Abode {W}

Sunday, August 28, 2011

beautiful, useful, and happy!

Treasures, displayed on a rack built by my husband.
Vintage Fisher Price little people

More little people, and, to the left, Urdu the statue.
 One year, early in our marriage, I bought my husband a little book containing pictures of William Morris wallpapers. We both love his prints, and at the time, lived in a circa 1912 Craftsman style bungalow. We could totally picture the room papered in a Morris print. Now we live in a circa 1979 farmhouse, so the little book sits neglected on the shelf. However, Morris's decorating maxim is still my ideal-"Have nothing in your home which you know not to be either beautiful or useful!" I think this is excellent advice, and always keep it in mind when deciding to buy something or get rid of something.

That said, I think dear old Morris misses something altogether, and that is having things in your home that are not beautiful or useful, but just make you happy! My vintage Fisher Price little people make me happy! The ugly statue dubbed Urdu by my sister makes me happy! The little Maori lodge from my grandma makes me happy! These things are not beautiful, and not particularly useful, but they bring me joy, and so they have a place of honor in my home! And, that is a good thing. I want my home to be beautiful, and I don't want it to be filled with meaningless junk. But having things around you just because you like them is also an important decorating tip. It makes my house a home, uniquely mine.It is not just a canvas to fill, but a place to gather the things and people that I love.

Now, obviously the most important things in a home are the people, and I do not love my things more than my family. If it was all taken from me, I could still be happy. I get lots of reminders that the things I own will not last forever, and that I must hold them loosely. No amount of beautiful objects can remove the sting of a harsh word, no useful object will make up for being treated unkindly. Without love, even the most beautiful home becomes ugly. However, trying to make my home beautiful, and trying to fill it with things that are useful and make me happy is elevating. It helps me remember beauty, and the importance of it in our lives, both internally and externally. Those little things in my home that make me happy serve as a reminder to me that happiness (and love) are what make a home, not beauty or usefulness!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

                                        Pretty- Early morning light on the living room wall.
                           Stuart uses his bulldozer to round up the dead flowers Ella has pruned.....
                                   And dumps them in to his dump truck! He knows how to mix play and work!
                                   Happy- having my sisters and their children around this weekend made us all happy! Here  are my niece, nephews, daughter, and mother-in- law digging in to the Indian food my sister kindly bought for the whole gang!
          Real-It is really time to plan for the upcoming school year! I have been devoting the afternoons to planning, and am getting excited to begin!
             While I have been busy, the girls have also been busy planting Fisher Price villages all over the house! This is the nursery/playground area, and although this game has made my house a real wreck, I am also happy to see them entertaining themselves so well!

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for another exciting week of {pfhr}!  Go visit them, and then check out other people's pictures-it is all about finding contentment in the little things each week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


All eleven of the cousins. The best picture out of 21!

Evangeline found this little bird in the gazebo. It did not want to leave her, and every time she let some one else hold it, it would chirp wildly until she held it again.
My sister and her children are here from out of state. My other two sisters live here, and so for the last three days we have all been together again. We have shopped, consumed a lot of coffee, and watched our children run around together. The cousins all get a long so well together, and truly enjoy each other's company. It always makes me happy to see them together!

We also went and checked out some retirement communities for mom, specifically places close to where we live (she is 27 miles away now) , as she has mentioned lots of times that she wants to be closer to us. We spent yesterday morning touring a few places, and when we told her about it, she said she did not want to move. This morning, before my sister leaves, we are meeting at Starbucks to talk the situation over. Obviously, the decision is my mother's to make, but we would all like her to be closer, and she is not managing her medicines on her own anymore, which concerns us! Pray for us.

My sister who lives out of state and I are both smitten by the Sephora make up counter at Penneys, and yesterday got to spend an hour trying on new lipsticks, perfume, and face powder. Great fun! The summer has seemed so busy, and we have not had any days off, |(only Sundays, and those Sundays have been whirlwinds of parties, visits with friends, and receptions-fun, but not entirely restful)!, so spending a day shopping and sipping coffee with my best girls was just what I needed!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


 Pretty-I know I share a lot of garden pictures, but in just two short months, the rainy gray will return, and the garden will be a sodden mess. I need to enjoy it as much as I can, soak up it's beauty to remind me what I have to look forward to, if I can just make it through the next eight months of rain!
 Happy-My niece tipped me off to these chocolate covered almonds at Trader Joe's. Our store just opened here two months ago, and I am so happy to have one in town. These almonds are so delicious, I love the sea salt on the outside of them, and just one or two will satisfy my sweet craving! Happy indeed!

 Funny- There seems to be a lot of action going down at Stuart's airplane! Ambulance, school bus, multiple fire engines, broken plastic tractor, fuel tanker, and crane, all to the rescue. I would love to know what he was imagining as he was arranging all of these vehicles around the plane!

Real- If you wrap a rubber band around the end of your nose in an attempt to look like Nanny McPhee,  and if you leave the rubber band there for, oh say, an hour, your nose will get a real bruise on it, and be quite purple for several days. Just glad she did not try to replicate Nanny's one huge tooth-thank you for leaving your teeth alone, Evangeline!

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for another round of pretty,happy,funny,real! Capturing the contentment in the everyday!

Friday, August 12, 2011

So many books, so little time!

I have the perfect place to sit and read. In the evening, the hummingbirds dart and dive, and the younger three run races up and down the garden paths while I read. At some point, I put down my book and read to them. Richard Scarry for Stuart, and Anne of Green Gables for Evangeline and Estelle. My selection is not as easy! I have found so many good books lately, that I am actually in the process of reading about ten books at the same time. I read a few chapters from one book, and then the next day a different book strikes my fancy, so I pick it up and read a bit.Then I find a new book, and forget about the other books for a while! So, just for fun, here are the books I am working my way through right now!

  1. Home by Marilynne Robinson. Love this one so far!
  2.  10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker. Not far in to it, but great so far.
  3. The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. My homeschooling pep talk!
  4. The Yellow on the Bloom by Betsy Whyte, about Scottish travelers. Love this one!
  5. The Dog Who Ate the Truffle: Memoirs of Stories and recipes from Umbria by Suzanne Carreiro. Since I lived in Umbria as a child, I am really enjoying this one.
  6. Life in a Jewish Family by Edith Stein. So good!
  7. Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden. The story of the author's grandmother, who left New York to teach school in Colorado when it was still unsettled. Another great read!
  8. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Only on page four, but I know this will be a good read with lots of food for thought. Recommended by a dear friend, I only wish she was here so I could discuss it with her!
  9. The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher. MFK Fisher was a food columnist, and this is a collection of her writings on food. Interesting, funny, and informative.
Well, number ten is actually a stack of new cookbooks, purchased on the cheap from my local Borders, which is sadly going out of business. I am slowly working on menu plans that will work well with our fall schedule. This is a huge job, as fall is usually pretty hectic around here! I still have lesson planning to do, and we are still in the thick of harvest season,so my actual reading time each day is quite short. Oh well! Winter is on it's way (I know, I know, don't mention it, it seems like  summer just arrived!) and then I will have those long winter evenings to spend with my nose buried happily in a book!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

pretty, happy, funny, real

Pretty- Garden bench in evening light. The late evenings have been beautiful this summer. Sometimes the valley gets socked in by low hanging clouds, making the evenings humid and unpleasantly warm. This summer, each evening has been clear, with a gentle breeze, and the sunsets have been vividly colored.
Happy- Estelle and Stuart. I realize Estelle doesn't actually look happy, but she actually was. We had just finished a long hike, and she was so happy to be back at the car eating Trader Joe's skinny fries! Stuart is just happy to be anywhere near Estelle!
Funny- Stuart's circus train loaded up with peanuts and pencils. I have all of the adorable animals that should ride in the train, as well as the conductor and circus clown. But they sit neglected, and the peanuts I bought for an Asian chicken salad and the pencils his sisters are using get loaded up instead!
Real-This was really my dinner on Sunday night. I am allowing myself sweets on Saturday and Sunday, and all week I had been wanting a piece of my husband's blueberry pie! So, I poured a big cup of coffee, and cut a hefty slab of pie, and called it a meal!

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for another round of {phfr}. Go visit them and enjoy other blogger's pictures! Capturing the contentment in the every day.

Monday, August 8, 2011

entryway chaos!

Stuart, picking off his bandage amongst the dust bunnies

Hall cupboard - why are Evangeline's tap dancing shoes living there?

 So, summer is a busy time for us. The farmer is working 16 hour days, six days a week. I am answering the hundreds of phone calls we receive each week, scheduling and supervising the employees, running the errands, and still trying to cook three good meals a day, keep the house clean, spend time with my children,and visit with out of town friends and family. All fun, all good, all one huge balancing act. Obviously, the house cleaning ball got dropped here! However, once I determined to get this area clean, it only took about half an hour.
After- so much better, and I will not cringe when people come to the door!

I even managed a bouquet of fresh flowers!
The lesson learned here is that it really does not take that much time to get things reasonably clean, tidy, and pretty. I tend to feel overwhelmed, and see the big, messy picture instead of little jobs that, when tackled one at a time as I have a few free minutes, add up to a manageable task! Linking with Like Mother, Like Daughter for the entry way challenge!

Friday, August 5, 2011

food, and a gratuitous Stuart picture!

I have been making a concerted effort, over the last four days, to change the way I eat. I typically eat a diet high in starch and sugar,  and don't really care for fruit and vegetables unless they are wrapped in pastry! However, I have not been feeling well for some time now, and need to lose weight. I have read about a lot of diet plans, from the really cooky to the sane and sensible. However, I have realized that no diet will help me long term unless I change my habits. So,  am cutting out most sugar, not eating after dinner, and eating more fruits and veggies and less starch. I am eating sugar once a day, in the form of a scone for breakfast. My husband likes me to come down to the store and join him each morning for a scone and coffee, and I am happy to oblige him. Yesterday was a hard day. I had a headache (from sugar withdrawal?) and just felt hungry all day. But, I mustered up every ounce of self control and stuck  to my plan. One of my favorite cook books has made this process easier by giving me lots of recipes for truly delicious yet healthy food. Super Natural  Every Day by Heidi Swanson has become my go to lunch source. Pictured above are quinoa  patties (with fresh cilantro and loads of garlic) and black bean salad with roasted tomatoes and feta cheese. So delicious, and I ate a moderate amount and felt satisfied. Wish me luck, as I really want to eat more healthfully and lose those pesky forty pounds I need to lose, but I am such a huge sweet/starch eater. These changes will be hard, but I know I will like the result!
And, finally, just because I am his mother and I think he is the cutest thing ever, here is Stuart at the end of a long day of play. Grubby cheeks and sword made for him by his big brother,  and wearing the new Thomas the Tank Engine outfit his Aunt Sally bought him. I am smitten!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

pretty, happy, funny, real

 Pretty- Mary, queen of the garden. Looking north, to the woods behind our back blueberry field
 Happy- Out of all forty plum trees, only two pollinated and bore fruit. Two more trees are laden down with one plum apiece! However, these plums are so good, and I am grateful to have at least two trees full!
 Ella and Evangeline posing with a mannequin at the Great Oregon Steam Up. The "lady" is in the truck museum every year, but always in a different location and with a different outfit.
Real-We start them out early around here! Stuart actually loves to help with farm work, and even helps unload pipe from the trailer. Little does he know how much of this is in his future!

Joining Like Mother, Like daughter for another round of {phfr}, a fine weekly tradition!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Please remember!

As you go about your day, please remember not to spit or smoke, so as not to spread vicious germs!