I’ve given myself a 30 day challenge and I’m going on a diet. A shopping diet. After returning from the Tennessee trip to
celebrate my good friend’s birthday go shopping recently, I realized I have a huge slight problem with shopping and bringing home things I have no space for. Decorating and design are my jam, ain’t gonna lie. A junk store is my happy place, shopping is therapeutic. BUT when I come home with NO money left and piles of things I “HAD TO HAVE” but have no space in which to put a.single.thing…. It’s a problem that leads to buyers remorse and negates the therapeutic part. It’s actually stressful. So I’ve challenged myself to 30 days of no shopping. NOTE…this diet pertains only to shopping for the house. Food (I like to eat), personal hygiene items (I enjoy being clean and sweet smelling), and clothing ( I must have shoes and clothes, the alternative would be frightening), are exempt. Just want to be clear. I also apologize for the awful photos in this post. No excuses, they’re just bad.
No fabulous junk, no great vintage pieces, no more wonderful old stuff. In the next 30 days I must use whatever I have stashed in the attic or closets to change up my look. I will finish projects
growing mold waiting patiently in the garage and attic with materials we have on hand. OK…. if Mr B needs supplies to finish those projects he’s exempt from the shopping diet. (Mr B, if you’re reading this….. we need beadboard). He’ll have no problem sticking to the plan, he already said I’ll never make it 30 days. HA! I’ll show him! I have will power! (No, I don’t……. Is will power something I can buy??? Where? Does Amazon carry it? I have Amazon Prime!) I am determined to find will power. I may need help.
In the next 30 days I’m not only going to stop shopping, I’m going to spend some time catching up with my dead relatives on Ancestry.com. I’m going to hunt my history. I’ve neglected my ancestors and they have stories that need to be told. Some are still waiting to be found. I want to find them and help tell their stories as well.
In the next 30 days I’m going to catch up on reading. I have a pile of books beckoning with stories of far away places, murders to be solved and all manner of mayhem to prevent.
In the next 30 days I’m finally going to teach Lily, our second rescue furbaby to walk properly on a leash.
In the next 30 days I’m going to add to my music library, rip and burn some CDs to share with the Grands, listen to some music I normally don’t listen to….. and find at least one new artist to love.
In the next 30 days I’m going to spend some time organizing my 20,000 photos.
Yep, the next 30 days are gonna be BUSY. BUT I WILL.NOT.SHOP.
I’ll keep you posted with my
extremely successful what-am-I-thinking-30 day challenge. I’m confident hopeful I can do this. If you hear the faint sounds of laughter coming from Central Florida it will be Mr B…. who is convinced I will fold and head to the shops within a week, like a dog searching for its buried bones. But I am WOMAN. Hear me ROAR….. in my case it may very well be the sound of piteous whimpering.
Create your sanctuary no matter where you live.
We Southerners take our traditions seriously. And even though I am a yankee transplant I adopted a couple of those traditions as my own. If you drive far enough into the south you are likely to see one, or more bottle trees. Bottle trees are one of those things that northerners don’t “get.” Oh, they like them, they may even attempt one in their own gardens, but in the south a bottle tree is a necessity. Because. They capture bad spirits. Genies, and imps who want to cause problems. It’s true! I have a bottle tree in my back yard and I have yet to see a bad spirit, genie or imp in my home. So there. Proof positive these trees work!
The practice began in the ninth century in the Congo according to historians, and since I don’t know anyone from the ninth century to ask….well, I have to believe the historians know what they are talking about. Or maybe they have a direct line to the ninth century. Anyway….. Central African people believed that they could capture imps and bad spirits in glass bottles and began hanging bottles in trees to attract the spirits and trap them before they could enter their homes. The practice was taken to Europe and North America and the Caribbean islands by slaves and over the years became embedded in the south.
The Smithsonian says, “Bottle Trees have a long history as an element of spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance in American History and garden design.” WOW! Who knew? Mr B says it’s just another way for me to add junk to the yard and advertise to the neighbors that we may have a drinking problem. Let me just say up front that I have no problem, zero…. with drinking and some of the nastiest tasting wines come out of the prettiest bottles. Make of that what you will.
Legend says that the bright colors attract the spirits and when they enter the bottle they can’t get out. Makes perfect sense…..I can’t get IN a bottle, much less get out of one. I have enough trouble getting in and out of my jeans. HOWEVER…… once trapped inside the bottle sunlight fries the little pranksters before they can do harm. Good thing, I’m not sure I’d want any mess making imps in my home….I still remember the Grands when they were toddlers….. I never thought about trapping them in bottles…………I did, however threaten to send them to “Hell Western Crooked,” a place my Grams always threatened to send me. It sounded like a very bad place and I never, ever wanted to go there. Glad she didn’t have a bottle tree….. Just sayin.
You can purchase pre-made bottle trees from on-line sites or through many local garden centers (if you live in the south). You can also add individual bottles to your garden just by sinking a length of rebar in the ground. You can find rebar in the building section of Home Depot or Lowes. If you don’t know what rebar is, just ask one of the friendly associates. Or use any sturdy metal rod, copper works well and has the added bonus of developing patina with time. (Make sure your metal rods are a smaller diameter than your bottle opening.) You can suspend the bottles from your tree branches by tying them with sturdy twine around the neck of the bottles. A glob of glue for outdoor projects will hold the twine around the neck of the bottle. For the record, I do not recommend pruning tree limbs and placing the bottles on the end of the branches. It causes unnecessary trauma to the tree and improper pruning may actually kill your tree. Just stick with a pre-made one. Unless you have a sturdy dead tree (Is that an oxymoron?) Then prune away and add bottles to your heart’s content.
Author Eudora Welty (1909-2001) made the southern bottle tree famous in her short story, “Livvie.”
“Coming around up the path from the deep cut of the Natchez Trace below was a line of bare Crape Myrtle trees with every branch ending in a colored bottle, green or blue. There was no word that fell from Solomon’s lips to say what they were there for, but Livvie knew there could be a spell put on trees and she was familiar from the time she was born with the way bottle trees kept evil form coming into the house… Solomon had made the bottle trees with his own hands over the nine years, in labor amounting to about a tree a year, and without a sign that he had any uneasiness in his heart, for he took as much pride in his precautions against spirits entering the house as he took in the house….”
Special note: Clean your bottles before using them in the garden. You don’t need drunken bees hurtling around. They like wine. You won’t like tipsy bees.
If you want to protect your home and take the necessary precautions to catch evil spirits, make a bottle tree. You don’t have to become a wine-o. Just do what I did, ask your neighbors to drink the wine and save the bottles for you. They’ll be happy to help. Trust me.
Create the home you see in your heart. You deserve a sanctuary, no matter where you live.
For many Americans Memorial Day is a three day weekend designed for parties, backyard BBQ’s, boating, swimming and fun signalling the start of summer. Just what is Memorial Day really? How did it start?
While there is some debate over where it officially began, Memorial Day started as “Decoration Day.” Toward the end of the Civil War in the South, women began placing flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. The practice spread by word of mouth, and by the end of the war women from both sides of this horrific conflict placed flowers on the graves of the men and women who never came home. In 1863 The Gettysburg Cemetery was dedicated to honor both sides and the laying of flowers became an unofficial way to honor those who fell in battle. And Decoration Day began a long tradition of honoring active duty military killed wile serving.
After President Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, more ceremonies were held across the nation to honor the fallen and a movement began. The sheer number of deaths in the Civil War, over 600,000 meant that ceremonies took place all across our nation and gained more importance. Boalsburg, PA claims the title as the “Birthplace of Decoration Day in 1864,” but the first organized and publicized event was held in May, 1865 in Charleston, SC.
MORE FUN FACTS
General John Logan of the Union Army declared Decoration Day to be held on May 30th each year because it was the time of year when most flowers would be in bloom across the country. Although Decoration Day began as a way to honor the Civil War soldiers, by the end of WWII it expanded to include all men and women in all branches of service who died while on active duty.
The Boys Scouts of America began placing Flags on each one of the 150,000 graves in the Jefferson National Barracks in St Louis, MO. That idea also spread and since the 1950’s Flags are placed on each grave at Arlington by volunteers. Each sitting President places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And all National Cemeteries offer solemn, dignified ceremonies while volunteers place Flags on graves on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day. If you’ve never been to a National Cemetery I highly recommend it. You will come away with a thankful, grateful heart for the sacrifices these men and women made.
The title, “Memorial Day” became official in 1968 but it wasn’t until 1971 the law was enacted to have it celebrated on the last Monday in May, giving Americans a 3 day holiday.
All American Flags are supposed to be flown at Half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, but this is a tradition, not a law.
Because so many lost sight of the real meaning behind Memorial Day, in the year 2000 a law was enacted titled; The National Moment of Remembrance Act. At 3:00 p.m. local time each person is to stop for a moment of silence to honor all those who died while on active duty. I can’t help but wonder how many americans actually do this.
I still remember the importance this day had, and still has for our family. My Grandmother and Aunts would make a special trip to the cemetery to lay flowers to honor my Uncle Gene, who died in WWII. His loss still defines how I see this important, but almost forgotten holiday. I share his photo and also the photo of the name of one of my friends inscribed on the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall. I hope you will take a moment this year, to pay homage to those who were brave enough to wear a uniform to serve this nation…..and who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I know I will.
REMEMBERING THE SACRIFICE OF
AND TO ALL THE OTHER MEN AND WOMEN WHO PAID THE PRICE AND GRANTED US THE FREEDOM TO CELEBRATE THIS WEEKEND.
“NO GREATER LOVE HATH A MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS”
I was raised by my Grandparents. I am proud to say that. I learned about hard work and honesty from them. I learned that every person has a story to tell and every stranger met is a new friend in the making. I learned about the joy music brings, that learning is a life long process. Mostly I learned about loyalty and unconditional love.
We lived in “the country.” Back then my “neighborhood” was a rural community dotted with farms, a few tract home developments, lots of open areas and one small corner store with a lone gas pump. We were only 6 miles from our small town but it seemed like an eternity to get there. Saturday trips to town were an all day excursion. Sundays were for family dinners and an “open house” atmosphere where anyone was welcome.
Life changed dramatically when my Grandfather died just before my 13th birthday. He took care of things. How would we live and get by? Who would take care of us? I was frightened and I can’t imagine what my Grandmother felt…… My Grandma…..Flossie to her friends, Mae to her brothers and Grandma Flossie to my friends. She was Gram to me and called herself Grams. She was also my life teacher and anchor.
Flossie Mae had to quit school in the 6th grade to help her mother raise her siblings. She was the oldest and there were ten kids in the house, plus some cousins needing a home. Eight of her siblings lived to adulthood and the various cousins came and went. Life was hard then, harder still for poor families and often their children were sent to the mines or farms as day laborers. The older boys began their working lives as teens in the coal mines, and then enlisted in the Army and Navy. The younger girls went to school and the older ones worked in the garden or were sent to farms to help during “the season.” My Grandmother helped with the laundry and ironing, cleaned the house and wrangled the young ones to and from school. She really had no life as a young girl. She didn’t really get a childhood. When she was sixteen my Grandfather swooped in and decided he would marry her. She went from being the mistress of her mother’s home to being the mistress of her own. She was well equipped to handle the chores and duties of running a household. She’d been doing it for years.
She never said, but I imagine getting married and having a house of her own was actually a blessing. She no longer had to wrangle all her siblings. It wasn’t work and chores from sun up to sun down. My Grandfather took her dancing. To movies. He doted on her. They had friends and she finally had a life. She had my mother, born before most girls my grandmother’s age were even out of high school. A second girl, born a year later lived only a few days, and even though Grams had no more children, there were always kids around, nephews, nieces and the odd child seemingly belonging to no one. My grandparents shared a love of music and performed at county fairs, schools and prisons throughout the state. Their early practice sessions took place in a neighbor’s barn…. the audience….. cows and chickens. Siblings and their spouses were frequent visitors, there were rousing card games and seeming endless Yatzee and Parcheesi competitions. And always music and laughter.
Her greatest shame was her lack of education. But she never stopped learning. As long as I can remember she had a pile of books on a small table by her rocker, a dictionary always on the top of that pile. She’d learn a new word or two every week and practice using whatever the “word of the week was.” Of course her brothers made fun of her. My Great Uncles were cruel (and became the bane of my existence). But my Grams just laughed them off and continued her self teaching. She learned her words, knitted and crocheted and read. She was an avid reader. And passed her love of reading down to me.
If reading was education, music was joy. The old Victrola saw heavy use, later it was an 8 track player and finally a battery operated cassette player. Television was an avenue to musicals and variety shows. I still remember lyrics from the songs of Singing in the Rain, The King and I, Oklahoma, South Pacific and Westside Story. I would sing those songs to my cats as I carried them around the yard in the evenings. (The tradition of singing to livestock was apparently an inherited thing.)
She was a big fan of musical variety shows. I grew up to the sounds of Your Hit Parade, The Perry Como show, The Andy Williams Show, Lawrence Welk, Glenn Campbell and of course, Hee Haw…. Bing Crosby movies and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers rounded out my musical education. My Grandmother’s love of music is the reason I impress Mr B with my mental “musical library.” He used to be surprised when I could sing along with obscure songs, or was familiar with the latest song for his Barbershop chorus. My music library today holds everything from Adele to ZZ Top with a sprinkling of show tunes, Rachmaninoff, and Puccini. He’s no longer surprised by what I remember. He now says he’s surprised only if I DON’T know. Thanks to my Grams.
Grandma Flossie had an immense sense of humor. She laughed. A lot. Her laugh was infectious. My friends were made to feel instantly at home. When I started dating, I was mortified that my Grandma was at the door to greet my dates and saw nothing wrong with involving them in conversations while I stood, tapping my foot with impatience, ready to bolt out the door as soon as humanly possible.
After high school, a young man I dated always brought a pizza and a six pack of Coke over for “Grandma Flossie.” He would laugh at her jokes, invite her to play a vigorous game of checkers and leave me sitting on the sofa for hours. We were late for everything. I came to the conclusion he would rather spend time with Grams than take me to a movie. I dumped him. Grams complained for months and compared every boyfriend after that to that one boy. There was always some fatal flaw with the “new ones.”
She had to learn to drive after my Grandfather died. She had to learn how to fire up the temperamental oil heater in the winter in order to keep the house warm. She was in her 50’s and had to make a living without a formal education, learn to make do with even less than we had when Grandpa was with us. She made an income babysitting and doing laundry for others. Her early skills taking care of her siblings once again came into play. She was “good with kids,” and her “families” loved her. They invited her on their vacations, took her out to dinner, invited her to birthday parties and graduations long after the kids stopped needing a sitter. One of the families bought her new kitchen appliances for her birthday. A Coppertone refrigerator, gas range with the oven on top! A new toaster and wonder of wonders, an electric skillet! I neither understood, nor appreciated how hard she worked to keep that roof over our heads. How frightened she must have been. How determined she became.
Her best friends were her sisters. Especially my Aunts, Vi and Ruby. They’d pile into the car and head out to find yard sale bargains amid laughter and sibling banter. I learned the joys of thrifting and junking from my Grams. Many of my birthday gifts were those scored at yard sales. And every Friday night the “girls” got together for manicures and doing each other’s hair. I lurked in the background listening to the stories of the old days, gossip and talk of life. I learned about men, marriage, making a dirty martini and how to attach flowers to a hat…. all the important life skills.
Besides music, she loved plants and gardens. Our yard was filled with flowers; Peonies, Heirloom Roses, Lilac bushes, Tiger Lilies, Lily of the Valley, and Sweet Pea vine. Containers filled with Moss Ross, Hens and Chicks and buckets of Ivy were placed on the patio. Daisies grew with abandon. Daffodils and Tulips. Caladiums and Ferns. If it could be grown in our area, my Grams had it. House plants filled our sunlit living room. She was as good at raising plants as she was raising kids. I’m guessing along with all my other loves, I also got my love of plants and gardening from her.
She was a great cook in spite of her experiments with Campbells Soup. She was the Queen of Casseroles…..I ate some very strange concoctions involving pasta or potatoes and “mystery meat” smothered in various creamy soups for years. Some of my fondest memories revolve around weekend mornings, my Grams at the stove wearing one of her “total body aprons” cooking breakfasts of bacon and eggs, always fried in a cast iron skillet with bacon grease. A container of bacon grease sat on the back of the stove and the cast iron skillet was always on one of the burners, ready to go in the event of a hungry guest. She made mint chocolate cake for my birthday because it was my favorite. I may not have had big themed birthday parties, nor was I showered with expensive gifts…..but I had cake.
I didn’t realize then what an incredible woman she was. How strong she was. That realization came much later. She had to learn to be self sufficient in middle age, to teach herself the skills needed to be an adult woman in the 1960’s and 70’s. She had to learn to be watchful, become a bit on guard to ward off advances from men who wanted my Grandfather’s property. She learned to drive, to manage finances, to lock the doors, to survive during a time when widows could become easy prey. And raise a girl two generations removed during a time of social upheaval. I never heard her complain, but she did often say to me, after a particularly hard conversation with a smart alec teenager….. “Crystal, I hope you get one just like you!” (I did. My son was just like me and I heard myself quoting her words to him more than once.) She was wise, with the wisdom coming from a life of hardships and happiness, hard work and fun…. a life well lived.
Of course I never listened to her wisdom back then. I was a typical teenager. But I hear her voice in my mind now. As I go through life, I often think of her and remember things she would say. To this day I use her words; when something is wrecked beyond repair, it’s “rammycacked.” (Mr B particularly likes that one and has adopted it as a description of the way I open packages.) When I’m annoyed with my Grands, I tell them, “If you don’t stop, I’m gonna knock you hell western crooked!” I never knew where hell western was, but was pretty sure I didn’t want to be crooked.
When she died, I lost my anchor. I lost the one person I could depend upon to guide me, the one person who had, if not all….. at least most of the answers. The one who believed in me and gave me unconditional love. I never really recovered from her loss and I mourn her still today. I often wish I could go back in time to tell her how much she meant to me, to let her know that I loved her and appreciated her…. to give her an easier life. I still hear her voice in my head. I think she’s still around, maybe in Hell Western with Aunt Vi and Aunt Ruby. Someplace where there are flowers, books, and music and she’s sitting with that dictionary in her hand….. trying to figure out LOL and OMG.
When one of my Grands says, “My friend, so and so wants to meet you.” And when those friends begin calling me, “Grandma,” or “Grams,” or friend me on Facebook, I know I’m doing something right. Thank you Gram, for every little…. and large thing you taught me….. gave to me. Happy Mothers Day.
Sometimes we are are own worst enemy. We allow envy and jealousy to control the way we look at our homes and the things we have.
You get up in the morning and walk through your home and instead of smiling and feeling grateful, you look around and sigh and wish you had…..more….. better….. newer…..the house that belongs to your neighbor, your favorite blogger, your best friend. And just like that, your day is spoiled. You lose sight of what you HAVE by playing the envy game.
The ability to head to facebook or instagram to look at the beautiful photos can be relaxing and fun. It can also lead to discontent. Everyone seems to be happier than you, have more. Every aspect of their lives seems perfect. Trips you’ll never take, movies you won’t see, a loving marriage. Beautiful, intelligent children. Even their dogs appear to be smarter than yours. Don’t these people ever get a pimple??? Have a sink full of dirty dishes? Have a room in their home that’s less than perfect??? The answers are of course; Yes, yes and yes…..of course they do. But the only photos shown are rooms perfectly staged, kids with clean faces and sinks that sparkle.
Social media can help us connect or reconnect with friends, it can inspire us to become better humans, it can give us information to help make our lives better, it can amuse us or provide support during times of crisis. It can also be a slippery slope into envy and depression…..the “why-can’t-I have, be-like-them, I-want-that…. thought process that robs us of contentment. Pinterest is loaded with images that are stunning, yes, but those images can also lead to feelings of, “I’ll never have a beautiful home”. “I can’t do that.” “I need a bigger house.” “I wish….”
Before you allow yourself to tumble down that slope, take a look around. Do you have a roof over your head? Clothes to wear? A bed to sleep in? Food to eat? Clean water to drink? You are blessed!
Stop wanting what everyone else has and think about what you already have. Can you improve it? Then take steps to do so. Clean it until it sparkles. Purge junk and outdated decor. Save your pennies and wait until you can afford to take that trip, buy those shoes, get a new bed. Small homes and rooms can be as beautifully designed as large ones. I’ve been in large, million dollar homes that had no personality or character, filled with the latest fad, but without warmth.
I’ve also been in tiny homes that were decorated in such a way that they lived large and were filled with beauty. Decorating your home with things that speak to your heart is much more important than having the latest trend. This doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun and follow a trend…..if you love it and can add a bit of it to spice up your decor, go for it and enjoy it. Just don’t let it consume you and lead you to forget to treasure what you already have.
Realize that whatever your financial situation, you can have enough. Opt for classic, never go-out-of-style materials, and decorate your home with what YOU love, not what the magazines and blogs are pushing at any given moment. Instead of thinking, “oh geez, I want that!” Stop for a second and remember in six months or a year these people may be living with out-dated things and will be spending money on the next big thing, while trying to unload the crap that now one wants. While you??? You are basking in the home that is decorated with things that stand the test of time. It won’t give you a bigger home or one with bigger rooms, and I can’t promise you won’t be living with a sink full of dirty dishes from time to time, but great style isn’t about bigger or newer. It’s about heart. As in the things that speak to yours.
Make your home your sanctuary, no matter if yours is big or small, located in the city, the country or the burbs. It’s a matter of heart, not money. Create the home you see in your heart. You deserve to live in a sanctuary.