Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Whoops

Not realizing the woman with shiny sequined pants was NOT dressed up for a costume party, Liz placed her foot directly into her mouth.
*Explanation: The picture is of my mother, uncle and great-grandmother at my aunt's wedding. I just think it's funny. And yes, I did comment on a woman's sequined pants last Friday, only to find out that she was going back to her office job after a lunch break. I did not make a friend. Maybe I'll be able to laugh about it later, but right now, I'm still cringing.

I Dont Have a Baby, But If I Did...

...I'd steal a few ideas from Holly's adorable little nursery.

OK, obviously this is a before picture. But strangely enough, it hearkens back to one of my childhood bedrooms, except I had olive green paneling and avocado shag carpet. I think perhaps we've just found the root cause for my love of decorating with white paint.

Holly (and her husband Scott) did a major overhaul before the arrival of their daughter, Miss Jolee Raye. Be sure and pop in over at Pink Grapefruit to congratulate them. But first let's admire the adorable polka-dot curtains her Aunt Jo made. Think I could get away with hanging something like that in the living room?

Holly refers to this as a 'cupcake and polka-dot nest.' So cute.

Holly painted the frame and MADE this. Hats off Holly.

A great Pier One seat pillow.

Sigh. If I wasn't afraid Matt would shrivel up and crawl under the couch, I would redo the living room in these colors. There is just something about meringue yellow, cloud pink, watery aqua and bright red that makes me want to skip around. Then again, it would probably be the sight of his nearly 30 year old wife skipping across the living room pier & beam floor that would inevitably force Matt under the couch.

Holly painted the changing table, along with the pink shadowbox above (which I seriously covet). So there you have it. A cupcake and polk-a-dot nursery. Young, old, parent, non-parent... you gotta love this nursery. Thanks so much for letting me feature it, Holly!

And no, since the questions are inevitable. No baby fever here or impending pitter patter of little feet (unless you count Mabel's super-overgrown claws on the hardwood floors). Just a simple appreciation of a well done room. But thanks for asking. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hole In The Wall

I've got a thing for old house-places. But then again, you know that already.

But this one is my absolute favorite.

I suppose it's because the old stone steps are still there, the rusted gate, the vines and overgrown bushes that were once planted and tended by long-gone souls.

How many pairs of hands pushed this gate open, walking past crisp leaves and jack-o-lanterns?

How many families passed through it on their way to a snowy night Christmas party?

Were there weddings in this yard? Next to that fountain?

But most importantly, what are those doorways carved into the mountain?
Cool dark places to keep food long before refrigerators?
Hiding places?
Something spookier?

Then again, maybe it's not old house places I love.

Maybe I just love a good mystery.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flickr Inspiration: Traci's Dining Room

Traci (Little Messes at flickr) kindly gave me permission to post some pics of her fabulous dining room. I don't know about you ladies, but I'm a sucker for a cute dining room. Maybe more so than any other room in the house. Perhaps it's because I'm currently living with a dining/formal living room combo that makes me a little nuts. Perhaps it's because I have constant fantasies about entertaining like Ina Garten (snort). Whatever the reason, I had to share this with you.

Here's Traci's adorable room. Lately I'm finding myself drawn toward the color orange. Orange paired with bright white and splashes of aqua. So cheerful (although truthfully this kitchen and dining room would be fabulous in any colors with the great hard wood floors, natural light and built in cabinets).

I've also found myself drawn toward mid century modern style. I suspect it's because it hearkens back to distant memories of my grandparents' Dallas, Texas ranch home with sleek furniture and wide back patios.

And frankly, I just love these three little pumpkins.
Because you know how I get the Halloween bug early.
Like, in August.
Ok fine. Like now.

Thanks again Traci for letting me post your dining room! Love it!

Mad Men Yourself

Meet my green-dress alter ego. THIS is fun.

Let Me Plan Your Wedding

Getting married? Live in the south? Let me plan your wedding.

Let me preface this offer with two things. One, I'm not one of those women that enjoys weddings. Frankly, they're not my thing. So that should impress upon you how much I love this idea. And two, I'm not really offering to plan your wedding. I'm offering a suggestion that you have your wedding here and let the Crescent Hotel do all the work.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's begin.

Your guests can eat in the Crystal Ballroom (yep, it's really called that) and afterward watch fireflies from the wide, sweeping porches.

Everything about the Crescent Hotel is 'wide and sweeping.' Even the doors.

My mom and sister and I can photograph it for you. As long as you don't mind how much we chatter. We chatter a lot.

You can have your pictures made here, behind the hotel, overlooking St. Elizabeth's Cathedral. In the morning and evening the church bells ring and echo throughout the valley. It's haunting, and beautiful.

There are lots of rooms in this hotel. Little rooms. Big rooms. Some even have private balconies. And this little door leads to a spa where you and your bridesmaids can get your hair and nails done.

And before the wedding you can wander here in the garden while you freak out and try not to hyperventilate. Want my advice? Take a tip from my dad here and rest on a bench, look at the sky. At least that's what he does so he wont hyperventilate and freak out while my mom spends 45 minutes taking pictures of the back of the hotel.

See how well that works?

So have your wedding here. Tell them I sent you. Of course, they'll look at you with confused eyes and say, "Liz who? Mabel's what?" But that's not the point. The point is this is a beautiful old hotel that makes me, an old married woman who doesn't care about weddings, wish I could renew my vows.

And if you want to invite me, that's fine too. I might not like weddings. But I love this hotel. And I adore cake.

And, if you're really really brave, you could come down the isle like this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy In My Shoes: Sam the Turtle

On my most recent trip to Pet Smart, I took a pause in the fish section.

I love fish. Once I had a fish. I think I remember naming him Ken. Ken had a suspiciously short life. We went on a week's vacation and with no babysitter for our goldfish, Dad poured Ken into the lake out front declaring, "Ken will be happier with other fish for friends while we're gone."

I now suspect that Ken the goldfish's life span was probably all of five minutes. But I digress.

Seeing these turtles made me want another fish. And a turtle. I named this little turtle Sam during our blurry photo session in which I kept hissing, "SAM, be still! You're blurry in all the pictures!" The shutter speed thing still escapes me.

One thing that always impresses me when I'm around animals is they seem happy. They swim, jump, bark, eat, poop. They do what they do. Life seems easier for them. They just exist without the complexities of a mind that constantly whispers, "You need more money" or "What really happens when we die?" or "I need to lose weight" or "My job makes me crazy" or "Will my marriage make it?"

Obviously, those are just examples and not necessarily things I'm dealing with right now. But they're universal concerns, universal worries. Those are the types of haunting thoughts that steal our joy, that keep us from being like Sam here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for being capable of a higher level of thought than a turtle. But there are times, and I've been through one lately, where it would be mercifully peaceful to just float around in a tank of water and flap my flippers and just exist.

OK, maybe not the flipper part. I like having opposable thumbs.

Since my recent post, and my current effort to 'be grateful and happy' , I've spent a lot of time thinking about what happiness looks like.

For me, it looks like a steering wheel. It looks like control. It means the ability to turn right when that's where I want to go, to have the power to stomp on the breaks when everything moves too fast. And since my longing for a spiritual steering wheel became a big looming monster in the background, the more out of control things got, the nastier my disposition turned. I wasn't happy. Things weren't going my way. And the worst thing of all: I had no control of them.

So instead of taking a deep breath, I sat down on the ground and kicked my feet harder. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

And that's where Sam comes in. That's where Sam is an inspiration for me. Because no one truly controls their lives. There is no such thing as a life-steering-wheel. It's an illusion. Sure, we have the responsibility to do the best we can. To work hard. To pray and make the most logical decisions possible. But in the end, life is easier if we swim around our tank like Sam.

Sam doesn't spend a lot of time being ticked off because the water is too cold. Why? Because there isn't a thing in the world Sam can do about it. Sure, he can swim laps to keep himself warmer. And granted, Sam's brain is the size of a small raisin, so he has no grasp on the concept of temperature controlled water. But it's an analogy people. Roll with it.

Sam doesn't swim to the top to eat his turtle food, decide it wasn't the flavor he wanted, spit it out and swim around thinking he'll find something better. He accepts his food. He eats it. He moves on.

And my life lesson, perhaps a molding session sent straight from God, is to let go. To give up the illusion of my steering wheel. To stop kicking, to be still, and to wait. To be grateful.

Lest anyone think this a defeatist attitude, I'm not proclaiming a message of, "Sit back, do nothing." Anyone that knows me would attest to the fact that I'm a doer. A goer. A fixer. So my lesson is to, sometimes, go against my nature. To be still and 'know.' So to speak.

This may not apply to you in any way. Perhaps 'being still and waiting' is your nature already. It's easy for you. But in that natural ability to relax and watch, you find it hard to get motivated. You find it hard to be proactive in your life. In that case, your struggles look far different than mine.

But in the end, our roads to happiness all involve some level of spiritual change. To become what we're not. To do what we think we cant. To get outside ourselves. To be like Sam and just swim. Just eat. Just be happy. Because in the end, it is not the steering wheel that will make me happy. It isn't a new job. Or a raise. Or children. Or fabulous vacations. It is my belief that God is with me. That I can swim peacefully, that I can stop kicking. That God is near.

I love the song "It Is Well With My Soul." One stanza has always stuck with me, and to this day when I think of my plights, I think of these words.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

This was written by Horatio Spafford in 1876. He wrote it after he was financially ruined in the Great Chicago Fire and after four of his daughters drowned in a cross-Atlantic voyage. Some time later, Spafford sailed across the Atlantic and when he reached the spot where his daughters died (or thereabouts), he wrote the words to this song. Read more about him here.

Horatio Spafford was happy in his shoes. Or better yet, Spafford was at peace in his shoes. So I continue on. I continue to remember this song. I continue to try to be like Sam. But most importantly, I continue. I let go of my steering wheel. I hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Double Flowers

Double your flowers.

Put them in front of a mirror.

And presto, two vases of flowers.

I'm really venturing into rocket science territory, huh?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tomato Peach Salad

As promised, here is the recipe for the tomato peach salad I mentioned yesterday. Not that this really requires a recipe, but some of us prefer a little structure. Directions. Guidance. Rules. Can I get a shout out from my fellow OCD peeps? No? Fine.

Anyway, this is the most simple thing you can eat. And the most delicious, if you like balsamic vinegar.

Three large tomatoes
Three large peaches
Fresh mint to taste (we like a lot)
Balsamic Vinegar to taste

Stir & eat

We love this salad with Matt's mashed potatoes. Sorry, there's no recipe for that. It's all in his head. Sometimes he uses basil, sometimes (like tonight) horse radish. But always with real cream.

And what is a meal with tomato peach salad and mashed potatoes without a rosemary seasoned steak? Have I mentioned that I love being married to a cook?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rebecca: Blog Star or Sad Sister?

I've had a few comments and emails lately, mostly all singing the same tune.

"How does your sister feel about the posts you make about her?"

I'm reading between the lines here, but I'm assuming that means, "Does it embarrass her?"

And no. But I can see why you might think that.

First, I ask her permission before I blog about her. OK fine. I didn't ask her permission to post these pictures of her stealing food BEFORE dinner. But that's her punishment for getting more than her fair share of the tomato-peach-mint-balsamic salad. More on that tomorrow.

Rebecca is almost un-embarrassable. As evidence, I'll tell you about a recent incident in which she engaged in a verbal standoff with a group of leering, pot bellied middle age men in Wal-Mart. They ogled her, she saw it and whirled on them, pointed her finger and demanded that they put their 'old skeevey eyes' back in their heads. People stared, buggies stopped rolling, you could hear a pin drop. And she didn't bat a fake eyelash. Don't let that fluffy blond hair fool you.

So no. It's safe to say being a blog star does not, in any way, embarrass Rebecca.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


In the little Ozark community I grew up in, the word poaching usually evokes images of men clad in camo, gun-racks, and nighttime forests filled with crooning hunting dogs. But it would seem that we're dealing with another kind of poaching around here at Mabel's House.

Suburban squirrel poachers, to be exact.

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that puts a kink in Matt's mood like half eaten pears. Or tomatoes. Or cucumbers (although we've narrowed our cucumber suspect list down to Miss Mabel, she loves the little yellow flowers).

So what to do? What to do when I get home early and find these half-devoured squirrel poached pears on the patio? Hide them of course. I pick them up and throw them into the far corners of the yard.

I prefer Matt in a good mood, even if it's the result of ignorant bliss.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Early Morning Garden & a Nursery Rhyme

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row.

There are a lot of theories about this nursery rhyme.

Some say that Mary is in reference to Mary Queen of Scotland and "how does your garden grow" refers to her reign.

Silver bells elude to the cathedral bells, and cockle shells insinuating that her husband was unfaithful. "Pretty maids all in a row" referred to her ladies-in-waiting, "The four Maries".

Just a little nursing rhyme history for you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pick every one of these flowers and put them in a vase on the dining room table. It's good to be queen of the garden.