Friday, January 29, 2010

Bringing Order to Our Lives . . . Through the Mudroom

If you have a front hall closet in your home, I want you to take a minute and think of it fondly.  No matter its current condition.  No matter how over-stuffed or packed or messy it is.  Just think of all it holds and how it serves you.  Perhaps consider doing something nice for it today . . . a lovely doorknob adornment, a scented sachet, maybe just a little nod of appreciation in its general direction. 

We live in a colonial home that looks much like this.

If you've never lived in this kind of home, you might not know that closets are an issue with some of these homes.  It depends upon the layout, but it is not uncommon for these homes to have no front hall closet.  That is, no place to hang coats for front door entrants.  No place for their shoes, or schoolbags, or hats, or mittens, or umbrellas, or anything else.

In fact, it is a startling fact that our entire first floor contains exactly no closets.  None.  Really.  There are kitchen cabinets.  A shelved pantry.  An under-the-sink vanity in the powder room.  And that's it.

But we do have a mudroom.  So think about this:  a mudroom and no other closets.  Get the picture?  This poor little aisle of a room serves as surrogate front hall closet, utility closet, and more.  Its duties include:

1.  Keeper of all coats, jackets, and miscellaneous outerwear
2.  Storer of all shoes and boots, sandals, and rain gear.
3.  Keeper of all telephone directories, maps, atlases, etc.
4.  Storer of craft supplies and all extra paper.
5.  Faithful keeper of school supplies and overflow coloring books.
6.  Home of both vacuum cleaners and all mops and brooms
7.  Overflow pantry
9.  Veritable catch-all for things that should be in a closet somewhere.
10. Laundry room.  That's right, all laundry is delivered, sorted, cleaned, dried, ironed (if needed), folded, and packed for return to the user, in this room as well.

Therefore, the project for this winter is the mudroom.  I would show you a picture of its current condition, but then none of you would ever return.  I will show "before" pictures only once I have the "after" pictures to resurrect myself. 

Being that this room measures only 8 ft by 15 ft and includes three doors and a washer and dryer, this room is beyond challenging.  However, my husband and I both believe it to be the key to all the organizational challenges, shortcomings, and woes of, not only the first floor, but our entire lives as well.  Therefore, the mudroom must be made more efficient and functional.  Immediately.

We have begun by discussing flooring options.  He has his ideas.  I have mine.  Let me put it this way, there is a lot to discuss.

I'll keep you posted.

(Should I suddenly become unaccounted for, please check my mudroom first, then make a few calls to the nearest flooring stores, and then, well, stay calm and call for help.) 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Does It Take . . . George Clooney?

The earthquake in Haiti is one of the deadliest and most tragic natural disasters in human history.  The images and first-hand accounts from the decimated country are heart-rending.  The suffering must be beyond my conscious measure, because, try as I might, I cannot truly imagine the sights, sounds, fear, and pain wrought over the people of Haiti and those there in their service.

We have all been wracked the question:  What can I do?  What in this world of mine can I do or give to help in any even small way?  My husband and I thought and prayed and pondered.  And responded thoughtfully and compassionately.  We're not special.  That's what people do.  No one has to beg us.  It is within us.  Ourselves.       



 APP/Getty Image

So when I heard about yet another celeb-a-thon, this one to implore us to contribute for relief in Haiti, I reacted with incredulity, a mental eye roll, and a heavy sigh.  More lectures from the famous.  I was disgusted by the arrogance of George Clooney, and all his celeb pals, for believing that it would take face time with them to move us to act.  I think we all -- yes, even the non-famous people -- have hearts and consciences and brains, and have thoughtfully considered if and what to contribute to Haiti at this time.     

I was insulted for myself as well as for society as a whole.  We don't need a multi-millionaire movie star, oh-by-the-way with a movie out, to coax us into caring about our fellow man.  Do we really need a simplistic, "Give . . . all you can," to prompt us?  I boycotted the celeb-a-thon.  I had done what I thought best days ago.  And I was sure my fellow man had as well.

But the celeb-a-thon grossed $58 million dollars.

And now I don't know what to think.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Come Take a Magic Carpet Ride

Don't you think the world gets to feeling quite large and quite cold and quite lonely sometimes?  I sure do.  But, quite by accident, I came upon a wonderful antidote to that feeling this morning.

Lisa, A Whimsical Bohemian, artist, storyteller, and dreamer is the founder of One World, One Heart (OWOH).  OWOH begins today.  It is an annual event, now in its 4th year, wherein bloggers around the world mix and mingle and perhaps make a few new friends in corners yet unseen by them.  Such an inspiring concept.

I am very excited to participate in this worldwide blog-block party.  Beginning today, my door is open to guests far-flung geographically, philosophically, demographically, and even artistically.  I warmly invite you to come in, make yourself comfortable, and have a look around.  Visit.  Being the hostess, it is only customary I offer you some comfort or refreshment.  In that tradition, I offer you something made by my hand and with my heart.

I am a knitter, and I enjoy using luxury yarns when I can.  I recently knit this scarf for its luxurious softness and beautiful sheen.

This particular scarf now belongs to someone, but I will happily knit another for a new guest.  It may be a different color (depends on what looks good at my yarn shop), but it will be just as luxurious and wonderful.  (By the way, should a gentleman win, I will gladly reincarnate the scarf into a more masculine stitch, if you prefer.)  

Now, the way you become eligible to win this scarf is simple:

1.)  Visit this post --

2.)  Comment on this post BY Saturday, February 13, 2010, midnight EST -- so I know you came.  Make sure you comment in such a way that I can find my way to contacting you if you win.

That's all.  After all, you are my guest and it is my pleasure that you visited.  The winner will be chosen by random and announced on February 15, 2010. 

I do so appreciate you coming by and sincerely hope you will enjoy my humble blog.  It is a work in progress in many ways, but it is work from my heart as I try to recover that critical creative part of myself that had been left to slumber while my babies were babies. 

Should you wish to participate in this wondrous worldwide block party, stop in at Lisa's blog for all the details. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cars In The Pink!

Do any of you own a pink car?

I would LOVE a pink car.

Whaddya say we go for a ride and do some window shopping?  Hop in and away we go!

Now, nothing too over-the-top . . .

Or topless . . .

(My hair, ya know . . .)

This might be too hot . . .

This is probably too young . . .

This might be too old . . .

This has been done . . .

(Though, if I could get my hands on this car in this condition now, it would be a done deal!)

And this is just not done . . .

Hmmm, I'm feeling a little "Goldilocks" now . . .

Because I think this one is just right . . .

Shoes and all.

Thanks, as always, to Beverly at How Sweet The Sound for hosting this pinktastic event every, single Saturday.  Pop over for a list of all the other participants today. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe The Easter Bunny Ate My Pants

It's a mystery. It's a miracle. My son's school uniform pants have vaporized. Yep, disappeared. Right before our eyes . . . well, almost.

It all may have started when he had a day off this past Monday. Since it was a day of civil service, a day to be a productive citizen, I called upon my 9 year-old son to clean his room. Nothing makes a 9 year-old a more productive part of society than a clean room. Not only does it have the immediate and obvious benefits, it also contributes to a feeling a harmony in the community/family that cannot be understated.


Now we are embroiled in an unsettling mystery. A struggle between fantasy and reality.

There are no uniform pants.

This will happen when a 9 year-old is sent to his room with the vague instructions of, "Clean it." What constitutes clean to an adult, namely orderliness, constitutes unnecessary compulsion to a 9 year-old. No, to a 9 year-old, clean is more a matter of "out of sight, out of mind." Those pants won't be a problem any longer. They have been removed from the back of the chair and put . . . well, let's not get bogged down in the details. The chair looks clean, doesn't it? Okay then.

Not until Wednesday morning, did the mystery reveal itself. There are no uniform pants. Anywhere.

Now, you and I know they are somewhere. Pants don't just disappear. Pants don't just vaporize. But my son's big brown innocent eyes reflect the honest belief that they did just disappear. To him, that is the most logical explanation. Not that they are stuffed under the bed. Not that they got pushed to the back of the closet. Not that they got jammed into the emptiest, yet least logical, dresser drawer. Nope. That is far more far-fetched in my son's mind. The pants have ceased to exist. He is sure of it and is at peace with it.

Isn't it interesting -- I'm using a positive word here, did you notice? -- how our children are so much more open to these possibilities than we are? To use a more accurate word, how about "bizarre." Why and how can they honestly believe that pants just de-materialize? I mean, it's not like the adults in their lives have fed them a steady diet of the mystical. No.

There is no big, white bunny that comes to their house every spring, lets himself in, and leaves behind baskets of candy and toys.

No one ever snatches their lost teeth from under their pillows in exchange for crisp new dollar bills.

No one ever took them to see a kindly old man dressed in a furry red suit who takes note of their every wish and does his best to deliver a few weeks later. Nawwww.

I don't know where these kids get these ideas. Pants . . . disappearing? Now that's hard to believe.  Or is it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How We Spent Our Vacation Day

My kids were off yesterday and it was a beautiful, warm-ish, sunny day.

First, we made Rice Krispie Treats while still in our pajamas . . .

And then we hacked 'em up and spread some cheer!

We took some to Daddy at work; it's always fun to steal a moment with him while he's supposed to be working.

Then we took some over the the rectory at our church.  Our pastor has been recovering from a colectomy. 

After that, we rolled the windows down, put on some loud music, the soundtrack from Hotel for Dogs is big around here these days (and not bad, I might add), and took the long, scenic way home.

Here are some of the sights:

Mail Pouch Chew Barns are always so cool.
(Yes, blurry, I know, we talked about this yesterday.)

Get along little dogies!

'Twas a nice day.  I hope you had the same.

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Dogs Were Harmed In the Taking of This Picture

Well, all my wonderful Sinsation yarn has been knit, and here is what I made:


Nevermind, the look on the model's face, it is a wonderful scarf!  So soft and with such a lovely sheen.  It looks SO much better in person, of course. 

Anyone wanna pool their funds and send me to a photography class or nine?  Okay, okay, I didn't think so . . . so bear with me, and I'll show you some more shots; maybe you'll be able to glean something from it if I show you lots of different pictures.

Perhaps a sun-drenched saint will wear it well:  

Nope, guess not.

Well, maybe if you get really, really close to it:

Well, whatever.

You'll just have to believe me. 

Luscious, luxury yarn + simple drop-stitch = lovely scarf.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Merry Knitting Day/s

If you're a knitter . . . happy holidays!

What's the holiday?  Prime Knitting Time.

Winter makes knitting seem as natural as breathing.  Long evenings.  Cold weather.  Perhaps a bit of free time as the presents have been found or finished, wrapped, and given.  (Okay, okay, my tree is still up, but so!)

For such an occasion, I broke out some yarn I have been saving for quite some time and just have to tell you about. 

Sinsation by Plymouth Yarn

This is a rayon/wool blend.  It is the softest yarn I have ever felt, and it has a sheen that makes whatever you make look like expensive, vintage velvet.  I'm very tactile, and how a yarn feels in the hand is important to me.  This yarn feels amazing.  

At approximately $12/skein (38 yards), it is expensive, but two skeins will make you a lovely scarf or bag . . . just enough to add a look and feel of luxury.  So worth it.

I recommend treating yourself.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Talk to me,
Coo to me,
Bow to me,
Listen to me.

And I will teach you
To fly with me,

And I will love you
Like no other.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

10 Things That Really Bug Me

I see many blogs are starting out the year on a good note and posting lots of lovely lists and pretty things.  And I've been really enjoying reading and posting the like.


There is another side of me, too.  And it ain't all sunshine.  In fact, I can be quite a grumbler.  And, actually, it works for me.  Once I get something off my chest, I usually feel better.

So I challenge anyone who makes it to the bottom of my list, to write their own list, should they desire.  (I will not actually tag anyone to do it, though, because I know some people try very hard to remain positive.)

10 Things That Really Bug Me
(I'll keep it to 10 as long as you understand there are plenty more where that came from.)

1.  When I end up thanking the rude salesperson who merely shoves my purchases at me with a grunt.

2.  People who do not cover their mouths when they sneeze.  (No, turning away does not count.)

3.  Yellow crocus flowers.  (Face it, they look like weeds.)

4.  Earthquakes . . . especially when they take from people who already had nothing.

5.  Martha Stewart.

6.  People sitting in the right-hand turn lane when they plan to go straight and thereby hold legions of right-hand turners behind them hostage all through a red light.

7.  People who walk through the door you held open waiting for them to grab, not walk through.

8.  How ridiculously expensive any and all toys are now.

9.  That I never, ever, seem to have a pen in my purse.

10.  Spiders.

Yep, that's right.  There they are.

Now, I certainly know there are worse things in life, but listing those could put me, and perhaps many of you, into a major funk -- if not worse -- for days.

No, I'm just sticking to those little chips on my shoulder . . .

For now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Favorite Things For Free -- No, Not a Giveaway

Well, that Penny at The Hen House is just a well-spring of inspiration these days!  Today, I follow in her footsteps and list 10 of my favorite things that don't cost a thing . . .

1.  Good conversations with all the time in the world.

2.  A good cup of coffee with a hint of chocolate in it.

3.  Fresh, crisp sheets after a hot summer's day.

4.  Colors . . . all of them.

5.  The look of my kids on a winter's night . . . footy pajamas, rosy cheeks.

6.  A beautiful view where I can see for miles.

7.  The knees on a newborn lamb.

8.  The place on my husband's face, between his sideburn and his ear.

9.  Parades.

10.  My son's eyebrows.

Now that the ball is rolling . . . I could go on and on . . . feel free to add to my list!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Favorite Photo (How Can I Choose?)

I'd like to thank Penny at The Hen House for tagging me to show and tell about one of my favorite photos.  I had such fun seeing and reading about hers; be sure to pop over and have a look.

Mine takes some storytelling and understanding.  Mind if I start with that?  So better go grab a cuppa, because this is a tale . . .

(Please bear with me, a photographer, I am not.)

In early June, 2008, I was on my way to pick up my son from school when a terrible storm overtook our area.  In a few short minutes, the skies darkened and water poured down.  The winds tore through the trees, causing me to take stock of each one as I waited in the stopped traffic on the rural road . . . if it fell, would it reach me? 

Eventually, I made it to the school and the worst had passed enough for them to release the students.  We wound our way back home slowly, carefully . . . most of the roads had been blocked by fallen trees, the very roads I had just traveled to school.

We had been lucky.  No trees on our property were damaged, but most of our neighbors weren't so fortunate.  Trees were down everywhere.  Once everyone had returned home, everyone pitched in to help where help was needed.

As they finished helping our neighbor clear a fallen tree, my husband and son found a tiny baby bird in the grass.  No nest to be found.  No parents came for him.  Such a little, cold, wet heap, no one in the neighborhood thought he could be saved.  So they brought him home.  We made a clean, dry, warm nest for him and put him to bed on a heating pad; at least he would be dry and warm.  I steeled myself to find a dead little baby bird in that nest that next morning.  I made sure to get up before the kids and head them off, saving them such a sad sight.

This is what greeted me the next morning:

June 5, 2008

Such a precious little thing!

We had no idea what kind of bird he was, quite the odd face he had, along with a soft beak.  And try as we might, we could not get him to eat.  He was quite the going concern that morning as I knew time was passing without him having eaten.  Then it dawned on my husband, he was a mourning dove.  Yes!  That explained his face, his soft beak, and his refusal to open his mouth for food.  Doves are not gapers, they are force-fed.

So I fed him water-soaked cat food, prying his beak open and pushing food into his throat.  It worked.  I could just see it nourishing and strengthening him.  Those first few days, he needed to be fed every 2 hours. 
He stabilized and then strengthened and grew.

June 6, 2008

June 9, 2008

Eventually, he could stand.
By this point, we talked about him a lot, and thought he deserved a name.
We named him, "Lester."
June 11, 2008

And soon, he would pick up some seed.
June 14, 2008

And then he began to be a real mourning dove.
June 20, 2008

And soon, it was time to let him go . . . and he went.
And I knew I'd miss him.
June 30, 2008

He hung around the yard for a while, and I was thrilled.

July 2, 2008

And then he disappeared.
And I was heartbroken.

It was about a week later,
when I peered out the kitchen window and saw this . . .

July 10, 2008

My little Lester had come backl!
I was overjoyed to see him.

He hung around the yard all day and night,
Snoozing on my laundry line,
peeking in my kitchen window,
resting on the deck railing.

And one day, another storm began brewing.

As the wind swirled . . .

And the skies darkened . . .

And all creatures headed for the shelter of home . . .

Lester followed us right in the door and stood in the middle of the dining room.

And she's never left.

 (Favorite Photo)


Thanks again to Penny

Now to tag a few of you to participate:


Tag . . . you're it!

Post your favorite photo and tell us about it.  Then post a comment here at Tara Cain's blog to be part of the photo display.

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