Thursday, July 31, 2008

You're It!

I've been tagged by Nicole over at Crafting Happens. I don't always get around to participating in tags or awards, but...

1. Where have you traveled? My parents took the three of us girls on a driving trip around the U.S. when I was 17. We visited about 36 states. It was incredible. I've also been on short trips to Canada and Mexico. My hubby took me to France and Germany 5 years ago!

2. Where would you like to live? I'm content to live in this house in the Willamette Valley for as long as I am alive, but I'd love to go visiting to other great locations.

3. What is your decorating style? Hmmm. Heidi? Grin. Knock-off Pottery Barn?
4. How many times have you been married? Once, and I plan to keep it that way.
5. What is your favorite color? Nicole answered, 'I love all colors but if I had to pick a favorite, I guess green. No red. I mean turquoise.' That pretty much sums it up.

6. What is your proudest accomplishment? Nothing can compare to creating and raising my three boys (up to this point, of course), but I can only take partial credit for that one.

7. What would we be absolutely shocked to learn about you? I don't know if this will shock you, but I am lazy, lazy, lazy. Lack of self-discipline is my worst enemy.

Hmmm. Whom do I feel like tagging today? Let's try Spanki at The Mills Family and Jennifer at Planted by Streams, if they're up to it. If anyone else would like to play along, feel free to leave your answer(s) in the comments or on your blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is part gardening journal, part economic diatribe, part humorous essay, part science text book, part cook book, and in great part literary brilliance. Barbara Kingsolver is a masterful writer, and, while I don't necessarily agree with her political, religious, or evolutionary beliefs, she presents a beautiful and convincing argument for food knowledge.

The author chronicles her family's food journey over the course of a year, growing and raising most of their meat, vegetables, and fruit. The balance they purchase locally. I enjoyed the often laugh-out-loud anecdotes of farm life. Some inspired me to follow suit. Some convinced me I was never cut out to produce all of my own food, particularly raising turkeys.

I appreciate the fact that Kingsolver doesn't expect everyone reading to go to the lengths she went with her own family at that point in her life, but rather encourages each person to, at the very least, know where their food is coming from, both geographically and scientifically. The next step she proposes is to purchase locally as much as possible.

I was reminded in part of reading A Year in Provence, especially as the author was telling the story of their trip to Italy. Both books are a look at a year of food, A Year in Provence being the most humorous and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle being the most informative. Both books will make the reader ravenous, craving all manner of delectable dishes and savory foods. Both books will inspire the reader to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, such as a fabulous meal.

pg. 9

The baby boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a key to moving away from manual labor, and dirt--two undeniable ingredients of farming. It's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, knows food production well enough to serve the rest of us with all we need to eat, each day of our lives.

If that's true, why isn't it good enough for someone else to know multiplication and the contents of the Bill of Rights? Is the story of bread, from tilled ground to our table, less relevant to our lives than the history of the thirteen colonies? Couldn't one make a case for the relevance of a subject that informs choices we make daily--as in, What's for dinner? Isn't ignorance of our food sources causing problems as diverse as overdependence on petroleum, and an epidemic of diet-related diseases?

pg. 127

When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families' tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable. (Or worse, convenience-mart hot dogs and latchkey kids.) I consider it the great hoodwink of my generation.

pg. 286

Snow fell on our garden in December, leaving the dried corn stalks and withered tomato vines standing black on white like a pen-and-ink drawing titled Rest. I postponed looking at seed catalogs for awhile. Those of us who give body and soul to projects that never seem to end--child rearing, housecleaning, gardening--know the value of the occasional closed door. We need our moments of declared truce.

pg. 287

Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing.

pg. 288

Planning complex, beautiful meals and investing one's heart and time in their preparation is the opposite of self-indulgence. Kitchen-based family gatherings are process-oriented, cooperative, and in the best of worlds, nourishing and soulful. A lot of calories get used up before anyone sits down to consume. But more importantly, a lot of talk happens first, news exchanged, secrets revealed across generations, paths cleared with a touch on the arm. I have given and received some of my life's most important hugs with those big oven-mitt potholders on both hands.
If you want another view on the subject, check out Jen's reviews here and here.

At the conclusion of the book, Kingsolver states that they used approximately one acre of land to meet her whole family's nutritional consumption (including purchased food items such as grains) in contrast to the average 1.2 cultivated acres for each individual citizen in the U.S. I'm glad she included this information, as I had wondered what land area it would require to sustain a family.

Should we choose to grow and raise our own food, we would likely be able to do so on our own property. I've started making a list (because we all know I love a list) of all the things we could grow here on our land. The Willamette Valley is an excellent place to grow a tremendous variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as raise livestock.

I will admit that I didn't add one single animal to my list. Luckily our neighbor raises animals (organic, grass-fed) and we will be buying beef and pork from him this year! That is about as local as we can get without doing the work ourselves. I should find a source for chicken and additional ground beef...

What are you growing in your gardens this year? What would you like to grow in the future?

Do you shop at your local farmer's market or produce stand?

A Bee and a Bachelor (Button)

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
~Anne Frank

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On the River

We spent the day on the river for our annual family reunion.
Gorgeous day. Awesome family.
And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Family

Have I mentioned how much I find pleasure in recommending beautiful books to all of you? Today's selection is A Family: Paintings from a Bygone Age by Carl Larsson. This gem had a spot on my wish list for some time. I used Luke's birthday money (thanks Grandma P.!) to purchase it for him.

Possessing a hint of Swedish blood myself, I have always delighted in the colorful, dreamy, amiable art of Carl Larsson. A Family tells the story of the painter's life and work, illustrated with his own depictions of his family members. Some of the paintings are full of life and personality. Some are quiet and personal such as the painting of his wife, Karin, breastfeeding newborn Brita. Some are quirky sketches and illustrations.

Children will enjoy imagining the stories behind each picture. Boys dressed up as soldiers, a girl with braids fishing off a bridge, family meals, a parade of children carrying flowers, a child eating bread and jam outside a farm house kitchen...

All in all, I savor the dreamy paintings of Swedish life from another era. A treasure of a picture book!

Making connections:

Watching Countries Around the World: Sweden.

Adding the Turning Torso skyscraper to our Around the World cards.

Life: Beautiful

My sister recently shared this spectacular magazine with me, and I want to recommend it to my readers! I have loved very few publications, and this tops them all. I allowed all my other subscriptions expire because the magazines have piled up without being read, but I am looking forward to stopping life for an hour of rest (and a glass of lemonade on the porch or a cup of tea and a blanket) when I receive each issue of Life: Beautiful in the mail.

It is oversized, with heavy smooth pages. Very few advertisements, and none distracting to the eye. Gorgeous photography, inspirational quotes and Bible verses. Similar in style to Martha Stewart, Real Simple, and Cottage Living. Inspiration for the Christian woman. Truly worth the subscription price, and a business venture I feel great supporting! Check out their mission statement.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bard in the Quad

We (Holly, Ilex, Drake, Shannon, Levi, and I) attended our first Bard in the Quad performance at OSU last year. After a fabulous time, we were determined not to miss this year's performance: A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The 2008 production will be performed in the style of the great silent films of the early 1910s and 1920s, with fantastic costumes reminiscent of the Ziegfeld Follies, Valentino..., Mary Pickford and the great silent film comics Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin... all under a midsummer night's sky!

The evening weather was absolutely perfect and we had tremendous seats. We felt like we were a part of the production as actors walked up and down the aisle mere inches from us. The acting was physically hilarious, the costumes fascinating. I loved watching the glow deepen as the sun set. As the dark gradually increased, the theater lights brightened. Oh, what a night!

Hippolyta, Philostrate, and Theseus:

Fairies and Puck:

Titania and Oberon:

Peter Quince, Bottom, and Co.:

The Gorgeous Memorial Union Quad at Dusk:
Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena:
Peter Quince Setting the Stage:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grouping Smaller Items...

...for a Bigger Impact

Last week we talked about hanging wall decor. I mentioned that larger spaces need larger items or a grouping of smaller items. Today, I want to offer tips on building a cohesive collection of elements on a wall.

1. Pick at least one coordinating element to unify your grouping.

::Purchase or paint all frames a single color. (It isn't necessary to use the same style if they match in color or tone.)

::Use all sepia-tone or black & white photos in a picture grouping.

::Create a collage of single colored items. For example: all white plates, frames, and candle sconces.
::Repeating a single element can create a bold graphic display.

2. Find ways to physically connect or contain smaller items.

::Use a shelf (photo ledge/gallery shelf) to display photo frames or plates.

::Pin memorabilia to a large framed cork board.

::Hang an over-sized empty wooden frame around a selection of diminutive decor.

::Connect several items with a length of ribbon hung either horizontally or vertically.

::Hang items (using twine, ribbon, wire...) from a long coat rack or wooden peg rack.

::This brings me to my favorite tip of the day...
Do you have a room that is crying out for a bold splash of paint, but you are too nervous to cover all the walls? Do you have an area or wall with no clear beginning or end? Do you want to create an instant focal point?

Paint a square (circle, rectangle) on the wall to contain your grouping. This can be a splash of color on a neutral-colored wall, a color slightly more intense than the base coat, a contrasting color, or even a simple neutral color.

I recommend painting an area just larger than the grouping you intend to highlight. If you want the freedom to change around your decor, keep the remaining can of paint handy for easy touch-ups and nail hole patches.

If you want to emphasize the area, attach simple (or not so simple) wooden trim in a frame around the painted square.

In our previous home I desperately wanted to paint our hallway an interesting color (it was boring white), but there was no place to end the paint before heading into the kitchen. I painted a large rectangle (it almost filled one wall), hung four picture ledges floor to ceiling within the space, and painted a quote to define the theme.
3. Be aware of your 'white space.'

::Keep a relatively even amount of wall space in between each element. You want your decor to be neither too far apart (so as to seem disconnected), nor too close together (creating a crowded, uncomfortable feeling).

::Avoid creating areas of boxed-in empty wall space in your layout.

4. Choose a unifying theme.

::Themes have a way of establishing instant atmosphere in a room. Straw hats and wooden oars: relaxing boat house. Metal watering cans and vintage botanical prints: garden cottage. Salvaged architectural pieces and industrial sculpture: urban loft. Elvis records and a CocaCola sign: retro diner.

::Consider defining your theme with a quote, lettering, or sign. For example, you might paint the word Nest within a grouping of bird-themed articles.

5. Experiment with placement.

::Set your items on the floor or on a large table so that you can see how they all fit together. When you've arranged everything to your satisfaction, take the center-most item and hang it in the center of your wall space, about eye level. Hang each item, working from the center out.

::Alternately, use pieces of paper cut to the same size as the items you'll be using in your grouping so that you can easily move things around to find the right arrangement. Use tape or poster putty to attach them to the wall. When you are ready to start hanging, put the corresponding paper up to the back of each item to mark where your nail holes need to be. Adhere the papers to the wall, pound your nails through them, tear the papers off, and you are ready to put up the finished product.


I'll be exploring these tips in greater depth individually in the coming months (with photographs!). Let me know if you have any questions or are interested in a specific how-to and I will try to address them as I cover each topic.

Are there other decorating tips or how-to's that you would find helpful?

This Is Ridiculous

Leif decided to wake up at four this morning. I had nothing better to do than play with my new actions, right? Right?! I promise this is the last photoshop post this week and a Project Heidi post on hanging groupings on walls tomorrow! (Above photo is SOOC.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

I {Heart} Totally Rad Actions

I had a little spending money burning a hole in my pocket. Hubby gave me his blessing (along with a little technical assistance), and I purchased Totally Rad Action Mix. My house is now an utter disaster. The children are running wild. I'm having a blast. Here are a few before and afters for you from an old (January) Levi photo shoot (since I haven't gotten around to finishing up the Project Heidi post yet...). It is going to take me a long time to get the hang of this!

Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC):

Oh, Snap!, Clare-ify, and Vignette & Blur:



Rusty Cage:


Old Skool:

Punch Out!!!:

Bullet Tooth, Dirty Lovin:

(And just because he is so cute, here is Leif hanging out in the truck while Levi was getting his photo taken.)

Super Fun Happy: