Tuesday, November 29, 2011

all things girly-girl - part six

Little Project No. 10...

By the time our peanut was born, our expectant parents’ list of the things we wanted to teach her, make for her, provide for her, had grown to be one of 1001. We wanted to not place importance on “things” however, but rather have her develop a love and appreciation for those tokens and treasures given from the heart and made by hand, or at least with the tiniest bit of creativity, and with the appreciation as to how they came to be. Joe and I both being the sentimental softies we are, believe that in addition to traditions and customs, heirlooms and cherished pieces of our history or that of our ancestors are a big part of providing us with something tangible of our roots...something we can hold on to while in keeping and awaiting becoming yet the next generation's precious piece of family history.

As probably has grown obvious by now throughout Lizzy's room redo, I find myself living my childhood all over again at times vicariously through Eliza’s. What little girl wouldn’t enjoy afternoons of playing dress-up with tea sets and hosting parties for Teddy and imaginary friends? Altho I’m not quite sure why I didn’t, I, for some reason, had that image along with countless others when we found out we were having a little girl. I remember wanting a play table and chairs so badly but Mom was a single parent, often times working two jobs to make ends meet. It was understood that you keep your wishlist short, realistic and practical...bells and whistles were often hard to come by altho much to her credit, we did have them on occasion. That being the case, and accepted with a true appreciation for all we did have, it still didn’t negate the fact that I wanted one!  In remembering that in our pregnancy, it found itself on the list of “all things girly-girl” that I would attempt to give to her at some point in time. So Joe and I being ever so slightly creative in thought with hopefully capable hands to match as only time would tell, set out to make one for Lizzy and came up with this.
Made of wood, we gave it to her for her 3rd Christmas. Of course, she wouldn’t realize or appreciate then that it was handmade by her parents, nor would she find much purpose for it then, but she would in time. I decided to finish it in paint with a clock motif and ballet slippers. It sits under her toy bag rack where we so often find her coloring or dressing her Barbies while singing up a storm to Justin Bieber and patiently waiting for me to ready myself in the mornings.
Since the time that all of the little projects began to hatch from the onset of her room's makeover, I’ve decided the green walls have run their course undoubtedly meaning, project no. 11 lies awaiting us somewhere not too far off in the distant future. Just how far off, is hard to say. Until that time tho, hopefully our little one is enjoying her new surroundings as I know without a doubt, I am.

While putting away her folded laundry one afternoon, I glanced at her bed and found myself suddenly getting sooo sleepy. Her bed looked sooo inviting and so...I placed the laundry basket on the floor and assumed a horizontal position on her bed...”just for a minute”. As I looked around her room from the perspective of her plump floral pillows, the thought occurred to me that, in the many ways Joe and I have chosen to be creative over the years, this is one that I’ve taken indescribable joy in - creating a space where our little one can play, learn, grow, dream, be imaginative and creative - where she will live out a wonderful childhood surrounded in things requiring much thought and work which her parents created for her, when and how the means available to them were there to do, and with so much love...what more could a little girl ask for? Thanks Mom ♥.

I hope you've enjoyed following a bit of a journey in the transformation of our little girl's nursery to a "big girl's room" and the many little projects and finds, of self included, along the way. Ah, having a girly-girl is so much fun! Er...or is that, "being one"?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

all things girly-girl cont'd - part cinq

Little Project No. 8...a window treatment

I had an ivory curtain on Lizzy's window while her room was still a nursery. It was a pair of cotton duck tab top panels, which I had removed the tabs from, sewn a rod pocket into, and made tiebacks for from one of the fabric patterns I had dug out of remnant bins at our local fabric shop. Pretty, and functional, they served their purpose while she was a baby. Now 4 yrs old tho, we decided a change was due in a window treatment.

Joe set out to make shutters for her windows which would serve two purposes...well 3 actually if you were to include the ‘pretty’ function! Not only was she requiring privacy, but now also, a little darkness in her room for bedtime when neighborhood kids can still be heard shrieking with delight in their play on a warm summer's night. It's difficult to explain to a small child that it's her bedtime while other kids are running around outdoors still having fun in broad daylight! I'm not that old - I do remember and it hurts!

I copied the contour from one of our vertical sign designs at www.mypaintedporch.com and of course, painted and antiqued them, as well as the attached hinges. I found glass knobs from eBay for $3 a pce, for a few projects I was working on around the house, and installed a few of those for operating the shutters. They look so sweet in her windows, from both inside and out! One window has nothing but the shutters as a treatment, as the window is quite short and long...one of those odd sizes you're continuously struggling to find a solution for, so we went full length for that window. The longer window behind her headboard would require another treatment.  Where the shutters ended only a little over the halfway point on this window, I re-used the curtain from her nursery, by doubling the panel and draping it over the rod. Using the same tiebacks from the nursery curtain but I repurposed those by installing them from the curtain rod and down and over the fabric, to gather the fabric vertically from the rod, and well...kinda love that too! Here's a bit of a peek at her shutters... 
Little Project No. 9...more than just a mirror

I guess this means the cat is surely out of the bag, as I confess publicly...I LOVE garbage day!!  It was about 8:30 am and Lizzy and I were on our way to her daycare, when driving up my very own street, something wooden lying in a heap at the curb caught my eye.  Slowing down to take a closer look, (of course :-), I could see that it was a full-length freestanding swivel mirror...just what I had been looking for for Eliza's room! Afraid it would be gone by the time I returned home, I got out and inspected it while Lizzy wondered what the heck I was up to...like she shouldn't know by now! Other than the cracked mirror and it’s ultra shiny dark mahogany finish ( both fixable), "that could work!" So I claimed it after wrestling with it for 10 minutes or more...surely enough time for all my neighbors to recognize and memorize my face in broad daylight as the now exposed neighborhood "refuse resucitator"! Hehe...they'll get over it :-)!

I had the mirror replaced by an auto service garage, and painted the woodwork in cream color, and distressed and waxed.

My dear father-in-law ("Pa", as I affectionately knew him), whom we lost two years ago, was a carpenter by trade in Germany. He and Eliza hadn't yet met when he passed, occuring just the month previous to our booked family vacation to Germany...the huge anticipated moment where Ma and Pa (not Kettle :-)) would meet their newest grandchild for the first time. Up until that time, it was so important to them both, that Lizzy have something to know them by, until that time would come.  Every so often, we would receive a surprise package of wooden pieces cut to precision, complete with sketched out plans for Joe to assemble, of something a little girl would cherish and know it to have come from her Oma and Opa.  In one of those extra special packages, was a little wooden owl rack with pegs. It was also important to us that Lizzy have something to remember her Opa by while she has since outgrown some of the others, so I painted and antiqued the owl rack as well, and mounted it on the bead-boarded side of her change table (now book/toy shelf)...where  princess Halloween costumes and dresses would hang within easy arm's reach.
The salvaged mirror now with new life as a little girl's best confidante, stands proudly in a corner of her room, next to her play dress-up attire and Opa's gift...playing host to a little girl's dreams and fantasies of Prince Charming, glass slippers and graceful ballerinas.

to be continued next week...we're almost there with project no. 8 -  table and chairs playset

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

and the winner is...

Congratulations to www.papernosh.com, the winner of our Christmas Giveaway drawn Nov 15th!
We would also like to take this opportunity to wish all of our blog followers, customers, FB fans and friends, a truly wonderful Thanksgiving (for those of you celebrating this coming weekend :-) and to all, a wonderful Christmas and holiday season, everywhere. We are so thankful to each and every one of you for your friendship as we too, give thanks for our wonderful blessings...you!
With big hugs...xxx!

Monday, November 14, 2011

all things girly-girl cont'd - part quatre

Little Project No. 6...a memory board

With all that Lizzy has come to experience and know in her short 4 years of life thus far, there are moments when you have a piece of memorabilia that you get to bring home, but which often ends up in the bill pile, or stowed away in a cabinet.  Or a schedule from daycare that lets us know what activities our kids are partaking in on any given day, with some activities dictating how little ones need to be dressed for the occasion.  So I thought filling that need, a memory board would be perfect for her room, and it is! 

In searching for an interesting frame for the board, I had gone to a local dept store to buy one new, but then found one between the display racks, which was quite large in size with the picture glass broken.  I made my way to the cash with both a new one to pay for and out of concern for little ones in the store, the broken one for the saleslady to remove from the floor.  But then, of course, it donned on me while waiting in line at the cash, “they’re going to throw this out when there's nothing wrong with the frame”!  So before she disposed of it, I asked her if I could take it for $5.  I know, go ahead, say it...I’m shameless!  To make matters worse, after bringing both home, I found the frame of the broken picture to be the perfect size once I held it to her wall! So I repainted and distressed that, and returned the other. Now you can say it! 

I had my husband cut a pce of sturdy particleboard to size, covering that with batting, stapled a pce of the leftover fabric from her pillow sham over the face of the board and onto the back, attached ribbon in a diamond pattern across the front, to the back again with staples. I then hammered in upholstery tacks at intersections, and she now has a place for displaying her special memoires and activity schedule to remind us that today, we need our swimsuit and beach towel for a morning at the waterpark!

Little Project No. 7...her wall letters

I had seen wooden letters online, suspended with ribbon, which I really liked the look of for a child’s room.  Of course, why buy when you can create your own, or think you can, so I printed out letters of a font to spell her name, and had my carpenter (aka Honey) cut them out of wood.  I then painted them, sanded sporadically and waxed...then finished them off with stapling pink bows to the backs for displaying.  We love these too!
to be continued next week with project no. 8 - a sweet window treatment 

Christmas Giveaway

This is our last blog posting before our Christmas Giveaway to be drawn this Tuesday, Nov 15th!! Sign up to follow us here on our blog to become eligible for a personalized Family Sign. See details at http://www.mypaintedporch.com/.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

all things girly-girl - part trois

Little Project No. 4...the rack

When my son was little, I found myself making far too many trips to the den toy basket with scattered pieces of little toy collections. I seemed to be forever finding remnants here and there left behind in play...action figures, cars, Lego, Lego and more Lego, but not just in the den or his bedroom. They somehow always found their way to the dining room table, the kitchen, even the bathroom. In an effort to establish some sense of organization for us both, I decided to stitch up toy bags. Made from muslin I had tea-dyed, sewing more straight lines on the sewing machine, following a bit of stencilling on the fabric pieces of primitive/Early American style graphics...a rocking horse, the alphabet etc., I hung them in his room from a pine shaker peg board antiqued in Trading Post Red.  Those bags were so well loved and used to no end...not to mention, looked great displayed in his room!  Altho there could be no bag big enough to house his endless collection of Lego, they did hold perfectly, his Ninja Turtles, Tonkas, transformers etc. allowing him to easily tote from upstairs to down without being confined to one area of play or dragging an entire basket behind him. Staying organized was now a breeze and he did so on his own without even realizing.  Because they were so practical, the same for Eliza would be a must!  Not really wanting a shaker peg board for her room tho and with something more feminine in mind, this was the chosen method. 
I took one of our Happily Ever After signs created by us here at My Painted Porch and had my husband add 2 pces of moulding across the top and install 3 glass knobs (e-Bay), I then painted and treated the moulding to finish it off. I love this sign...always speaks to me of endless possibilities and hope...of course, with an old world flare.

Little Project #5...the toybags

Lizzy's toybags, were made of muslin again but again, I was wanting something more feminine and shabby cottage looking with a bit of a ballerina theme...you'll find basic instructions below if you might like to attempt these or something similar!
I had found graphics online, altering a bit on my computer to include the words “Imagine”, “Dream”, “Believe”. I then mirrored the image, printed on to transfer paper from my computer, and ironed the transfers to the 14 x 18” fabric faces. I found the transfers a bit shiny and stiff, so ironed over the fabric again with wax paper for a few seconds, and peeled off. What that left me with was a vintage, aged effect with a softer graphic. Turning them outside in, I sewed a rod pocket across the top, a seam allowance along the sides and bottom of an inch or so, turned inside out again, fed a thin rope about jute thickness through the rod pockets and voila!  Except now of course, they accommodate Barbies and all things girly-girl! 

Stay tuned for All Things Girly-Girl's Little Project #6...a window treatment.  

Christmas Giveaway
Don't forget...between now and Nov 15th, sign up to follow us here on our blog and become eligible for our Christmas giveaway! See details at www.mypaintedporch.com.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

all things girly-girl - part deux

Little Project No. 2...the bed

We then bought a new mattress and support board only 2” thick, as opposed to a full size box spring of 7”, so that she would still have the ability to sit on her bed without great effort for little legs springing from the floor. I then set out to find bedding or fabrics etc. to make bedding and accessories...again, not so easy to do with one very small fabric shop with not a huge inventory to choose from. I really didn’t want to go with Disney and all of the commercial bedding that’s available out there and everywhere for kids, and she seemed not set on any one in particular, so keeping her love of pink in mind, and mine for 'feminine', we found this...
Again, with the ability to sew not much more than a straight line (but by now like no other), her pillow sham I made from a meter of a floral pattern from a bolt I found at our fabric shop. Her neck roll cushion, I made from a nursery fabric package bought at a local department store...it was the pink chenille I was after but also included a soft green ticking which is what I ended up using. I was able to still make use of a few of the throw cushions from her nursery bedding I had sewn before she was born, as they still worked for the odd accent and opted for an easy to find, ivory coverlet with matching pillow sham, bedsheets sets in solid pink, and other in solid white with eyelet hem with the intention of mixing and matching.

Little Project No. 3...a lamp

Her lamp was one I had picked up at our local department store when first decorating her nursery. The shade was a plain ivory and the base a dark wood, so I sponge painted the shade, glued on a strip of beads, painted the base a cream color, sanded here and there and was absolutely pleased with the end result. Couldn’t have dreamed it up better myself! Ha, as of course, I did!

to be continued...

Christmas Giveaway

And a reminder...between now and Nov 15th, sign up to follow us here on our blog and become eligible for our Christmas giveaway!  See details at www.mypaintedporch.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We're having a Christmas Giveaway!!

Hohoho!! The weatherman is calling for snow on the weekend in New Brunswick, Canada and we’re in the mood for a Christmas promo! From now until Nov 15th, sign up to follow our blog at www.mypaintedporch.com and become eligible in our draw for a personalized Vintage Family Name Sign from My Painted Porch. Just scroll down the page until you see “Followers” in the right hand column. Under “Followers”, you will find the link “Join This Site”...click on it, sign up and that’s it! Tell your friends! This promo will also extend to our longstanding blog friends and followers at http://www.mypaintedporch.com/. Draw to be made at 11:59 midnight, Atlantic Time, Nov 15th. Our personalized Vintage Family Name Sign makes a wonderful gift for Christmas giving, as well as for wedding and anniversary! If the lucky recipient lives outside of our beautiful Campbellton NB, we will cover the cost of direct shipping. And guys, don’t be thinking this isn’t for you. Wives and moms would be thrilled with such a personal gift...and just think, no last minute shopping!

Hohoho...bring on the snow!!
My Painted Porch...inspiring HOME.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

all things girly-girl

I know, I know, I know!! In my quest to take time to breathe and take in all that’s in my life and that of my family’s, I’ve managed to streamline my daily routine and made the effort to cut my 12-16 hr workdays to 8...okay, 10.  Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to streamline all, and that has meant that something as always has to suffer...and that would be my blog.  As much as I love blogging and sharing with readers, it often finds me having to do so at 2am, which not only makes for a long work day the next, but creates a not so great impression with my daughter’s new kindergarten teacher when bolting late for the classroom door :-(. I had no choice but to get my act together.  But...in one final brouhaha into the wee morning hours, I finally got to Eliza’s room, and thought to sneak in yet another late night to share. I think it’s safe to say, this will be a multi-part series. Who’d have thought a little girl’s room could involve so many fun little projects? Did I mention "fun"?

'BEFORE' No. 1
Whoever coined the phrase “necessity is the mother of all inventions” had to have been living in a small town!! I live in such a town...approx population: 8000, on a good day. We don’t have the big box stores with the exception of Wal-Mart and Zellers. Specialty and designer shops? Forget it! You get what you get and you either find a way to embellish it, order online, or wait for the occasional trek of 300 km or more to get you to a center that does have more to offer. Sometimes when what you’re envisioning can’t be found, you don your creative cap and dig deep and boy did I dig deep!

Lizzy acquired a room which I never quite got to in terms of repainting...and still haven’t.  It was a room which we had originally dubbed ‘the weight room’.  A weight training machine, free weights, exercise mat etc sitting amidst a really pretty green paint on the walls, glazed with handpainted vines and flowers, cream colored trim and without curtains on the windows providing ample natural lighting and warm sunshine even in the deepest of freezes, made this a really feel-good kind of room - one that could provide all of the positive energy and conducive environment to a gruelling workout, as I had found that included on my list of excuses the length of my arm that I could dream up justifying skipping the workout, a ‘too busy’ and ‘too dark’ room were among them.
When we found out we were expecting, we knew ‘the weight room’ would soon have to be the nursery, but I was still undecided as to what to do with her room, so decided to leave it alone until I could decide. The wall color could still work, somewhat, which was the objective.  I just could not bring myself to paint over all of my hard work!  Having not much skill in sewing other than having the ability to use a pair of scissors and sew a straight line, I made her nursery bedding while expecting our bundle of joy, with remnants bought from a local fabric shop for a whopping total of $32. I had dug through bins upon bins until finding 4 patterns I felt could work together, which included a hint of green...proceeded to sew up a storm of straight lines and made her bumperpad, toybag, diaper hanger, comforter, cushions, curtains etc.
We really lucked out in finding a crib at a yardsale.  It was a Jenny Lynn in a dark maple finish and one that had been salvaged from a fire but with minimal smoke damage. After much cleaning and sanding, we refinished it in an antiqued finish of cream.  Joe had built her a french styled pine dressing armoire, which I had antiqued also, as well as a change table we had built for her with open shelving and beadboard backing and sides...we were ready! 
But, she’s 4 now!  Eliza loved her crib. Any mention of buying her a new "big girl bed" was met with resistance, so we put it off for the longest time.  After all, it was a time of great transition and slow but sure gains of independence in her little life had already been made. We really weren’t eager to rush her into something she wasn’t ready for, so we worked with what we had, and all in due time to cause minimal upheaval.  We removed her bumper pad and a side panel of the bed which allowed her to get in and out of her crib/bed freely until finally came the point when there was just no more denying, the child is just too long for her bed!! But finding a “big girl bed” for her would prove to be a daunting task!

Little Project No. 1...
What I discovered was #1, beds are expensive and #2, beds are confusing to buy!! What I did find tho, was a 2nd hand brass/metal newer type headboard for $100...super shiny, but I loved the design and could easily envision it as being really suitable for a little girl’s room with a little paint and work. So, I dragged it out onto the front lawn and primed, spray-painted, and sanded on one of the rare sunny days we had this summer.  This is how it turned out...
to be continued...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today's Parent "my dad, the ballerina"

It's an exciting moment for My Painted Porch! In Today's Parent June/Father's Day Special Issue, you will find our blog post of May 2010 "I Hope You Dance", published and entitled "My dad, the ballerina", on page 148. To all of you wonderful dads out there, we are so very proud and fortunate to have you in our lives...this one's for you :-)!

Monday, April 4, 2011

the world according to Murphy

How complete is a family without a furry member? We have one. His name is Murphy, as in “Jeepers H. Murphy”. Murphy is a 3 yr old, 90 pound golden retriever. Need I say more? For those of you not familiar with the breed, that means that he responds at this age, and quite well I might add, to commands off leash...in the house, that is. On or off leash however, in the fresh outdoors, suddenly faced with the prospect of exploring and learning what’s new in his neighborhood through his nose, he can be somewhat ‘distracted’ in all of his remaining puppydom. Throw fast, noisy cars and icy sidewalks into the mix while on-leash, and it’s only a matter of time, before you find yourself with two bloody knees and your derriere in a mud puddle, while all of the bank’s customers are thoroughly entertained by the spectacle on the sidewalk at lunch hour.
But, when you have a dog that responds to the commands of a 4 yr old family member, with the same obedience and respect paid to the adults of the family, you know he’s a good dog. Could Lizzy ever attempt to walk him? Most definitely, not yet! But he will respond to her basic commands. He’s had to endure wearing the princess crowns as expected by a 3 yr old, and being wrapped in baby blankets, but he’s also come to enjoy the benefit of a respect that extends far beyond fear of a bite. Being careful to the sensitivity of his nose, understanding that he’s not a horsey whose back you can hop on for entertainment, that care need be taken when playing around him so that he doesn’t get fallen on or stepped on and that he has his 'alone time', are some of the basics Lizzy has come to know as essentials in responsible pet ownership. Eager to take part in his care, the natural progression on her way to filling his dishes with food, water, letting him outside, bringing him in to place him on his leash to dry off on the mat, and brushing him on occasion, has been met by him too with acceptance and his ultimate approval it seems. Of course, he’s no fool! Giving credit to the intelligence of the breed, he’s also quickly learned that if she can feed him, she can probably also NOT!
I strongly suspect that in years to come, with them being a year only apart in age, he will be dubbed a sibling to one growing up in a household as an only child. He will come to be the shoulder to cry on, the confidante in all of a young girl’s drama who will without fail, agree with her that life, as well as parents, can be so unfair! He will be her forever-loyal companion and whether ever called upon to do so or not, will at least in her mind always be, her most fervent protector.
And surprisingly, being easily twice her size and weight, he sits when she tells him to. She digs into his treat basket to lay a temptation on the floor before him. He sits, while looking at it as tho almost expecting it to vanish. She commands him to ‘stay’ holding up a little hand and he does, sitting and waiting ever so patiently. She walks away from him, while he stares at the ever growing succulent morsel on the floor with the drop of drool accumulating on his bottom lip, yet still offering to take no step out of turn. With her words “Okay Murphy!!”, he pounces off all fours as I know him all too well to do (:-(!), to devour his well deserved reward. She smiles in triumph, pats him on the head, praising him with "Good Boy Murphy!" and away she saunters to the den with a bowl of Cheerios and wagging tail in tow, to enjoy the rest of Scooby Doo, side by side.

It’s hard to say really, who is the luckier of the two. Any little girl would be fortunate to have a Murphy in her life, or is it that any Murphy would be fortunate to have such compassion and respect in his?

Next month sees National Be Kind to Animals Week of May 1-7th.  In honour of all of our loyal 4 legged friends, past and present, this blog post is dedicated to those furry family members who give tirelessly and endlessly asking only in return, to be valued, respected, cared for...loved. Just as there are no time limits to practicing,  there are no age limits to begin teaching our children kindness and respect for all living things. 
Special thanks to Restigouche SPCA, for their ongoing kindness, dedication and meaningful work year round, and for our beloved, Murphster.

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." -- Immanuel Kant

Thursday, February 24, 2011

it's a start...

Oh my!  It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and as always, I have good reason...of course!  There’s a real possibility of relocation in our future. Hopefully, no matter where we go, I will still be able to do this job of mine that so fulfills my need to create and express.  While recently, and finally, making the move to prepare the attic (it’s only been 9 years) for ‘market’ in the event we are given notice that our turn has come, I’ve had to pay some much needed attention to my much loved attic...my space where My Painted Porch ponders creations and brings them to fruition.  Needed for that tho when the business is growing and taking over our entire home, is a defined space with boundaries, that still allows the juices of creativity to flow freely, while offering some organization to the whole mess. Our attic was just not up to speed on that count!  Of course the studio is up there, but also on that floor are two tiny bedrooms, a bathroom with an old claw foot tub, and a hallway.  I recently tackled all of the above, with the exception of the studio. Far from finished, I did however take the initial steps to lift, sand, stain and paint the space and assign practical use to the tiny ‘catch-all’ rooms up there.  In the process, I found use for one of these great old windows I’ve been digging out of people’s trash piles.  Joe and I have travelled a bit throughout our life together, from start to present.  With so many pics on our PC (14 GB to be exact), it was time we printed some off and displayed them, even if to be enjoyed by us only, and this old window was perfect for that!

We love the story of ‘us’...how, later in life, seeming to be just waiting for each other from across a huge body of water, it finally came to be.  So many wonderful shared private moments...triggers that would mean nothing to anyone else, but yet to look at just one word, would have us giggling beyond control and reminiscing of some of our sweetest moments to date.  This is a creation of My Painted Porch...a personal project, in the style of a subway station roll sign.

For some of you reading who know very little about me, I also sing and love to write...on the blog yes, but also songs. Singing has been a deep-seeded passion of mine since young enough to speak, and the songwriting bug bit when I was about 13.  I need a space of my own for that...for guitars, recording gear, and just a room where when I close the door, contains no time constraints, no echos of ‘Mom!!”, no orders, no expectations, no demands.  This room is truly ‘my space’.  I opted for no curtains or blinds on the window in this room...may the sun shine in in it’s full strength and inspire me!

This room, is now my packaging room (for small packages that is...the large still somehow find their way to our dining room table...can’t be helped it seems).  This was the major ‘catch all’ room of the house.  Crafts, supplies, Christmas decorations, boxes filled with old paper files etc etc etc.  Could not stand it for one minute longer...YARD SALE!!  Most of it now sits confined in one place in my son’s room while he’s away studying, but will find it’s way to the front porch one sunny Saturday morning, much to his delight I’m sure, and most definitely mine. 

A before..
and an after...
 With more to hang on the walls of them all, and a bathroom needing it’s new toilet installed which patiently sits waiting, it’s still a space awaiting more attention, but now already offering a breath of fresh air.  I haven’t yet had the chance to go to my music room and just barricade myself with rhythms and melodies soaring thru my head, but so nice to know that when the inspiration hits me, I almost can!

Monday, October 18, 2010

giving thanks...

I'm not sure if it's because it's the month of my birthday and my mom's, or what it is exactly that has always found me so inspired by Fall.  I only know that to live in the somewhat remote area I live in, we can find many things to complain about in terms of things that are lacking, but drive along the shores of the mighty roaring Restigouche River or the Bay of Chaleur late September/early October through this hidden valley in the Appalachians, you will never find anything that compares to what Mother Nature graces us with faithfully every year, this time of year.  Call it her grand finale or showdown of all gifts bestowed upon us of the year's previous seasons, we do get it all in the consistent true fashion of  'go big, or go home'...this is my 'home, sweet home'.

Maybe it's just the occasion the time of year allows us in officially giving thanks...for the many blessings in our lives, or for all we've come to eagerly anticipate this time of the year...

If not for the turkey and a plentiful harvest, then for this, my blessings above all blessings...

that I so love the season. 

To the many friends of My Painted Porch, wishing you with big hugs from New Brunswick, Canada, a warm and cozy Happy Harvest and Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

childhood summers

Ahhh...to be a kid!  I remember spending awesome summer vacations on my grandparent's farm.  Helping my grandmother bang together a scarecrow for her vegetable garden, shooing all of her grandchildren away from underfoot while she prepared meals for a crew of men working in my grandfather's fields during hay season. That usually consisted of potato salad made with real home-made mayonnaise, cooked ham, her wicked homemade bread, with butter and a cup of 'real' tea which is, according to any serious East Coast tea-totaller, King Cole Tea; picking string beans from the garden in large plastic bowls and after having cleaned (snapped) them all, being rewarded with a stick of Wrigley's chewing gum; sitting on my grandad's knee warm summer evenings counting fireflies, while admiring how the moon reflected off of his bald head which I was allowed to buff on occasion much to my delight; games of Ghost Down Cellar around the mulberry bush on their front lawn...a velvety green carpet gently rolling down to the mighty Miramichi River; How Many Birds In the Bush with marbles, in an old tent we kids had retrieved from some one's trash and Simon Says with the lot of us, ALL cousins, whom were loved more like sisters and brothers than they were cousins...we had our own little army of 17; the church hymns and stories of her childhood she would send me into slumber in her big brass bed with, while curtains softly danced in warm summer breezes.
My grandparents have both passed on since those times, God rest their souls.  I miss them and still shed a tear from time to time in recalling them and the wonderful days of summer as a kid.  I wonder if they realize what a tremendous legacy of a truly amazing childhood, they left each and every one of their grandchildren with, to last us a lifetime.

My mom doesn't own a farm, so unfortunately, my children will never know such memories of summer!  And eventho failing sadly in comparison, hopefully what they will remember, are the small and seemingly, at least to me, minute traditions I've tried to consistently provide them with year after year.  Whether it be the must of cotton candy at the annual carnival rides, fireworks never missed bundled up with snacks and cuddles, afternoons playing in the pool filled with lots of laughter, family time, grilled dinners where it's not so much about the eating as it is about the family event itself, never ending supplies of Popsicles and Mr. Freezes following strenuous bouts of play, hours spent on the front yard swing that Papa built, camping weekends filled with campfires, roasting marshmallows, playing in the garden hose with Murphy, or the Sunday evening "ice cream drives",  that would have us guessing, it's all been good thus far. We can't be sure, but we've not heard any complaints.

My mom is selling her cottage tho.  I don't suppose she would consider buying...


Thursday, May 27, 2010

I hope you dance

If you've read any earlier posts on this blog, you've for sure heard me talk about the wonderful ways of my devoted husband, and his neverending reserve of patience as the devout dad that he is.  There is nothing the man wouldn't do for our little wonder. We've all seen the cheese commercial where the dad is forced to sit at his daughter's play table while she assures him that his princess crown wearing days are over when she says they're over...and that's pretty much Joe and Lizzy.

We enrolled Lizzy in dance class last fall.  Just shy of her 3rd birthday and the youngest in her class of 3-5 year olds, we thought it was something she could have fun with due to having what seemed to be a natural rhythmic ability, for her hips didn't just sway, but actually more 'boogied' much like the dancing baby in the viral video! We have endless footage on video of Lizzy in front of the stereo or television with music playing, grooving to the music to the point where she would make herself dizzy.  What that basically translated to for us if you were to see her in perfect rhythm, was her possessing more natural dancing ability than Joe and I put together.

And so, off we would go, the 3 of us to Saturday morning dance classes for a half hour of ballet, followed by a half hour of jazz...but they didn't all go quite as planned.  This was Lizzy and I in roughly the first 2 or 3 dance classes where we listened intently and well, preferred to quietly observe. 
Some mornings it would take the both of us to help her break thru her shyness and simply be comfortable being part of a group scenario...other mornings it would be only me she wanted in the studio with her, but for the most part, it was only Joe.  We then found that as long as the two of us were there at the onset of the class, it created more confusion and a distraction from an already limited focus, but yet asked if she wanted to go to her 'dance party this morning', she would jump up and down with excitement!  And so we did as any loving parents would do...we both put any slighted feelings aside while carrying on in assuring her a sense of security at all times.  I would sit in the observation room where I sat filming yet even more video footage chronicling this minute moment in her life, while she could still see me to wave to on occasion or run back into for a hug, while Joe willingly entered the dance studio with her as the seemingly only parent of her peers required to be there.

Joe is 6'4"...as one could imagine, he did stand out ever so slightly among the 3-5 year old sea of pink tutus. Nonetheless, if they had to spin, he would spin while gently persuading Lizzy to do the same...if they had to point toes, he would point toes. Lizzy, being at Joe's side with him holding her hand, was assured, and as long as that worked for her, it worked for him.  Just as precious, was the moment a 4 yr old standing on the other side of him, eagerly reached for his free hand making it official...he was now a much accepted member of the troop.  Ballet to Itsy Bitsy Spider or jazz to the Black Eyed Peas, he executed the moves to the best of his ability all too aware of Eliza's sole focus on him, and leading her thru it all, babystep by babystep.  Every Saturday morning became a case of hit and miss where never the same approach worked twice.  It would be interesting to say the least, to see how the rest of the season would unfold...my biggest question being, would my husband find himself in the year's end dance recital?  I however, could only be grateful for Eliza's sake, and for all, that it was Joe's dance skills called upon to hold her attention and not mine.

So imagine the elation when one fateful Saturday morning, she took the leap turning to Joe, and said quietly "it's okay Papa, you can go now", entering the dance studio doors herself to join her classmates...and stayed. 
She soon grew to be quite comfortable with being in the studio with her new little friends, and began to go through the motions of her own accord.  Stacy (the dance studio director) and her assistants, traded off one on one attention to her along to a few others, and we watched our shy little peanut grow increasingly more comfortable in her now familiar surroundings and routines. 

This past weekend, a long weekend, saw Lizzy perform in her first ever dance recital open to the public.  Allowed only to escort her to the side stage door in the line assembly of her corps with my heart threatening to jump out of my chest while I struggled to swallow over the lump in my throat, I kissed my little marvel with a wish for loads of fun, while warning her to be quiet as she entered the backstage area as others would be performing.  The stage doors open, and without so much as a glance backwards, off she trotted with her peers in her little blue tutu and hair pulled back into a successful bun...my heart stopped. The stage doors close....I thought I would die.
Off I run to the main entrance of the theatre and present my ticket as any paying audience member.  I discretely assume my standing position at the back of the theatre while the lights are low following the first dance number.  The 'baby ballerinas" are introduced.  My stomach flips while my heart races...'Will she need to go to the washroom?  Will she cry when she realizes she's without me or Joe?  Will she spot him in the audience 3 rows back? Will she be insulted by the laughter in the audience totally entertained at the adorable 1st year students' number?  Is she already being consoled backstage by one of the assistants in fear of the performance?
The curtain opens...and there standing 2nd from the left, our beautiful little ballerina, who just months ago dispensed of her last diaper, relinquished her beloved soother, grew a distance of independence from Mr. Froggy, and who needed Mommy and Papa close at her side doing whatever was required of us, while she grew wings.
Alison Krauss sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and my little star does just that...and of course, not without waving to Papa spotted in the 3rd row.