Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So Long Winter; Welcome Puddle-Wonderful Spring

Last week, old man winter exhaled one last blast of Arctic air. He left behind about seven inches of cold on the ground as his exclamation point. This last gasp left me angry. How dare he chase away the robins I had seen just beginning to peak out from under their covers?

In defiance, I went to the sunroom and retired the chocolate-brown fur throws and snowmen pillows.
I replaced them with spring-green blankets.

Then I took my stand by placing primroses in the center of the dining-room table.

Next, I stored the porcelain snowballs that had been in the wire basket on my front porch just waiting for a fight, and replaced them with more congenial pansies.

Still not satisfied with my assault, I decided to make a spring-worthy wreathe in robin's egg blue.

I found instructions on line at: After making my supply list, I sloshed through slush to a local fabric outlet to purchase ribbon in various shades and widths of aqua, mint, and blue.

The wreathe instructions called for five yards of nine varieties of ribbon. The Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, where I have purchased fabric for years is liquidating (sniff-sniff), but still had plain colored satin and grosgrain ribbon in a variety of widths and shades. I purchased about 30 yards of ribbon there, before snow-plowing over to AC Moore to buy the straw wreathe form and three other rolls of ribbon--one zigzag-striped, another polka dotted, and a third fuzzy rickrack.

The on-line instructions said anyone--children to adults--could make this wreathe in about an hour. It took me several hours. :) It wasn't hard, just time consuming.

First, you cut the ribbon into four inch lengths. Then beginning with one color of ribbon, you twirl it into a circle and pin it onto the straw form. I found it took two pins to hold each curl in place. Working with the first color of ribbon, you cover the wreath scattering the color evenly around the circle. Then you follow suit with each color. As you fill in the circle, the wreathe takes on a perky personality.

When I finished, I flung open the front door to hang my handiwork. Unhappily, a sharp blast of cold air took my breath away. However, the persistent old man isn't going to have the last word. His days are numbered.

Some day soon, I will be able to open the door and invite Spring inside. Until then, I will settle on this "mud-luscious", "puddle-wonderful" season.

[in Just-]

                               in Just- 
                               spring          when the world is mud- 
                               luscious the little 
                               lame balloonman 

                                whistles          far          and wee 

                                 and eddieandbill come 
                                 running from marbles and 
                                 piracies and it's 

                                 when the world is puddle-wonderful 

                                  the queer 
                                  old balloonman whistles 
                                  far          and             wee 
                                  and bettyandisbel come dancing 

                                  from hop-scotch and jump-rope and 




                                    balloonMan          whistles 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Celebrating a Life

I have been missing-in-action the past few weeks for good reason--a death in the family. My father-in-law passed away. He had been ill for a few years, so it was a long goodbye. He is now at home with his Savior.

As we planned his memorial service and arranged for friends and family from far and near to celebrate his life with us, I came to appreciate several aspects of our American-funeral-tradition.

First, funerals bring loved ones together. Why do we wait for a death to see cousins, aunts and uncles? We shouldn't, because these ties reinforce us when the winds-of-life bend us.  

Second, a memorial service is motivational. Reviewing my father-in-law's life spurred the rest of us on to copy his work-ethic, his love for the Bible, and his life investment in mentoring others. 

And last, Christian funeral services comfort our hearts as we are reassured that heaven awaits those who have accepted Christ's gift of forgiveness. 

In this vein, the poem by Emily Dickinson "The Bustle in a House" is memorable, because it captures the finality of death on earth, but the hope of reunion in eternity.
The Bustle in a House
Emily Dickinson

The bustle in a house
the morning after death
is solemnest of industries
enacted upon earth.

The sweeping up the heart
and putting love away
we shall not want to use again
until eternity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Church Office Conversion

First, let me be clear. Conversion, in this post, does not refer to a rebel on his knees in a pastor's study opening his life to the Lord's dynamic intervention. Rather, this post is about a space conversion, the adaptation of a space for a different use. Stick with me and learn about: adaptive reuse.

Proclamation Presbyterian is a mission congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Founding minister, Rev. Troy DeBruin, rented an office on Main Street in Mt Joy, Pennsylvania. This temporary space is close to the Church of God building where the fledgling congregation meets each Sunday evening at 5 p.m.

At the end of the summer, I undertook the challenge of helping the pastor turn an ugly, on-the-street office into an inviting, multi-use church base.

The new church headquarters is two rooms, a large outer room and an inner office. The outer, multipurpose room is about 13 by 30 feet, and the inner room is 16 by 19 feet. Both rooms have nine-foot ceilings.

Originally, the outer room walls were painted fatigue green and the woodwork bisque. Because we were working with a bare bones budget, I decided to change only the wall color and work with the  neutral woodwork. After all, this is rented--not permanent--space. In the fall, a group of volunteers came and helped us give the walls two coats of Benjamin Moore paint (linen white).

I purchased a comfortable sofa and chair covered in a soft, yet durable, wool and had floor-to-ceiling draperies constructed to warm up the huge room.

On the wall where a folding table served as a make-shift desk, we placed bookcases.

The ping-pong table which leaned against the opposite wall was adapted to become a conference table. 
It was painted Benjamin Moore Roxbury caramel to match the draperies.When young people drop by, a net and paddles resurface, the conference room chairs are wheeled out the way, and the table can again see competition.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the main room, the young pastor has a stand-up desk where he can work when his desk chair gets uncomfortable.

 Hidden behind the stand-up desk is a microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee maker.

With the outer room ready for guests, the inner office needed to be refreshed. When the church first rented the space, the bare walls and temporary furniture made the room look makeshift.

However, a couple more gallons of linen white paint and two more sets of ceiling-to-floor draperies   transformed the space.

Then, new-to-the-church desks and credenzas add professionalism to the office.

Now the space is being used by all ages--from tots enjoying daddy's computer, to teenagers playing pingpong, to adults at prayer.
This is what I call adaptive reuse!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Facelift Takes Years Off a Bath

Before Christmas we decided to give our master bathroom a facelift, nothing major, just a nip and a tuck. The makeover began, as they all do, with the modest intention of a minimally invasive procedure: merely a paint job.

However, when I looked at the room with a critical eye, I had to admit the once-classic-beauty had the design-equivalent of drooping eyelids and a sagging jaw line. Now mind you, I did not want to spend the price of a real facelift :).  I just wanted to tweak the room without breaking the bank. How much would it take to refresh the lady?

Ferreting ideas from Pinterest and Houzz, I embraced the makeover maxim: subtraction before addition. First, off came the peeling wallpaper. Although I loved the paper when we built the home, the surfaces had steamed for twenty years producing a not-so-youthful glow.
Beige and mint wallpaper was definitely over-the-hill.
Next, I studied the room's bones and realized that, whereas youth is streamlined, this lady was--well, shall we delicately say--embellished.  Soffits above the double sinks and cabinetry around the mirrors crowded the space. 
Away they went.
A new face emerged.

Losing the excess was so freeing, we also eliminated the upper door of the corner cupboard.
Ah, less is more!
With the nips & tucks behind us, we were ready to contour a youthful vibe. I had the walls painted a Benjamin Moore Color Stories selection called "picnic basket", purchased a pair of gilded mirrors from the 1940s, and lighted the vanity with three Circa sconces.  

The old embroidered cafe curtains were country, not cool.

I replaced them with sleek Roman shades. 
(Drapes made by Pat Martin of Going Home Interiors.)
Now we step, instead of onto the needlepoint Victorian runner,

 onto a contemporary dhurrie rug. 

I love how the fleur-de-lis rug pattern acknowledges the Napoleonic motif on top of the mirrors.

 Finally, I splurged on a lighted makeup mirror (since I am not getting any younger myself)...
 and a new shower head for my husband.

Actually, the master-bath face lift didn't break the bank. We kept our flooring and countertops and  didn't move or replace any plumbing fixtures. Yet, I think you'd agree, she looks years younger!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Best After-Holiday Return

A local greenhouse has an annual return-your-poinsetta-and-get-twenty-percent-off-a-house-plant sale. I try to take advantage of the deal, because by late January I am ready to be done with Christmas decorations.
  This year, I replaced the poinsettia with a white cyclamen surrounded by white-tipped ivy.
Besides the new centerpiece, I also got some new plants for around the house to replace ones that had shriveled from lack of care. These are white speckled plants called a Domino Peace Lily.

 They don't require light, but they do need a drink regularly.

I have a personal aversion--no matter how realistic looking--to fake plants--be they plastic or even silk. If it isn't real, I would rather not have it. The only exception to this is glass or pottery blossoms, but even they too aren't as good as the real thing.

However, I don't have a particularly green thumb so I have to be careful which plants I choose. They can't be finicky or require careful monitoring. So, here are my tried and true favorites: jade plants which don't require much water,

succulents, and mini-palm trees thrive when they are ignored.
And perhaps, the most foolproof "plants"--curly willow twigs. They don't require light or water, but then they don't bloom either.

Every once in awhile I succumb and purchase plants that require care. Why? I guess, because "hope springs eternal in the human breast."

Two plants I have been coddling are these fiddle-leaf figs. They like lots of light and weekly watering. After I got them, they each lost a main branch of leaves and only recently have each sprouted another branch. The verdict is still out as to whether these will survive my black thumb.

I encourage everyone to splurge on blossoms this winter. Even if they won't last more than a few weeks, their fresh beauty will brighten your days.