Monday, March 17, 2014

A Great Day For The Irish

Wishing a Happy St Paddy's Day to my three Irish colleens, Erin Kathleen, Meghan Elizabeth, and Bridget Eileen. Once we started with the Irish names, we just couldn't stop! And top of the morning to all the boys too.    

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Not Just For Curtains Anymore

 Once upon a time I lived in a house with all the storage that I ever thought to need. My grandkids called it the house of doors and drawers, because there were so many. Now that I live in my cozy little home with very few drawers, I am learning to improvise when it comes to storage. For years I had an old dental cabinet where I kept my jewelry. I couldn't bring it with me, but the cabinet lives with my daughter Meghan now in her wonderful old Victorian house.
I had to think of new ways to store my jewelry and these are some of the things I did. The inspiration for the hanging necklaces and  milk glass vases came from WhippyCake. I love her blog and her style, which is nothing like my own. I used tension rods  between my bedroom door and closet door, and curtain hooks. It works very well. I think I will shirr a fabric tube or use washi tape on the white rod to add some color, but that hasn't happened yet.  

On my dresser I have a narrow shelf with compartments which I filled with milk glass vases. These hold cuff  bracelets. A black velvet jewelry holder from the craft shop keeps the rest of my bracelets from tangling.

Having everything on display is very different for me. I enjoy looking at it. Most of my jewelry is handmade or gifts. Nothing valuable if you are counting dollars, but fun to look at.

I covered a foam florist wreath with strips of fabric and lace, and  pinned brooches onto it. Still more to add. I think I thought of it myself, but I'm sure it's been done before. Probably on Pinterest!
The bedroom walls are much darker than they look in the picture so there is a lot more contrast. (Will I ever be a photographer?  So many times I put off posting because I don't have decent photos, but I have decided to concentrate on timely writing instead of beautiful pictures. Forgive me)

 I also use tension rods as a way to put a fabric wall hanging under my fireplace mantel. And they can be put across a
bookcase shelf to hold ribbons. I'll show photos of my crafting room when I finally get it organized and I can find things again. Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Old Grey Mare-A February Rant

This has been quite a week and it isn't over yet. Our new computer system went live at work this week, and for me it has been a nightmare. Literally, I have even been dreaming about it every night. All my young- and I do mean young- co-workers don't even realize what an advantage they have by working with computers all their lives. I can tell they are upset with me. And of course, at least once a day, the trainer will say to me that she has never seen "that" happen before, as my computer seems to do something entirely of it's own free will. No matter how many times someone tells me to push this key or that key, it absolutely makes no sense to me until I understand why I am doing it.
As we all know by now, electronics just don't seem to like me. My garage door opener quit working (And it is probably the coldest, snowiest week of the year.) My phone battery keeps draining and I don't know why.  And, yes, I am trying all the things I am supposed to do. And I must be the only person in the world who can't get the Facebook movie of my life to work. Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera
On the home front, here is a picture of all the mail I have gotten this week. This was the week my Medicare deluge started. (And after this week, retirement looks good, if only I could think of another way to make money and not have to learn anything new that I don't want to learn) Every single thing I've gotten this week has been from Medicare, or Aarp. Or a reminder to get burial insurance. Until today, when I got a pretty blue envelope inviting me to make this Valentine's Day one to remember! I can call now to reserve my place for a private showing of the latest in hearing aid technology. I am feeling so old. Even though I know that is better than the alternative. Any nice mail would be greatly appreciated.
It was no surprise to me to learn that Mercury is retrograde. All month. I can hardly wait  to see what else is ahead for me.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tea Time

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a teacart. When I moved here, I realized that I finally had the space for one, under the window in my dining room. This is my smallest home, yet it is the only one with the right spot. Every time I visit the antique stores, I have looked for one. Not too big, and definitely one with a lift off glass tray so I can put postcards and vintage papers underneath. Friday night I decided to walk through the  Brass Armadillo antique mall. As I pulled into the parking lot, there was a vendor carrying this beauty inside. I hurried in and searched until I found it. Just perfect and even a few dollars less than the limit I had given myself. Meant to be, right? It even fit into my car, and it was payday, so there was enough money in my account. All the signs told me this was my teacart. And now it is. Happy Valentine's Day from Me to Me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

100 Things About Me- Part one

I was sorting through boxes (still and again) and found this picture. I think I was probably three. It made me think of the lists I often see and have never tried to do. So here it is---Things about me That Aren't Really Important to Anyone Else......but isn't that why we have blogs?????
1.I don't want to be too predictable.
2.I am from a really unusual family who could easily fill this list, but I am trying to make it all about me.
3.I really do love Irish music.
4.I prefer tea but drink a lot of coffee.
5.I like to knit and crochet, but have never made anything that has to be fitted.
6.I still have the first "antique" I ever bought. Candlelsticks. 50 cents
7. My absolutely favorite job was at  a living history museum. It was my life for many years.
8,I can make jewelry from hair. (See #7)
9.I can cook on a woodstove (Ditto)
10. I know more about nineteenth century ettiquette than anyone probably wants to know.
11. I always spell etiquette wrong. Other than that, I am a really good speller.
12.I was a page at the Iowa Legislature when I was in high school, and worked there again for a session four years ago. Loved it.
13. I've always hated office jobs.
14. I work in an office.
15.I have always wanted a gypsy wagon in my back yard.
16. Now that I rent, I don't have a backyard.......or a gypsy wagon.
17. Sometimes I tell fortunes at parties.
18. I used to have a fairy ring in my yard. Every day I made a wish when I got off the school bus. For years.
19. I'm mom to five children. My mother has five children. My grandmother had five children.
20.Sometimes I write poetry. Not often.
21. I really want to write a book, but I'm afraid to start.
22.I have been baptized three times.
23.Every single moment of my life is touched by grief. I have learned to live, even to enjoy. But it is there. Every. Single. Moment.
24. I married at nineteen and never regretted it.
25. New furniture makes me nervous. I like things to have a little wear.
Okay. End of Part One. 100 really seems like a lot.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Word of the Year-2014

Every year I pick a word. And this year the word is Discovery. Or Discover. Or Discovering. I thought about picking Adventure, but want to notice and learn about things first. I actually used this worksheet to help me pick out a word. I thought about nearly a dozen words, but discover was the one that seemed just right for the year I have ahead. Last year's word was mindfulness, and I spent most of the year thinking about things, and moving and clearing out my life. So this is the year to discover new things about my self and my world.
Did anyone notice that the link goes to an address called "Word of the Year Discovery Tool". I filled out five pages of worksheets trying to come up with the perfect word for me. And only just now I noticed that I "borrowed" my word right from the title! Maybe I need to go back to "Mindfulness" for another year! Stay warm and think about a word. It's probably right in front of you.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Everywhere Christmas

This will be the first Christmas in my new little home. It is beginning to look a little festive as I try to find places for decorations. This week I hosted our Christmas Craft Nite. No dinner to prepare, as we ate out at a new restarant in my neighborhood. Donning  my adventuress hat, I had the Duck Duet. (For the first and last time). Then we came here for the Christmas tour-which took about 2 minutes-this place is small, and for dessert and gifts. My dining room is large enough to put the leaves in the table, even though I had to borrow extra chairs. We had chocolate brownie trifle, and macarons. Christmas crackers on the side, so we all got riddles, tiny toys, and paper crowns. Hopefully, we didn't scare the neighbors when all those crackers popped. Not sure if I have mentioned before that I live in a very quiet neighborhood now. I made the paper trees for everyone. I am still having a paper Christmas this year, but have added some of my other decorations mixed back in. The holidays are a time for Tradition. For me, there are Traditions Discarded, and Traditions Packed Away. But there are also Traditions Renewed, Repackaged, and Transformed.
      No surprise to most, but I did manage to find space for a lot of my bookcases. I love this one!
Here is the main tree. I also have 3 little trees that Finn, Tess, and Cass decorate. So right now there is a forest in my home. The Jingle pillow was a gift. Works perfectly in my old reading chair.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Remembering Rich

Richard Thomas Moran  September 27,1979-September 23, 2010
Dear Rich,
It's been three years since you gave us the ultimate Irish Goodbye. One minute you were with us and then, suddenly you were gone. A lot has happened in that time, but we are sure you are keeping tabs on us. And, of course, you have your dad with you too. And so many others. Several of your friends have gotten married and have babies now. Life does go on.
People say it gets easier, but I think we all miss you just as much as ever. You are always, always in my thoughts. When I forget what I'm saying, or stop typing in the middle of a sentence at work, it's because you are there. When I have a blank look on my face, and don't follow a conversation, it's because I am remembering you. When I see a pineapple, or a lighthouse, or the moon, or all those silly mustaches that are everywhere now, I think of you. Because of you, my taste has become positively tacky. I even bought a coin purse that looks like a pineapple. Meg bought shoes with pineapples on them, so it's not just me. Are you laughing yet? And the music. I can hardly listen to anything because of the memories. So, don't worry, I think it's pretty safe to say that you are always Number 1 with us.
Do you recognize this list? I found it after you left. I framed it and decorated it. You would probably think that is crazy. I'm not sure when you wrote it. Some of the things you got to do. The rest, I hope you are doing now.
Go to Vegas
Mardi Gras
Backpack through Europe
Go to Ireland
Drive through America
Own a lighthouse
See the Pyramids
Meet Jimmy Buffett
Earn College Diploma
Be on a gameshow
Reread the Bible
Be able to quote Shakespeare
Act-then direct
Carnival in Rio
See the ruins at Machu Pichu
See a bullfight
Run with the bulls in Pamplona
Figure out why JD Salinger is so damn secretive
Be a cowboy
See a game at Wrigley
Learn to sail
Meet James Ellroy
Go to Iceland
Go to Australia and New Zealand
I don't find as many quarters as I used to. But they are still popping up here and there. We see red cardinals all the time. Oh, and I found this laminated and stuck in your mirror." LIBRA: Take stock of your life, and implement long-term plans and preparations. The need to wait until everything is right will turn to a desire to get things done and move to the next level." Did you know?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Moving Right Along

"Good Luck Follows Bad" That's an old gypsy proverb and it's how I'm thinking about life right now. It seems like everything is going smoothly now, and I am not used to that these past few years! I have found a place that will be perfect for me, I think. A duplex in an established tree lined neighborhood. I even have a bookstore and coffeeshop within walking distance. This place was built in the mid 1920's, so it has many features that I love.  As you may know, I am all about the cute,and this place warms my heart.  
I have the second floor, and actually have about the same square footage as the main floor of my present house. So I will have room for most of my favorite things. But I still have a lot that has to go. 

This arch leads to the dining room, just like the one in my house now. It will be strange to be a renter, and I will miss so many things about my little cottage, but finding this place helps so much. Of course, now I'm worried that I have jinxed myself. I've already signed the lease and have the key. This VictorianGypsy is ready for some good luck!

Sunday, June 30, 2013


It's been a whirl wind of a week. Once I finally listed the house, things went very quickly. Just about 5 days! I felt like the popular girl at the party. Everybody wanted to dance with my house. Hope it continues to go so smoothly. Of course, there is the inspection, and the appraisal, and all those other nervewracking things, but it all looks good. Now, of course, I have to find another place to live......and soon. I have my eye on a duplex that reminds me a lot of this house. Hopefully, I will get it. 
Today marks the completion of the second year of my life as a widow. In my head there is a book forming about the bitter and the sweet and all the changes we go through in this journey and the things I have learned. I don't know if it will ever happen, but it is there.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finally Listed

Built in 1918-My Little Bungalow
My house is officially for sale! Thought I would never get to this point, but I did. Now I just have to keep it ever-ready for however long it takes. Here are a few pictures, and if you want to see more, just go here.
We bought the house in  2006 and moved in on June 23, Jim's birthday. It has been a good house, and I truly love it, but it was a house for another life. I'm not sure what my life will be like from now on, or even where I will be living. But I know I want to rent an apartment rather than buy, and to put money into my travel fund. That is the plan, such as it is. I really like this style of cottage, so I've been looking at buildings from the 1920's. I want solid paneled doors and woodwork, wooden floors, quirky rooms, and style that doesn't look like everybody else. Whoops, sounds like I want just what I'm leaving. I want small, but not too small, a space for sewing and crafts, and a tiny kitchen. Or maybe I want something downtown and industrial.My options are pretty open at this point. I just know I am done with houses, for now, anyway. As I have been writing about the rooms, I have had to go back and change "we" to "I" about six times. I will never get used to this being a house for one. It's a grand little house, and I wish it many more happy years, just not with me.
The magic camera makes everything look pretty big, but bedrooms in a bungalow are usually quite small. I put the bookcases together by myself last year. Being the book fanatic that I am, I thought that bookcases would make a perfect headboard and they do.
I've blogged before about our basement remodeling. This is a large family room. I haven't watched tv for two years, and never use this room any more. How silly is that? There is also an almost kitchen, and my super-duper craft room and storage rooms here, and a great bathroom. For awhile, I thought about turning the downstairs into an apartment. 
Blogger is jumping all over the place tonite and I can't get any of these pictures the way I want them to go! But this is just an idea of what my house looks like now. I can't wait until I can start cluttering up all these bare surfaces again. I am hopeless!!

Monday, April 08, 2013

So, What's New?

I don't know if anyone has wondered where I've been, but I'm back. Actually I haven't left at all, but have been extremely busy getting my house ready to sell. It still isn't listed but it should be soon. Right now it seems to look like this most of the time! I'm spending a lot of time sorting and getting rid of things and packing things away, and reliving memories.
The realtor sent a stager to the house and I am trying to follow most of her suggestions. I thought I knew a lot about things like getting rid of personal items, and moving out a lot of the furniture. But a few things surprised me!
     1. Clearing all surfaces, such as countertops, and picture rails, and shelves. I am of the persuasion that these areas should be filled with quirkly,charming items.
     2. Moving half of the  books from bookcases, and only have books on the shelves....And not using the top shelf.  I have 15 bookcases in my house, and some of that space is filled with sewing boxes, and antique globes, and an old typewriter, and teapots, and china, and little houses, and crafty, handmade things, etcetera,etcetera,etcetera. Well, it used to be. Now, I have mostly bare surfaces. And I don't like it at all.
     3. Drawers and closets should also be only half full, and NO EXTRA HANGERS in closets. Really, I am still laughing at that one. Funniest of all was when she told me I should neaten up my laundry chute. My laundry chute is one of my favorite things about this house. But it's true. If you open the little door downstairs, the clothes do have a tendency to fall out. So, fewer dirty clothes, which I guess, won't be a problem if  I get rid of half of what's in the closets.
I've moved before, but that was before "staging" became popular. I do think it is a good idea for people to come in and imagine their own lives instead of mine, but I wish I had taken more pictures before I started! I'm not sure who lives here now, but she is very messy, with boxes everywhere! Twenty one boxes took this trip to the Salvation Army. And they weren't the first to go.

You may have noticed that I completely missed March, and a couple of major holidays this year. I have to say that St. Paddy's Day isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be, but I did wear green. I spent Easter in Kansas City and visited my favorite church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I can't believe how the grands are growing! Tom will be in high school next year. Lindsey is almost 12 and Joey is 9. Time is always getting away from me.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Be Mine, Valentine

Here are some examples of a few of the things we have made in my Craft groups lately. Just a little decorating for February. The wreath is made from ribbon bows and a wire hanger bent into a heart shape. The hardest part was finding wire hangers! (Thanks, Kathy). They can also be done with strips of fabric, tulle or burlap, or pieces cut from felted sweaters. I have a lot of hangers now, so I may be experimenting a little more. I have a goal this year to use up a lot of my supplies.
The little muslin hearts are stamped and colored, then hand stitched. I added some dried lavender from last summer's herbs. With a tangle of ribbons and buttons on the front, these were quick and easy.
The hearts on sticks were just wooden blocks and hearts painted, and then mod-podged with decorative paper. I went the easy way, and cut out everything from just one sheet of assorted designs. I liked the positive words (they say:  I want to try, Today, and 1,2,3) and bright colors. A metal key and jute bow were the finishing touches here.
Easy Peasy but all of these were fun to do.
 I've mentioned before that I meet with friends once a month for a delicious dinner, conversation, and crafting. We have been doing this now for about 35 years! We started when our babies were small and we hardly ever got out of the house. This group has been a sanity saver many times over.
Several months ago we started a group at work. I think Pinterest has gotten so many people interested in making things.  Every two weeks we get together at my house. They bring snacks and I supply my barely used craft room, and whatever we need. The two groups couldn't be more different, but both are a lot of fun.  I am very lucky in my friendships.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A New Year and A New Word

Yes, I do know that January is almost over. And I really haven't been sleeping through it. It just looks that way in Blogworld.
As usual, I have chosen a word for the year, and this year my word is mindfulness. I quite like it, and really thought of it as my word,but as often happens, I am seeing it everywhere now. In fact, I have even found two books with the word on their covers. And I didn't buy them!! (That is a big step for me.) I couldn't get all of "Mindfulness" on a scrabble tile, so I settled for little messages of "Be Mindful". Two words, but it does remind me that I am trying not to live in the fog.
This year I am seriously thinking of selling my house. So I may be posting lots of photos of the quirky things that I love about it. One of them is this cute little niche in the dining room. It was probably for a telephone. My house was built in 1918 and really is a charming little bungalow. I love it, but it was for a different life. I'm looking at  downtown apartments. They seem so small, but I don't really use a lot of the space that I have now. And I have a tendency to fill as much space as I have.  Many old buildings are being renovated, and I love the mix of old and new. I don't think I could enjoy living in a place that didn't have some history.
New Year. New Rules and Resolutions:
Stop the Clutter
Come out of The Fog
Stop eating at the Quik Trip. (Dinner from the convenience store was getting to be a habit. Now I am making soups and roasting vegetables. A big improvement.)
And I'm happy to report that I am doing well on all three. Exercise is still a little murky, but the year has hardly begun!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tis The Season

I am decorating early this year. I am still keeping things simple, but I am starting to go through the boxes. No one can ever imagine how painful it is to open those boxes and relive happy memories. So many of my Christmas boxes are still untouched as I make new decorations and new memories. And that is becoming ok. Not wonderful, but ok and all right.
I have always loved the tradition of Christmas stockings. And our "Stuffers" have always been a big part of the Christmas season. Our own stockings were skinny red hunting socks that I bought the first year we were married. That year I made all of our decorations and I still have a few of them left. Patchwork fabric pieces were glued to styrofoam balls. (I think mod podge hadn't even been invented yet!). I also made a lot of salt dough ornaments and painted wooden cutouts. I had a handmade birds nest ornament because a bird nest in a tree brings good luck. Every year we added a few ornaments but the tree has always been mostly handmade.  Every year the kids put out their shoes on St Nicholas Day and received a purchased ornament, candy, and chocolate coins. The coins used to be nearly impossible to find. I always spent a lot of time looking for special ornaments.I had several sets of five different pieces. Ornaments with their names engraved. Little statues of children. And, every year, I was more superstitous with these ornaments. They had to be packed separately, and I held my breath until I found each one, and put it safely on the tree. Maybe, somehow, I knew.  Of course, everyone grew up, and took their ornaments with them when they moved. Except for the little people and ones with names, because I didn't want to split them up. With five children, that left a lot of holes on the tree, so we started buying ornaments. Jim loved Christmas. He loved the Hallmark ornaments and things I thought were particularly tacky. If it talked or played music, he wanted it. So the tree was filled up again.
Oh, this was supposed to be about the stockings! My mother made stockings for each of the five and embroidered their names. And every one had their special place on the mantel. Rich's was always in the middle. As we added to the family, I bought hunting socks again. This time, gray with red and green toes. I appliqued Christmas trees and embroidered their names. Each has a funny family history. I meant to make stockings for the grandkids, but they were coming faster than I could finish them, so their presents went into a St Nicholas bag.
Our first Christmas, Jim bought things for my stocking,but he just "didn't get it". Toothpaste does NOT qualify as a stocking stuffer. So I enlisted my younger sisters to buy my stuffers for years. As they grew up, we would get together and exchange stuffers. Now my daughters and I are doing the same. That little party is a high point of the season. The gifts can be funny, or sentimental, or even outrageous. But they are always given with a lot of thought and much love and laughter.
I haven't had the heart for stockings the last two years, but this year I am buying little gifts again. And this year they will all go into this giant stocking that I just finished crocheting. I'll keep it on the door, and maybe a banner or greenery will go on the mantel. It's not wonderful, but it's ok, and our Christmas will be ok too.