Monday, February 27, 2006

Crochet Versus the Cordless Drill

I taught myself some simple crochet a couple of weeks ago. Have been wanting something to do that was pacifying and enjoyed it so much I told my students in my classes they would all be crocheting a scarf. One red-haired boy on the basketball team had a fit saying it was too feminine. He went to the counselor to try and drop the class and was told too bad, you signed up and are stuck in the class. I told him he could do a scarf for his coach. He wasn't buying it, but has adjusted, though he still thinks crochet is for girls.
Yesterday I borrowed my husband's cordless screwdriver. What a shock to find out how easy my job was. I put up a coat rack in a couple of seconds. Instead of using a stud finder (yes, he has one of those too) I knocked on the wall, but it went up slick as could be....which reminded me of all the times I asked Bob to put up things for me and he acted like it was such a chore. I now understand the male mind a little better. Power tools are for men because they need them. Women are much more self-sufficient out of necessity (in my mind). We are used to getting by with whatever we have. Ever heard a man say he could do a job, but he does not have the right tools? That's what they mean.
It also occurs to me that there is a basic difference between the sexes. Men sit back and design things to make their lives easier while women rely on inventors (mostly men?) to invent things for them? And we wonder why our day is never done? ---
Looking forward to the new Simon C. show on inventions. I have already seen some little machines and also there are factory machines that make a scarf, but sometimes some things are better made the old-fashioned, time consuming way.
The little red-head basketball player should thank me for letting him in on one of life's best kept secrets.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

And More Procrastinations....

Did the individual photos for the yearbook, then everything in the house seemed more know how that goes...caught up the laundry, worked on bills, cleaned up my husband's trails through the house, sorted more piles of things, put up curtain rods, and watched the final Dancing with the Stars..was glad Drew won...they were all good in their own season yet for the show...should help them get more stars interested in appearing on it next year.---
Have decided after all that wallpaper stripping and painting that the boys bedroom/den lacks warmth, so am going to wallpaper again!!! Our daughter is in her new bedroom and loves it! Light chartreuse walls with pinks, purples and other girly colors. Guess I didn't mention...our daughter is now 27...she was born with brain damage and is about 31/2 yrs. mentally. I wanted this bedroom to be an environment and she is loving it. Will post pictures soon as the yearbook gets done, which it will in time. I'm a huge procrastinator on some things.
My bed is calling me...reminds me of a favorite story from childhood....about a bed that ran away because the little boy didn't want to go night-night..That's never a problem for me...most nights I pass out when my head hits the pillow.
Will sign off the way I do with friend Jude...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Making Quiche & Other Procrastinations...

Woke at 8 a.m.

This weekend has to be all about working on our school yearbook. My students took all the it is for me to understand the online software to get it published by the end of this month.
I knew this interest in the house was taking time I should have been spending on the book and today found even more ways to procrastinate.
Bob was expecting a call from a buddy so would not let me tie up the phone line with the computer. I drove to town for gas at Sunoco and a 20 oz. cup of hot English Toffee latte. Nothing else seemed open in town so stopped at the local hardware. Spoke with Wes, son of the original owner. We traded opinions on the state of teaching, wearing clothing that is comfy but not stylish, and our kids. He's a smart and opinionated guy, but loosey-goosey fun-loving! He runs a summer hot air balloon launch and a mini Woodstock near town. We often say the town should be named after his family as most of the buildings, with the exception of the funeral directors' properties, belong to him.
Home again, I began sorting through the archeological digs I call our bedroom. It now has literally piles of things all over the floor. Airing out the mattress and have to put off working on it until later. Told Bob he gets the couch or den tonight again. He's still sick from the longest flu in history!
Friend Judy calls to ask me to go to lunch with her at a favorite cafe...darn, I want to go but would feel guilty. She still has her fake Christmas trees up, but without the ornaments. Wants to take them down, but not a priority yet. Something you do when the snow flies, I guess! Jude is so much fun. We seem to be having parallel experiences these days.
I decided I must clean the refrig. Filled one of the deep shelves on the door with soapy water, thinking myself quite clever for making a container out of it while I cleaned. Sorted the refrig. onto the cleaned shelves and then resorted the freezer. Found some ham and broccoli and a pie crust to bake so decided to try my first ever quiche. I eat quiche with my usual hot chai tea every morning during the work week from a local coffee house. I thought it must be easy. Began by dumping eggs into the unbaked pie crust, salt, pepper, shredded cheddar cheese, broccoli and shredded pieces of deli ham. Got out my 75th edition Better Homes & Gardens cookbook to see if I was missing anything. It cracked when I opened it as I never cook. Oops, the pie crust had to be half baked first, so dumped out ingredients and did that. It also mentioned adding half and half, but then you could use sour cream, so I added a fat free version. Green onions were also listed, but had none, so added onion flakes. Put foil around the edges of the crust so it would not burn and stuck it back in the oven. When I got it out the foil stuck to the crust and pulled it apart. I just tried it (Bob said I had better not give him any!) and it is edible but sour tasting and the broccoli is dominant. For a first try it could have been better, but was ok. Jude is a master of quiche. Will have to have her give me cooking lessons.
On to the yearbook. Can see the rest of the weekend being devoted to designing page after page. Wish me luck. I've not been on time with my due dates the last couple of years and am sure my company rep. has little faith in me this time either.
Enjoy your weekend wherever you are.

Friday, February 24, 2006

They Passed the Test!

Photo credit: Eric Sucar, The Daily Messenger / AP

Excerpts from article by: BEN DOBBIN, AP

Autistic Team Manager Makes Hoop Dream Come True
High School Senior Scores 20 Points in Waning Moments of His Only Game

GREECE, N.Y. (Feb. 24) - Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team - keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.

That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.
McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.
"I ended my career on the right note," he told The Associated Press by phone Thursday. "I was really hotter than a pistol!"
In recent days, McElwain's phone has hardly stopped ringing. When his family went out for a meal, he was mobbed by well-wishers. A neighborhood boy came by to get a basketball autographed.
McElwain, 5-foot-6, was considered too small to make the junior varsity, so he signed on as team manager. He took up the same role with the varsity, doing anything to stay near the sport he loves. Coach Jim Johnson was impressed with his dedication, and thought about suiting up McElwain for the home finale.
His performance was jaw-dropping: 20 points in four minutes, making 6-of-10 3-point shots. The crowd went wild.
"It was as touching as any moment I have ever had in sports," Johnson told the Daily Messenger of Canandaigua.
McElwain didn't begin speaking until he was 5. He lacked social skills but things got easier as he got older. He found many friends and made his way through school in this Rochester suburb, although many of his classes were limited to a half-dozen students. And he found basketball.
On the varsity, he never misses practice and is a jack-of-all-trades.
"And he is happy to do it," Johnson said. "He is such a great help and is well-liked by everyone on the team."
Even though McElwain was in uniform for the Feb. 15 game, there was no guarantee he would play - Athena was battling for a division title.
The fans, however, came prepared. One section of students held up signs bearing his nickname "J-MAC" and cutouts of his face placed on Popsicle sticks.
The Trojans opened a large lead against the team from the nearby Spencerport. With four minutes left, McElwain took the court to deafening cheers.
"The thing about Jason is he isn't afraid of anything," his father told the newspaper. "He doesn't care what people think about him. He is his own person."
"As soon as the first shot went in that's when I started to get going," he said.
On the next attempt, he got another 3-pointer. Then another, and another. In fact, he would have made one more 3, but his foot was on the line, so he had to settle for 2 points.
Greece Athena won 79-43, and pandemonium reigned. McElwain signed autographs, posed for pictures and was hoisted by his teammates.
The Trojans begin sectional play Saturday and McElwain will be on the bench again, wearing his usual shirt and tie.
It doesn't bother him. More important, he said, is "trying to win a sectional title for the team."
McElwain will soon be done with high school basketball, then enroll in business management this fall at Monroe Community College.
"I'll go on to college and I'll try to hoop there," he said. "I just love it, it's one of the greatest sports in the world."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Begging Bowl

Our minister up north in the summers gave the best sermon I have ever heard, called "The Begging Bowl". He said that we plan our lives with day planners, etc. in increments of 15 to 30 min. a slot and don't leave time for miracles. That monks in monasteries used to go out with begging bowls and whatever food or money they were given provided for their daily needs. They never knew from day to day what the begging would bring, but always had faith in it.

He said today, we all need to save time in our lives for the unexpected miracles and if we are not looking for them they will pass by us unnoticed, unappreciated, and wasted. He said he kept an empty bowl on his desk to remind him of the miracles that would fill his bowl every day.

I live my life with that begging bowl on my desk, but also in my mind. Every day is an adventure and the tougher things get, the more I let go to allow miracles to flow.

Last night as I was moving furniture back into the bedrooms I worked on, a futon bed frame just would not fit through the bedroom door from the hall. I tried to figure it out and then decided to just go with it and trust in a miracle. I swear to you it glided right through that door and there really was no way it looked like it was going to fit. If I can't find things, I clear my head and wait for a miracle to lead me to them, and almost always I am led to them.

It is amazing the things that show up in life on a daily basis that seem to fit together as if by magic. You run into someone who mentions something that leads you to a solution to a problem. Chance? No, I believe the miracles in life are the pieces of a giant puzzle all fitting together to make our lives flow the way they are supposed instead of starting each day with a rigid plan...I allow it to flow.

Somehow life seems much better that way.

Enjoy the rest of your week.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Seems Like A Monday...

This will be brief...
Returning to the work week I discovered teacher conferences are this week.
The good news is that we have Friday off ,so a three day weekend coming up...Whoopee!

Finished the dread second bedroom last night. After painting the room all light blue on top of old wallpaper, watching the seams open up, 12 hours steaming the wallpaper off with a rental machine from National Rental, plastering cracks, 2 hours sanding, washing down the walls, two coats of primer and one coat of top coat I cannot believe I am not done! The color is too light. But I need a break, so will put in the rest of the furniture and put on one last coate of slightly darker taupe. on Friday. A teacher friend with exceptional taste just painted her kitchen a medium taupe. and I think with luck it might be the color I want. I would not be so worried about the color, but I am not one of those hire people to paint every season...these walls will stay the same color until we leave this house. I know what I like and when I am satisfied, I live happily with it for a long, long time.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kitchen / January 2006 Redo

I started wanting a French Country look, then it expanded to more
of a European theme with the Scotch poster, Italian red & green as
accent colors, and the French chef. The hardest part of the whole
thing was getting the check wallpaper on straight on the old walls.
It now looks almost like fabric on the walls. The only thing left to
do is to tile a backsplash behind the stove and main cabinets area
shown above and put in new counter tops.

Family Rm. / December 2005 Redo

Taking current photo of finished room
and will add it asap....

Putting up new red/green plaid wallpaper and
wall board.

Bargain lamps found at Walmart
for $7.40 ea.

Walls with old wallpaper coming off...

House Layout 101

This is our tiny home layout.
The two bedrooms at the
bottom are currently being
worked on...I am determined to
be DONE with them today!!

The next room to be worked
on will be finishing up the
Master Bdrm., then the laundry
rm. (top of white rectangle entry
hall off gray deck), and then the tiny bathroom which needs to be
demolished and totally redone.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My Dream Team: Kenneth and Candice

To have my two favorite designers helping me on this house
we live in, or the cottage, would be a dream come true.
We have no cable during the winter months as we are just
too busy, but have satellite in the summer months and I
I am glued to HGTV anytime Kenneth Brown or Candice
Olson are on...

Kenneth Brown's show Redesign is an American Icon of a show.
His low key colors and smooth contemporary designs make any room he does an environment that is calm, masculine and just plain cool. While his sketches leave a lot to be desired (a kid's crayon drawing would be as good!) he clearly has each project pictured in his mind. His soft-spoken personality often does not challenge the owners preferences as much as I would like and sometimes he has to prove his ideas will work. If they know of his reputation they should trust him anyway. Kenneth is a west coast designer with all the polish and finesse of a couture designer...he has class dripping out of his handsome tanned hands and blonde surfer locks. I like his lack of conceit and appreciate his not jumping all over the screen as some designers do. No jokes or frenzy here...just good solid design that nurtures like nature.

( Photos of Kenneth and Candice are from )

Candice Olson of Divine Design on HGTV inspires the romantic side of me in decorating. Watching her go through the process of redesigning a room is like a trip to the candy truly is devine! I love her fashionable design sketches that are amazing works of art. Unlike Debbie Travis who bombards a neighborhood with her wham bang wildly colorful overdues (though I love Debbie's personality) Candice works almost behind the scenes coordinating the effort. For one, she takes her time, spends money on things that count like quality drapes and lighting (expertly accomplished by my favorite electrician Chico). She uses her own carpenter and male seamster as well as taking into consideration the needs of her client's. The only problem is that she is based in Toronto, Canada and does not cross the border south. Favorite episodes are the private bath for the couple with children that turned into a classy retreat complete with a chandelier above the tub , stencil painted and gilded faux wallpaper and a striking tile designed floor.. it was absolutely gorgeous! Also like her bedroom redos, especially the little girl rooms. I have literally jumped up in the air and let out an emphatic "Yes!" when her final rooms are unveiled...try to have that same feeling over those two day makeover shows!
Candice has been featured in Home and Home & Garden Magazines. She also has a book on design available at most bookstores, but to really appreciate her style and professional design secrets, you need to take the time to watch her show.

I've Been Had!

The Midwest Lemonade husband Bob made today
was a hoax and I fell for it. He told me he only used
lemons and water. I knew it tasted too sweet, but
he bought Sunkist lemons and they are fresh...
found the lemonade can in the trash...said 28 g. of sugar!

That's ok....Bob doesn't know I am doing this blog!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tweet Tweet

Ambrosia Porcelain

When I was a child a babysitter gave us a box of candy with a
tiny clear glass pitcher. I'm not sure why I love that so much,
but it sits in my kitchen to this day.

I felt the same way when I came across the
Ambrosia Porcelain site where I am ordering one of their
one-of-a-kind pieces called"curious pots" (the small bowl
with the bird perched on the side) They're very small,
about 2.5" - 3"in diameter, and are $39.00.
Other than being shown in the picture, this
item does not have a page yet on the site.

But everything on Ambrosia Porcelain's site is
so adorable you will want
to place an order on the spot.
Add to that the folksy nature of the two owners
with artistic and musical backgrounds,
Linda Gale Aubry and Miriam Aubry, and your impulse is
to hop a plane to visit them in their studio.

I think they best describe my attachment to their work
in this quote from the site...

"Remember the cup that you always reached for,
and the bowl that was “yours” as a child?
We offer the grown-up versions of those magical things.
From soap dishes to cereal bowls, creamers to coffee cups,
each piece of our tableware is individually formed and hand
painted, using traditional materials in innovative ways.
'Your work makes me smile' is the most frequent comment we hear. "
Well, Miriam and Linda Gale...your work makes me smile :>) too !!
Linda AubryMiriam Aubry
phone: 617.838.5003 North Andover, MA
(photo by Linda Gale Aubry /site design by
Note: This site is featured this week on

Getting Plastered

No, this is not a picture from Iraq. This is me this afternoon sanding the plaster patched walls in the second bedroom for the boys bedroom/den. in a dust cloud.

Plans changed for tonight...not babysitting the grandsons as the other grandma is available and willing... so am waiting for the dust to settle in the bedroom. Took a shower and decided to blog until heading back in there to wash the walls with a damp sponge and then put on the primer when dry. The walls aren't perfect, but hey this house is old.

When I first met husband Bob he already owned this 20 acre farm. We came here after our first date on a Sunday because he wanted to check on a sick goat he was nursing back to health. The house smelled musty and our voices echoed from lack of furnishings. Most of the walls had dark paneling on them and ceiling lights instead of lamps, so it seemed very dark and dingy.There were empty beer cans climbing the wall next to the refrig.! He had a wooden church pew for a couch. We watched the wizard of Oz on a small TV in front of the only fireplace in the house (we now have two). I had always lived in the city so this seemed like an adventure. I was 29 and Bob was 31. We met in March, were engaged in June, and married in August.

Before we married we were working on the house and I started to cry telling Bob I could not marry him after all because I hated this old farmhouse. He reassured me that I could do "anything I wanted to the house". That got me through it. I remind him of that now and he tells me that he meant to add, "anything he liked".

Back to the bedroom. Tell you more about the makeover later with photos included.
Hope you are having a great Saturday night, wherever you are...


Friday, February 17, 2006

Summer Cottage/Home

Our summer home in the north with a view of the lake as far as you can see is like going back in time. We live on no schedules. Plans for the day are made spontaneously. The weather is never really what they predict as we live on the shoreline and the temps off the lake change things. The electric goes out after a bad storm and I have seen magnificent storms brewing as they come across. We also have spectacular sunsets as we face the west.
We've owned this place for over ten years. It is still a work in progress.

More on it as the season draws near.

Winter Home...

Our winter home after a snow looks like a cabin in the woods.
We've had the flu this know, the sore throat kind complete with chills, headache, and a nagging cough.

Most of my weekends I'm indoors anyway. This one is a long one. Was home two days off work and have this Monday off for President's Day.

Slept most of Friday away. Saturday will be sanding plaster fill, washing walls, priming and painting one of two bedrooms I've been working on. Our daughter gets the larger bedroom, while the grandsons and our son, when they visit, get the smaller bedroom/den. Her room is already painted a soft chartreuse and the other room will be a soft taupe if I picked up the right color at Lowe's.

Once the rooms are put back together will post photos of them, plus other rooms finished and working on.

Will resurface to post on Sunday, as watching the two grandsons at their house on Saturday night.

Have a great Saturday.

Where the Heart Is...

It would figure that in my childhood we lived in only two homes. This is the 2nd one and it holds the most lasting memories for me. Funny how every inch of that house not only can I picture in detail, but it's as if scenes from movies play out in my head as well, of a time spent moment in time forever burned in my memory.

The house became home to two different families since our parents sold it.

Our grandfather designed and built the home and it's my wish that oneday it will be back in the family.How, I am uncertain ,and at a cost far above the original sale.

Still, one can dream.

My Blogging Mentor...

Check out Grace's highly popular blog . She's received numerous awards and well justified recognition. I check it almost daily for the latest in all kinds of design...She is at the front of Contemporary Design and keeps her posts current and varied. Great writing style. I know you will want to go back over and over, as I do.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Everything in 2's

Two homes, one up north for the summers and the other a state away the rest of the year. No connection between them. It's easy to forget the other exists as the lifestyles are so diverse. Right now I have undertaken to do extreme makeovers on both residences, as cheaply as possible, as environments are becoming increasingly important to me.

Come to think of it, Two seems to be my magic number...
Two children, two grandchildren. Two brothers, one sister but together we make two. Two wonderful parents I constantly thank God for....

Two occupations: my day at work teaching school and at home trying to address daily issues as they arise.

Two husbands...well, sort home, my life partner husband Bob with the gorgeous blue eyes is my mentor, friend, comedian, and all. And my "work husband" who mirrors my husband's personality as much as I mirror his wife's personality. Two bosses, two secretaries that keep me up to date (Ginny and Kathy are the best secretaries in the entire universe!!!).

Even when I shop I buy at least two of everything so I don't have to make a second trip.

I have numerous friends (who are not off the hook as they will be mentioned in time as well!) but the two I am in contact with the most are Jude and Linda. Both could not be more worlds apart. One lives in a beautiful new home in the woods, married with one child. The other in a vintage home in town, divorced many years, having raised five children. The one thing they both have in common are great sense of humor and venting with great vocabularies!

Two ...well, you get the picture...sort of the ying/yang existence I live.

My blog is about simplifying my life working with the twos. I hope in some way I will touch common chords of experience that make you feel you aren't so alone after all.

Until two-morrow!