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Transitioning

If you’ve followed along for a while, you know that my life is split between Maine and Houston.  I enjoy both places, but transitioning into Houston does have its challenges.

West UThere are some highlights, including coming home to the house I love.  

Houston houseThe first few minutes are spent wandering from room to room reacquainting myself with each one.

tablescape/barEven before bags are unpacked, I go to buy foodstuffs.  Now, that is one of the joys of being in Houston.  Costco and Trader Joe’s are just a few minutes away as well as a grocery store that has everything and then some.  Between the three the pantry is well stocked and bunches of flowers make it seem like home.

Office View HoustonNow for the hard part. Compared to Rockport, Houston is a behemoth!  What that means is traffic, lots of it.  Already I’ve had to do some freeway driving and after traveling mostly two lane roads for the last few months, six lanes of cars moving at fast speeds is a trifle scary.

Houston has been home for many years, and I do have good friends here that I am anxious to see.  I appreciate the amenities this big city offers, but I miss the simple life and the natural beauty in Maine.  Heck, I even miss shopping at TJ Maxx!

Rockport HarborI especially miss opening my eyes every morning and looking out to see how Rockport Harbor is welcoming the day.  Here, when I turn my head all I see is the wooden fence that separates us from the neighbors.  

Oh well, it’s a good life and I am very grateful for all that each place affords.

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Holiday Decor, home, Random

Keeping It Simple

I like the holidays as much as anyone, but for the last several years I’ve enjoyed keeping the associated decor simple. From my still sizeable array of Christmas goodies, something different is brought out each year, and I delight in choosing what to feature. This time the focus is on nativities which are among my favorite things.

Our mantel is barely more than an architectural detail, but it proved to be just right for arranging a good part of the collection.

As each one went to its place, I took a moment to recall its story.

In the days when I participated in holiday shows I always had my eye open for a new nativity to add to a growing collection so many of them came from other vendors.

I particularly liked finding sets from another country that likely had been handmade.

This was the very first nativity I bought so it is years old. I laughed at the chewed wooden legs remembering our first dog. What a character he was and he left behind much evidence of his presence!

Flat surfaces are not abundant in our house, but there are enough to have a nativity on every one.

As each one came out of its box, I began to see a common thread.

Most are handmade and tend toward folk art.

The last to find a place is my favorite. I found these pieces a couple of years ago when we took a boat trip from Maine to Nova Scotia. I was blown away by their detail and the wonderful use of color. No matter where or how the set is displayed, it tells a wonderful story and I am so grateful to the hands that created it.

So there you have most of my holiday decorating and by keeping it simple, each and every one of these nativities invites a look.

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Holiday Decor, home, Random

Getting It On

I stubbornly wait until early December to begin decorating for the holidays.

ChandeliersNow I don’t have a chandelier to embellish

Christmas decoror a mantle to drape with greenery

IMG_1457or a bannister to festoon.

So, what is a girl to do?  First, I go to the closet and pull out the wreaths that I use year after year.  They suit the house, and as long as they hang together I see no reason to change them.   Looking at them, can you guess that the traditional reds and greens are not what you’ll find inside?  No, here the palette is slightly off but still reflective of the season.

Next is my favorite thing: creating a centerpiece for the dining room table.  I should tell you that these days I don’t buy much new but use favorite familiar pieces in different ways.  These metal holly leafed trees are a good place to start, and the cranberry table runner is a perfect background.  

What makes the runner special are the details at the ends.  I’m a sucker for tucks.

I was delighted to find the same color candles at Michael’s when I went there to pick up some gift boxes.  They are in brass candlesticks that were given us as a wedding present so many years ago. It took a little Brasso to get them gleaming again.  The ribbons were an afterthought, and not being able to decide which to use, I used them both.  How’s that for not being able to make up your mind?

I look for any opportunity to use bells from my extensive collection.  Most are clear glass and crystal with a few colored ones thrown in.  While the ones here are not the same color, they are close enough and I like their differing textures.

IMG_0081Well, this is the beginning.  Next I will choose a few more favorite things to sprinkle through the house.  I like the picking and choosing which makes everything seem new again.

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home, Home Decor

How Many Is Too Many?

bedroomWhen he turns back the bed, the hubby’s question is always the same.  “Is it necessary to have all these ****** pillows?”  

bedroom“Some of these suckers weigh enough to qualify as weights,” he goes on.

img_8553I smile to myself pretending not to hear and envision the bed looking like this

img_8554or this.

Now those looks don’t work for me, but maybe the rest of you should chime in on how many pillows is too many.

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To Do or Not?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATumbling out of bed in the morning, it is left rumpled and mussed.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe duvet rests untidily on a chair.

Making the bed is not my first priority. No, I head to the kitchen for that first cup of coffee and then settle in a comfortable chair to read a favorite poet (Billy Collins) or have a few quiet moments before starting the day.

bedroomWhen I return to the bedroom to get dressed, that messy bed screams to be tidied and I spend the few minutes it takes to put it back together.  

bedroomAll done, the room takes on an aura of calmness.  I like knowing that tonight when I return to the bed the sheets will be pulled tight and the blanket smoothed.  Those are simple things that give me inner peace.

bedroomMay I tell you the hubby would be just as happy if the bed were not made and all the pillows did not have to be removed night after night!

How about you, where does bed making rate on your list?

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Reentry….

TexasNo sooner do you get into Texas than you begin to notice changes that define its character.

TexasThere are lots of wide open spaces with cattle grazing and maybe an oil well or two pumping away.

TexasChemical plants and refineries are not unusual sights,

Texas/pickupand pickups are more common than cars.

Texas/HoustonAs you get closer to Houston, billboards and strip centers line the highway, not a pretty sight as an entrance to the nation’s fourth largest city.

HoustonFreeways widen to 4-6 lanes in an effort to keep traffic moving

Houstonand spaghetti bowls head off in every direction.

HoustonNo matter how wide the freeways or how many there are, traffic can come to a complete stop at any time of day.  A Maine friend thinks 4 or 5 cars stopped in traffic is gridlock.  Wonder what he’d say about this!

HoustonSpying the city skyline in the distance, I am awed by its transformation in recent years.  Little of the old is there, but that is characteristic of Houston which has demolished so much of its history to create a new story and reflect its can do attitude.

HoustonCranes are everywhere, and new construction is proof of Houston’s booming economy.  This kind of activity is not what one sees much of in Maine which is both a positive and a negative.

Houston’s bigness makes me a little panicky.  All the traffic, all the activity are things that take some getting used to after several months in a much more tranquil environment.  Also, I have to start thinking differently about what is beautiful.  It won’t be the harbor or magical islands or evening sunsets. 

HoustonAs all of these thoughts race through my head, we turn the corner and up ahead I see our house and am calmed.  It is close to all the things that Houston has to offer, but the uniqueness of this area is that it seems far removed from the city’s bustle.   This, too, is a place I’m lucky to call home, and after 14 states, 2280 miles and 34 hours in the car I’m glad to be here.

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Decorating, home

Final Touches

Maine HouseChanging the sofa seemed simple, but rarely is anything as simple as we first think.  That yellow coffee table just didn’t resonate with the new sofa, so it had to change.  Some of you suggested painting it red, orange, turquoise or white, all good ideas.

My first inclination was to go with one of the colors, but as I looked at the room, several things struck me.  First, there is a lot of white trim.  There is  more contrast between the sofa and the wall color than previously.  There is ample color in the accessories.  With all this going on, I feared this relatively small room getting too chaotic.

Maine houseThe final decision: paint the table the same color as the wall.  Looking at the table, you might think the color different from the walls.  It does differ slightly, and this is why.  The wall is a flat paint that absorbs light making it appear darker.  The table is a satin gloss which reflects light making it appear shades lighter.  When you are painting different surfaces with a different paint, this is something to remember.  To come close to matching color, have gloss paints made darker by doubling  or tripling the formula.  For this paint, I also had black added for more depth.  When adding black, however, do be careful because too much can muddy the color.

Maine houseLook and you will see another change: the rug.  While waiting for the paint on the table to dry, I kept looking at the purple rug and feeling that it no longer worked.  The new one is from eSaleRugs, a wonderful internet resource. The multiple shades of green tie everything together as well as relate to the dining room rug which is a few feet from this space.  The rug is slightly larger than 5×8 and was a great price, $148 including shipping.  To my amazement, it arrived two days after the order was placed.  How often does that happen!

Maine houseAll done, most everything is different.  One thing that did stay the same is the art over the sofa.  It is a piece by one of my talented daughters whose work is always our favorite.  Maine houseLook closely and you will see that it is a combination of painted and collaged surfaces, and the house shapes are suspended with tape measures.   Such a clever presentation.

Well, that’s it.  It’s amazing what a few changes can do to give a room a whole different look, and, in this case, make it a much more comfortable space. 

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