Sunday, April 3, 2011

aPRIL pAINTING

I was inspired by Nicole to open my journal and start to paint. This is what happened! I actually started several pages so maybe we'll see the results in the next few days. I also started a little book of inspiration, full of images and quotations that I find , well...inspiring! My dining room table is a mess but I am feeling so creative. Hope that spring is filling you with images, smells and feelings that get your creative juices flowing. Tell your inner hausfrau to go away and pull out the paint and gel medium and just have fun! Life is short and you can always do dishes later....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Shopping for Uganda

This is my African Grandmother. My family is supporting her through ROTOM and I chose her from several photos because she looks so sad. My prayer is that, because of our monthly support, the next photo we receive, will be one where she looks happy and is smiling into the camera.

I'm not sure who this child is with her in the picture but my guess is that this is her grandchild. Because of the AIDS epidemic, the social structure of children caring for thier elderly parents has broken down. Now those elderly parents are not only struggling with thier own aging and medical problems but they are having to raise thier orphaned grandchildren. For $30.00 a month, my African Grandmother gets regular medical treatment, hot meals and spiritual comfort. My friend Brad will be traveling to Uganda next week and he will have a chance to meet my African Grandmother. So today I have been shopping for things to send to her. This has been hard because I want to send her things she needs but also I want to send things that will make her feel special and will bring a sense of love and luxury into her life. I also wanted to send some small things for this child standing beside her. They also needed to be small enough to only take up a small space in Brads suitcase. I found some solar lanterns that were pretty small, which I thought was pretty cool! A pretty bracelet, a light colorful sweater and lotion (all grandmas like lotions!). For the child, I settled on bubbles, a jump rope, paper and crayons. Pretty basic stuff but hopefully things they don't get very often. I'm so excited that Brad will get to see her and am planning on painting an angel this weekend to send to her. I'll let you know if I get a smile back!




Friday, April 1, 2011

Foolish purchase

I stopped by the Salvation Army thrift store on my way home from work today and found these two little gems. They are made of terracotta and are perfectly detailed, about 2 inches big. I have absolutely no idea what I will do with them but they were so cute that I couldn't pass them up. It will probably be the best April Fool's joke ever, as they will end up in a box destined for the thrift store in a couple of years. In the meantime, they will make me smile every time I look at them and imagine the wonderful tea parties Arrietty from The Borrower's could be having with them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A stolen recipe...

It may be 86 degrees outside, but this family loves soup. And I found a wonderful (read, easy!) recipe here for baked potato soup a la Outback. I made it last weekend and it was a hit, even with Bac-o's in place of bacon and no cream of chicken soup added. I have to be careful around here....they tire quickly of things they beg for. I have a half a pan of baked ziti in the fridge as a testament to this peculiarity. For some unknown reason, my children will only eat leftovers if I heat them up for them or if they live in the refrigerator in a styrofoam container brought home from a restaurant. Please do not write me and suggest that I buy styrofoam containers to try and fool them into thinking homemade leftovers are actually restaurant leftovers. They know. Don't ask me how I know this, suffice to say, I know this. Now Dan will eat leftovers. Unfortunately, I caved into Ben's request for baked ziti with meat in it, thus effectively eliminating the one person in the family who might have actually eaten it. Back to my original thought about the potato soup. I think I can maintain interest in this batch as I have purchased REAL bacon for sprinkling on top and that  is supposed to be my magic ingredient to keep them coming back until it is finished. I will then refuse to cook this for several weeks. I know, it's crazy but that's the way it works around here. And I know, too, that it's all my fault they are this way.....


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Abundance

Beautiful, isn't it? The colors are so vivid, the arrangement just draws you in. Looking at this I am reminded of the abundance of creation. When you think of the multitudes of colors that surround us each day, it is hard to imagine how we can ever take it for granted. And yet we do. Every day. We forget to notice the small gifts....the glow of the setting sun, the sweet fragrance of the orange blossoms carried on the breeze, the giggle of a child. Each of these are ordinary, yet miraculous as well. I am reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I am reminded of the abundance of God's love, as evidenced by His gifts. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer and fasting for some. Yet in the midst of sacrifice, we will still have an abundance of color upon which to feast our eyes, music to usher us into the presence of God, the fragrance of flowers to fill our nose and the touch of our loved ones hands to remind us of the gift of relationship. While we may choose to give up something for Lent, there is still so much more that God has for us to receive, if we will simply accept His gifts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Springtimes blossoms

It's azalea season and, oh! my! goodness!.....the blooms are awesome. I love, love, love azaleas. They can be the scraggliest looking bush and then, add a little warm weather and rain and VAVOOM! They are gorgeous. Totally an ugly duckling type of plant. And they are so lush with color.

Years ago I had a friend who lived on a couple of acres that looked just like an overgrown lot. Until March! Then it burst into bloom with huge bushes that towered over us, thick with flowers. It was like walking in a fairytale.

My heart just sings with joy at their beauty. I love this time of year!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday afternoon crafting..

After months of not doing anything creative at all, I finally started some tiny projects. Valentine's Day started the ball rolling, an I've gradually been pulling "stuff" out of the craft closet, from under the bed and out of the drawers. Since the house is up for sale, and I want to keep the guest bedroom pretty, the dining room table looks like JoAnn's exploded on it. But so, so much fun! Here's some little bits I created this afternoon....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I wonder...

 Looking back over photos from our Mediterranean cruise, I started thinking. Have you ever noticed how everyone's photos from thier trip to Italy look alike? We all seem enamored of the same things. Quaint alley ways, churches, statues, and of course, the David!
                                                                                                          
 I wonder if Europeans who visit the US go home with photos that all look the same?



Friday, February 18, 2011

My true love's valentine....

I'm spoiled...rotten. I know. I really, really know. But I love it. I love that Dan knows that yellow roses are my favorite. And that an unusual arrangement makes all the difference. They were perfect and the fact that Valentine's Day was on a Monday, made it even better. I could enjoy them all week long...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Red Boots at the Beach

I spent most of the week in Pensacola, Florida. I was there on business but I admit, there was some pleasure involved. Most of that pleasure revolved around the beach. It did my heart good to see the pristine white sand and to smell the clean smell of salt water.....ONLY salt water. Not tar, or oil or any other oil spill induced odor. The beach was deserted. But not, I hope because of the oil spill.... it was 40 degrees on that beach! I was the only one silly enough to be taking a walk on the beach in red boots, jacket, gloves and scarf. But I was there...and so was the beach. You just can't miss an opportunity like that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Out my back door....

These days, when I go out my back door, this is what I see. Rows and rows of black plastic covered mounds sprouting strawberry plants. With their delicate blossoms and juicy red fruit, they make an appealing tableau stretching out in the distance. Days like today, they look quite beautiful, still damp from the rain we had briefly.


I don't find it quite so picturesque on days when the field is a hive of bustling activity. At those times, I am somewhat nonplussed by the sight of farm workers dressed warmly against the cold. They hustle up and down the rows, almost running in their quest to pick as many berries as they can. They straddle the row and bend deeply, hands flying through the bushes looking for the ripe berries. It's not hard work, just hard on you work. I know, I've picked a few strawberries.The stories you read about the conditions for farm workers who pick strawberries are pretty horrendous. According to the statistics, the average farm worker makes about $6 an hour, 33% are undocumented workers, most are married and women account for 25% of the workers. Seems like a lot of hard work so I can have fresh berries at the local market. Yet, truthfully, the quart of strawberries pictured in the blog post below, cost $4 so I didn't buy any. Last year, they left the berries to rot in the field because the owners said it cost more to pick them than they could get at market. Liability issues keep them from opening U-pick fields. So acres of strawberries rotted and farm workers didn't even earn anything. It was hard not the step through the barbed wire fencing and help myself to all I could pick. But, they're not my berries.

This is the heart of the illegal immigrant debate. It's complex, like most moral issues.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finding a hidden gem....

 Driving home from Miami on Friday, I-75 starts to look like a parking lot and we're hungry. Time to pull off? Sure looked like it. The sign on the Interstate said there was a Perkins and that looked good to Brad. (I wasn't so sure but when you're a vegetarian, chances are anyplace has a decent salad. At worst, a grilled cheese sandwich.) Along the way to the Perkins we drive by THIS sign and can see this produce. It only took a second for both of us to say "Wanna eat there?" Sure thing!


 The food was very down-home and the dessert looked just like my grandmom's house at Christmas time. I couldn't resist a peanut butter and jelly on HOMEMADE white bread. With a mound of potato chips on the side, I felt just like a kid. We shared a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie that was oh-so-good. We meant to look for the number of the exit but forgot! I think it was Bonita Springs but not so sure. I plan to look next time I'm heading south.





Coconut cream pie, lemon meringue, red velvet cupcakes and homemade cookies.











The view out the window while we ate our lunch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Longing

“The Portuguese call it saudade: a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable. Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land – all things born of the soul that can only be felt.” - Anthony De Sa (Barnacle Love)

Who or what are you longing for today?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Love

Love really is all you need.
Lots of Valentine's goodies out in the stores. I love Valentine's Day. Maybe because red is my favorite color and hearts are my chosen icon. I draw them all the time, especially when I'm doodling! It's such a neat reminder in the middle of winter of what it really takes to keep us warm. The presence of those we love..... ones right beside us, those far away, but never far from our thoughts and those we'll see again on the other side.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Deja Vu


I had a moment of deja vu today. I missed a call from Dan and he left a message. It went something like this: "Hey beautiful. I'm sitting outside the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company having a cup of the best coffee in the world. It's a crisp 50 degrees and the sky is California blue without a cloud to be seen.There's a wisp of fog in the hills and the valley is beautiful. The only thing missing is YOU!" Wow! Did that take me back 8+ years to phone calls like that almost every day. At the time, it seemed like we spent our days yearning.....for time to pass so we could be together, for days that we were together to slow down so we could make them last, for extra money and vacation time to make the whole long-distance thing work. This time, while I'm jealous and want to be in Napa, too, I also know that Dan will be home again in just a few days.

We spent a lot of time while we were dating reminding each other that "some day" this would all be behind us and hoping we would never forget to be grateful every day we were together. We've been married for 6 years now. We still remind each other how lonely we were and how lucky we are to be together. It's something we don't take for granted and I know that it was a difficult decision to make. There are some lines I read in A Thousand Splendid Suns that have always seemed to sum up Dan's decision to move to Florida "But it is not an easy happiness. It is not a happiness that is without cost."






Sunday, January 2, 2011

Contemplation

I love to take pictures of angels. Cemeteries tend to be the places where angels (at least the ones you can see) gather, therefore I have lots of photos of cemeteries. This one was in New Orleans. I always wish I knew why the families chose a particular sculpture to adorn a grave. This angel looks tired, he can no longer keep his torch aloft and I wonder, why a tired angel? Did the deceased fight illness long and hard and see death as a welcome relief? Or did they fight "the good fight", busy and hurrying through life and now were waiting wearily to be ushered into rest? At first I wanted this person to have a victorious angel, one with fire in his eyes and the torch held exuberantly toward the heavens. That's the way I want to see death, not as something sad and beaten but as a victorious end to a life well lived. A celebration of my arrival Home. But there's something to be said for rest, for the welcome opportunity to sit and breathe, to contemplate your days accomplishments. Mostly, I think, life should be a wonderful balance of all those things.... hard work, bustle and activity and time to relax and savor the fruits of that labor. Then death can be a celebration, because I believe with everything I am, that we will see our loved ones again.

I'm really not feeling as morbid as this post might lead you to believe.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More thoughts on the red boots......

Yep, these are the actual boots.
Dan asked "Why the Year of the Red Boots?" I've always wanted a pair of red cowboy boots. It's really not a Florida look, but  there it is....my wild desire for red boots. We found a pair yesterday....New Year's Eve....at International Mall...where I never go. It had to be auspicious, right? I thought so, too. So on reflection, I realized it means going where I've always wanted to go but felt held back, making a bit of a splash (even if I'm the only one who notices) and getting a little giddy when looking at the possibilities. THAT's what red boots are, at least to me. What are YOUR red boots?

Highlights of the Year of Jubilee - 2010

I turned 50 on December 18, 2009. Since my birthday is so close to New Year's, I always use that time to decide my theme for the next year. So 2010 became the Year of Jubilee. "In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest." (Wikipedia, Jubilee) In hindsight, I could have called it The Year of Traveling.
  • Dan took me to Epcot on my birthday. We had sooooo much fun: ate lunch in a French restaurant (complete with Remy from Ratatouille), visited the terracotta soldiers in China, and belly-danced in Morocco (well, not really but we thought about it). Then we spent the night at the the Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Orlando. It was like sleeping in an art museum! Yeah, I know...pretty cool.
  • Went a cruise to the Caribbean. Canyoned down a waterfall in Dominica (http://www.extremedominica.com/), swam with sea turtles and toured a sugar plantation in Barbados, learned the meaning of island life from Royston (ask me about jail time on St. Kitts) and how to bribe officials in St. Thomas (thanks Henry). We missed having Corey and Chase with us but Ashley added real-time entertainment.
  • The real deal...... a Mediterranean Cruise. For ALL the pictures and comments go here. My dream of a lifetime in one big gulp. Every place I have said I wanted to see was on this cruise. It was like getting the sampler platter. Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Sicily. We were gone for 17 days. It was heaven. There was literally nothing bad that happened on that trip! Every wonderful thing that Dan arranged came off brilliantly. We met Tod and Betsey Gorrell...our dinner partners for all 12 nights of the cruise. Just loved them and they made our trip even better.
  • Then back to Orlando for birthday 51....the Waldorf Astoria.
There were some sad days and disappointments (I lost some body parts!) but those days were few.  Mostly, I am blessed and mostly, I remember. Looking back is good, it reminds us where we have been and gives us roots.  
"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever..."-- Isak Dinesen


But it's not the way I want to live my life.....so on to 2011. I've already dubbed it... The Year of the Red Boots!



2011 The Year of the Red Boots

This is it....Happy New Year! I can feel it....change is coming in 2011! It's definitely the Year of the Red Boots and I'm not entirely sure what that means. The fireworks are still going off but it's time to go to bed. I just wanted to get a head start on writing. Can't wait to discover what's around the bend........