Friday, January 29, 2010

Down a Country Road

Have you ever been driving down a country road and been halted by an unexpected site? It happened to me recently in South Carolina. Sometimes the iPhone maps application will take you down an unexpected path that provides a surprisingly scenic route. On this particular occasion my husband and I followed the online navigational route which took us down a country road near Dalzell. Have you ever heard of Dalzell? Well, me neither, but the route took us down an eerily beautiful road lined with trees just dripping in moss.All of a sudden I spotted an historical marker. I'm always curious what story the markers are telling. Since we were in the woodsy wilderness I told my husband that we had to stop to read the sign and it was great that there was actually a pullover spot. Normally when the signs appear, there is no place to pull over to read the markers, especially when traveling at 55 mph (or more)! When I started reading the sign I was totally intrigued by the church I spotted and the description I read.
We had discovered the Church of the Holy Cross and who knew that Dr. Poinsett, the botanist who brought our Christmas flower, the poinsettia from Mexico to the United States, was buried in the church cemetery. The walls of the church had first been made from rammed earth, a mud compound, and was originally built in 1770. The original smaller structure was rebuilt in the 1800s. If I could have gotten into the church I might have been able to see some of the beautiful stained glass windows. The stained glass windows were designed by the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc though the glass works were made in Bavaria. The church organ was made by Henry Erben and was installed in 1851. It happens to be one of the only working Erben organs still in existence. The bell was cast in the Netherlands and is a "named" bell. Its sister bell, a twin to the Holy Cross bell, is located in the National Cathedral in D.C.
The church was under renovation and there were workers and equipment everywhere. I asked one of the workers if I could go inside the church and the big, burly guy I spoke to said, "don't think so." Of course, "thank you" seemed like the best response. So I clicked a couple of pictures and did my best to avoid the construction materials. I wish that road maps published an accompanying historical marker directory. As a lover of country roads and history, I would be more apt to stop to enjoy the surprises that one can find when taking the road less traveled.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Poor Husband Visits Matisse

This weekend we are celebrating my husband's birthday and as a part of our weekend activities I'd planned for us to attend the opening reception of the Matisse exhibit at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. I've been excited about it for weeks and he has been a great about supporting my enthusiasm.

Today was the day. We went to the museum at Oglethorpe U., which is housed in the library. Husband, or Albert, his new nickname since we saw the Young Victoria, was such a great companion. As we got in the car to leave I asked, "Didn't you enjoy it?" To which he tried to to reply to without laughing, saying, "I will NEVER forget that I went to see a Matisse exhibit on my birthday as long as I live!" We laughed so hard. He hates museums and combining poetry sent him over the top but we had a great time laughing over the event on the way home which made it a fun birthday activity.

Hopefully the kids will come up with some birthday surprises that are more in line with his interests and tomorrow he'll get his favorite cake. No doubt a better birthday is just around the corner.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Great Giveaway On Sweet As A Candy

Frederica at Sweet As A Candy is having a first year anniversary giveaway. If you would like to win a beautiful ruffled sweater be sure to stop by and leave a comment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Powder Post Beetles - Eeeeuuuwww

Not that you can see it but there is a tiny hole located diagonally between the two knots

I think I have a case of the powder post beetles! I have this lovely (okay, I think it's lovely) piece of antique Danish farm furniture in my dining room and in the last few months I've noticed a little sawdust gathering on a glass shelf we installed. It should have had wooden shelf but my husband creatively installed a light in the center and replaced the wood shelf with glass to help light that section of the cabinet. At first we thought it was dust from where the light was hung but I washed everything down and the sawdust came back.
To me a beautiful piece - with bugs!

What do I do? I've been online and one of the schools of entomology recommended treating with
Tim-Bor. Has anyone tried any other successful treatments?When I bought the piece I loved the markings in the legs (above) and some spots looked as if bugs had been there decades ago - but I don't I want to keep bugs in the furniture!!!! Help! How do these bugs find furniture to munch on?

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Combination Weekend

The weekend was packed with activities starting with a service project on Saturday. In Atlanta Dr. King's birthday is celebrated with city-wide service projects and other special services. Normally I volunteer on Monday but had an opportunity to work at a place I'd been wanting to visit.

About a year ago I read a blog post about a young woman who went with a group of friends to take dinner to a place called Trinity House-Big Bethel. The woman described how she reluctantly went along with a group of friends to make the delivery but after visiting with the residents was stirred with great emotion. I felt much the same way. Our group went to help with a painting project and we'd planned to have lunch with residents afterward. As the painting wrapped up we all gathered in a large room for mealtime. At first there was casual conversation but then one resident asked for everyone's attention and he began to speak. He gave his name and told how long he'd been at TH. He went on to openly share his personal struggles with alcohol and drugs and so the circle of sharing began. As we went around the circle, each of the residents shared stories - some college educated while others were high school drop outs. Most had been living on the streets after losing homes, marriages, contact with family, children, etc. One of the youngest residents was just 25 years old and had been on drugs since he was 14. All of the men had one thing in common - turning their life around. Many of the men thanked us for coming to help them paint adding that the thing they appreciated most is having volunteers come to support them in their personal journeys. We left with plans to visit again. It was a great day.

Sunday was the chili party and what fun we had. We had four different chili's to try - turkey sausage, Cincinnati-style, hot 'n spicy and vegetarian. (You can't judge a chili by its picture but I included one anyway).

We also had some other delicious things to try like hot spinach artichoke dip, broccoli muffins and an apple tart. The broccoli muffins are so popular with my family. In fact, one year for my daughter's birthday, she asked for these instead of a cake! I decided that when you have a chili party, you need to have some small "to go" containers on hand for guests to take home leftovers. Sort of like a cookie swap. Lots of candle light, great wine, fellowship and plenty of chili!!!! This may become an annual tradition. My husband brought me flowers so I had to add them to my blog!
FINALLY we were able to see It's Complicated today and I enjoyed it so much. A great way to end the weekend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

High Museum & Friday Night Jazz

I'm so lucky to work around the corner from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.. Sometimes during stressful work days, it's been such a treat to walk over at lunch just to walk through various exhibits - and there have been some great ones. Last summer I was moved by Richard Misrach's On the Beach exhibit. At the very least I always enjoy walking through to view some of the sculpture. This is one of my favorites as I am fascinated by how the sculptor created the veil over the face. (Click on the image to enlarge the photo and you will see the detail of the veil).
One of the special events at the High are the Jazz Friday nights. The events take place the third Friday of every month and you can always count on the sounds of incredible jazz while enjoying the exhibits.
I'd been meaning to go see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit and last night I was finally able to see it. I was so glad we got there fairly early because by 9:00 p.m. the place was packed which would have made viewing much more difficult. This show has 50 works though not everything on display is by da Vinci. Twenty of his sketches can be seen and some for the very first time in the United States. Several of the sketches are viewed from the front and the back covered with small drawings or notes. I had to keep reminding myself just how old these works are and also how scarce paper would have been at that time. My husband and I walked away being amazed at seeing sketches of machinery, anatomy and nature all on one piece of paper. It was very interesting to see his sketch of the brain and his diagram illustrating his theory on how the brain is connected to the five senses.On my evening drive home from work I listen to Jazz 91.9 - the jazz of the city and for years have listened to Riva Blue, the local host of Jazz at Sundown. Last night Riva was at the High and it was really nice to meet the person that I've listened to on the air for years.

Tomorrow is the chili party and there will be photos to share. Today was a service day and no doubt I'll be sharing something about the experience in my Monday post.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warming Up With a Chili Party!

A Photo of Ice on My Windshield on Monday Morning

We are slowly beginning to thaw out from the deep freeze but with the continued cold weather we've been having, it seemed to be the perfect time to warm up with a chili party. Normally in our neighborhood, neighbors are out taking strolls or on their front porch visiting with one another. But lately, no one is getting out of the house if they don't have to so I decided to invite a couple of neighbors over on Sunday evening for a chili party. I'm planning to have a few different types of chili on hand along with fixings (is that too southern sounding?). A couple of our friends are vegetarians but I don't have a recipe for a vegetarian chili. Does anyone have a great vegetarian chili recipe they would be willing to share?

I'll be posting pictures from the gathering and sharing any new recipes we collect along the way.

Stay warm.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eddie Ross, Larson Juhl & Tea

What should you do when you wake up and it's 11 degrees and you don't feel motivated to do much of anything?

Go for an afternoon tea with Eddie Ross!!! Earlier in the week I had noticed on Eddie's website that he would be in Atlanta at Scott Antique Market (read a little more about my regular visits to Scott's here). I'm so lucky to live just minutes from Scott's and I'd initially planned to see him there. The problem was that the session was being held on Sunday a.m. and it was $50. So a friend and I registered for the Saturday tea at Larson Juhl and I'm so glad that we did.

We arrived a bit early as they were setting up for the event. It gave my friend Kirk and I time to look around and to watch as folks arrived, and there were LOTS of bloggers attending. Kirk is a work colleague - an incredibly talented guy, well studied and with a keen eye for decor.

The event was truly a lovely affair with all sorts of finger sandwiches, sweets and assorted beverages. While guests arrived and mingled, the VP of Larson Juhl took small groups of guests on a tour of their Artaissance operations. The studio was incredible. LJ works with hundreds of artists to produce custom work on both canvas and paper, sized to a customer's needs. LJ is the leading distributor of custom framing supplies and is normally available at your local frame shop but I had no idea that they were a Berkshire Hathaway company (can you say "Warren Buffett").

After a short while all of the attendees gathered in a corporate "classroom" for a presentation by Eddie on framing, the use framed works and how they can be used to create added impact in a room. You can see in this photo just how exciting the event was, even to Eddie!

When we were ready to leave we received gifts!!!!! Each of us were given a canvas from the LJ Biltmore Collection AND a botanical bookplate as a gift from one of the vendors at Scotts! So much fun and new things to frame!!!
Oh what a fun outing on a cold and snowy day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Curb Appeal: The Block

Do you watch the show? I have to admit for a while I stopped watching HGTV. There were so many shows that simply didn't appeal to me. Recently I watched an episode of Curb Appeal: The Block and was surprised when I realized the street getting the makeover was 5 minutes from my house. The crew did an amazing job on the episode I watched and I was impressed by the contractor on the show, Chip Wade.

Chip & team pictured with Oprah

After watching the show I decided to email Chip to ask about an architectural challenge we have. Our front steps are way too steep and I was curious what kind of response my inquiry would trigger, if any. Amazingly, early the next morning my phone rang and it was Chip. He set up an appointment to come by the next morning to take a look at the problem.

Front of the house with steep entrance

Chip arrived early with coffee in hand, first examining the exterior of the house and then sitting down to sketch. Very quickly we had a rendering with construction details, phases of work, and suggested materials. As he began to explain some of the things we could do to address the issue, he also made suggestions based on our budget.

Before the appointment had ended, he consulted on several other projects/challenges that we have been wanting to think through, making all sorts of suggestions. I confessed to him that weren't high-end clients so to help us be able to work within our budget, he even made suggestions for builder/contractors we might enjoy working with (and ones we could afford). All-in-all I was most impressed with Chip and his work and I was so glad that I sent the email. No doubt I am going to be the number one fan of Curb Appeal: The Block!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Diane Sawyer Said It Best, "Don't Cry Because It's Over, Smile Because It Happened."

Great advice but not always easy. On Tuesday we drove to South Carolina to meet up with my son and granddaughters for a final goodbye. My son will be stationed in Germany for the next four years. He's been stationed overseas before so I should be used to the goodbyes but somehow yesterday was harder than in the past.

We've had such great times together over the past few years with my son living just four hours away. All of our kids were home this year for Christmas and it was wonderful having everyone together. It seemed the holidays had just begun when it was time to say goodbye. I'll replay the memories for many years to come.A family moment over the holidays

Then came January 5th - a day before departure.

The girls bought and decorated goodbye cards for Dad and Stepmom

They enjoyed reading the cards and notes before going to bed

Early the next morning came the heavy-hearted walk to the terminal

All too soon were the final hugs goodbye

My granddaughters are still just a few hours away as they will be staying with their mom during the school year. That is a blessing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Happiness Project

Have you read the book? I ordered it Friday and decided to hold off on resolutions or goals until I had a chance to read a bit of the book. If you've read the book or participate in a "happiness group" I would love to hear from you. It seemed to me that working independently might be easier but it would be interesting to hear how the group thing works. Don't get me wrong. I'm not unhappy but the idea of thinning out some of the unnecessary to let in more happy moments seems most appealing.

My girlfriend, together with her teen-aged daughter, went on a very meaningful service trip to Kenya in 2009. When she returned she described a simple tribal life saying that many of those living in the community were almost giddy with happiness. They had very little, according to western standards and yet everyone seemed very happy. Her observation was "Life on the Mara was simple, stress free and it called us to slow down and to live closer to nature."

Photo of Lindsey and her Masai Friend

Doesn't that sound like something we all should try to do - live more simply, with less stress, slow down and connect with nature? It doesn't sound too hard.

It isn't exactly a resolution but exercise is on my list of things to do in 2010. When I turned 40 I started taking ballet and have continued classes off and on over the past twelve years. Last year I fell off the wagon but will be back in class next Saturday. The idea of wall-to-wall mirrors is a bit scary but facing one's fears is an exercise in itself, right?

Have you made any goals yet? I would love to hear them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010! A Blank Page

It's been a long time since I posted but the start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to pickup and start posting again. I have missed blogging and connecting with so many folks and apologies for not keeping in touch. Life was moving too fast for me the last half of 2009. Lots happened and most of it very good.

I spent 7 weeks working on a Habitat build and it was a good feeling knowing that I was able to help a young family spend their first Christmas in their very own home. If you haven't ever worked on a home build you should try it. This was the fifth time I had worked on a house but the first time I worked on one from start to finish. Quite an experience.

After the build was finished I headed to Seattle to become a Godmother! I am so proud to be a Godmother for the first time. My Goddaughter, Shea is a beautiful, happy girl and since she was born, I have been able to visit with her twice already!

Our family celebrated our first Labor Day Weekend family reunion at our house. We normally head to Standing Stone Park in Tennessee but this year we decided to make it a major event closer to home. We rented a room at a hotel around the corner so that we had pool access all weekend. Thought you might enjoy a picture of our granddaughter at the pool wearing her goggles. I call this picture "Pink."

Our neighborhood has a small park and do you remember the great burlap bags that I found during the summer on the way to work? Well, they became the perfect sacks for our sack races! Yes, we had an old-fashioned field day in the park! I planned a number of games and it was such a hit with everyone. The family decided they wanted to do it again next year. The event required a lot of planning and prep work so I will carefully consider whether or not to do it again but it was a ton of fun.

My husband lost his job in 2009 but not working gave him time to go visit family in Beirut. He left just after Thanksgiving so in the weeks before Christmas I was "home alone," but I loved every minute of it. Saw lots of movies too. Have you seen An Education, Precious, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Blindside - oh,the list goes on! So many great movies to see right now. And I watched Elf and The Family Stone multiple times. The quietness and stillness gave me time to take in lots of small things I love about the holidays - all was calm and all was bright. It gave me the opportunity to hold a girl party and it was a blast. As a result of the fun we had, we have already planned a girlfriend chili party to kick off the new year.

Christmas was wonderful and one of my happiest moments was having my grandgirls with me for Christmas mass. It was the children's mass and the girls got here just in time to join the pageant as angels. It was beautiful and I hope it is something they remember forever. I know I will. My family all arrived in time for Christmas eve. My husband had promised "I'll be home for Christmas" so we picked him up at the airport at 9:00 on Christmas eve. What a great celebration we had.

My son Sami is moving to Germany. This fall we spent lots of time with he and the grandgirls. Family time took precedent over everything as we helped him get his house ready for sale and we spent plenty of weekend time just doing things together. Our family is about to shift gears in a major way. We know it will be a great opportunity for us to travel but the move will also make it harder for family get-togethers. Our oldest will be in Germany and our youngest daughter currently lives in Portland. The distances are vast. New geographic challenges lie ahead but also all sorts of new travel opportunities do too.

To me the new year is like a blank piece of paper. We have before us the opportunity to do things differently, to add a new chapter to our lives, and I'm excited about it.