Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding Small Pleasures to Stay Patient

We are stuck in bathroom remodel limbo...short on time and short on cash. There we hang. Projects came to a screeching halt. The beadboard walls to a chair rail height are incomplete, but promising. The floor is in various stages of major and minor disrepair. I have grown deaf to the parts that shout "Finish me!" But some days, like today, I become impatient with the process and tired of the waiting. I just wish the bathroom looked more like what it does in my dreams. That day is not in sight yet.

So today, I figured out some little steps I could take to make a big difference. These steps will buy me more time and keep me patient. I started by using frames I already own to display the California vintage postcards and orange labels we want to display in the bathroom. Two sets of four prints in brown frames are now ready to hang. They will look great, and personalize and warm up the space, adding some visual interest (and distract from the ravaged floor and partial beadboard walls). I'm excited about that.

Next, I took some birthday money and headed to the store. One of our two tan bath towels has basically shredded, giving me permission to replace it. I started out buying two new white bath towels. Finally! Towels that match the bathroom colors! I feel a sense of relief and simple style. White towels bring hotels and spas to mind -- a sense of ahhhhhhhhhh.
Then, I bought a white shower curtain -- again to match the bathroom colors. We currently have a tan shower curtain, and I cannot even remember why we thought that was the color direction we wanted to go. It just doesn't work. Anyway, the new white on white stripe curtain is classy, but too long. If my tall husband approves, we'll just raise the shower curtain spring-rod -- easy enough.
I also got two curtain rods, one for the door window, and one for the wall window. My mom and I made curtains on Saturday when I was visiting in Ohio. We picked out fabric and she worked her seamstress magic. I got the curtains I'd pictured in my mind -- simple, crisp, clean, private but letting in light. Very happy!

My mom is 87 and still sews like a professional and her mind works with measurements like an engineer. I feel the love come through in the projects with which she helps. The curtains cost less that $6 total and that beats anything I saw in catalogs. I had a hard time finding simple white cafe curtains in stores, so it worked great to make them.

So, just a few little changes start to tie the room together and help me gain a sense of hope and peace as I wait patiently for circumstances to change, permitting the room to be completed. Ah, the joy and challenge of caring for an old, charming home.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Farmer's Market Magic

My friend told me this week that the peaches are in at our local Farmer's Market. So, Friday, she and I paid a visit to our favorite peach farmer. I got enough peaches to try this recipe, Summer Peach Cake. Steps include roasting the peach slices and peach chunks to carmelize them. Another step includes tossing the chunks (that sounds bad, doesn't it?) in crushed Panko bread crumbs.

This afternoon, I'll attempt to make the Summer Peach Cake, using the recipe found in Cook's Illustrated magazine.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Favorites Game

Surprised by how sometimes I know so very little about those I'm closest to, I played the "Favorites Game." Works really well while driving in the car. I recently asked my mom and dad what their favorites were in the following categories. I really enjoyed their answers, the conversation, and learning more about who they are as people. Categories: favorite color(s), scents, sights, sounds, and places they'd like to travel to. I should ask about favorite flavors, too. Next time.

A favorite smell...cinnamon bread baking...

So what are some of your favorites?

A favorite sound...

A favorite sight...sailboats on the ocean, especially tropical waters...

A favorite flavor...vanilla ice cream

A favorite touch...petting a puppy, especially my dogs...

And finally, a place I'd like to travel: Prague...

The Great People Game (a.k.a. Conversation Starter)

Once upon a time (or "once a pond a time" as one of my 4th grade students once wrote), I was encouraged to invite loved ones to share about great people who has influenced their lives. The person who encouraged me to have this conversation asked me if I could name ten people who were a good influence on my own life. It did not have to be people I knew personally. It was a fun challenge to pause and reflect on who would go in my "Heart Hall of Fame." This was another simple, yet profound conversation starter that gave great insight into the hearts and minds of those I engaged in this topic. I learned so much, and it felt like a tribute to those influential people in even simply speaking of them and their impact on a life. When I asked my parents, I attempted to write down their answers, but it was tough to keep up. Such an interesting conversation and rich opportunity to hear stories of their important people. Someday as was suggested, in my spare time, I may even sit down and make a short photo album with faces of my choices and a statement of their impact.

I'll start with these two:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

If It Is July, I'm Watching the Tour de France

The Tour de France started today.
With almost daily stage races for a world of professional cyclists, it is part of my daily July routine to at least watch the highlights. I love the competition, the countryside and various cityscapes.

I love the strategy, the weather, turns and climbs and sprints, fans, and fields of flowers.
I love it when cows come to watch...or ignore. Dogs often appear, too, and hopefully no one is hurt if they run across the road at the wrong time.
...and creative sculptures and tributes along the way.

Those fans -- crazy, crazy fans. What can I say! They add that circus feel. And every year, if you are watching carefully, you may regret it because you will see the Tour de France daytime "moon" of the naked fan running alongside the riders. The camera crew is always catching that from behind, no pun intended. Don't worry. I did not include a photo here.
I also enjoy the broadcasters, Phil, Paul, and Bob.
It is not all a joyful time for me though. Certain things make me very anxious: how fast they ride downhill, tight corners, the cobblestones, and, of course, the crashes.

I have no favorite team this year. I do have favorite cyclists. This year, I want Andy Schleck to win. He's talented and I want Cantador to take a seat on the sidelines. Besides, to me, Andy resembles my youngest nephew, an avid cyclist.

I also am a fan of Dave Zabriskie, Mark Cavendish, George Hincapie, Tyler Farrar, Andy Schleck, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Thor Hushovd, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Boonan, and I am sure I forgot some. You can include any American. I usually like it when they do well. And with this many favorites, it is always fun to watch the Tour de France.