All the Light We Cannot See…a Good Read


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Every once in a while I read a book that is memorable.  All the Light We Cannot See is such a book!

First I am going to give you a detailed synopsis of the book and then I have a marvelous, touching, and true story to tell you about someone I met who actually lived through what this Pulitzer Prize winning book by Anthony Doerr describes.

The synopsis is taken from

“Marie-Laure LeBlanc and her father Daniel live in Paris where he is a locksmith who keeps track of thousands of locks and keys for the National Museum of Natural History. When Marie-Laure loses her sight at the age of six, her father builds her a model of the area they live in, complete with every manhole cover, building, street and lane represented. The intricate model allows Marie-Laure to memorize the area and confidently navigate it without fear. A remarkably talented woodworker, he also creates puzzles for her each year on her birthday that involve up to a dozen or more moves to solve, and she manages to do so in minutes each time to his amazement.

As war nears, the museum curators are forced to pack up the valuable pieces and move them to safety. One such item is a precious stone that is kept safely behind a number of doors, and never shown on display. Called the Sea of Flames, the large blue diamond has a red occlusion at its center, and a storied past. The stone is said to have the power to keep its owner safe while bringing ruin and death to all around them. Each time it has changed hands, its providence has repeated itself. Before moving it, Daniel is asked to create three likenesses of the stone, and then each of the four stones are given to four trusted couriers, neither one knowing whether the one they have is the real one or not in the hopes that it can be moved safely.

Daniel is given one of the stones just before he and Marie-Laure leave Paris for Saint-Malo. With war closing in on them, the trip is a perilous one, and much of it is made on foot. Marie-Laure is afraid to leave her home and the security of the area she knows, but believes that her father will keep her safe, and holds on to his promise that he will never leave her. Great uncle Etienne and Madame Manec welcome them when they arrive and give them shelter and food. Daniel keeps the stone safe and begins to build another model for Marie-Laure, promising her that when it is safe he will take her outside.

Werner Pfennig and his sister Jutta are orphans who live in Children’s House in Zollverein, Germany. Werner teaches himself the basics of electronics, inspired by a radio program hosted by a Frenchman. Soon he is building radios of his own, and increasing their range and power instead of just repairing them. When word of his prowess gets out, he is invited to audition to attend the National Political Institutes of Education. He is admitted, but is miserable and longs to return to his sister and the only home he knows. Instead, he is educated and singled out for his electronic ability, asked to create a transceiver that would enable them to locate illegal radio transmissions. When he manages to do so, he is fast tracked into a uniform and sent out to hunt and destroy any they can find.

Marie-Laure’s father is arrested and sent to a work camp, but the stone remains hidden in the model of Etienne’s house where Marie-Laure eventually discovers it. Another man is searching for the fabled Sea of Flames, and manages to locate three out of the four stones that left the museum. Unfortunately, they were all fakes, but Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel is motivated to find this particular prize. Von Rumpel is dying, cancer spreading through his body, and he hopes that the stone has the power to keep him alive. Etienne is detained and Marie-Laure is home alone when von Rumpel comes, still hunting his stone. She hides in the attic with the radio and transmitter Etienne built and used to relay messages for the resistance. He spends days in the house hunting while Marie-Laure hides until Werner arrives, having heard her broadcast in Etienne’s place, and saves her from von Rumpel redeeming himself just a little as he keeps her identity safe and helps her to escape after learning that it was her uncle who had inspired him as a child with his broadcasts.

Two children on opposite sides of the war find each other in the middle, and remember each other for a lifetime. Doerr brings these children to life in a time when peace seems impossible, and survival unlikely.”

You might be interested in seeing images of Saint-Malo.

I don’t know how it could be more beautiful.


Statue of Robert Surcouf, famous corsair from Saint-Malo

from the Saint-Malo Tourism site:

“The success of the Battle at Normandy caused German troops to retreat to Brittany. Initially, Saint-Malo wasn’t considered a target due to its weak garrison numbers. However, the number of German soldiers posted to Saint-Malo thereby increasing their numbers to a total of 13,000 troops.

The storming of Saint-Malo

© Flickr / PhotosNormandie

The strikes led at Saint-Malo and Dinard were more difficult than planned, and an Allied offensive on August 6 was a disastrous failure. In addition to its garrison inside the city walls, Saint-Malo also benefited from artillery on the island of Cézembre that was capable of reaching land troops. Thanks to efficient artillery firing against the Germans, American soldiers managed to infiltrate the city on August 9. Troops surrendered to the 330th infantry regime and, short on ammunition, the Germans could no longer defend themselves.

A City Greatly Affected by the Allied Landing

Today, intramural Saint-Malo is very well-known for its medieval homes and walk on top of its ramparts. The city is in large part reconstructed; the majority of the historical center was destroyed during fierce fighting. On August 6, 1944, the American Army bombed the city whose reconstruction would last until 1972 with the restoration of the Saint-Vincent Cathedral. The National Fort located in the Saint-Malo Bay also suffered material and human losses among the inhabitants of the corsair city.”

I was not aware of this medieval city or the brave people who lived there and in the surrounding region during WWII until I read All the Light We Cannot See.  I have long been aware of the invasion of Normandy because my father drove a supply truck onto Omaha Beach the day after D-Day.  He told me that he was informed that the engine would not stop if it was submerged in water.  So, when he drove off of the truck transport and the water reached his ankles, then his knees, and then his waist, he could only keep going.  Bullets whizzed past the truck, but he made it to the beach.  I only wish I had asked him more questions.

So, when I met the most amazing woman last week in California, I asked as many questions as I could think to ask.  She is the 94 year old mother of a friend and she was born and raised in the Brittany region of France. I will call her, “Marie.”  When WWII broke out, she was 17 years old. “I remember the day they told us that the Germans were invading.  At first I cried, but then we had to go on with it.  What else could you do?”

She went on to explain that the citizens of the area were deprived of food and shelter, clothing, and safety.  If you were caught listening to a radio, you could be taken out and killed.  Her family hid a radio in the wall of their home.  She said that the Germans wore heavy boots and you could hear them coming. They never did find the hidden radio.

Marie was a waitress at a cafe when she met the young man who would become her husband.  They decided to have their wedding out in a field, far away from the town center and hidden from the eyes of the Germans.  The wedding took place in the afternoon, and there was such a celebration with family and friends that they could not make it back to their homes in time for the curfew.  “We stayed all night out in the field!”

Then, Marie showed my her wedding band.  She wore it for 68 years of a happy marriage.  “We needed a wedding band and could not afford one.  A man came into the restaurant and he wanted some butter for his mother.  So, I traded a pound of butter for a wedding ring!”

wedding ring

Her dear husband died many years ago, but she continues to wear this beautiful ring. It could not be more dear if it were inlaid with diamonds and rubies.

“One day I saw my friend coming down the street with a suitcase,” she said with a smile.  “I asked her where she was going and she said she was going to America. We decided that we would go, too.  We had a small baby and we were hungry.”  With their baby daughter they made their way to New Jersey.  Her husband found a job in just a few days.

I was curious about homes that might be for sale in Saint-Malo today. These real estate offerings are from a French real estate compay, Mer Et Demeures.  Here is an apartment:

Sale Apartment Sea view Saint-Malo - France - 2

Sale Apartment Sea view Saint-Malo - France - 3

This home that is near the beach:

Sale House Close to beach Saint-Malo - France - 1

Sale House Close to beach Saint-Malo - France - 4

Sale House Close to beach Saint-Malo - France - 5 Another house for sale in the walled city of Saint-Malo:

Sale House Close to beach Saint-Malo - France - 1

This home in Saint-Malo is close to the beach.

Sale House Close to beach Saint-Malo - France - 1

When Anthony Doerr learned that he had won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for his book All the Light We Cannot See he and his young son were eating ice cream in Paris. That had to have been a very good day!  It just may have been as memorable as the day I met Marie and learned of her struggles in a small town very near to Saint-Malo.

What I hope you will take away with you from reading this account is to remember to ask questions of World War II soldiers, their loved ones, and people who had to live through it.  They have a great deal of information to share.  They are heroes!




American Architectural Style


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We talk about “curb appeal” all of the time when we drive through neighborhoods, look at television shows, or enjoy postings on Pinterest or home blogs.  But, do you know the names for the different types of architectural styles that you enjoy the most? Here is a mini primer on the most popular American architectural styles. Nancy Atkinson from Charlotte Urban Home magazine did a great deal of the research and this is a summary of her article, “American Architectural Style.”


The style grew popular in the early part of the 20th century and can be seen in institutional settings like universities and government.  Look for symmetry, tall Doric columns, elaborate doorways and evenly spaced windows.


The gingerbread trim and multiple colors help these homes resemble a doll house.  Look for homes that are two or even three stories and almost always with a wrap around porch.


This style began in 1945.  It is known for flat planes, large glass windows, and open space.


This style was born in the 1600’s and early 1700’s.  Look for cedar shingles on the roof and even on the sides, dormers on the second story,


I quote from the article by Nancy Atkinson, “The Dutch Colonial is easily recognized by its broad gambrel look which gives it a barn house look.  Georgian is the most common type of Colonial home and features strict symmetry, five windows across and flattened columns.  The Federal Colonial is modeled after Roman classicism with decorative embellishments, tall columns, grand curved steps, fan shaped window topping the door with long windows placed symmetrically on either side of the door.


These homes are made from brick, stone, stucco, lap siding and usually have steep pitched roofs arched doors, casement windows.


The half timber framing is a main feature of the Tudor.  Also look for steeply pitched roofs, fancy chimneys, multi-gabled roof lines.


There are influences from Spain, Italy, Portugal.  Look for red tiled roofs, stucco, balconies, tiles.


Long porches, a simple exterior and a rural setting are standard.


Look for leaded glass windows, low pitched roofs, square columns, corbels.


Made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright, a prairie style home hugs the land.  It features horizontal lines  with long flat roofs.


Tall second story windows, brick stucco, stone exteriors.  Elongated windows with arched tops, steeply pitched roofs.



You will see large planes of glass, right angles, lack of ornamentation, flat roofs.

Do you have a favorite?

Look at these homes by Barnes Vanze Architectural firm in Washington D.C. See if you can figure out what style they are.

New French Country Cottage by Barnes Vanze Architects, new house inspired by old french country cottages:

Shingle-style house designed by Barnes Vanze Architects - “Curved porches extend from each of the three stories:

Stone Georgian Home - traditional - exterior - dc metro - Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc:

Lakeside Family Cottage by Barnes Vanze Architects:

Barnes Vanze Architects - Traditional Architecture, Renovations and Additions:

Spring is just around the corner.  Really!  Think about sprucing up your curb appeal.  Paint the front door, add a pot of flowers, plant roses if you have a cottage, and add topiary on either side of the front door if you have a neoclassical style.  Victorian homes love to have ferns hanging from the porch and French Provincial will be happy with boxwood and closely cropped bushes.  A farmhouse looks good with a swing on the front porch.

Create and be happy!




2016 Pantone Color(s) of the Year



Pantone has announced their colors of the year selection for 2016.  This is the first time that two colors have been selected for the same year.  I think that you will be surprised as to what they are:

Odds are you haven’t seen a room decorated in these colors since maybe the 70’s or 80’s.  What goes around definitely does come around.  Odds also are that you will start seeing these colors more and more in stores, magazines, and maybe walking down the street.





Dreamy Whites shabby-chic-style-dining-room

44 Pink And Blue Room Ideas - Style Estate -:
from style estate
Pantone Colour of the Year 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity | Pastel Coloured Bedroom | Pink and Blue Bedroom:
from style estate
Blue and pink:
from Elle Deccor
Pantone Colors of the Year 2016 Rose Quartz & Serenity | KitchAnn Style:
pantone color 2016 home - Google keresés:
Pantone Color of the Year 2016, Color Trends for home, Rose Quartz, Serenity, Home decorating ideas,
Pantone's Color(s) of the Year for 2016... Rose Quartz and Serenity. #pantone #coloroftheyear #design:
from Resource Furniture
Outfit ideas with Pantone's 2016 colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity:
from Glamour
Pantone color of the year 2016 Serenity and Rose Quartz:
saved by Pink Doll
2016 Pantone Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz & Serenity // Sea of Atlas:
from Sea of Atlas
Pantone names two colours of the year for 2016: The hues for 2016 are about more than just colour, but also gender equality.:
from Vogue Australia
from my home
Will you add rose to your living room?  Can you mix the colors rose quartz and serenity (blue) in your kitchen?  Surprisingly, 44 years ago when we were married, rose and blue were colors in our wedding.  I did not know that I was a design visionary.
Create and be happy!

Cam Newton’s and Peyton Manning’s Sense of Style


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One is at the beginning of his career and the other is nearing the end.  One lives in a condo in uptown Charlotte and the other on an estate in Denver.  Both are excellent athletes who will be participating in the Super Bowl 2016.  Cam Newton and Peyton Manning worked hard enough to earn a place in sports history.  The list of their awards goes on and on.  But, when they go home to relax, what might their surroundings be like?

According to Carolina Multi List Service, Cam Newton bought a condo in a high security building in uptown Charlotte.  His neighbor is Michael Jordon.  The pictures below appeared in the listing when Cam purchased the condo.  According to reports, the furniture was also available.  Maybe he bought it and maybe he did not.  However, look at the photos and you will get a sense of what he liked and what he bought.

4-27-2012 3-05-21 PM



Here is a photo of Cam arriving in California for the Super Bowl.  It is hard not to notice the Versace pants!

He has reportedly teamed up with the Belk Company to launch his own clothing line.


Peyton Manning reportedly purchased this home in 2010.  Photos are from the Colorado magazine, Mountain Living.  The photos were taken from a multi-list and published in the magazine. Again, the way the estate is actually decorated is probably different from what you see here, but you can get an idea of where Mr. and Mrs. Manning call home.

Peyton grew up in New Orleans in this home situated in the Garden District.  His parents still call it home.

Enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday!  We will see which player has the best quarterback style!


Beautiful Kitchen Remodel


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The downstairs sun porch became the kitchen while work was under way on the real kitchen in my daughter and son-in-law’s 1893 home in Chicago.  You never know what you might find when you open the walls on a home that old but all in all the project went smoothly.  The children thought it was fun eating off of a card table and watching Mom and Dad doing dishes in the laundry sink.  Mom and Dad weren’t quite as pleased.  I think that you will agree that the awkward process was worth it when you see these beautiful “after” photos.  Here is the exterior of the home as it appeared when the weather was nice and the wind chill was not -27 degrees.  It is the home on the far right.  When it was built it was a Victorian home north of downtown Chicago.  There is a very tall grand staircase with beautiful spindles, hardwood floors, and tall ceilings.

When they bought the home, it had been remodeled with a family room put on the back of the house behind the kitchen and a master suite above the family room on the second floor. The basement had also been remodeled and there was a media room, guest bedroom and bath. The kitchen had been remodeled but the cabinets and appliances just did not hold up as well as they should have.  My daughter and her husband love to entertain and they needed reliable appliances and great organization in their kitchen.

I am sorry that there are no “before” pictures, but I will tell you how it looked as we see these “after” photos.

kitchen 7

Originally, there was a window on the far wall where the hood is and a cook top was in the island where the sink now is.  The sink was under the original window.  They added beautiful butcher block on the island.  By switching the cook top and sink, they were able to add an entire range.  On the right is a microwave oven and a wall oven.  The kitchen planner took these lovely photographs.


The tile, laid in a herringbone pattern is very attractive. Have you noticed that the trend now is to use colored grout?

kitchen 1

There are two identical light fixtures over the island. There is a formula to use for adding chandeliers over an island.  This is a reprint from Lights on

Chandeliers: If you are using a chandelier or ceiling pendant above a kitchen island or table, measure the width or diameter of your table. Then subtract 12″ from that number. That’s the maximum limit for the width or diameter of a hanging light. Keep in mind that a fixture with a busy or complex design will actually appear larger, so if that’s what is catching your eye, you’ll want to scale your maximum width down slightly. Assuming you have 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the tabletop. But if your ceilings are higher, the suggestion is to add 3 more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling.

Beth’s island was so long that she could add two light fixtures.

kitchen 2

Here you see a book shelf for cookbooks and on the far right is a pull out pantry.

kitchen 3

In the background you can see the double wall ovens and beyond is a sunny family room where the children play and the family watches television.

kitchen 5

They chose to have a farm house sink.  kitchen 4

This area used to have two glass front cabinets and a counter with under counter storage at the far end.  My clever daughter designed this banquette and had the beautiful table hand made.  There are two large pull out drawers on the outside ends of the benches but the best part is that the whole bench seating area has doors that lift up for more storage than they have yet used!  They had the light that used to hang over the island installed over this table.  Beth made the beautiful pillows after ordering fabric swatches from online.   I love the picture rail that goes around the top.  They have favorite pictures and some special artwork done by my talented grandchildren. It is a great place to have a meal and connect with the family.

While doing some research the other day, I came across a kitchen that has the same layout on the refrigerator/range wall as my daughter’s kitchen.  There even seems to be a family room beyond as well.

This kitchen features glass fronts on the cabinets.  I have never had glass front cabinets and wonder if I would like them.

If I could keep them organized, it might be good.

Coffee Zone traditional-kitchen
Maybe frosted glass would be easier, but too contemporary for me.
Jones Design Build contemporary-kitchen
I like the curved mullions in this photo.

wayne, pa rustic-kitchen

Not all of us can do a total kitchen remodel.  I found a good article from Emily Clarke for Better Homes and Gardens.  She describes ways to bring color to your kitchen:

5 Unexpected Ways to Add Color to Your Kitchen

Even if your kitchen is functioning well enough, you might still feel the need for a little refresh. Here are five ways to add an energizing — and possibly unexpected — bit of color into this hardworking space, without the expense of a major overhaul.

Paint Something Besides Cabinets or Walls

It’s true that a little splash of color can go a long way. Experiment with a fun shade by choosing one feature that you want to “pop.” A few ideas: Paint the space under the kitchen bar area, your pantry door, or even the ceiling.

Image via: Alice Lane Home, photographed by Lindsay Salazar

Let There Be (a Bright) Light!

Paint isn’t the only way to add color. Consider adding a bright red (or yellow or green) pendant light. Or, spray-paint an outdated fixture over your breakfast table in a surprising hue. This is also a great way to visually break up a kitchen with a lot of dark cabinets.

Add a Colorful Gallery Wall

Displaying artwork is often overlooked in the kitchen, but it’s a perfect way to add color and personality to this busy space. Consider vintage-inspired posters, food photography or, for an extra-colorful touch, frame some of your kids’ masterpieces. A pretty tea towel in a frame is also fun for a kitchen wall.

Give Your Backsplash a Boost

A colorful backsplash can be a real showstopper in an overall neutral kitchen. If you’re looking for an easy DIY project, there are a lot of peel-and-stick options now available. Or, experiment with something less permanent like a removable wallpaper.

Accessorize with Pops of Color

Sometimes, refreshing your kitchen can be as easy as bringing in a few colorful accessories. Metal bar stools come in all kinds of playful colors for an instant boost, or consider adding a fabric window treatment for some pattern play. Looking for instant gratification? Sometimes, just adding some bright, new dish towels or fresh flowers will do the trick.

So whether you attempt an entire kitchen remodel or add some splashes of color or new furniture to what you have, create and be happy!

The South


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When I look back on it, I think that maybe I always wanted to be Southern.  At first I admired the accents that came out of Tennessee Williams plays and movies like “Giant.”  They were so relaxed, and interesting, and when they were heard, you felt like it was a breezy summer night and the evening stars and the Spanish moss were heavy in the air.  Once, when I was grown a woman at a cocktail party a lady asked me if I was from the South because of my accent.  All I could say was, “I’m from Southern Iowa.”

Then, I started to notice that I liked china….lots of China.  I especially liked a pattern of Wedgwood with ornate grapes and leaves in an embossed pattern around the rim.  To go with it, there certainly had to be a set of ornate silver with raised flowers and a soft lustre that was part perfect and part patina that had collected there for generations.  I discovered that both combined to make the perfect Southern table when paired with white linen and crystal and always fresh flowers .

William Faulkner became a favorite writer.  In English literature class Mrs. McCarthy went on and on about As I Lay Dying.  Before I cracked the book I thought that all it would give me was a story about decadence in the South.  But after a few pages, I loved the rhythm and the story for the characters as much as anything.  I was reminded of a good old Southern Iowa term which described eccentric, electric, people with more than a hint of plain orneriness. ..the Cat Bird.  A Cat Bird was always an interesting person.  He or maybe she was fun to be around, politically incorrect and with attitude.  Southern fiction seemed to be full of Cat Birds.  I have relatives who are Cat Birds.

Not long after that I started to like Southern food.  Who can argue with sweet tea, pecan pie, buttermilk fried chicken, or anything Cajun?   My father told me that you can always tell if a restaurant is a good place to eat.  Just look for the maximum number of trucks parked outside.  It is true.  Especially in the South.   As a rule, there are lots of trucks parked in and around a southern café in a haphazard manner that says,  “I was in such a hurry to get here for the food, I just parked!”

We lived for a while in Florida.  Pensacola and Orlando were good places but they did not seem particularly “Southern.”  To live in the South you have to be in Alabama or Georgia or South or North Carolina where we live now.  The summer temperature is as high as the humidity, or vice versa.  The live oaks are even better if there is some moss hanging from the wide spread limbs.  If you find someone with the most perfect accent of all, odds are that they are from Savannah or Charleston.  Not the Charleston of West Virginia, although it is not without charm.

Once my daughter was on an airplane that had just departed O’Hare and was bound for Charleston, West Virginia. The lady sitting next  to her asked how far Charleston was from the ocean.  Too bad she thought that she was headed for Charleston, South Carolina and she bought a ticket for Charleston, West Virginia.  She made the best of it and rented a car and drove and drove.  The food and the charm must have made it worthwhile.

I love southern decorating.  More is always more.  You need plates hung on the wall…what I call The Great Wall of China.  You need beds piled high with pillows and dressed with sparkling white linens and quilts made by your grandmother. There must be books scattered on table tops and on shelves.  They may be about Cat Birds or southern cooking, or southern decorating but they are always a great read.  Always have hydrangea either dried or fresh in cut crystal vases.  Be certain to have climbing rose bushes in the yard and magnolias planted more for their greenery than their blossoms.  How else will you have greens for the Christmas wreaths or the bowl of flowers on your Southern table?

I take magazines that remind me of how much I love the South.   For years Southern Living has brought me inspiration for all things Southern.  The best part is the last page where Rick Bragg authors an essay about food or his Mama.  Garden and Gun makes me want to put down the glass of sweet tea and run to adopt a dog so I can start recording stories that might one day be acceptable to the Good Dog series.  Better Homes and Gardens, published in Des Moines, Iowa is informative and entertaining and has good content but it seems to lack the soul that you find in a great Good Dog story.

I would like to have a pick- up truck.  How else should I carry the wonderful antique furniture to be found at flea markets and garage sales?  Sliding a china cabinet into the back of a Cadillac SRX just does not have the same gravitas.  My Good Dog would much rather enjoy the ride in the back of a pick-up with his ears flapping in the wind than in the Cadillac.  Also, a truck would look much better parked in the lot outside a great Southern cafe.

We have three wonderful grandchildren.  Two of them, sadly for me, live in Chicago.  It is too far away.  It is too cold and the city is too busy and big.  I love it when they are here in Charlotte and are sitting with me on the front porch.  In my mind I see the three of us on the swing watching for fire flies as we enjoy a round of cake and ice cream.  They laugh as I tell them stories about growing up in the South (of Iowa.)

Now, I hope that you enjoy these photos that really explain why I love the South.  A picture is worth a thousand words.


Magnolia Leaf wreath:

I adore this Magnolia leaf wreath....welcome to a Southern Christmas... Want to Make Your Own Fresh Wreath?:

True Southern Sweet Tea recipe....I have been craving this FOREVER!! Can I get a "YUM YUM"? LOL I'm so weird...haha:

Red truck..... I have always want a ute like this, Trent can you please find me one to use on the farm.........C.:

The historic City Market in #Charleston, S.C., is one of the oldest public markets in the U.S. Amazing place to buy authentic souvenirs like sweetgrass #baskets and benne wafers! #travel:

Angel Oak: Charleston, S.C. | The World's Most Beautiful Trees:

10 William Faulkner Quotes That Will Take Your Breath Away.  This one has always been a favorite of mine.:

…William Faulkner

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders:

The Georgia estate of Furlow Gatewood is surrounded with oversized pots of hydrangeas.:

…property of Furlow Gatewood in Georgia

Can't you imagine taking a cat nap or sipping a happy hour cocktail on this great swing from Ballard Designs?:

front porch swing_white black painted floor rocking chair summer outdoors_evan sklar photographer:

[NOTE: I know you wish to protect people, but what you are seeing, is a female naked; without a boyfriend, nor a job to support her. In this sense, is she said to have "worked harder" to gain entrance into the industry, then say a female who is working within it; and claimed to be degraded by her label.] *regardless of skin color, or hair color, and whatever color of physical feature.:

Create and be happy!













Homes Made From Barns


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Last night’s broadcast of “Fixer Upper” featured a home made from a barn designed by Joanna and Chip Gaines.  I got to thinking about the possibility of other homes that were made from old barns and did some research.  For you, I have photos of the Fixer Upper barn home followed by some other charming and outstanding renovations.

First, we have photos from the Magnolia Homes blog:






Above is a 17 foot table built by the Gaines’ carpenter.  Think about it!












Next is a home converted from an 1850 dairy barn.  Amazing!

Tulane Barn House exterior:

Photos from this home are from the Hooked on Houses blog.

…and one more from


When I was a girl my friend, Connie, and I spent an entire summer playing in the back of her parents’ garage.  They had given us permission to take a small storage room at the back of the garage and use it for a playhouse.  I had forgotten about this summer of decorating until I saw the photos of the many barn homes and their exposed old wood.  Connie and I swept, added curtains to the one dim window, picked wild flowers and put them on the work bench, and tacked up pictures from magazines to brighten the walls.  While other little girls were riding bicycles and playing croquet that summer we were engaged in making the garage workroom into the most beautiful place we could.  My mother asked me why I did not work as hard at home as I did in the garage playhouse.  I must have swept and dusted that place every day!

The barn homes featured in the photos above are more than charming.  Charm fairly oozes from every board.  It must be so comforting and special to wake up each day in a place with history….a place that is as unique as it is beautiful.  If you are looking for a new home, don’t limit yourself to what is considered to be the usual.  I know of a family in rural Missouri that made a spectacular home from an old red brick school.  The floors were hardwood and there were plenty of rooms for bedrooms.  Each one had an old slate blackboard on one or more walls.  I understand that it is filled with arrow heads found in the streams and farm fields of the county.

The most unusual home I ever visited was in the Washington D.C. area.  On the property was a stone chapel.  The family could host weddings a few steps from the place where they lived.  Let us say that the home and the chapel were both sanctuaries!

If you live in a place with history embrace it!  If you, like me, live in a home that was built a few years ago, why not add antique pieces, old paintings, family treasures to make it sing.  Create and be happy!




2016 Dream Home


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On New Year’s Day, the HGTV people revealed their 2016 Dream House.  This year they did a total rehab on a house in Florida on the Space Coast.  Merritt Island is the home for this year’s HGTV Dream Home.

I have missed out on winning the Dream Home for many years.  I thought long and hard about featuring it on this blog.  After all, the more people I tell, the more people who may enter and the worse my odds suddenly become.  I entertain myself with dreams of what I might do with the house, how I will entertain the family, when during the year we will go there to enjoy everything that it has to offer.  Matter of fact, it just occurred to me that “Dream Home” really means that all I do is dream about it.

Still, there is a chance.  Someone will win it.  Might as well be me!  Might as well be you!  I have decided to show it to you and encourage you to enter.

The home is located in this area:

Merritt Island is on the Atlantic near the Space Center.  There would be many things to do if you have guests or if you want to explore as a family.

Note the three car garage.  You win one car along with the house and $250,000.00 in cash.

The living room is very neutral because it is all about the view.

One wall is a wallpaper mural made from a photograph taken in the 50’s or 60’s.


Note the wall of three chests from Ethan Allen that give stylish extra storage.  All of the furniture is from Ethan Allen and it comes along with the house, of course.

The dining room is adjacent to the kitchen.

And sharing a wall with the kitchen is this media room.  It is not large, but with two sofas that face one another, you can seat many people for conversation or a movie.


The master bedroom upstairs has saturated color, but the white furniture make is restful and beautiful.

This picture is looking back into the master from the private balcony.

Start or end your day sitting just outside your master bedroom overlooking the Indian River.

The master bath is bright and has clean lines.  The free standing tub and the glass enclosed shower would be a great place to unwind after a day at the beach.


Below is the terrace bath downstairs.

Through the door is a guest bedroom.


Another bedroom is very warm with these orange walls.


But the main attraction is in the back yard.





Of course there is a pool bath.

…and your own dock…




…with your own boat!

Sunsets are free!

…and so is the doggie Dream House.

Now you can start dreaming, too.



We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas!


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“We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas! “This year I have enjoyed the lambs from my childhood nativity set.  They are chalkware from the 50’s and they have been lovingly played with and admired by me for a very long time.  According to Wikipedia, “Chalk ware” is the term for popular figurines either made of molded plaster of Paris (usually) or sculpted gypsum, and painted, typically with oils or watercolors.  They were mainly made in one of two periods: the first beginning in the late 18th century and ending by the beginning of the 20th century, the second being during the Great Depression. Those made during the first period were more serious decorative art, often imitating the more expensive imported English Staffordshire potteries figurines such as Staffordshire dog figurines; those during the second period were more typically somewhat jocular. Early chalkware was often hollow and can be difficult to find unblemished.”  On my chalkware lambs you will notice some paint loss but that just means that I have loved them.

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I thought that they would look better if I put them under a glass dome…they might be safer when the grandchildren come.

chalkware lambs



You can see these sheep in the blog, “Cedar Hill Farmhouse.”  The author put her sheep in a dough bowl and added moss.  Very pretty!


These sheep came from the toy store.  Aren’t they precious?  Look what happens when Cindy from Edith and Evelyn Vintage put them together to form a base:


….just too clever


Here is a whole herd.

8 Vintage CHRISTMAS NATIVITY Chalkware SHEEP Manger Creche Figures ITALY:

During this busy time, I think that it is important to remember that things with a history, even small chalkware sheep from an old nativity set can be used as Christmas decorations.  There is really no need to travel to the mall to buy more decorations.  I once saw a beautiful Christmas tree that had been decorated with baby shoes and silver baby cups.  Look around your home and see what you can pull together that has history.

Another item that I have under a glass dome is the angel that was at the top of my family Christmas tree.  Her face is cracked, but when I look at her I instantly see in my mind the tree that she graced and then the dining room where the tree stood and before you know it, I can see my father on the sofa and my mother reading in her chair.  All that came from one look at an angel.

This Christmas I hope that you have the time to travel back in time in your mind and to think of family and friends.  Remember the love and joy that you experienced when you were small.  I wish you peace and joy for 2015!








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This is the time of the year when we all seem to go into overdrive trying to think of ideas for the holiday home while still having enough time to do our jobs, take care of the family, and find some time to rest.  I would like to help.  Choose one or two of these easy ideas, accept the compliments, and still have enough time to read a good book.

easy ideas for Christmas PARTIES and entertaining- - - christmas decoration ideas, christmas ideas. ornament garland, christmas parties, hannukah, new years, christmas table:

Christmas Cheddar Star:

22 Country Christmas Decorating Ideas:

This fits my Christmas decorating theme perfectly. advent non-wreath Yellow Bliss Road: Christmas Home Tour 2012:

I have used epsom salts to simulate snow in glass containers.  Very simple but lovely.

Frosted pine cones:

Make your own snow tipped pinecones with Elmer’s Glue and epsom salts.

Christmas decor:

Love the banner made from burlap and twine.

Spray paint pine cones to have that mercury glass look to them.:

You could make your own metallic pine cones by spray painting them with silver or gold metallic paint.

Christmas - bleach those little dollar store trees for a vintage look. Soak mini Christmas trees in a bath of approximately 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of hot water. It took approximately 15 minutes to bleach these trees.:

Use bleach to lighten the little Dollar Store Christmas trees for a vintage look. Soak mini Christmas trees in a bath of approximately 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of hot water. It took approximately 15 minutes to bleach these trees.

You can bleach your own Bottle-brush trees After they're bleached and dried, take a foam paint brush and dab on globs of Mod Podge, then roll in glitter, use hot glue to add jewels, beads and balls and tuck them into a china tea cup, or silver cream and sugar servers.:

After they are bleached, dab on Modge Podge and roll them in glitter then add jewels with a glue gun and rest them in a tea cup or creamer or sugar bowl.

…or just leave them natural.

give pinecones a beautiful bleached look, christmas decorations, crafts, seasonal holiday decor

Give pinecones a beautiful bleached look:


Save bottles from the pantry and add candles and greenery. Be careful and make sure that the candles are solidly in the bottles.

Take an empty wine bottle, add a sleeve of sheet music, glitter the edges of the sheet music.  Add some twine and tie on a glittery ornament.  For step by step directions, go here.

I am definitely going to try to make some of the beautiful bottles.  There is just something about sheet music and a vintage look that makes me happy.

So, have some fun!  Create and be happy!