Jul 13, 2014

Getting the Moonbeam Glow

Late, two nights ago, I was sitting on the sofa, after a tiring day and looked up and saw what could be a really beautiful moon. I got up and opened up the front door, stepped out, and was just amazed by it. I called out to my barber husband, 

“Come here! You have to see the moon!” 

He comes out of the kitchen and onto the front porch and hugs me from behind as we both look up. 

“Yeah, that sure is pretty isn’t it?” he says with a squeeze. We watch for a minute or two, as the clouds, very quickly covered, and then uncovered, and again recovered the moon. Suddenly, he suggests,

“Why don’t you take pictures of it?”

I had just spent some time that day shooting, and was pooped. It was so dark outside, I knew I would need a tripod, and I have no lens for that type of shot. 

“Nah,” I said. “Won’t turn out good, it will be gone soon, and I’m tired.”

He asked me again, and prodded me bit, until I agreed but told him don’t expect much. (I apologize for the graininess...had highest iso set and it was handheld...)

My camera was still in the living room and I knew I had no time for the tripod, as the clouds were coming in and very soon, the moon would be covered. I turn on my camera, look up, zoomed in, and began to focus the lens.

And just like that...

...I am once again one in my own world with my camera.  Everything around me disappears, as I work my settings, watch the clouds, refocus, and kept clicking. All these photos were taken in less than one minute, as the clouds seemed to whip by and then before I knew it, the moon disappeared quietly, behind a soft blanket of wispy clouds.

Why am I sharing this? 

Well, mainly because I like you a lot, and like to share. But also, that tiny exercise in creativity was such a wonderful reminder of how our lives can be filled with creative passion. I define creative passion as an adventure that leaves the creator longing for more time to create. 

Isn’t that what passionate, creative souls actually long for? More time? We don’t long to actually crave to create, because we do and always will. But the issue of time is actually paradoxical. While I am passionately creating (be it cooking, designing, shooting, painting, gardening...), I am lost in a timeless euphoria, while at the same time, keenly aware of how confining my creative clock continues to tick loudly. Be it the constant movement of natural light that challenges my creativity, moment by moment. Or be it the time it takes for paint to dry, a cake to rise, or for vegetables to grow in my garden. How incongruous  is my creative spirit that gets lost in the passion of weeding, clipping, caring, watering, and eventually, harvesting my vegetables, while at the same time, patiently present of the seasons and the time it takes to produce the products of my passion?

Although it was late, and I was tired, as soon as I held up my camera to my eye, it was as if I was being refreshed. I no longer was tired, and I didn’t even notice that my beloved quietly left me alone on the porch, as he learned long ago, my love affair with my lens is a competition he rather not enter. 

What this experience taught me was taking only a moment for our passion is like fresh air to the creative soul. We so often put off our creative projects for so many reasons...it is late...I am tired...need to get the house cleaned...must cook dinner...and on and on. But what is so easy to forget is that even if only for a moment, the more we indulge our creative soul, the more alive we are for our loved ones and are able to perform our daily, mundane chores with more purpose  Everything just seems better, feels better, and looks better when our creative soul is momentarily released.

Like I stated earlier, these images took less than one minute to take...but that one minute ignited my creative spirit with a blast of fresh air. When I returned from the porch and joined my barber husband on the sofa, I forgot I was even tired. I happily clicked through my images on the camera screen to show him, and he smiled down at me and said, “Aren’t you glad you took the pictures now?” 

I smiled up at him.

I nodded and thought how happy I am to be on our sofa, with my beloved, and with the very slight glow of moonbeam shining in through our window. 

And that is what our creative spirit is like...it can brightly glow, or at times, it can only slightly glow...we just need to keep our window open so as to receive the beauty of our passion.

May your moonbeam always glow...just keep your window open to receive it.

from my house to your house,


Jun 26, 2014

My Favorite Things Part 3

Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 


I hope this week is going well for you. I went out of town for a bit, and when I returned, I brought with me a nasty cold (or flu?) and as I make my way through my second box of kleenex, I thought I would finish up my mini series on a few of my favorite things that happen to be vintage, that I use routinely. I have enjoyed the emails I have received, learning about what you like to use as well.

Before I show you a few of my favorite things, I would like to announce the:




Click HERE to see the site!

In case you have no idea what I am talking about - the last two posts were in honor of NOVICA, an artisan website that is affiliated with National Geographic. I purchased a leather messenger bag - that I just love and - see my last post. NOVICA asked that I review their site, offered me a gift certificate to order something to review (my messenger bag) and offered a gift certificate to a lucky reader. In case you wonder how the winner wins...I write down numbers on little scraps of paper, and put them in a bowl, close my eyes and whichever number I choose, it correlates with a commenter in order that the comments were received. I happened to pick #1, and Sandi was the first one to comment. I numbered all the way through the second post. Congrats Sandi, and I will be emailing you with the details.

Now to a favorite silver cup of mine. This belonged to my father, and after he died, my mother gave it to me. It sits in my bathroom all the time (holding Q-tips, or eye drops...whatever). But I found a new use for it recently. After my first knee surgery (and my second), I couldn't stand to shower, so I took lots of baths. I grabbed this one day, and I used it to pour water over my head so I could wash and rinse my hair. During some pretty painful soaks, I did find it comforting to use my dad's cup - sort of like him "petting" my hair/head like he so often did as I grew up. If you were lucky enough to have a loving dad (uncle, grandfather), you know what I am talking about - that heavy, big, warm, gentle hand that finds its way to your head and strokes the top and down to the nape of the neck and then up again to the top of the head with a little finishing pat. I don't remember him leaning down and kissing me on top of my head...I think that must be a mom's job...but dads seem to like to "pet" heads, I think.  :-)

Another favorite vintage item have is somewhat "new" to me. I found this wonderful old (and heavy!) handmade pin cushion at an antique fair. I began sewing after 30 years of not touching a machine, and I discovered that having several pin cushions, is way easier than just having one. Seems like no matter where I am at my work table, the pin cushion was always out of reach - now I have two - one at each end! I love how the end of the cushion is hand sewn with what most would call "crude" but I think of it as more "folk-artsy" stitches. I wish I knew what was stuffed inside to make it so hard and heavy, but still can be pierced!   

Another tool, that I absolutely love and use a LOT, is my vintage chinois. I just love this and I got it for about $10. A brand new chinois can run up to $140 (but there are many that are less expensive than that)! 

My vintage chinois works just as well as a new one - mainly because I do most of the work! That is the key - the chinois doesn't have to be fancy-schmancy, as long as you know how to use it (just patient stirring the pestle).  I use it to smash all my homegrown tomatoes and I get more juice this way without the seeds. I always put my chinois in a large flat pan, such as short stock pot (usually the one I am going to use for the soup). Mainly, I use a large pan, because I tend to be messy, and I like room to work. These are used to make things super smooth such as soups, broths, puddings, or sauces. My tomato-basil soup is very creamy and very rich.

My little stand with its little legs have great patina (or some may call it scratched up!), but the mesh part is still in tact and the wooden pestle fits perfectly inside the mesh. In case you are wondering, I can all my garden tomatoes, so the tomatoes I am smashing already have the skins off of them. You don't have to remove the skins, just cut the tomatoes in chunks, and stir the pestle round and round till you get juice. The left over pulp is perfect for the compost pile!

And finally, another little vintage favorite is my vintage aluminum water thermos. I found this at an antique mall, and knew it would be perfect for those hot days while working in the garden. 

I just fill it with ice and carry it around the garden with me. It insulates wonderfully, and I like feeling the cold metal. I replaced the top with a clean milk glass lined canning lid. No metal taste with the glass, and yet, very sturdy. I tend to knock it over, or kick it out of the way as I weed the garden. I also like the fact that I am "recycling" meaning, instead of going out and getting something brand new, I just use what has been around for some time now. As long as an old item is safe to use, does its job, and is practical, I am all over it.

I hope you enjoyed this little mini tour of my found (and usable!) objects. For those who haven't gone to NOVICA site to view all the artisans around the world, I invite you to see what fellow artists are creating and selling. By the way, here are some links that NOVICA tells me they are highlighting at the moment and I thought you might like as well:

Again, thank you for stopping by to visit, but more importantly, for supporting fellow artisans. I feel very grateful to be considered as a colleague in the creative world. 

from my house to your house,


Jun 16, 2014

My Favorite Things Part 2 - And free gifts for everyone!

Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 


Welcome to part two of My Favorite Things posts. You might be wondering why cows are my favorite things...well, I will explain the cows in a moment.

In my last post, I reveal a way for one lucky winner to win a $75 gift certificate from NOVICA - to read about it all, click here:

To learn about how you, and any reader that reads this, can receive a little something from me as a thank you, just scroll down to the end of the post, if you don't have time for a visit. But as always, I hope you can stay and visit with me.

My first post in this series, I showed a few vintage items that I use routinely. And one of those items I featured (above) was an old mason jar that I use to hold my dried herbs. Well, I thought you might enjoy seeing my favorite way I dry my home-grown herbs...

Above is my vintage haberdashery factory cart that came from a closed-up hat factory, here in the Midwest. Below is a vintage image of similar type of cart that was used to move hats into the factory. Image source: click here. (If the owner of this image would like it removed, or have a better credit source, please let me know - thank you!)

I love the industrial feel of the slanted wheels, and the warmth of the wood. I love my little cart, and when I saw it, I knew exactly what I would use it for.

The racks are just perfect to space out my herbs and I am so happy that I am already cutting and drying my fresh harvest. Soon, the entire cart will be filled. Fresh herbs, even dried, makes every dish come alive. Can't get enough of basil!

Above is cinnamon basil, and below is purple basil - both have such a wonderful, wonderful scent as well as flavor. I use this type of basil in my tomato basil soup recipe as well as my quiche.

I am happy to be able to harvest a little lavender, as most of my lavender plants didn't make it through our very hard winter. But, I am getting budding stems, and they smell wonderful. 

Another basil, below, that is perfect for sauces (especially anything Italian). It is super strong when fresh, but when dried, it is perfect for dishes that need only a taste of this herb.

And one last thing I love about my little cart...when not drying herbs, it is perfect to hang my ribbon, lace, and scraps of material  when working on a project. I just roll it wherever I am working.

So what is the deal with the cows? Well, what goes best with herbs and vegetables? Meat! Being from Texas, a good steak is the best meal. I know, seems kinda mean, when looking at such cute cows...

But cows aren't really on my list of My Favorite Things...

But good leather is! Now before you feel sorry for these pretty cows...take a gander at your leather boots, leather chair, leather jacket, or your leather purse. Which leads me to a NEW favorite thing that I just received.

My new leather purse that I ordered from NOVICA!

The gift certificate they offered me (and to on of my lucky readers), I chose to order a leather messenger bag - and I want to share my review of the product, the service and shipping. But before I get to the bag, of course, I have to show the packaging and marketing...which we all know is almost as important as the item itself.  

It came wrapped up securely with a touch brown package, and inside, I pulled out a lovely wrapped package (above) and underneath that lovely paper, I find a wonderful muslin, drawstring bag, and find my purchase wrapped neatly with tissue paper and a little logo sticker.

I finally tear off the tissue (but had carefully taken off the wrapping paper) and below is my lovely purchase - fresh from the cow  hide, to the artisan's skillful hand and now to me. It is MOOeautiful! haha! It is advertised that is it made for men, and yes, my barber husband snatched it up, once he read that. But, no man comes between a woman and her new leather purse. It really is unisex, but it is MINE. Barber husband can go get his own "bag" as he won't touch my "purse." haha.

I really love the buckle clasps that may be adjusted for those days when I am carrying a lot and need more room. Easy opening and closing with the closure behind the strap. And on the back of the purse is the perfect pocket for my cell phone, or car keys, or sunglasses. It isn't a huge pocket, but all the better for me, as it will help me stay organized by not allowing me to cram everything I own into one darn pocket. There is also an additional zipper pocket inside as well. If you happen to have fallen in love with this bag, here is a direct link to learn the specs from the NOVICA site: Click HERE.  Please note that I am not receiving any commission, credits, or funds for providing this link. I am doing this just to help you out, should you be interested in learning more about the bag. 

Of course, I love the little letter pressed card and must show it.

And I didn't notice until later, a beautiful postcard was enclosed with a very nice NOVICA statement that explains how easy it is to return my purchase should I not be satisfied - which is NOT an issue with this purchase!  

I love the postcard, which is the cherry on top of a wonderful buying experience. (Plus, I love that I am supporting an artist.)

This has ended, as well as free gifts. However, please feel free to leave a comment.
Thank you! (June 26, 2014)

Here is how YOU may enter to win the $75 gift certificate from NOVICA. I want to be clear that NOVICA emailed me, and asked if they could give me a gift certificate to be used to purchase from their site and then share what I purchased with my readers. I wouldn't be doing this second post had I not been very pleased.

Just leave a comment and your name will be entered (along with those names from my prior post). NOVICA supports artisans around the world with fair trade. They are associated with National Geographic, an organization with reputation like non other. 

If you would like to receive a FREE little gift from me personally (something I made, or maybe a little something I am ready to part with), all you need to do is link this article to your social media of choice and leave a comment letting me know the link. Be sure to leave your mailing address so I may mail out your little thank you gift for supporting artisans worldwide. You may email me on the address at the sidebar if you want to keep your address private. Feel free to share this - new readers will receive a gift, if they link as well. 

I will be doing a final post on My Favorite Things and giving readers a chance to sign up, if they missed this post and the prior.  But THIS post is the post in which linking readers will receive a thank you gift from me. I would love to hear if you visited the NOVICA site, and if any particular item caught your eye.

For now, love what you own and own only what you love. 

from my house to your house,

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