Monday, March 17, 2014

In the Hearth Corner

Because it was gray and cool and rainy, today was a hearthy kind of day. The lines and the textures and the warm tones captured me. {And to think, I wanted to paint the brick when we first bought the house... I'm glad the professor refused.} All that was missing on this drippy day was a fire.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Lamp for Reading

Oh, hello you. And, hello weekend. There's nothing like Spring Break and some lingering illnesses to make a girl lose her recent blogging momentum. Whew!

Let's talk about lamps for a minute. Several years ago the professor stumbled on a mid-century mahogany table lamp at the university's surplus property sale. The lamp was actually in the discard pile but the man in charge gave it to my husband after he expressed an interest in it. {You can see it in the photo above; it lives in our living room.} A little research revealed that the lamp was made by Nessen Lighting, a manufacturer of high-end light fixtures and the creator of the original swing-arm lamp design.

Since then we've been passively hunting for a vintage Nessen swing-arm wall lamp. From a cost standpoint, to purchase a new Nessen lamp is a bit like buying a nice piece of furniture... which is not budget friendly... which is why we have to rely on discard piles, thrift stores, and ebay for our Nessen purchases. Several months ago the professor finally found the right one at the right price on ebay. It was chrome with a teak wall mount, it was missing the shade, and it was cheap.

The professor worked with a lighting company in Atlanta to replicate the original lampshade for our "new" lamp. While a custom lampshade sounds lavish this was, by far, the most cost effective way to go. Apparently, Nessen thinks pretty highly of their lampshades as well as their lamps.

The professor installed the new lamp a few weeks ago and, lucky for me, it's on my side of the bed! We are both delighted. It's a simple, classic lamp that casts a lovely light in our bedroom. I've been curling up every night to read in its warm glow.

As for what I'm reading, I thought it might be fun to share...

I have three favorite books that are always are my nightstand; I never tire of them and their beautiful photographs always inspire me. They are, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket, Atomic Ranch Midcentury Interiors by Michelle Gringeri-Brown {this one helps me keep the vision in the midst of our home renovations}, and Heart of a Small Town: Photographs of Alabama Towns by Robin McDonald.

In addition, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson has kept me up late laughing for the past few nights and I'm enjoying The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois, a book that Big Brother recommended. I love that he is old enough to make a book recommendation to me! I've also been slowly reading through all of L.M. Montgomery's Anne books since early fall; right now I'm in the middle of Rilla of Ingleside, but, obviously, that one's on hold for the moment. I think one of the pleasantest ways to end a day is with a good book and a cozy place to read.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Under the Maple Tree

The little red flowers have come out on our maple trees. Very soon, the green leaves will follow. The night-rain and wind scattered tiny blooms across our patio and picnic table, where the new bird feeder sits waiting to be filled and happily situated in the yard.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In the Light

"The Christian should be like those lovely spring flowers which, when the sun is shining, open their golden cups, as if saying, "Fill us with Thy beams!"...So should the Christian feel the sweet influence of Jesus; Jesus must be his sun, and he must be the flower which yields itself to the Sun of Righteousness." Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light.
Ephesians 5:8

Saturday, March 1, 2014

True Style

"Great Style should appear effortless. There should be no signs of hard work, no joins, no lapses. Great style relies on careful editing, whether your preferred effect is sleek and sophisticated or bright and bohemian. It's what you leave out, as much as what you include... True style is ruthless and is based on rejection." Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, my emphasis

At our house, it's no secret that the professor handles most of the "decorating" - he's both more opinionated and more talented in this arena than I am. To decorate, however, is a reference that makes him cringe. The word curate, I believe, is a more accurate description of his philosophy and methodology, and it's one that I appreciate because it connotes a slow, deliberate, meaningful process. However, when it's all said and done {and it's never completely done!}, I suppose what determines if one's style is pure and/or great is really all in the eye of the beholder.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A People Prepared

In the Deep South, late winter/early spring has a give and take kind of way about her. "Here, take a week of glorious, balmy days... and some flowers, too," she says. But then, she gets fickle and takes it away. The cold rain arrived in the night and, once again, a fire burning in the fireplace will be bliss.

Before the winter chill returned, Sister and I gathered blooms one afternoon while we waited for the boys to get home from school. I missed a sweet friend's birthday {it seems I'm often a day late these days}. We pulled together a sweet smelling bouquet, plopped it in a mason jar, and hand stamped a simple card. When the boys got home we made a quick delivery. Even the simplest gifts bring smiles.

Last night, after homework and laundry and dinner and tucking in children, the professor and I sat on opposite ends of the couch huddled under a big, warm blanket. Through head congestion and a double-dose of pinkeye {me} and a sore throat with headache {him} we laughingly wished each other a "happy" anniversary. And such is the way life goes sometimes, but, oh, I'm thankful for this man and for fourteen years covered in God's grace. I'm thankful, so thankful.

A few days ago I was reading in Luke about the angel Gabriel's visit to Zechariah... Gabriel tells Zechariah that his barren wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son who's name will be John. This son, he goes on to say, will go before the coming Messiah, he'll be a messenger to make ready "a people prepared" to receive the coming Grace. "A people prepared," I love that... Shouldn't we also be people prepared? Prepared to receive grace, prepared to be messengers of grace, prepared to be vessels of grace, prepared because we're clinging to the Source... the One who is grace.

This week I found grace in an understanding friend, in two sinners remaining one in heart for another year, and in the innumerable blessings showered down on us like the fickle February sunshine and rain.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Buttercups Today

Fourteen years ago we were counting down the final days to our late February wedding. A winter wedding, or so I thought, until late one February afternoon when I took a walk with a neighbor and noticed the season's first daffodils just in bloom. It was then that I realized we were really planning an early {very early} spring wedding.

Around here the sun is coming up a bit earlier each morning and the birds are singing a happier tune. I found daffodils in the yard this afternoon which I picked and brought inside. A bit of sunlight and green for the table. The first notes in the beautiful song of spring have begun!

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Friday, February 14, 2014

His Banner Over Me

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide
and long
and high
and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Under a Canopy of Grace

February can be a tease. Rainy and cold with whispers of snow and ice one day, then hammocks in sunshine two days later. I don't mind. The professor arranged everything on the new shelves in the hall. I love this little alcove; it makes me happy. If I could add an extra window and a cozy chair I would. And, Sister did some decorating of her own one afternoon; an endeavor that kept her busy for hours. It seems she prefers a washi tape and watercolor theme, quite colorful and fun. As for the washi tape... we found strips of it plastered on every surface in her room with several rolls hanging on the wall.

Little moments are quickly filling our February days. Big Brother provides the music {always the clarinet!} while Little Brother adds plenty of commentary. Sister contributes the flair... hello, green fingernails and pink tutu adventures. Despite the chaos I try to see and savor the beautiful, ordinary moments... my orchid in bloom, chocolate cake, sweet sibling companionship, sunlight in windows, good books, the kitty always around, and winter sunsets.

Most days, the sunset hour is the hardest. Between homework, home-keeping, attitudes, and tired, hungry, noisy people it's the time of day when I need the most grace. Oh, how I fail. I often catch a glimpse of our winter sunsets when I climb the stairs as the day turns to evening. Sometimes I step out on the deck. From the top of our house that sits on top of a hill I watch the painted sky, the Artist's canopy at the end of the day. I'm keenly aware of my failures, my shortcomings, and my need for grace. This daily task of tending my own heart and lovingly, faithfully shepherding little hearts adds an intensity to life that only God's promise of sufficient grace can soothe.

I've been thinking about the Israelites in the wilderness and how the presence of the Lord went with them... a cloud of cooling shade by day, a pillar of warming fire by night... always a visible reminder that He was there. The circumstances weren't easy but there was comfort because He dwelled among them. His presence was literally a canopy of grace. I've pondered this a lot lately and in the pondering He's reminded me that He still dwells among us... intimately in the hearts of His children, hearts that are covered with mercy and grace. A canopy. In the day-to-day grace-needing moments {and I have so many!} there's comfort in knowing that, like His people wandering in the wilderness, I dwell under a canopy of grace, and His grace is sufficient for my failures and my trials.

Then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain. Isaiah 4:5-6

Friday, February 7, 2014

Of Course, We Went Out to Play

And, we slid down our snowy hill on plastic storage box lids. And, Big Brother, always one to love gear, insisted on wearing my old ski goggles. Playing with these three in the snow made me smile.

Thursday, February 6, 2014