Dried Hydrangeas and Linen Napkins

FROM THE PROJECT FILE~

Thanksgiving Tablescape.



This year's Thanksgiving table is inspired by our Northwest Washington coastal setting; both the colors and the textures. Our seascape is a blend of rugged coastlines, evergreen forests, and sparkling blue water. My goal for our table decor was to reflect the textural elements that surround our house and provide visual interest with high contrast.



Larry named the table, Pumpkin Soup~ very appropriate. 

This time of year the light is in constant flux, and photo shoots are interesting and challenging. The conditions change minute to minute. Sometimes the fleeting effects are fun to catch. Other times the grossly overexposed images are a disaster.



I made a set of four linen napkins and a table runner especially for our Thanksgiving meal. I used 100% linen in a very natural color. It has a rustic appearance, which I love, but is very soft to the touch. I am glad I made these napkins because I learned so much about working with linen. But this was one of those projects that was touted as easy but was in fact time consuming and somewhat stressful. Remember my discourse on "perfect enough"? These napkins are a case in point.



The runner is in the center of the table and the Give Thanks sign, which I painted about 3 years ago actually, is laying atop. Varying heights on a dining table is always a good idea, even just something as seemingly insignificant as the 1x6 board.



My dried hydrangeas provide a bold statement. The blooms on one of my bushes are dark pink all summer and then become gradually maroon and pale green. They are all but dry by the time I cut them, and only need a bit of coaxing in the house.






I also added an assortment of candles. The short mason jar candles were really fun to make and if you need an easy gift idea, this is it. Here is a link to the tutorial I followed~ Soy Mason Jar Candles.

I also embellished the Dollar Tree jar candles, which add even more texture.

And my tablescape is never complete without the vintage candlesticks that were a wedding gift to my parents. 



A final note~ glass bottles are easily transformed into small vases. Sometimes it is more effective to use 3 or more short vases than one large vase of flowers (which often blocks dinner table conversation). It is much more interesting, in my opinion, to scatter, in a sense, flowers about the table. Why be predictable? Variety is more appealing, which is why {for example} I combined woven placemats, wood chargers, Mason jars, and Waterford crystal.

In case you're interested,  I will show you how I paint bottles and jars with homemade chalk paint in my next post. I have been on a lengthy quest to find the perfect recipe and I promise to share.

Until next time, blessings!


~Dana


Linking to other quality blogs~

Savvy Southern Style
Between Naps On The Porch
French Country Cottage


FROM THE PROJECT FILE~


Autumn Musings.



Have you ever experienced a season of life in which you can no longer define normal? I feel as if I will have lived through five seasons by year's end, or at least an additional sub-season that eclipsed late-summer early fall. Every week seemed scripted for me by the force of outside circumstances. My mom was plagued by a variety of health-related issues that required my attention and energy. Larry was unexpectedly derailed by a condition known as sudden sensorial hearing loss, a condition that without warning robbed him of all auditory function in his right ear. Sensorial compromises are especially profound for those who have spent their lives in military service or careers such as commercial travel. And honestly, it was just plainly sad. Its onset was a tangible reminder that Larry is a few steps further into the autumn of his years than I, and I had an intense emotional reaction.

I've accompanied Larry to doctor visits for exams, injections and hearing tests, but there has been little significant improvement.


Here's an artsy interpretation of my beloved Scion

In my recent posts I didn't tell you that just before Labor Day I bundled my mom and our stuff into my car (affectionately referred to by Larry as, Red Happiness), and drove her 2,000 miles to Minneapolis. Although we had a lovely trek, the purpose of the trip was not pleasure-based. My brother wanted Mom under the care of his cardiologist and we had misgivings about allowing her to fly.

Generally, it was a happy excursion. I detoured from our Interstate 90 route so that Mom could experience Mt. Rushmore for the first time.


Visiting Mt. Rushmore together was intensely moving me, and I will be forever grateful that I was able to provide her this once in a lifetime opportunity.


And because we happened to be in the neighborhood, we also drove through Badlands National Park.

Anyway, an encapsulated rest of the story is that unbeknownst, Jolene had other potentially serious health issues brewing and the cardiologist strongly urged us to return home and seek medical care here. And so after only five days at my brother's, I drove the 2,000 miles home. Upon our return, tests and a major surgery ensued, along with the first-ever visit from my brother and sister in law. We all know the stress of house-perfect, right? There is no greater project impetus than visitors.


A few lovely moments shared with my brother.

Fast forward. Mom is home and mostly fine, I'm exhausted.

In the interest of returning to real life, my life, and inspired by the colors of fall, I have undertaken a few crafty endeavors. So, in addition to my verbal ramblings, I am actually sharing a project today.


I created a Mason jar canister set; an easy autumn project that is both decorative and useful. There are 5 jars of varying sizes in the set, though in this photo the most diminutive jar has taken a backseat. You can see just a narrow sliver on the right side.

I chose two different spray paints. A chocolate brown for the jars and a hammered gold for the lids. Alternately, chalk paint is a good choice for glass jars and can be brushed on. I am conceding defeat where it concerns spray paint. I am really, really not good at spraying and in the future will leave that task for Larry.






I think the most fun part of this project was choosing the door pulls for the tops. and all of these came from Hobby Lobby. I love the little globe especially. The pulls are the most defining element of the project and I chose a mix rather than a matched set. This, of course, is just a matter of personal style.

Larry drilled an appropriately sized hole in the lid and we just attached the knobs with the screws provided.

It was difficult to get a group photo because we have one tall guy in the mix.


I have the jars nestled together on this cute little tray I picked up at an estate sale for $2. The colors are just right for this time of year. I set the tray on the kitchen island.

A friend suggested I give a set as a Christmas gift. I am not sure I would make another set, but the thought did occur to me that perhaps one jar filled with something fun such as a hot chocolate mix would be a nice gift. A pretty jar, probably in a lighter color, with a cute knob would be a sweet accent even after the chocolate mix or (cookie mix maybe?) is gone. I just now had the notion that I could tie on a cute cookie cutter or a wooden spoon, a wire whisk, or something. Any clever ideas? Whatever, you can bet I won't be spray painting!

If you decide to undertake this project and would like any additional tips or information, please let me know. You all know I don't do well attempting to compose tutorials.

I wish for you a beautiful November day! Thanks as always for reading.

Hugs.

~Dana

Link Parties:

From The Project File~

Walk Right In.

Today our front entry is making its debut, but before jumping to the much-anticipated photo unveil, I want to ask you a question. What do you call the area just inside your front door? When I was young Mom referred to it as the entry hall because the space was defined by doorways to the various living spaces~ the kitchen, the living room, and such. Alternately we simply said, entryway. We were taught very early to refer to the lobby of our grammar school auditorium as the foyer, pronounced,  foy-yay. I think I grew up thinking only school auditoriums had foyers.

Many years later, however, when married life led us to St. Louis, I discovered while house-hunting that locals referred to their home's entry as their foyer, which was pronounced foy-yer. At first, I was really put off because admittedly I'm a bit of a language snob. But ultimately I had to adapt to this awkward pronunciation or risk sounding pedantic, and that was a challenge. Perhaps it's just a regional thing; one of the many dialectical quirks peculiar to the Show Me state. In the 17 years we've lived in Northwest Washington, I've yet to encounter anyone interested in sharing news about their foy-yer; or their foy-yay for that matter.

I also learned that some folks had a mudroom. That was a new concept for me because I grew up in a suburban Los Angeles ranch-style home, and had never seen nor heard of a mudroom. We did have a service porch, although I'm not entirely sure how a service porch would be properly defined. As an aside, if you're not from California you might wonder why we natives say ranch house rather than rambler; but I'll save that conversation for another post.

Anyway, I generally say our entryway, although my mom calls it our mudroom. It is actually a separate room with an interior door to the living room, a tile floor, and a bench for shoes, so I think Mom is correct in so doing. It's appropriate. We certainly have no shortage of mud in Washington State.

And now the tour~



Both Larry and I have wanted a new front door for years and years. I mean like 16 years. The old door was faux wood grain, which I couldn't abide, so I painted it. I always painted the interior white but the exterior was first one color and then another; most recently sage green. It was installed incorrectly, such that the door stuck to the framing. Therefore no matter how carefully I painted and how long I let the paint dry, there were always obvious marks in the paint along one side, where the paint had pulled away. That just made us dislike the door even more.

This past summer we finally purchased a lovely solid wood door and Larry did a masterful job tearing out the old and correctly installing the new. It's as if the house got a facelift and I love it. 

Aristotle said the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, right? Well, that is exactly how I feel about our entryway. This past week while Larry was away, I spent every day working in here. Just before Larry left we replaced the old baseboard with straightforward cottage style molding; something we're working at, one room at a time. I spackled, sanded painted both the molding and the paneling. I painted the ceiling and cleaned the blinds. In other words, I did a makeover. The room looks light, bright and pulled together. But it simply does not photograph well. It's fairly small and I just can't get far enough away with my camera to snap an accurate representation. So the best I can do is show you all of the parts and hope you can envision the whole. 



The window is directly opposite the door.


The view with the blind raised.


We have another window to the right of the door.


I made this on the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary. ♡
We are coming up on 37.




                    

Opposite the chalkboard, we mounted vintage doorknobs for hanging guest coats.


We made a reclaimed wood shelf and the display is subject to change.





Almost every room in the house has a water view and the entry is no exception. We are very blessed to have such beautiful panoramas, and no pun intended, I hope we never lose sight of this. It's a wonderful thing to step through the front door and be greeted by the view.

I am really bad about taking before photos, but while I was painting I remembered to take a quick iPhone shot of the old color. The entire house was at one time painted this shade of taupe. I wonder now why I ever chose it. Do you ever wonder about your own dated decor choices? But again room by room, I am repainting with a lighter, prettier shade, Valspar Coconut Milk.


Very ugly photo!

I'm not a minimalist, although sometimes I wish I were. Therefore the room is decorated with a
few meaningful accents, enough to cozy it up, but not clutter. 

For a variety of reasons, the entryway will forever remain my photography nemesis. I really do not love these pictures but I hope they help you get a sense of the room. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the room dimensions are  5.5' X 7.5'. Although it is by no means large, it functions well.

While working on it I had the thought that our Christmas tree would look perfect in the big window. And because the room has so many windows, the lights will sparkle merrily for passers-by. 

But maybe I'd better concentrate on fall decor first. 



As always, thanks so very much for visiting.

~Dana

                       

SNAPSHOTS



A RANDOM MIX OF PHOTOS AND CHAT.

A Failure To Launch.



I have been absent for a very long time (my last post was penned July 10th). Here I sit, grappling with awkwardness, staring at my computer screen, and asking myself the question, how in the heck do I begin again? 



Yesterday my close friend Dorothy and I spent a couple of hours together with coffee and candid conversation. I don't think we left a topic untouched. Among them was the question of why I fell away from blogging. The obvious and easy answer is that life has been complex. I have a great deal of responsibility to people that I love, and my mom especially has needed extra attention.



There is nothing untrue about that answer. No one's life story is without unforeseen twists and turns in the plot. But life's surprises notwithstanding, we all experience busyness, obligations, chores, doctor appointments, British drama binges, and the rest. But there's more to this question of blog abandonment, and I would like to honestly explain. When I lose my momentum, which I most assuredly have, my spirited embrace of blogging is displaced by insecurity and blog lethargy. Proof of this is that I have posted to my blog only one time since January! I spent 3 weeks blogging my way through England, sharing photos and feelings, promising future posts, and then I abruptly stopped writing; for months and months.



I have a serious and strong desire to share bits and pieces of my life; my photos, my ideas, and our dreams. And though absent from the blogosphere, we were not idle. As Larry and I chip away at our project list, I envision every new creative undertaking as a potential blog post. I string together the words in my head, I clearly visualize the photos. But repeatedly I have sold out to that small ubiquitous voice that constantly whispers, "What makes you think anyone is interested?". 

Dorothy said I worry obsessively about being perfect. She's right. I am convinced that no one is interested in anything less. I have a bin full of projects that are 80% finished. So she said I need to understand that if I want to move forward I have to learn that although I will never be perfect, I can be perfect enough. I really like that~ perfect enough.



You know, maybe no one is actually interested. Well, Larry and Dorothy are interested. But what matters is that I truly enjoy the blogging process. It provides the structure I desperately need and a challenge. My blog is a photo journal of my adventure through life, and I love creating it. However, I get easily derailed because I allow blogging to become a popularity contest; like sorority rush. Silly, right? It's my blog and it only needs to make me happy. In other words, it's my party and I'll blog if I want to.

Perhaps you're wondering what, if anything, I have concluded from all of this babble? Just this~ Blogging is a not about being the best, but rather about sharing my best. Creativity has no well-defined destination. It's an adventure; it's a process. It's a lesson in perfect enough



Adventure indeed awaits. And I hope you'll wander with me.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble,

~Dana 





















SNAPSHOTS



A RANDOM MIX OF PHOTOS AND CHAT.

Remnant Goes To The Beach.




After a very long blog sabbatical, I'm feeling a blog call-to-action. I've been extraordinarily busy here at home. As I've mentioned, our property is landscape intensive and requires attention beginning about mid-February.

The cold, blustery weather seemed endless yet the grass and weeds pay it no mind. So what I consider to be the ugly months were spent in great part outside, hard at work, constricted by warm sweaters and even parkas. Landscape intruders show no mercy. If I were to write a book about gardening in the Pacific Northwest, I might entitle it Man Vs. Shotweed, or something similar.

More recently, June Gloom has grudgingly given way and we've been blessed with shimmering blue water and sun-filled sky. Down vests and puff coats are now stowed well out of sight and out of mind.  The mode 'o day is once again cropped jeans, lightweight layers, and an appropriate sun hat.

OK, so if you know me at all you know my favorite color is "neutral". I work at color, I sincerely do. But I always seem to regress. I love all shades of beige, brown and white, and it's a struggle for me to be adventurous.

This spring however I broke the mold; really I did. I think 9 months of ever-present, oppressive damp and gray weather did a number on my psyche. There was a time when I thought the seasonal affective disorder conversation was merely psycho-babble~ not so anymore. The struggle is real.

Anyway, I threw myself at the task of creating more interest (via more color) in the living room. I made a sizable collection of new accent pillows.

In so doing, I learned new ways to make pillow covers. I tried a one piece style, which required very little cutting and sewing. And a more typical envelope style. I will do anything to avoid hand-stitching pillow closures.

Fabric shopping consumed a bit of time. At first I bought fabric at a local JoAnn's. I love shopping there. There's a coupon for everything and they have such a relaxed return policy, thankfully. My first choices did not turn out to be my best.

My online choice is Best Fabric Store. I am not paid to give endorsements so you can trust me when I say this company is amazing. Fast shipping, great customer service and perfect pricing, so what's not to like? I ordered a variety of samples and then with a leap of faith, ordered cut yardage. I am really happy with the two choices I made. The quality is really top notch.

So here you go, snaps of my new subtle beach-side look. I hope you enjoy the browse.





You might be thinking that my beach tones are understated. Yes, that's by design. I wanted to bring blue into the living room without getting all gimmicky or cutesy.



I am a lucky woman. Blue hydrangeas provide a profusion of color both outside and in the living room. And in case you haven't guessed, this is my morning coffee spot, now awash with color.

I can't say goodbye without leaving you with a link to a great tutorial on the one piece envelope pillow. Check it out here at The Happy Housie.

As an aside, the small burlap pillows are from a different source. I will share that in a separate post because there's a cute story attached.  Speaking of cute, we have a very close guy friend who is an ardent Remnant fan. He reads almost all of my posts, obviously giving some closer attention than others. He told me that although he prefers my travel writing and photos, he will (nonetheless) suffer through the table setting posts. Now that's a true follower.

I'm sure he has absolutely no interest in my pillows, although it is he actually encouraging me to use more color in my house. So I dedicate this post to our dear friend Steve.

I'm sure my long absences have cost me most of my readership. So to you that are still here, I'm sending a huge thanks.

With love,

~Dana

POSTCARDS

WISH YOU WERE HERE~ A Photologue Of Our Travels.

Enchanted Cambridge.

 
Christ's College, University of Cambridge 

Our trip is coming to a rapid halt, so this is my final U.K. post. We attempt to fly home tomorrow. I use the word  attempt because we fly standby. If it weren't for the blessing of lifelong flight benefits we would not have had the many incredible journeys we've enjoyed together. The price we pay is the non-confirmed flight status and the attendant uncertainty; so well worth it. 

Cambridge was quite a lovely surprise and a perfect place for an English travel finale. For some reason I was expecting to fall in love with Oxford but not Cambridge. I think that is in part the result of watching so much British drama set in and about Oxfordshire. However, I'm quite smitten with Cambridge and this strong affinity caught me off guard. 

 

 

 

As in any very old city center, Cambridge street scenes are deeply emphatic. Simple structural elements such as doors and windows exude character and beckon newcomers to stop and take notice. 

 

 

 

Bicycles and bridges abound in Cambridge. I have never, ever seen such a population of bikes. Bicycles here were for me the same as telephone booths in London~ I couldn't stop photographing them. 

 

 

 

The River Carn runs along Jesus Green, and we were staying just a few short blocks away. So both mornings we walked a paved path which is laid out between the green and the riverbank, to a delightful little cafe for coffee and a scone. 

 

 
These colorful boats are called punts. Young men work aggressively at marketing the Cambridge punt experience. It was much too cold for us, but many visitors took advantage of the opportunity. 

 
There are also many narrow-boats on the river. Some are full time live-aboard and some are for charter. 


 
Best scone in England. 


 

 

Amazing coffee here at Bould Borthers. These two young men opened just six days ago. It was such a wonderful place to spend some time. 
A few more Cambridge images~

 

 

 

I need to pack now and I really dislike packing to go home. It unnerves me more than flying standby. I always say I won't buy anything that takes up space, but obviously I lie. My bags are about to burst. 

When I get home I hope to write some thoughts about all things right about this trip and all of my mistakes. And I am going to post my "best of" photos as a recap. Thank you again for being interested enough to follow our journey!

Hugs,

~Dana