Friday, December 30, 2011

A Thank You and a Wish

As we rapidly approach year's end, I want to say thank you for all of your wonderful support in 2011.  You have inspired me, bolstered my spirit, challenged me to do better, given me sage advice and laughed and cried alongside me...could I ask for anything more?!

My wishes for each of you in the new year are that life is kind to you, that you find health and happiness, a sense of self, a sense of purpose, and most of all, that you are surrounded by love.  Those are my best wishes for all of you!

The next time we chat it will be a brand new year, one where I have lots to talk about, places to go and people to see.  I hope to share all of it with you, the good, the bad, and yes...even the ugly.  And I hope you will do the same.

So until we meet again...Happy New Year everyone!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Looking Ahead

Just like that the holidays are behind us.  In the blink of an eye the day, the weeks and months leading up to it, the whole year really is almost gone, never to be retrieved again except through our memories.

Crumbs and dirty dishes are all that's left to represent the time and fun we spent with friends and family.  And for me, this year will be a happy memory, a year filled with highs and lows, but thankfully mostly highs.  Even Christmas, which included our daughter throwing her back out and being bedridden for the most part, will still bring a smile to my face when I think back on it.

To hear my children laughing and chatting while she laid in bed and her brother hung out with her warms my heart and makes me long for those holidays when I knew she wouldn't be leaving to go back home to her own place.

Some years are more memorable than others, and I have to say that 2011 was one of the more memorable ones.  It included selling my parent's house, the home I grew up in, the place where my dreams were first formed.  Just before we went to settlement last week, after months of waiting, I wandered from room to room and said goodbye.  Tears fell, as I remembered the joy and happiness I had found there, and the dreams I had dared to dream in each and every one of those rooms.  But tears gave way to relief and the knowledge that instead of empty rooms, those rooms would once again be filled with laughter and hopefully be the place where someone else could learn to dream big.

It was also a year when friends were challenged by illness and accidents.  One where they found a strength I can only imagine, and one where they are winning their individual battles.  For that I am grateful, humbled, and mostly just in awe.

It was a year when I got to visit Europe again, and was reminded why I love it so much.  The people, the cities, the architecture, and of course the food.  And being there made me formulate new dreams that include getting back there and not waiting so long between visits.

This year was also a year when my family stood behind me and gave me the courage to try new things, step outside of my box, and start on a new journey of exploration.  They did this all while making me proud every single day by living their own dreams, while still supporting mine.

I don't have a handbook for what 2012 will be, what it will have in store for me or for the ones I love, but I do have a clear vision of what I hope it will be.  I hope that I will slow down more, enjoy more, listen to that little voice more, and do the things that make me happy while making others happy too.

I took the photo above last October.  It is of the river just across the street from me, and was taken with my long lens.  When you look closely you can see the houses on the other side of the river, which is 5 miles wide at this particular point.  Some people will only see the dark foreground, while others will focus on the water, but the lucky ones will see the tiny houses nestled on the distant shore.

Be one of the lucky ones in 2012, look beyond your own shore to the one you can barely make out in the distance.  This year, use your own long lens and dare to look ahead and picture where you want to be and what you hope to accomplish.  Remind yourself each day of how important you are, even if you are the only one who knows it, and create your vision instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you!

Do you have a dream for 2012...I'm all ears!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not a Creature was Stirring

Not a creature was stirring...well maybe a sleepy eyed pup!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Imperfect Christmas House Tour

It's been awhile since I took you on a tour of this big old house of mine.  Well technically my house is neither big nor old, but hey in blogland you can pretend whatever you want right?! ;-)

I thought I would show it to you while it is still relatively clean.  Two big dogs (see Misty Belle in the left of the photo), do their best to mess it up regularly! We are having guests on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday, and then the following weekend, so I'm trying to keep up with the little stuff so that it stays nice and tidy.

I also thought it was a good time to take a few photos for memory's memory that is.  You see, the dining room will soon be undergoing a change, and the living room too for that matter.  The china cabinet, that once belonged to my grandparents, will soon be replaced with a lovely new one that is more than twice as large.  Yay, since I need every ounce of storage I can muster in this house.

And the rug will also be replaced, yipee!

I haven't yet decided if all of the dining room set will go bye bye, or if I will chose to keep a few of the pieces for sentimental reasons.  The buffet would actually work well in our bedroom, so I'll have to give it some thought.

If I decide to get rid of the table in the dining room, it will be replaced with this one, the farm table my dad made me.  So there will be a piece of family history in the dining room no matter what.

By moving the current kitchen table into the dining room, I would actually gain a lot more room in my family room.  And since this area also serves as our office until we add on, that extra space would be nice.  I might even throw a dance party to celebrate...ok, just kidding!  Well I might dance, but one person dancing does not a party make!

See how much space it takes up?!  But here's the rub, we love sitting here and looking out over the water while we what's a girl to do?!  Maybe a smaller table...yeah that might work.  Maybe even something round.

Now, for you Christmas purists in the crowd, please ignore the man behind the curtain.  That's code talk for please ignore the fact that I have a fake tree, and that the base is nek'ed.  No really, it's exposed, looking sad and revealing my secret that I have a fake tree.  I know, I know, it's sacrilegious, but it is what it is.  I swore on everything holy that I would never do a fake tree, and then when my dad asked me if I wanted his because it was too big, I said why the heck not!  We've had it for about 6 years now, and my parents probably had it for 4 or so before that so we may be back to the real deal next year, but this year it's all about the realistic fake tree around here!

Ok, where was I before I felt the need to unburden myself about the fake tree?  Ahh yes, I was in the kitchen where I feel the need to explain that my *$&% backsplash is still not in!  I did email a friend/contractor who should be able to handle my bad boy tiles which have scared everyone within a 100 mile radius off, so we'll see.  2012 may just be the year of real trees and finished kitchens...exciting eh?!

So there it is, my imperfect Christmas House tour.  And since I'm posting twice in one day...egads, I think I'm losing it...I might as well say Happy Holidays again too!

I hope your imperfect home (it is imperfect right?), and imperfect life (just says it's imperfect to make me feel better!) have a very good day!

The Shortest Day

Today will be the shortest day of the year, at least here in the northern hemisphere.

A day when we will all want to have some extra lights on hand, preferably twinkle lights.

A day when Santa and his reindeer will be gearing up for their big trip around the world in just a few days.

No matter where you live, I hope today will be a day full of joy and happiness, and that you'll find your own bit of sparkle!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home for the Holidays

I think I'm finally done.

Done decorating...

Done shopping...

And just able to sit back and enjoy the season. Enjoy the blessing of having a place to call my own, a place to welcome friends and family and share in the spirit of the season.  This is home, where I can hang my hat and my Christmas ornaments!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Give a Little Bit

Do you ever have days where you think, wow that was an amazing day?  They are the kind of days that cancel out 3 or 4 bad days because they are just that good.  Yesterday I had one of those days.

I was supposed to be cleaning, getting ready for company,but instead I visited with a friend who had moved into her new house.  Her name is Anna, and besides being super smart, supportive, and beautiful, she also lives in the most amazing house.

We have been trying to hook up since the summer when they first moved in, and it took until now for me to get over there and see it.  I came away from our visit thinking...I should tear my house down and start over, that's how truly gorgeous her new home is.  But even better than the house was the time we spent chatting, going for a walk, and just getting caught up.  Anna is a giver, she is someone who listens to what you have to say, gives wonderful advice, and shares with you what's going on in her own life.  We talked about dreams we have for 2012 and how we plan to make them all come true.

I'm lucky to have wonderful women in my life.  Strong, smart, and beautiful women, both inside and out, who I get to call my friends, and for that I will be forever thankful.

While I was visiting with Anna I mentioned that I was having trouble deciding if I should keep my dining room furniture or not.  It belonged to my grandparents, though it's not super old, it's Duncan Phyfe and so not my style anymore.  I explained that I had found the perfect china cabinet, that I really wanted to make a change, but that I felt horribly guilty about letting it go.

Anna said that maybe I should sell the furniture and do something good with some of the money, something that would honor my grandparent's memory and still allow me to get my new cabinet.  When I got home yesterday afternoon after having lunch with my son (another procrastination technique to avoid cleaning), there was a lovely email from Anna telling me to sell the furniture and she sent me a link.

The link, which I've posted at the bottom of this post, is about how people have been going to K'mart and paying off people's layaway accounts except for a few pennies.  They leave a few cents on the account so that K'mart's system doesn't close it out completely.  Then the people are notified that their accounts have been paid off, many of whom thought they wouldn't be able to get those items since they were delinquent on their accounts.

Mr. Tide and I watched the video together, getting teary eyed at the plight of some of these people and feeling sad at the thought of these people working so hard to provide a little bit of joy for their children or grandchildren but just not having enough to make it all work.

We always donate at the holidays, and all year long, but we really hadn't done as much this year as we wanted to.  So we hopped in the car, drove to K'mart and stood in line for almost an hour.  We were waiting for everyone to clear out.  When we first got to the store there were  plenty of people in line, some making payments, others paying off their accounts, but you have to be careful.  You never know if someone will see your giving as generous, or if it will hurt their pride that someone is trying to do a good deed, so we waited and then approached the cashier after everyone had left. 

We explained why we were there and told her that we wanted to pay off someone's delinquent account.  That we hoped she could look up an account where there were toys for a young child, someone who still believed in Santa.  She immediately smiled and said, "oh you guys are some of those people, I wondered why you were just waiting here for so long without coming to the register."   The girl working the register took her time, amazing really since we saw first hand how busy they had been all day.  She went through the list of delinquent accounts until she found one with toys, Dora the Explorer, etc. and said, this one looks like it's for someone with small kids.

She gave us the balance, and we paid all but 47 cents so that the account would stay active.  We then asked if they would call the family to let them know that they could pick up their items and she assured us she would.  She said she knew they would be thrilled, that the man on that account had been in the store that day and he wasn't sure he could pay it off by the 20th but he would try his best.

We don't know the people whose account we paid for, and they will never know us.  But they will know that someone reached out a helping hand, maybe when they needed it the most, and hopefully if they are ever in a position they will do the same for someone else.  That's the beauty of giving, it makes everyone feel better.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Up On the Rooftop

Santa and his faithful reindeer paid me a visit today, along with some bokeh courtesy of Shadowhouse Creations.

You can't always have the real thing, so adding a bokeh texture is the next best thing to being there! ;-)

The reindeer approve, they are all about the bling!

And who doesn't love a little sparkle this time of year?!

Santa certainly seems happy, though he does look a little like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, just sayin'!

Thank you to those of you who commented on my last post.  When you have lost loved ones, the holidays can sometimes be a little sad.  And to Tybee Dreaming, I'm sorry for your loss, I couldn't send you an email because your email isn't enabled in your profile.

And to the lovely Maya from Completely Coastal, my sand and sea soul sister, thank you for featuring my blog today!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vintage Christmas Memories

Each year...

When I rummage through my Christmas tubs...

And come across the things that have been in my family for as long as I can remember...

And some things that I've picked up along the way, that were in someone else's family...

Things that someone else didn't want to remember, or forgot about years ago...

I think of those who are no longer with me during the holidays...

And for a moment I am sad...

But then I remember, especially as I hold an ornament from my childhood in my hand, that those we love are always with us, celebrating right alongside us.  So even though we aren't together in the physical sense, we are forever connected, and for me, that's what makes Christmastime so special.

Merry Christmas to all the family and friends who are no longer here on earth with me, but are always by my side and forever in my heart!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eat Too Much?

(click images to enlarge)
Feel like you've been indulging a little too much in all of those holiday yummies?!

Well you're not alone.

Even the birdies have been feasting on some holiday treats.

This Cardinal was caught with his beak in the proverbial cookie jar! ;-)

And here's little Miss Misty Belle gnawing on a stick and waiting for me to come back inside the fence to give her breakfast this morning...and she's hoping for something special too, like some apple or cheese.

I'm off to make a dessert for a luncheon tomorrow.  Yup, it's that time of year, so enjoy every minute of it!

Thanks again for all of your wonderful emails and comments about my post over at The Polished Pebble!  And thank you Kelley for featuring me!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Polished Pebble

 (Mrs. Cardinal's tree is all decorated for Christmas)

Wow, can you believe it, 2 posts in one day?!  I know, I don't normally do that, but I wanted to tell you that I'm so excited to be featured over at Kelley's amazing blog, The Polished Pebble!  

Kelley is an amazing designer and one I really respect.  She doesn't just re-hash what other people are doing.  Instead, she is fresh, innovative, and oh so clever with how she transforms rooms and whole houses into magazine worthy places that make you want to move right in.  So when she asked if she could feature me, I was truly honored.

Thanks so much Kelley!  And to read the post just click HERE!

Shake it Up

Be yourself, decorate with the things you love, find the joy...shake it up and live a little!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

According to Plan

Thank you everyone for your wonderful birthday wishes, I had a great day!  It started with lovely cards from my family and a special gift from Mr. Tide.  He bought me a teleconverter for my big lens.  It is a special piece of equipment that can give your lens even more range, so it's great for trying to capture wildlife or things that are far, far away.

I slapped that puppy on just as soon as I could unwrap it and get it out of the box.  But there was a slight problem, it wouldn't work unless you were using manual focus.  This particular teleconverter overrides the auto focus feature on my camera.  Now that wouldn't be a problem except that the whole point of extending my telephoto lens was so that I could capture better shots of wildlife, like eagles, swans, herons, etc. 

All of those feathered friends I just mentioned aren't too keen on just sitting still and posing for portraits.  They are constantly moving, even if it's just a tiny head movement, so trying to use manual focus on something that is forever in motion just doesn't work.  And on today's digital cameras there isn't even a really great way to make sure you have sharp focus.  Remember on old film cameras when you could line up the two halves of the circle to make sure you were in focus...well those days are gone!  I would like to say that I can see as well as I did 20 years ago, especially for distance stuff, but the truth is I can't, so even on things that were sitting stock still I couldn't get a nice sharp photo. 

That meant that the only present Mr. Tide had gotten me for my birthday was heading back from whence it came.  I was fine with it, but he was really bummed.  It all worked out in the end though, and I ended up getting a few other lovelies to make up for it which I will show you soon.  In the meantime, I am back to long distance shots of eagles...these two were in my neighbor's tree today and I'm pretty sure I overheard them snickering about my eyesight and the fact that my teleconverter didn't work according to plan.

And another little hiccup of late, the winners of my last giveaway, I know you think I have forgotten you and left you in the lurch.  While I was sitting here thinking your photos were winging their way to your respective homes I got a little shock on Saturday when the mail was delivered.  I had carefully entered your addresses into the website of the place where I get prints made, only to have forgotten to click the "drop ship" button on each one.  So that means that it defers to my address as the default address...huge sigh!  So, your photos are all at my house and not with you...another huge sigh!  I braved Walmart (have I mentioned how much I hate Walmart?!) and bought some photo mailers so that I can get them in the mail by early this week.

Sometimes life just doesn't go according to plan I tell ya!  But hey, no one died, so it's all good in the end!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shells for Christmas

No words today...well these are words, but you know what I mean.  It's my birthday, I'm 29...again!!!...and my dear husband bought me a new toy to use on my camera, so I'm off to try it out!  I hope you enjoy these shots of my Hepplewhite chest all decked out for Christmas!


Oh, a few more words...thank you for all of your wonderful comments about my kitchen windowsill, and my other coastal themed decor from my last few posts!  Have a wonderful day!