Friday, September 29, 2017

on having dreams and being your own damn hero

I believe in magical moments.
Those quiet interactions we have with enlightenment that happen during an ordinary day. Because you have them, and so do I, more regularly then we realize.

And only later, when you look back you’ll see how a string of little circumstances aligned, like stars in the sky, to bring you in contact with someone who might not be a regular in your daily life. A passing brush with an acquaintance that lasts only long enough for something vital to be passed along to you, and it will feel like an answer to a personal question you had not yet formed in your mind.

But you sense it, this wisp of truth or wisdom left dangling behind, ready for your taking.
"Wow," you’ll say later. "That person or place came along at such a perfect time."

Linda was one of these.

And someday I hope you’re like me. I hope you're lucky enough to find yourself standing in a cramped kitchen while a tiny white dog sniffs at your shoes and a yellow-tailed cockatoo screeches from its corner cage and sends creamy colored feathers fluttering in your direction.

I hope that you’ll have your own version of a platinum blonde woman sitting across from you at a messy table stacked with yellow-lined note pads, monthly bills and rows of medications, who will surprise you with engrossing stories of historical US battles and obscure facts about Navy Frogmen in World War 2.
“Hmm… do you know what kind of suit the Navy divers wore back in the 40s?” this woman asks me as I stand in her kitchen.

Earlier she had told me she was writing a book about her courageous uncle—an original Navy Seal--and in the middle of talking about one of his life-and-death missions she realizes she needs more research on the fabric used for the early frogmen suits. Before I can answer she makes a quick note on her yellow pad and keeps talking.

In the next room Linda’s mother is dying.
This is how we met.  I talk to Linda each week when I read to her mother from her favorite book, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Ironic, considering how long I had avoided reading this best-seller, mostly because of the graphic POW details I find so troubling, but here I am each week, catapulted into a world of unfathomable courage, harrowing battles, and a fight for survival.

Linda’s mother is my co-voyager during these literary time-travels and on good days she stays awake most of the time, on bad days she sleeps throughout. Some days I admit that the parallels between the stark life-and-death tone of this WW2 book and the atmosphere of this house leaves me with a vague sense of the surreal. One minute I am reading about a fragile Louis Zamperini clinging to life by a thread, and the next moment I am looking at a woman who is laying in front of me clinging to life by a thread.
For me, the lives of Linda’s mother and Louis Zamperini have become intricately connected.

On my way out, I always check in with Linda, since she has become her mother’s voice and energy and her devoted nurse. On this afternoon, she is telling me about the books she is currently writing.

And of course, as a wanna-be-author, I am intrigued and a tad jealous. Oh how I would love to be writing a book. From her seat in the kitchen Linda is beaming while she talks.
“My grandmother was a blood-sucking alien. That’s the title of my other book I’m working on,” she laughs, “I just love science-fiction, don’t you? My husband keeps kidding me about finishing the book so we can sell the movie rights and he can retire.”

And I chuckle too, not only because I’m madly love with the boldness of this title, but because it’s becoming clear to me after she mentions the screenplay, that Linda is unabashed about dreaming big.

And god I admire people with bold, ballsy dreams. People who walk around with enough sparkling Hope spilling from their orbit that it effects those standing in their presence.
In fact, listening to Linda describe her love of painting and her current writing projects suddenly makes me feel like the melting version of the cackling green witch in The Wizard of Oz, a weak, diluted form of this solid, resilient woman.

You see.

Linda has liver cancer.
She also has severe arthritis in her knees which makes it difficult to walk and physically tend to her mother, who happens to be dying of leukemia. Because Linda is the only daughter and her closest child—and dealing with her own personal battle with cancer-- I can only imagine how emotionally tough these days must be for her.
Once on a sunny afternoon, I asked her if she had been able to get outside to her garden and she answered by telling me the life lessons she was teaching her teenage nephews who came to do her weeding.

“I’m showing them how to plant from cuttings, she said, “making something from nothing, it’s wonderful.”  Those were her words.

I never finished reading Unbroken to Linda’s mother. She died before we got to the end of Zamperini’s riveting story and for some reason, I haven’t been able to finish it without her.
But if you asked me to sum up my experience in this house I would say it’s the exact opposite of sadness.

Instead, Linda--her surviving daughter --left me with a profound impression. She reminded me by her own resiliency to have the courage and chutzpah to keep dreaming. That no matter what’s happening in our life, our dreams are powerful intentions that keep us moving forward physically and spiritually. They infuse our life with exhilarating hope and, life-affirming possibilities that might not otherwise be there. And no matter what our age, we should never be afraid to use the word “dream” when we talk about our future.
Everyone deserves to have dreams. Period. But especially those nurturers out there, those women who find it much easier to dream and hope on the behalf of others, and who might not take enough time to examine their deepest desires.

 Maybe as  you're reading this, you’re not quite sure what dreams you have anymore.
And that's ok.

As my platinum blonde friend might say, pick a dream that helps you answer this question:

“What would my life look like if it were organized around my deepest values?”
This is how you begin.

This is the direction to your joy.


Monday, September 18, 2017

3 inexpensive style tips for a collected Fall table

I had a hard time coming up with the title for this post.

The truth is...

I'm not good at making up snappy post titles, especially when this entire post began on a creative whim, right after I bought my first pumpkin of the season. But if you follow me on Instagram you already know this.

And hopefully you enjoyed my DIY pumpkin centerpiece.

But you know how one-thing-leads-to-another?

The next thing I know I'm staring at this centerpiece and reaching for a few wooden bowls and opening cabinet doors to find my wicker placemats...

Maybe the point of this post is that sometimes it's nice to pull a few things together without a plan and see what happens.

After all, that's pretty much how I got inspired about this casual Fall table and ended up sharing a few quickie tips today.

Hey. Maybe that can be my title, I thought. How about three tips, that sound good?

Because once I put the flowers on the table
 suddenly I had to have plaid next to this old copper colander I used for my centerpiece. Maybe it's just me. But there's something about a warm plaid that reminds me of autumn leaves and mugs of hot cider, especially after the cool blues of summer.

But ....who has the perfect plaid tablecloth in just the right color that you're envisioning in your creative little head?

Definitely not me.

So my first tip is one you probably already do.

I headed to the local fabric store, found the plaid fabric I wanted and bought a few yards. 

So here's my advice. Because finding the perfect tablecloth can often be expensive and time-consuming, skip the tablecloth and go to a fabric store.

Tip #1
Use fabric remnants instead of tablecloths.

Know the measurements of your table before you go. And once you're back home with your fabric simply cut it using sharp scissors, fold it over and press the edges. You can use a no-sew fusible web product, or in my case, just fold the edges over... period).

(note to self: use your iron more)

Next tip, let's talk napkins.

Tip #2 Transform plain white napkins with fabric paint and stencils.

Once I find my inspiration colors for my tables, I think about the napkins. Although I've collected lots of colors over the years, lately I prefer the simplicity of white ones. 

At the risk of boring you, I can't stop raving about the napkins my friend Carol made for me; personally I love the bold, graphic look of black numbers against the white and I find they go with a variety of styles, especially with the plaid on this table.


Plus, after washing them repeatedly I've discovered they still look great. So next time you want to add a special touch to your table how about getting creative with your napkins?

Fabric paint and stencils is all you need.

Tip #3
Incorporate vintage items into your centerpiece

And now, back to your flowers and the choice of a plain vase.

Or maybe a not-so-plain vase.

Yes, thank goodness for funky little thrift stores where you can find vintage coffee and tea canisters, dried out cutting boards-that-you-can-spruce-up, wood crates, cheap baskets or in my case, worn looking colanders. 

I love that color of old copper.

There are so many unique pieces that can look wonderful with flowers inside.

In the past I've put flowers with apples in my colanders and this time it's flowers with a green bumpy pumpkin.

Fun napkins. Fabric remnants. Flowers and pumpkins inside old things.

How about you?

Do you have a favorite styling tip for your table?


i'm linking up with these friends:

Friday, September 15, 2017

DIY ....Easy Pumpkin Centerpiece

Well it finally happened! I always say I'm a turtle livin' in a hare world.
But I've been walking around happily in denial about the passing of summer, without any urge to eat or drink anything pumpkin, no hint of autumn pillows on my couch yet, and not one thought of buying a single pumpkin .......and all-of-a sudden-BAM! It just hit me.
Fall. It's really here guys..and here's my proof: this is my very first pumpkin of the season.
Ta daaaa!!

So what do you do with your first pumpkin anyway?

This is what I did.
I cobbled together a few things:

One vintage copper colander (gotta love those thrift stores)
a couple small ramekins 
Mums and Carnations
green florist foam
and Spanish Moss

And decided to make a very casual little centerpiece, maybe for a breakfast or lunch table.

...lots of holes mean a good job lining it 
(hint: I sort of rushed this part)

I put my foam around the ramekin and soaked it. You could use a small bowl too for the height. I added a second ramekin for this purpose.

The rest is easy.

When you're all finished fill the spaces with Spanish Moss and it's ready for your table

See? It's very simple but I'm loving the warmth of the copper.

And once I saw it finished I instantly craved a table with some plaid fabric, wicker, mason jars, wooden bowls and Carol's home-made numerical napkins which remain one of my favorite gifts ever.

But I'll have to show you my table next time since I'm heading into picture overload here.

Happy Friday friends,


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Romantic Bohemian Tablescape

What makes a dinner setting romantic?

What's your opinion?
Because I was thinking about this question as I typed out the title for this blog post. 

August 31st was my honey's birthday and I felt so blessed to have both our kids celebrating with us.

So I asked myself, "Must a romantic dinner only be a private tete-a-tete?"

And my answer was: no, of course not. 

Personally I think the feeling of romance is in the attitude set by the hostess... when she's busy creating a festive look for her dinner table, 

with her special guest of honor always in the back of her mind

(wow, hard to believe I've known this guy since he was twenty-two)

 especially since we've got a 22 year old now.

Personally I think romance is expressed in the attention to details on a table.

...Like when you pick out your napkins and browse through old napkin rings to find the ones that feel just right for your boho-chic table.

I think
romance is the contentment you feel when you're wiping down and lining up the silverware next to each plate.

(hard to believe I found this matte gold silverware at Target)

...Or when you're picking out table fabrics and flower colors, because it's all about making the guest of honor feel special.

Me? I think it's kinda romantic to stuff paper towel holders with candies and a personal horoscope for each guest ...

...then wrapping each one in gold tissue and vintage music sheets so that later, they can be read together out loud with a lot of eye-rolling and laughing.

I think 'romantic' is having pretty stemware that matches the table, especially when it's shatter-proof Dura-glass that looks  like fancy crystal.

(gotta love that William Glen summer sale)

(per urban dictionary)
if you're a fan, you can see more Boho favorites here

Putting together this table was what I love to do, but
in all seriousness whatever your table looks like... it's all about being together, eating good food and making the birthday guy (in our case) feel special ...

Happy Birthday
to our funny, generous, kind-hearted Dad and husband...


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