Category Archives: home

A February Welcome

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We got through January with bouts of snow, ice, and cold rains.  But the first two days in February softened up to temps in the 70’s by Super Bowl Sunday.   What a gorgeous and glorious weekend.  On Saturday I opened my eyes in the wee hours like a work day while the first February sunrise greeted me in its pink hues, flirting the Valentine’s Day’s colors.  I had plans to get the house thoroughly cleaned after being away for the 2 weekends previous.  I accomplished that but made the time to pull out the Valentine decorations.  The big Valentine red heart wreath went on the turquoise door.  An adorable welcome!

The neighborhood outdoor grills fired up on Sunday in celebration of the grand weather and football game.  After church, Dean and I went outside for some outdoor chores.  Dean washed layers of salt and junk off the car.  It is spiffy and shiny now!  I sanded a couple of outdoor furniture pieces.  The old metal-framed glider that came with the house and carport finally had a sander workout.  Down to some pretty smooth cedar planks.  A coat of stain and varnish will go on the cedar planks after I finish sanding the metal frame and a coat of enamel on the frame.  Most likely an early spring project after the frame color choice is decided on and more warm weekends.

A little child’s chair used as a perch on the front porch was a less than $10 purchase at a  French Town antique shop last spring.  It apparently had a layer of paint quickly brushed on it before I bought it.  The paint peeled terribly when the cold weather arrived this past autumn.  So I set the poor thing in the basement and waited for a break in the weather to sand and repaint it.  Sunday was the day to get it started.  A coat of white primer after the sanding.  And then for artistic impression, “nifty turquoise” to match the front door.  My mid-week artist’s project, painting will be a great diversion from this crazy world.

February is obviously a red month.  Why look at the KC Chiefs, the Super Bowl champions!  A sea of red confetti at the game and parades. Oh, we cannot forget Red Dress Day this Friday.  Always the first Friday in February.  Wear that red and be good to your heart.  So the gray winter gets a splash or two of color, and I love it.  The red and turquoise palette suits you well, February!

 

 

 

 

Dormancy

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No winter-like simulation now, it is the real deal.  The winter weather seems to be sticking around for more than a few days.  Icy, sleety, and snowy last week, and again this week dipping into the teens overnight and staying below or close to freezing during the day.  Due to budget constraints our winter vacation week was decidedly best to stay in our home state of Missouri this year.  No expensive sandy beaches to sunbathe on.  Making the most of our budget and what our state has to offer during this winter season, Dean and I chose to visit our state’s Ozark Mountains.  Most of our vacation budget is for a lovely lodge in the woods, the journey there only a 5-hour drive from home.  Home-cooked meals prepared in a well-stocked kitchenette, and an occasional meal out satisfy us both.  Every night a vignette of soft lights dot the mountain sides from the valley we are nestled in.

Dean and I venture out on half-day trips for a couple of days, visiting small towns and cousins.  We went target shooting at an outdoor range one afternoon.  We meander into northern Arkansas part of the week.  Naked hardwood trees, pines, and cedars clothe the mountains along with icicled cliffs and crags much like glittered ornaments.  Flowing valley streams, swooping birds of prey, and cattle feeding in the fields are the only movement around.  Dormancy is what we experience, and what we need. Oxford’s online dictionary defines dormancy … “the state in which a plant is alive but not actively growing” and with this sentence example “dormancy allows woody plants to survive these unfavorable conditions”.  

The quiet, unassuming beauty of the woods in dormancy stills my busy body, mind, and soul.  Very present moment several times each day, a retreat without structure.  Just being, breathing in and out, and audibly awake.  It is not necessary to block out the static and noise of my job, the house, and almost no obligations as I am far enough away from these occupations.  Words come in and out on occasion, Dean and I relating this quiet vacation week to our retirement years.  Some words make a page in my journal, and others are just thoughts in dormancy for a later writing in favorable conditions and more life lived.

This year I am ending the summer season of my wellness career.  The autumn season of my career follows, short and sweet like Missouri’s autumns with the winter season close behind.  The dormant season always emerges into a glorious spring song.  A book of collected letters, Letters To A Young Poet, poet Rainer Maria Rilke urges the young budding poet, Franz Xavier Kappus to look inward and know what motivates his own writing.  Rilke encourages the development of a rich inner life which is the process of creative art. “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.  In today’s words, live today, be present moment.  Some answers come eventually.

 

Blooming Encouragement

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The winter chill came a month early in Missouri, and I believe most of the Midwest.  The perennials came indoors to their wintertime home.  The last of the ketchup and mustard rose buds were snipped and put in a shot glass, my make-shift bud vase.  A welcome greeting in the kitchen.  We have space for only one of perennials, our arrowhead in our little cottage living room.  And how it has grown during the summer months and brief autumn weeks outdoors as we place it under the front window.  The other plants are housed in the temperate climate of the basement under a plant light set on a timer.  Much like the wintertime shedding that a pine tree goes through in this region, our perennials shed during the winter indoors.  My pot of colorful lantana and geraniums dropped many leaves, but are still blooming.

I feel like my perennials and the outdoor plants during the winter.  A major adjustment to the climate change.  Many people with auto-immune disorders have worsen arthritic symptoms during the cold season.  For some, the pain is much worse.  Depression can set in.  If you are not into gardening, I suggest to have just one potted geranium, Christmas cactus or another succulent to share life with this winter.  With winter there is loss of luster, but an indoor plant may produce a bloom or two despite the season.  Kind of like some of us people folk.

A Labor of Love

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Bit by bit we are making headway on the entryways to our 1940’s home.  Last month it was our front door.  It is a nifty turquoise color, a welcome to anyone in our St. Charles, Missouri neighborhood.  This afternoon my hubby, Dean was scrapping, glazing, and priming one of the windows in the living room of Deanna’s Cottage.  He will paint the frame white next week.  And we have 8 more windows to go.  It is a labor of love!

Along with cherry tomatoes I picked my Genovese and Tai basils on Friday evening at the screenhouse/greenhouse located on Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance.  On Sunday the Genovese variety made some delicious pesto.  I learned if you blanch the basil in boiling water for 5 seconds and immediately put into an ice bath it seals the bright green color.  Drain and squeeze the water from the basil and add to the food processor with olive oil, walnuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese. For two half- pint jars of pesto, I used 8 cups of basil leaves.  The Tai basil will be used for seasoning a chicken-veggie stir fry and riced cauliflower bowl this week. Again, a labor of love!

Updates At Deanna’s Cottage

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Summer allows for household projects to continue.  Last weekend I found an antique corner dresser that goes perfectly in the guest bedroom.  Dean surprised me and brought it home this week.  And what a perfect day on Saturday this late August weekend, sunny with a slight breeze and temps around 80.  Fresh paint to the front door and frame has been applied at Deanna’s Cottage.  The door color is Sherwin William’s “nifty turquoise”.  It stopped the postman for a chat while delivering the mail on Saturday, and one of the church goers at the little church next door “loves it”.  According to Kristin Schell in her book A Turquoise Table, this color attracts.  We hope the color to be a positive way to connect with the people of our St. Charles neighborhood.  Eventually the front porch and window metal awnings will be stripped and repainted the color “natural choice” to match the door frame.  We will go with a powered application as latex peels on metal.  The final touch to the front entry will be a new screen door, an old-fashioned wooden one would be awesome.  And more to come with a couple of Adirondack wooden chairs on a pebble patio to relax in and welcome the neighbors.

 

Summer Projects Heat Up

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Missouri’s summer heats up in August.  It started on the cooler side, but it is full-blown dripping hot now.  The humidity does it, zaps the energy out of me.  I am taking a couple of hours this afternoon in the air-conditioned cottage to reenergize myself.  This summer I have managed to get a walk in every day while at work.  I found a quiet, shady alley that provides some refuge from the madness in the middle of my day.  Then flowers and gardening are my evening and weekend therapy.  The blooms are flourishing.

This year Dean and I’s spare summer weekends are focused on repainting the window and door frames of our St. Charles cottage.  Of course with a house that is 80 years old, projects are many.  There is multiple layers of paint to sand down, so we get a smooth, clean coat of paint. We have found 3 layers with the front door frame and headboard.  A coat of primer will go on the frame and headboard this evening, with the final white paint another “free” weekend.  Then the front door is next.  “Nifty turquoise” is the color of choice.  Read The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell to know why I picked this color.  Stay tuned for another post to follow with a picture of our finished project.

Green Gardens Galore

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Vacation travels took Dean and I to the east coast in historic Charleston, South Carolina this past week.  We relished the art, culture, history, and summer foliage that the city offers.  We captured some unforgettable vignettes with alcoves, alleys, doors, windows, churches, homes, blooms, and green gardens galore.  Its great to admire the gardens of other people, but always good to bring that admiration back to the home base despite the imperfections.

Porch Critters & Garden Perches

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The springtime porch critters and garden perches came out this past weekend.  Pots of pansies planted; pinks, purples, blues, and yellows gathered together on or near the front porch of our cottage.  Birds, bees, and a bunny perch among the pots, birdhouses, and other garden art.  A welcome greeting after such a long winter!  Welcome Spring!

The Love of Color And Dirt

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I have held up fairly well this very cold winter season.  I kept busy indoors with a 1000-piece puzzle, reading, writing, vacation planning, and even a couple of hand-written letters placed in the mail box.  You know, the old-fashioned way of communicating!  My interior decorating picked up again, with our newest additions  a chaise and lace-paneled screen for my boudoir, as well as a vintage stained glass window for the wall above the buffet in the living room.  It brightens the room up with the sun on it; swirls of purple, blue, and golden yellow reflect into the cottage.  Just what my soul needed … color!  Having just a little spring fever …

Oh, but there is the love of dirt, too!  I am anxious to get outdoors to dig in the dirt, sow seeds, plant flowers, move onto exterior decorating, and feel the fresh air and sun on my face.  Daylight savings time began this past Sunday, and the Spring Equinox is a week away!  Do you think the weatherman and mother nature saw the calendar, too?  I sure hope so!  No springtime snows and frigid cold blasts, please!

This will be our first spring in our little St. Charles cottage.  Signs of green popped up a couple of snowstorms ago.  I believe they are daffodils throughout the front and back yards.  Bursts of yellow in a few days!  I am sprucing up the indoor plants at home and at the office, trimming dead branches and topping the pots with fresh potting soil this week and next.  My green friends have done well under the plant lights in the basement, where it is not quite as cold as the barely heated garage at the other house.  And no feline friends to perch themselves in the potted plants!  My citrus tree, bird-of-paradise, ferns, and other potted perennials will go outdoors when the threat of frost is past, late in April.

Plans for very old awnings to come down, painting weathered window frames, window cleaning, and new fencing are on the top of the list of outdoor chores this spring and summer.  But the other chore, which to me is so much fun, is yard designing with the existing garden beds, as well as the choices and placement of garden art.  One of my childhood friends from Minnesota sent me a photo of her little mini greenhouse in the midst of an autumn snowfall, the sun gorgeously set behind it filtering through the autumn leaves and windows.  It brought to life the desire to build such a potting shed, maybe a bit of a “she-shed” where I can play in the dirt and plants.  But also to sit and relax on a comfy chair sipping herb tea, my writing journal, and pen among the birds, butterflies, and blooms.

 

Winter’s Warmth

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Ice hit the concrete sidewalks and streets last Sunday morning, like many other wintry mornings in Missouri.  Looking outside the red twig dogwood glistened.  Dean and I waited a bit for temperatures to increase, and then managed to get to church.  It is an oxymoron, winter’s warmth.  It is what winter does for us.  Brings us indoors after weathering the cold, ice, and snow.  Much like life.  The warmth of home lures us back to comfort and simplicity. “Sitting inside the warm, pleasant kitchen while icy rain beat against the window, I felt the wordless contentment of a horse in a stable or a wren in a birdhouse,” Gretchen Rubin writes.  Another author Dominique Browning contemplates, “the banal moments of the day are the most seductive to me. It is in the lighting of a fire on a cold morning, or in the pouring of wine and the pulling up of chairs to read together at the end of an afternoon of errands, that love really exerts its magic.” 

I miss a fireplace or wood stove to snuggle to in our little cottage, but have little niches in every room of our 4-room dwelling that seduce me.  My favorite room is the kitchen.  “So let’s dish out saucy praise for the place of crazy salads, spicy endearments, whispering souffles, sweetmeats, tender loins, and sticky fingers. That whirring, blending, mixed-up, soul-stirring, juice-dripping, hot-hearted room (the kitchen),” Dominique Browning writes in her book Slow LoveKind of spicy, you say.  That is what cooking in the kitchen does for my heart.  Another weekend snow has developed this afternoon.  Mini cheese-stuffed meatloaves, sweet potatoes, and banana-oat bread will grace our table this evening.  Tomorrow I will chop fresh veggies to saute with Italian sausage for Italian stone soup accompanied with fresh-from-the-oven bread sticks.  A casserole dish of homemade mac & cheese with a bowl of buttered edamame will be Sunday’s dinner.

I have plenty of library books to peruse and a jigsaw puzzle to piece together for this long weekend of winter warmth.  Besides Dean and I have each other to keep the fire going …