Sunday, October 17, 2021

Happy 18th Birthday Tea Party!

Rebekah requested a mismatched tea party. In other words, she wanted to use china, but not our finest china set that all matches. I came up with the theme of pink and white with blue and gold accents. Then I started pulling things from around the house. We had almost enough tea cups that had been picked up from thrift shops for our picnic basket, but I was lacking one. I also found that it would be nice to have some simple white plates to pull all the mismatched items together. So,  I headed out to a few thrift stores. I scored at the second-hand store and found a tea cup, six white plates and several tea bag coasters for a total of $15. I plan to keep the plates. We may donate the tea cup and some of the tea coasters back to the thrift store, because they are not really our style but worked for the moment. I sometimes treat thrift stores as rental stores. I can use it for the moment but don't need to litter up the house with tons of rarely used and uncherished belongings. After all, it would have cost $15 to buy all these items in paper form, and then they would have been thrown away. It is better for the environment, too. I also picked up some country pink roses from Trader Joe's.

Finally, I was ready to set the table. I didn't have a pink table cloth so I used my daughter's childhood twin Matelass√© blanket which was packed away. It worked perfectly as the base. Then I took a lace dresser runner that was in the waiting to go to Goodwill bag, because it had a snag in it. However, the roses and tea pots covered up its flaws. 

Next, I added all of the dishware and flatware. The table was really starting to come together. I made roses with our pink napkins. YouTube has so many instructional videos on folding napkins. 

Rebekah's place setting with one of her favorite cups. 

The final touch was the candlesticks I had found at a thrift store last year.

I overheard Rebekah saying she hoped there would be balloons at her party, so I stopped by the party store and picked up this adorable bat bouquet. One of Rebekah's favorite animals is bats. It was actually meant to be a Halloween bouquet, but I added the #18 balloon and it worked perfectly. 

Lastly, the food...Rebekah requested all of her favorite foods. She wanted homemade 18 hour bread, ham quiche and apple pie. I made the apple pie in advance and froze it until it was time to bake. The bread was started the night before and the quiche was made that day, with pie crust my husband had made and frozen in advance. 

She was a very happy birthday girl. I love my kids so much! It is amazing to realize that they are now all adults. I am so enjoying watching them bloom. The harvest is beautiful.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Our Home, Autumn 2021

This very photo-heavy post was inspired by an evening of looking at our family photo albums a few weeks ago. We all had a lovely time looking at old photos, and we realized that we wished we had taken more pictures of homes/rooms that we had lived in through the years. It was neat to see how things had been laid out and how much things had changed through the years. Our last home and current home were both fixer uppers and experienced many changes while we lived in them. I do turn our blog into blog books, and we use those as photo albums, as well as having traditional photo albums.

In writing this blog, I stuck to photos of common spaces in our home, with the exception of our bedroom. The kids weren't sure they wanted their bedrooms in the tour, and I respect my young adults' feelings. The majority of the contents of our home is thrifted/gifted or inherited. I love to hunt down special finds and pay pennies on the dollar for them. Also, we have been on a journey to drastically reduce our belongings since 2019. I do believe we have currently reduced our possessions by about 50 percent. We maintain "a one thing, in one thing out" rule at all times, in addition to routine decluttering. This has created a much easier home to maintain. There is still plenty of reducing to go, but I can manage our home so much better now. We are all much happier and calmer living in it.

The front of our home

I spent a week in September painting the siding, doors and shutters on the front of the house. The shutters were a very faded and sad blackish-grey before. The two "front" doors are brand new and a wonderful addition to the home. I was going for a little bit darker sage green, but when I opened the paint can, it was this color. Nonetheless, we are adjusting to this lighter, cheerful green. I still need to paint the floors of the porch and stoop, but that will probably have to wait for the spring. Our house is funny and has two front door entrances. However, one leads to what we use as a bedroom for our oldest son. I think it must have been an in home office at one time with an entrance for clients. The front door entrance that we use is on the little yellow porch and leads into our library room. 

Our library is a work in progress right now. We ended up moving our sofa and loveseat downstairs to the family room this summer so that Rebekah could have a larger room to dance in for a virtual summer intensive she was taking. We felt blessed to have a traveling dance floor that could be picked up from its normal room and laid down in this room with just an hour of effort. When the intensive was over, we moved the floor back to her usual dance space, but decided that we really liked the TV and sofas downstairs. That left us with a very empty library for the summer. I have slowly found things at yard sales, thrift stores and moved furniture around to make a new space. The goal for the library is to have three comfortable chairs in a nice arrangement on the carpet. Then I plan to have a chaise lounge or settee on the wall near the curio cabinet that could be moved around for more seating when needed or could be a separate area for reading. Overall, we want small pieces of furniture that will be easily moved around to make the room multi-functional. Some of the pieces in the room right now are place holders while I look for something more appropriate. 

The rug was an extremely lucky find a few weeks ago. It is a hand knotted rug in very good condition (perhaps Persian). One of my friends is a rug collector and did a bit of research for me. Her guess was that when new it had likely been worth upwards of $4,000 and I paid $40 for it at a yard sale in the rich part of town. That is the kind of deals I like! 

The fireplace below still doesn't work. The chimney still needs a new crown and it probably needs a new liner. It has been on the dream list for several years now. 

Gifts are for Rebekah's 18th birthday, which is coming up. Be still, my heart!

Our home had two additions before we purchased it. Orginally, it was a one bedroom home and this hallway below was part of the living room. The wall with the piano would not have been there, which would have created a larger living space. On this side of the house, previous owners added on the front two rooms (what we call the library plus a master bedroom) years later. The bathroom, which we use for the males in the family (the door just beyond the arch), had been an eat-in kitchen. The doorway leading to the current dining/kitchen (you can see blue cabinets beyond that last opening) would have been the end of the original house. The area beyond was added in the early 1970's.

This is a courting candle. The parents could crank the candle up or down to determine how long the date between two young ones could go on. When the candle burned down to the first metal rim, it was time to end the date. 

This is currently Rebekah's workout/dance space. We call this the room of requirement because it has been many things in the past few years. It was our oldest daughter's bedroom when she lived here, then it was an office, then a guest bedroom and now a dance space...and it was the original living room when this was a one bedroom house in the early 1950's.

We consider our bedroom the master bedroom because it has a wall of closets on one wall. However, there are two potential master bedrooms in this house, and our son Elijah's room is actually the largest in floor space. Neither has a bathroom. 

We have made many changes in our bedroom this summer. The curtains were a steal at the thrift store for sixteen dollars. The sleigh bed was purchased from a friend who was moving across country. She threw in a dresser which ended up in our son's room and meant that we could take back from him our men's maple chest of drawers. It matches our women's maple dresser. The chests, which date back to the 1940s, were handed down from my grandparents to my parents and then onto us. The mirror for the women's dresser is on the piano. I love having family heirlooms. The quilt was our most recent find from the thrift store for just a couple dollars. I love it. 

The mirror and hairbrush set was my step-grandmother's and I use them every day. The wooden jewelry box was made by my mother and given to me when I was a little girl.

Moving on to the other end of the house, we have the largest and last major addition, which took place in the 1970's. It holds two bedrooms, the dining room, kitchen, and downstairs family room. I feel like I have shown pictures of our kitchen and dining room many times. We spend a lot of time in these two rooms. So here is a quick look.

The dishwasher hasn't worked in over two years and I don't miss it.

My pretty things shelf

We have two leaves that can be added to the table for parties.

The downstairs family room is working so much better for us. We enter from the carport into this room, and giving it a true purpose has helped cut down dramatically on the drop everything at the back door issue. I would still like to make lots of changes to this room. The biggest change would be to get the walls all painted to match. Right now, we have the exterior cedar shake from when that basement wall was the outside of the house, cinder block on two walls and the final wall has paneling and dry wall. In addition, there is a fake brick wall that used to be behind the wood stove that we no longer have. It is a mess of textures. 

Tim and Elijah's game area

So that is the public areas of our home. I may show the behind-the-scenes areas of our home in the coming months. The basement/laundry room is huge and really needs to be tackled. The garage also needs tackling. The house is 3,400 square feet, if you include the basement and family room. Those areas are not counted on our taxes, because the lower level's ceilings are too low to be considered living space. This house had definitely felt too big to me at times. It is a lot to maintain, especially because it was a terrible wreck when we bought it as a foreclosure. Electrical wires, sockets, outlets had been torn out. Lights had been removed from the ceilings with wires hanging loose. Cabinets were missing doors and drawers. I was raised and lived in less then 800 square feet for most of my life, so this is really big to me. However, by reducing our belongings and embracing empty space, we are finding it so much easier to keep up!

Blessings, Dawn 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hints of Fall

We made our traditional trip to an apple orchard last weekend. Unfortunately, we were not able to pick apples this year. Our area lost 75% of the apple crops due to two late spring frosts so none of the farms are allowing pick-your-own apples. There is just too much waste when everyone heads into the fields and picks apples that aren't ready. We were able to buy a bag of apples at the farm store and they were delicious. We ate all of them already! We also had apple freezies, apple cider donuts and brought home a gallon of apple cider. 

We had so much fun playing at the apple cannon. They use apples that dropped and aren't salable. 

Since we couldn't pick apples, we decided to pick one of the other crops offered. They had both grapes and flowers ready for picking. We decided to pick flowers. It was a perfect morning. I do cherish these moments with my nearly grown up children. Who knows how many more we will have before the two youngest have flown the nest?

All the Rest
~ We are still dealing with lots of shortages at the stores. I am not sure if it is worse here, because we are a small central city that supports about five rural counties around us or if everyone elsewhere is also experiencing shortages. What is it like in your area? This was the cat food aisle at one of our local grocery stores this week. I haven't tried the two pet stores because they are more expensive, but I may need to if they don't restock soon. I am trying to stay at least one week ahead in supplies for the cats. 

Rebekah needed a professional grade training tutu for her training program. Her new one came in and is so stiff. It moves perfectly with her. 

Otherwise, things are flowing along well. Helping kids grow into adults is filled with so many teachable moments. I always seem to be realizing (sometimes after the fact) something new that I haven't taught the kids. Nothing earth shattering, just little things, such as "It is good you didn't get a store credit card and here's why" moments. There are so many little teachable moments that still come up every single day. I don't know how others just turn their kids loose and hope for the best. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 3, 2021

Another Fun Outing!

We won't be going to the state fair again this year (even if it doesn't get cancelled), so I thought going to a place that had fair food would be fun. We went to a small shop here in town that sells lots of carnival foods and specialty desserts. We got six different things to share. Talk about sugar overload for a family that doesn't eat that much sugar. None of us felt very good later in the day, but we had so much fun trying the desserts.  Most were new to us and some were old favorites.

Funnel cake is an old favorite and was the best thing we had.

Donuts, Fried Oreos and The Spawn
(a very strange drink with coffee, chai, caramel, chocolate cake and who knows what else in it)

A Root beer Float, which we all liked

The Fried Oreo was so interesting and tasty, but I would pick the funnel cake over it any day.

Butter Beer which tasted mostly like a caramel chai tea, but who could skip a nod to Harry Potter.

Elijah liked the donuts and the Spawn the best. He will eat anything with coffee in it. Tim and Rebekah liked the funnel cake and donuts the best. Dad liked the Butter Beer and Fried Oreos. I liked the funnel cake and root beer float. We ended up tossing about half of all the drinks. It was just way too much sugar. 

Update on the rest ~ Rebekah has now completed two weeks of the professional day program. She is tired and sore, but so appreciates the opportunity. The audition results for Nutcracker are in, and she is the Spanish soloist, a demi-soloist snowflake, a demi-soloist flower and the understudy for Snow Queen. She is very pleased with the results. 

Elijah is doing wonderfully at Target. He is even starting to come home talking about "my friend this and my friend that". I am so glad he is making work friends and feels accepted. He also seems to be doing a great job getting his work done and reaching out to Human Resources when he has questions. He is doing a marvelous job managing his anxiety.

They both still need lots of support to get out of the house each morning, and I am doing a bulk of the driving. This is in part due to the need for me to have the mini van and in part due to the difficult places that Rebekah would have to drive on her own during rush hour. She is fine getting to and from work, but the dance academy is in a very difficult part of town and just getting out of the parking lot is complicated during many times of the day. So for now, I spend upwards of 3.5  hours a day in the car driving, supporting a new driver while she drives and waiting for them to get in or out of work/dance. It is an adjustment, but one I don't mind a bit. Motherhood is a constantly changing experience. 

Lastly, our daughter Katie is having many health and mental health issues right now. Everything seems to be going wrong, and she is struggling to get in with doctors who can get to the bottom of things. She is absolutely refusing help from family and friends. I am not sure how much help she is accepting from the group home since, she wants to be independent and doesn't share her information and we can't talk to them. Unfortunately, she is her own worst enemy much of the time. We are trying to be supportive from the sidelines.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Tea Party for Two

Rebekah and I had a lovely outing at a local tea house. It was kind of a celebration of the beginning of new adventures. As I write this post, she has completed the first week of the professional training program in ballet and is mostly pleased with her progress. The program really is wonderful and so different from the way she has been taught in the past. She has great hopes that they will really be able to help her hone her skills.

We each selected a different tea. Rebekah had Silver Needle white tea, and I had Imperial Yellow black tea. Our waiter showed us the entire process of steeping our tea. There was more steps to Rebekah's tea, because white tea can be damaged in the process, since it is so delicate and can have a distasteful flavor if it gets too hot.  The tea was very good and didn't even need sugar. 

It was just really nice to go out and have a lovely mother/daughter hour. There are so many neat places to try in our city. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 numbers are really climbing, and that was probably it for us for a long time. 

We were not terribly affected by Tropical Storm Fred. Our nearest shopping area to our home looked like this for a few hours and we had lots of road closures for a few days. However, the county next to us had terrible flash flooding that caused several deaths. 

We are praying that the year goes well and that this pandemic comes to an end. 

Blessings, Dawn