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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dining Room Views

For several months,the dining room has been undergoing a transformation.  First, the floor was painted to reflect more of a cottage look.  Second, three pieces of furniture which were tired and somewhat beat up were transformed with my favorite high-gloss white paint.  Of course, all of this took much longer than I originally thought, but the end results have been worth it.  The hutch that has the soup tureens was given to me by a woman who once lived next door.  It is half of a Hosier cabinet. The other half is in my bedroom.  I purchased the very large Victorian breakfront at a thrift store in Honolulu.  I inherited the pie crust table from my grandparents.  The two-door crackle finish cabinet was a housewarming present from my mother.  It has always been white and actually was the inspiration for the rest of the room.  The green drawing on top of the crackle cabinet came from Dollar General, of all places!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Frugality and Flexibility

As I learn more about being frugal, I have come to realize more and more that a key factor in successful frugality is flexibility.  Actually, being flexible about things is a key to a successful life in general.  In the world of being a good steward of one's resources, the ability to switch to Plan B, C, or D to remain frugal is essential.

Take tonight, for instance.  I feel lousy.  I've got that beginning of a really bad cold feeling, in which I am tired and my head feels like it is filled with old socks or something.  I had dinner planned.  I don't know about all of you, but if I don't have a plan for dinner by noon, I'm sunk.  I don't have to make dinner by then, of course, I just have to be Anne with the plan.

I got up from a four-hour sleep with napover.  That's like a hangover, folks, but without the happy feelling of having imbibed.  I went downstairs to start my planned dinner, a stir fry with chicken breast, green pepper,and onions.  Somehow, the chicken taken from the freezer earlier in the day was more foul than fowl, if you know what I mean.  YIKES and here I was all fuzzy-headed, well more so than usual, anyway.  I had already started the peppers, onions, and mushrooms. 

It occurred to me as I stood there in my jammies that one of my favorite subs is a veggie sub in the oven with mozzerella cheese.  I had everything for veggie subs, even some sub rolls from the Dollar Store in the freezer  I seasoned the stir fry with some red pepper flakes, a squirt of lime juice from the plastic green lime thingey, and a bit of mozzerella cheese.  YUM.  And so was born another meatless meal added to the permanent repertoire.  Flexibility, that's what its about baby.

Pic courtesy of

Friday, February 26, 2010

It All Started With A Piano Bench

My friend Nancy has some kind of internal radar for finding interesting things left out for trash pick up. A few weeks back, she spotted a beat up, but structurally sound, piano bench while we were out walking the dogs. She didn't need it, but I had a vision for it.

I took it home and spray-painted it white.  I've had no decorations out on the porch since Christmas, so I assembled the vignette you see here.  I spent no money.  The baskets were thrift shopped.  The little blackboard says, "There's No Place Like Home." 

I've been fascinated with the labeling I've seen a lot of my block girls doing and took a stab at it with my "Deliveries" tag.  I get a lot of things, like old books and items from catalogs, by mail. The basket is for my  mailman to leave my parcels in.  The old-fasshioned font was downloaded from a free website and printed out on cardstock. 

I had a lot of fun with this.

I'm participating in Show and Tell Friday

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Peter Johnson, Jr.

I'm a big Fox News junkie.  It is on in the house almost all the time when I am at home.  There are quite a few of the different commentators, analysts, and anchors whom I like.  One of these is Peter Johnson, Jr. who subs in as an anchor for the morning news and appears as a news analyst for legal matters at other times.   I like Peter because he is very measured and fair.  He makes insightful comments and reasonable arguments.  You can certainly see that he is an attorney without being told.

This past week, he's been on a lot substituting for vacationing anchors. I wanted to find our what kind of lawyer he is and got to his company's website.  There was an email address, so I sent him a quick note of thanks for his great reporting.  I also suggested that he'd be a great blogger.

Imagine my total shock when I received this personal email from Peter before dinner this evening.

Anne. Thanks so much for your extraordinarily generous e mail. It really made my day and I hope to keep your confidence in the future. I write from time to time for and foxnation. Be well and I will think about a blog-not a lot of time to do it though. Peter.

Isn't it great when someone you admire from afar really turns out to be admirable?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Little "Greenhouse"

What did I ever do before Goodwill opened up near my house?

I love this little miniature greenhouse that I picked up at Goodwill a few weeks ago.  The top comes off and it has a delightfully "cottage=y" Victorian look to it.  It sits on my coffee table in the living room with a marked-down daisy plant from Food Lion.

It makes me happy every time I look at it.  I think I see a future with it filled with shells during the summer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Updated Living Room Mantel

After I did this "fluffing" on Saturday, I this influenced by Daisy Cottage Kim or what?  Its a stronger color palette than I usually use and the books just made me think of her.  I picked up four of the books at my favorite informal book exchange at Starbucks.    The bright orange one has such an interesting cover that I'm trying to think of a way to display it.  And the price was right

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Thinking Frugally

I was invited to a Superbowl Party which was pot luck.  I don't like football much, but the ads are fun and I really like my friend, Pat, who asked me to the party. She has an amazing old house on a peninsula surrounded by a beautiful creek.  They have added a great room to the house with a large stone fireplace, which is where we watch the game.  It has been a neighborhood tradition for many years.

I was completely stumped on what to bring and so let it go until the last minute.  I was going to buy something after church, but was totally uninspired on even that.  Finally I decided to buy two Subway foot longs and slice them into individual pieces.  I was musing aloud to my husband and we both thought that surely we must be able to come up with something that cost less than $12. 

Finally it came to me.  Hummus; a great Middle-Eastern dip made from chick peas.  I had all the ingredients in the house.  Chick peas or garbanzo beans, as some people call them, are a staple at our house.  I sliced up some flat bread, arranged some celery and carrots on a platter and I was done.  For no additional outlay of cash.

Frugality is a mindset that has to undergird everything that we do in order to be practiced successfully.  There is always a way to do things less expensively, more efficiently, and in a more timely manner.  I slip in and out of this mindset. 

However, I find that when I look at it as if it is a game, rather than a grim necessity, I am much more willing to remain in the frugal zone.    Thinking "I can't buy that" is not fun.  Thinking, "I'd like to bake some bread" is fun.  Getting a used book on Amazon for next to nothing is fun.  Planning a special meal for after church is fun.  Thinking that you can't afford to go out to lunch is bleak.  Finding bargains at Goodwill involves the thrill of the chase and is great fun.  Re-arranging things you already have in wonderful new ways is fun and is a way that I express my individuality.  Anyone can hire a decorator, spend a fortune, and have a beautiful home.  But it isn't creative and it doesn't use intelligence.

The women I admire, my heroines, Debra @ "As I See It Now," Judy @ "Anybody Home," "Manuela @ "The Pleasures of Homemaking and Kim @ "Daisy Cottage" all have created gorgeous homes using elbow grease, creativity, thrifted finds, and panache. Alex @ "Living Without Money" created amazing artwork (very Pottery Barn looking)  by printing black and white shots of local landmarks.   Frugality:  it is smart, it is creative, it is "green," and it is beautiful.

pic courtesy of the recipe exchange

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Chrysler Building

I love New York City.  When I visit, I don't take in a Broadway Show, I don't go clothes shopping at Macy's, and I don't go to expensive restaurants.  I walk for hours, find interesting ethnic restaurants or noodle shops, and I take pictures.  I love the architecture and the wonderful old brownstones.  My favorite building of all time is that Art Deco beauty, the Chrysler Building.

After my last trip to New York in October, I printed a number of pics we took of iconic New York sights like Radio City, the Empire State Building, a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, photo-shopped them to black and white, and printed them out.  I used cheapie black frames on sale from Walmart and hung them in a kind of gallery in my long, dark upstairs hallway.  Then I found a wonderful New York skyline painting to go with my own pics.

Enter Megan, one of my favorite Starbucks peeps.  In addition to making one heck of a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, she also represents a company called Upper Case Living.  They have wonderful decals of various sayings and other decorating features  which you can transfer to your walls.  Megan kindly came to apply the Chrysler Building decal which I chose.  This was good, because I stink at that sort of detail work.

And the result is what you see right here; an homage to my beloved City. Now when I wake up and see it as I start my day I think, "How cool is that?"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ghostly Snow Landscapes

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone

In a world that she can't rise above

But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place

Where she's loved... concrete angel.     Martina McBride

The View From My Front Porch Today

Two weekends of snow...unheard of in the Tidewater Region of Virginia!

I think it's beautiful, but folks are grumbling.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Norman Rockwell

I use Google for my business constantly.  I love how those clever Google folks change up the Google logo for various holidays or events.  And they're kind of random, too, and I do love random!

Did you use Google today?  Today Google celebrates the birthday of one of my favorite artists, Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell celebrates all things family, old-fashioned, patriotic, and quietly humorous.  One of my favorite paintings is one called "Breakiing Home Ties."  I assembled a huge puzzle of this painting many years ago.  We put together the puzzle over several days, so it gave me a lot of opportunity to contemplate it as I looked at the box for clues to find the right piece.  In the end, it taught me how to view all art.

Norman Rockwell's work always tells a story and the story is often more than initiually meets the eye.  All art is like this, but Rockwell's particularly so.  "Breaking Home Ties" is the story of a farmer and his son, as the son prepares to leave for college.  But look closer.   

The father is weary and careworn, but the boy is eagerly looking for the train.  Even his socks are in colleage colors.  He is anxious to succeed.  If you look very closely, his new school books have been read halfway through, with the bookmarks in place.  He was reading them over the summer.

Rockwell was also a social commentator and didn't sugar coat evil.  His painting, "The Problem We All Live With" needs no explanation and holds nothing back. Look carefully toward the second group of men to see the aftermath of the tomatoes which racists have thrown at the little girl.  Note also how carefully she is dressed and that she is clothed entirely in white, the color of innocence.

I"m off to have coffee with my old-timey friend, Hester.  She is 96 years old and full of life in every way.  I am proud that I gave her a Starbucks habit when she was 91.  It is our special pleasure that we share together.  My morning will be filled with stories of her youth in Wales, living through the depression and World War II, and a lifetime of wisdom gained by knowing the Lord.  She is a treasure.