Thoughts on the Meaning of Home

I recently heard (or read) that today’s young adults have little interest in home ownership. One reason given had a lot to do with the economy (which is understandable). The other reason is the desire to be mobile, i.e., not tied to a structure or a place.  This, sadly, is also the result of a poor, lethargic economy.  If you buy a house today, there is no telling if, or when, you will be able to sell it and move on, if the proverbial “brass ring” presents itself.

My first reaction was incredulity! Yes, I am a mature American, but I am no stranger to hardship.  When I graduated from college in 1971, there were very few jobs to apply for.  Adding to the frustration was my liberal arts background (a major in English with a minor in art).  In other words, in today’s vernacular, I had a “do you want fries with that?” degree.  In the early ‘70s, I remember sitting in long gas lines, and being told to “put another sweater on”, instead of inching the thermostat up another degree or two!  Those were not happy or even hopeful years.  But no amount of financial difficulty, or discouragement about the future, could quell my desire for the thing I wanted most:  a family of my own, and a lovely home, in which we could all dwell “happiIy ever after”.

My first husband and I purchased our first house, in Connecticut in 1975, for $45,000!  It was a tri-level fixer-upper. In retrospect, it was a cute little starter home, but to me it was a palace!  I made every designing mistake that a newbie decorator makes: every room was a different bright color, every room had a different bright color carpet (so if you stood in the upstairs hallway, where the bedrooms were located, it looked like a Twister game board!), and the paneling I chose for the kitchen was dark, and so shiny, you could see your reflection in it.  Naturally, we thought it was beautiful, and apparently, so did the people who purchased it the day after it went on the market!

Since then, I have lived in Lewisville, Texas (where daughter Jennifer was born); Marietta, GA; Nashua, New Hampshire (when I was newly divorced); Tennessee (Knoxville, where Greg & I were married, & Memphis); Charlotte, NC (we owned 3 homes there!); and then back to Atlanta (this time within the city limits).  And finally, we are now here in Ellijay, GA (where I will be carried out with my boots on!).  For each move, a different dwelling was purchased. Notice, I did not say “home”, for it turns out that not every house we lived in felt like home. In my experience, there are homes that embrace you in a big bear hug the minute you walk in the front door. They are the ones that make you smile each time you pull into your driveway.  Such was the case with our residences in Knoxville, Memphis, Atlanta, & to some extent, Ellijay. The others were places we unpacked our belongings into, and lived, until it was time to move on.

Our current HOME, in Ellijay, was a purchase of necessity. It had everything we needed, space-wise, for my Dad to be comfortable, and to provide Greg & me with the privacy and seclusion that we need. It was not love at first sight (although I could see the possibilities during our first viewing!), but with time, lots of money, and a ton of (sometimes back-breaking) elbow grease, it definitely is now our forever HOME

For the sake of our current generation of young adults, I hope the economy improves, so they can know the joy of homeownership.  Home is a blank slate where creativity can take wing and fly.  Everybody needs the freedom to crank up the volume (& bass) on their music source without fear of recrimination, and have the opportunity to paint their walls any hue from hot pink to black, without answering to the decorating police.  But most of all, I would love for them to feel the contentment, peace, and joy that owning a little bit of heaven can bring.

Below are two free printables that I created that really express how important HOME is to me. (Please link back to this blog if you choose to use them publicly!)

Hope you love them as much as I do!



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Next year, Chinet??? 😳

(Before I get rolling on this new missive, please accept my apologies for the extremely poor photography in the previous post.  I am definitely out of practice with the picture taking aspect of blogging, and my resolution (pun unintended) is to greatly improve that skill.  Some of the dark, fuzzy photos have been replaced, if you care to revisit the last post.)


Now onto the good stuff.  Yesterday was our family Christmas party.  All together, there were 11 of us, including these precious guys, both of whom were somewhat under the weather, and napped a lot during their visit:


We had a wonderful time.  It was also the first time that Greg’s sister, Pattie, & her husband, Clyde, had seen the remodel. They raved about it, and ooh-ed & aah-ed in all the right places, (love you, guys!), which was very gratifying.

Which brings us to the title of this post.  In years past, we have always used the finest quality of disposable plates, napkins, cups, wine glasses, and eating utensils that money could buy.  This year, however, I started wondering why we had a setting for 12 of everything, that never escaped its storage closet!  Besides, we were christening our new dining room and table, so why not use the good stuff? So I decided to go for the gusto, and this is the resulting table setting:


I even made place cards, which tickled my mother-in-law to no end!


The food was wonderful, the conversation was hilarious, and the atmosphere was deemed perfect.

Other views of the dining room include the buffet that houses the good dishes and flatware. Atop it sits one of our family favorites: a snowman nativity by Sandy Gore Evans:

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The aftermath of dinner was, predictably, not quite as jolly.  My lovely new kitchen looked like this before dinner:







(Please note the infamous glass shelves are in place. Hooray!)

This was the post-dinner decor (and this was after two loads of dishes had been placed in the dishwashers!):



I am so glad I opted against an “open concept kitchen”!

In retrospect, would I use the good dishes again?  You bet I would!  Especially since I have nothing to do the rest of the week, except finish the dishes, wrap gifts while listening to Christmas carols, sip wine in front of the fire, and enjoy our Christmas tree.

That segue takes us into the living room, which is very oddly shaped. It is long and quite narrow.  One of the long walls is an open railing to the stairs that lead down to the  “apartment” (where Greg & I reside.  That entire area is on the 2015 redo list!)  So we essentially have 2 full walls to position furniture against, and one of those walls forms a foyer of sorts.  We have to float our furniture in this space.

The centerpiece of the living room is the fireplace, which was one of the first additions we made to the house in 2011. (Who lives in the mountains without a big, stone, wood-burning fireplace?  Not this family!)

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My only problem with the mantel set-up is the monstrous television that looms above and, in my mind, detracts from the holiday décor. However, there is no other place for a tv in this room, so its location will never change. If I had my druthers, though, my mantel wouldcresemble this gorgeously decorated  fireplace, from the wonderful blog, The Everyday Home:

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This is the Christmas tree that caused so much angst this year.  Lovely, isn’t it?

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“Around the bannister” from the living room is the breakfast area.


Besides the small round table, surrounded by 4 awesome wood x-back chairs (found online for an incredible price at Cymax), we also have a sideboard that I refinished & decoupaged with floral motifs cut from Dollar Tree gift bags. It houses liquor, and displays our lovely collection of cut-glass decanters.  Above it, is the “Ho-ho-ho shelf” that was decorated especially for our grandsons.




In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Max, who passed away in June.  He loved Christmas, and when given the go signal, could unwrap a gift faster than you could say his name!  Max also loved to ride in his red truck (we used to laughingly say that he let Greg drive his truck!) Some days, if the weather was nice, Greg would open the driver’s side door, and he would spend the day, napping in his happiest place in the world (please note that I am crying as I write this.)  Anyway, we decided to make our Max angel an integral part of this year’s Christmas celebration.  So I set up this vignette of a toy red truck, with a Sculpey image of Max that I somehow made (it had to be the hand of God guiding my fingers!) that looks just like him, smile & all. In the back of the truck, Max is bringing home the tree!


We love and miss you, Max, but your spirit is always with us!

And now, Pip & Bear would like to wish you the very merriest of Christmases, the happiest of Hanukahs, and the most prosperous of New Years!


I, of course, second those sentiments, but also want you to know how thankful I am that you are out there!

God Bless Us Every One…


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Our Someday (Maybe?) Holiday House


Monday, December 15

Hello, dear readers!  You are now in the beautiful northwest Georgia mountains. We sit on 7-1/2 acres of land that is covered in oaks, maples, dogwood, hemlocks, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, and white pine. Our property is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest.  The picture below is a view from our front porch.  Our closest neighbor’s roof, located way down the hill, is visible in the lower left corner of this shot; this is the only time of year we can ever see their house!


I am a bit nervous about this  post.  To me, doing a tour of portions of the house seems akin to standing naked in a storefront window.  However, I do want to welcome you into our mountain home.  In fact, it would be so wonderful if  you were all really here, so we could get acquainted (or in some cases reacquainted!), share a nog and a toast, and then do a real walk-about.

First things first.  I haven’t mentioned it lately, but the kitchen still is not finished.  Supposedly,  Wednesday is the day that it will all be buttoned up.  The counter has been cut for the redneck bar, so the trim can go on.  Also, (and of major importance to me) the glass shelves for the china cabinets are cut; Greg is picking them up from Mike tomorrow, so I can start washing my crystal glasses and placing them in their new home. 😄

Tuesday, December 16

I was so excited when Greg left to pick up the glass shelves. When he returned, not so much.  There were only 4 pieces of glass instead of the expected 6.  A call to the glass company to order 2 more shelves, which can be picked up tomorrow…😩

Wednesday, December 17

Mike came by around 2 pm to install the bar countertop & finish the woodwork.  Oops!  The countertop was cut too large (silver lining: better than too small?), so he left immediately to take the top back to Charles (who assured me on Sunday, when I called him to ask where in the $@?! my bar top was, that he had the necessary dimensions) to be trimmed.

He said he would be back tomorrow to finish up. (He seemed embarrassed.  Ya think?)

There is nothing left to say that hasn’t already been said.  😫

Good news…Greg picked up the additional glass shelves.

Thursday, December 18

It’s just one week until Christmas Day.  It always seems like once Halloween goes, it’s Christmas.  This year, that sentiment rings truer than ever, for me.  My decorating process is usually leisurely and fluid.  This year, it has been a whirlwind comprised of 50% inspiration, and the other half desperation! However, some things never change around here, and the 2 products that make Christmas possible at our house are Command Hooks, by 3M, and fishing line from Shakespeare (no, not the bard!).  I bought a spool of that wonderful filament about 25 years ago, and finally had to buy a replacement this year. How else can you hang snowflakes from antlers, and have stars that just seem to be suspended in space?  No other way that I can think of!

Friday, December, 19

Well, let’s start with the house entrance.  It doesn’t look very impressive during the day (wires…yuck!), but at night, it is quite lovely.


The tomato cage trees are a new addition to our repertoire.  I saw them on the “Simply Kierste” blog, and thought they were awesome.  (Note:  if you want to make these, be sure to buy the cages in the summer.  Luckily, our Ace Hardware stocks them year ’round, but the usual suspects don’t.)  They were just the place to use our dainty little copper-wire strung Italian lights.  The garland over the door sports the GE headlights 😄.  Outside, their “whiteness” is much more acceptable than inside, on the tree.


And then, of course, there is our carved Boo Bear.  He was a Christmas present from Greg 3 years ago, and he NEVER fails to make me smile.  Those of you who are new to this blog will note the irony of  “no moose or bear this home shall wear”.  Turns out, we’ve got lots of bears, but no moose yet.   I say yet, because I’m sort of warming up to them, but never on decorative items, like towels, bedspreads, curtains, toilet paper holders, etc.

Back to Boo.  He’s a little down this year, because he’s unable to sport his Santa hat this year.  Why?  Because the real Bear will eat it, just like he destroyed the WELCOME mat & Boo’s Halloween mask.  Therefore, we gave him a less flamboyant look, so as to not attract undue attention from you-know-who.


Speaking of Bear, it should be noted that he DID contribute an item to the holiday décor:


That jolly item parked on the railing is a half-inflated Rawlings basketball that he found in the adjacent garbage dump! Last night, he managed to bring it into the living room, but we feared for our lives (and that of our Christmas tree!), each time he grabbed it in his jaws, and started to violently swing it back and forth. Greg banished it to the front porch bannister.  Festive, no?

The foyer isn’t, but we pretend we have one by placing the loveseat so that it creates a “walking lane” into the living room. The table under the mirror in the entry is the same one referenced in a prior blog; its laminate top was ironed off; it was painted; I still love it!  It showcases one of favorite things, a primitive snow lady, purchased as a gift from my sister our first Christmas in this house. She said my snow person collection needed it.  She was so right.  Thanks, FS!



The vines around the mirror were hand painted by yours truly.  I like them so much, when I changed wall paint colors, instead of obliterating them, I painstakingly painted around every leaf, stem, & berry with the new Inviting Ivory color!  So glad I did…it makes the mirror look larger & gives it a stronger presence on that tall wall.

The entryway was totally devoid of any lighting when we moved in. The previous owners had a ceiling fan, but we wanted something with more drama.  Inspiration hit as we were driving through town one day, and passed an antique store that had a gorgeous antler chandelier in the front window, handmade by a local taxidermist. After much coaxing, Greg went in to ask the price:  over $4000!  Very much worth it, but not in my budgetary range. Undeterred, I googled “fake deer antler chandeliers”.  I found this one on Amazon, supplied by a company called Kotulas.   Since it is mounted so high, it’s difficult to distinguish it from the real deal.   It was very affordable, and seems to be the perfect place to hang snowflakes from fishing line!


 The garland on the bannister was constructed using strips of ribbon, burlap, and glittered mesh, tied onto kitchen twine. Midstream, I became very dubious about the merit of this project. It was very time consuming, and a supposedly low-budget decoration turned into a ribbon-fest (requiring trips to 3 different Walmarts, as I depleted the stock of “good” [i.e. budget] ribbon in one store, then moved onto the next!).


However, once it was hung (with Command hooks, of course), and the white lights were added, the effect is quite lovely.  Seems like the garland will be packable, so we can get a couple more years out of our investment.  More pics of the railings:



Well, 1252 words later, and you have just barely stuck a big toe into the house. I think your ears need a rest, as do my typing fingers!  Next installment will feature the living room, breakfast room, kitchen, & dining room.

Til then…






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Tripped Up By The Lights Fantastic

This is the year when the lights went out. Literally!  Once plugged in, our pre-lit tree had a whole band of lights in the middle that were deader than doornails.  We tried to find the offending bulbs and replace them, but none of our spares worked. (Do ya think that was a marketing decision by the tree manufacturer? I think the term is “planned obsolescence”.)  Anyway, a new artificial tree was definitely not in the budget this year, so Dad volunteered to cut off all of the original lights.  Within ten minutes of clipping wires, he knew he should not have offered to lend a hand. (And oh, the language that he used!  The bad words could be heard from the garage, where he was working, into the kitchen, where I was working.) Two days later, the tree was ready to be decorated.

While Dad was yanking wires out of the tree, Greg & I decided that we should invest in LED lights this year.  We had used them in 2002 when we lived in Charlotte, and back then, the only clear LED lights available gave off a creepy blue-gray glow. We dubbed it the ghost tree, and there was nothing jolly about it!  I’m not sure why, but we still have those lights, which should have been thrown away or donated in early 2003! (Why do we pack up and keep stuff we hate, KNOWING FULL WELL we will never use it again???)

At any rate, I went online and checked out Amazon’s LED Christmas light offerings, and found some that were Italian-made.  They have teeny-tiny little bulbs, strung on the thinnest copper wire, and the light color description was “warm white”.  So I ordered 4 boxes (120 lights x 4 strands = 480 lights), only 2 of which arrived. We hung the lights that we received on the tree, and 240 lights had the same effect as a postage stamp on an elephant. Not sure why, but once Amazon credited me with the lights that never arrived, I re-ordered 2 more boxes of them!  In the meantime, we decided that 480 of those tiny lights might need the companionship of some larger bulbs, so Greg went to Lowe’s, and bought 400 more LED  “warm white” lights.  We placed them on the tree, looked at each other, and started laughing.  GE’s “warm white” looks more like a car’s headlights.  There was nothing warm or inviting about the glow that emanated from them, but they were certainly white!  Dad was volunteered to pull them off, while Greg made another mad dash to Lowe’s.   He came back with traditional lights, but bought the type used by commercial properties.  Hopefully, they will be a little more robust than the Merry Bright variety!

In retrospect, after adding up all of the money spent on lights deemed unacceptable, that could not be returned for credit, (I mean, how do you put a string of 150 lights back into the impossibly small box they came in?  It’s not going to happen.  I suspect that packaging was another shrewd marketing decision on somebody’s part!), we could have probably bought a new tree.  But then we wouldn’t have this story to tell at future Christmas gatherings with family and friends. (By the way, I did return the re-ordered 2 boxes of lights from Amazon!)


Above is a view of the finished tree.  Unfortunately, the angel at the top looks like she had too many tequilas.  Greg promised to straighten her up before our family party on the 21st, but he seems to like her tipsy posture…says it gives the tree character.  Men!

Thankfully, the decorating is almost finished. The next post will be a tour of our “Holiday House”.  Until then…

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For These Gifts, I Give Thanks…

As a family, we are incredibly blessed.  Thanksgiving is a day for reflection, the upshot of which leaves me wondering why I ever complain about anything, because God has granted me every fervent request I have ever asked of Him.  To name a few:

I give thanks for the most wonderful partner, friend, and soulmate that a woman could ever imagine.  Greg and I will celebrate our 27th anniversary on February 13th, 2015, but our wedding day seems like yesterday.  I tell people that I still feel like a bride, and no doubt they think I am exaggerating.  I am not. I am so lucky to be told daily how loved and beautiful I am (even when bedhead strikes, and gravity is no longer my body’s best friend.)  Our marriage is my life’s blessing that eclipses all others.

I give thanks for my daughter, Jennifer, and her precious family. Our grandsons, Riley & Reese, are amazing little guys, with wonderful personalities, droll senses of humor (wonder where they get that from?) and caring, considerate ways.  We feel fortunate to live close enough to participate in their lives, and watch them grow up to be the fine young men they show every promise of becoming.

I am thankful for the longevity of our parents.  Greg’s Dad will turn 90 next year (I feel a big party coming on!).  His Mom & my Dad will soon be 88 years young.  As we sat around the dining room table yesterday, sharing food, wine, and spirited conversation, I reflected on the gift of health.  As a family, we have been blessed with an abundance of this commodity.  On December 21st, four generations will be seated at that same table, as we share another Christmas meal together.  (Greg’s side of the family now has five generations of family members that gather together!)

I give thanks for friends old, new, and yet undiscovered.  I give thanks to you, my growing community of subscribers to this blog. And I especially am grateful to still have the freedom to state my views, publicly, without recrimination.

I am thankful for Bear. (No kidding!)

And finally, I thank God for allowing us to find the exact house we needed, at an affordable price, at the exact time we so desperately needed it.  That house, located in a town we have grown to love, has become much more than just an address.  Greg’s Mom, sitting in the living room yesterday, seated in a wing chair in front of a crackling fire, said “this place feels like home to me”.  Yes, we have the blessing of HOME, and for that we are eternally grateful.

The remodeling process we have recently undergone (and it isn’t completed yet!) has caused undue stress on all of us. I allowed the frustration of the process to overshadow the realization that we could afford to take on this big project, which is the blessing.  As I prepared our Thanksgiving feast in my new kitchen, I was grateful for the beautiful, functional space* it has become:


I hope you have many blessings to reflect upon.  God bless us everyone.

*Better pics to come. Just couldn’t wait to share! ;>}


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Sundry Things

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike is here finishing up the kitchen. Everything will be done today, with the exception of a modification to hide some wiring, the installation of a back-ordered tambour door, and the addition of a small soapstone counter for the Redneck Bar.  That puts the onus on Greg & me to do the dreaded tile grouting this weekend, & then we will be done. (Thank goodness we have a lot of downstairs storage to hide all of the stuff that we won’t have time to put away!)

Greg still has some construction work to do on the dining room table and I have to find some time to clear-coat it before our Thanksgiving meal (cranberry jelly on raw wood…I don’t think so!)   LeeAnn is coming on Wednesday to clean up the mess (thank you, BFF!)

Now for a Bear update. He had a very successful day of hunting & foraging yesterday, & he didn’t even have to leave the comfort of home!  His first conquest was to eat my new prescription glasses, which I just purchased a few months ago, to replace the first pair he ate!  Greg & I heard him happily chomping on something early Thursday morning.  We figured he was snacking on Riley’s plastic horseshoes, which are considerably transformed, as you can see from this picture of the yellow one (and the blue horseshoe is half the size of the yellow one!


Greg is the one that discovered the mangled frame of what were once my despised first-ever (and last ever) pair of bifocals in a trashy J_Lo frame.


(I guess you can tell I wasn’t heartbroken that he ate ‘em, but I am down to two spares whose lenses are old prescriptions.) Lyme disease plays havoc with your eyesight, so I’m not going to invest in a new pair any time soon.

And if that wasn’t enough goodness for one day, he also ate one of my red Land’s End leather fleece-lined slippers! You see, I made the mistake of taking them off before I showered, and there they were, lying next to the tub, just begging to be eaten!  I admit, they were getting a little “long in the tooth” (HAR, HAR!), but still very serviceable, and oh, so comfortable. We still haven’t found the mate to the chewed one (he hides lots of treasures in the yard, so it’s unclear if we’ll ever see it again.)  Santa has promised me a new pair.  Speaking of which, I wonder why Bear never destroys any of Greg’s stuff?  He is very Mommy-centric, in that regard.

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Look at that face.  Does that look like remorse to you?  Nope. That’s a nonchalant look that belies his search for new forbidden fruit to attack!

About the holidays:  Everybody I know has their tree up, or is planning on putting it up momentarily.  I am so far behind in that regard.  You know how they say that there’s a fine line between love & hate?  Well, the same can be said about creativity & insanity. This is what my desk looks like:


There are at least 5 projects underway in that mess, with more in the planning/conception phase. The clothesline thingy is this year’s iteration of “what to combine with lights on about 70 feet of bannister that won’t break the bank”!  Yes, I’m doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do this year, and that is to over-extend myself and put undue pressure on myself to produce things that won’t have any effect on the quality of our holiday celebrations.  But (sigh) I know I will do them anyway…

This week, I did manage to refinish Justin’s bed, and I am so pleased with the results. The finished product looks like an Ethan Allen hack, & if I had a son, it’s just the look I’d want for his room. The pics were kind of hard to take, since the bed wasn’t assembled, but this may give you an idea of what the finished headboard and footboard look like.


No, I don’t have before pics, but Faith’s bed is identical to Justin’s, so before I start work on hers, I will take pics. Yes, I did use chalk paint on the bed.  I am so impressed with how easy it is to use, its durability, and the factory-finish look it provides.  LeeAnn just left with the finished product in the back of her new car.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I am in full-blown panic mode.  Thanksgiving is only days away, and I still don’t have a menu nailed down.  I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday in Marietta on Monday. With travel & the 2 hour time for the IV, that day is shot.  On Tuesday, we have a dog trainer coming to the house to see if he can fix a crazy Bear. The turkey (still at the store), needs to be brined and the casseroles need to be made, and the baked goods must be baked on Wednesday, the same day that Mike plans to put the finishing touches on the kitchen.  Greg’s parents arrive on Thursday morning…(help?)

Speaking of food, I made the most delicious soup this week.  In the past, I sort of spurned soup.  Now that I am “maturing”, it seems to be something I crave a lot. I found this recipe on a site call 365 Days of Slow Cooking.  The recipe is “Creamy Tortellini, Spinach, & Chicken Soup”.  It is quick to put together, then cooks in the crock pot.  (I used frozen chicken, and added an hour to my cooking time.) If you make it & love it, please let me know.

Slipper alert: Bear came dashing through the doggy door this morning with the mate to chewed red slipper!

Gotta go…Dining room table to finish!  ;>}


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Four Words About the Kitchen

1. It

2. Isn’t

3. Finished

4. Yet


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Random November Thoughts


The kitchen is almost done.  Mike and his crew DID show up the end of last week and worked Thursday-Saturday and accomplished a lot!  All of the missing doors and shelves are installed, and the last 4 (special) cabinets are in place. What remains to be done is minor: finishing work (i.e., adding trim & crown molding), adding more cabinet hardware (I ordered 40 pulls, but we ran short, so we’re waiting for 20 more to arrive tomorrow!), and adding a bookcase over the cabinet that replaces the “Phase 2 Redneck Bar”!  There are a few items that need to be corrected (2 glass cabinets were supposed to have seeded glass instead of plain panes, and since these will be lighted cabinets, the solid wood shelves need to be swapped for the see-through variety!)  Eventually, Mike will also add a tambour door to a countertop opening (the coffeepot was supposed to live there, but the opening was too short for the pot to fit) where the toaster and various other small appliances will be hidden away.  He is also making us a custom wooden door cover for the stainless steel dishwasher, that always looks like oatmeal is running down the front of it! Geez.. where does that come from? (Alright, folks, I’ll spare you another rant about how I really feel about stainless appliances!   :>)

Greg & I will attempt to finish tiling the backsplash this weekend. Then we can decide where to permanently store our homeless clutter, and then maybe we can take some awesome pictures!  (I feel like we will make it, sliding feet first, into Thanksgiving, just in the nick of time, and only by the grace of God!)

Mike truly outdid himself in terms of quality workmanship & attention to detail.  I told him so, and I could tell that meant the world to him. OK…I hear you all wondering if it was worth it, and, now that the remodel is almost over, would I do it again?  The answer is a resounding OF COURSE!

And now that the kitchen is no longer an all-consuming distraction, here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head:

  1. My guilty pleasure this time of year is watching those (okay, you are right, sappy might best describe them) Hallmark holiday movies! My sister loves them, too, and we are always comparing notes over the ones we have seen. We both agree that no matter how sticky-sweet or predictable they are, we don’t care.  We just love ’em!
  2. Josh Groban is the voice of our times.  He is as talented as many singers much older than he, but in my opinion, his voice delivers a purity, clarity, and emotional quality that just astounds me.  His Christmas album, ” Noel”, is fabulous.  The only thing that could improve it would have been the inclusion of his rendition of “Oh Holy Night”, which tops all other performances of that song, ever!  And, finally, if you have not heard his duet with Barbra Streisand of the West Side Story classic “Somewhere”, please listen to it. Barbra is normally a force to be reckoned with, but her voice is totally overshadowed by the beauty of his.
  3. I love The Piano Guys. Their music is really the pairing of piano & cello, and it’s mostly instrumental. They do some great versions of music by One Republic, Coldplay, Jason Mraz, & Taylor Swift. Their first album, IMHO, is their best.  I feel “so-so” about their Christmas album, but “Winter Wind” is beautiful.
  4. I am not looking forward to the gifting thing this year (or any year, for that matter)!  For one thing, the time & energy that go into picking out the perfect gifts for everyone is so stressful!  I would much rather spend my time cooking fabulous food for the people I love (and don’t even get me started on the gift-wrapping!) than worrying about what to give everyone.  Must say, though, I did start shopping in early August and am almost finished.  In other words, the pain has been evenly distributed over several months.
  5. I really fear for our Christmas tree this year with Bear on board. He will look at all the ornaments we have lovingly collected over the years and think they look just like his Kong toys, which have a normal life expectancy of 15 minutes.

That’s about it, folks.  Hope I didn’t bore you too much with my musings.  Stay tuned for kitchen pics early next week!


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Moving On Before I Lose IT!

Well, dear readers, the kitchen still isn’t finished, and my frustration with the delays is at an all-time high. Many, but not all, of the cabinets are installed.  None of the “uppers” have doors, and the pantries have no shelves. It seems that the hardware that is needed to make the drawers slide was late in shipping, and the cabinet door maker did an “oops” on another job, so that put him really behind on our job.  However, I am assured that the installation will be completed this week. (It’s Groundhog Day in Ellijay…)  Maybe we’ll have pictures of the completed remodel to unveil, by Christmas.

Greg is installing the tile backsplash. It looks nice, but the tile colors are more muted than they looked in the showroom.  Clearly, their lighting is better than ours.  Speaking of lighting, Greg figured out how to retrofit the installation of under cabinet lighting, which will help a lot, since we lost 2 ceiling spots with the new layout.  And oh, the light & heat that the 2 halogen lamps contained in the new over-the-stove hood give off!   Sunscreen is advised if you stand near them for any length of time.

To cope with all of the kitchen frustration, I thankfully, have plenty of furniture painting to do for LeeAnn’s grandchildren. Faith asked LeeAnn on their weekly scheduled phone call last week, if she was doing “everything that the courts ask her to do, so she can get them back”. LeeAnn was told that the kids were not to be told about her petition for guardianship, but somebody spilled the beans!  So she assured Faith that yes, she is doing everything in her power to bring her & Justin “home”, and also mentioned that work was being done to fix up their bedrooms.

That story touched me so deeply. With every brush stroke, I try to imagine that little girl’s face when she sees her room for the first time. I just finished the dresser that Dad bought at the thrift store. Here’s what it looked like before (minus its drawer pulls):


And here is the after:


(Yes, that is a MOUNTAIN of ironing you see in the background.  Some wise person once said:  “Imagine how creative I’d be, if it wasn’t for housework”!)

I volunteered Dad to help me clean up the tarnished pulls:


Cleaning the old brass turned out to be more than a mere little task. It took hours of soaking them in Brasso, then scrubbing them with a toothbrush! After they were clean, Dad then rubbed them with mineral oil, to protect the shine. Halfway through the process, he turned to me and asked why I always assigned him the crappy (not exactly the word he used!) jobs?  Well, Dad, that’s what you get for asking if I “need help with anything”!

As we put the pulls back on, I realized what a difference the metal cleaning process made to the finished product. Design is all about the little details, and sometimes, adding those details can be more tedious & time consuming than the project as a whole. But they are so worth it.  Sort of like a gorgeous necklace paired with a little black dress.

Now, I must tell you that the paint I used on this dresser was a first for me. If you are even slightly into DIY, I am sure you have heard about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint & Finishing Wax.  There are so many pluses to using it on furniture, the most important being that no sanding &/or priming are required before you start painting. That is a HUGE timesaver, and there is no job I detest more than priming! This paint is very durable, and easy to apply.  The con is the price: $40 a pint!  That line item will not be in my budget now or ever.

Thankfully, one of my favorite blogs,, published a recipe for homemade chalk paint that works like a charm, and is very inexpensive to make. Here it is


The only hassle was not being able to find the calcium carbonate locally, so I ordered a 20-lb. bag from amazon for under $20. I really don’t foresee a reorder of that ingredient in my lifetime…  ;>)

I decided not to use the finishing wax on the chalk paint, which will no doubt horrify real chalk paint devotees.  Nope.  A couple of coats of Varathane over the last coat of paint, and the job was done. (Note: I found that it works best if you lightly sand the painted surfaces, before applying any liquid protective coating.)

Well, it was finished, except for one little detail. I really wanted to add something unique to make this piece of furniture more than “just a white dresser”.  So I added a decal to the top middle drawer, and I think “it’s just the ticket”.  Faith apparently is not a girly-girl, so I chose something with a woodland theme.  Since her room is going to be yellow, blue & white, I think it will look great.

In closing, if you love gorgeous furniture, you must check out the blog that I mentioned above. The author paints some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful pieces I have ever seen.  I can only hope to produce such treasures in the future.

Have a great HUMP DAY!

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A Bear Update, & a Little Local Color

I took this pic of him last night.  Our “puppy” is soon to be 6 months old.  He is either running full bore, or he is crashed on the couch, or in our bed.  Looks to me like he was resting up for his first Halloween:


If the above picture required a title, three come to mind:

1.  Grandmother, Grandmother, what big teeth you have!

2.  To sleep; perchance to dream?

3.  It’s been a hard day’s night & I’ve been working like a dog!  :>O

Bear’s fatigue is caused mostly by running up & down the ravine adjacent to the driveway, foraging for junk.  You see, the former owner of our house was not exactly a Greenpeace kind of guy.  In fact, the world was pretty much his trash can, much to Bear’s delight!  (We acquired the land in question, which was not part of the house purchase, in April, by paying the back taxes on the 5+ acres.  However, it won’t officially be ours until 1 year has elapsed, at which time we will have a waste company clean it up.)

Until then, we never know what Bear is going to bring through the doggy door.  To date, our house has been decorated with old shoes, beer bottles, landscaping pots, dirt & water-filled aluminum cans (it’s like Christmas when he finds one of those!), various pieces of charred wood, and rubber gloves.  By the way, he attempts to eat all of the above, and actually succeeds, more often than not.  I’m sure you have all seen this humorous picture:

2014-07-19 05.23.11

All I can say is, that little crayon eater is a piker compared to our pup, who wakes up many mornings with “indigestion”.  There is absolutely nothing like the sound of your dog “ralphing” in your bed.  The other morning, he threw up part of a yellow rubber glove.  Seconds later, a yellow rubber finger made its appearance, but before I could grab it and pull it out, it went back down the hatch, never to be heard from again.  Very scary.

On a happier note, we did go into town last weekend with the goal of taking scarecrow pics.  The tourist traffic was so thick, however, that we couldn’t get close enough to get good shots. The best pic of all was taken on a side street, where my favorite antique shops reside.


FYI: Ellijay is a self-proclaimed “quaint little drinking town with a big antiquing problem”.

Happy fall, y’all!

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