You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me ... C.S. Lewis

Do things to make your day precious ... Bernie Siegel

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Has Finally Arrived ...

Spring is nature's way of saying "let's party!" ... Robin Williams

After years of realizing the living room in the house where we've lived for 25 years needed a makeover, I am currently in the process of doing just that.  I've had fun watching for sales and shopping in thrift stores, flea markets and interesting out-of-the-way shops and finding just the perfect thing to add to the sage velvet furniture I found new for a great price.  That was the starting point.
To that I added an entertainment center to hold my old TV (a new one isn't in the budget right now) and special pieces I love.  I had found this three-piece entertainment unit back in November but didn't buy it then, and I'm so glad I didn't because when I finally was ready to buy in February, it was on close-out so I got all three pieces at 60% off.  I had already decided to buy the TV piece only and not get the two pier pieces that flanked it, but when they said "if you take all three pieces we'll let you have the floor sample for 60% off, how could I say no?
Next I removed the very dirty and dusty mesh fireplace screen ... what a mess.  I painted the inside of the firebox black and because I am not going to build fires even though it is a working fireplace, I will use that area for what I call a vignette, based on the seasons.
Nate Berkus tells us to shop our own home and I've happily found things packed in boxes in the basement as well as in other rooms that look more at home in the new living room.  Just yesterday, I found some marbled paper (basement) that made a perfect cover for some small books I've stacked on the fireplace mantel, next to a pair of silver candlesticks (basement box and ready to give away, but saved in the knick of time), and a clock.
I realized I needed a floor plant to set in the corner next to the entertainment center.  Have you priced them?  Hobby Lobby had some as high as $300!  I began going through thrift shops and found one for $20 that was 5' tall and in very good shape.  After waiting a day (I really like to think it over when I'm buying at a thrift shop or flea market) I went back and still liked it and got it for $15.  I also found a wicker suitcase for $2 which is perfect in my firebox vignette.  In the clearance department at Walmart I found the perfect spring flowers in a basket for the coffee table ($5).

My 20-year old grandson said I needed to place a tray on the ottoman (how did he know that?) which I did and it's the perfect touch. 

I'm proud to say that I have spent well under half of my target amount, but there are still some things to add (today I bought fabric for spring pillows) and some different or re-framed wall art.  And finally, the room needs a fresh coat of paint.

Finally, I've become obsessed with watching the Decorah Eagle Cam and the three adorable eaglets.  Today I read that only 50% of the eagle population makes it through the first year.  Also it seems that they believe in survival of the fittest.  If I see them begin to pick on one another, I'm done, but for right now, it is such fun and definitely feels like spring.

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.  ~Hal Borland

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April in Des Moines

Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters

My town looks especially lovely in springtime ... after the winter we had, it really looks great.  Because of the early warm weather, the spring flowers have bloomed and some are already finished blooming.  Too quickly.  Spring comes and goes too quickly.  We live near a lake, so near that when it floods I like to say we have lakefront property.  Fortunately we aren't that close.  But we are close enough that it's our lake.  It belongs to us and another oh, 300,000 plus people.

Across the street is a park filled with crabapple trees.  Right now it looks like cotton candy in various shades from pure white through pale pink to fuschia and nearly aubergine.  My street leads to a main boulevard with spring flowers and bushes blooming in the median.  Tulips of three or four shades are at their peak.  One of my neighbors has a front yard full of bluebells.

Ah, Spring ...

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ~William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mom and Marshalltown ...

My mom was born on August 3, 1917. Do the math. That means she is 92 years old. She is still very much alive and well in every sense of the word, and is a 20+ year survivor of ovarian cancer. Oh, she gets frustrated at times because she tires more easily and can't walk as fast as I do, but she walks and goes and does. After my father died in 1990, she stayed on the family farm for a couple years before deciding to move to a home in town. She painted the house yellow and white and it became a cottage. She planted a garden in the backyard and always shared delicious treasures with visitors. She stayed there for 16 years until 2009, when she moved to a beautiful two-bedroom condo across from her church. I love her new abode with it's east-facing windows and appealing patio. Usually when I visit her, we stay in and talk as fast as we can because she loves to play hostess and is still the best cook I know.

Saturday we decided to spend a couple wonderful hours together in downtown Marshalltown at a new bookstore called Stepping Stones, an art and gift shop across the street called Perfect Setting, and a new restaurant around the corner called Haven. If I had my way and could change one thing about each of them it would be more light in Stepping Stones, Edith Piaf instead of Barry Manilow songs in the background at Haven, more affordability at Perfect Setting. But each one is lovely as it is. The energy in my former hometown has increased because of the addition of these places and I hope that everyone supports them. There have been other wonderful shops in Marshalltown that have fallen away: Kathy's, Bob's, Dori's. How interesting that they all have people's first names. Maybe that will be one reason these new shops will have staying power. They have names that draw you in, pique your curiosity. I can recommend each of them.

It is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones, after all - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Travel Plans ...

Were you a fan of Mary Tyler Moore? I was crazy about the show. My daughters even said I looked like MTM which of course, I do not, but they were trying to get on my good side! Everything about the show was perfect, and of course, they were able to make us believe it was really happening in Minneapolis. What I can't believe is that I have never visited Minneapolis long enough to drive past the house that was used for the exterior of "Mary's" apartment, and we live only four hours away. That is definitely on my list of "Things To Do" on our upcoming trip to the Twin Cities. We are looking forward to a visit to the Science Museum in St. Paul to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.

It's late March and seeing the spring plants peeping through the dirt gives us such hope. I noticed even the peonies are beginning to break ground. We also have tulips, daylilies, surprise lilies and iris making their appearance.

.I am working on a shawl called "One Skein A Stole" from Noro Garden Sock Yarn and I can't really say I'm crazy about it yet. It's full of dropped stitches so it's light and airy-looking. Maybe I'll be happier with it when I've completed it. I enjoyed making the felted coasters as a gift for a friend so much, that I've been trying to make one a day, felt them and have them on hand when I need a gift.

I just discovered another knitting podcast called "Gives Good Knit" by Tika who is a classic literature buff as well as a yarn and knitting fiend.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes - Marcel Proust

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Long Ago and Far Away ...

... when I was a very young mom with two daughters under 4 we were sent to Mannheim, Germany by my husband's company. The original assignment was to be six months long, but that stretched into a year and then two and finally three. The girls learned to speak German at their nearby kindergarten and I learned to speak German at my twice-a-week Berlitz class. Because it happened so long ago, I have a romanticized idea of the city where we lived, Heidelberg, and have wanted to return. At various times I've expressed that desire but something else has always taken precedence. Possibly, just possibly, I can now say I can see Heidelberg on the horizon.

The most touching thing I've read about the recently passed health care bill is this:
"Ted Kennedy's youngest son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), visited on Monday morning and left a hand-written note that read: 'Dad, the unfinished business is done.' And on a dreary Tuesday morning, Caroline Kennedy, the senator's niece, sat in the front row, with other members of the storied family." His mission is complete.

Happiness...not in another place but this place, not for another hour, but this hour.
- Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finally Spring ...

The peace and beauty of a spring day had descended upon the earth like a benediction - Kate Chopin

Two days ago, we had 4" of snow on the ground, but it quickly melted away. Today I love the fact that the street cleaners are driving their machines up and down every street, brushing the winter dirt away from the curb. It puts an exclamation mark on winter!

Maya Angelou says, "Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant."