Friday, August 31, 2007

Summer Centerpiece: Blue, Orange, and Green

Contrary to what I just wrote on my site on Facebook, I admit that there are some times when the colors blue and orange look good together: such as in nature, exemplified by these tiger lilies in a cobalt-blue vase. The warm orange-brown of the saltshakers is also a nice complement. Okay, so I would never wear orange and blue together, but sometimes they do look just splendid. But for me, I need to add a splash of green. We usually think of dark green candles as being more appropriate for fall or Christmas, but I love how they combine with cobalt blue: during the hot days of summer, blue and green is the ultimate cooling combo. And I was delighted to find this unusual bright green homemade doily at a flea market (I always look through piles of old linens for finds like this one! It was only a dollar.).

Stay cool!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Joshua Memorial Stone: new

I wanted to post this revised version of Joshua's memorial stone to thank those of you who gave us feedback on the earlier version. As you can see, we added a Sacred Heart and cross to the stone, and Ben Hatke added leaves and mushrooms (in homage to hobbits). Here's a closeup of our family crest, which we created in fun with the Hatkes years ago, but which we're making official by including it on this gravestone. The Latin motto is "audacia et prudentia" - courage and prudence. The Siamese cat supposedly stands for courage: the black hen with an egg stands for prudence. The tree represents Christ, the stars represent the Church, and our Blessed Mother is represented by the moon.

It might take us two years to actually have the stone made, but I'm grateful to see the design completed at last. Thanks again for your suggestions and prayers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Favorite Things: Colored Glass Bottles

For some time now, I've been collecting glass bottles in different colors. I'll pay for small bottles that are cobalt blue, light blue, or green (my price is no more than $3 per bottle - usually I pay $1 or less for the small ones at flea markets). The clear and brown glass ones just come my way from medications and herbal supplements. When arranged in a group or in a line on the counter (this is the backsplash of our stove), I like the color combination. And they're great for those times of year when small meadow flowers like dandelions or daisies bloom, tempting small children to bring their mommy a bouquet on every trip outdoors.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Small Salad

My daughter Rose created this diminutive salad for her dad's lunch one day last week, featuring radishes from her own garden. Of course they were very tiny radishes, so she made a very tiny salad. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Katie's Room: the Makeover

While work on our house addition languishes between building inspections, a Christendom College student and friend of ours has moved in with us. Since the room that was supposed to be hers still lacks electricity and insulation, she's moved into one half of the boys' room for now. To make her comfortable, we did a little redecorating, and I was pleased at how things came together.

So, a la Better Homes and Gardens, I'll do a price countdown: I painted a flea market dresser ($5) and a 24" high table with drawers ($10.50) blue. The blue paint was a bucket of rephrensible wall color that came with the house when we bought it (free, if you don't count buying the house). For some reason, the aquamarine that would look appalling on a wall looks wonderful on these salvaged finds. And since the room was already dark blue and light blue with a green stripe, the medium blue was just right. Feeling in a 60's kind of mood, I kept the brass handles on the table and bought new knobs for the dresser (c $12.00). The color combination of bright blue and gold reminds me of a 1960's Hallmark gift book I remember reading as a child.

Following an idea I'd seen in Better Homes and Gardens a few days ago, we made a bed using the low table, some cinderblocks and planks, and an oversized wood frame for headboard. The cinderblocks (hidden behind the dresser) form one half of the bed, and the table supports the other side of the mattress.

The battered wood frame was one I had dug out of the woodshed of our old house, and spray-painted gold to hold a collage for a few years. When the collage fell apart, the frame was relegated to the garage, where my husband would occasionally grumble over it.

But now mounting hardware ($3.00) and one yard of batik fabric ($7.00) fastened in place with upholstery tacks has made the frame into a great focal point (it's the First Thing You See when you go into the room, and it works!) And the colors of the fabric pull everything together even more. Ahhh!

We already owned the IKEA oversized pillow in blue and green check, patterned rug, and green blanket. And Katie contributed her dark blue sheets and a velveteen blue bolster (which, by angelic miracle, matched!) I found the mirror at a thrift store for $6.00. Maybe later we'll add some pictures or wall storage units but for now, it's done. Total cost of rennovation: just under $40.00.

Maybe I should submit it to Better Homes and Gardens...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Shopping with my Guardian Angel: Church Pew

It's taken me a while to get this picture up. For a long time, I've been hunting for a church pew for one side of our table. A bench doesn't quite bridge the gap between wall and table, yet chairs were too troublesome fit in the narrow space. But now that antique church pews are all the rage, it seemed impossible to find one for a price I could in conscience pay.

But earlier this summer, I was visiting my in-laws. The day before we left, I went down the cellar to find something, and spotted the church pew that had formerly graced their entranceway sitting in a corner beneath an old blanket, gathering dust. "Are you giving this away?" I asked my mother-in-law. She was torn: she liked it but had no room for it, and her younger daughters, who have taken over interior decorating, were adamant that it had to go. She had acquired it when someone in the 1970s had dumped a pile of old pews at the 4H hall where their family belongs. The board, anxious to get rid of them, asked everyone to take one home. Then years later, her son-in-law had refinished and refitted the pew. But she was tired of having it in their living room.

Well, like I say, in America, you can acquire just about any material object if you are in the right place at the right time. And your guardian angel, knowing your needs and desires, is usually happy to put you in the right place if he can. So my husband and I took advantage of a nearly-empty suburban to bring the pew home with us. And as you can see, my older children immensely prefer it to the backless bench they had before. Many thanks to my husband, mother-in-law and guardian angel!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Joshua Memorial Bracelet

I've been meaning to post about this for a while. On Joshua's birthday just a few weeks ago, I received the most wonderful package. Kimberlee, a mother who makes jewelry, rosaries, and bracelets with her company Beads of Mercy ( had created a gemstone memorial bracelet of my son Joshua for me. She had spelled out Joshua's name in silver alphabet blocks separated by his birthstone (ruby), and attached charms for things that Joshua had loved the best: a knight in shining armor, a hammer, and a tiny train. She also added a small crown for the crown of glory in heaven, and a crucifix and Miraculous Medal. She included the explanation on a lovely card, along with a personal letter.

The bracelet is truly beautiful, and I'm told this generous woman has done this for others. So I wanted to post this to thank her and to encourage others to check out her jewelry. (I also posted about her in the article I wrote on Joshua's website, 20 Things You Can Do For Those Who Are Grieving.) Personally I think I might try to get a bracelet like this for my own mother for her birthday.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Plants of the Remnant

I kill houseplants. On a regular basis. But on the ledge of my kitchen window are the brave remnants of house plants who've survived a year in my presence. As you can see, they're mostly succulents, though two are plants that I was given for Joshua's funeral (which have all survived remarkably well: I am admiring the florists who stocks plants that are nearly impossible to assasinate). I collect simple statues of the Holy Family, and I was pleased to find this one in a thrift store last year. Perhaps their presence has a calming (and rejuvenating!) effect (I still forget to water).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Link: Sword-Making Tutorial

A while back, I posted some Sword-Fightin' Rules, and I mentioned that I had heard of a way to make a relatively safe and authentic looking play sword, using inexpensive materials (which is important, seeing what a short life most well-used play swords have!). I mentioned that the Robinson family and their friends developed them.

Well, I am happy to discover that Kimberlee on her blog Pondered in My Heart has a full photographic tutorial on how to make the swords out of thin PVC pipe and duct tape! Please check it out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

When Things Come Together At Last...

... I love it. This is the corner of our kitchen, which probably doesn't look very different to you, but which looks wonderful to me now that the missing piece has arrived. We're sort of operating a "temporary" kitchen while house rennovations continue. We put down hardwood floors, built an island out of 2x4's and salvaged old base cabinets from here and there, but that's about as far as we've come: the kitchen awaits much more money before we can replace the sink, refridgerator, and dishwasher, and acquire cabinets that don't have yawning gaps between them.

So for upper cabinets, we hung some old cubbies from my kids' school that closed down, which I painted green and trimmed with beadboard strips. Most of the cubbies are 12x12", but there was one at the end that was two feet high, and I was never sure what to put there. So I put the big tin I keep flour in. (I love tins, as you can see, and the flour tin is my favorite.) But of course, one tin wasn't big enough for the 24" high space.

Then at Big Lots, (which used to be my favorite source for tins before they stopped carrying them) I found the tin decorated with sunflowers full of popcorn. Ta-da! I bought it, gave it to the kids, who instantly devoured the popcorn, and now the tin (which beautifully coordinates with everything else) holds a double box of Cheerios for breakfast. And it fills up the empty space in a way that is, to me, just lovely.

Thank you, Guardian Angel! It might take him time, but he always comes through. And when he does come through, it amazes me that such a mediocre happening - the purchase of a $7.00 tin of popcorn -- can bring such delight.