Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Puppy and Apron Blog

So maybe I'll rename this blog The Puppy and Apron Blog because that's what we're quickly moving toward. Hope you don't mind.

Miss Millie and I survived our first night. She cried a bit and went out twice, once at 12:18 and again at 3:20 A.M. I thought she braved it all like a little champ. She's sleeping it off this morning while I drink two coffee presses of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. To each her own. Yep, it all went smoothly, except we did have an issue with her basil noshing. You know this is my dog because the only thing in the entire yard that she went nuts over were the tiny pots of basil someone gave me last week. She ate half a pot. If I didn't know for a fact that Rachael Ray feeds her dog Italian food, I'd have been worried. I met Rachael two years ago and she told me to always treat dogs with cheese. I suppose she does, too, because her magazines usually feature cheesy dog recipes.

Anything you all can think of that I need to know - as a new puppy owner - please speak up. I need all the advice I can get.

Not that she's ill-behaved. She slept at my feet this morning as I wrapped up seven apron/toolbelts for the Freeman House Shop on Etsy. They'll go on sale at noon CST. I know for a fact I'll have a few later in the week, but these are just darling. If you've been wanting one, act fast.

Ah. So. If you get stressed today, just squish your eyes shut and say a quick prayer and imagine you're here. There's Southern Banana Nut muffins in the oven, a wagging Chocolate Lab puppy at my feet, a brilliant, sunny day out my window, and bits of aprons scattered around my chairs. Who says a charmed life isn't ours for the taking?

Millie's now snoring. See you at noon. -Brin

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It Must Be (Puppy) Love. Or, Meet Millie

Animals are such agreeable friends.
They ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
-George Eliot

And for that - and with this look - she stole my heart.

Everyone, please meet Millicent. Millie, for short. She came home to Freeman House today, all floppy-eared and puppy dog-eyed and chocolate lab/baby lamb gentle. She had two accidents on the way home and cried softly and wouldn't leave my side. I love her already. We're going to be the best of friends.

It's been almost eight months since Mae died. I still miss her every day. I decided I couldn't get a cat just yet. Still not ready. But a dog? Maybe so. It would give me a buddy, after all... someone to run at the State Park with. Someone to ride around with. Someone to be responsible for again. Someone to care when (if) I came home. I think... in fact I'm sure... that God had us in mind for each other all along.

So it's the two of us here now: me and Millie. As if I don't get into enough on my own, now I have a compadre. A partner in crime. Just think of all the messes we'll make together.

Oh, sweet dog. You have no idea how much you'll be loved....

(P.S. As wonderful as this is, it is NOT the big thing I promised earlier. Just so you know.)

Blue Like Summer

If we were young girls again with lazy, idle summer hours to pass, this is the apron we would make. Sky blue checks - blue like a brilliant summer afternoon - with delicate white wildflowers with cherry red centers. We'd make our apron with three wide pockets for hiding a Jane Austen novel and a love letter. Maybe some bluebonnet seeds, too, and a ribbon to tie back our hair. And we'd take the time to embellish our apron with a red blanket stitch because really, on afternoons like this, time taunts and stretches out before us as if it's taking a nap and forgetting to pass. Later, when Mom asks what we did all day, we can show her our tiny red stitches on our apron and get a quick, tight nod of approval.

That's the funny thing with making aprons. I end up inventing a story for each one. They ship out with a life of their own, even if it only played out in my thoughts for the few minutes I sit on the porch and stitch the pocket trim. Seems every apron I make I promise to keep for myself. I can't, of course. One glance at the aprons hanging by the kitchen door makes that clear. Besides, it's better to make than take, right?

I'll be posting handfuls of apron toolbelts on the Freeman House Shop on Etsy tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon CST. I'm letting you all know up front because someone told me it's unfair to sneak listings as they're finished and let one right time/right place person grab all the loot. So consider yourself advised: apron toolbelts go on sale tomorrow at noon. Be there or wish you were.


The garden is keeping me busy. On top of everything else keeping me busy. I added a row of peas yesterday (they're selling for $30 a bushel down here!) and some okra. I'm now keeping watch over 12 vegetable, 19 herb and numerous flower patches. The bad news is I have to weed it all. The good news is if there's another Great Depression and all the world is hungry, I can help. Everyone show up at Freeman House and we'll gorge on fresh tomatoes and basil... fried squash and canned relish... buttered potatoes and green beans... bacon-boiled peas and spring onions... fried okra and hot-water cornbread... pecan pie and home-churned ice cream.

There's something else really big in the works this week, too. I'm expecting a shipment today and an email tomorrow, then hopefully it's game on. Sleep's being lost over this exciting venture. It's fulfillment of a five year long dream. I can't wait to show you. It's big.

Other than that? Normal stuff. I finished The Sacred Ordinary late last night. Have you gotten a copy? Do. Then I read the first chapter of Blue Like Jazz. And now I'm in love....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Apron Strings

It's all about apron strings today. I've set a goal: to have ten (count 'em: 10) new aprons in the Freeman House Etsy Shop this coming week. Ten. I have such cute fabric and buttons and ribbon to work with, too. Such fun.

Er... sort of. I'll confess: it's not all buttery light and cute prints and chocolate chip cookies here today. Earlier I watched in horror as my obstinate iron jumped over the side of the ironing board and landed - plate down - on an overturned can of spray starch. I'll never know how it managed that. (Grin) Suddenly I heard an angry hiss and jumped aside as the entire can blew up. Everywhere. Last week the gas can... this week the spray starch. (I can't believe I still have both my eyes. And eyebrows. I pity the guardian angel who has to watch over me. Really. I doubt the poor thing has sat down in 29 years. It probably applies for a transfer every day, hoping it will get reassigned to an old lady in Barbados who never stands ladders on top of beds or goes out alone at night in Istanbul or blows up cans of gasoline and spray starch. Maybe I should make it an apron.)

Or maybe I'll just make y'all one. Although the iron and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment, so it may be the middle of next week before they're all done.

But take a gander at those pretty, unsewn strings, would you? Apron strings are wonderful. Just saying "apron strings" makes you a little bit happy, doesn't it? Makes you think of pies and grandmas and summer evenings and speckled brown eggs and cut grass and country gravy, doesn't it? Makes my guardian angel groan but makes us a little bit happy. Apron strings. Apron strings...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rather Have Roses...

I'd rather have roses on my table
than diamonds on my neck.
-Emma Goldman

The air is heavy this morning. So heavy it feels as if you could carry the sky on your back.

The roses pretend not to notice. Do you suppose it's their sweetness on stems that enables them to stand up to the weight of the world? I can't be sure. My pink plaid garden boots and I checked on them this morning, wondering. (I'm battling Black Spot. My organic remedy? Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda and 2 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a gallon of warm water. Spray in the morning, so the leaves have the day to dry. Black Spot? What Black Spot?)

These roses, by the way, are lavender. Soft, stunning lavender. I think lavender roses are finally free of their Bed of Roses cliche, don't you? Seems that way to me when a bouquet of them catches my eye from a sink or table.

Hope you had a lovely week. Did you? And... what happened to April? I think it passed me by as I was in the garden...

Happy weekend. -Brin

(By the way:
Vee, I'm calling you. Email me at when you get a chance and I'll get your number and set up a time to chat. Thanks for all who commented earlier this week. We'll do this again soon!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Let the Growing Game Begin...

Garden. Finally. Planted. The usual suspects this year: potatoes, onions, lettuce, squash, green beans, butter beans (speckled and white), kidney beans, crowder cream peas, purple hull peas, pumpkins, sweet corn and five varieties of tomatoes. Not to mention the flowers and herbs. Last night I came home and rested on the cool, soft soil and just breathed. The wind blew through the trees and the rustling shuffle of the leaves sounded like the sea. And I just lay there with my cheek pressed into the earth. There's such healing and growth in a garden.

Exciting things happening this week. Will check in (and call) someone tomorrow....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts On Earth Day

Hurt not the earth,
neither the sea, nor the trees....
-Revelation 7:3

It's because I'm a Christian that I care about our environment. Honestly. I got in a debate with someone about this the other day. Let the stupid Democrats "go green" if they're so concerned, they said. I blinked, then gasped. But you're a Christian! I argued. God created this world and then put man over its care. This is more a spiritual issue than a political one!

I feel very strongly about this. Otherwise I'd be too busy to recycle. To compost. To reuse. To try to save energy. To plant a garden. It's just that as a young girl, I was taught: the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). It's His creation. We're just caretakers. So take care of it.

Aerating compost. Yick.

So today's Earth Day. There are so many little things we can be doing to see to God's beautiful world. And surely it's important. Especially to Christians. Especially now.

(Check this out. It's so beautiful I cried.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Moment: He Walks Through Walls

I gave a little thought to walls while in Istanbul last month. It was hard not to considering the impossibly old ones that rise up around every corner to hedge you inside courtyards and continents.

If ever there was an expert at walls, it may be me. You'd think I'd have my little Freeman House done by now in light of how quickly I throw up walls. Not literal ones, of course... emotional ones. Spiritual ones. Walls that I think protect me. Walls that really hold me captive.

Let's all be real here, if only for a second. Anyone who's ever been hurt has become an amateur brick layer. I was reading this book yesterday and it talked about the 'Walking Wounded'. I decided that I'm more like the Walking Wall Woman. Sure, you're invited to join in my life; I have nothing to hide. Just don't forget to bring your repelling gear.

I have walls. I'll be the first to slink up my hand and admit it. And I thought these walls were serving me well. I've liked the distance and privacy they've afforded me to grieve and blame. To hide and gather myself and work on a new battle plan. Just look at the walls I carefully stacked: a wall of unforgiveness. A wall of cruelly-smashed dreams. A wall of one-horrible-marriage-is-enough. But the truth is that, even as a Christian, I've run behind my walls for comfort and safety instead of heading for the arms of the very One who died to save me.

I love John 20. If you haven't read it lately, I encourage you to. Jesus has just been buried. His disciples - the very ones He'd called to follow Him - had deserted Him. (Peter denied Him three times.) The men are hiding out together, the Bible says, behind "doors locked". Talk about walls. Can you imagine? There were literal ones, sure, but I'll bet they were each working on their individual barricades. Walls of doubt. Grief. Disbelief. Anger. Abandonment. Guilt. Sadness. Shame. And suddenly there's Jesus. Standing among them. The same Jesus they'd abandoned and denied. He found them. And I love what He says. I love it. To the very ones who sat waiting behind their walls, Jesus appears and says: Peace be with you.

Peace. Be with you. Not, What in the world have you done? Not, Thanks for leaving me alone to die. Oh. And for denying me. Good one. Not, We have a score to settle here. Nope. None of that. Jesus - the holy God who'd just given His life for a bunch of losers - walked into their broken-up, grief filled, devastated lives and said: Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Not only did He seek them out... AGAIN... He forgave them. He accepted them despite their colossal sin. He gave them another shot.

He walks through walls. I know because He walked through one of my walls and found me yesterday. And things feel differently this morning without a wall to slink behind. I feel free. Amazingly free.

Not sure what your situation might be, but know this today: like the disciples - like me, even - your carefully constructed walls aren't doing you any favors. They're holding you captive. And they'll never be too old.. too established... too high... or too much for Jesus.

He walks through walls. Have you heard? He walks through walls.

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick-start your week. Hope to see you again next time!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Country Life

The town is man's world,
but this country life is of God.
-William Cowper

The stump grinding man is coming this morning. Just typing that makes me laugh. My friend Shelley and I were giggling yesterday about a recent shopping list we made before heading to "town" some 45 minutes away. To buy? Hot rollers, pea seed, coffee, hair dye, worm poop, garden stakes, etc. This country life is something.

I should warn you. Before abandoning your city life to seek out a Freeman House of your own, know this: there are days when you'll miss the hustling and bustling city terribly.

Those days are just very few and far between.

You should see the roses the grounds of Freeman House are coming out with this spring. So pretty I sat on my stone steps last night with a fistful (top picture) and cried sparkly, happy tears.

This country life could only be of God....

[Before someone asks, the small, heavenly pink rose in the above picture is a Elie Beauvillain. The rest are native, plated by Miss Freeman (I assume) and pre-dated my arrival. The next on my rose to-plant list is the Pioneer Spirit.]

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Freeman House Compromise

I still find each day too short for
all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take,
all the books I want to read, and
all the friends I want to see.
-John Burroughs

... and all the rose-petal strewn, Sleep bubble baths I want to take. (sigh) I'm sure heaven isn't about us, but wouldn't it be divine if every now and then God would hand out free years up there? Maybe a whole year to just read? Or hang out with that loved one you desperately miss? Or take bubble baths? Or plant pumpkins? Or, heck... eat muffins or paint clouds or pick pink roses or pet dogs or ... sleep? Curl up on a feather bed somewhere and just dream, dream, dream? I hope heaven is restful. I have a feeling I'm gonna need it when I get there.

I have way, way too many things to do this weekend. And I'm still so far behind on the whole email answering thing. So maybe here's a compromise. For all of you who've emailed or commented with burning questions... or curious observations... or something cool to tell me, and haven't heard (or heard enough) back, here's the deal: comment on this post and next week I'll draw a winner. The winner will get a pre-arranged phone call from Freeman House and you can ask me about whatever you'd like. Canning? Knitting? Restoring an old house? Living in the country? Gardening? Judging by all the emails, I know you folks have a lot to ask. Have you been wanting a recipe? To talk or ask me about a book? Crafting? (Freeman House paint colors were big questions for awhile, as was recipe help/requests, questions about my faith, and discussion on Monday Moments.) Anything's fair game: tell me about your life or ask me about mine. Don't be shy. Here's your chance at some undivided Freeman House attention.

I really do find each day way too short to do all the lovely - and (eek!) necessary - things. I guess it's an issue we all share. I'm holding out all my hope for heaven. And if we ever do get free years, I'd like a fluffy white corner with a deep tub, pink roses, and sleep bubbles, please....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Great Pumpkin, A Sorta Spring Story

Sure, April's the wrong time to be talking about Long Island Cheese Pumpkins. Unless you're a gardener, which I think I now officially am.

I found the above pumpkin - centerpiece of 2007's Freeman House Thanksgiving - in a grocery store in Perryton, Texas. I was on my way home for the holidays and spotted the pumpkins in a large cardboard display and decided they were the most magnificent pumpkins I'd ever seen. I've since learned the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is superb for pies. I mean, superb.

After last year's turkey and pie fest, I couldn't bear to throw the thing in the trash. It was that beautiful. So I set it outside, right on top of the leaves, at the edge of the garden.

And there it sat. Through late fall rains and winter wind and that one snowfall, the pumpkin just sat there. And then a few weeks ago I noticed it was mysteriously GONE, and in its place were dozens of the tiny, healthy pumpkin plants pictured above.

... and the pumpkin's stem - a reminder of one heckuva Thanksgiving and one gorgeous table.

Yesterday I transplanted some of the smallest plants into the garden - right by the basil and down from the potatoes - and gently showered them with water. This weekend, the rest of the seedlings are going into biodegradable peat pots and will be trucked over to a nearby nursery. Turns out other Texas gardeners are interested in these beauties, too, and I'll turn a little pumpkin profit this year.

I'm excited to see how they turn out. Again, I know it's the wrong time to be talking pumpkins, but I'm already dreaming of silky smooth, lightly spiced pies and woolen sweaters and crackling fires and Dallas Cowboy football....

I'm an autumn girl caught in an admittedly beautiful, magical spring. What can I say? Of all the seasons in all the world, fall belongs to me. This spring I'll simply garden and dream....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Magical Apple Pie Filling

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe.
-Dr. Carl Sagan

Okay, so I guess this apple pie filling isn't from scratch. But it's close. And if you use ripe, blushing apples and grate your own cinnamon and nutmeg, it almost tastes as if you could spin around and glimpse the Garden of Eden.

So here's the apple skinny: this project is perfect for new cooks and first-time canners. Really. If you follow this recipe, you'll end up with the equivalent of six heaping quart jars of apple pie filling. Make it with a friend and split the difference. Make it by yourself and hoard it for potlucks and July Fourth and pretty weekends. Give it as gifts. This stuff goes far, I'm telling you.

Besides, the benefits of pre-made pie filling are many. Convenience is one. This July when it's too hot to boil water? Simply dump your filling in a crust and bake. Brilliant. Plus, this smooth filling is pre-shrunk, meaning your pies will make lovely, towering slices which could even boast a lattice top or decorative, fluted pastry covers.

Here's what you do:

1. Take 20 apples - any varieties you like. I like Gala and Granny Smith because that's what I get down in Texas, but Jonagolds or Winesap or any local variety you love will likely work. Wash your apples and peel, core, and slice them. Dump the slices in a large bowl (or bowls) filled with water and a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

2. Next, in a large saucepan, combine: 10 cups water, 5 cups sugar, 1 cup corn starch, 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and stir it until it makes a thick, caramel colored sauce that pours slowly from your spoon. (It takes about 12 minutes. Maybe 15 if your stove is cranky.) Remove pan from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

3. Spoon apple slices into sterilized quart canning jars until they almost reach the lip. Ladle your caramel sauce over the apples to about 1/2 inch of the jar top. Seal jar and process in a boiling water bath for about 20 minutes. (If you are new to canning, grab a copy of this book: Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning. It taught me how to can everything from apple pie filling to green beans to soup and is an invaluable resource for any home gardener or cook. Your local library or grocery store may even have a copy. You might also check out, a Ball-hosted website that boasts answers to any canning question and some fabulous recipes to boot.)

Of course, you don't have to can your filling. Use it right then, between homemade or ready-made pie crusts, to make six apples pies. (Or reduce the recipe to make just one.) You could try freezing your filling in quart-sized bags, but know that you'll likely need to cook your apples first, or plan to simmer them later, before you assemble your pie. However you choose to go about this, I promise you one delicious, straight-forward American apple pie. And truly, what could be better?

I'll admit: I love this recipe. The idea came from a MaryJane article I found a few years ago, and I've made it every year since. I love these apples spooned over ice cream. I love them baked under shortbread for a sort-of Apple Betty. I like to eat them straight out of a cold, refrigerated jar. In short, it's worth the effort.

Hope you enjoy, and of course, if anyone tries this please hurry on back and give us any tips or tricks you discovered to making or serving this! -Brin

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kindness and Stubbornness

there's no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
-Scott Adams

A truly kind friend made me the most beautiful tea time lunch awhile back. Stilton cheese and everything. It was wonderful and meant so much. Those small, thoughtful things always do.

People... friends and strangers alike... continue to surprise me with kindness, generosity and... warmth. Cookies-from-the-oven warmth. I've been meaning to say thank you - to all of you - and of course I get behind and use that as an excuse and the thanks come later than they should.
For all who gave so generously and willingly to Boomer's family, thanks. As of Saturday they were in receipt of it all. You blew us away with your giving. It means so much.

For those of you who support my efforts at Freeman House... whether you read about it here or come by and help paint... I appreciate you. It's a huge, overwhelming, often frustrating project. Every sweet word and gesture keeps me hanging on around here for one more day.

And for the many of you who show up here to quietly read and bounce along with your day, thanks. My monitoring services say there are almost 12,000 hits from folks who stop in at some point during the day. Wow. I don't know who you all are, but I hope you feel welcome and know I'd relish the opportunity to have you here.

In my post yesterday, I mentioned my inclination to make this blog private. I mentioned that Blogger only allows 100 readers in such cases. Undoubtedly I have such a large family -and circle of awesome friends - that the readership invites would be spoken for lickety-split and would likely never be extended to people I don't personally know. Anyhow, it's not the readers or the commenters on this blog that are problem, surprisingly enough. But don't worry. I'm not going anywhere....

I'm telling you. Stressful several weeks. I've carefully negotiated oil and gas contracts with THREE new clients in the last 10 days. In the end I've had to walk away from all of them. Disheartening, to say the least. I called a colleague on the way home from the city last week and said, "I don't think I'm cut out for this business." To which he replied: "You're crazy to walk away from a $200,000 contract." To which I retorted: "What does it profit a girl if she gains the whole world but loses her soul?" To which he said: "You aren't losing your soul, Brin. You're making money. You're just not able to teach Sunday School or make apron things or write." To which I replied: "...said the man who's lost his soul."

We laughed but I was mostly serious. So now the question is: am I fearless enough in my faith to trust that God would provide for me outside the deep pockets of oil companies and the offers of greedy publishers? Do I dare leave a lucrative industry and try to make it on my own with nothing more than an unfortunate-looking house, a sewing machine, a few amazing recipes, a garden and a bunch of words?

In the meantime, this blog isn't going anywhere. I might starve or have to cut up my own clothes and sell them as aprons online, but Lord willing, you can count on the fact that Freeman House and I will be here. You might be hearing more ideas bounced around as a result .. and more... "do y'all think this would work?"... but I'll still be here.

Tomorrow, the magical apple pie filling recipe. I'm sharing it for free. Ha.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Blueberry Cake for the Frantic (Or, My Attempt at "Health Food")

Remember these blueberries from back in the summer? (Um... if you do, I'll be scared.) Well, I remembered them Saturday and set out on a kitchen mission to come up with the most perfect Blueberry Breakfast Cake ever.

The rule was simple: use organic products and get all of the following into a morning cake I'd actually waste calories on: whole grains, flax, blueberries, yogurt and almonds.

(Don't worry. There's also butter, whole eggs, and brown sugar in there for those of us who'd rather eat moldy cardboard than "health food".)

I'm still working on this recipe (so don't ask for it), but I think I've about come up with a winner:

'Course I want to tell you that it's good with fresh sweetened whipped cream... or maybe even a little Blue Bell... but this is healthy food, people, and I haven't gone there.


[On another (non-blueberry) note, I made a decision over the weekend to take this blog private. As in, read by invitation only. This baby's getting way too big for me and, frankly, there are some crappy people out there. Then I learned that blogger only allows 100 readers per private blog. So now I'm back in Frustrated Land again. Anyone figured out a way around this?]

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Simple Spring Saturday

Oh, Spring!
I want to go out and feel you....
-Emily Carr

It couldn't get more beautiful than here. You should hear the leafy breeze and feel the sunshine on your shoulders and smell these pillowy flowers. I'm about to tear myself away for a moment to go inside to bake a blueberry tart. The kitchen door's open. Consider yourself invited.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Today, With Puppy and Carrots

Today I woke up. I unpacked my bags, checked my email, drove to town, adopted a puppy, bought puppy food, and soothed puppy during puppy freak-out. Then I had to give puppy back, drove puppy back to town, cried, said a mean thing to the puppy keeper, came home, planted 10 tomato plants, and hung out laundry. I made envelopes of magazines, threw dead plants away, swept the house and went back outdoors. Then I caught the back yard on fire, called the fire department and ran for my brother, folded dry/smoky laundry and avoided calling my accountant. Then I came inside.

Now I'm making dinner. And suddenly I'm worn out. Worn out but calm. What is about my kitchen that soothes even my most frayed of nerves? Throw carrots and salt in a skillet and I'm fine.

If I could bottle the comfort and serenity of this place, I'd be a zillionaire....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring Reading (Or, The Sacred Ordinary)

Drove home today and I can't tell you how lush and green and heart-stoppingly gorgeous it is here. My eyes got all watery... from allergies, of course... but still. This scenery could convert the most hardened of city hearts into country-loving fools.

I wanted to get home and immediately run out to the back and read. I couldn't, but I wanted to. An enormous stack of books is waiting for me this spring and I can't wait to slow down and pay them all a little mind.

Guess who went out and wrote another book while we weren't looking? Our girl Leigh McLeroy, author of the much beloved A Beautiful Ache. (I think we talked about A Beautiful Ache back in July, and would you know I am still getting emails about how y'all are blown away by this gem? I know. I was too.) So I sneaked Leigh's latest masterpiece, The Sacred Ordinary, out during a Sonic stop on the way home. Are you as good as your predecessor? I asked it as I cracked open its spine. Forty-five minutes later I realized I was still sitting at Sonic and that, yes, The Sacred Ordinary is every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped. Leigh's done it again. (To read more about the book, visit the website by clicking here.)

So The Sacred Ordinary is at the top of my spring reading list. Matter of fact, I'm going to dive in on Monday, so if you want to find a copy of your own and join me, we can do a few open posts and discuss it. Maybe we'll even invite Leigh to stop by and answer a few of our questions/observations about the book, too.

I'm so glad it's spring. I'm so excited about spring reading time. Looks like I need to get candles back in my outdoor tree lanterns and head out soon for a good long read....

(Updated observation: Alicia posted her spring reading stuff today as well. Looks like we share a common spring read!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April Project No. 1: Reuse

My Dad gets the biggest kick out of telling me I'm a cross between Al Gore and Monk. Gore because, and only because, I recycle. Fanatically. And compost. And am looking into solar panels for Freeman House. (And Monk because I greatly appreciate symmetry, books organized by size and color, and things just so. But that's beside the point.)

So April is Earth Month, huh? Love that. So for today's project, a little April reusing for you. We'll handle reduce, recycle, and renovate another day....

I don't know about you, but I love magazines. I get too many, actually. I recycle them, of course, but magazines are getting better each month and... come on!... some of those pictures are gorgeous. So today I did this: I used pretty magazine pictures to make note card envelopes.

It's simple. Tear out pictures and cut the image you like into a 6 x 6 inch square. Turn it over, right face down, and spin the picture diagonally with a corner pointing toward you. Fold that corner up, like so:

Now crease and fold in the right corner and then the left. Secure with a glue stick, being careful not to glue the envelope shut.

And there you have it. Pretty little envelopes to tuck scrappy bits of paper in. Embellish them, if you wish, with buttons, ribbon, glitter, stickers... whatever. Even unadorned, I use these little envelopes to stash gift cards, little "just because" notes, and little tags that accompany my flower cans. And boy, flower can season is rushing on toward us!

So, sure, it's a simple project. You can make a dozen in twenty minutes, easy. But I love little projects like this. I like reusing ordinary things to make my day - and maybe someone else's - just a little bit brighter and lovelier.

Hope you enjoy! -B

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birthday Purposes... (Not Wishes)

Great minds have purposes;
little minds have wishes....

....Little minds are subdued by misfortunes;
great minds rise above them.

-Washington Irving