Monday, March 31, 2008

At The Watercooler

What do you suppose they talk about on Monday morning?

Bird #1: "Jeez, my bracket got all shot to sh** when Duke lost."

Bird #2: "I'm tellin' you, man, Tar Heels all the way!"

Bird #3: "Yeah, my wife likes North Carolina, too. She says their uniforms are a pretty color."

Bird #4: "Watch out, man. She'll be draggin' you down to Home Depot next weekend to pick out some candy-a** color to paint the bathroom, like 'robin's egg blue' or something..."

These turkey vultures were perched on my neighbor's chimney the other day. Click on the picture to enlarge it -- they are so ugly, they're almost beautiful. Happy Monday!

Edited to add: If you get a chance, please visit Linda, of Restyled Home today. She is blogging about painted kitchen cabinetry, and she was kind enough to include some pictures of my kitchen in her post. There are some absolutely beautiful kitchens (and one bathroom) on view.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Cat

To all my dear blogging friends --

Wishing you as much happiness as a cat who has just found a cream pot. Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Letting Go

Does anyone know what this dish is for? In my ongoing efforts to clean out closets here at our Little Red House, I came across this unusual tray. It belonged to my mother, and has been taking up space at the back of our dining room closet for I-don't-know-how-long. It is one, solid piece -- everything attached. Could it be for serving crepes? Tacos? Asparagus and hollandaise? I have no idea.

I come from a long line of people who never threw things out. For my father, I guess it was growing up during the Great Depression. My mother was a child of immigrants who had to work and scrape for every little thing. Why would you throw anything away when tomorrow it might be useful? I distinctly remember going to the town dump with my father. He might throw away one thing, but bring home three. I realize now that there was probably a "no scavenging" rule, but he was friendly with the caretaker and besides, it was a different time. People understood the need to make do.

My father built our Little Red House using a foundation that was already existing on the property when he and my mother bought the land. A contractor told us once that some of the floor joists looked unusually big and strong. He thought they might be marine timber. My father was a backhoe operator, and we suspect that he probably found them on a job site. He was always bringing home things he dug up -- a beer stein, some old bottles, an Indian tomahawk head. My mother would go to sales and flea markets and rescue chipped tea cups or little china statues. As a child, I used to open the built-in cupboards next to the fireplace and pull out all my mother's knick-knacks and little pieces of china to play with. Thus a love of dishes was born.

But back to the cleaning out of closets. I've been in a very contemplative mood lately, and it seems to me that I've reached the age where a metaphorical cleaning of the closets is underway. I feel the need to jettison all the things that are not important. Does it really matter if I go to the supermarket in my sweats? No. Do I need to drive a car that reflects my personality? Only if there is one that screams "menopausal woman -- get out of her way!" Should I worry about doing something deep, meaningful and earth-shatteringly important with my life? No, just create. Make something that brings me happiness. Life is short. Beauty is forever.

So I am letting go.
Metaphorically, anyway. I'm keeping the dish. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Heartfelt "Thank You"

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement yesterday. So many of you seem to be asking the same questions or following the same path I find myself on. I have loved reading your stories, and find inspiration in each and every one of you! You have given me the courage to follow my dreams. What a warm, nurturing community this is, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

These flowers are for you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart! :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Still Life

I was trying to create a still life last week, for a photography challenge over at Kacey's blog, Wine on the Keyboard. I love those very lush Dutch master still lifes, so I tried to take those as my inspiration. Here is what I came up with. Click to enlarge it, because the details are the fun part.
I am struck by the thought of a still life -- a moment in everyday life captured, pinned down like a butterfly to a board. I've given a lot of thought lately to moments -- choices, really -- and how they lead us to where we find ourselves today. Some choices I have made blithely, without much thought given to the consequences. Others have been made with eyes willfully closed, as if to refute ownership of the consequences should the decision prove to be wrong. And a few have been not really my choices at all. Serendipity, kismet, my guardian angel watching over me. I have been blessed.

When I was in high school, I thought about majoring in Art in college, but decided that English would offer better paying jobs. (Yes, I was really that stupid.) Then I got married right after college, and never really pursued a career at all.

But I think I also considered a life in search of beauty to be somehow not valid or meaningful. That to be driven by the visual would be shallow. That pictures are not as important as words. And so I got on with life, and gradually the need to create something beautiful became a distant memory. It occasionally surfaced when choosing a paint color or a fabric, when planting some flowers, or setting the table. Always when setting the table. :)

But now, when I can suddenly see more years behind me than there are ahead, I have begun blogging. I have met countless creative people, and watched their talents bring forth one beautiful thing after another. And suddenly, there is a need in me. It is real and compelling.

Does anyone else feel this way? I guess a large part of it is a function of the aging process. Greater self-awareness, less time, the road not taken. What a cosmic joke, huh? So from now on, I will give in to the need for beauty. Is it important, is it useful, will it pay big bucks? Who cares. Maybe I'll put my photos on note cards or make a Little Red House calendar, and open an etsy shop. Maybe I'll paint house portraits on tole trays; maybe I'll even paint still lifes.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Getting Somewhere

Well, I have to tell you that I did not take a nap yesterday, but instead rolled up my sleeves and cleaned out the large linen closet in our downstairs bathroom. Took out five bags of garbage, and a box of things to donate to the thrift store. Yes, five bags of garbage! Today it's the coat closet in the dining room. So I probably won't be visiting all of you for a few days. Sorry, I'm on a roll.

Do you remember when I discovered a set of serving spoons in my dining room hutch? Here are a few things I found in the linen closet. Not quite as exciting as the spoons, but probably stuff that I would have at least looked at in the thrift store...I kept this stuff. Probably why I can never get my closets cleaned.

Gotta go. I expect to be done sometime next year. Just kidding.
I hope.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Exhausted!

I'm exhausted at the thought of all the things I have to do around the house. Clean out closets and drawers, wash windows, straighten up the pantry. We really need a dumpster for the garage, which is too full to hold a car. Of course, as the weather starts to nudge it's way into the 50's, the garden cries out for work, too.

Sheesh. I think I'll take a nap.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pastel Skies

Every once in awhile, we get the most glorious sunsets here at Little Red House. Here are a few of my favorite pictures. It doesn't matter what is going on or how busy we are at the time, we drop everything and rush outdoors to bask in the fading light. Often, a pair of geese will be flapping and honking, making their slow and stately way across the sky. The chill air caresses our cheeks, and the falling darkness makes the lights of the kitchen look warm and inviting. As the color dies, we turn inward. Night falls. We are blessed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day of Spring

Happy Spring! Lift your cup with me and drink to impossibly green grass and brilliant flowers. To white, wispy clouds and azure skies. To the sun on your back and a warm breeze on your face. To the sound of birdsong. To the first day of spring.
Of course, spring is not quite this far along here yet, (this picture was taken in early May of last year) but I look forward to it with anticipation. I can see the light. It's coming. Take heart.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No More ***, Please

We interrupt the regularly scheduled post with this news-related rant. My apologies for the delicate subject matter.

OK, I've had it. No more ***, please. You know what I'm talking about -- the word that begins with an "s" and ends with an "x." No, I'm not taking a vow of celibacy. I just don't want to read about other people's *** in my morning paper. Or hear about it on the car radio. Or see it on the TV news.

I live in New Jersey, about 25 miles from New York. Both states where, apparently, if you are a governor, you can't keep Mr. Happy in your trousers.

First there was New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who announced to the world a few years ago that he was a gay American. (Apparently, his wife was the only one in the state who didn't know.) Frankly, I don't care. I just really didn't want to hear about it when driving up the Parkway with four teenagers in the car, coming back from a vacation down the shore. Sheesh.

Then last week, it was New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the former law and order prosecutor who was linked to a high-priced escort service. Yes, I understand what a terrific story it was -- Mr. Ball-buster gets, well, busted. I get it. I just really don't need to have breathless helicopter coverage of his motorcade stuck in traffic while trying to reach his office in midtown Manhattan, where he might (might not?) resign. Enough already.

Monday, it was McGreevey's turn again. The former governor's driver announces that he enjoyed "Friday Night Specials" (his words, not mine) with both Mr. and Mrs. McGreevey. At the same time. Eeeeuwww.

And finally, the new governor of New York, whose name hasn't even registered with me yet, told reporters yesterday that he and his wife have both had exta-marital affairs. The tabloids rushed to fill in the details. Let's just say that now I have another reason to never stay at a Motel 9.

To any future officeholder: For the love of God, I'm begging ya, buddy -- keep 'em zipped. Your pants and your mouth. Sharing a little too much with your secretary? I don't want to know about it. A little too interested in the family dog? Please don't go there. Anything that involves both the secretary and the dog, while dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz?
I. Don't. Want. To. Know.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This Little Piggy Went To Market...

This little piggy went to market; this little piggy stayed home.

This little piggy had roast beef; this little piggy had none.

And this little piggy cried "Wee, wee, wee, wee" all the way home.

Look what I found at the thrift store last week -- little piggy salt and pepper shakers! I just couldn't resist. (Yes, I know -- I almost never can resist!) LOL But aren't they just too cute?

It's break week for my daughter's school, so we have been sleeping in. Sorry for the late posts.
Have a wonderful week, dear bloggers!

Monday, March 17, 2008

An Irish Greeting

Wishing you always...

Walls for the wind,

A roof for the rain

And tea beside the fire.

Laughter to cheer you,

Those you love near you,

and all that your heart may desire.

Irish greeting from

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Black and White

Just a few pictures I've taken at a nearby park called Natirar. It is a 400-acre nature preserve that was a part of the estate of Walter and Kate Macy Ladd, and later acquired by King Mohammed VI of Morocco. There is a wonderful two-mile walking loop through gently rolling hills. A branch of the Raritan River flows through the park. (Note: Natirar is Raritan spelled backwards.) Follow this link to read more about the park, and see a few pictures of the Ladd home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Table Manners

OK, so we all try to teach our kids table manners.

Don't play with your food.

Sit up straight.

Don't talk with your mouth full.

And of course, the cardinal rule if you are the parent of teenagers -- no cellphones at the table. Sorry, I just couldn't come up with an illustration for that one. :)
Has anyone else been having trouble with Blogger? Loading pictures has been a crapshoot, and last night I couldn't even get the New Post window to come up. Aaargh! Aahh well, it's almost the weekend. Happy Thursday, dear bloggers!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Love White

I love white. The sort of white you see in shabby chic rooms, or wildly romantic ones, or even very minimal ones. (Bet you didn't see that coming, eh?)

But I am a child of my parents, and from my mother I got a love of pattern and china. From my father I got the frugal, never-throw-anything-out gene. So unfortunately, I could never pull off the minimal look.

But I still love white. So here are some white touches in my otherwise red dining room. Just think of them as my nod to shabby/romantic dreams.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring in the Kitchen

I tried to join Kari & Kijsa's Spring Blessings party yesterday, but Blogger just wasn't cooperating. So I just thought I'd show you a little corner of my kitchen today where we are anticipating spring. I'd love to have some real flowers here, but these silk are the next best thing. I love the basket of eggs, and the green tin painted with pansies. They just make me smile. The crocks and the small milk glass Easter plate belonged to my mom.

Lately this little fellow has been joining the fun. I can't believe it's almost Easter.

How do you decorate for spring?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Artsy Fartsy

Here is what I do when I should be cleaning my house. I take some of my photos and play around with Photoshop until I get something approximating art.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, I really should be cleaning.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


May all your dreams come true. Have a wonderful weekend, dear bloggers!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hey, Honey?

Hey, honey? Does this dress make my butt look big?


But my legs look good, right?

You wanna come over HERE and say that, Buster?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thank You, Susie Q!

I am a very lucky woman. Over the years, I have been given birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, anniversary gifts, shower gifts, graduation get the idea. But rarely have I ever gotten a gift...just because. Until I started blogging.

These lovely blue and white bud vases, and the cute little plate, were given to me by the fabulous Susie Q, of Rabbit Run Cottage. Just because. Just because Sue is a terrific, wonderful, lovely and sweet woman. :) I am truly blessed to have met such a generous friend!

Thank you so much, Sue! I love them!