Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas at 256

We're waiting for snow here in Virginia

I've been watching this beautiful aviary shown above in Bowman's Garden Center for about 7 months. It was far too indulgent of a price, but I admired it from afar. Last week at Starbucks, I ran into one of the owners and mentioned how much I loved that piece. He said, "Take it, I'll give it to you half price. You can see it displayed on the built-in book case.

My godson and I had fun putting it together and getting the lights inside. Please enjoy the rest of the decorations. The silver tea service is extremely precious to me. It was my grandmothers and we would polish it together when I went over to her house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Member of Our Family

Last week, I was visiting my sister in Atlanta. At the same time, one of the inner-city kids I mentor got himself into terrible trouble. He made some bad decisions about what type of people he was associating with. However, the bottom line is that he was falsely accused of something I am 100% positive he did not do. Bruce and I are assisting him and have left this in God's hands, believing that (as Romans 8 says) that "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes."

As I was advocating from afar for Kewon, I was having to make a number of phone calls in the presence of my two young and appropriately sheltered nieces, I realized that, smart as they are, some explanation would be needed.

We all went to IHOP for breakfast and over Funny Face pancakes with whipped cream smiles on them, I struggled with how to explain this all to the girls. They live in a world composed of Burnt Hickory Baptist Church, Christian Cheering (GO STINGRAYS), practice for the play, and Christian private school. They are loved, cared for, cherished, and have no concept of what Kewon's life has been about. They live in a house with their Jewish convert father, my sister, who loves the Lord, and their grandparents, a teacher and pastor, respectively.

Finally I said, "I know that we are not used to this in our family, but I guess you've both figured out that Kewon is in trouble. Now, you have been raised to respect the law and police, but it is possible to be falsely accused and arrested and this is what has happened to our friend, Kewon."

Jaime raised her hand. I love when little kids raise their hands to speak outside of school. It is adorable. She said, "I know someone from our family who was falsely accused and arrested."

My sister and I looked at each other across the table, mystified.

"Jesus was falsely accused and arrested."

She is 7.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Hoosier Cabinet

I've been wanting a Hoosier cabinet for most of my adult life. A Hoosier cabinet was used in the 1920's and 1930's, before it was common to have built-in cabinets and counters in kitchens. Hoosiers were made by various companies over the years. Some had built in flour bins with sifters, some had glass fronted cabinets; there were a variety of styles to choose from.

Now I'm not the kind of girl who gets the crazy good buys at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. That's more Debra from As I See it Now or Manuela from the Pleasures of Homemaking. However, if I only have to get a good deal once, I'm glad it was this one.

I finally have my treasured Hoosier cabinet for the grand total of $100. I think it looks like it was made to be in my kitchen. We removed a counter to slide it into place. The wonderful rooster bins you see were a gift from my mother.

Show Me Your Glory

Exodus 3:18 - 23

18Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

I was a Christian for years before I realized that Jesus appears in the Old Testament in disguse. I've heard it said that the Old Testament is Jesus concealed and the New Testament is Jesus revealed. Pre-incarnation appearances of Jesus are called a "theophany."

Jesus appears to Abraham in the desert, he is in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego. (Daniel 3:24 and 25 24Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.)

Jesus is also here with Moses. Jesus IS that rock. Remember the old hymn, "Rock of Ages, Cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee."

I love this passage of scripture. There's a lot of great theology here. Imagine, a man of ancient times, leading his people from slavery. Every other God is capricious, subject to change at any moment, basically endowed with human emotion, fickle, selfish, etc. Ashera, Molek, Ishtar...they must be appeased at all times because they are so changeable. Who knows what they'll do next?

Here comes the LORD, the God of Hosts, the I AM, the Eternally Self-Existant One and humanity will never be the same again.

And think about Moses. Here he is before Jehovah God. He can ask for anything. What does he ask? "SHOW ME YOUR GLORY!" How audacious! How trusting! Talk about having your priorities straight. Would I ask to see God's glory or would I ask for my diabetes to be healed? What would you ask for?

Which brings me to my favorite Christian group, Third Day. The link below is to a vide of their song, "Show Me Your Glory." It is the song of Moses with modern words.

Why don't you ask God to show you His glory right now?

Third Day was nominated for three Grammys last week.

Show Me Your Glory

I caught a glimpse of Your splendor
In the corner of my eye
The most beautiful thing I've ever seen
And it was like a flash of lightning
Reflected off the sky
And I know I'll never be the same
Show me Your glory
Send down Your presence
I want to see Your face
Show me Your glory
Majesty shines about You
I can't go on without You, Lord
When I climb down the mountain
And get back to my life
I won't settle for ordinary things
I'm gonna follow You forever
And for all of my days
I won't rest 'til I see You again
Show me Your glory
Show me Your glory
I can't live without You

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Corners of the Dining Room

Here are ome pictures of my vintage dining room. The one green chair's cover was made in needlepoint by my grandmother, Helen. The pottery pictured is called Majolica. It was considered old-fashioned and out of style when Helen collected it, but is now sought after by collectors.

The shelf they sit on is in a style called "tramp art." It was made by itinerent workers durng the Depression out of found objects, in the case of my shelf, it is made of wooden spools for thread and wooden cigar boxes.

I was buying some other vintage items in a thrift shop in Norfolk, VA and the owner threw in the tramp art shelf for free. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of the blog decorator girls, maybe Daisy Cottage Kim or perhaps Manuela over at The Pleasures of Homemaking, calls making small changes "fluffing" a room.

I did some fluffing in our bedroom. The headboard was picked up curbside. I spraypainted it 1930 green. The plates were all thrifted. The window is the old chicken house window from Bruce's childhood. The shutters were in my attic when I moved in. I found the white scarf draping over the top on line. Please note that the headboard is too small, so I had to sort of "build out" arond it.

The glass-paned Hoosier cabinet top was left by my neighbor when she moved. The bottom of it is in my dining room.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Most Beautiful Ten Year Old in the World

Look, Ma, no braces! My beloved Piper Claire.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Rooster

I'm crazy about roosters. Or maybe I'm just crazy. In any case, I love roosters and chickens so much that I have a chicken coop, the kind you take chickens to market in, right in my kitchen.

This is the newest addition to the flock. This handsome fellow came from Lowes, of all places. His tail feathers are tin and you can fit a reminder note on an index card right in there.

The cake tin, flour sifter, and enamel-topped cabinet (it is painted white and has a 2 drawers, as well as a door with a medium-sized cabinet inside) were all purchased at a thrift store in Manteo, NC. Manteo is the town where Andy Griffith lives on the Outer Banks of the state. I prefer looking in old junk stores to commemorate a vacation vs. buying touristy things.

That enamel-topped cabinet, and another enamel counter and a back splash sporting a red and white 1950's design (rescued from the curbside) help me fill in for the lack of ktichen cabinets. I use a Hoosier cabinet to store my dishes, pots, and pans.

As you probably know, old houses didn't typically have a lot of cabinets and counters. I was musing about that, since much more prep time was needed for cooking without microwaves and electric appliances years ago. Seems like they would have needed more counter space, not less. I think ladies were less spoiled back then and realized that you could actually use a table for more than one purpose.

My Grandmother Dunn used the kitchen table as a work surface. She was an austere woman who used Fels Napha soap and kept an immaculate home. No dust bunny ever dared form at Nana's. Nana was a great baker and it must have been at that kitchen table that she rolled out all of those cookies.

My grandmother Galvin had a big kitchen with one narrow counter next to the sink and another next to the stove. She filled in some of the space with an amazing copper-lined antique dry sink filled with plants which had quite a lot of storage underneath.

Helen (my grandmother) had a huge pantry which was a separate room, and a built-in ironing board which I would give anything to have now. There was also a wonderful breakfast nook with a window, a shelf with a scalloped edge, and an old radio tuned to WTIC-AM. She used that breakfast nook table as the work surface. I can see her right there mashing potatoes.

A big pot of lentil soup bubbles on the stove, the Noreaster is finally leaving us, and good riddance. Homemade soup is so good on a raw day, but I think I'd rather have Helen's mashed potatoes. They had lumps in them and we liked them that way.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November Noreaster

Welcome to beautiful downtown Portsmouth, where the waves of the Elizabeth River break right over the street!

Our beloved Flagship restaurant is flooded, our friend Jason lost both his personal vehicle AND his squad car, our friend MarthaAnn had to be evacuated by the fire department and our friends Neil and Nancy had water from Scotts Creek flooding into their winterized porch.

We are thanking God. Our basement is slightly flooded, but Bruce is busy pumping the water out before he heads out for Norfolk Naval Base on a two-hour delay. We are okay, but really glad we took down some problem trees in our yard five years ago and had a new roof put on three years ago. You're mighty grateful for those kinds of painful financial decisions at a time like this. We haven't lost power, gas, or the cable for our TV and Internet.

So the storm rages on outside, the wind howls, the rain pelts the windows. Inside, an old black lab is curled up on a blanket nearby with her stuffed bear, the coffee is brewing, and pita pockets with scrambled eggs inside are waiting.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Is Well With My Soul Part 2


I haven't blogged about the Fort Hood Ambush, but today's televised memorial service really made me sad. My father was an Army physician, so the thought that another Army physician could do such a terrible thing is horrifying to me.

I wept through the entire service for these brave soldiers, but I was really gratified to hear the passage from Isaiah, you know the one, "Whom shall I send?" and the response is, "Send me, Lord." I was glad that our attempts at political correctness, our zeal to remove God entirely from public life, did not prevent Scripture from being read at a government memorial.

As I stood there watching the President stop before a picture of each fallen soldier, I heard the Army band playing "It is Well With my Soul."

I remembered the God who laughs as the nations rage.

When I feel scared about what happenes in the world, I like to listen to this amazing Rich Mullins song.

May the God of all comfort be there for anyone reading this.

Weekend Walk in Virginia Beach

Bruce and I spent a warm November Saturday afternoon over in VA Beach, about 15 miles away from our town. We tend to avoid it during tourist season due to the crowds and difficult parking, but it was sunny, beautiful, and easy to find parking on Saturday.

First we stopped at The Heritage, wonderful natural foods store. They have a discount called the "Age and Wisdom" dicount which sounds so much better to me than "Senior Citizen's" discount. I don't qualify, but another family member who shall remain nameless does!

Then we had a beautiful walk along the boardwalk with Little Bit. It is too far for our other dog, Maxine, to walk with her arthritis. As you can see, the day was simply beautiful.

We stopped to walk around the Cavalier, an old 1920's grande dame which put Virginia Beach on the map as a hot tourist location. I could faintly hear, in my heart, the sounds of "Yes, We Have No Bananas" and "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" playing with a crooner singing through an old-fasioned chrome microphone.

I could almost see the ghosts of women in soft silk flowing to the ankles, marcelled hair smelling of Chanel No. 5 and gardenia corsages float past in a the arms of their beaus.

Then we tucked into some lunch at The Jewish Mother, which right next door to the Heritage. The JM is low on ambiance, but the sandwiches are to die for. They even had birch beer!

We finished our afternoon by driving around through the older, residential area of Virginia Beach and enjoyed the lovely older homes, old-growth trees, and houses that don't all look identical.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yes, in fact I AM the Queen of Sheba

Little Bit could give Miss Maggie from Daisy Cottage a run for her money. Just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn Mantle

I change this up every season.

My Office Corner

A few months ago, Bruce re-arranged things and set up this great little office space for me. I needed better light, so I searched and searched for the rooster lamp. I couldn't find the kind I liked, so I ordered one on line for $17 which had a white shade and a brownish, resin rooster. The shape was right, so I spray-painted the colors the way I wanted them.

I am crazy about ceramic birds. I love the two cardinals at my window and if you look carefully you can see my old-fashioned clothes line with the wooden clothespins. I use it all the time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Christmas Cactus

Isn't this amazing? I bought this at a church rummage sale. An old man named Judson Wright, a World War II vet, cultivates these in his green house and uses them to raise funds for his church.

It blooms three or four times per year and as you can see, not just at Christmas.

Nailed to the Cross

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

I often stand in awe of the writing ability of my dear Internet friend Debra from As I See It Now at One of the things I most admire about precious Debra (as all of her loyal readers do) is that she is so transparant, even in her struggles in the Christian life. I wish that other writers, published and bloggers alike, could have Debra's courage. She took a little bloggy break recently as she struggled a bit and then shared honestly with us all when she came back.

Instead of writing that I wish I had her courage, today I will share my struggles, even though I don't really have the courage to do it. I'll do it scared and uncomfortable anyway.

I struggle constantly with my sinful nature. Not only do I beat myself up about past mistakes, made both before and after accepting Christ, but also for simply stupid, confused, awkward and less-than-perfecft things I've done.

Deep breath. For instance, I have been tortured for years about being in a bookstore with my husband. He was wearing cowboy boots, jeans, and a red plaid shirt. I was absent-mindedly looking at a book and we had gotten separated in the stacks. I suddenly came across Bruce, seeing him out of the corner of my eye and took his hand. Only it wasn't him, it was some other guy dressed the same way! I've suffered agonies after that for 22 years.

Or the time in junior high-school, self-conscious goober that I was. I was balancing my lunch in tupperware on my pile of books when it fell to the floor, where the top flew off and splattered all over three of the cool kids. Agonies over thinking of this for over 30 years.

Sins I commit and have committed torture me. Not that still, small loving voice of God telling me I have done wrong, but the shrill, obnoxious, convicting voice of the Accuser of the Brethren. Thinking about something silly I've said that came out wrong. Musing about what someone else meant when I perceived that they had spoken harshly. Frequent thoughts about not being good enough or cool enough or pious enough.

Yesterday after church, I was listening to praise music by Selah on a CD and heard the lyrics I've listed above, from the old hymn, "It is Well With my Soul." I'd never heard that verse listed.

Suddenly an A-HA moment! It is all nailed to the cross! Sins before accepting Christ, as well as after. Not only sin, but my shame, my embarassment for being an awkward teen and an awkward grown woman. My pain of often feeling as though as I do not fit in, that I do not measure up. All of it...nailed to the cross. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saturday in New York City

We had the best day Saturday. After breakfast we headed out to Chelsea Market and the High Line in lower Manhattan.

The High Line was a railroad built on elevated tracks that served commercial businesses, such as Nabisco. In fact, the High Line actually ran through the Nabisco building, high above the streets below. Freight trains used to run right on the streets in New York, but so many pedestrians and horses were killed that the railroad decided to build up.

The High Line was abandoned in the early 1980's. Nabisco moved away and for quite some time, this was an abandoned area. In the fullness of time, nature, which abhors a vacuum, began filling in the tracks of the old High Line with grasses, flowers, and even a self-seeded apple tree. Conservationists organized and the High Line is now the elevated green space which you see above.

Chelsea Market is located in the former Nabisco complex, which encompasses an entire city block. It is now occupied by indpendent shops and a bakery and is truly a wondrous space. There are gourmet food stores, baked goods, candies, a produce market, a waterfall fed by a natural, underground spring, and lots of wonderful places to eat. We had already eaten breakfast, but I had a wonderful natural grapefruit soda with no sugar added. Unique and refreshing.

We bought lunch at the market and took it back to our hotel room for lunch followed by a much-needed nap. We had my favorite Courtland apples, whole-grain crackers, brie, and some ginger cookies with lemon filling. Yum.

We took a cab up to the fabulous Zabars on the Upper West side. Zabars is a gourmet market, deli, and kitchen ware store with a great deal of character. If you've ever seen the movie "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, there is a scene at Zabars in which Meg is in the wrong line and Tom Hanks, the big, bad ogre from the chain bookstore has to help her out because she has no cash.,default,pg.html

I picked up a tiny white syrup pitcher and a larger which pitcher for cream. I'm addicted to pitchers and would estimate that I probably own over 25 of them.

We had dinner at Niko's, a Greek restaurant on Broadway and 76th Street on the Upper West Side. We had avgolemono soup, a delicious chicken and rice soup with lemon in it and horiatiki (Greek country salad) with stuffed grape leaves. HOOOOOOOOOOPA! (Greek Hurray!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morning Star Restaurant New York City

George and Harry run the Morning Star Restaurant in Midtown West near our hotel. People think of New York City as this big monolith, a huge impersonal machine. Mew York City is really a collection of small neighborhoods much like yours or mine, only a lot more of them. The Morning Star is a neighborhood place.

A mother and a daughter come in for their regular breakfast. The little girl is about six and beautifully dressed with a huge red bow in her hair. She is Asian; her mother is white. They sit at the counter on stools that the daughter spins around and around. The daughter complains that she doesn't want to go to school. George looks into the kitchen at a large stack of dishes and acts delighted that she can stay and help him wash all the dishes. She picks up her backpack without complaint and heads out the door. "Hey, wait, who's gonna wash all these dishes?"

We eat delicious omlets, home fries, fresh-squeezed juice and toast. Harry waits on us. He has a goatee and a ponytail held in place with four precisely spaced rubber bands. He tells us that he is one of 8 kids and the only one born in America. All his siblings were born in Greece. "All of of us are educated, we all work in restaurants." George is fifteen years older than Harry. "I was a mistake, I think," he says, laughing.

Harry offers personal service. A touch on the shoulder with the coffee refill. "We all worked in the restaurant in Brooklyn when we were kids. Someone sees me and my brother in the back peeling potatoes. They call Child Protective Services. They come to interview us and my older brothers are smiling at the social worker. They say in Greek, still smiling, "If you complain, we kill you." The social worker tells my father that there are slavery laws. "What slavery...this is a family!"

Hungry diners come in, others are paying the check and leaving. Individual boxes of corn flakes and Rick Krispies are stacked high and a multi-layered yellow cake with chocolate frosting waits under the glass. Conversation rises and falls, coffee is refilled, juice is fresh squeezed. Horns sound on the street outside and the walk signal changes from Walk to Don't Walk over and over.

There are a million stories in the naked city.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Glory Days Diner Greenwich CT

On the way to New York City, we stopped at a diner in Greenwich, CT. It was the quintessential Jewish diner. I had matzoh ball soup and a roast beef sandwich. Oy vey!

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes

We got to New York and took one of our monster long walks through the Upper West Side. Bruce estimates that we may have walked eight miles all together. First we walked through Central Park and then north on Central Park West. Then all the way back to our hotel at Columbus Circle.

Gourmet cupcakes are a huge deal in New York, to the extent that I've been reading about them on line, in magazines, and have even seen cupcake cookbooks in the bookstores. I confess to coveting these cupcakes. Coveting them, I tell you.

Imagine my gratification when I stumbled upon (my feet were getting pretty tired) Crumbs...the definitive cupcake place that started the entire craze. Oh my GOODNESS! I had a red velvet cupcake that you can see in the picture above and Bruce had a raspberry swirl. Sublime...that says it all.