Wednesday, June 30, 2010

White Wednesday

Today I am following White Wednesday at Faded Charm for the first time. Even though I am addicted to riotous colours of all sorts, I love the simplicity of white. It has an elegance and serenity about it that is very calming.

So last evening I set out on a treasure hunt to find things that are white, but specifically I was looking for items that evoke feelings of peacefulness and tranquility. The fact that it was a beautiful sunny evening with a soft summer breeze helped put me in the right frame of mind. And then suddenly, all around me, I began to spot things that are white ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teddy Bear Picnic

It's Tea Time Tueday over at Rose Chintz Cottage & Inspiration and Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites.  Honestly, because of the wonderful blog hops these two ladies host, Tuesday is becoming one of my favourite days of the week!

But over here in my own blog, something special is happening ...

Cordelia Rabbit decided to throw a tea party for her teddy bear friends.  Jeremy and Olivia are quite small bears.  Cordelia told them they could have their very own tea cups to drink out of, but she would have to be the one to pour the tea since they are just too little.  

Jeremy is a serious little bear.  He likes to stand up properly even when he's at a tea party.  

Olivia is much more mischievous.  She was having fun rolling around on the floor and pretending to be a ballerina.  Cordelia had to tell her to settle down and drink her tea before it got cold.

When it was time for the dessert plate to come out, nobody was surprised to see it loaded up with blueberries!  Everyone knows that teddy bears simply ADORE blueberries with their tea.

But Cordelia Rabbit said she would prefer something a little bit crunchier.

Olivia thought maybe she would try the radish too!

It was certainly crunchy, but it tasted hot and burnt her tongue.

She decided that teddy bears really do prefer blueberries after all!

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise,
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise,
For ev'ry bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because
Today's the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic!

The china teddy bears used in this "Tea Time Tuesday" vignette are very special to me.  They were given to me by one of my brothers when I was only 4 years old.  Originally, there were 3 little bears but unfortunately, one of them got broken along the way.  Olivia has a little bit of damage to her orange polk-a-dot bow but, considering I have celebrated my 39th birthday a couple of times already, I'm really pleased that I still have two of my little bears after all these years!

The little tea set is one I picked up at a garage sale this past weekend.  I've been wanting a wee tea set for a while now and was so happy to come across it - and happy to purchase a lovely Royal Winton plate at the same sale for only a dollar!  Perhaps it will be featured in one of my Tea Time Tuesday vignettes in the future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marvelous Metamorphosis Monday

It's Marvelous Monday again and today I've decided to participate in the Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch, partially because I love the name of that blog (for obvious reasons) and partially because I am really thrilled with how my screened porch turned out.

For some reason that completely fails me now, I allowed my dogs the reign of our screened-in porch for the last few years.  Here's a before pic:

As you can see, the floor was in BAD need of a fresh coat of porch paint. The furniture was completely geared to canine comfort (i.e. an old ratty rocking chair and an equally-old bench seat from a long-discarded minivan). The dogs loved having free-reign over the little porch but we were getting no benefits from it whatsoever!

Then, inspiration struck and I decided to convert it into a little reading room.  You may have noticed a picture of it in my sidebar ... "My Current Favourite Reading Spot."

Last year I took these old wooden chairs that have followed me from apartment to apartment, painted them a sunny yellow and purchased new cushions for them. I hadn't yet found the perfect place for them, but they fit perfectly in their new home! (sorry there are no "before pictures" of the chairs - I could probably find some somewhere -basically they were dingy brown with strange red cushions.)

I fell in love with these miniature african violets at a local florist and thought they'd fit perfectly in my Chinese tea cups.

This past weekend, I've been working on some "finishing touches" for my reading room.  Years ago I bought this little occasional table that had a cherry wood veneer.  I've moved so many times, from apartment to apartment that when I finally got married 8 1/2 years ago, the poor little table was still intact but showing a lot of signs of wear and tear.  I've been planning to do something with it for a while and finally got inspired this weekend.  This is how it turned out:

I picked up a little decorative birdcage at a garage sale on Saturday.  It was a horrid fuchsia pink!  A little paint in a vintage green colour and some touches of antique white have transformed it into this lovely little addition to my sunporch.

For now I've placed one of the mini African violets inside, but I'm thinking a nice fat white candle would look great in there!

I also found this sweet little elephant at a garage sale and just knew he would look adorable underneath the gigantic leaves of this tropical plant!

I decided to redo the mailbox as it was an old worn, rusty brass.  Since we get our "real" mail in the mailbox at the end of our driveway, this box is used solely for notes dropped off by family members and friends, so I thought I could get away with the "love notes" sign without frightening the mailman to death!  : )

Here's a couple pictures of how my sunporch looks now:

So this Marvelous Monday, I'm thankful for a rainy weekend that allowed me to catch up on some little painting jobs I've been wanting to do, and for garage sale finds that never fail to inspire me, and for my own private little reading room that is so tranquil and a lovely spot to be, regardless of the weather.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow Friday 40 and Over!

Today is Follow Friday 40 and Over blog hop day!  I love this day and I'm so thankful to Java for starting it.  I've met some of you lovely bloggers the last few weeks through this blog hop and hope to meet more of you today.

Now usually, I like to set out a little refreshment for my guests, perhaps a nice glass of lemonade, or a slice of pie.  We can sit a while and visit and take some time to get to know each other, in a gentle kind of refined way.

Not today!

You see, I've been rather busy this past week taking care of this:

My mother is away visiting my brother in Greece right now.  So I have been faithfully driving over to my parents' home twice a day, watering all of her MANY hanging baskets and flower beds, preparing meals for my Dad, and taking care of my Mum's sweet cat "Button."  

Unfortunately, there are some projects at my own home that have been put off and put off and can wait no longer!  So today, in between trips to my parents (my Mum comes back tonight, Hallelujah!!!), I will be tackling this job:

Yes, yes, I realize the flower bed in the background DESPERATELY needs weeding ... but today, I'm concentrating on mending and painting my swing which is dying for a fresh coat of paint!

So, I hope you drop by for a visit today, but instead of this:

I just might offer you one of these:

But I bet we'll have fun together anyway.  And when it's time for a break, this is where I'm planning to head.  Wanna join me?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If my Nonna could hear me now ...

My Italian grandmother had a saying - well, truthfully, she had MANY sayings! - but the one I'm thinking about right now is:
"Primo non pensa, ultemo suspiro."

Not sure if I've spelled that right because I don't speak Italian, but basically translated it means "If you don't think now, you'll be sighing later." Or, in other words, if you don't think things through now, you will suffer later.

I want so badly to be able to communicate this idea to the next generation - only I don't know how. How do you take a body of knowledge, "wisdom" if you will, and package it up in some palatable form that a young adult or teenager will accept? Suddenly, I find myself feeling very old and at a loss to connect with my younger relatives. Was I ever that naive? That stubborn? That stupid? Okay, I freely admit to the stubbornness. I know I have always had a stubborn streak. But the stupid part? Not really - I did some stupid things, but I did them in a smart way. Does that make sense? I mean, I never went farther than I should have, never crossed a certain line into behaviour that would have put me at risk. I drank foolishly, but watched my back the whole time. There were times that I partied like there was no tomorrow, except, I always knew that there was a tomorrow! And that I had to go to work the next day, so I made sure I got just enough sleep to show up to work on time and even managed to be a hard-working productive employee.

I didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up," but I was ambitious enough to push my way to the top in the job I had at the time. It may not have been my life goal, but I was going to prove to myself and the world that I could do it, and do it well. And I took a fierce pride in my own ability to maintain my independence, to save as much as possible, even though it was a small amount, loving that satisfaction of a job well done, a paycheck well-earned, and a small but growing savings account.

Nothing was ever given to me, I had to work for it, and even though I envied some of my friends their sense of entitlement, I liked knowing that I could rely on myself to survive. I know that we all dream of some day winning the lottery, but truthfully, I can honestly say I don't know if I would ever have the sense of joy over a big lottery win as I could possibly have over my very first pay check. I remember looking at with such a sense of pride, knowing I had sweat buckets in a hot kitchen, scrubbed out pots and pans and deep fryers, peeled an immense amount of potatoes, and put up with the worst kind of sexual harassment that could only have happened to a 16 year old girl in the 80's, since no one in the work place would ever get away with that now. That was life in a hotel kitchen back then, male-oriented, fiercely competitive, and full of all the foul language that Gordon Ramsay now makes millions spewing on TV. No, nothing was given to me, but I earned every penny and along with the pennies, came an iron core of determination and strength of character that have stood with me all these years.

I wish I could translate that for my young relatives to understand. I wish I could instill in them a sense of determination and an appreciation for achieving a goal that you have worked hard to attain. But those are things you can not gift to another person, they have to experience for themselves by working at it. And in the mean time, I have to sit back and watch ... and pray ... and hope they don't make irrevocable mistakes, by acting without thinking now, so they will end up sighing with grief down the road.

If I had a scanner, I'd scan in a picture of my Nonna so you could see her, but instead I'll have to make do with this old photo I scanned a couple of years ago, taken when I was 17 and apprenticing to be a chef.  I'm in the first row, third from the right.  Don't we look silly in our tall white hats?  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teacup Tuesday and My First Giveaway!

Today is Teacup Tuesday over at Rose Chintz Cottage & Inspiration and at Martha's Favorites so imagine my delight when I came out of my house this morning and discovered these joyful little frogs having a teaparty!

Frog Number One had a lovely little teacup and saucer sitting beside him, but instead of sipping tea sedately, he looked like he was about to jump willy-nilly into the lily pad bath!  If you look closely, you'll see that he even had a tiny little "tea sandwich" on his saucer, the kind of "tea sandwich" that only a frog can truly appreciate.  Not cucumber, of course, but a very tasty bug!

Apparently he had his eye on the other "goodies" that were floating on an exquisite rose dish in the centre of the lily pad bath!   Hmmmm ... I wonder what the provenance of that sweet little rose dish is!

One of the other frogs, was enjoying a "cuppa" with a delicate tea cup made of shell!

Those frogs were having such a merry tea party, that things started to get a little riotous!

The lily pad bath was swinging back and forth and I began to wonder what exactly was in those tea cups!  I'm glad to say that everything has now returned to normal out by the lily pad bath.  I suspect the frogs are having a little snooze to rest up from their wild morning tea party.

A merry heart does good like a medicine.
Proverbs 17:22

My First Giveaway:

Today I am announcing my very first giveaway!  I'm so excited about this because I truly love to give presents.  I've decided to have a giveaway in honour of my little frogs and the fact that I recently reached two milestones with my blog:  45 followers and my 50th post!   I have so enjoyed finding my way around blogland and meeting so many wonderful fellow bloggers.  The past two + months have been wonderful.

Now honestly, I have to tell you that the item I'm giving away has very little monetary value, but I do think he's rather sweet and has been a favourite of mine for a long time.

He's only about an inch long and the little lily pad he sits on is about 1 1/2".

So here are the rules if you would like to enter to win this cute little froggy guy:

1.  Become a follower if you aren't already.

2.  Post about my giveaway on your own blog.

3.  Leave me a comment on this post letting me know you have done so and leaving a link to your own post.

I will put all of the entries into a hat and draw the winner on June 30th, so you have until then to enter.  I will contact the winner for a mailing address.

Hope everyone enjoys a WONDERFUL Teacup Tuesday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marvelous Monday!

It's Marvelous Monday again and today I am thankful for this teeny tiny bougainvillea of mine.

It's such a wee little plant, and since I brought it home from the plant nursery, it has dropped flower after flower!  I don't think it quite likes the environment I've given it so I'm trying to decide where to relocate it in the hopes of getting more of those lovely bright pink blooms back.

But in spite of its insignificant size and somewhat miserable appearance, I still love my little bougainvillea because it reminds me of one of my favourite vacations to a lovely little island in Greece where the bougainvillea grows riotously and with picturesque abandon against blue and white doors...

And lovely stone buildings ....

And just around the corner of a twisting cobblestone passageway ....

And breathtaking in its beauty with the bright Aegean sun against the pristine white-washed walls....

And where my mother is right now, sitting on a sun-drenched terrace, hopefully enjoying a well-deserved break under the glorious bougainvillea for which my little plant will only ever be a sentimental reminder.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

There are so many activities I am involved in at our local church, and I love them all, but honestly, one of my favourites is leading my Jr. Church class. Well .... there are days when those kids make me crazy and I feel like pulling my hair out, but honestly, I do love working with them in spite of those moments of chaos. For the last couple of years, I have been leading the Grades 4 and 5 class. Probably my favourite thing to do with the kids is a craft. It is sometimes challenging working with a mixed class at that age because the girls are usually much more advanced in their small motor skills than the boys are. But somehow, we muddle our way through and at the end of each class, the kids have something to take home and show off to their parents.

Today for Father's Day, we are making cinnamon scented air-fresheners for their dad's car or truck. I got the idea from an internet site and modified it to work with my class.

You start by taking a sheet of sandpaper and using a cookie cutter, stencil a gingerbread man shape on the back of the paper.

Then you cut out the gingerbread man, turn it over to the "sandy" side, and glue grated cinnamon on it.  Well, the internet site recommended freshly grating cinnamon with a cheese grater, but knowing the kids I have in my class, I suspected there would be way too many grated knuckles.  Instead I found this awesome product at our local dollar store:

It's cinnamon sugar with a built in grinder in the bottle, like a pepper grinder.  Pretty much "kid-proof" - I'm hoping there is no way they maim themselves with that!  I used a pipe cleaner at the top so it will be easy for the dads to hang it from their rearview mirrors.

Here's a look at the end product and I must say it smells delicious!  Hope the scent lasts for awhile. (You'll probably notice it's sitting on top of our Father's Day cards that we're also working on. Under the "tie" which is made from scrapbooking paper, it says "Thanks Dad! U "tie" R family 2-gether.")

I'm off to church now, and hopefully these will be as easy to replicate with the kids as I'm thinking it will be! There are usually at least one or two surprises though so who knows!  In the mean time, I hope you are all having a good Father's Day, spending some special moments with the important men in your life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ahhhhhhhhhhh......It's Friday!  

Friday is full of hope, the beginning of the weekend, when everything is still full of possibilities and opportunities and who knows what is coming!   I hope you are enjoying your Friday and all the anticipation that comes with it, dreaming of a perfect weekend, with sunny skies and whatever else makes a perfect weekend happen for you.

It's Follow Friday 40 and Over again!   I don't know what it means for you to be over 40 - for me it's been a bit if a surprise.  I dreaded turning 40!  I thought it would be all things horrible.  But then it happened, and I realized that 40 is okay .... and maybe not just "okay" but actually pretty darn good! 

If you're visiting from the Friday 40 and Over blog hop, welcome to my little corner of blogland!  I hope you enjoy your visit.  Today, I am serving all my visitors a piece of the first mulberry pie of the season.  It's so sweet and tangy, I just know you are going to enjoy it!

So pull up to the table and grab a fork.  Would you prefer coffee or tea with your pie?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What I Like About You ....

Finding my way around the blogging community has proven to be an absolute joy.   This morning I decided I would like to start a new blogging tradition, a regular "What I Like about You" post that highlights one particular blog that I have really come to enjoy.

Today's featured blog is:  Farmgirl Fare

What I like about Susan's blog is pretty much everything!  A baker turned farmer, Susan dishes up wonderful recipes, incredible photos, and little glimpses of her life on the farm.

Yesterday, I baked up one of her recipes, an Orange Yogurt Loaf that Susan recommended as a great accompaniment for fresh strawberries.

Here's a picture of my finished product:

It turned out to be an absolutely delicious, moist loaf that was just bursting with orange flavour!  And it did indeed taste wonderful with fresh strawberries.

If you like to bake and try new recipes, or if you just want a regular "dose of cute" in photo form, you really should go over and check out Susan's blog.  You will not be able to resist the sweet little lambs, gorgeous white fluffy Pyranees dog, or the unique faces of her many donkeys.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunshine Award!

I'm so thrilled ... I got another blog award!  I've been savouring it for a few days, just enjoying the sweet kindness of Dawna over at Hiccups in Time for granting it to me.

I particularly love that its called the "sunshine award" because who doesn't need a little bit of extra sunshine in their lives?  Living in Canada, I particularly love sunshine because, let's face it, there are many long months of grey stormy skies and wet slushy snow that seem to last way tooooooooooo long.  Sunshine is life to me!

As an aside, I've recently started taking Vitamin D supplements and I really recommend them.  After about a month of taking them, I am feeling a tremendous boost in my energy levels.

This award has given a little boost too - a little boost of encouragement!  So thank-you Dawna for thinking of me and passing along this sweet award.

The rules of acceptance are:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
                 No problem there, I adore gerbera daisies almost as much as I love sunshine!

2.  Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
                 Hmmmmm .... let me give that some thought.

3.  Let the bloggers know that you have given them an award.
                 Definitely will do that once I narrow the list down to 12.  Really, you people all have such WONDERFUL blogs, how am I supposed to choose?

4.  Share the love by linking back to the person who gave the award.
               Already did that but here she is once again!  Dawna at Hiccups in Time  Thank-you Dawna!

So, now on to choosing the 12 bloggers I'm going to pass this award on to.  I wish I could choose you all, because honestly, I have so enjoyed getting to "know" each one of you, benefiting from your creativity, insightful writing, lovely photography, and growing friendships.  You are all such special people and having a little glimpse into your lives is something I treasure.

However, since I do have to narrow it down to 12, here are 12 of the many special bloggers I enjoy.  Some I've known for a little while (little because I've only been blogging for 2 months) and others I've just recently "met", but all of them are proving to be special!  Hope you enjoy visiting their lovely blogs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garage Sale Finds, Makevers, and Tea Time Tuesday

I found this delightful little chair at a garage sale a couple of Saturdays ago and was happy to purchase it for $2. My husband was a bit mystified as to why I would want it. He wondered what I would do with a chair that has such a low back on it. I told him not to worry, I would find the perfect spot to use it!

I knew I didn't want it to remain in its existing state of drabness and when I saw what a lovely makeover Lili over at Fearless Nesting did with a small table recently, I decided I would use her ideas for inspiration in my own makeover project.  

My first step was to give it a good coat of glossy paint in a buttery cream colour.

Next, I took fine sandpaper and sanded off areas where the chair would normally show some wear.

Lili recommended a wonderful site where you can download for free some beautiful vintage images, including the lovely tea rose she chose to decoupage to her table. Unfortunately, I don't have a colour printer, so I went looking at Michael's instead and came up with a piece of scrapbooking paper that reminded me of vintage wallpaper. At yet another garage sale, I found a remnant of material that I just knew would go perfectly with the chair and with the scrapbooking paper. I just love the mixture of chocolate brown and soft pink!

I debated different shapes that would go well for the decoupage and finally cut out a circular shape for the centre of the chair back, along with a few other pieces so it wouldn't look quite so symmetrical.  I glued them into position and then applied two coats of high gloss modge podge. And here's the end result:

I'm so pleased with the way it turned out and the fact that it is just the perfect size to fit in our bay window as a neat little reading or occasional chair.

And before I go, here's another little garage sale find that I am extremely pleased about.

It's a very tiny little cup, a tea cup?  or perhaps a demitasse?  I haven't had a chance to do any research on it yet, but it's marked R C with a crown symbol and then Versailles Bavaria.  It's absolutely gorgeous and in great condition although there is a small chip on the saucer.  I have a tea cup collection and I'm so pleased whenever I find something unique to add to the collection.

The funniest thing was they wanted only $1 for it, but were asking $5 for a Hannah Montana key chain that was right beside it!!!  I thought that was just too funny for words.  Nothing against Hannah Montana, or against key chains in general, but I'm guessing my little Bavarian cup and saucer might be worth just a tad more.

And in honour of my new-found tea cup, I am participating today in Tea Time Tuesday at one of the most beautiful blogs I've come across, Rose Chintz Cottage and Inspiration.

Sandy has asked us to include an inspirational saying, quote, or poem.  Here's one I thought would be perfect for such a lovely sunny Tuesday.

The Sun Never Says

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe Me."

Look what happens with
A love like that, 
It lights the Whole Sky.

From the Gift of Haviz
Translated by D. Ladinsky


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