Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don't Worry Bee Happy

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments and emails about my last post!  I know so many of us are in the same boat, and it's good to know that we are probably harder on ourselves than anyone else ever could be.

Today I thought I would show you some new goodies I picked up since the first of the year.  I can't believe that March is right around the corner and that I bought these items at the beginning of the year...which seems like just yesterday!

I have this obsession with small vases, I love them and whenever I find one I snap it up.  I think it goes back to when I was a child and I used to love to pick little flowers like buttercups and forget-me-nots and bring them in to my mother.  She always had little vases or juice glasses that she would put them in and then keep them by the sink in the kitchen so that she could enjoy them while she cooked or did the dishes.

I came across this little green vase that I knew would be perfect for short stemmed flowers like pansies and violets, and I loved the deep emerald color.  It was a great price too, and at a favorite local store, Lola Belle Co. so I snapped one up because I knew they would likely go pretty quickly.

Then, a few weeks later, I went to Home Goods and found these wonderful embroidered bee towels.  I love bees, and have for a long time, even before they became so popular so there was no question that they were coming home with me.

I also have a bit of a hand towel obsession, and in a big armoire we have there are two full drawers devoted entirely to towels!  I come by this honestly though as my mother loved napkins and pretty guest towels too.

And here is another weird little tidbit about me...I think some weeds are pretty!  Yup, I think that dandelion flowers are kind of pretty, and as much as I hate the fact that they are weeds, I love blowing their little heads when they go to seed.  When you are surrounded by old farm fields like we are, you learn to embrace all of mother nature's beauty...or you go mad trying to control and tame it.

Mr. Tide's theory on having a beautiful lawn is that if it looks green and good from a distance, well then that's good enough for him.  I'm glad he doesn't obsess over the weeds because if he did it would become a full time job, and we would never get to enjoy where we live and jump into the kayaks whenever possible during the summer months.

And I'm glad I'm crazy for hand towels because I love when I visit someone else's home and they have a beautiful towel hanging in their bathroom or kitchen...even if you know they are just for show they still bring a smile to my face.  And I hope that others enjoy the ones I display in my own home.

Today I attended the funeral of a distant relative...a man I didn't really know, but a good man who had touched others during his long life.  I know my mom would have gone, she was good about things like that, so I'm sure she was happy that my sister and I both went.

It's funny how those bits of character that our parents pass along to us shine through in unexpected ways.  I thought I would end this post with an email I received from another family member, my mother in law, regarding my last post.  It was a lovely surprise to find in my inbox and I don't think she will mind if I share it with you all.

I just looked at your current blog; that definitely is a lovely pitcher you featured. I like the shape of it and the color combination. I loved how you accessorized it in your photo's - very lovely, simple but just right.
    As has been mentioned before, you and your mom had the touch in how to use stuff as you did in this blog and all your others. I have learned a lot from you in that regard but not enough yet  :-) 
      love. Mom    XXX OOO

Wasn't that a kind thing to say?  She actually has a lovely home, and a great sense of style, I even joked with her last time we visited that her outfit one evening was very hip and fashion forward...which it was!  I think it's nice when people support one another, whether it is through a comment on a blog post, a nice email, or reaching out to someone to let them know you care.  We all need that in our lives...friends and family who don't just say they love and support you, but show you through their kind actions.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Right Mix

Sometimes I feel like a lousy friend.  Not because I want to be, but because work gets in the way of connecting with friends and then...well, you end up having to give somewhere and these days, that seems like on the friend front.

I have some really cool stuff going on with work, and sadly I can't reveal what it is quite yet...soon I hope.  But because I'm so busy creating and doing work stuff, I find that when the end of the day rolls around I am just too tired to sit down and try and reconnect with those I really want to connect with...ie friends!

I think we all feel this way sometimes, the last time I felt this way was when my kids were younger and I had a lot going on so life revolved around family and home.  Thankfully, I still have that network of my kids and husband...plus my dogs, but for the past few years I feel like sometimes making time with my good friends has become hard.

And it's not just me, they are all really busy too, so we feel like power brokers trying to sneak in a lunch or chat on the phone.  It seems crazy to me really since you would think that with our kids grown things would have slowed down a bit, but actually I think they have sped up...sometimes at breakneck speed!

And then there is this blog and all of the wonderful friends I have made since I started it just 2 years ago.  I used to love the email chats, phone calls, and occasional meet ups that I had time for when I was just writing, but those days are long gone.  And it's kind of like with my local friends, we are all so busy doing our own things that it's not just me finding it difficult to find a balance where we can stay connected without becoming completely frazzled in the process.


I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about the emails or comments I haven't responded to...ones I REALLY wanted to respond to, and it makes me feel sad and more than a little guilty.

For now I will have to pick and choose my battles though, because in order to get my business up and running I have to put 110% of my efforts toward that right now.  And of course I just can't let my family fall to the back burner, so they stay at the top of my "to do" list always.  I love that opportunity is knocking at my door, but I refuse to let it knock me off my feet, so I have to slow down sometimes.

But on days like yesterday, when I popped in to my friend Melissa Geimer's (or Missy's) beautiful shop, The Right Mix, in Leonardtown, I was reminded of how much I miss being able to just be, and having the luxury of hanging out sometimes.

Missy is a gorgeous person both inside and out, someone so generous of spirit that you think she could have been the heroine in a fairytale.  I plan to do a whole photo shoot at her shop very soon, so stay tuned...and if you're reading this Missy, get a website girl! ;-)  Up until a few months ago she was part of a local antique mall, but she recently branched out on her own.  Her shop is perfectly named and she has a great mix of antique furniture, accessories, lighting, and artwork.  Her taste is impeccable, and she has brought a little bit of Europe to quiet rural southern Maryland...and I love that!

After I visited with her, and she sent me on my way with the gorgeous antique blue and white creamer you see in this post (plus a few other goodies I will show you soon), I thought about how wonderful it was to see her.  We last saw one another at a wedding back in September...time flies!  She is going 100 mph trying to get her store up and running, and if you live in the area I highly recommend you pop by to check out her wares.  She has everything from Russian samovars to breathtaking antique oil paintings framed in equally beautiful gilded gesso frames that would be at home hanging in the rooms and corridors of Downton Abbey. 

We talked about our new endeavors and she told me how excited she was for me, the way true friends do.  And I couldn't help but ooh and ahh at all of her hard work and feel happy that she was finally where she should be, in charge of her own destiny and in a place where she can showcase her many talents.  I know that it's only a matter of time before designers in the DC metro area find out about her and come calling to snap up her amazing inventory! 

When I got home. I thought about how really lucky I am, and that I just need to be patient and eventually I too will find my right mix.  I will learn to balance a new career and still find time to keep up with the other things that are important to me.  I've done it before, so I know I will learn again, but there are always growing pains I suppose.

So for now, I will focus on the things that need my attention the most and I will hope that I don't offend anyone as I find my way.  I'm more excited about this new venture than I can even verbalize so I know it will all be worth it in the long run!

Do you feel pulled in a million different directions all at once?  And if so, how do you make it all work?

Thank you Missy!!!

For more info on hours and the exact location for The Right Mix ...Antiques, Furnishings & Collectibles (located along Route 5 next door to Guy Distributors in Leonardtown, Maryland) you can email missygeimer@yahoo.com or by phone at 480-365-8871.  She hopes to have a website up and running soon, and I will let you know all about it when she does.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Graceful Landings and A Winner

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments and concern for our daughter and her friend, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it, and so do they!  Our daughter and "S" continue to be sore, but both are doing well.

Today was absolutely gorgeous here, we threw open the windows and doors to let the warm breezes and the sounds of peeping frogs and waves fill the air.  I always know it's getting to be springtime when the peepers start making a racket!  I just hope they haven't come alive too soon before the winter is truly over.

The other evening Mr. Tide took the camera out for a spin and captured some swans along with their cygnets coming in for a landing on our creek.  He took all of the photos in this post, hence the MT Images watermark for "Mr. Tide"...I'm sure he would have picked a cooler name, but hey it's my blog.

They really are such beautiful birds and we are so lucky to have them grace us with their presence each winter, if only for a few months.

I hope they will always find a soft place to land here as we would miss them terribly if they didn't show up year after year.

This weekend we will be getting our yard in order...weeding, pruning, and starting our veggie garden project.  We've decided to create some raised beds this year so that we can grow more of our own organic vegetables, something we've been wanting to do since we moved in.

Our neighbor had her whole yard tidied up yesterday so we need to get going so that we can keep up the the Joneses if you know what I mean!  We have a long way to go before our yard even begins to one up hers though, hers is always lovely and immaculate.

But enough about our neighborly yard envy, I need to announce the winner of my latest Giveaway.  Mr. Tide was my random number generator, and the number he muttered while playing Battlefield 3 was #10, which belongs to Deserae who said..."Gosh, They are all just gorgeous.... I really love all three.... but if I have to pick a favorite I will pick set number 2!

Please send me an email with your mailing address and I will get the images in the mail to you right away!

Thank you all again for your kind words about my daughter and for your great opinions on my photos!  I hope you all have a wonderful and productive weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thank You and Craziness

First of all I want to thank everyone who commented and gave me such great advice on my last post you are all now entered in my Giveaway.  There is still time to put in your 2 cents if you haven't already, I will be selecting a winner tomorrow.

I'm sorry if I confused people by having them think that those color stripes along the sides, tops, or bottoms of the images would be in the finished product, they will not, and neither will the obnoxious watermarks.  But I put them in obnoxious places for a reason, to make it harder to edit them out, so I'm afraid they were meant to cover up parts of the image. :(

Ok, now on to why I haven't replied to any of your lovely comments, returned emails, or even had time to eat lunch until 3:00 every day.  Yesterday my day started with a phone call from our daughter Angelfish.  It went something like this...ring, ring..."Hi, I'm fine, but can I talk to Dad?"  Ok, for those of you with grown children, you know that that is never a good way to wake up in the morning!!!

It turns out that on her way to Ash Wednesday service she was stopped at a green light waiting to let a firetruck go through the intersection on a call when the person behind her wasn't paying attention and ran right in to her!

Thankfully Angelfish was fine, and so was "S" who was riding with her, but her brand new car didn't fare quite as well.  It did really well all things considered, but she will need a new bumper and some other repair work.  Based on the pics of the other car, we are all just VERY thankful that she and S were not badly hurt.  They are both sore with neck and back pain and are working with their doctors to make sure they didn't damage anything that may not show up for a day, a week, or more.  Thank you S for being there and helping out, we really appreciate it!

As the day progressed we got news that our appraisal had come back, and it was low...which is a bummer and will probably mean that it won't be worth it for us to refinance and save a little money.  In what seems like another life, I was a mortgage loan officer, so I understand all too well what Private Mortgage Insurance means, and it adds a lot to a monthly payment...sigh!

I know there are so many people who have homes that are now valued at half of what they payed, so I won't moan and groan too much.  Plus we don't need to refi, it's just that the rates are so good right now, and we haven't been in our home that long, so we thought why not?!  But we are fortunate, we didn't buy at the height of the market, and our house is still valued above what we paid, so all is not lost.  Kind of like our daughter and her friend being ok yesterday, there is always a silver lining to almost everything.

Just when I was feeling bummed about how the day was going, I heard the mailman at our front door and that can only mean one thing...that he has dropped off a package...yipee!

It turns out that my sneaky husband (who had agreed that we weren't going to exchange Valentine's Day gifts), had sent me something I've been pining over for 2 years!  I rarely pine over anything, much less for 2 whole years, but the moment I saw these etched hyacinth bulb vases on the Cox and Cox website a few years ago I knew I had to have them!  I even have proof that I've been drooling over these for 2 years because you can read about them here!

But because they hail from a company located in jolly old England I put them on the back burner and added them to my list of all things European that I can't get here in the US!  So when I saw the box sitting on my porch yesterday and saw where it was shipped from I almost jumped for joy! 

Mr. Tide was bummed that they hadn't made it in time for Valentine's Day, but I thought their timing was absolutely perfect!  It was a very bright spot in an otherwise nerve-wracking day!


I know some of you are saying...umm those are cut flowers not bulbs in your "bulb" vases missy!  I know, and I may even be too late to force hyacinth bulbs at this point, but I don't care...I've wanted these dang vases for forever so I'm going to use them.

I have had a vision of them sitting in my windowsill filling my kitchen with the lovely scent of hyacinths for so long now that I may just go buy some planted hyacinth bulbs at the nursery and remove all of their dirt and plunk them in these vases and pretend they started as tiny bulbs...yup I'm that crazy!

For now, until I go crazy and go on the hunt for hyacinth bulbs, they will serve as little vases for my pale pink ranunculus.  And if you see some woman shaking dirt off of perfectly planted bulbs, just back away slowly and don't ask her what she's doing...she's on a mission and you don't mess with a woman on a 2 year mission!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Opinions and A Giveaway

So I'm finding these new watermarks are kind of obnoxious and a bit of a pain to create, but such is life I guess.  Until I can figure out an even better way to protect my images, this will have to suffice I'm afraid!

I have a big favor to ask though, but it also means you'll be entered to win something.  I was wondering if you would be so kind as to take a look at these images and pick your favorites.  They are grouped in pairs and each one of the pairs has the same "look" to them.  Some are more vintage'y, while others just have a soft romantic look to them.

  I'll call these SET #1

This is the first set with a vintage look and some writing on them.


 Set #2

This next set has a softer feel to them and there is less going on, but each has a stamp to give them a little interest.


Set #3

Set 3 is even more simple with no writing at all, and just a painterly quality to bring out the beauty of the flowers.

So, what do you think?  Do you like set #1, #2, #3...and what do you like best, or dislike most about any of the sets?

As a thank you for taking the time to tell me which set you like the best or like the least, I will draw a winner from the comments and send him or her 5 x 7's of the set you like the best.

I will draw a name on Thursday and let the winner know on Friday.  Thank you for taking the time to give me some feedback, I really appreciate it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything

Sometimes when I go to play with an image I have a clear cut vision of the end product.  I would say that about 90% of the time this is true and I can see the finished product before I even begin, but there is still that other 10% of the time when I just go in blind and hope for the best.

When I photographed some Ranunculus I picked up last weekend, I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go picture wise, but I did know that I wanted a soft aqua paired with the pale pink of the flowers.  Usually I like to keep things simple, but for whatever reason, tonight I threw in a little bit of everything, including using some script brushes I bought from FK Textures.  At first I wasn't sure I liked it, but after a bit I decided that sometimes throwing in everything but the kitchen sink makes for a more interesting image.

I've heard through the grapevine that people are stealing other people's images and claiming them as their own...such a shame.  So from now on I will be doing more elaborate watermarks and only posting very low res images.  It makes me sad to think that I have to do this, but with things like Pinterest it appears that those of us who make our living from creating artwork,  need to watch our backs and protect our images.  I have no problem with someone pinning something I post, in fact I love it, but only when they give full credit on mine or anyone else's work.  I try my best to do this on anything I pin as well, though I'm sure we all have a few images that we can't nail down the original photographer or artist, but I would never pretend they were my own work.

Well that's enough blathering for one evening, I hope you all have a very Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nothing to Write Home About

Where does the time go I sometimes wonder?!  I've been so busy with work that I haven't had a chance to reply to comments, send emails, or even snap a picture in the last 4 days!

I broke the no picture streak this afternoon when I took a few photos from my back yard.  What you can't see in the picture is that is was, and still is spitting snow.  I doubt it will amount to much, the lion's share is expected to stay pretty far south of us, but seeing big fluffy snowflakes was fun none the less.

The older I get the more I find a certain sense of beauty in the stillness and lack of color that the winter has to offer.  Though I can't imagine I will ever give up spring and summer as my favorite seasons, in winter it seems as if the world is forced to bare its soul for a few months and I think we all need to bare our souls to someone every now and again.

As I'm winding my way through new ventures I've been bending Mr. Tide's ear a lot lately and he patiently listens and offers sage advice.  Someone should probably give the man a medal, because nothing I drone on and on about is really anything to write home about, but he treats it as if I'm pondering world peace or ways to save the planet.  You have to love someone who lets you bare your soul and doesn't laugh when you share your dreams and aspirations.

Well it's back to work for me...at least until Downton Abbey starts!  I hope you each have a wonderful week and if you have something to write home about, do tell, I can always take time away from work for a good story!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Inspiration and Desperation

Thank you everyone for your lovely Valentine's Day wishes yesterday.  I hope each of you had a wonderful day!

My day (and Mr. Tide's) consisted of straightening up for a home appraiser to pay us a visit yesterday afternoon, followed by what I can only term as an "interesting" evening.

We sent Bugs, our son, off with the dogs for a few hours while the appraiser was here, and after he had been gone for a little bit the phone rang.  He informed Mr. Tide and me that he had gotten a little bored while hanging out with the pups at our farm property and had gone for a bit of a joy ride around the fields.

Sounds like a good idea right?  He was in a 4 wheel drive vehicle after all...but what he failed to take into account was how soft parts of the field were, and how where a big tree had been uprooted last fall there was now a small pond that had formed where the roots had once been. 

He made it by said pond on the way in, but on the way out he wasn't quite so lucky and ended up with the front end of the truck deep in muck and mire.  This meant that I would need to hang out to meet with the appraiser while Mr. Tide ventured over to try and get the truck unstuck! 

Needless to say, this wasn't exactly how I had envisioned our Valentine's Day evening would turn out, but hey, no one was hurt, well except maybe our son's pride, so it was all good.

Several hours, and a bit of desperation caused by a few failed attempts, plus a tractor pull or two later, the truck was free but nicely covered in mud.  The dogs were perfect, and behaved beautifully for having been through a 5 hour ordeal which they thought was going to be a simple outing.

The best part was as I was driving home I had to go through a retail parking lot and I got some rather confused looks from teenage boys who initially thought..."ahh cool, they went muddin"...followed by a really confused look that I can only imagine went something like..."what the heck, that old lady went muddin?!"

I'm happy to report that today was much calmer.  I was able to get lots of work done, and I was even able to tap in to a little inspiration provided by some pansies I bought last weekend.  They are so pretty, and so was the weather today, so I went outside and gathered a few to bring inside and put into my tiny glass vase which is perfect for things like pansy blossoms.

Oh, and the truck, well Bugs took it to the car wash, so it's feeling much better now too!

What has inspired you lately?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart You

I hope someone you love, be it person or pet, gives you a big 'ole smooch today...and if they can talk I hope that they tell you how much they love you!!!

And I hope you tell someone you love them back!!!

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone, and to all of my special sweethearts, you know who you are and I love you all bunches!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

So Mr. Tide and I have been completely gluten free for a week.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat and is found in countless numbers of products we eat and cook with.  We didn't find it too difficult to make the transition here at home since we've been semi gluten free for awhile now.  Week before last, I read Kate's blog and how she was feeling much better sans gluten, so we decided to go cold turkey.

My niece has Celiac's disease, and my sister is also gluten intolerant, so I'm well versed in what has gluten in it, or so I thought.  What I wasn't expecting was how difficult it is to really be completely gluten free.

I mean I knew a lot of things secretly contain wheat, like salad dressings, etc. but I wasn't fully prepared to be completely on my own when trying to find out what does or doesn't have gluten.

For instance, many restaurants are now touting gluten free menus, Panera is one of them, but when we went there for dinner the cashier couldn't tell me exactly what was truly gluten free and what was not.  Thankfully I had a smart phone that allowed me to look it up thanks to the help of some really great websites created by people who are gluten free.  And thankfully I'm not truly gluten intolerant, so eating a little gluten won't hurt me.

After several more instances where people working in stores or at restaurants either had no clue what gluten free meant or couldn't help me discern what was gluten free, I really began to have a much better appreciation for how difficult it must be for my college age niece.

Not only is she in college, the land of pizza and every other wheat laden carb imaginable, but she is also an athlete who has to travel because of her sport.  As I went through my week gluten free, and fairly frustrated at not knowing exactly what I could and couldn't eat, I kept thinking how hard it must be for someone who is forced to eat fast food while on the road.

For her, it's not a choice, if she eats even a tiny amount of gluten it makes her very, very ill.  My heart goes out to her, and I will try and be even more aware of her condition and be more vigilant about keeping lots of gluten free items in my house for when she comes over.

After just one week, and not feeling any different, Mr. Tide and I broke our gluten free streak and ate a cupcake.  I have to admit that I felt a little guilty for giving in so quickly, but I truly have to say that I didn't notice any changes, not in my weight or how I felt.  Now I know that one week probably isn't long enough to figure out if being gluten free made me feel better, but I would have expected to feel a few changes, and I did not.

So we are back to being "semi" gluten free, which does seem to make us feel slightly better overall.  But the most important thing I learned was how my niece and now my sister must feel braving a world where gluten rules!

And although I would like to take full credit for the gorgeous Tiffany blue almond butter cupcake with raspberry filling pictured above, that I devoured...I can not.  It came from a lovely new bake shop in our area called Anita's Cake Shop.  They create a new signature cupcake each week and feature it on their Facebook page.

Her cupcakes are yummy, and she also makes all sorts of specialty cakes, including wedding cakes.  But the best part is that they will also create gluten free items on request.  I hope that in the future they will be able to offer gluten free items on their regular menu so that I can say to my niece and everyone else who is gluten free...let them eat cupcakes!