Thursday, July 30, 2009

Searching for my style

I am a little of this....

And a little of this......

And a whole lot of this.....

So now as we prepare to move to a new home, I am on a decorating odyssey. As I pack, I am trying to take only those items we actually will use in the future or that remind us of our loved ones. I hope to get rid of the stuff that so often sits in boxes in storage anyway, because I just don't know what to do with it.

I think I have mentioned before that decorating our home is a real challenge for me. I don't really have a style, or maybe the problem is that I just like too many different styles. I definitely like old things, and our houses are always country farmhouse looking, but that can encompass very different looks. For example, I really like the pastel colors, small florals, and fruit motifs of cottage style. I also like the big overstuffed chairs and sofas that can go with that style. But I also like the dark colors and dark woods that go with the primitive style. I just love the soiled, tattered look of so many of the primitive crafts. The two styles are almost opposites of each other, but I like elements of both! If you are a really good decorator you can merge these two very different looks. Since I am not much of a decorator, in the past, I have just ended up with an unmatched, unattractive home. I am trying to clean up our look now and limit myself to one dominant style in each room. Hopefully this will result in a more attractive home.

Realistically I can't just follow my heart in decorating each room though. I have a family to consider besides just myself. Practicality does have to figure into the equation as well. For example, I find the dainty, airy look of shabby chic, cottage living rooms very appealing. I can just imagine having a sweet, wicker settee in my living room. That just wouldn't work at my house though.

We are not dainty, fragile kind of people. Our daughter may be the one exception. She is average height, with a slim build. The rest of us, well let's just say we are not so slim. When I married my husband, his family referred to me as "his big wife from up north". I was hurt at the time, but now that many years have passed, I think it's pretty funny. I mean, I can't help the fact that most women in his family are only about 5 feet tall. By comparison, I am an Amazon. I am both tall and "big boned." But my husband isn't exactly tiny himself. He is average height, but barrel chested. He is built somewhat like a small bull. Then there is our son. One of his nicknames in school was "Gigantor". Really, it was. He is 6'7" tall. Yes, I really did mean to type 6 feet, 7 inches. He weighs well over 200 pounds, and the emphasis in this sentence should be placed on the word OVER. He too is "big boned". His arms are like tree limbs and his legs are like 2 tree trunks. Face it, you just can't seat a mighty oak tree on a dainty wicker chair. It can't take the abuse. Our son doesn't sit just sit on furniture either. Instead he throws his entire mass onto it as he is seated. I swear the furniture used to groan when he came from school.

The last time I bought living room furniture, I had to keep all this in mind. I got a couch that was semi-neutral colored with flecks of assorted colors all over it to help hide the various food stains I knew to expect in a home constantly filled with hungry teenagers. I also bought a brown love seat because it was sturdy and the color would mask the assorted sports field dirt our son brought home after practices. Those colors would definitely work best in a primitive room. Now our son has his own apartment. He is using the good furniture in his living room right now so I don't have to store it. But as my husband reminded me, if it stays there very long it probably won't be the "good furniture" anymore.

Dark colors and already banged up wood are definitely the most practical choices for our home. Though our kids live on their own now, they do return to visit. Sometimes they even bring their friends. They are all taller now, but there still is lots of eating and lounging on the furniture. We don't really mind, but I do have to take this into consideration.

Yes, the primitive style does suit us very well for the main part of the house, and I just love all the rusty, crusty accessories that go with it. Soon, I'll tell you what I have decided to do in the bedroom though. You might say my motto there is "You go girl." Who knows, maybe this decorating thing will even be fun now that I have a plan. Blessings to you.
P.S. feel free to share any decorating tips you have. I can always use the help.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Naughty little Kitty

Fluffy may look cute and cuddly, but that is just an act. He is becoming a real trickster.

Imagine for just a moment that you are a young cat living on a farm looking for some mischief to get into during the summer. What would you do? Here is an idea for you.

You could watch for the farmhouse lady to come outside and walk the big dogs. You walk beside them on the trail for awhile, then disappear into the cornfield. You stealthly sneak through the cornfield beside the trail until you are ahead of everyone else. You hunker down and silently wait. They get closer and closer, and still you don't move a muscle.

Then when everyone is almost right beside you, rustle the corn as much as possible and jump out in front of them. Be sure to stick your tail up and try to look larger than you really are. Make as much noise as you can and look ferocious.

Sometimes you might even scare the big dogs , but everytime you will frighten the farmhouse lady. If you are really lucky, the first time you do this she might even yell out in fear. It is great fun. Then don't forget to run back to the barn, as fast as you can, and tell the other cats how funny you are.

Oh, there is just one more thing. Don't be surprised if the nice farmhouse lady refuses to give you any cat treats for the next few days because she says you are one naughty little kitty.

Anybody need a cat?

Monday, July 27, 2009

In the Fog

God, give your people a break

From this run of bad luck.

Psalm 25:22

from The Message

I feel like I am lost in this fog we had recently. We were supposed to have moved yesterday. The boxes were packed. The U-haul was reserved. The lease was signed on the new house, and the utilities were turned on. But 4 days before, my husband's boss took him aside and said that he needed to tell him something. All our plans fell apart in that instant. This isn't the first time something like this has happened to us though.

About a year ago we decided to relocate from the Ozarks to the prairie in hopes of it providing my husband with better job opportunities. He does contract work in the manufacturing industry. That means he is employed by one company but actually works in a facility that is owned by someone else. He had been doing that for awhile and had been staying at the same facility. He was able to remain in one plant, but that meant that each year as the contract was awarded to a new company, he had to reapply for his job. It also meant that he could never get promoted because he never had any seniority. He was technically always a "new hire" even though he had been at the same facility for awhile.

Last year we decided to move with his current company when they left our area, because my husband was offered a job at their headquarters. We thought it would help. We were wrong. Shortly after we got settled on the prairie, the world economy collapsed. That cut all overtime, which meant that our income was CUT in HALF overnight. I couldn't find a job to replace our lost income either, because thousands of local people had just been laid off. We soon discovered that expenses in our new area were many times greater than where we had moved from. For the past year we have been living off of our savings.

A few months ago when my husband was offered a chance to go back to an area near where we came from, he took it. We knew that at least our expenses would decrease and maybe I could find employment there before we go completely bankrupt.

After months of searching, my husband finally found a decent house to rent in our price range. He signed the lease and began cleaning and painting the place so I could move in. He even took loads of our belongings to the new house.

We were ready to move this past weekend. Then my husband received word that everything at the new facility had fallen through. He has been temporarily reassigned to another plant in another state.

Now we are in a real pickle. All of our funds are gone. Between the high expenses of the past year and the cost of the move which we had started, our bank account is empty. On top of that, we don't know how much longer my husband will have a job, or if he does, where it will be, or how we can afford to get there. UGH!

But please don't feel sorry for us. I am not telling you this story because I want you to feel bad for us. There are many people in America worse off than us right now. I am sharing this story with you because I know we are not alone in facing adversity at this moment. I simply want to encourage all those other people who are struggling right now as well. I want to tell them that we will survive, and so can they. I know because I have been down in this pit before. I know how overwhelming and frightening it can be to face such an unsure future. But I also know that I am not alone. God is with me. He has lifted me out of dark pits before, and I believe he will pull us out of this situation as well, and give us a firm future again. I just hope that he does it soon, cause I am getting weary. But I am not defeated, because God is in control! Blessings to you and your families.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The good, the bad, and the Oh so ugly

I have lived in old farmhouses most of my life. I grew up living in an old farmhouse and have spent the last several years living in them as well. The farmhouse we are about to move out of is more than 100 years old. If you have ever lived in an old house you know that it can be both challenging and rewarding. Eventually you just have to learn to accept the good, the bad, and the oh so ugly. Just let me show you.

Here is some of the bad. How about a wagon wheel chandelier. It does match the 1970s era orange and gold carpet on the sunporch. Whenever I enter this room, I feel like I have stepped into a time machine and exited onto the set of The Brady Bunch. I'm sure this was lovely in its' time, but sadly, its' time has passed.

I won't show the ancient, easily clogged plumbing, or the leaky windows, but believe me, they are there. I also won't show you the basement which floods whenever it rains, or the tiny doorways which are so small furniture won't fit through them, including important things like your bed. But I will show you something very scary. It is in the living room. It is my least favorite thing in this house. There are a set of shelves built into the living room wall, and oh yes, that really is mirrored tile with gold marbling. It is oh so ugly. At first I didn't have a clue what to do with them. Eventually I settled for camouflage. I took foam board and cut it to fit onto the shelves. Then I covered it with a starry fabric. Still tacky, but not quite as ugly. There was a matching set of shelves in the dining room. I managed to put a large piece of furniture in front of them so they would be hidden.

But there is a payoff for living in an old farmhouse. Here is some of the good.

There is beautiful wood everywhere. Each doorway is surrounded with vintage molding. The stairs up to the bedrooms are well worn and mellowed with age. The wooden railing is smooth to the touch from years of hands rubbing it on their way up and down the stairs. There are wide, painted plank floors in both bedrooms.

Every room has an old door with beautiful cracking, peeling paint and vintage hardware. I really love old door knobs. They have character and patina you just can't get with a new doorknob.

But the best reason of all to live in an old farmhouse is that you get a room with a view. There is just nothing else quite like that. Yes, old farmhouses suit me just fine.

Blessings to you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Little Child

Here is an encouraging story from Leaves of Gold by Crosslet Publishing Company.

"A little child on a summer morning stood in a great cathedral church. The sunlight streamed through the beautiful stained glass windows and the figures in them of the servants of God were bright with brilliant color. A little later the question was asked, 'What is a saint?' and the child replied, 'A saint is a person who lets the light shine through'. "-----Anonymous

May we all let God's light of hope and joy shine through us onto our families, our friends, and our coworkers this week. Blessings to you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood

I don't have much to show you inside our house anymore, because it is almost all packed up. So I decided I would just show you around the neighborhood. Most days, it really is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It's a very nice neighborhood, not the least bit exclusive though. There are no security guards or gated communities. There are no club houses or indoor swimming pools. There is an occasional creek or pond, but mainly there is just corn, soybeans, wildflowers, and the wide open prairie sky to admire. Many days, the beauty surrounding us takes my breath away. I hope you enjoy the drive.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

They're Back

Recently while I was on the computer, ironically enough, I heard a familiar drone. "They're back," I thought to myself, then headed out to see.

I remember the first time I heard that drone last year. I wasn't sure what it was initially, but the noise kept getting closer and closer. Then I remember thinking that it sounded like a plane was about to hit the house. I ran outside and saw a crop duster flying overhead. He was working on the neighbor's fields, which meant that he had to fly over our house and the nearby fields. He kept circling overhead, then diving and swirling all around. It was like watching my own private air show, and with no admission charge.

I quickly ran back in to grab my camera. I took lots of photos. I kept running around the yard trying to find the best spot, but to my disappointment, none of the photos turned out very well. That little plane was just too high and moving too fast for my camera to capture a good image. I think the pilot may have noticed me in the yard though, because before he left, he flew over my yard and tipped his wings at me.

I was thrilled! The closest I had ever been to a crop duster before was watching Petticoat Junction. Now I realize this may date me, but I was just watching the reruns. But I confess, they weren't that old at the time. I will also admit that I had a serious crush on Steve Elliot, the crop duster pilot that married the youngest daughter, Betty Joe Bradley. I think I was attracted to his wonderful voice and that beautiful head of hair. In my mind, all crop duster pilots look like that.

They are back for the season, and I still run outside with my camera trying to catch a good picture. Maybe I will one of these days, and you can bet that if I do, I will share it with all my blog friends. Hey, it's about the most exciting thing going on here in Hooterville right now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shhh.... Don't tell my husband

I did a good thing over the weekend. I sold 4 more boxes of stuff we didn't need and made a quick $100. But then...... I did a not so good thing. I went to a thrift store. Just please don't tell my husband, because he will tease me, relentlessly. He thinks I am a thriftaholic. I say I am not. I can quit whenever I want to. I just have never wanted to. This weekend makes me fear that he may be right though.

It started out innocently enough. I was just driving by the thrift store when I decided I would stop by and see what was new, but only buy things we NEEDED. I had told my DH that I would quit buying thrift treasures until after the move. At first I was restrained. I found a huge package of clothespins for 99 cents. We will NEED those for the clothesline my husband has promised for the new house. I also found a package of new tie on price tags, also only 99 cents. We NEED those for our upcoming sale.

Then the trouble started. I saw the "other items". They whispered to me, "We are beautiful. We are bargains. You will want us later and won't be able to find us again." Somehow in a rush of adrenalin they ended up in my cart. It's all sort of a fog now, which could be from the excitement I was feeling at the time. They were real bargains though. The total expense for all of them was less then $6.00. I have always wanted one of those canning jar lamps, and who could pass up that 1829 bear for only $1.49. I certainly couldn't!

I took the photographs of them as soon as I got home. Then I ripped the price tags off of my new treasures and quickly packed them in boxes for the move. I will unpack those boxes last. If my husband asks where they came from, I will just say, "Oh, those old things. I have had them for awhile."

I won't actually define "awhile" unless he asks me to. Just please don't you tell him, or I fear that the laughing may never stop. I wish you good luck in your own thrifting this week.

Blessings to you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Life Beckons

"Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message).

God offers us renewal. But often, we reject it. We hold onto the old life because we are accustomed to it. We cling to the familiar even when it is dead and lifeless. God longs to recreate us. He offers us a new, fresh life overflowing with possibilities, if only we will accept it.

Blessings to you today.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beautiful Bishop Hill

If you like history, and if you enjoy arts and crafts, then you need to visit Bishop Hill, IL. My hubby and I went there last year and just fell in love with this quaint little village in north central Illinois.

The town was founded in 1846 by Swedish Immigrants trying to form a utopian society out on the Illinois prairie. The village grew and prospered for several years until disbanding in the 1860s. Many of the original buildings are still standing. Today they house wonderful museums and shops sure to delight you.

I recommend making the museums your first stop in town. Each highlights a different aspect of the town's history and all are enjoyable. They help the visitor to understand why the town was founded and how it operated during the religious group's existence. The museums showcase everything from beautiful artwork to everyday articles used by the settlers. They are a must see while in town.

Be sure to allow time for visiting the shops too though. There are several to browse through. One of our favorites was the arts and crafts center which has so many beautiful items to view. (I especially loved all the pottery.) There is an art gallery you won't want to miss, and a wonderful quilt shop with lots and lots of fabric and patterns. A terrific little general store sits at the corner of two of the main streets. Inside you will find lots of Swedish decor and Swedish snacks plus general tourist items perfect for souveniers. All you treasure hunters will want to check out the antique or "junktique" shops which are scattered throughout the town. They are packed to the rafters with vintage and new goodies.

Make sure you bring your appetite with you too. There are several places to eat in town. I have heard that they all are good. We really enjoyed our meal at Red Oak Comfort Food and Pie Co. (My husband just can not pass by any restaurant that includes the word pie in its' name.) I recommend the turkey sandwich with lingonberries which are a Swedish treat. My husband had chicken and noodles followed by a gigantic piece of pie which he proclaimed was as good as grandma's! Believe me, that is a resounding endorsement in our family.

Here is a link to the Bishop Hill calendar of events

Some of their upcoming festivals look like lots of fun. I hope you have a chance to visit there soon.

Blessings to you, and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I have been ReStored. Have you? ReStore is a retail chain which benefits Habitat for Humanity. They sell new and used merchandise and the proceeds fund Habitat projects. They get donations from individuals, other retail stores, and even contractors. I like to think of it as a thrift store and recycling center thrown together. They are located all over the country and each one is different.

The ReStore where we used to live was fabulous! It was located in a giant warehouse and they would sell virtually anything they could get donated, so you never knew what to expect. Through the years we bought a variety of stuff there including: a washing machine, a 6 foot tall set of old barn wood shelves, closet doors, my sewing machine table, lamps, a ceiling fan, tile, paint, stain, flowers, and even books. Some of the things we saw there but didn't buy included: lots of furniture, a wood stove, a jacuzzi, floor sample cabinets from the local home supply store, and a matching bright pink bathtub and toilet (which our daughter really wanted, but couldn't convince her dad to buy). If you needed it for your home, they probably had it somewhere in the building.

Where we live now, the ReStore is a little more selective. Much to my disappointment, they only sell nice things. I kind of miss digging through the piles of "assorted junk" looking for the treasure. Here everything is clean and organized. This store is designed more for dainty home remodelers than hard core junkers like me. Still, they occasionally have some interesting things.

One time when we went in, I found this old wooden hamper that I thought would be perfect for our downstairs bathroom. I loved it the moment that I saw it. It is covered with crackled, mustard yellow paint which has mellowed with age, and the handles have worn away until the bare wood is exposed underneath. It looks old and rustic, perfect for a farmhouse.

At $10.00 it was priced a little higher than my usual thrifting purchases, but we actually needed it, so I could justify paying the price. We have zero cabinets in our downstairs bathroom. There is literally nowhere to put an extra towel, washcloth, or roll of t.p. We had been needing some storage in there desperately for awhile, but I had not been able to find anything that was small enough to fit in. This darling little hamper was going to be just right.
My husband put the hamper up by the checkout and told the cashier we wanted it. The little old man looked at my husband and said, "I know what you are going to be doing as soon as you get home."

My husband and I both turned and looked at the the man, wondering what he would say next. He then finished his sentence, "You are going to be doing some painting I am sure."

I gasped, "Oh no!".

My husband busted out laughing and explained that there was no way I was going to let him get a paint brush anywhere near my new treasure. Then he told the cashier that I was actually buying the piece because I LIKED the paint.

The sweet, little old man looked at me in wonderment and just shook his head in disbelief. He didn't seem to understand that one man's trash really can be another man's treasure.

My rustic hamper worked very well as a cabinet in the downstairs bath. I was able to cram lots of bath goodies in it, and yes it will be making the move with us. I just can't bear to part with something that has such a terrific paint job!

If you haven't found ReStore yet, I encourage you to look for one in your area. The treasure you buy there will help provide a needy family with decent, safe, affordable housing. That is a win-win in my mind. Blessings to you and good luck thrifting this week.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flea Market Angel

We spent last Sunday at a traveling flea market which was being held in our area. We weren't shopping. We were selling. It was our first time to even attend one of these, so we didn't know what to expect. I had been reading about it, and thought it might be a good place to sell some of the items we didn't want to move. I also figured a little more cash for the move might be helpful.

When we arrived for set-up on Saturday afternoon, I soon discovered we didn't have nearly enough space rented for all of our stuff. We had four tables, but probably could have filled up at least 8. We also realized that the hour and a half that the manager had allotted for us to setup was not going to be nearly enough time. I was frantically unpacking boxes until he turned out the lights and told us we had to leave. While we were unpacking, I noticed the other vendors kept strolling by to see what we were selling. We actually sold a couple of things before I could even get everything out of the boxes. The next morning, when we arrived to finish setting up, we found another dealer at our table wanting to buy something. We were off to a good start, so we had high hopes for the day.

Being a girl, just setting things out on the tables wasn't good enough for me. I, of course, had to do some merchandising. I had set up the two tables at the front to hold the best merchandise. One table had glassware and linens and the other had home decor (which was sorted by color and style). One of the tables further back held holiday items and the other one had household goods and general junk. Actually, none of it was really nice stuff. It was all just things we had purchased at thrift stores or garage sales. There were only a few items which we had gotten new, and they had all been purchased for at least 75% off retail. ( I almost never pay retail for anything!) It was mainly stuff we didn't use, or even like anymore, which I knew we could easy live without. But it was all clean and neatly laid out on the tables.

Before the doors opened to the public, I breathed a silent prayer. It was something like, "Dear Lord, please help us reach our sales goal. But even if we can't sell anything, just let us minister to whomever shows up today. Help us to offer a kind word and a smile to anyone who needs it."

Once the doors opened, people began swarming in. There were lots of lookers. We noticed right away how careful they were being with their money though. People kept asking us if we would take less for our merchandise, and nothing we had was expensive. The highest priced item we sold all day was an aluminum kettle for canning which sold for $4.00. I had priced everything really low hoping to sell as much as possible. Customers were actually asking us if we would take less for things which were priced at $1.00 and $2.00.

We shouldn't have been surprised though, times are very hard where we are living. The unemployment rate is over 10%, and in certain sectors of the local economy, like manufacturing, the rate is significantly higher. The largest employer in this area is a global corporation which has laid off tens of thousands of employees worldwide, and many of those layoffs were local. People are simply hurting and desperately trying to stretch every dollar, but it was still the first time we have ever had anyone ask us to come down on a dollar item. We did whenever we could afford to.

We stayed busy throughout the morning. We were glad when our sales totaled more than it had cost to rent the tables. We were even happier when we sold enough that we had paid our rent and made enough to get back what we had originally invested in all our second hand goodies. Then we were thrilled in the afternoon when we realized we had even made a profit on our used junk. We were amazed at how good the flea market had been in spite of the economy.

We didn't realize however, just how good our sales had been until my husband talked to the dealer next to us. It turns out this man was a professional. He travels around the state selling merchandise at the different venues. He told my husband how much he had sold that day, and he hadn't made enough to even pay for his tables. We had sold 10 times as much as he had! I still can't believe it. We had actually made money, gotten rid of 8 or 9 giant boxes of stuff, and made some little old ladies very happy. Even if it hadn't turned out that way, it would have been a good day anyway because of the angel who came our way.

We had several repeat customers. Our tables were by the entrance. Ladies would come in and look at our stuff, maybe buy a thing or two, and move on. Frequently they would buy something else on their way out, which was great. There was this one lady who just kept coming back and coming back. The first time, my husband waited on her. The next time she came back, I wrapped and bagged her purchase for her. I think it was around her third or fourth trip to our booth, that we struck up a casual conversation. Eventually, she told us that she was actually a dealer there. She laughed that she was buying more from us than she was selling. Each trip she would buy one or two things from us. She would wait in line just to talk to me and ask me how she could display some of our stuff in her home if she bought. By the end of the day, she had purchased so much stuff from us, that I gave her a free set of 2 prim boxes she had been looking at but did not have enough money left to buy. When I turned around to give them to her, she hugged me with tears in her eye. She said to me, "You just don't understand. I don't have beautiful things like this in my house. I just can't afford them, but your prices are so low, that now I can have pretty things too."

By now, a giant lump was growing in my throat and tears were beginning to well up in my eyes. Here was my real blessing in this day. This sweet little old lady with a bad dye job, no front teeth, and mismatched clothes was my angel. She had just reminded me how blessed I truly am.

None of the stuff we were selling had cost us that much. Most of it had been castoffs from others before we even bought it at garage sales or thrift stores, but it was still nicer than what many people will ever have. God used this precious little angel woman to remind me that I am blessed.

Do I wish that we didn't have to move so that my husband could stay employed? Yes, I do. Do I wish that my daughter and I were both done with college so we would have enough money to pay all our bills all the time? Yes, I do. Do I wish that we were not carrying a mountain of debt in medical bills which will probably follow us all of our lives? Yes, I do.

But am I blessed even if these situations never get better? Yes, I am BLESSED. Today, my husband still has a job. We all have a roof over our heads. We have food on the table. The electricity and water are still on. We are all healthy now, and we are safe. When so many other people are doing without these basic essentials, we are very blessed to have them. Everything beyond that is just icing on the cake.

Take time wherever you are today, dear blogging friend, to count your blessings. Who knows, maybe God will even send you a flea market angel to lead the way.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Prairie Sunrise

I thought you might enjoy seeing what awakens me each morning. This is the view from my backyard. These photos were taken within a 7 minute time span on a cloudy summer morning. It's enough to make anyone want to get out of bed early. I hope you like the view as much as I do.