine results once turned around and gazed over when your body says it's time to quit for the day.   With hands on my hips and mouth tilted to the right, it will come.  I'll check on shut down today to begin making plans.  If shut down is too far in the distance, I think a long weekend vacation is in order to begin my preparations for renewal, clean up, fertilizing and a chance to get down and dirty. :)
Until then, my muse has been catered to by a little purchase I made on line to bring life and a sense of wimsy to my bright yellow living room and a re-decorating project in progress.
A sweet little trio of my favorite subject, the wren!
Love Song  a pastel & charcoal drawing by Matouenpeluche an Etsy artist from Australia.
Matouenpeluche means plush cat.
Diana the Reader of Bird Books a pastel & charcoal print by Matouenpeluche.
Little White Winged Wren pastel & charcoal print by Matuenpeluche.
I  love these three little prints.  They made me happy when I came across them on Etsy and they made me even happier when I put them on my wall to enjoy after I received them in the mail.  I love the idea that the birds are facing left.  Naturally there needed to be a piece of art that faced right.  Right?

From three little prints to the right of my front picture window and crossing over to the left of my window is a nice watercolor print by LaBerge another Etsy artist near Salem, Oregon.
Too cute!  I don't have any animals at the moment but I do miss having them around from time to time.  This artist rendering is so realistic and filled with light that it entices you to pet the cat in thought. 
Anyway, I love the touch of wimsy this east facing wall adds to my bright yellow room and what it is evolving into.  I love gradually bringing it to life with the perfect finds to make it unique and full of personality and character.

I'm so glad spring really is just around the corner.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  A time when I'm on my second or third sinus congested head cold of the season.  I can't remember which.  A time when work has forced me to keep my head down and into the tasks at hand for my employer.  A time when certainly I won't have to come out of work and scrape my windshield again?!   And a time when I'm ready to feel sunshine, soft air, the singing of the birds and a glimpse of their freedom in flight.

I just noticed the magic flowers are appearing.
The forsythia are budding.
Daffodil - popping up!
Tulips, "oh, yeah"!
Wishing you life's simple pleasures and blessings as you begin to come out of hibernation into your spring!
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