Hygge, pronounce “hoo gah” was the word of the year in 2016! Who knew??? I’d never heard it and I’m always trolling the web for anything design related. I was so fascinated by the concept that I bought a book, The Book of Hygge, by Louisa Thomsen Brits. Catchy and creative title not withstanding, this little book is filled with Hygee wisdom.
I wrote this post in January 2017, where it’s languished in my “future post” file for a over a year. I’ve been seeing Hygee posts from other bloggers lately and remembered I had this one…..why didn’t I publish it last year? Good question, I guess because I got a bit discouraged. Hygee is a Danish word, and is synonymous with cozy, as in fireplace, warm blankets and hot drinks kind of cozy. I live in Florida….. um….. we don’t do cold, so I was thinking I couldn’t do Hygee here…..in the land of swaying palm trees, sea turtles and manatees. And there Hygge sat, forlorn and ignored for all of 2017. Then came my case of “the Januaries,” translated, means I had no energy nor ambition. So Hygee continued to hang out in the no man’s land of future posts.
But this year we got freezing weather! Yes, freezing as in below 32°! Yay! Jeans and sweaters and boots weather. And I hygged my home to the max!
I loaded every chair, the sofas, and our bed with layers of throws, I added more throw pillows, (imagine the happiness on the face of Mr B) I made hot chocolate, I sat by the fire, I wrapped myself up in sweats and read books. There was candlelight and music and movies and friends. Yes, I Hygged the hell out of this Florida winter! Now It’s February and while I’m still a bit ambition challenged, I realized that Florida isn’t the center of the Universe and that most of the country is still experiencing full on winter. So out came the Hygee post, edited to make it relevant for 2018. and my desire to live an Intentional life. Intentional goes with Hygee like marshmallows go with hot chocolate. Like apples and pie. Like……OK, you get it.
So what is Hygee exactly? It’s the Danish art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection. WAIT. It isn’t about winter after all!
I can do contentment in Florida, I can do comfort! I connect! So take that Danish people!! In fact, most of what I preach here on My Suburban Sanctuary is being content where you live now, no matter where that is.
According to Ms. Brits, the definition of Hygee is “a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered.” My blog sentiments exactly. You don’t need cold weather to experience Hygee, well, perhaps cold weather is necessary for a fire in a fireplace….but the rest of it can be accomplished anywhere at any time of year. Hot and humid? Bring on the Hygee! Freezing cold? Hygee! Perfect weather? Get your Hygee on!
Hygee is also one of those words that can be used as a verb, an adverb, a noun, you name it and that one word covers a lot of grammar. It’s an all-purpose word. I intend to use it. A lot. I’m gonna Hygee like there’s no tomorrow.
As we go forward into 2018, I’ll offer Hygge nuggets, quotes that I think will inspire you to live your best life and create your own sanctuary, whether it’s in a doublewide, a cottage, a farm or a big house on a hill. We all need a sanctuary. Let’s Hygge all through the year!
Hello, 2018! What do you have planned for me???
Huh. The better question is: What do I have planned for 2018? My 2018 word of the year is, “INTENTIONAL.”
Adjective, meaning: done on purpose, deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned. Meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful.
How does this word relate to My Suburban Sanctuary? I want to live my life with intention. I want to make studied and calculated decisions about what I bring into my home and into my life. I have cut back on my “big box” decor shopping over the years, especially anything made cheaply from China. Not that everything made in China is cheaply made, but you only have to look at the decor being offered at Michaels, Joannes, and Hobby Lobby to know what I am talking about. I intend to continue supporting small, local businesses, whenever possible, buy authentic vintage items and antiques for my home and then use them in intentional ways.
I’ll be purposeful in my purchases and not fill up the car with a bunch of impulsive buys, just because we pass an antique store.
I intend to choose healthier foods and intentionally support my body. I intend to lose weight in a thoughtful manner. I intend to improve myself and by doing so, I will improve the life of those around me as well.
I intend to be kinder. More forgiving. Withhold my opinions until they are asked for, unless it’s a situation that involves someone’s safety or well being, then I reserve the right to “opinionate’! Yes, I just made up a word. A pretty cool word too.
Intentional is a strong word. It implies knowing what you want to do before you actually do it. That might be tough for me, because I’ve always ascribed to the flying by the seat of my pants way of life, making snap decisions, acting on impulse, having only a vague plan……it’s recently left me feeling a bit discombobulated. Adrift, and re-doing things I hadn’t planned well. Purchasing things that didn’t really fit my vision because my vision kept changing, it wasn’t carefully planned! It was more like….”ooh, that’s cool….I want that!” Hence our Goodwill box filled up more than once and Mr B was making almost weekly trips to donate things I no longer liked or wanted or could figure out how to use. I saw dollar signs flying out. It wasn’t a good feeling.
Intentional is a good word for me.
I will also be very careful about who I let in my life, I have systematically divorced “friends” over the years who were negative or mean spirited. I developed that “skill” many years ago after experiencing a major hurt from a friend. A friend I trusted. From then on I became distrustful and had a “don’t suffer fools gladly” attitude. I no longer want to be as distrustful, but I do want to be careful. I want to be intentional about people and how they impact my life… a few I will have to let go, but there are more than a few who have brought passion, joy and light to me, and those are the people I will take along with me this year. 2018, just wait to learn what I have in store for YOU!
What word is yours for 2018? What changes will you make this year? Email me and let me know! MySuburbanSanctuary@Gmail.com
Be intentional in creating your sanctuary. Love the home you’re in now, not the one you may never have.
Every family has traditions. Things that are done the same way, year after year. Things that are counted on. Traditions provide a foundation and a feeling of coming home. Of safety. And happiness. Of continuity. Maybe it’s the way the mantel is decorated. Or the ornaments remain the same each year. Or it’s the cookies that Grandma always made, still being made long after Grandma is gone. Or perhaps it’s Lasagne for Christmas dinner. But what if a Tradition doesn’t “fit” anymore? Becomes too expensive, too “big” or too difficult? Is it OK to change a tradition?
In my case, our tradition was Christmas Stockings. I was a single mother. I didn’t always have enough money to buy a tree. I sometimes put red ribbon bows and candy canes on a Ficus and called it “Our Charley Brown” tree. But the one thing I had without fail was Christmas stockings. Mine rarely had anything in it. It was more for show. But I always made sure my son’s was stuffed with fun things. Matchbox cars when he was young. Bubbles. New crayons. And a new ornament. (which remains a tradition). As I’m sure all kids do, he begged to open his gifts on Christmas Eve. He was filled with excitement, his eyes big at the sight of boxes wrapped and piled under the tree. He almost vibrated with excitement. I had a rule, no gift opening til Christmas morning. Despite the groans and moans and the, “Please, Mommie?” I stuck to that rule. Except. (You knew there was going to be an “except”, didn’t you??) OK, ONE gift on Christmas Eve and we’d get our Christmas stockings to see what was in them. He was well past the age of believing in Santa so there was no fake story about the fat one coming early. Those stockings became our “thing.” I put a lot of time and energy and money in being creative as he got older. The gifts became more elaborate and more expensive. Gift cards to favorite restaurants or to the zoo or some outing to do together. Always a new ornament. And then the teen years hit. So there was after shave and young man things. I think he loved opening the stocking more than anything else.
Enter a marriage and instant siblings. The stocking tradition continued well into adulthood. I was rapidly spending the bulk of our Christmas budget stuffing those stockings. So one year, I decided to go another route. This was the year the whole family was going to be together. All the siblings. My husband was home (He frequently traveled on holidays), the Grandchildren were here. It was a perfect time to introduce a new tradition. I made gift bags. BAGS. I thought I was being clever. I could put larger gifts inside, the bags held more. Brilliant. Not so fast, Christmas Mom.
My son walked into the family room and saw no stockings hung by the chimney with care. In fact there were no stockings to be seen! He promptly grabbed my attention by quietly bellowing, “WHERE ARE THE STOCKINGS????” “WE DON’T HAVE STOCKINGS??” I saw him looking frantically around the room, searching for his stocking. By this time, the rest of the group became restless and I could hear murmurings……“Did Mom forget the stockings?” “Is Mom OK?” “What’s going on?” You know, concerned that I’d had some sort of mental lapse. Which, as it turns out I did. What was I thinking? I explained that this year I didn’t do stockings, I did gift bags!!! Woot! There were no return Woots. My son, drew himself up to his full height, and announced to no one in particular, “This is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE”. (In case I didn’t hear him the first time.) “What do you mean, gift bags?? GIFT BAGS??“ And he stomped off. OK, maybe not stomped exactly. But very firmly put one foot in front of the other and left the room. Dead silence. I stood for a few seconds, in a mental hamster-on-a-wheel moment, searching my brain for a solution to this calamity. Did I have time to get the stockings from the attic, stuff them, bring them out later, and yell, “SURPRISE! ONLY KIDDING, HERE ARE YOUR STUPID STOCKINGS!” Nope, not happening.
I honestly didn’t consider his reaction. I should have known. We’d moved around quite a bit when he was young and he hung on to things that were familiar. I suddenly realized the stocking meant more than just stuff for fun, it was one of his few remaining touchstones, a symbol that while everything else in his life had changed, this one thing, his Christmas stocking remained. We went on with Christmas that day, it was filled with fun and great food, music, the kids tussling, me yelling, “Take it outside!” and “Don’t slam the door!” The Grandkids overwhelmed with gifts and too many cookies, protesting the taking of pictures, hanging out with their beloved Aunts and Uncles and the rest of us.
It was a great, big, typical, noisy, messy holiday. And I loved it. I was the subject of affectionate scorn from every.single.member.of.my.family. In good fun, and it would become another family joke, told the next year and the year after that. My son, that sweet, goofy, big hearted prankster, never let me forget. He continued to shoot me the stink eye all day, (lovingly, accompanied by his grin, but the stink eye nonetheless), and I could hear him muttering in my direction all weekend long. I couldn’t hear all of it, but I caught enough of, “Unacceptable, and “For petes sake” and there was the odd eye roll. Whatever. I got it. I got it already! Stockings were hung by the chimney with care every year after that. Stuffed to the tops, overflowing. Bonus. There were also gift bags for the things that were too large for the stockings.
My son was killed in an accident three years after that Christmas. I don’t do stockings anymore. Except his. His is hung every year. His last, and favorite Hallmark ornament, a Mustang, hangs from it. A little stuffed reindeer we got from McDonalds during his teen years is in it. This year it hangs from the door to the room he stayed in whenever he came home. That stocking means more now than ever. It doesn’t hold gifts anymore, it holds memories. Years of memories. It is overflowing.
I’m SOOOO excited! Today’s post is about me in the kitchen! The KITCHEN y’all! And I made something, actually a couple of somethings and it all turned out so good I just had to share. Because this is the season of miracles after all, and me in the kitchen creating anything is a minor miracle.
Have you ever had sugared cranberries? Yes? Well, where have I been? I mean, I’ve seen pictures of them, all staged just so on scrumptious looking cakes or in pretty little goblets. But I always thought making them would require following a complicated recipe involving mystery ingredients and math. You know I don’t do math and I’m a total loss in the kitchen, all because I was born without the all important Betty Crocker gene. But even all us Betty Crockerless people can successfully make sugared cranberries. And do it like a boss!
So here’s the recipe and list of
crap things you will need:
Cranberries obviously. You can buy fresh cranberries in a bag at the supermarket. Who knew? I used a 12 ounce bag.
Granulated sugar. You can use super fine sugar for a more sparkly, upscale look, but why? These babies look good with granulated and you probably have it on hand
Parchment paper or foil
2 Cookie sheets or other rimmed baking thingy. (See? I’m gettin the hang of the kitchen lingo.)
Colander for draining the cranberries
Covered container with lid (Tupperware or the like)
That’s it. Nothing fancy.
So here’s what to do with all that.
Rinse the cranberries and pick out the soft, cruddy ones. Let the berries drain in your colander in the sink while you are doing the next part.
Add equal parts sugar and water to a sauce pan. I used a cup of each. Use more or less depending on the amount of cranberries you are using. Mine were in a 12 ounce bag. On medium heat, stir the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t let it boil. Heat until the sugar and water thicken a bit. Turn the heat off and add your cranberries. Stir to cover completely. I was told that if your sugar solution is too hot the cranberries may “pop.” But I let my simple syrup cool slightly and had no problem.
Pour the mixture in to a Tupperware container and seal with a lid. Put in refrigerator overnight. You don’t have to do this if you are in a hurry. But all the “expert” cranberry people say that it helps the cranberries absorb the sugar and increases their sweetness.
The next day (or after you’ve covered your berries in the sugar mixture and let soak for at least an hour), pour them in to your colander again and let them drain over the sink. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour a good amount of sugar on the sheet. I just eyeballed it and made a pile. Using a slotted spoon add the cranberries to the sugar and roll them around, use your hands or another spoon to make sure the cranberries are covered well with the sugar.
Place the sugar coated cranberries on another parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer, making sure the berries don’t touch. Allow them to dry. IF you can wait that long to eat them. About an hour is all it takes. Mr B began snacking on these almost as soon as they hit the cookie sheet.
These are amazing little sweet tart treats. They make a beautiful garnish for cakes or brownies. Need a quick snack for guests? Or something that looks like you’re a kitchen wizard at the next potluck party? These babies will be your ticket. Fair warning, they are a bit addicting.
Don’t plan on storing them for long. They get soft after a couple of days or so. I read that placing them in a covered container over a layer of rice will help keep them crunchy. I’m trying that right now. The ones I stored without rice were soft after 3 days, but still edible and tasty. Just know that these treats need to be eaten soon after making.
Not a problem, I can assure you. I made these for our 22nd wedding anniversary as a culinary surprise for Mr B. I came off looking like…..
Kitchen Wonder Woman. Those tights tho. egad.
I made chocolate cupcakes. From a mix. But I still had to read the ingredients and use the measuring cup to, well, measure. And they were edible! I didn’t burn them, or cause a kitchen fire, and for that I’m happy. I had a bit of batter left after filling the cupcake cups and used that to make what looked like a giant thin brownie, or a thick spongey cookie, but was really a sad, thin one layer cake…..if you got down to eye level and squinted. But some powdered sugar and a couple of sugared cranberries later and I looked like a genius!!! Maybe I’ll start a bakery, move over Magnolia Cupcakes….I’m lookin at you Joanna Gaines! (It’s good to have goals).
Mr B had the cranberry garnished cupcake the next day and said they were still delicious. And he ate 3 pieces of the sad layer cake. So there you have it. Give these a try. And if you’ve known about these forever, don’t mock me. Be kind to those of us who are Betty Crockerless.
Create your sanctuary one room at a time. Even the kitchen. Kitchens need love too.
Stuffed somewhere between the manic candy eating and the pretending to be someone you aren’t of Halloween, and the glitz and glitter of modern day Christmas, is……….Thanksgiving. Or at least it used to be. What happened? Thanksgiving has all but disappeared. I was pondering this recently and wondered….Is Thanksgiving dead? or dying a slow death? or just forgotten?
Can we revive it? Is it worth it? SPOILER ALERT: If you are one who decorates for Christmas the day after Halloween STOP READING NOW. Please don’t send me hate mail, I’m not anti-Christmas for goodness sake.
The answer to the can we revive it question is, Yes! Yes, it can be revived with a little forethought and it is most definitely worth it. In spite of the fact that Thanksgiving is predicated upon a romantic notion of grateful Pilgrims sitting down to an abundant harvest of food and friendship with also grateful Native Americans, a notion that has been disproved over time, families still sit down to eat too much food together, drink beer (I mean come on, what’s Thanksgiving without a drunken Uncle Fred??) and watch football.
When I was young, Thanksgiving was looked forward to with anticipation, the candy from Halloween had long since been eaten, jack-o-lanterns retired to the trash, toilet paper removed from the trees and the rush and excitement of Christmas hadn’t yet started. Although my Grams did have a corner in her closet for those “special” gifts from yard sales she squirreled away through the year. And let’s not forget Green Stamps and Top Value stamps saved and hoarded for gifts that couldn’t be found at yard sales. And she saved 25 cents a week just for Christmas at her bank’s Christmas Club savings program. But this post isn’t about that, how did I lose track of Thanksgiving already??
Oh yes….anticipating Turkey Day. While my Grandfather was alive, that meal was a big deal, preparations began days in advance, the good dishes brought out and washed, the silver polished, table linens starched and ironed. The required paper turkeys with their glorious honeycomb tails, lined the table and the old faded pilgrim salt and pepper shakers were brought out and filled. The family was coming for a day long eat fest. Along with whatever stray person my Gramps dragged in, usually someone he met in line at the hardware store with no place to go. Having no place to go was something he couldn’t abide. So we frequently had strangers at the table, eating and talking with the rest of the odd lot of relatives I saw only once a year.
The day began early for my grandmother, she would often get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to begin preparations. When it was time for the Macy Day parade it was also time for her first break. The sounds of that parade and the soft oohs and ahhs from her still resonate in my mind every Thanksgiving. It was a day of warmth and familial tolerance, if not love. I tolerated my Great Uncles, a rowdy bunch of former coal miners and farmers, veterans of wars and unnamed battles, loud, obnoxious, but adored by my Grams and they, in turn, adored her right back. My Great Aunts (my favorite relatives,) colorful as exotic birds, tugging assorted husbands and boyfriends to the dinner table, everyone laughing and waiting expectantly for the turkey, my Grams’ triumph of early morning rising, stuffing and basting the morning away.
The glorious bird would arrive, carefully carried by Gramps, steaming and golden brown, placed on a large platter, clearly the star of the meal. Grace was said, everyone held hands and bowed their heads, the Uncles eyeing the biscuits, (I always peeked in case they were ready to throw something at me), and then we went around the table, reciting what we were most grateful for before the meal began in earnest.
And what a meal it was. Mashed potatoes ( and no one made them like my Grams), stuffing, turkey gravy, a variety of veggie dishes, something called Waldorf salad, the required Jello with weird additions….Hello orange with shredded carrots and walnuts, I’m looking at you! And the always mystifying can of cranberry “sauce” which never lost its can shape, wasn’t really saucy and was more like molded jello without the benefit of walnuts or shredded carrots. Hot just-from-the oven biscuits and warm home baked bread. Then there were the pies, enough pies to make the sideboard groan. Every person brought pie, every.single.person. There was mincemeat pie (something I wouldn’t eat, I mean what the hell was in that anyway?) pumpkin pie of course, and apple, and sometimes there was a dreamy coconut pie in all its chocolate decadence.
And pudding, Jello chocolate pudding because that was my favorite. But also vanilla…with bananas and something called Cool Whip, although my Uncles preferred Ready Whip because when you pushed the little thingy on top of the can, it sounded like someone farting according to Uncle Buddy. And it could be used as a weapon. There were always threats of “whipping your ass,” at the time, I thought they would be using the ever handy can of Ready Whip as the weapon of choice. But wondered why would anyone use whipping cream to beat someone up??? Ahh, the sweet innocence of youth.
The beverages of the day were always sweet tea and coffee, if it was cold and it usually was….there was hot mulled cider. My Grandparents weren’t drinkers. My Gramps had a beer or two while hanging out with his fishing buddies but we typically didn’t have it in the house…… and wine, when it was brought to family dinners, was always in a large jug. Sophisticated we were. What with our cranberry sauce from a can and our Gallo wine from a glass jug.
One or two of the Uncles always got into heated arguments, the reason long dead, but revived, just in time for food. How does that happen?? For me the day meant stuffing my face, dodging “noogies” from the Uncles, playing outside with my dog and the highlight of the day was watching the Lions and/or the Bears play, sitting in front of the TV with my Gramps. One or two of the Uncles, done arguing, would join us and there were more than a few new arguments over the “Best Ever” in whatever position they were debating.
That part of the day was special, I got to share that time with my Gramps, sitting in his chair, smoking his pipe and laughing at all the antics and telling or retelling his favorite jokes and stories, me usually leaning back on that chair, bringing my bed pillow for comfort. As the day turned to evening and the candles were lit, music playing after the football game, various bodies snoring on the sofa and every available chair, replete with food and warmth, that day became Thanksgiving. I carry it with me still today.
After my Gramps passed, the dinner was still held, but it had lost something besides my Grandfather. My Grams was never the same, and in the subsequent years as more of the family left us, uncles, and aunts died or moved away, there were no more strangers, because helloooo, you never knew what kind of creep might show up, until it became just me and my Grams and my two favorite aunts, Ruby and Vi, along with their husbands. A more sedate day but still filled with love, laughter, warmth, too much food and reminisces.
I learned a lot about my family then, the old stories, the history being repeated around the table while the adults seemed to forget I was there, lost in their memories. The day ending in hugs and a flurry of goodbye kisses and hugs, the house silent once more. It wasn’t a sad day…..just a quieter and smaller version of the earlier dinners. But one thing remains clear in my mind. There was a feeling of thankfulness, of being grateful and content. And then Grams would signal it was time to bring the Christmas boxes down. THEN Christmas began. That’s what I miss most of all.
These days I browse my Instagram feed, look at posts from my many decorating groups on Facebook, and wince when the Christmas trees start appearing the day after Halloween. The last few years I’ve been sick of Christmas decor long before Christmas ever gets here. People are in such a rush to get from one light filled extravaganza to the next that Thanksgiving has become a day to get through so the “real” Christmas season can begin. Propelled by retailers needing to grab our dollars by enticing us with glorious and gaudy Christmas displays and the must have newest generation of phones, tablets, robotic vacuums and telling us we need someone named Alexis to have a good life…… We buy pre-lit faux trees with timers and programmed music. And then we spray our homes with the scent of evergreen in a can or burn scented candles because faux trees have no scent. ??? Does that seem weird to anyone else?
I often wonder, what’s the hurry? I hear and read “Fall is my favorite season,” yet those same people pack up fall as soon as the last jack-o-lantern is kicked to the curb and start putting up trees. WHAT? Fall is still here, people! And can we just set aside ONE day to be grateful for all that we have? For the people, pets and abundance in our lives? For a day of, granted, too much food, but served with a side of affection for family? WHAT IS THE HURRY?
I know many people love Christmas, I love it too. I love anticipating and planning it each year, I have countless magazines devoted to all things Christmas. I make lists. I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy every season, every holiday I have left and I try not to squander one for the sake of another. Fall is a SEASON, Christmas is a holiday. Thanksgiving is a holiday too! There. I’ve said it.
There may be a reason for starting Christmas early…. for military families, it may be a deployment. For some it’s involvement in the Christmas Parade of Homes, or another local tradition, perhaps someone is moving far away….for the rest of us, it’s the holidays as always….or should be.
It’s a bit different, being a blogger. We’re expected to get our holiday tips, tricks and photos out early so that you, my dear friends, can learn new ways to celebrate. I get that. But this year, I’ll be posting some things from last year, so that I can ease into the holiday with joy in my heart.
I’ll be cutting back on social media for a few weeks as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family we’ve chosen for ourselves. The kids are all scattered with families of their own, and one will be celebrating with us from Heaven. Mr B and I would normally eat a scrumptious, but less stomach challenging meal, followed by football, where we sit comfortably ensconced on the sofa, hurling insults at our heroes when they fumble or drop a pass.
This year we’ll be gathering with friends, some will eat too much, some will drink too much……but we’ll gather together to be grateful we are still here, to offer a moment of silence in remembering those who are no longer with us and THEN we’ll all hurl affectionate insults at one another, much like my uncles used to do, without cans of of Ready Whip for the ass whippings. Why…. we are much more sophisticated than that. We don’t need no stinking cans of ass whip. We just throw intellectual barbs. And drink wine from slim bottles with fancy labels and actual corks, and locally brewed beer with creative names. Yes, we’ve come a long way from Ready Whip and Gallo wine. Cool Whip may still be lurking somewhere….. but there will be no orange Jello with shredded carrots and walnuts. Um…..I might miss that. But there will real cranberry sauce that’s actually sauce and there will be pie. Lots and lots of pie.
Bring Thanksgiving back. Don’t look at it as the day before Christmas starts, drag out your vintage pilgrim salt and pepper shakers, line your table with paper turkeys in all their splendor. Decorate for this day as if it’s important. Because it is.
In today’s world we NEED a day to focus on what’s important, a day to hit pause, to remember and reflect. Christmas can wait. Put down the device, forget Facebook and Instagram (gasp!) for a day and enjoy conversations with the people who are standing or sitting next to you. Hug. Say I love you. SLOW DOWN. Enjoy the season you’re in. You never know when it will be the last season you get to enjoy. Or the last time you get to see the face of someone you love. Savor it. Christmas will come as usual, and there will be time for it. Leave the frantic shopping and the hurrying for a bit.
There’s time. It’s STILL fall y’all
Create your sanctuary. One season……one holiday at a time.
Hey friends, thanks for stopping by today. Once again I write with a heavy heart. I’d intended to do a quick post to let y’all know what’s been going on here at my sanctuary after Irma. I find myself still in a bit of a funk posting about the small irritations we face as compared to the thousands who have no water, food or shelter as yet. I hope everyone has donated, given blood or volunteered in small…. or big ways. We can help. It will take more than a village, but we can help. Check out the websites of those areas affected and see what still needs to be done, and if you can…. donate. As always, please use due diligence and check to be sure the charities are legitimate and your donations will actually get to the people and organizations involved in the massive clean up.
I need to take a moment to honor those who lost their lives in Las Vegas. We should be able to attend concerts, picnics or church services without fear. I may never attend an open air concert again….ever. It is with a heavy heart I offer my condolences to those who lost a loved one. I understand the pain. Truly. I still suffer with a hole in my heart that will never heal. October is a bittersweet month for me. My son was killed in October. My oldest Granddaughter was born in October. We celebrate and we mourn. I’ learned that great joy and great pain can co-exist peacefully in the same heart. Life goes on….as it must. One thing I know about that kind of loss, is that you live your life with joy in honor of the one who no longer can. It will take some time, but my hope is that all who were affected learn to live their lives with joy once more.
Clean up here at the Sanctuary is taking a temporary break so that Mr B can enjoy his annual golf outing. Twelve men from various parts of the country and our neighborhood, will be spending the next several days in the Orlando area wreaking havoc on unsuspecting golf courses. Those courses will never be the same. It’s a big event now. With its own traveling trophy, professional style pairings and months of pre-planning. I suggested the original outing a few years ago as a 65th birthday celebration for Mr B, but it’s turned into a greatly anticipated annual trip, with much hilarity, eating, playing of poker, a bit of liquid happiness and a lot of golf. Happy pre-birthday Mr B. You’ve earned some time away from the Honey Do List.
We’ve picked up fallen debris, cleaned the bird cage (the screen enclosure around the pool), raked some of the yard, had trees trimmed, washed some of the windows and done general clean up. We invested the money in having a large oak removed due to its proximity to our house. It was a Water Oak, one of the weakest oak trees and are frequently one of the first of the oaks to become victim of winds. I don’t miss it and our bedroom benefits from additional light with it gone. We’ll plant a smaller hardier native in that area.
Our neighbor also allowed us to remove two large limbs that had grown over the roof to offer a semblance of safety in the event of another hurricane. There will be another one. This is Florida, the big thumb state that extends into the Gulf. We’re like a giant storm bulls eye, along with Texas and Louisiana. Harvey and Irma will go down in history along with Andrew and Katrina. I imagine construction rules and codes will again change in the hope of preventing the widespread damage after Irma. Good luck with that I say.
When I talk about clean up, it goes beyond the normal picking up crap that has blown into the yard or fallen from trees. Something most people don’t think about is the dirt and grime that gets blown onto and into your house. Our windows were covered in a nasty combination of dirt and tree sap that creates a film of gunk. (ugh, that means the house is covered in it too!) It’s almost impossible to remove without washing the windows multiple times with Krud Kutter. We got a good start but are in no way done with that project. Mr B cleaned the driveway and sidewalk but the house still needs to be pressure washed, the patio needs to be cleaned and sealed, leaves and debris blown out of every planting bed. Shrubs rinsed off and then, to quote my friend, Dianne……I needed to address “the chaos I created indoors.” WOWZER! I have a lot of
crap treasures! It’s one thing to quickly, but systematically wrap things and box them up for safety. It’s a whole “nother” game to put said crapola precious artifacts away again.
I went the extra mile and dusted, washed and cleaned everything before putting it back. Um…..just where did that vintage Zane Gray book go anyway??? When you can’t remember how you had things styled…..you might have too much. (Imagine MR B’s eyes rolling about now.) For a few days my home looked like I was getting ready for an estate sale. I made that comment to my beloved who mumbled; “if only.” Or words to that effect. His office was in the same condition as when we left because he deemed nothing important enough to worry about. His office, while stuffed, is at least an orderly stuffing. Mine, on the other hand, is just stuffed with stuff…..er, important things. Whatever.
But I have “stuff” put away again, my shelves are once again filled with things that make me smile. Smiles weren’t in abundance for a few days. There was whining about aching backs and shoulders, complaining about the multiple hot showers needed and many doses of Ibuprofen, but when Mr B ran out of breath I reminded him, “we still have to do………….” then I ran. Or hobbled quickly. Take your pick.
I also learned a bit about packing the car and I’m now looking for another folding dog crate at a reasonable price. It takes up a lot less space. And I reminded myself to keep my “go bag” up to date, including a toothbrush. So each time we return from a trip I’ll take some time to restock it. And at the first announcement that a hurricane will make landfall, I’ll be stocking up on ziplock bags, plastic bins and bubble wrap. Oil for the lamps, (even though I have 5 thousand assorted candles), tuna, bread and peanut butter. Those were in short supply or no supply early on.
I’m hanging fewer wind chimes, but better quality ones. Getting rid of small plants and pots, in favor of statement making larger ones. And I’ve already given away a small wrought iron seating group. Next up for the Goodwill pile is small tables and outdoor knick knacks. Too much trouble to move to safe locations and we don’t need them anyway. Less stuff means quicker prep. I’m all about quicker prep after Irma.
Mr B thinks if we wait until after the storm season is over we may get a better price on hurricane windows and shutters. There is still time left in this year’s storm season tho. I hope his idea turns out to be a wise decision. I do know that if we get a direct hit from another Irma sized storm there isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world to protect us.
I hope you are safe and busy creating your sanctuary, one room at a time. We sure need a sanctuary these days. Blessings and hope to all.
Hey y’all! Most of you know that we evacuated and perhaps followed the updates on my Facebook page. I found myself in the position of living my “What If” post. Ironically, at the time we loaded the car and made a mad dash out of our state, I was strangely calm, or maybe in a state of denial. It was before the storm that anxiety and stress were off the charts, and a bit later…. after the “mad dash”that it hit again. And boy! Did it ever!!
Hurricanes at least give enough time to prepare…..but that also means lots of time to build up anxiety. We spent the week prior to Irma’s projected landfall getting ready. Draining the pool, removing anything that could become a projectile in high winds, packing mementos as best we could. Mr B worked tirelessly moving patio furniture, pots and plants, and odds and ends of outdoor miscellaneous (think dozens of wind chimes) to the side of the house or into the garage. He didn’t grumble or make snide comments about all the stuff that had to be moved, he just did it. The anxiety building, did we do enough? Would we be safe? Waiting for the storm to hit was the worst part. The unknown is always the hardest part.
Our house is “open concept,” kitchen, breakfast nook and family room are one big space. There are no rooms without windows, and the windows we have are each larger than a standard 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. They are great for letting light in, but due to some ill designed sills that stick out on the exterior, and the fact that the family room windows are not separate windows, they are “mulled together with aluminum,” there is no way to secure the plywood sheets to the house. Plus they aren’t “hurricane windows,” they’re flimsy builder grade. That bank of 3 in the back of the house were the biggest concern. They rattle and vibrate during normal thunderstorms and I was afraid that hurricane force winds would blow them out. We’d given all our plywood away quite awhile ago and it quickly disappeared at all the big box stores.
People were taking this storm seriously. And it didn’t help my stress level to have the Governor on the TV once every hour saying, “This is a monster storm, GET OUT.” If the Governor was freaking out, what chance did we have? Floridians in our area are usually blase about hurricanes. We’ve had a few. But this storm? Irma? She scared the bejesus out of hardcore hurricane partiers and people were boarding up, buying all the water that was available and gassing up the cars.
Bread, water and gasoline ran out. Gas stations closed. People drove miles from their homes hoping to find a jar of peanut butter or a bottle of water. I was lucky to be in Walmart when a few pallets of bottled water became available. I was surprised at the orderly line, the lack of complaints as we snaked through the store to the back and each shopping cart was loaded with a case of water. There was no bread, no peanut butter, no canned tuna (I snagged the last two cans), and paper towels and toilet paper were in very short supply.
We knew we had enough ice to last a couple of days and food in the freezer to cook on the gas grill when the power went out. We had batteries, water and toilet paper, candles and oil lamps. We had a generator that had just been serviced and it was supposed to power 6 outlets in the house. I hoped one of them was for a fan. I bought an extra case of Oscar’s kidney diet food, stocked up on Lily’s and picked up vaccination records at the vet’s. We found a couple of small pieces of plywood in the garage and Mr B was able to board up the french door in the pool bath. So that was our “safe room.” I planned to make a bed on the floor with some of my bazillion quilts and throws and the 4 of us would huddle in there during the storm. So we were good.
I put photos and scrapbooks in the few plastic bins I had, but quickly ran out so made a quick run to Big Lots and fortunately it still had a few. I grabbed a couple and was able to get most of the family photos and my precious tintypes wrapped and in the bins. Some I wrapped in plastic and placed in the washer and dryer and even the dishwasher. We aren’t in a flood zone so I wasn’t worried about the water lines backing up. Turns out that wasn’t a great idea. I’ll have to do some research to find out what…if anything, can be done to make those a safe place to put precious things.
My Grandmother’s cedar chest was put into the bathtub, my toy box was left in my office with the hope that it would remain safe. Some bins were additionally wrapped in garbage bags, taped and placed in our closets. We closed all the interior doors. Mr B made a pee station for the dogs with some sod and I was able to get Oscar some tranquilizers to help with his storm anxiety. We were as prepared as we could be. We were ready to hunker down.
As Irma got closer, the warnings became more dire. When the winds hit 50 mph first responders would no longer respond. The Governor told people in south Florida if they didn’t evacuate, they’d be on their own. Don’t call if you have a heart attack. We aren’t coming. No way was he going to risk the lives of those crews to save someone dumb enough to stay and then have the temerity to have a heart attack. My anxiety was through the roof. We went about the business of shutting down our computers, making sure our medications and personal papers were in the water resistant lock box. Both dogs were anxious and followed in our footsteps, routinely getting stepped on, then hugged with a quick apology. Their innocent eyes looking up at us, plainly confused and anxious, looking to us for reassurance and comfort. I felt bad that I had none to give, for I was just as anxious.
And then we waited…. I managed to watch a couple of sitcoms but couldn’t tell you which ones. I tried to read but couldn’t concentrate. As Irma got closer the television was on our local 24 hour news channel. (Thank you Bay News 9 for your coverage, it helped make our decisions.) I couldn’t sleep for worry.
Mr B wasn’t concerned. I was frightened and nervous. The waiting was nerve wracking, just get here already! We were prepared. And then…. Tampa was in the bulls eye….. Irma turned….. Just a bit, but now the eye was going to pass closer to us. And we would get the full force of the winds on those flimsy windows at the back of the house. Mr B looked at me late Saturday night and said, “We need to leave.” WHAT???? I wanted to leave days ago, but was convinced by him we would be OK. So all of a sudden we aren’t???? Holy heart beat! He said, “I’ll wait for the 11:00 o’clock update, if Irma has made the turn they are forecasting…..those windows…. ” When Mr B became concerned I knew it was about to get real. To say I was frightened would be the “under” understatement.
Mr B does not get alarmed easily. I knew all hell was about to break loose. I asked what time we would leave, he said, 6:00 a.m. “OK, get me up at 5:00.”
“Can I take anything?” “You can take what will fit.” He didn’t have to wake me up for I slept…..not at all! My “What If” scenario was coming true. I’d given myself an hour before we left to load what I could in the back of the car. Posting that “What If” post probably saved my sanity. I was able to quickly grab the things most dear to me because I’d already determined what those things were.
The doggies and their things went in first, crates, bowls, food and medication. Plus two dog beds that would be used in whatever motel we could find. A gas can with 10 gallons of gas. Mr B said he was confident we could make Georgia on one tank, but took the extra gas as a precaution. Surely there would be gas in Georgia…right??? A small cooler with water and ice, a bag of snacks. Our two small roller bags stuffed with necessities. The rest of the car was mine.
I knew the cedar chest wouldn’t fit in the space left, so in went the toy box, I dumped its contents on my floor and quickly pulled a few things out of the washer; my Grandmother’s statue, the shaving mug belonging to my Gramps, my Mom’s clock, some of MR B’s family photographs and his baby shoes and placed those in the toy box. I asked him, “What do you want me to pack for you?” “Nothing.” There is nothing here I care about except you.” I grabbed a ziplock bag and at the last minute put some pieces of jewelry in. I took a last look at my breakfast nook and thought wistfully, geez, I just painted the church pew, it was 5:55 when we pulled out.
If you followed the FB page, you’ve already seen the ghostly images of the interstate. The decision to leave the morning of the day the storm would hit was, in hind sight OK. We could get out without sitting for hours on a clogged interstate. It was clear sailing. We were confident we could outrun the storm. Irma wasn’t going to hit full force until later in the evening. Even so, there were some gusty winds and bands of rain coming in. But it was a surreal trip. Gas stations and fast food restaurants were shuttered and empty. Closed rest stops were an eerie sight as we sped along, Mr B making sure that he kept the car at at even 55 mph to conserve gas. When it was my turn, I admit I white knuckled the steering wheel.
Along the way our daughter-in-law called motels for us…… Savananah, no vacancies, a pet friendly motel in Charleston had rooms, but when the price of $689.00 was quoted we decided to go to our nephew’s home outside of Greenville, SC. He’d invited us to stay, but they have a toddler and I didn’t want to inflict our two rowdy doggies on them. Turns out we didn’t have a choice. It was going to family or living in our car. Family won.
Our dogs were amazingly well behaved after they learned what they could and couldn’t do. The baby was terrified of them so it became a matter of juggling when the dogs could be out of their crates and not terrify sweet baby Avery. It actually worked out well. The dogs were with us while Avery was in day care and in the evening after her early bedtime. Concessions were made and our nephew and niece were gracious and loving. There was a fenced yard and my nephew immediately made it dog safe by screwing is some slats of fencing to make sure there was no wiggle room to get out. The nephew had even recorded Outlander for me! (He’s my favorite nephew) We ended up really enjoying our stay with them, but only after we learned our house had survived with no real damage. I can’t tell you how my thoughts wandered and how worried I was until I got that news.
Monday, after the storm had passed, one of our neighbors texted and shared a photo of our home. We were OK. But then another worry surfaced, a small one, but one that needed to be addressed. The power was out, so we asked that our food be taken out of the freezer and refrigerator. I didn’t want to return to that. I’ve been through a flood and the stench from a refrigerator filled with food without power for several days never really leaves…no matter how much it’s cleaned. So neighbors to the rescue again.
The first days in SC were filled with anxiety, the TV tuned almost constantly to CNN to get a glimpse of our area. There was no power and no phone service in many places and I was filled with worry about our friends in other areas of Florida. Did they make it? I
wanted needed to be home, I needed wanted to leave immediately. But there was no gasoline in Florida. The port was closed, tankers couldn’t get through, and the interstates had to be cleaned, then bridges and overpasses checked for structural safety. So we waited. And watched amazing video of utility workers responding from every state, and Canada. People were donating to the recovery, including donating their time. Neighbor helping neighbor. Human helping human. For a brief moment in time we were all just human. Not Democrat. Not Republican. Not Gay or Straight, Black or White. It was beautiful to see. Americans are at our best during times of crisis. It shouldn’t take a crisis.
I’m so thankful that all our friends made it through the storm, I’m thankful I still have those few things most precious to me. I’m thankful for the love and support of family in a time of overwhelming fear and anxiety. I’m thankful for those doggies, who are now romping through the house again, already forgetting just a few days ago they were afraid and anxious. They have the gift of a short memory. Most of all I’m thankful Mr B is still with me, annoying the hell out of me, with his comments and eye rolls. I don’t know what my life would be without him.
We came home to a lot of debris and fallen limbs in the yard, a downed tree in the “back 40.” Small annoyances. My heart still hurts for those who lost everything. I cannot imagine. I hope I never find out what that’s like. After we clean the house inside and out, get the debris picked up, and trees trimmed, we’ll be getting estimates for hurricane windows and maybe shutters. There will be another hurricane. This is Florida. Thank you all for your messages of concern and hope. They truly meant a lot.
As I sit in front of the TV watching Irma gain strength, I wonder…..is this the storm that will devastate Florida? Should we evacuate? Stay? What can I do to help keep Mr B and my furbabies safe? If you live in any of the coastal states, you probably already have your hurricane emergency kit ready, or are getting one ready now if you live in Florida. After watching both Katrina and Harvey decimate Louisiana and Texas, I’m not sure having extra batteries and water is enough. Prayers are needed, friends, big prayers.
So I asked myself.….if I were told to get out NOW and could only bring one bag with me, what would be in that bag? How about if I had a few hours and could pack my car? What would I take? What is really important to me??
Mr B and my dogs go without mention, but I mention them anyway, if only to say, there is nothing else worth saving. So I could leave my home behind me and leave with them and feel fortunate. But after the initial happy-to-be-alive thoughts filter through my mind and into my heart…..what then? Would I miss my things? Which things? And that led to my What If List, the list of things important enough to be considered if I were to evacuate and could take the car.
Would I take my toy box? The one that’s as old as I am? The one that my son also used as a young boy? How about my Grandmother’s cedar chest, her dishes? My mother’s clock? Mr B’s baby shoes? What about my Grandmother’s Christmas angel?
So, what made the cut???
The statue that my Grandpa gave my Grams on one of their anniversaries. The shaving mug and brush that belonged to my Gramps. Grams kept it and now I do too, to honor the tall, thin man who helped raise me. The hobnail glass bowls that belonged to my Grams, the ones that hold small shells and acorns throughout the change of seasons. The jewelry that Mr B and my kids have purchased for me over the years. The Christmas angel that graced every tree I can remember until I married.
A few photographs of my ancestors. Those tintypes are precious to me. They tell my story. Some of my oldest son’s baby photos and early pictures of my daughter, Darby, and second son, Scott and my two granddaughters, Shelby and Shayla before the age of digital. And yes, Mr B’s baby shoes.
An autographed copy of a John Sanford book. My autographed CD by Home Free, and if there’s room, my hardbacks by Diana Gabaldon. Two glass jars from an Indiana bottling company and my grain and feed sacks which can be folded up and not take up space. They’ll be the first to be jettisoned however.
These things would be packed in the cedar chest. There won’t be room for my toy box unless we take both cars. I will miss that toy box but I have a photo of myself standing beside it when I was about 3, complete with the world’s worst hairdo.
What about Mr B? What would be on his list? His Grandfather’s violin? The photo of that Grandfather’s firehouse? His guitar? His golf clubs? I need to ask, for I truly don’t know if there is anything he would want to take with us. He doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to things that I do, I’m betting he’ll say; besides me, and maybe the dogs, there isn’t anything else worth taking.
So I look at my list and realize, there isn’t much there. After a life of almost 70 years, I can pack what’s most important in my car. It’s was an AHA moment. I realize (and if I were brutally honest with myself, I’ve always known) that all this stuff I’ve acquired….. it’s just stuff, mostly unimportant and replaceable. Nothing is more important than the lives of those I love. I’ll make room in the car for those people. Toy box and cedar chest be damned.
I hope, with all of my heart, that Irma passes us by. And fizzles out harmlessly so that no one else must decide what goes in that one bag, or what will fit in the back of the car, that no animals are left behind, that no families are lost. That no lives are taken by Mother Nature. The earth will renew itself given time. But the loss of loved ones? There’s no coming back from that.
In the meantime, we have batteries and water, important papers in ziplock bags, and oil lamps to light our home when the power goes out. The power always goes out. In the heat and humidity, no fans, no a/c, nothing but me and a paper fan on a stick. I’m ready. Mr B answered when asked; “Nothing except you and the dogs.” “There’s not one thing in the house that cannot be replaced, except you.” Gotta love that man.
I have everything I need. Mr B right here, beside me, my doggies curled up in my lap……in my sanctuary. Stay safe, wherever you are. Thoughts are with everyone in Montana and California, in Texas and Louisiana, and all those who are certainly in Irma’s path.
Y’all know by now that I like to paint things. I’ll throw a coat of paint on almost anything, without an invitation. If it’s in our home, it’s probably been painted multiple times. I have MCPD…Multiple Coats of Paint Disorder. It’s a real disorder, I found it on the internet when I was researching my symptoms….
I decided to paint my antique icebox. Gasp!! If you believe that every vintage piece should remain unpainted, stop reading right now. I don’t want to be responsible for raising your blood pressure.
I said more than once I would never paint it. But……………well times change as they say, and I changed my mind about this old piece one day and decided it needed to be white. In my defense, it had already been refinished a couple of times so the “value” of it was already diminished. And truly, the value of anything is only what someone will pay for it.
My ice box had damage from rot on one of the rear legs, didn’t have all the original parts inside, had a large hole in the galvanized cladding inside, and had broken and lifted veneer, which could not be repaired. So painting it would be a mercy. The wood was dry from years of hard use, I’d waxed it about 20 years ago with Briwax and while that gave it a soft luster, I guess in the end, I just wanted a different look.
How is it I can find no “before” photos?? And I didn’t take any before we took the doors off. I have a hard time remembering the photo thing. So just imagine the ice box with brown doors.
I decided to use Krylon Chalky Paint in a spray. Colonial Ivory seemed to be the logical choice. I prepped the ice box by removing the hardware, lightly sanding, inserted cardboard cut to fit the door openings, (to protect the inside from overspray) and wiped it down to remove sanding dust. When the prep was done the change began… I’m always a little nervous and excited as the first coat of paint goes on.
I do not recommend using a new product on a large important piece of furniture. I’ve used spray paint for years and am usually successful. I started this project with high hopes, I wanted a smooth matte finish and I’d successfully used this paint on a frame, so I didn’t think twice. However…….it pays to read the information on every can of paint. Especially when using it for the first time on something important.
I did.not.do.that. Rookie mistake. The project got off to a great start. I applied several thin coats with an hour between each coat. On the very LAST coat, (why it is always the last one that goes sideways????) I guess I failed to shake the can enough to get it mixed properly, the paint came out darker and like a fine powder. It was as if I’d sprayed cornmeal on it!! OMG!!! and other words of distress!!! Words that shall not be published. I was not happy. I was horrified. I had to let it dry. And then sand it down to try to smooth it. All that careful painting only to have my project ruined at the last moment. I was in tears.
I read the info on the can, it recommends shaking vigorously for a full minute (of course you really should shake it another minute or so). And to shake during painting. I know this part. I shake cans of paint vigorously. What I didn’t do was shake it periodically during painting. I don’t know if I was just in a hurry or was excited because it was going so well. The range of temps was also an eye opener. Turns out you aren’t supposed to paint in 90+ degree weather with humidity to match!
Good grief. So humiliated and head hanging low, I sanded and sanded some more starting with 150 grit and then using 120, then 220. And finally with 400. It didn’t take all the dark shading off and it still feels rough to touch, but it’s done. I’ll wait a couple of weeks and then add wax, at least to the top. I bought a small buffer to make it easier on my neck and shoulders. I’ll live.
So the verdict??? Krylon Chalky Spray Paint gets a 7 our of 10 stars from me. It will leave a nice smooth matte finish in perfect weather conditions. Which I rarely have. Humidity is a beast here and the temps seem to get hotter every year. If I waited to paint when the temps are between 65 and 85 degrees with relative humidity I’d only be able to paint in November through February. Um…..that ain’t happenin. I can’t wait for perfect weather to spray paint something. I could…..but I won’t. So there’s that.
I do think this paint is great for small projects. I won’t use it again on larger pieces. Even though the bad finish was due to operator error, and ultimately the weather conditions, the cost of buying multiple cans of paint isn’t worth it.
Remember: Reading is Fundamental
Lesson learned. Read the directions. All of them. Pay attention to the recommended weather conditions. Shake that can, then shake it again. And shake it during painting. I spoke to a Krylon rep who said shaking the can is even more important when using chalk type paint. The paint is thicker and the ingredients sink to the bottom, so shaking is mandatory throughout the painting process. The powder that was sprayed at the end of my project? That was the ingredient that gives that matte finish. By not shaking my can often enough or hard enough the paint and other ingredients didn’t get mixed properly. Duh. Well, I know that NOW……
Create your sanctuary one spray paint can at a time. Create the home you see in your heart, no matter where you live.