Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Birthdays

We are fortunate to have five birthdays in five weeks during June and July, making it fun to plan some light and summery table decorations.  With a large sandbox in the backyard and the lake only a few blocks away, a beach or ocean theme is always part of the summer birthday decor.



As the birthday celebrations approached, the color combination of blues and yellows seemed to appear out of thin air, (remember, the romance of the meal is as consequential as the food that is being served).  Once the colors included a reminder of the season, simple ideas flowed rapidly through our minds.  When we set tables at three-stories, we only use what we have on extra expense for accessories.  Daughter Maggie happened to have a cotton tablecloth and napkins that picked up the yellow of the dinner plates and the blue of the lake.




With five children at the table.......well, it wouldn't be a birthday party without some treats tucked into sand pails.



A year ago when a very sweet friend of mine brought a "sea lantern" to me as a hostess gift, I knew  that she had no idea how often I would use it. (Thank you Linda).


The glow of the lantern wrapped a warmth around the meal, and the spirit of the table was finally set in the season.


A day of cookie baking preceded the Wednesday night celebration and put me in a festive mood for entertaining.  Cookie hearts for the adults and paper doll cookies for the children.



After dinner, and after the birthday cake was served, it was time for a few gifts.




Missing our beautiful daughter-in-law from the birthday celebration was the only downside of the evening, but there were just too many miles between us this year to get together.  My heart held her tightly as we celebrated.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outside, Looking In

I had a very unexpected and unnerving feeling this past weekend and it took me totally by surprise.  We were at a party for friends....good food, loud noises, smiles, belly laughs, the gathering took place in several rooms.  The energy was flowing without a pause.   I was having a wonderful time "in" the moment (or so I thought), until we went outside to walk around the garden.

As we looked at the flowers and shrubs, commenting on their beauty, I happened to look through the windows into the interior of the house.....and a chill went down my spine.  In the still of the early evening, I could see the bright lights inside, I could see people laughing and eating, I could actually see the warmth of
the crowd, when I began to experience the "outsider Phenomenon".


The "outsider phenomenon" is the feeling of isolation and devastation that one feels when they don't fit in.  I wasn't feeling this for myself, but I suddenly realized how fortunate I was to have a wonderful family and very good friends.  Growing up with an older sister who had special needs, my parents always stressed that I was my sister's best friend and I needed to include her in my small group of friends.  This developed a sensitivity in me that I still carry with me today.

Looking into the house from the outside made me acutely aware of the pervasive feeling that so many people have as they watch from the periphery, wishing that they were part of the crowd that they are observing.  People without family and friends, people without jobs and larger communities, and people who just feel isolated within their circle of friends.


The feeling of thankfulness and blessedness within me is strong and it is greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday's Child...(a refrigerator quilt)

Silly? Not really!  Inspired by one of my very favorite children's book, "The Quilt maker's Gift" (and one of the most charming stories), I challenged my grandchildren to design their own quilt squares.  After I read the book to the children, I suggested that they make a quilt for us to hang up.


Instead of using fabric, I gave them paper, crayons, colored pencils and set them to guidelines, no rules, just their original designs.  As they started to create their squares, they really became invested in the project.  I don't think that they would have been as innovative if they hadn't heard the story first.



The book is about the celebration of giving and sharing, and is beautifully illustrated.  With vibrant colors on each page of the book, the children were inspired to create something themselves.



As we put the individual quilt squares together to make a larger quilt, it was decided that we would hang the quilt on the front of the refrigerator, thus the name.....refrigerator quilt.


To find out more about this book, you may click here for the link.....Quiltmaker 


On weeknights, our grandchildren are not allowed to view television, use computers, tablets, or electronic games.  If they do use electronics on weekends, it is very limited.......the children know the rules.  And so when I caught the girls, heads together using a play-pad on a Wednesday night just recently, they said they were just looking at it.  Really?  They were so adorable as they were "busted", I had to get a quick picture.  Camera ready, I snapped just as they looked up.


It was the last week of school and with two more days ahead of them until summer vacation, they were feeling inspired to get a head start on their long three month break.  I love that the girls and their big brothers would much rather be playing basketball, baseball, roller blading, swinging, and building in the sand box or with legos.  Sitting in front of a computer does not promote emotional resistance, patience, or physical, intellectual, and social skills like free play does.  Check out "free play"'s very interesting reading.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Over Sea's Bebe

In our family there are a few pieces of coveted children's clothing that continue to be handed down from one generation to the other.  When our adults travel the world (and Bebe stays at home), souvenirs are usually pieces of clothing.

The newest baby is now getting his first pieces of  "hand me up" cross continental play-ware from his cousins.


As the clothing was getting ready to be " handed up" at Wednesday night dinner, the adults were of course busily chatting over the memories that were tucked into these baby items.


Sweaters, lederhosen, and hats from Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France, were passed on to the littlest prince in the family.  No doubt his mommy will be busy knitting wool socks to go with the lederhosen.


These clothing items will continue to move through the family for years to come. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fun In The Garden

The only thing that you have to do...... is try to see a garden from a fairy's perspective and then everything, even the tiniest of plants, looks exciting.  With just a few things from around the house and a few dollars spent in a thrift store, this fairy garden started to take shape.


This long and narrow garden runs along the side of the needed something fun.


A few summers ago I had tucked several garden fairies in potted plants.....just to entertain our grandchildren.  This year as I was getting ready to send the fairies to a thrift shop, I washed them off and stood them on the counter to dry.  They were so cute that I had to reuse them outside in their own garden.


This miniature landscape has begun to design itself as the perennials get bigger and fuller.


The fairy gardent is designed to cost little or nothing.....I cannot quite indulge myself to spend money on something so whimsical.


There is quite a bit of Celtic folklore written about garden fairies and I have found it quite interesting.  I would like to be able to answer questions when the children visit the garden.  I am hoping that they will help take care of it.  ( Imagine me tending this tiny world of magic).


Maybe I can encourage the cousins to add, rearrange, and play with the fairies.  I often find that children are better at these things than adults.


With just a touch of inspiration from some old fairies that I was getting rid of, this empty little garden is coming to life.  I think that it will add a bit of interest to the rest of our gardening projects.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Corner To write In.

I have carved out a small corner for myself.....a perfect place in which to write.


It is a redefined space with good light and a sense of calmness.  I love the geometric shape of this little corner, where a small writing desk fits perfectly and comfortably.


This space has a charm all of it's own, tucked away against a cream city brick chimney and next to a wall of books.  Such a small space with unlimited possibilities.


The shelves next to the desk are crammed full of my favorite books, at easy reach from the desk chair.  And when I need a book across the room, my desk chair has wheels and I can slide myself very quickly from one side of the room to the other.


This unique space, crouched in the corner of a large room, is just the perfect space for me.  I get a lot accomplished here.