Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thoughts for the New Year

My bloggy pal Lin over at Duck with Wheel and String posted this interested collection of thoughts. I thought they were a great chance to clear the cobwebs about what I want for the new year. How I want to go about doing things differently, what I want to get rid of and what I want to go after. Feel free to do the same over at your place. We can compare notes :)

I am...

saying no to worrying so much about what other people think of me, fear that keeps me paralyzed and unproductive, worrying about those things I can't do anything about, the excuse "I'll do it tomorrow"

saying yes to my dreams, life, getting outside every day, laying the groundwork for the life I long for, cooking more and savoring every meal, breathing whenever I feel stress coming on, myself

giddy about starting a business I care about and am passionate about, submitting my trilogy to agents, a clean slate, the knowledge I've accrued this year that will steer me into my business and writing goals for the next

deeply inspired by nature, music, fresh air, the amazing blogs I read, Victoria magazine and British Country Living, the wonders of the ancient past and its stories

obsessed with drinking tea, really good cheese, blogging, reading, writing, creating beautiful things, story

in love with my husband Jon, life

scared of never seeing my dreams come true, spiders, being stuck in the city we're in now forever, working in an office for the rest of my life

haunted by poor decisions

saved by grace

Happy Tuesday to all! It's good to be back.
Jen

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I've only got a moment...

...the Internet may decide to vanish once more. I was able to put up a post over at Woolgatherings. Wander on over if you like. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Happy Holidays!

Love,
Jen

PS: Welcome to my newest followers. I apologize for being unable to visit your blogs as my computers (both at home and at work) are having issues. As soon as I'm able, I shall be by to thank you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Apology

Just in case you're wondering, I'm not dead! But my computer is close to being so. I apologize for the lack of posts but most importantly I apologize for the lack of reading and commenting on your wonderful blogs! Please forgive. I hope to be back to "normal" by the end of this week. Hopefully by then the computer issue will be rectified. Please don't give up on me dear friends! My once consolation is that I will have a lot of reading to catch up on! Sounds like a nice, leisurely Sunday morning to me :)

Happy week!
Jen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow

I see a pattern (dare I say a theme?) amongst blogs today. Snow. Theme Thursday is not something I've participated in before, but in the spirit of the season, I wanted to post something about snow.


I love snow. I'm a Georgia girl. We love snow. We have romanticized ideas of snow, from Dicken's England to the Colorado Rockies. A few flakes and the coats, hats, gloves, pizza pans come out. (Pizza pans? If you have to ask, you're not from the south .Why, a good, old fashioned, metal, round pizza pan makes and excellent sled. It's not like we southerners have THOSE lying about in the garage!).

My ideas of snow, my memories of snow are clouded and mixed with fantasy. Instead of waxing long and poetic, I thought I'd let Archibald Lampman do so for me:

White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly.

The road before me smooths and fills
Apace, and all about
The fences dwindle, and the hills
Are blotted slowly out;
The naked trees loom spectrally
Into the dim white sky.

The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snow-fall hoods me round;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence everywhere.

Save when at lonely intervals
Some farmer's sleigh, urged on,
With rustling runners and sharp bells,
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear;

The barking of a dog, or call
To cattle, sharply pealed,
Borne echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far a-field;
Then all is silent, and the snow
Falls, settling soft and slow.

The evening deepens, and the gray
Folds closer earth and sky;
The world seems shrouded far away;
Its noises sleep, and I,
As secret as yon buried stream,
Plod dumbly on, and dream.

This is one of my favorite poems and I was introduced to it by the ethereal music of Loreena McKennit. Go HERE to hear this beautiful version accompanied by some beautiful images. I tried to embed the video, but apparently my computer doth protest too much!

Happy Thursday,
Jen

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Handmade Christmas This Year

Looks like it's going to be handmade Christmas this year. I don't mind at all. I usually end up making some of the gifts we give but this year we've decided to make them all. I found a wonderful caramel recipe from Mary Jane's Farm magazine (last December's issue I believe) and an Oreo truffle recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I'll try and post the caramel recipe later. I'll definitely post pictures of the final product (unless I eat them all...must...not...eat...gifts!).

Here's a couple of boxes we hung on the wall. They're both from my mom. She always finds the most beautiful Christmas wrappings.

Ever since we got a table and chairs in the upstairs (or the Tower as I'm fond of calling it), Master Colby thinks it belongs to him. Here he is peaking at me, bleary eyed from one of the chairs. He likes to sit up there with me while work.

And speaking of work, it's so nice to have my own space to create and leave it all out, ready for me to use it again. Before we moved to the Manor, we lived in a garage and there was NO ROOM for anything, much less projects of the paper making kind. Here's a few sheets hanging in front of the bathroom mirror, drying. I plan to tie them in bunches of nine with lace and dried lavender. Lovely...

Last but not least, I think I promised a picture of the Christmas tree. It's kind of small, but here it is! I hope you can see it. It's such a wonderful tree.



I'll be cooking spaghetti tonight for a dear friend. She recently moved and I don't get to see her as much as I'd like. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Any of you making Christmas gifts this year? I'd love to hear about them! I'm making other things besides the truffles and caramels and paper. Stay tuned for more pictures!
Happy Wednesday,
Jen


Monday, December 7, 2009

The First Noel


"The First Noel is unknown in origin but is generally thought to be English dating back to the sixteenth century. There is a misconception that the First Noel was French and it is believed that this is because of the French spelling of Noel as opposed to the olde English Anglo-Saxon spelling of the word as in Nowell. After England was captured by the Normans numerous words were adopted from the Norman French language and Noel was re-spelt as Nowell, early printed versions of this carol use the Nowell spelling. The First Noel was first published in 1833 when it appeared in "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern," a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys." ~http://www.carols.org.uk/the_first_noel.htm


The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o'er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

I love Christmas music. In fact, I've been known to watch "White Christmas" in July and hum Silent Night as early as August (don't hate me!).

~Jen

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

Last weekend we went and got our Christmas tree. It's a bit of a tradition in my family: after turkey, Christmas tree comes.

Friday morning dawned and I was giddy as a little girl. "Christmas tree day!" I sang as we cooked our normal weekend breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast.

Christmas tree farms are magical places. All those potential Christmas trees, waiting, drinking in earth and water. Watching as each person strolls by, puffing out their branches, straightening their trunks, wafting their intoxicating scent. "Pick me!" They cry in unison. "I'll look the best in that corner!" "I'll shine best with your lights." "I'm the tallest!" "I'm the fattest!" On and on they call, on and on we walked...

It was Awesome Photographer Husband who pointed to him. Yes, him. All Christmas trees are male. I do not know how I know this, I just do. I always have. He stood there, proud and tall. His top leaned to the left, there was a bare patch on his right. I looked up, smiled. "He's perfect!"

We had to saw off half of his bottom branches, but finally he was fitted into his tree stand, cool water filled to the rim. Twinkling stars on green cord went round him, round and round from bottom to top. Then the ornaments, bits and baubles we've collected for five years, a few from when I was a bachelorette, fewer still from when I was a child. Candy canes and owls, snowmen and clear, glass bubbles. A gingerbread man who looks as if he's about to fly away; a Santa that looks less than jolly.

The extra branches were placed here and there. In a stocking with some ornaments...




...around a dish, a make-shift wreath, all glimmering blue and silver and sparkling candle light.


Even the tables were decorated, glass balls in vintage bottles, the Christmas magazines pulled from the shelves...


Several branches were put around a nativity in the window, plastic icicles woven in between the branches. A bouquet of glittering silk flowers and a Father Christmas round things out.


We decked the walls and the old record player, vintage bottles standing sentinels amongst the greenery...



The smell of pine needles and lit candles danced in our noses and sugar cookies baked in the oven. I love Christmas tree day. I always have. And I always will.

Happy Season of Christmas,
Jen
PS: I'll post some pictures of the decorated tree soon. My camera won't take a good picture of it without a flash and the flash blows everything out! I'll have to get APH to send me one of his :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excuses, excuses

Hello dear bloggy friends!

I do apologize for missing my usual Tuesday post, but I had a bit of an adventure on my way to tea. I do hope you will drop by and read about what happened yesterday. All I wanted was to find my lost fur (the one Bogart gave me) and I ended up in an enchanted wardrobe. The first part of the adventure can be read here, the conclusion can be found here. It was quite an exciting few hours, but I made it safe and sound to Mr. Toast's tea.

I trust your Thanksgiving's were wonderful (for those of you who celebrated) and your weekends were grand :)

Ciao,
Jen

PS: what is it about a simple tea party that can cause so many adventures? curious...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update from The Manor

Mmm...the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. It's a sign the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving day is a time to be thankful for the blessings and bounty of the year. This year, my husband and I find ourselves especially thankful. For four of the five years we've been married, we lived with my in-laws. What was supposed to be a few months in a converted garage turned in to much, much longer. We prayed, begged, bartered, all but stole to get a home of our own. Year after year, this prayer went unanswered. Or did it? I like to think it was a wait...not yet...nope...uh-uh.... Until September. I made an out of the blue call to a friend of mine and asked if there were any lofts available where she lived. She said she thought there was one. There was. This was on a Tuesday. On Thursday we went by for a peek. On Friday we signed the papers. A week later, we were in our own place. Funny isn't it? We can pray for years for something and when the time is right, it happens so fast it makes your head spin!

I found some pictures of the Manor (it's a loft but I have high aspirations and a very fertile imagination) and thought it appropriate to post a little thanksgiving tour. A harvest Open House if you will.


This hangs next to the front doors
(we have double, green, metal doors that lead from the Manor to the outside world).
It's a wonderful reminder that we're not alone.

Walking around the main building the houses 11 of the 16 lofts,
the trees are aglow with Autumnal splendor

I got a little crafty this Halloween and created the banner
which only, sadly, this picture gives a tiny peek

Happy little black cat!
Before we got Master Colby, this little fellow
was our feline companion for the witching season

Sugar and spice and everything nice!
I found this old spice rack at my grandmother's church bazaar
about two years ago. I paid a whopping 50 cents for it!

Apples and pears.
Definite signs of the season.

Awesome Photographer husband and I both LOVE to cook.
This is just a portion of the recipe collection we've amassed.
The rest are in three ring binders in the cupboard.
You can't see it, but on top of the main cookbook selection
sits a program from Alton Brown's Good Eats ten year anniversary celebration.
AP husband and I got to go and see it filmed at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta, GA.
Do I even need to tell you how awesome that show was?
Look! Up the stairs!
A rare photo of Master Colby's face.
He's the most camera shy cat I've ever known.
The minute he sees you have a camera, he turns his face and refuses to look!
If he wasn't a guy I'd swear he was a diva!

I bought this key years before we moved into the Manor.
I've always harbored a deep love and fascination for old keys.
This one conjured up images of magic wardrobes and
mysterious boxes filled with treasure. And a home of my own.

Just a small portion of the large collection of books I have.
AP husband was putting them all away, pulling them out of boxes,
stacking them on shelves and exclaimed, "Where do you find this stuff?!"
I think it was when he found a gigantic "Complete Shakespeare".
"I don't know," I said, shrugging, "they just follow me home."

Two hundred year old wood floors.
An espresso cup and saucer set purchased at a yard sale for $2.00
Fresh ground coffee on a Saturday morning.
Priceless.

My mother instilled within me a deep love for crafts.
After a neighbor bestowed upon us heaps and heaps of hot peppers,
I thought it best to preserve them in vinegar.
I added a couple of cloves of garlic and...well,
let's just say you want several glasses of water to go with this vinegar!

A little something I'm cooking up for my soon-to-be Etsy shop!

I love owls.
I love fabric.
I inherited a virtual library of vintage fabric from AP's grandmother.
I've been stitching for months now and there's not end in sight!

A little pillow and an attempt at hand stamped "ribbon"
May your Thanksgiving Day be blessed, full of family and friends, feasting and fun. May you eat more turkey than you can hold, drown your mashed potatoes in gravy, watch at least one parade/football game and laugh until you think that turkey is going to come back for a second round. And may you all pause for just a moment and remember the things you have to be thankful for. I'm sure, if we thought hard enough, we could write a book on those things alone.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Love,
Jen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Food: Celebration, Sustinence, Much Needed Overhaul


Thanksgiving is next week. I think I saw some turkey plates and napkins last night at an undisclosed shopping center (you know, the one done up in red and white with bulls eyes on every tag?) Honestly, I didn't let it bother me. I love Thanksgiving. I love Christmas. I'm glad they happen within a month of each other. It's nice to feel like I have two months of celebrating to do. Of course, I like to count Halloween in with the holiday festivities and if you tag on New Year's you have four holidays together that are all about fun, gathering together, and food.

Ah, yes. Food. Nourishment. Sustenance. These are the words that spring to mind when I see a plate of homemade pasta, a bubbling cauldron of stew, a loaf of bread still warm and steamy from the oven. What does not come to mind is anything wrapped in plastic, cardboard, or housed in a freeze dried box. That's called eating on the fly. Sadly, it's what most of us have come to regard as "lunch" and "dinner".

I've said this before (and I'll probably say it again): I know life has become hectic. There are so many out there who long for a slower pace but are unable, for whatever reason, to attain it at the moment. And yes, there are those who don't want it. I think they just haven't slowed down long enough to know they want it, but I digress :)

There are things about my own life I cannot change right now. I work in an office with wonderful people but I am a slave to my desk and a wringing, impatient phone. The calls are 7 times out of 10 wrought with frustration, impatience and annoyance. I understand business must go on. But so does life.

I eat at my desk. My break doesn't come until 3 and my metabolism will not allow me to wait that long to eat. So my lunch is usually punctuated with the shrill ringing of phone and the request from a co-worker. For thirty minutes every day, I get to breathe. If it's sunny (or moderately dry) I go outside and I do not care how hot or cold it is. I need the fresh air, the sunlight, the misty rain on my lips and fingertips. I need to partake of something sustaining. Food nourishes the body; nature nourishes the soul.

Not only are we running at break neck speed, past healthy meals and communion around the table, we are blind to the beauty around us. There are acres of trees changing garments, showing off and showing out before they don their drab, peasants' garb of winter. Do we see the tree aflame in the early morning light? Do we see the field awash in a silver mist? Or do we only see brake lights, hear horns honking, feel anger and possibly rage?

Guilty. Loud gets noticed. It's a pitiful fact. Throw a fit and the world will know about it. Weep behind locked doors and no one will be the wiser, coming to you the minute you emerge with problems of their own.

There is strength in silence, my friend. Strength to be found in the peaceful hours before dawn, in the stirring of a pot of homemade tomato sauce, in partaking of bread and wine with a loved one. Would I love to do this every day? Make a home cooked meal, grind my own wheat for a fresh loaf of bread once a week? Roll out my lasagna noodles on my counter instead of dumping them from a box? You bet I would. But I have yet to reach that point in my life. Until then (and yes, I will make it there), I set aside one afternoon a week in which to make a life. One afternoon, after work, for kneading and stirring and chopping and cork-popping. It makes an ordinary day seem extraordinary. And for a few, blissful hours I can sip of what will be.
*image found here

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Bookbinder

The swish-swishing of her skirt brushed her ankles with melodious comfort. She smiled, her bare feet pattering across the worn floorboards. It was still dark, morning's light at least another hour off. The kettle was on and the water was just beginning to dance. Poured into the battered ceramic mug -the one with the chip out of the handle- it opened up the tea leaves, the jasmine petals, sending the exotic fragrance upward, up the staircase before her.
Pit-pat went her feet. She sat the mug down on the table and ran her hands across it's smooth surface, worn shiny with age and use. The board had been found at an estate sale, pulled up from a cellar, cast aside for the garbage pick up later in the day. They'd given it to her, said it was of no use to them. Lovingly she brought it back to life, gently rubbing beeswax over the lines and grooves. Stories were etched in it's fibers and she strained hard to hear them in that early morning stillness. If only she knew the language she'd be able to understand it's tales, enjoy the ruminations of the forgotten once tree.

Upon its back she placed the supplies: leather, waxed thread, needle, end papers. The paste was oatmeal thick, coating first one side of the chip board, then the other. Finely textured the papers were laid, bone folded and smoothed. An awl punched holes, almost evenly, down the spines of carefully folded papers. Some of their edges were torn, some were smooth, herbs in that one, threads of a favorite yarn in this one. It came together, slowly, as the sun rose and the mist burned off the autumn leaves. The leather, supple to her nimble fingers, conformed to the boards, binding to the codices. The clamp in place, she sat back and smiled. Another volume bound, waiting for someone's stories. Her trade labeled her "bookbinder" but she knew herself to be one who fashioned keepers of dreams.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nourishment

Squirrels abound in the autumn months, searching for buried treasure under oak trees. Bears fill up on deer and fish, readying their bodies for a long winter's nap. Animals know that fall is a time for preparation, when harvest comes to a close and winter's chill approaches. They seek out nourishment, collect food for the long winter to come.


We human animals have long forgotten what it means to rest and nourish the body and soul. Modern life has taken from us the rhythms of the seasons, of sunup and sundown. Instead of resting during the dark months, we trudge on, up the ladder, through the walls, in spite of our bodies begging us to slow down, pause, to stop.



While most of us can't make our own schedules, we can make changes that will help us take back, bit by bit, the natural way of things. The way our bodies, on a primitive level, need, long for, and desire.



Over the past few years, I've been researching slower cultures. There is no perfect place on this planet, this is a fact. But I believe that older (and wiser) cultures, which have the benefit of thousands of years of trial and error, have a lot to teach our young and perilously impressionable nation. As an amateur (and hopefully, one day, professional) cultural anthropologist, I am fascinated by every culture, moved by some ritual or some tradition that seems to project a slower, gentler time. They can all teach us something valuable about live, about ourselves. But the one culture that has resonated with me is that of Europe, especially of the United Kingdom, France and Italy. I love the rural countrysides, the old-world cities, the accents and whirlwind of the old colliding with the new. But what really has captured my attention is their culture that revolves around food.



I've been wanting to do a series centered around food and culture for quite some time now. What better time to begin the slow resurrection of the senses than autumn? Especially with Thanksgiving two weeks away and Christmas around the bend. I have grown weary of fast food, thirty minute lunch breaks and haste in every aspect of our day to day lives. I know there are things that must be done, I understand that we can't all determine our own hours. But what we can do is take the time to prioritize and make an effort to better fuel our bodies while also fueling our souls. I hope you'll join me as I ramble through the woods and fields, the farms and villas of an old world that has captured my imagination and my heart. I hope to do them justice. I hope to learn from them and integrate traditions and menus into my own, harried life. And I hope to have some friends along for the ride :)



Do you have any "slow down" traditions of your own? Have you, too, felt a tugging in your soul to slow down and rest, to follow the rhythms of the natural world? What have you done to rejuvenate your own weary body and mind? I'd love to hear from you on this!



Cheers!
Jen

*Click on photo for original location and photographer credit*

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pause and Enjoy the Moment

It's raining again. That means traffic. Disgruntled clients. Wet shoes squeak-squeaking down the hall.

*pause*

When I was little, I heard that when the rain hits the pavement, it births a rain fairy. That's the spatter you see. Wings unfurl and for a split second, they are visible to the human eye.

*deep breath*

I can see them now, out my window. They're dancing. The leaves have bowed and offered their stems. A waltz cued up and they are swirling and twirling together on an asphalt dance floor under the roof of heaven.

*smile*

I'm glad it's raining. Traffic means I get a chance to watch the life around me. I can pause and catch the fairies as they wink at me, dissipating into the atmosphere to go and tango with the clouds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Holidays are Upon Us

I was in a large, very popular shopping establishment last night and saw something rather annoying. Christmas trees. Why is that so annoying, you ask? Because there's another holiday that happens before Christmas (one month before Christmas to be precise) that always gets overlooked. Thanksgiving. Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? Giving thanks. Perhaps it's not as important now as it once was, when the summer's harvest was in the barns and cupboards, when people knew if they had not had a prosperous year prior they would have to face a long, cold, hungry winter. Perhaps that rampant disease of consumerism stepped over Thanksgiving because, who goes Thanksgiving shopping? There's the turkeys of course, and the cranberry sauce. But it brings in no revenue? Not like Halloween or Christmas.

Pause.

Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. What do we have to be thankful for, anyway? True, most of us don't have to bring the crops in before the first frost. Most of us don't have to can and preserve our winter rations. Most of us didn't toil all spring and summer to build a home, a life. Or did we? Spring gives us renewal, rebirth. Summer is time to play. Autumn brings with it a harvest of abundance. We sow our seeds, be they peony's or resumes. We run through sprinklers and catch some sun by the pool. We save our pennies for that latte on Friday.

Our cupboards are full of boxes and cans, our fridges with plastic and Styrofoam. We have heat and air and clean running water. Our children are fed, our pillows are soft, and, if we're really lucky, we have a few moments at the end of the day to breathe deep, put our feet up, sip a hot cider, and dream.

Thanksgiving. It should not be overlooked. Pause. Reflect. After the sugar high and let's pretend of Halloween are through, before the rush of in laws, outlaws, and good old Saint Nick. Take a moment and gather, with those you hold most dear. Hold hands around the table, the sofa, the bonfire on a brisk November night and take a moment to give thanks.

(PS: For one last hurrah of Halloween fun, tromp on over to my Woolgatherings blog and see what fun I had reading tea leaves on All Hallow's Eve ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything Worth Knowing...

...I learned at the beach.

It was three years ago, the year before my Dad died. Jon and I went to the beach for a couple of days with my family. We were only able to stay a weekend to their 10 days, but it was a nice get away.

I tend to get all my ideas when I'm near water. Oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, mud puddles, rain storms, tubs, showers. It came as no shock, as I was journaling one night after a stroll on the beach, that I was inundated with quips about life (my life, to be more specific!). Now if only it was as easy to keep these at home as it is on a three day sabbatical to the seaside.

Wake up early with an anticipation for the day
Take the time to stretch as soon as your feet hit the floor
Linger over hot chocolate or tea while reading the Bible or just watching the early morning clouds scuttle by.
Granola bars will keep you for about an hour.
Go for a leisurely walk or bike ride every morning. Don't count miles, calories or fat burned. Explore! And don't turn around until you get hungry.
Cook breakfast - eggs, bacon, scones with pear butter, fresh fruit and juice. It will keep you going for hours (much longer than the granola!)
Find time to do what you love.
Drive just to see what you may discover. Make impetuous stops along the way.
Wear what you like. It's amazing how one outfit can make you feel uncomfortable and awkward and another can make your comfortable in your own skin.
Casual is the way to go.
Take care of yourself but don't fuss. As long as you are alright with you it matters not what others think.
Sit down to eat.
Play hard.
Do cartwheels.
Take as many pictures as you want.
Spend time with friends.
Give random gifts.
Keep things neat and clean but perfection is unnecessary.
Take long walks with your significant other.
Hold hands.
Kiss when you feel like it.
Don't be afraid to ask (or answer) the hard questions and be prepared for the reply.
Be open to wisdom in all its forms and listen for it in the most unlikely of places.
See the extraordinary in the ordinary (and vice a verse).
Do what you do, not to impress but to fulfill your life's call. It's in your heart, let it out!
Everyone has a story to share and wisdom to impart.
Look for treasure.
Take showers during the day. It is refreshing to be clean.
Pause for a long, hot bath.
See the world through the lens of a camera.
Eat dinner together and share recipes.
Be silly.
Give love.
Wear sunscreen.
Things don't matter, time does.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween


There's a chill in the air when the sun sets down
to rest his head this night.
From the west comes the sound of a thousand souls
bringing with them ghoulish delight.

Over there, what's that!
Why it's only the cat,
named Oliver, he's black you see.

If he crosses your path,
you should probably retract
your paces and run home to be

safe in the arms
of your home without harm
from the beasties that bump 'cross the land.

For on Halloween night,
under full moon's light,
all souls once more take a stand.

Happy haunting!
Jen
PS: The image above is from one of my favorite movies, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. If you're staying home this Halloween night, why not cozy up to the telly for some good old fashioned spooky fun :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick or Treat

The house is lit in orange and gold, the smell of pumpkin spice permeates the air. I walk from room to room, lighting candles, checking windows. It's cold out and I don't want a rogue draft to tip toe in and chill. In the living room, the fire is blazing, and I toss another log on just to be sure. The wind outside is howling, branches scraping the roof of the porch. The jack-o-lanterns are lit, the cobwebs are secured. I wait, a cup of hot cocoa between my hands. An old movie is on, you know, the kind with the old house, haunted by the spirit of a long dead sea captain.

Under a blanket I lie in wait for the first pitter-pat of feet. They come every year, the same time, without fail. Ever since I moved in I've been graced with their presence. On All Hallows Eve, when the clock strikes twelve, a gaggle of ghouls tromps up my front steps. I hear them, voices coming from the dark, whispering and giggling and adjusting masks and sheets. I wait. They shuffle up the steps, making soft sounds, like the wings of tiny birds, very unlike the children from my old neighborhood who would race up to the door and pound.

A tapping on the glass, a soft voice utters, "trick or treat". I smile and make my way to the basket in the foyer. Filled with apples and bread, crackers and cheeses, this is no usual Halloween fare. There's a chocolate or three for each one, but I know what they seek. I open the door, they look up eager, the only house around that welcomes them. No words are exchanged, just the treats. They look into their worn out bags, look up at me and smile through broken masks and tattered sheets. As they turn to go, one little girl rushes back and hugs me, clings to my leg sending a chill up my spine. I pat her head gently, feeling the wisps of her hair, like ice on my cocoa warmed fingers.

"Thank you," she breathes.

"I'll see you next year," I sigh.

I watch them go and the moon comes out, shining full on the little band. As the moon beams cross them, I wrap my blanket about me closer. You think I'd get used to it, the group of spectral children who come from the woods. But every year, as the moon light flows, I can see the trees of the dark forest through them. They turn, they wave, then, in a puff of mist, they are gone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

There is a Soul to Fall

Spring kisses the earth with sun
Summer wraps her in his arms
Winter whispers dreams
But there is a soul to Fall

Spring steps in gently
The kiss of birth and life anew
Summer rushes by
A tumult of wild abandon
Winter floats lazily
On frost covered wings
But there is a soul to Fall

A soul of mystery, of magic, of mischief
The sun can sink behind a thousand clouds of grey
Or pierce the earth with shafts of light intense
Leaves turn out their festive garb
Coming dressed to kill in hues of unbridled passion

Fall is spontaneity
Beauty in the mountains
Apprehension by the sea
A biting, gentle wind
Which whips imagination into being

Clouds dislodge themselves
Creating spectres along the road
The sky a screaming blue
It rains, it snows
Fall is everything, and nothing
An ending, a beginning

Black cats and pumpkins
Time of giving and giving thanks
In Fall there is a time to reflect
A time to be everything you dream

Campfires, marshmallows
Musty books and mugs of tea
Honey gold and deep, red wine

Fall will kiss you with her frosty lips
And transport you to a land of vision
The land of enchantment
In which we grew up
And of which, too soon, out grew

The is a soul to Fall
If we can capture her
Placing her upon the mantle of our souls
Keeping her spirit kindled despite her outward passion
Maybe we will believe again
Hope in all there is to hope
To accomplish the implausible, improbably, impossible

Welcome her, this biting,
Ripping, gentle, wailing
Frightening, comforting
Chilling soul of Fall

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grubby Candles and Quirky Ravens

There's a hint of winter in the air. Just a hint, mind you. Autumn is here and for that I am glad. I got a post card in the mail Saturday. A familiar, brown post card that calls to mind crinkly paper bag lunches and the smell of ink, a smell, to me, like a mixture of blood and fresh air. You know, the thick kind that comes in an ink well for those of us who still enjoy the struggle of a dip nib and the eternal stains between thumb and forefinger, tell-tale signs of an old fashioned writer. The post card announced a sale at a shop my parents introduced me to years ago. The Homestead House sits off a quiet street in North Georgia, a 300 year old cabin, converted to house an assortment of rustic goodies and primitive treasures. The card is hand drawn, hand written, and makes me smile every single time I get it.

I don't get to go for every seasonal sale they have. I maybe get up there twice a year. But it's a treat, a time to look forward to. It brings back memories of my father. He loved the spicy smelling candles, you know, the ones that smell like Halloween smacked into Thanksgiving and oozed happily into Christmas. I still have a jar that one of his favorites came it. I don't have the heart to get rid of it. I'm sure I'll up cycle it into something new, something that makes me smile every time I see it.

The porch of Homestead House groans under the weight of boots and trainers. You have to squeeze in single file the door is so small. The original cabin portion of the shop is tiny; hard to imagine a family living there, working, praying, laughing in that small space. People were closer to each other back then. They had no choice! Every available speck of floor is home to the most luscious displays of folk art delights. Woolly sheep, pillows made from feed sacks, various candles and other wax nick-knacks. My husband jokes that if you can dip it in wax and roll it in cinnamon, you can sell it! I have to agree and intend to do just that one day in my own shop. Ravens perch everywhere! On wardrobes, sofas, stair rails, candle holders, iron chandeliers, even the cash register. I was never a fan of the greedy birds, but their handmade counterparts have stolen my heart as easily as the real thing steals the eggs from other nests. I am the proud owner of one such stuffed "nevermore". He sits on the banister, a little paper flag proudly proclaiming "Primitive" under one wing, a spool for a perch.

A narrow hallway connects the old cabin to the newer portion, still drafty, still creaking under foot. Bottle brush trees decorated with stars, hearts, and pumpkins twinkle with Christmas lights year round. In the autumn, everywhere you turn there are apples, pumpkins, weeping willow motifs and black cats. With Cheshire grins the cats play peek-a-boo from cupboards and corners, some even hanging from the rafters.

They wrap your purchases is plain brown butcher's paper. The bags are paper, with a simple stamp on the front proclaiming simply from where your treasures came. There are soaps that smell like home, candles that smell like fog in the mountains, and potpourri that smells oddly like something in between. I can never quite make it out of there without something. "It followed me home" I tell my husband with a sheepish grin. He smiles, shakes his head, and kisses my forehead. Of course it followed me home. But I encouraged it!

I come away from my visits filled to overflowing with ideas. My fingers itch with creative projects that must be completed. I have notebooks filled with them, all sketched out and ready to go for when I have a few idle moments. I intend to fill my days with cinnamon wax candles and quirky little ravens, and as many of their cousins as I can find the time to make. Perhaps one day my shop dreams will go from idea to online to shop around the corner. I wouldn't carry only rustic findings but I can assure you, you won't have to look far to find a little black cat, a few dozen pumpkins, or a candle that smells suspiciously like my father.
image of raven hooked run from Homestead House website

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Award Ceremony

"Thank you, thank you. I'd like to thank the Academy, my agent, and all the co-stars that made this award possible."

*ahem* That would be all of YOU!!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom sent me a most fabulous Dragon's Loyalty Award. Wander on over to her blog when you have a moment. Her posts always put a smile on my face and make me day! Thanks DG!

Jen

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Praise of Fall

My earliest recollection of fall is of a large tree that once stood in my parents back yard. This large, magnificent maple was sadly lost in one of the many random severe storms that happened one summer. Its arms stretched proudly against the sky and swayed softly with the wind. In the spring and summer, its leaves were full and bright; in the winter, bare branches stood out stark against a gunmetal sky. But in the fall, when the first whisper of cooling temperatures could be heard over the sigh of the pines, the maple's branches filled to over flowing with gold, amber and red. this riot of color was set off by the brilliant blue of an early autumn sky. I remember as a child running around the yard trying to catch the leaves from this tree as they fell. They would tumble and topple, tempting my outstretched fingers and then, just as I was about to claim my prize, dodge my eager grasp and flutter to the ground. In all my years of chasing these elusive treasures, I caught (maybe) three, but the fun I had was worth every foiled attempt.

Fall brings with it a quietness, a calm before the winter holiday storm if you will. There are quiet celebrations all over the world during this time of year: harvest festivals to celebrate the blessings of food and friends. Fall is a chance to "thank you" to God for His bountiful care and to friends and family without whom our lives would be dull and barren.

Every season has its share of celebrations, but to me, fall takes the cake! In my opinion, if Christmas and my birthday came in October, fall would be perfect! It brings to mind turning leaves and farmers bringing in the bulk of summer's bounty. The mountains are alive with boldly painted foliage and the music and dancing of a million festivals. Scents of cinnamon and apple and pumpkin spice mingle with the crispness of the early evening air. Herbs are harvested and the wonderful musk of earth is thick on the gardener's hands.

October rolls in with an entourage of black cats, jack-o-lanterns, the call of a raven and the hoot of a barn owl. Kids of all ages relish in the one night out of the year they can be anyone or anything they want, and eat candy until their stomachs pop!

Yes, I adore fall. It's a feast for the senses and I'm here to tempt you to indulge them. Drive north and take in the beauty of the changing leaves. Sit outside at night and feel the cool mist as it rises off the land. Leave your windows open on a cool night and hear the song of the night birds. Feast upon new recipes which will bring a new sense of delight to your holiday table. Breathe deeply while lingering over hot apple pie, fresh burning wood in a bonfire or the slow engulfing of a marshmallow in flames! It's an excuse to celebrate life. Don't let it pass you by.

Cheers!
Jen
(image found here)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Walk in the Rain

Her feet were bare but no matter. The water would wash away the dirt and grime from a long, hard day. A day of high heels and pressed khakis. A day of waiting for the phone to ring just so she could listen to someone else complain about a fax not working, an email not receiving, a monitor screen turned sideways.

She breathed in deeply, inhaling the smell of autumn rain. Her eyes closed and she exhaled, letting out the stress and frustration of her day. The wind picked up, blew leaves about her, sticking them to her ankles, her knees. Her skirt was wet about an inch up from the hem. She pulled her yellow rain coat about her and stepped out into the mist.

On cue, the clouds opened up and she was caught in a deluge, blurring the world around her, turning the trees, the ivy covered wall into a water color painting. She crossed the brick walkway to the parking lot, to where the rain ran in a small river down hill to the trees which divided her loft from the outside world. The sparrows which resided in the ivy twittered and fluttered in vain attempts to keep their feathers dry. The water ran over her feet, between her toes. A red maple leaf stuck briefly beside her then continued on to the puddle which would be it's final resting place.

She sighed and pushed back her hood. Stretching out her arms, she looked up into the heavens and let the rain wash away everything but that deepest portion of her soul, the part she had to suppress in her day to day. Now she was free. Now she could breathe. Now she was.
(image found here)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Commonplace

Commonplace Book: (n) a book in which noteworthy quotations, comments, etc. are written.

My Thursday posts (um...Friday?!) are intended to be just that. Little vignettes (snippets if you will) of seasonal delights for your enjoyment.

October

Autumn Ingredients for Fall Recipes ~ From the Farm Stand

One of the first things I enjoy doing when the weather starts to get a wee bit cooler is to stop by a local produce stand. The deep colors of pumpkins and squash, the aroma of cider and boiled peanuts wafting to your nostrils as soon as you step out of your car...there's no way you can't help but smile! Potted mums sit atop hay bales, scarecrows with humorous grins slouch in rocking chairs, stuffed ravens clinging to their shoulders. I ooh and ahh at the gourds, deliberate between types of apples, and always (ALWAYS) find a way to carry home a bag of boiled peanuts (a sacred and necessary vegetable here in the South). Indian corn stands in rows of maroon, black, yellow and white and I'm in the mood for fall! Once I'm home, my arms laden with brown paper bags, the fun begins in figuring out just what on earth to do with all this bounty. Here's a few ideas I've gathered ~

Apples ~ baked, fried, sauced with cinnamon, heated in a cider, as a side dish with pork and, of course, in a pie

Squash ~ stuffed into ravioli, baked with butter and brown sugar

Root Veggies ~ parsnips with herb butter, herb roasted chicken with a variety of root veg (carrots, potatoes)

Hearty Greens ~ broccoli, chard, bruschetta topped with spinach or collards

Potatoes ~ baked, fried, champ, bubble and squeak, au gratin, potato salad, pan roasted with rosemary and sea salt, french fries, hash browns, basting in the juice of a succulent roast

Pears ~ baked with cinnamon and brown sugar, poached, stuffed with a bitter cheese such as Gorgonzola, caramelized, raw with a selection of cheeses, along side crisp apples, part of an impromptu smorgasbord of fruits, cheese and wine

Speaking of cider, here's an interesting idea. Have a go at making Lambswool. I promise, no carding, spinning or knitting is required. Lambswool is a special type of wassail (a spiced punch usually made with liquor) which combines roasted apples, raw sugar, grated nutmeg, and shaved ginger with warm, strong ale and served with tiny sweet-cakes floating on its surface. I'm a sucker for cider but I have yet to try this one. It's an old recipe but sounds like just the thing to warm your spirits on a chilly autumn night. I for one would forgo the floating cakes; I hate soggy bread!

Lambswool was usually drunk on 01 November in celebration of the fruits and seeds of the harvest and the spirits which, the ancients believed, watched over them. Sounds like a good libation for a Halloween party, no? This day, known by other names such as All Saints Day and Samhain, was known as "la mas ubal" (pronounced "lamasool" and later "lambswool") which means "The Day of the Apple".

I know we're a month away from "la mas ubal" but there's no harm in brewing up a good old cauldron of Lambswool for all your autumn celebrations. Give it a try this fall, but remember: drink responsibly and you can always do an unleaded version by leaving out the ale. I for one would like to try it both ways. Let me know if you make some! I'm curious :) The closest I've come to having Lambswool was a Hot Toddy in Ireland. Talk about cider with a kick! If that doesn't cure what ails you, I don't know what will.

Have a wonderful weekend, Jen

PS: I just posted the first of a series of posts on Halloween over at my other blog, The Gypsy Scribe. Stop by and take a peak :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Good to be Back


Good morning!

A long rest was just the thing I needed to get my creative juices back in action. I've been working on several new projects at "The Manor" and there are stories a'brewing in my head. I feel like one of those witches in the old Halloween films, standing over a bubbling cauldron. Only instead of eye of newt and leg of worm, I'm chanting adjectives and cursing dangling participles and writer's block!

I hope you are all doing well. It's a lovely grey Tuesday here in Georgia and fall is definitely in the air. The leaves are just beginning to turn. Harvest time is here and people are gearing up for Halloween celebrations, Fall Festivals and Harvest Home gatherings.

I've had wonderful feed back so far on my new blog designs! I thought the vintage Halloween background would make for a whimsical touch for the month of October. I'm initiating a new posting schedule for this blog (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and will be posting on my other two on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I do hope you'll join me at each of those. The links are on the side bar (The Gypsy Scribe and Woolgathering).

Instead of waxing poetical about nothing in particular (a rather Lewis Carroll habit I have cultivated over the years), I thought I'd start this season out with a note of thanks and a little trip down memory lane:

I was raised to love simple things: wood burning stoves, collecting rocks while driving down old dirt roads. We used to pile in the van on Saturdays, stop by the "Cupboard" for a Coke, a Dr. Pepper, two Sprites, peanuts and cream filled crackers. Dad would pour the peanuts into his Coke, Mom would lazily sip her Dr. Pepper, and my sister and I would lick the cream out from between the cookies then toss the empty chocolate shells out of the open windows. Food for the birds, we reasoned. We made up songs about boiled peanuts and groaned when our parents would put in cassettes of that "mountain music". We grew up with vegetable gardens, hammered dulcimers, playing Indians. We bought stuffed black bears and drums every year from Pigeon Forge and erasers that smelled like school boxes from China Berry General Store. Grilled cheese at Cracker Barrel, off the beaten path herb gardens in Shaker and Amish country, old quilts, hurricane lamps, dried flowers from Maine. These things and more-rocking chairs, old Coca Cola crates, Moon Pies-pull me back to the past, to my family, to what really matters. Here's to you, Mom and Dad: Thanks for raising me to love old things and country back roads. And thanks to Boochie, for painting your face red with lipstick and riding the Rudy Coaster 42 times in a row! (Love, Sissy)

Hope your fall is filled with happy memories. Here's to making many, many more.

Cheers!
Jen

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stay Tuned...


I do hope everyone is well! I start my new posting schedule tomorrow. I'll be back in the nest and ready to fly! (Does that even make sense?) I look forward to "seeing" you here again soon :) I have updated my other blogs as well. They are on a different schedule that this one so wander on over and take a peak if you like! The links are on the side bar. Let me know what you think about all my "remodeling".

Happy Monday,
Jen

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pause and Reflect

I know, it's not like I've been this diligent poster or anything, but I will be taking a mini blog-cation for the next two weeks. It's time to re-think my blogs and what it is I'm doing with them, where I want them to go, what I want them to communicate. I appreciate your patience and I do hope to see you here again, bright and early on Monday 05 October when I plan to be back in action, better than ever! You'll still see me around, though. I'll be reading and commenting so never fear. I won't be too far away!

Have a safe, blessed, and happy two weeks!!

Until October,
Jen

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Wanderings

I don't know if it's the cooler weather, the promise of changing leaves, or the simple fact I'm cooped up in an office for 8 hours a day, but I've been battling incurable wanderlust for the past few days! Though I can't travel physically (I was denied a week off in October, even though I requested it in early August), I figured I'd ramble around via the Internet. Lo and behold, what did my wandering eyes see this morning but an email in my inbox filled with travel ideas. Coming from Southern Living Magazine, the weekend getaways and road trips were all for the south, which suits me just fine, considering I live in Georgia.

Now this got me to thinking: maybe I'm not able to go away for a week, but why not a weekend? Or, dare I mention it, a day? So I pulled on my boots, logged on to Google, and decided to do a little travel hunting for my area. I honestly didn't expect to find much. I mean, sure, North Georgia has the mountains and South Georgia has Savannah, but what about we poor souls stuck in the middle? Well, lookey what I found:

First off, who knew there were this many fall festivals in Georgia?

It's nothing spectacular, but my new home town of Hampton has the Bear Creek Festival every September.

I grew up going to Callaway Gardens but I've only recently discovered how much fun the rest of Pine Mountain can be!

And of course, what's a trip to Georgia without a trip to Stone Mountain? For the past five years, my husband and I have been going to the Indian Festival and Pow Wow that's held every November in the park. Not that you'd know it by looking at us, but Jon and I both have Native American blood and it's so wonderful to see first hand how these beautiful people are keeping their traditions alive. They are also huge supporters of veterans and since my father was a Vietnam Vet, part Native American, and lost his life thanks to exposure to Agent Orange, this festival is especially dear to my heart.

Up the interstate we go, to the North Georgia mountains! They ain't the Rockies, and I used to bemoan that fact, until I learned that the Smokey and the Appalachian Mountains are much, much older than the West's lofty peaks. Huh...who knew?

This place is gorgeous! Even without a lot of rain fall to get it going, Amicalola Falls is a spectacular site! The hike to the top is strenuous (especially in the snow!) but it's completely worth the sore knees :)

Dahlonega is just another one of those places I grew up going to without truly appreciating the history of small town life.

In the mood for a little wine tasting?

Tiger Mountain Vineyards : "Tiger Mountain Vineyards is nestled on a hillside high up in Rabun County, on the rocky, sunny slopes of the North Georgia mountains. Our vineyard is small, the vines individually tended and the grapes hand-picked for quality. Our red wines are barrel-aged 18 to 24 months. Visit the vineyards and enjoy barrel-room tastings!"

Frogtown Cellars : "Frogtown is a 57 acre wine estate located at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains equal distance between Dahlonega and Cleveland Georgia. Frogtown encompasses 40 acres of vineyards and a tri-level gravity flow winery specifically designed to produce the unique wines made from Frogtown grapes.In 1998, native Atlantans Craig and Cydney Kritzer founded Frogtown in a location carefully selected for quality wine grape production and outstanding mountain views, the Frogtown District of Lumpkin County, Georgia. After researching Frogtowns soil, diverse climates and terrain, Craig divided the land up into separate vineyards. He planted different wine grape varieties based on the characteristics of each vineyard site. Frogtown is now home to 40 acres of vineyards planted to 17 different wine grapes varieties, both red and white."

Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery :"Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery is a small family farm situated on a hundred and eighty acres in the heart of the Frogtown District in historic Lumpkin County, Georgia. Located eight miles northeast of the site of the first major US gold rush, Dahlonega, the farm's name was inspired by the property's spectacular view of Lumpkin County's Three Sisters Mountain. While no one knows the origin of the name of Three Sisters Mountain, local residents refer to its three distinctive peaks as Wild Cat, McBrayer, and Rattlesnake. Established in 1996 and bonded in 2000, Three Sisters Vineyards is Lumpkin County's first vineyard since prohibition and holds the distinction of being 'Dahlonega's First Family Farm Winery'."

Of course, I can't leave out Chateau Elan, North Georgia's Spa, Vineyard and Golf Course getaway. One of these days, I'm going to have to treat myself :)

Once upon a time, Sautee was a dot on the road map and an accidental find on the way to the bustling Alpine town of Helen. It's grown up, just a bit, but the charm I remember from my childhood days rambling the hills with my parents and sister is still there, in overflowing quantities. Just don't drive too fast, or you'll miss it!

Two of my favorite places in the whole world are The Homestead House and Hearts and Flowers. To a less discerning eye, they don't look like much, just old log cabins sitting on the side of the road. But for me, they hold more memories than I can stand of a childhood filled with pumpkin spice candles, running wild in rivers and streams, and painting my face red with lipstick so my sister and I would be real, bonafide Indians! Not to mention my mother frequents them at least once a season and, being the good daughter I am, I certainly can't let her go without a chaperon ;) It's practically impossible to go in either of these shops and leave without at least a spice scented candle in your grasp! Or a stuffed raven. Or a sachet filled with Sweet Annie. Or...

That should be enough to get me started. There's so much more out there than you imagine. Too many times, on the quest for new and exciting, we overlook our own home towns and the surrounding areas. What gems have you discovered on the back roads and byways of your home state?

Happy traveling!
Jen

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Musings

"All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible."
~ T.E. Lawrence

Here's to being dangerous!
Jen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For!

OK, well, maybe not all of you, but I'm sure excited to be posting these!!! It took me a week from moving in to get these babies up, but I finally got them uploaded to my computer (we have Internet access, hoozah!) and re sized (a feat not for the faint of heart) and voila! Welcome, to our new home. Or, as well like to call it, The Manor.

Boxes abound as we begin to slowly move stuff in. We started a week and a half ago on a Friday, but didn't get the U-Haul until that following Sunday.


That's the view from the living area looking into the kitchen. The box you see is our pantry. On top of the box is a spot I intend to turn into a writing/prayer sanctuary. First, I have to find a ladder...

This is the view from the front door, through the boxes and trash and into the kitchen. The sofa acts as a divider between entryway and living space. You can see our dining area just this side of the bar and the kitchen beyond that.

Um, yeah, so I have a thing for books. I'm thinking about going for therapy. But there are worse things I could be addicted to. Drugs, alcohol, shoes...

Things finally started taking shape. My wonderful, awesome husband filled up those bookshelves. Yes. There are still more on the floor, but that's irrelevant. Look at the shelves, look at the shelves :)

The sitting area in full bloom. All our furniture has been given to us so it's quite a hodgepodge of colors and patterns. It's not our taste, but hey, it gets the job done! And I'm very thankful for the gifts :)

Ah, that's better. Neatly stacked books on shelves and floor beneath a map of the world. What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than in the company of books?

Here's our living space. The bookshelf under the window is filled with magazines. Another addiction. I'm not seeking help for that one. My rosemary and burnet plants are thriving in the window. I can't wait to make some vinegar soon!

This is the upstairs "studio" area of the loft. It's a big open room with a small bedroom and second bath adjacent to it (to the right). It will serve as my art studio and the small bedroom will be my husband's office. The closet is going to become a dark room.

This is the master bath. Oooh, I've never said that before in regards to a place I lived. The tub is heaven! I lived without one for four years. In the garage we only had a shower. I never knew what a luxury a bath tub was until I went without. Now I could drown happily beneath scented bubbles and hot water :)

This is the kitchen sans boxes. The red is actually growing on me. It's more of a maroon than a true red and it goes well with the charcoal grey of the cabinets. Which, by the way there are a LOT of! And did I mention I have a gas stove! Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

Another view of the living area. The plain chair is actually going in a nook in our bed room. I had pictures of the bedroom and several others of the rest of the loft but, alas, photo shop ate them!

This is the view from upstairs in the studio. That part to the left is the pantry where I want to make my sanctuary. Funny story! Our loft was actually used to film an HGTV show several years ago. No one recalls the name of the show but the company that filmed it was Loft 5 productions. Anyway, they had a three piece band that stood up on the pantry and played! Three guys and their instruments can get up there, I know little ol' me can!

There you have it! That's a brief tour of our loft...er...The Manor! As soon as we get all the boxes and trash out, I'm going to do one more photo shoot of The Manor. Also, the town is so neat. It's chock full of inspiration! I can't wait to start using it in my stories.
I hope you all had a marvelous weekend! Enjoy this four day work week! I know I will!
Cheers!
Jen