Saturday, March 29, 2008

CED 2008~ Another waterdolored "inspired" piece

In this piece, I was inspired by what I envisioned the space to be.... remember this was created earlier in the week, so it isn't an exact representation of "the look" like the pictures I later discovered while browsing. Also, I'm using watercolors so I may or not have the exact colors that I displayed in the actual photographs that I found. But what creating this did do, is to allow me to explore, to get the feel of what my mind was attempting to create. The yellow represent the vinyl siding of our home that provides an actual "wall" to our rear deck. It isn't as bright as I've demonstrated with this watercolor, but it provided me with the opportunity of seeing how small touches of it incorporated into the color scheme could provide a unified feeling to the space. It also allowed me to envision the painted floor cloth underneath our dining table. Anyways, this was a fun way to explore the ideas I had within my head and provided a nice, safe way to explore those ideas and take into consideration what it is I truly desire. I so love that! Did you notice that I couldn't resist "setting the table" with some of the colors and shapes of our recently acquired purchases made specifically for use out there?
When I first began considering decorating our rear deck, I had to take the functionality of the space into consideration. Thankfully, we've already established well-designed areas previously from having a few years of use for our outdoor living space under our belts, so I was able to establish three areas out on the deck. The first is our outdoor cooking area, the second is what I'll refer to as, "the mingling area" which includes outdoor dining, and last but certainly not the least, the jacuzzi area --- perfect for simply relaxing!

Typically, when guests arrive at our home for the purpose of enjoying some summertime entertaining, they are greeted at our front door, walked through our living room, kitchen, and then out onto the rear deck. With those thoughts in my mind, I was ready to envision what it is that I desire in these spaces and the one common element was that I really want a cohesive look. I want to bring the living area out into our kitchen, and the kitchen area out onto to the deck, yet I want the deck to have an outdoor character all of its own.

I believe I finally stumbled onto a way to achieve that using the use of color and by bringing nature indooors. Our living room colors already mingle into the kitchen area since the two rooms are adjacent to one another. The colors are more dominant in out kitchen since it is painted red, whereas the colors in the living room are more accent colors that predominate in the kitchen's farmhouse style rooster theme. But, the colors I'm attempting to incorporate and the beach theme that I am totally desiring changes drastically out on the deck. So, I am thinking I'd like to add more green to the kitchen area mainly through the use of textiles! So far, what I've added seems to be working beautifully, although I'm no where near where I desire it to be... so that too is a continuing work in progress. Another factor, is the transition from indoor to outdoor and vice versa.... so I'll be on the lookout for some more white beach themed dishes that can funtion in the kitchen during summer use and livening up the kitchen and living room with more tropical style plants. These may even be culinary herbs that we can use for our summer entertaining. Unfortunately, we're not wealthy and cannot afford to simply go shopping every time a new idea strikes me, but for now this something that I've become more aware that requires some changies that we can make over time and I finally seem to be beginning to establish what exactly needs to take place there. Isn't that half the battle? Figuring it all out?

Anyways, back to the deck decorating and our established outdoor areas. I'll start with our Our outdoor cooking area as this is where it all begins as you would step out our back door and onto the deck. The first established area you come to is the our outdoor cooking area. Last year, I moved our bar set over here and set it up along the west side of the deck railing with room for someone to stand or sit behind it to serve drinks to our guests. That was either Don or I, depending upon who greeted our guests at the front door. This arrangement worked wonderfully as it provided an area for our guests to be greeted with a smile, a refreshment upon arriving, and offers them a place to sit and strike up a conversation with whoever is doing the cooking! Another function of having the bar set up here, is that it allows it to double later on as a place for a food preparation and outdoor grilling as the party gets started. Our gas grill sat nearby along the south side of the railing which provides a wonderful view out into our rear yard and over onto the main "mingling area" of our deck. So, let's mingle over there, shall we?

The "Mingle" area...
Since this is the largest portion of our deck and it is centrally located, it provides a great area for us to wander over to and further mingle with family and friends. I normally have a set of chairs with a table centered in between them. This provides a place to set your drink down while situating oneself into the moment. This area is also fairly large so it provides a wonderful area for additional guests to stand, greet one another, and mingle as they arrive. Directly opposite this area is where we place our patio table. Since there is no arbor or covering on our deck, the large umbrella offers some shade for those who prefer it and invites them over to the table for additional seating and outdoor dining.

The third area of the deck, that is adjacent to the large mingling area and the patio table, yet appears contained within its separate space is the jacuzzi area. Surrounded on three sides by the siding of the house and two sections of fencing, this area is purely for relaxing and it truly provides the relaxed atmosphere of our outdoor entertaining. Having established the functionality of the space, I'm ready to begin thinking about the decorating of it. Are you ready?

CED 2008 ~ Ideas for decorating our rear deck

The majority of time that I've had available to me this week has been spent online researching options for ideas to incorporate out onto our rear deck. I created the mosaic below using some of the images that I saved from a Google search using the word "beach" and "beach themed" I unfortunately didn't note the sources of where I found them, other than the fabric.

The first photograph is the truest representation of the color scheme I want to achieve. The turquoise blue, the softness of the granny smith apple green that isn't so in-your-face neon green, the white, and the small touches of sunshine yellow. The siding on our home is a softer shade of yellow which would incorporate better into the space more by seeing a bit more of it used around the space. I so love the use of colors in this photograph! It is a great reminder to me that one color can be used in various tones and shades and that by applying the colors to actual items that we'll use in our decor will also assist in creating visual texture!

I didn't realize that I'd come to love the painted deck boards and the impact that adding a softer, lighter color could warm up the space so much! Currently our deck has a golden tone that was created from the use of Behr's waterproofing. When we purchased the five gallon bucket of it, the label stated it was clear, but from using it last year, I can vouch for it containing a stain that is actually golden in tone. Since we still have approximately four gallons of it remaining to be used this is something that I'll have to talk to Don about before actually doing. Anyways, it is something that is a major consideration and something about our deck that I'd love to change as I feel it would make probably the biggest impact about as inexpensively as you could get.

However, I'm thinking more of a white-washed appearance. Added to the fencing around the jacuzzi {inside and out} and the actual deck railings, and lattice trim around the raised deck. The lattice is something we've been discussing for a year or so now anyways, so adding it in a painted white-washed appearance is only one more step. I do love the idea of adding a softer, more subtle color to the actual deck boards. I wonder if I could mix the waterproofing to actual exterior paint? Perhaps that is a possibility. I'll have to ask our friend, Terry, who works in Home Depot's paint department as that would certainly save us both time and money being able to do a one-step application vs. layers of one then the the other. And who knows what that end result would actually look like! I am also smart enough to realize that our deck requires waterproofing to protect it from the elements of sun, wind, water, and such especially if I'm putting this much effort into creating the outdoor space of my dreams!

The next photograph is a beach mural painted on a wall. I could so see this painted on the inside of the fence area surrounding our jacuzzi! Perhaps, not covering the fence entirely but leaving a white-white appearance of the actual fence that the sky sort of blends into. I believe I'd do away with the actually palm tree... just include the sand, the surf, and the sky. I'm thinking I'd soften the hard scape of the actually fence by actually adding pots of palms and tropical plants for a more three dimensional appearance and assist with bringing our rear yard right up onto the deck! Of course, I'd have to paint some of our existing pots for planting in the same color scheme. {Krylon, here I come!}

The third photograph is a swatch of outdoor fabric that I discovered online. Wouldn't it be perfect for using to create some outdoor pillows? Of course, I love the pillows featured in the first photograph as well, with their stripes and circles, and perhaps even a few in solid colors of this color scheme. I can envision them mixed and matched up, scattered here and there in our chairs, along with perhaps a few simply as floor cushions to invite you to just curl up and relax wherever. They'd certainly come in handy for additional seating if we entertained a large group of family and friends!

The last photograph is a close up shot that someone {sorry, I don't remember who...} took of a close-up of a painted wall mural. I just so loved this image... it reminds me so much of carefree days spent on the beach and it has that soft, dreamy appearance of being water colored. I can envision a grouping of these created on canvas perhaps hanging from of a piece of bamboo and hung from the overhang of our home's soffit to assist in mellowing out the siding that runs along one side of our deck. Another option would be to actually paint a mural onto a bamboo style blind to hang over a window that is directly behind where our dining table is placed.

I'm still keen to the idea of painting floor cloths right onto the deck boards, and I think I'd like to add at least three of them. One under the patio table, and another in front of the two chairs and the centered table, and the third one in front of the bar area. Putting the third one over there seems like it would bring a more cohesive look to the entire area of the deck vs. having it right in front of the jacuzzi which is already adjacent to the largest portion of our deck.

With some of these thoughts in my mind, on Tuesday of this week, I watercolored some of what I'm envisioning. The colors are exact, but the "idea" is there.

Other than the use of color/paint being added to the deck, railings, and fences themselves, my mind immediately began seeing color and textures being used in beach towels, tied up with jute strings, adorned by seashells, and placed within a seagrass basket. On the table with the tablecloth and placemats we recently purchased. Wouldn't napkins rings adorned with shells and vases filled with seaglass, be perfect? Along with some polished stones, candles, and tropical plants?

As you can see, when I dream, I dream BIG!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Packages --- All packaged up & Ready to go!

I made it out to the studio, grabbed the Priority boxes and labels, got the labels addressed, handwrote a note, and now my packages are ready to go! Today, that feels like a quite an accomplishment, LOL! Well, I'm off, Don will be home soon and to the P.O. we go!

CED 2008 ~ It's Thursday? Already?

Some days, I wonder where the time goes. The past several days are now a blur, as Don and I continue and somehow managed to accomplish a lot.

On Monday and Wednesday, I had Alexxis during the mornings and into the early afternoon. I'm learning to cherish those days and time spent with her, it offers me a chance to slow down and take it a bit easier, while working inside on our housekeeping tasks. Alexxis is quite the little helper as she loves to run the lightweight sweeper, help grandma dust, and wash windows. Well, as good as a nearly-two year can! She's becoming more and more independent when left to her own devices. These photographs were captured on Wednesday. Here she is! Attempting to fill grandpa's shoes and laughing when I tell her that's a tall order to fill.

Here's another one of her coloring on the floor while grandma finishes up her cleaning. Did you notice the weird angle she has her right foot at? I guess that's what happens when you put one shoe on and leave the other off, LOL! So far she's great with the crayons, only writing on her coloring books. I certainly hopes that lasts awhile!

I promise that our home's floor aren't actually sagging but it appears that way as I attempted to get down on Alexxis's level, LOL! Anyways, when her daddy arrived and after eating his lunch, he helped me move the recliner back out to the studio. Our living seems so much larger since removing it completely out of the way. Isn't it funny how you get used to "putting up" with somethings, even as "temparily" as they may be. For a week or better, Don and I walked around that chair placed in front of the hutch until we had assistance moving it back to where it belongs, LOL!

Don continued working in his garage this week. He's been cleaning, clearing, straightening, and even added some shelving for organizing our stored items. He also moved our deck furniture closer to the garage door --- hopefully, we'll need it really soon. As the weather warmed up here for a few days in Ohio, he spent some time draining our jacuzzi, inspecting our rear deck, and removing remnants of Fall/Winter's debris. He even cleaned between the deck boards, removing debris from the underneath support beams! Of course, the deck will require another good power washing this year before I can begin painting on the faux floorcloth that I was inspired by one of the table's placemats we'll use there. But that's a ways down the road.... as we continue to wait for the weather to improve. I did work on a watercolor sketch of some of my ideas on Tuesday, I'll have scan and upload those soon.

Another item we accomplished, was getting "new-to-us" used tires on the Jeep Cherokee. We knew going into the winter that they probably only make it until February. And we were almost right, as the Jeep's ride began to feel wobbly a week or so ago. Upon changing the tires, we learned we actually had a broken belt on the front passenger's side tire. Now that we actually have some with a lot of good tread we can get it in for an alignment. While Don was gone having the tires changed, I worked on cleaning out the drawer in our hutch. I've been meaning to do for what seems like forever, as I've been desiring to use it to actually store our good linens in. I did manage to get it emptied out, sorted through, and remove all the old receipts and junk like items that somehow managed to get tossed in there for several years on end! A good portion of it was some of home items warranties that can be filed elsewhere and household tools that never quite seemed to make it back to the toolbox. I did refill it with some of the items, as Don returned home and we needed to make our way out to get a water sample for the jacuzzi and then, off to Delaware to pay on the Spiderback chairs we put on hold.

Returning home in the early evening, we ate dinner of lunch's leftover spaghetti before actually working on getting the chemicals put in the jacuzzi. During the evening, we both kept checking the water temperate, wondering if was warm enough to get in. By 10:00 p.m., we gave up and went to bed.

We both were tired when we hit the hay, but come about 2:30 a.m. we both were awake. We got up to use the bathroom, watched the Weather channel, then out to check the temperature in the jacuzzi. It was 103 degrees, so we decided to get in! It was a little cool outside, probably in the high 30's/low 40's, and the clouds were beginning to roll in and cover what little bit of stars we could see in the night sky. But other than that, it was heavenly! Just what we both needed to relax before drying off, putting back on our jammies and climbing into bed. It really must have relaxed me as I didn't wake until after 11 a.m. today and Don had already left for work! So, I'm sort of playing "catch up" today. I chatted with my online friend, Kate, for a while before realizing if I'm going to accomplish anything today, I need to actually get busy! But I wanted to update here first.

Well, I'm off of here.... I need to head out to the studio to grab a couple Priority Mail boxes and labels. I didn't make it to the P.O. yesterday and Don's has already telephoned once to remind me to get them ready so we can take them once he returns home from work. My only other goal is to finish cleaning out the hutch drawer today and spend the evening relaxing. I believe we both deserve it and tomorrow's another day......

Monday, March 24, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Easter Sunday

Don and I had a very enjoyable Easter day! Our day started with breakfast, bacon and eggs, and then I prepared a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese icing in my mini-loaf and large muffin pans. In the early afternoon, we made a trip to Lowes and while there we picked up three pots of Easter Lillies before venturing over to my parents to gift my mother with one of the Lillies and some mini-loaves of cake. After a short visit, we ventured back home, where I took a few loaves over to a neighbor and made a short visit over a cup of coffee before setting about to make up a green bean casserole to take to our daughter's and family home for Easter Dinner.

We arrived at Amber and Chris' house, shortly after 4 since dinner was scheduled for 5 p.m. We made some last minute preparations before eating turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, scalloped corn, green bean casserole, and buttered rolls. For dessert we shared a Pepperidge Farms Chocolate layered cake and a cup of nice, hot coffee. They certainly had a full house, with Don and I, Chris's parents, Gary and Nancy, and several cousins and their families. There were 6-7 children all under the age of 6, so it was a joy to hide and help them find boiled Easter eggs and plastic ones filled with candy! After cleaning up, Don and I finally made it back home a little after 9 p.m. --- full and blissfully happy! We wouldn't have traded the day for anything else!

I hope your Easter was just as joyful! After a short bible reading and prayer session, I slipped contently between the sheets with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.

Today, I watched Alexxis. Shortly after she arrived, we made another visit to my Mom and Dad's. My mom had fun making French Toast for breakfast. After Don and my dad, returned from running a few errands, my Dad got to watch Alexxis make her chocolate bunny sing and dance, while she danced with him. After visiting, she passed out kisses and hugs and my dad {her great-grandpa} told her should could come back and dance for him anytime! She's so adorable!

We returned home, played for a bit, then ground up some coffee beans for her Mommy! She had a blast using the hand grinder and helping to put the ground beans in a plastic baggie. For lunch we ate grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. My how she loves tomatoes! She couldn't get the soup in her fast enough, but having it in cup that she could actually drink out of made things a lot easier, not to mention enjoyable! {She's definitely my grand-daughter with the tomato loving thing!} My mom used to tell me I should be born Italian! as I so love tomatoes and pasta!

Anyways, not much going on today... I plan on resting and relaxing for a bit while Don works on cleaning up his garage. I'll be mailing out Lisa and Kate's packages on Wednesday as Don works tomorrow. I also hope to have some art to post soon.... Until then... TaTa!

Friday, March 21, 2008

CED 2008 ~ A "Thank You" Gift For Lisa!

Today, I checked my blog and saw this wonderful message from:
Lisa Renéa, who said...

"Cathy would you laugh if i told you i'd like to snatch this out of your journal and hang it on my wall??? Of course I would never do that...but I so LOVE this page. It speaks volumes to me and the watercolour--well Perfection as far as I'm concerned. I'm a beach lovin' soul and this is gorgeous!! I'm truly enjoying these posts on your blog !! Keep up with the heart art! it's fab!"

As soon as read Lisa's post, I knew what I had to do to say, "Thank You!" I ran out to the studio because I knew I still had a few 5x7 black frame that I purchased from the flea market a few years ago. The frames are shadowbox style, although not one of them contained any glass.

Anyways, I first painted the black frame white, then, added a light coat of rubbing oil stain & finish. This gave the frame the appearance of aged driftwood! Perfect for creating the 3D collage style frame I desire to gift to her. Since I know Lisa would never print my "Watercolored Dreams" out for herself, I made it so she wouldn't have too! I added it to the frame and then decorated up the inner sides and bottom using seashells, beach glass, and even one of my small pieces of coral. I've had these items in my stash of supplies for years, in fact, the coral I discovered many, many years ago when I lived in the Buloxi - Gulfport, Mississippi area.

Lisa, if you'd be so kind to email me your address, I'll be more than happy to send this out to you. You made my day and this is my way of saying, "Thank You!"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Spring Blooms!

I created this page to reflect the thoughts and feelings that I've had the past several days. Perhaps, the grey skies days is what I needed to see so that I would appreciate the beauty of this one just a little bit more. My journaling reads,
"Today, I am Blessed! to feel the Happiness and gratitude in my heart of hearts. The sun is shining and I see nothing but blue skies, and the birds are singing the song in my soul... "cheeri-up, cheeri-up" Hurry up, Spring!
I feel so very ALiVe... anticipating the arrival of Spring...
there's joy in my heart
and spring in my steps, and
Love that Blooms!

CED 2008 ~ Reign down on me...

I'm so loving playing and experimenting with these watercolors so much that I've decided to create a couple more pages. The paper I'm using is Canson's Aquarelle that I purchased some time ago and never really got around to using. Lately, I been feeling both a blessed and a bit of guilt regarding having so much and never using it to its fullest potential. It sort of reminds me of, well, ME.
Just following my heart wherever it decided to take me on this journey of self-exploration, I created this page. It's a lot softer in the color scheme as I darkened it just a bit for viewing here on my blog. My journaling reads, "Every so often my thoughts & my days are dark... like storms clouds that threaten to rain down on me. Usually, these feelings come when I feel let down, either by myself or others. There's a sense of sadness, hurt, and disappointment. Maybe even fear, frustration, and anger. I dislike these qualities in myself, although I do realize their vital to growth.
While at other times in my life, nothing precedes those moments. Well, perhaps the exception that good old Melancholy herself has come for a visit. I used to truly dislike those days, wishing somehow, someway, I could simply WISH them away.
Now that I am older, I am beginning to understand their importance in my life. God never promised me days without heartache and pain... but He did give me wisdom, knowledge, and the strength to get through them."
{*I hope reading my words doesn't bring anyone down. Clearly that is not my intention. My intention is to get in touch with the reality of my feelings, put them in a new light, gain an entirely new perspective in which I'm dealing with what I feel more positively.}
Thanks for looking and reading.....

CED 2008 ~ Water colored Dreams

Ever since I had that dream and remembered it upon awakening, the desire to play with my watercolors has been beckoning to me. For many years now I've desired to start a visual journal, but somehow I never seemed to actually get started. While I was working around our home today, I felt this urge beginning to get stronger and stronger and I began asking myself, "If not now, when? When will I begin? Suddenly I started thinking, "Perhaps Today? Maybe Tommorow? Possibly "Someday?" and I began to wonder, "what if my "someday" never comes?" Who would know of all the hopes and dreams that I carry around inside of me? Suddenly realizing that these moments, my hopes and dreams would be lost forever should anything ever happen to me, I felt compelled to create this. Hopefully, this will be the first of many pages to come. I am not going to set any obligations upon myself to accomplish this task, other than to keep my supplies close, near at hand, and work on creating them when the urge strikes me. I hope my blog reader's will enjoy seeing these pages, scattered here and there, for they are the breathings of my heart. I hope that I can do the pages justice by going in and getting deeper into my thoughts and feelings. I've always admired that those qualities in others who do. And as I think about it, my medium may take an occasional twist and turn, just as much as my life, and my blog post do. By creating this way, I am staying true to who I am. For I truly like a beautiful butterfly, one who often seeks and needs the shelter of a cocoon; who needs to sometimes crawl like a caterpillar, before finally unfurling its wings and learning how to fly!
I'd written the previous post earlier this morning and saved it as a draft, before I finally decided to open it up and just publish it. I haven't made out to put the chemicals in the jacuzzi yet as I was chatting it up with Don before he left for the store.
Shortly after he left and while I was on typing the draft, I was noticing my computer was making me uncomfortable. It was a mess! A pile of papers, craft supplies, handwritten and typed notes piled high upon what is supposed to a tray holding my blank text weight papers for the printer. Armed with my previous thoughts in mind, I set about rectifying this situation. Before I knew what had hit me, I had a load of laundry in the washer, one in the dryer, and my desk is clear off! I put away another load of laundry, picked up Alexxis' toys so that I could vacuum. On the way to get the vacuum from my bedroom, I noticed Chaos' hair all over our bedroom carpeting so I set out sweeping that up, then moved to the hallway, and finally this room. It's beginning to look like our computer/nursery/laundry room once more.
Seeing Chaos's hair in our home is a given lately. He's really shedding his winter's coat. Anyone who has ever had a Lab in their home can attest to how much Lab's shed normally, but this is entirely different. As much as an inconvenience sweeping and vacuuming it all up is, {I vacuum our home twice a day!} I'm reminded that Spring is indeed on its way.
I, also, made a trip out to the studio today. Once again, it pains my heart to see it in the condition it is in. Now gone are Amber and Chris' furniture, as they've since moved, but in its place Don has been attempting to clean out his garage and would you care to guess where some of his things have now ended up? As I took a look around, I made notations of what could be removed and where they can be stored, along with noting what Don needs to remove from my space! It will be so much easier cleaning, moving, purging these things from our lives once the weather breaks, so I'm attempting to practice some patience. As I closed the studio door to head back into the house, I hear a robin singing! Looking to see if I could spot him, I noticed several other birds, mostly blackbirds, but there in our Pear tree, sitting on a branch filled with buds was a Yellow Goldfinch! I sat in wonder and amazement as I watched him for a while before returning to the tasks at hand.
As I entered our home once again, I noticed some other things that need attending to, so I began focusing my attention on them before deciding to stop, to take a break, drink another cup of coffee and type this post. All I can really say is that this feeling of what makes me feel uncomfortable is really rewarding! I'm accomplishing things! I'm cleaning our home and I'm loving life! Today, the sun is shining in Ohio, and the weatherman says we may just reach a high of 43 degrees. Hey, I'll take it! It beats the rain and snow we had yesterday, even if more is on the way! I've decided to wait until around 2 p.m. to begin working on the jacuzzi chemicals so that I can enjoy some of the warmth and sunshine. Who knows perhaps Chaos will get a good brushing out between chemical additions, LOL! And if he's really good, I may even throw his ball for him a few times. You know what they say, "A good lab, is a tired lab." so perhaps that will keep him out from under my feet while I celebrate and create A GREAT DAY!

CED 2008 ~ Lists...Desires of my heart...

I didn't make it out to finish our jacuzzi maintenance yesterday. It seems as if Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have teamed up once more to throw even more havoc towards the desires of my heart. It rained, I'm talking really rained, nearly 2" by the end of the evening and to add insult to injury the rain turned over to slush, then freezing rain, and finally over to snow once again! How dare you! LOL!

Aren't getting all the good vibes I'm sending out into the universe? Can't you feel the longing for Spring that is within my heart?

Anyways, the snow didn't amount to any accumulation here. Thankfully, but it certainly was somewhat of an annoyance for me. Instead of dwelling on the terrrible joke that Mother Nature was playing on me, I decided to try to make the best of out it that I possibly could.

I believed that there would be a good possibility that I'd have Alexxis yesterday, although I had called and spoken to Amber to see if she could possibly make other arrangements. During our conversation, I explained that Don would be making a trip to Columbus and that I would have loved to go along. I wasn't feeling too comfortable with the idea of taking Alexxis that far from home as it is approximately a 3 hour trip and normally consists of us stopping somewhere along the way for shopping and an easy lunch. I simply dislike the idea of her being straped in a car seat for that length of time, although she does love to ride. Anyways, when I hadn't heard back from her by early morning, I checked my cellphone and seen that she had called earlier while I was still sleeping and Don was in the bathtub. I checked my voicemail to discover that she hadn't left a message, so I attempted numerous time to telephone her back only to get kicked into her voicemail. Around 9 a.m. Don ran some errands in preparation of leaving, and by 9:45 a.m. he was ready to leave. Not hearing from Amber, I decided to stay at home so as not to leave her stranded without childcare.

Shortly after 10 a.m. my cellphone rang and it was Chris, who informed that he had been in a meeting and couldn't answer his cellphone at the time but that Amber had been able to make childcare arrangements with his Mom. He apologized profusely to me once he realized I had stayed home and not went along with Don.

I wasn't too upset as I was really feeling torn between going along with him and staying home enjoying spending time with Little Miss. But I had no intentions of missing out on both opportunities, but that is exactly what happened. Instead of allowing that to ruin my day,
I decided I was going to try to make the most out of it by doing something enjoyable, something just for me, although my energy level really wasn't at an all time high. I decided to workout for 20 minutes, drank a 8 oz. glass of cold water, and relaxed for approx. 15 minutes while I cooled down. Afterwards, I treated myself to a nice, long soak in the bathtub, shaved my body, gave myself a facial, and then a pedicure! It felt wonderful to be focusing on my self-care, loungingly taking my time, having nothing to hurry towards, just being in that pampering myself moment.

Afterwards, I decided to slip into a fresh, clean pair of pj's and read my bible while I waited for Don to return. Upon his arrival home, I set out to cooking us a lunch, which turned into being our lunch and supper as neither of us were hungry as the evening rolled around.

I'm attempting to lose some weight, although I'm not doing anything special. I have no set diet lined up, just continuing to eat healthy like we normally do, only in smaller portions and increasing my daily activity. So far, it seems to be working; well, at least I'm feeling thinner although I didn't actually weight myself before, during, or after. It just something you feel..... like your clothes fitting more comfortably, LOL! What motivated me to do this for myself is a few weeks ago I noticed that I felt uncomfortable in one of my favorite pairs of jeans. Those jeans were my "feel good" jeans --- meaning whenever I put them on, I felt great! I was happy with the way I looked in them and other people were giving me compliments on how well I looked. Until one day, even my favorite jeans weren't looking so good and I wasn't feeling so good in them. In fact, they were becoming very uncomfortable. Instead of running out purchasing new jeans, I decided I could just slip into something more comfortable like my pj's, sweat pants, anything with some give! What I discovered is that was a huge mistake! I felt as if somehow I gained an additional ten pounds. After realizing that, I thought I'm putting on my favorite jeans, perhaps feeling uncomfortable is exactly the motivation that I need. So, I worn them one day and the next day I noticed another pair of my jeans were just as uncomfortable. This feeling lasted about a week and all the while I was eating smaller meals, drinking more water, and increasing my activity. Today, that all seems to be paying off! As I slid my body into my favorite jeans, I noticed they no longer fit as snuggly and aren't so uncomfortable. That feeling of being uncomfortable really inspired me to do something about my weight!

When I considered that concept, I began to wonder whatelse in my life am I feeling uncomfortable about, and I began making a list. I'm hoping to use that list to push me out of my comfort zone and to where I desire to be. I'm thinking if take baby steps, just as I did with each and every meal, the water I drank, the no eating after 7 p.m., and the increased activity, towards each activity on my list while focusing on each of them a little each day, one day I may just wake up and feel comfortable again with those areas of my life.

I have so many areas of my life that I desire to improve, trust me, they are too numerous to list here, but I hesitate to start sometimes because they are items that I won't see instant gratificaiton from them immediately. Another factor, is that I am being pulled in so many different areas of my life, being a wife, a mother, a grandmother, the daughter of aging parents and that list goes on and on and on...

Well, I can sit and list interfering factors all day long, but I finally decided that if I don't begin addressing these issues now, when will I? I know there will always be a someone and/or a something in the way. What I discovered is that I do not want to put until tomorrow what I should be doing today! So, little by little, I'm working on my list. I know one day I'm going to feel just as surprised by my the rewards of my efforts, just like I did today when I put on my favorite blue jeans!

I know the weather isn't going to be the greatest today. In fact, it may just barely reach 45 degrees, but it will not be raining {at least not on my parade...} and I have every intention of finishing what I have started. So what if it is a little chilly outside, I can bundle up, grab the chemicals, and inbetween putting them in take a short walk around our property inspecting what needs to be done here and there. If I do get cold, I can come in and warm up. I may even desire to wait until I do feel a little uncomforatble just to experience that once again and motivate me to do a little more!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Preparing for Spring's "Official" Arrival!

Just so everyone doesn't believe I spend ALL my time on the computer, blog hopping around, late in the afternoon yesterday, I began preparing the jacuzzi for spring! It was 50 degrees here yesterday and although there's still a chill in the earth and the wind, it made for the perfect time to get out on the back deck and make all the necessary preparations.
In my bathing suit and armed with a large terry cloth rag {that we use for this purpose only}, a bottle of stain and scale remover, and a towel and a robe for afterwards, I inspected and cleaned our jacuzzi.
First, I have to step down inside it, as our jacuzzi is sunken and the deck built up around it. This makes it so much easier for us, especially Don. Next, I left the jets off and wiped every inch of the jacuzzi's interior, jet casings and all. It is a time consuming process and takes me roughly half an hour just to wipe everything down. It's amazing how much lime and calcium deposits our city water contains and that is mostly what I am dislodging.
After exiting the jacuzzi, drying off, putting my robe and slip my shoes on, I remove the jacuzzi's filter and inspect it. Yep, it is dirty! There's faint trace of calcium and lime built up on the filter so in order for the filter to effectively remove all the debris I dislodged, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Well, anyone who has a jacuzzi can tell you that there are degreaser products available to clean your jacuzzi's filters, but since we are so very careful not to enter the jacuzzi with any oils, lotions, or deodorants on, grease isn't much of a problem for us; not as much as the chemicals in our water supply anyways.
Next, I use my wet towel to hold the filter to take it into our kitchen sink for cleaning. I fill one side of our sink with hot water and Dawn and use the opposite side for a thorough rinsing. Afterwards, the filter is ready to be placed in the jacuzzi once more but before I do that, I use a pool skimmer to remove all the fine particles that I can. I also use a vacuum the jacuzzi's interior ,with a special vacuum designed to work in water; we have a wet vacuum that is only used in the jacuzzi for cleaning. Once that is complete, I replace the now cleaned and allow the jacuzzi's jets to circulate the water so that the filtration system can re-circulate the calcium and lime deposits that I removed to be trapped in the now clean filter. At this point, the water in the jacuzzi is no longer crystal clear, but slightly cloudy but you can no longer see any small floating particles that might be caught by the newly cleaned filter.
I add the recommended Stain and Scale remover to the water. This product is by SpaGaurd and prevents scale build-up from high calcium levels and will remove any residual effects that I may have missed. We regularly use this concentrated formula to prevent scale build-up on spa surfaces, piping, and filtration and the heating elements. It also prevents stains caused by iron, copper and manganese.. Once added, I am able to turn on the jets and walk away. The jacuzzi and the now treated water will do the rest.
Today and in between the raindrops that are falling, I will remove the filter once more, bring it in and give it another gentle cleaning with hot water and dawn and a good rinsing. Once placed back in the jacuzzi, I can now focus my attention to treating the water for regular maintenance.
Part of a jacuzzi maintenance is keeping the water clean and clear. You don't want any bacteria or algae growing in it as it can make you sick, especially if you've an open or seeping sore anywhere that the bacteria can use as an entryway. Don and I make it a practice to be certain any war wounds we may receive from working in our yard, daily living, or any occasional injuries or accidents are in the healing stag and are scabbed over and almost gone before we enter our jacuzzi, for that reason. Before I add any of the maintenance chemicals, I check the level of foam in the water. If the jacuzzi is extremely foaming, I'll add an Anti-foam. Foam will make the jacuzzi resemble an exotic bubble bath but it isn't recommended as it may contain some undesirable compounds and detergents. One reason I rinse the filter thoroughly, as it can cause foam. Yuck!
Chemicals that I add, which have to be added one at a time, and have a time lapse before any other chemicals can be added are Shock and Total Alkalinity Increaser. These two are a part of our jacuzzi's regular maintainance and are added once a week! On schedule every week, just like clock work.
The shock treatment is a requirement. Every spa needs to be shocked to eliminate undesirable compounds that build up with use. Enhanced Shock allows you to quickly shock your spa and re-enter in just fifteen minutes as long as the free chlorine is between 1-4 ppm. I tend to wait twenty minutes and continue with the chemical maintenance before we get in. The shock also offers additional benefits—like keeping the water sparkling and fresh. This step will assist with removing anything remaining from yesterday's treatment. Before I add any additional chemicals, I test the free chlorine using a test trip. The test strip isn't an exact measurement of the level of chlorine, but it will give me an idea that I'm either close to or in the range I desire to be.
At this point, I have a few choices on what chemical to add. If the water is still slightly cloudy, I will add SpaGuard's Water Clarify. This product will help join these tiny particles together, that are microscopic and too small for the filter to catch, which will allow the filter to remove them, making and keeping the water clear and decrease any additional causes of foam.
Next, comes the Sanitizers. These are either Bromine, Chlorine, or a product called Soft Soak. When you fill your jacuzzi, you need to decide on one or the other and do not mix the chemicals. We use Bromine Concentrate in ours, simply because we use our jacuzzi a lot! Bromine is the strongest bacteria fighter and comes in powerful granules that are extremely easy to use. You simply apply the granules to the water in the correct amount while the pump is running. There is no need to pre-treat with bromide salts. No need to add oxidizers to activate it. And since Brominating Concentrate is pH neutral, there is no need to adjust pH or total alkalinity either. This "one-step" product is used as a regular sanitizer and as an oxidizer to rid the spa of odors and undesirable compounds, once a week.
In addition to the Bromine Concentrate, we use a Brominating Tablets. Instead of a granule like the Concentrate, these are actual 1-inch tablets that are added in a floating dispenser. They dissolve slowly and protect continuously. The tablets are acidic and may lower pH, so the pH and total alkalinity is be tested frequently and adjusted as necessary. Which is the next step in the process.
After the twenty minute time has lasped, I am ready to check the Total Alkalinity of the water. This is an important step as it assists in maintaining our jacuzzi's pH level.
Balanced water is essential to your comfort, water clarity, sanitizer efficiency, and the longevity of spa surfaces and equipment. Maintaining the pH is the most critical factor. It is also the most sensitive, changing rapidly when bathers, products or other elements enter the water.
When the total alkalinity is in balance, it buffers the pH. When metals and minerals like iron, copper, manganese and calcium are out of balance, they can also damage the interior jacuzzi surface and its filtration and circulation equipment. So, this is vital to our jacuzzi as well as our health. Adding Total Alkaliity Increaser stabilizes the pH level of the water by balancing total alkalinity. Once it is a normal range, I'm ready to adjust the actual ph levels, either by adding pH up or ph down, whichever is needed. Total Alkalinity also assist with avoiding a phenomen known as "pH bounce" If you've ever experienced it, you know what a pain it can be to maintain a correct level. Too high a pH, and you run the possibility of ruining your jacuzzi through corrosion; to low, and calcium can build up affecting your jacuzzi's filtration system. It's best to do this step correctly, use the Total Alkalinity Increaser, then take a water sample to your spa's dealer and have the water tested.
A water test is a simple test, it can be completed in a matter of minutes by your dealer. You simply take a bottle, submerse it in your jacuzzi's water, remove, cap the bottle, and off to the Spa Dealers you go. A test is performed on the water that tells you exactly the levels of the chemicals in your jacuzzi's water. It also is given to you in a printable form, with notations of each chemicals level and how much of what you need to add. I love it! This information gives me precise measurements and I'm able to return home, use the chemicals I need in the correct amounts and toss them in! It's truly as simple as that... and I avoid having to deal with any possibility of "pH bounce"... Love it!
Another factor of having our water tested through our jacuzzi's dealer is that we do not have to drain and refill our jacuzzi's water every 45-50 days. With regular maintenance, our spa is safe from any contaminates that could possible ruin our filtration and circulation system or the spas interior. We can enjoy the jacuzzi and not be waiting for water to drain or the jacuzzi to refill and then the water to heat up!
We do, however, drain and fill our jacuzzi regularly. Probably more like every 65-70 days. I keep a log that I designed on our computer. It allows me to record our maintenance schedule and I know when it is nearing or time to drain. This is something we will be doing in the next several weeks as we prepare for the upcoming enjoyment season! Right along with purchasing a new filter on our next visit to have our water tested.
The most often question that I am asked is probably, "Do you use your jacuzzi year round?" Yes, we do! We're probably not in it as often in winter, mainly due to snow levels on our rear deck surrounding the jacuzzi, although we've been known to shovel it so we can use it, LOL! Another factor, is if it is extremely cold. Now let me tell you we've been out in the jacuzzi in extremely cold temperatures. I'm talking like 1 or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, but any lower than that and you can have it! We do have to use a little caution and common sense when enjoying it in winter. Any water spilled over and onto the deck boards, freezes almost instantly when it is that cold. It certainly makes for an interesting sprint to get to and inside our rear door and interior hallway!
Summer time is another factor. We often get asked, "How can you stand to be in the jacuzzi when it's so hot outside?" Well, that is easy enough to be adjusted. We lower the waters temperature. In 90 or 100 degree temperatures, we will lower the water temperature to around 90-95 degrees. I realize that sounds like but when you realize your body temperature is normally 98.6, trust me that is enough to cool you off!
I also need to add a disclaimer here: We do follow our jacuzzi's safety precautions. Don has high blood pressure so we have to be extremely careful that he stays in the jacuzzi no longer than 15 minutes at a time. I follow this rule as well, as the water temperature can raise your blood pressure when you stay in longer than recommended. People with diabetes also need to use a jacuzzi with caution as they often have circulatory problems which can be affected. Another consideration that I'm going to add in here is the use of alcohol! As your body temperature increases, it can rev up your metabolism, which can increase or decrease your body's own ability to maintain your blood sugar and increase the metabolic rate of which your body absorbs alcohol.
We are extremely cautious with the use of alcohol and do drink responsibly, meaning there's a big difference from enjoying the jacuzzi while having one glass of red or white wine, and having a beer, or a mixed beverage. More than one, stay out of the jacuzzi! We won't go into how I know that one, let's just say suffering a case of the dry heaves is no picnic and can easily ruin what may have been an enjoyable evening!
Another precaution we take is for Alexxis' safety. Well, the safety of any child really. {For those who don't know, Alexxis, is our 23 month old grand-daughter.} Since Alexxis is mobile now, we take every measure to ensure her safety. She isn't allowed on our rear deck without the supervising of an adult! We also latch our jacuzzi's cover after each and every time we are in it, without fail! We make "no mistakes" there and often take the time to re-check one another's latching. This is extremely important!
As Alexxis is now getting older, we're looking into adding a small wooden fence and a self-locking gate to be added off of our home and to the fence that surrounds the jacuzzi on two sides. Actually three sides of our jacuzzi is enclosed, while the fourth side is open onto the remaining area of our rear deck. Enclosing it for a few years, or possibly allowing it to remain in place isn't a problem. As I've previously mention, we're very "safety first". There is no substitute.
Maintaining our jacuzzi is just one of my many roles around our home. It is one that I find enjoyable, even if it is a bit of a hinderence waiting for this before that can be added. I've found it best to grab a beverage, a good book, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while completing my tasks. I look forward to spring's arrival tomorrow.... hopefully, warmer temperatures won't be too far behind. Oh, I almost forget to mention that while enjoying cleaning our and maintaining our jacuzzi yesterday, I also heard the "cheerio-cheeriup" song of an American robin. He was singng my sentiments exactly... "Cheeriup, Spring!" I wasn't able to actually see him, but hearing his song, I know Spring is on it's way!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One Last Post For the Day...

Aren't these the most adorable Interior Design style rubberstamps you've ever seen in your life? I was so totally stoked when I literally stumbled upon them. I was blog-hopping AGAIN, when I saw a post that someone had mentioned Club Stamp! I hadn't been on their websites for a year or more, so I decided to browse their Gotta Have More collections.
Well, as I was browsing through rubber stamps, I came upon one of the above images and noticed it was part of a collection. The November 2006 Interior Design collection! How perfect are these for adding to our Home Sweet Home book? It was as if they had been designed specifically for me! I know I couldn't have done it any better. Well, needless to say, these sweet little babies will hopefully be winging their way to me! *Crossing my fingers that they are still available for purchase! I've already received my confirmation notice.* I also purchased the mounted stamp image of the Grand Entrance image!
And a disclaimer: I didn't even hesitate to purchase them... as my husband said yesterday, "A beautiful person deserves beautiful things!" He may just begin to wish he'd never said that,

A creative idea....

I remember a dream I was having when I woke up this morning. In my dream I was creating these beautiful water colored seashells using watercolors on a beautiful water colored washed of sand. I'm certain the dream came about because of all the recent seashell purchases and my recent fascination with paints... Any kind of paints!

While blog-hopping, I remember seeing on someone blogs, {sorry, I don't remember who or where} a beautifully used Cotman Watercolor set. The tray had been used for mixing beautiful colors and next to it on a pad of watercolor paper lay a gorgeous water colored image. I loved it! Watercolors are so dreamy in quality! Perhaps that is why my subconscious mind choose them in my dream.

Anyways, as we've been getting our home in order the subject of paint has come up numerous times. It is the one thing that you can purchase inexpensively that creates the biggest impact in your home and in your life. While thinking about creating our outdoor living space, I've been considering painting a enamel painted floor cloth onto our deck.

At first thought, I thought a beautiful black and white harlequin style checkerboard would be gorgeous, especially decorated with a bright spring green! Well, as luck would have it, after choosing all of the above items, I don't believe the black and white checks are not going to provide a unified look to the space, at least not the look I'm after.

While unpacking our purchases yesterday, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful stripes on one of the two placemats we'd chosen. Aren't those colors gorgeous? {That must be my new word of the day! I seem to be using it enough!} I quickly remembered that I have two quart sizes of paint in the green and the blue left over from a flea market dresser than I re-finished a few years ago, so therefore, all I need is two quarts of an off-white and a brown. I was going to have to purchase two quarts anyways to do the black and white check, so that isn't a problem really.

I've so wanted a beautiful woven rug to put under our patio table for many years. In fact, last summer or the year before, we purchased an inexpensive one --- just to try it out. It was bold and colorful and worked well enough for last year, except even screwed to our deck boards, Don kept tripping over it. For a Capricorn, he isn't the most sure-footed goat in mountain range, especially with the CP. Painting a floor cloth is a perfect idea as there's nothing but the illusion of one actually being there. I can also scatter a few more smaller ones around anywhere I'd like and I love that idea. Wonder if could paint one in the illusion of it being wrinkled? That would drive Don crazy as he is always straightening our home's rugs up, LOL!

Anyways, I cannot to actually get started on this. The two quart size cans of paint are now on our list. Of course there's something we'll have to wait on, like the weather to get warmer, and preparations to make, like power washing the deck and waterproofing it afterwards, but these are things that I'd be doing already anyways! For now, I'm enjoying the concept of it all... and who knows, maybe you'll see that deck wall mural that I spoke about last year finally come to life! I see palms trees, surrounding by sand, with shells washed up on the beach! And while I'm dreaming, you can see the source of all this inspiration in the second photograph below....

Beautiful Things for a Beatiful Person...

I very rarely "toot my own horn" so to speak. I cannot tell you why, perhaps I'm simply "wired" that way. I remember a wonderful friend from one of my bible study groups once saying to me she couldn't believe I would seek a prayer request of being humbled as I am one of the most humble persons she has ever known. And I sincerely took that as a compliment.
I'm not one to enjoy being in the spotlight. I'm so much happier staying behind the scenes, contributing to those who enjoy that area more than I ever could. Beginning this blog was a major step for me! And I have online friends that I've had for years that could probably attest to the fact that they know so little about me and are learning more by visiting me here.
That probably has a lot to do of why I've never truly explored selling my art anywhere. It simply isn't in my current nature. Although, I have to admit that sometimes I entertain that notion. I believe we are, as women, are often our own worse critics, I know I certainly am. There's that feeling of "I'm not good enough" of the things that we do, the "comparison" of someone who does it so much better, and that ever growing question of am I knowledgible enough to do {insert whatever here}. As a woman, I tend to question my abilities all the time. I hesitate to "put myself out there" probably mostly because of "the great fear of the unknown" and there's that ever lingering question of "what if I failed?" and the entire world see's me?
Lately, I've been asking myself what would happen if I explored this side of myself more? What if I asked, "what's the best thing that could happen if I succeed?" Well, I guess I'm never going to know if I don't at least attempt to do anything so I'm exploring that side of myself. But for now, just for now, I'm content with enjoying the knowledge that my husband believes I'm a beautiful person, even when I don't quite think I am. {smile...}

CED 2008 ~ Is it really ALL about the shopping?

Shopping certainly seems to be a re-occurring theme in our lives lately. While visiting Rhoda, I read where she commented on the rising cost of groceries and gasoline. We feel that "pinch" here in our home as well as millions of families across the country.
Some of the things that we do to save $$$ is to shop through the weekly advertisements to see what is on sale and where. I create several grocery lists by store name. We purchase store brand foods, with the occassional exception of brand name buying. Some items I just cannot get over their quality so we splurge on those items. I do clip coupons, but only on items I would normally purchase. Visiting manufactures websites is another great way to obtain coupons for items that you do use in your home, as well as trying samples of new products as they become available.
To save on gasoline, we try to visit the stores while we in those areas of our hometown doing other errands. It definately takes some juggling and some time management skills but it does save us from burning and contributing to the rising price of gasoline.
We've been seriously considering putting in a vegetable garden! I'd love to grow our own mixings for salads... we eat a lot of them throughout the year! Other vegetables would be sweet corn, green beans, and tomatoes. I used to do canning with my mother and grandmother so I do know how to, and with the rising costs of gasoline, tending to a garden and canning would definately assist us in saving money, staying at home more, and traveling less. Did I mention that it is also good for the environment, not to mention our health?
In preparation for Spring's arrival here in Ohio, our thoughts have returned to setting up our outdoor living space. We love spending time on our rear deck! Eating out, entertaining family and friends, enjoying the jacuzzi! And yes, we do enjoy it during the winter months. Its a short sprint to the hallway door and your back inside where it is warm and cozy. We were out in the jacuzzi on Sunday evening, the temperature outside was 43 degrees, the wind was a little chilly, but the clouds in the sky separated and allowed the moon to shine through. It's heavenly! When your in the jacuzzi with 104 degree water temperature surrounding you, relaxing your muscles and warming your old bones, you simply cannot complain. We find it so very relaxing, as well as therapuetic to both of us. I've previously mentioned that Don was born with Cerebral Palsy with effected his legs, his gait, and his walk and I have been through two horrible car accidents. Purchasing the jacuzzi was one of the best things we have ever done for ourselves.
Anyways, along with the recent thoughts of Spring, opening back up our outdoor living space, my thoughts instantly turn to decorating it up! And while out shopping on Sunday and Monday, I found some wonderful bargains on items we didn't already own.
At Kohl's on Sunday, I found the most adorable sand castle birdhouse, a beautiful green glass bee keeper, and two green fish shaped acrylic platters which I purchased one small and one larger of.
After leaving Linens-N-Things yesterday, we made a trip into our favorite store: Home Goods. Have you ever been there? OMG! I so love it! Everytime we visit, I can find something, and yesterday was no exception. I immediately spotted the most beautiful dishes; they are La Dolce Vita by JA Designs, Inc. The Turquoise Crackle Collection and are fine china. Undecided, Don talked me into purchasing a set of two large plates, a salad plate, matching bowls, and the only coffee cup they had.
They will be perfect for the two of us when we desire a romatic evening dinnner complete with candlelight.
We, also purchased, two beautiful seashell platters. Well, I don't believe they were intended to be platters, but rather plates but for us and our entertaining we'll utilize them as platters. We purchase one in a beautiful light pink shaped like a scalloped shell and a larger one in white that looks more like a clam shell. They are both beautiful! I also couldn't resist two of the most gorgeous aqua starfish dishes. They are smaller, but so adorable.
Next, I needed an outdoor tablecloth. I'd considered sewing my own but do not have the right fabric so I'd need to purchase it anyways, so for less than $5, I decided to purchase one. It's less than I could create one for, not to mention the time it would take me to actually do it.
To add to the ensamble, I throw in 4 acryllic 8 oz. glasses. They are clear with little fishes on them and to break up the color scheme, I choose two in blue and two in green. Throw in two more acrylic glasses in the 4 oz. size decorated with palm trees in both the colors of the previously mentioned acryllics and we've plenty for entertaining a small gathering of family and friends!
Our biggest splurge item was a beautiful brown and turquoise glazed seashell filled with a double wicked citronella candle! Well, I should say, "Don's splurge" because he fell in love with it and said, "We must get this!" LOL! I couldn't argue because it matches the bronze interior of our jacuzzi and will be a perfect accent piece on a side table. It also goes with some of the previous decor items we purchased last year so we love that.
Now before you get to thinking I'm spoiled rotten, which I am, I have to tell you a little story that truly touched my heart. You see, I was so hesitant to purchase any of the above items, especially after the new drapes, pillows, and two new woven placemats purchase made previously at LNT's. As I pondered the decision to purchase these items, I'm asking myself the entire time, is this really what I want to do? Why? you may ask... is that we're dipping into our savings. When I mentioned that to Don, his reply was, "Cath, don't you believe you deserve beautiful things?" You are always doing and buying things to help other people, shouldn't you begin treating yourself with the same respect and kindness? I love you and I want you to have all the desires of your heart." Now, if that isn't enough to bring tears to my eyes. So, I'm batting back the tears with my eyelashes and smiling the biggest smile you've ever seen as I place each and every item in our shopping cart! I know in my heart, he's so right. I do think of others, often giving up my time, my money, and my heart and soul along the way. And I Do Deserve to be HAPPY! So, if having beautiful things to share with my family and friends is what I desire to do, I intend to do more of it!
I truly believe a beautiful home reflects our love of our lives, our loves, our families and friends. And I'm also a firm believer that a beautiful home doesn't mean you have to spend a small fortune. In fact, while raising my own dd, Amber, alone as a single parent so many years ago, we barely had the necessities of life to get by. We made each and day fun, exciting, and special by enjoying the simpliest things in life. Drinking orange juice out of plastic wine glasses, having an "upside down day" where we'd have breakfast for dinner, picking a bouquet of dandelions for a tabletop bouquet and using a cup for a vase! But you know what, those are the most precious memories my daughter and I remember and cherish. We kept things simple and enjoyed the time we spent with each other more than the pleasuere of eating off of fine china could ever give us. Those were certainly the days and the things I so look forward to with my grand-daughter Alexxis. I cannot wait for tea parties in the garden. Okay, truthfully, I don't have "a garden" but I do have a beautiful pear tree that flowers each spring. It's perfect for spreading a blanket on the ground and enjoying Life!
There are a lot of little ways you can spend time with your loves one that can actually save you money once you stop to think about them. Doing things like taking a walk to the park to play on the swings or swim in their pool vs. having your own in your backyard allows you to spend a little extra on the finer things in life. Although, I often get them confused, the most precious is that time with family and friends and the love we feel towards one another in our hearts.

CED 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

CED 2008 ~ A few more simple changes in our home's decor...

Armed with my new "wish list", Don and I set out today to make the trip to Polaris Parkway. Our first stop, Linens-N-Things to check out the drapes I spotted online. I instantly fell in love their interlined inverted pleated panels while sitting at my computer moniter, but wondered how far off the colors on my monitor could actually be. I knew that if they were half as pretty as they appeared on my screen, these panels would be perfect for our living room. I loved the fact that the are machine washable, cold cycle, on gentle and I can tumble them dry on low, as well as run a cool iron over them if needed. That certainly beats having to run to the dry cleaners and the added expense!

As soon as we saw them, we were immediately surprised. Not only were the colors correct, they were even more beautiful that I ever could have imagined! Don loved them... and what's not to love? They certainly aren't anything frilly...
We, also, purchased two new beautiful gold Elite filled super fine microfiber pillows.
I'd seen the exact same pillows yesterday while browsing at Kohl's at a much higher price!

What a difference these items make in our room! This photo was captured right after I hung them, I've since straightened out the right side so the pleats show their full beauty! I also switch the pillows on the sofa.}Another difference is the before photographs were all taken during the day, where as this one was taken at night. I assure you the gold color of the pillows aren't cream as my flash makes them appear here; they're actually gold like our sheers, and if anything have a light yellow tint to them.

Now gone is the darker, bigger green rug that made the sofa seem bigger than it actually is. In its place the smaller patterned rug that breaks up the solid appearance of colors and and the size of the furnishings visually. After dry-cleaning, the tapestry curtains and the original pillows that came with our sofa will be stored away until they're required next winter! For now, our room is now so much lighter and airier, perfect for getting us through both spring and summer, and into autumn!

While we were driving, Don and I were chatting away about our hopes and dreams for our home, and I was stunned to learn that he, too, is tired of the paneling! He said, "whenever you're ready, I'll help you take it down." Of course, that requires a bit a work. We'd need to remove the crown molding, which I originally was desiring to re-paint or stain, and the wall behind the panel would need patched and repaired, if not replaced entirely. Who knows what we'd discover under there? We're seriously considering it.... and can recycle it by using it in his garage, LOL!

Oh, and remember my comment about how having a list would hopefully help us resist any impulse buying? Well, let's just forget I ever said that, shall we? I believe I ruined any preconceived notions that I actually might have had while window shopping online. It's certainly an entirely new ballgame when you're in the moment!!!

We also talked about re-arranging. A blog reader suggested moving the one end stand from in front of the window as it's too close to the coffee table. I've taken your advise to heart and tomorrow will move the end stand to see how it looks. I do have a smaller table we could place there if it is too bare looking. Also, it may be a great location when our chairs arrive! We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My thoughts continue on the home decorating side of life. Yesterday, I browsed online, found some inspirational photographs, and did a bit of online window shopping to see what is available to us within a 50 mile radius of our home. From several different stores with online features, I created a handwritten "wish-list" of item to check out while visiting. This will assist me greatly when we visit those stores in person and I'll know exactly what I'm looking for! Hopefully, this will allow us to make our $$$ work for us and help us to avoid those "impulse" buys.

I was beginning to feel a little frustrated and in way over my head again with this home decorating project. I can see the look I want in my mind's eye, but getting there is something else entirely. I really needed to step back and think clearly about it all once again. I discovered that I am on the right track; it's simply going to take us some time and money to achieve it all. As I sat in our living room, in the TV viewing area, I noticed that a lot of what is in the entertaining company and friends area side of the room, are mostly items we've accumulated over the years. Little things, like the seashells, came from our travels through our everyday lives, and not everything was purchased all at once. So, why I thought this process would be any different is entirely beyond me. I know I want to enjoy the journey along the way of reaching completion and that our home is no different. I'm certain that once this room is finished, I'll move on to other rooms. In fact, we've been looking for a new kitchen table and chairs. We're in no rush as we have one that is wonderful, functional, and is used by us. We're just ready for a change.

With those thoughts in mind, I also created a list of items that we need to repair within our home. Items such as purchasing another gallon of our kitchen paint to touch up a few areas that are sparse on paint like the brushed in corners and ceiling edges. This will also enable us to have paint available for touch ups, when necessary. The list provides us a great way to stay focused and allows us to maintain all the hard work we've previously completed and never quite finished.

I know as the weather warms up, the days become longer, we will once again be fixing up our outdoor living space. I have a few inexpensive ideas in mind for that and I know all of it can be done by us as DIY'er's. Thankfully, all the furniture has previously been purchased. So, as we bring it out of storage, we can inspect and repair anything that requires maintaining. A few inexpensive purchases such as cushions, pillows, tablecloths, and outdoor dinnerware and we'll be well on our way. The cost isn't a huge factor as much as safety and creating an environment we love is! Again, I have a list of things to look for and colors that co-ordinate with the inside of our home. I feel this is important as during the summer months we greet our family and friends at the front door and walk through our living area, kitchen, and the connecting bath will provide an unified theme throughout, right out onto the deck! Now, I'm excited! While Don and I work out in the yard today, clearing away fallen and broken tree branches, raking up the remnants of winter, I can dream some more...... and with these lists created, I can relax! I know what I want to look at where, and what items we're searching for. These will be added to our "Home Sweet Home" book and will assist us greatly!

Whatever you and yours are planning today, I wish you the very best. My you feel the sunshine on your face, a leap in your step, and love in your heart!

CED 2008 ~ A Gift for My Readers

I saw this wonderful egg used as a vase on the BHG's website and thought how simple, yet elegant. Wouldn't these be beautiful on an Easter dinner table. I added my egg vase to a wine glass, although the possibilities are endless. They be adorable in a moss covered bird nest!
I added the banner as a "Thank You" to everyone who visits me here, whether or not you leave a comment. I so appreciate each and everyone of you, so here's my "You're eggstr-special!" award. Consider yourself tagged and list 5 people who inspire you.
My 5 include:
who has been inspiring me to make our home beautiful!
Lisa Renea, who has been a wonderful online friend through the year and
whose handwriting I've fallen in love with.
Dymphie, who inspires me as I watch her grow and am inspired by as an artist.
Linda, who keeps me connected with so many online friends and offers swaps to
assist with keeping us all in contact with one another.
and, last but never the least,
Rebecca, one of my dearest friends, who inspires me and provides
me comfort just by knowing she's there!

Friday, March 14, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Playing Preschool Teacher

For today's CED excercise, I got to play "Preschool Teacher." Our dear grand-daughter, Alexxis McKenzie is 23 months old now and we're learning. Alexxis attention span is short, so its a challenge to incorporate learning with play but we're managing quite nicely. We're learning our colors: red, yellow, green, and blue; our shapes: circles, triangles, and squares; our numbers: 1-5; and practicing our A, B, C's, along with Animals and their sounds. We also play "Peek-A-Boo" and sing the A, B, C song on the Fisher Price website. Today, we printed off coloring book pages to color to re-inforce our learning of the number 1 {one}, the color red, and the circle. To work on our animals, we choose one cat! Alexxis wasn't into coloring her cat, so grandma taught her about the one cat and that baby cats are called kittens and both of them make a "meow" sound. We also learned that cat is singular, meaning one cat; while "cats" means "two or more". Alexxis mimics the sounds and repeats "kitty-kitty". She is so adorable and fun!
We had breakfast, learned our ABC's; watched a bit of Franklin on Noggin; then had a 15 min. excercise routine where we dance to her musical rabbit. After another lesson, we just play with toys for a little while before it's soon time for lunch. After lunch, we rest for a bit to let our food digest a little bit, and then it's time for another short lesson. We end with hanging the results of our efforts on grandma's freezer which is our make-shift art gallery. We clap hands and tell each other good job!
When Daddy arrives from his business meeting, Alexxis has to show him our gallery; her little face just beams. It is so much fun watching her play, laugh, grow, and learn ; but that smile and the sense of confidence she's gaining with each and every effort makes the time we spend working all worthwhile!
Some of her favorite songs are "If your happy and you know it: clap it your hands!", "Patty cake", and "Ring Around the Rosy". We sing, dance, and simply have fun. My dd, Amber recently complimented me about working with Alexxis. After watching her within their home, Alexxis and I were caught playing "Ring Around the Rosy" when Amber arrived. Amber sat her purse down on the dining room table, look at me and said, "Mom, I'm so glad your so fun! Alexxis loves you." She had tears in her eyes as she spoke and then, as she reached for my hand, she said, "I want to play, too." So, Alexxis, Amber, and I held hands, walked in a circle, and sang until, "We all fell down." Later, I told Amber that I secretly love playing with Alexxis. It allows me to act like a child, without looking stupid doing it. LOL! Being a grandmother for the first time is truly a blessing! I cannot think of anything more precious, well perhaps the birth of a child, but a grandchild is truly a dream come true!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Fresh flowers & More home decorating...

Upon awakening late this morning, I was very impressed with the recent additions and redecorating efforts I had made in half of our living room. The new cabinet is absolutely beautiful! Especially since it is filled with trinkets and treasures of thing we both cherish. I couldn't help but to smile to myself as I wondered through the kitchen doorway to grab my first and the only cup of coffee I'd have the opportunity of actually drinking today. Along the way, I couldn't help but to notice how bare the left wall in this side of the living room seemed. Although I know we'll have our Spider back chairs soon to fill that space, I couldn't resist putting something there temporarily, but what?
Then, I remember that one of our new end stands that we just purchased is a nesting style table --- two tables that actually form one. Why couldn't I take the small one and do a Spring vignette on top of it? The larger table could be turned towards the wall for a more finished look. It will work temporarily until I receive our new chairs.
Anyways, long story - shortened, after moving the small end stand table, I ended up re-arranging the opposite side of the room! I switched out the love seat with the chair and vice- versa along with the end stands as I knew I alone didn't have the strength nor the desire to move the TV with all it's electrical components and electric wiring nightmare. So, this provided a quick and easy solution that just happened to work beautifully! Before I knew what hit me, I was dusting, washing walls and windows, vacuuming, and puttering about creating the above beautiful vignettes.
While out yesterday afternoon, picking up our second end stand, as we could only haul one at a time in the Jeep, I couldn't resist purchasing 4 pots of spring flowers --- 2 hyacinths and 2 reddish-pink tulips. And do they ever smell heavenly!!! The hyacinth flowers were so heavy that the poor little stems could barely support them and a few were growing sideways in the pots. I knew I had to do something! So, I began removing some tulips to add to an Easter bunny vase, and then separated the rest. The poor things were so root-bound, so it's a good thing I did that. I supported the stems and flower heads as I worked by inserting some little wooden skewers and twist ties. I was also amazed that I was able to create five fresh flower arrangements from those four purchase pots and quickly scattered them about the room!
Other than for Christmas, I normally do not decorate our home, but today I was on a roll! I searched high and low for items that would work, including borrowing two of Little Miss' bunnies! LOL! I believe I truly have SPRING FEVER!!!!
You may also notice that I only took photographs or the end stands and the table scape on top of our TV. There's other furniture in the living room, I assure you, I did move a chair and a love seat, LOL! I didn't take photographs of them for several reasons. One, they are a floral pattern. Once beautiful to me, but something I've quickly outgrown or have gotten over. Two, I believe that they clash horribly with the recently redecorated side, but we do use them on a daily basic, so they're also showing severe signs of every day wear and tear. I recently came up with a wonderful, inexpensive solution! I'm going to sew a slipcover for both them using painter's medium weight canvas drop cloths! Complete with each individual cushion ! So, I picked up five 9'x12' natural colored canvas cloths today. {I can grab a few more next week for the two ottomans.}
While my mind was whirling about this and along with my recent redecorating thoughts and doings, I realized that whatever fabric I decide upon for the warmer months window treatments, I could pick up some additional fabric in a co-ordinating colors and/or patterns, using our pine, Burgundy, beige {gold} color scheme and make some tablecloths, floor and toss pillows that could be used to tie the two rooms together visually. Throw on some decorative trims and our home will shine! I sincerely think that lack of any additional fabrics in this room is what the room lacks, those soft furnishings. Now, I'm not entirely certain that I'll tackle the sewing all of these projects, but I'm certainly not against attempting them either. With those thoughts in mind, and ready for a fresh, second cup of coffee, I took a break... a short break. As I sat back, relaxing in our home, I truly felt loved, blessed, and happy. I could look around me and see all that Don and I have accomplished together. I remember the road trips we've made through the years, how we stumbled upon Dalton where we found our couch and end stands. And I smiled at all the little moments that are now wonderful, beautiful memories that make up our reality today!