Seasonal Greetings

Yesterday was US Thanksgiving. I didn’t blog, because, thanks to still being sick, all my energy was taken up with cooking. I’m glad to report, that with some help and good cheer, the meal came out great and everyone in our little ranch community had fun.

Lee could not help, as he had a giant dog on his lap. (Joke)

It rained all day again. We aren’t getting much each day, but it’s helping. Between the dismal weather and my throbbing sinuses, I didn’t want to be out much, anyway.

Dismal

Today I’ve felt a little better, so I went to the Red House to remove fall decor and make it look Christmas-like, since that’s the thing people do nowadays. I discovered the new wardrobe had arrived for the second bedroom. It’s rather large. Some rearranging will be needed.

There are now king sized pillows on the big bed, too, though I need to exchange one of the shams’ pillow for the new ones. New ones are pretty lumpy and would be better for shams, but I got too tired to switch them out. Darned cold. In fact, I fell asleep after writing the previous sentence. I’m tired

Otherwise it’s looking subtly like winter holidays are coming. Or perhaps it’s kitschy. I did my best. Maybe we have a guest this weekend. Still wanting a couple of “test guests” before going all out.

So far, the best suggestion I’ve gotten is to leave a few books out. That’s a good idea. I can leave some of the novels I’ve read and a couple of Texas books.

Fake books don’t count.

Time to go home and rest and drink plenty of fluids. I’m thankful for you readers and friends. You make my life richer.

My Decorating Style is “Dated.” So What?

I got myself in a bit of a tizzy last night while I was randomly clicking on “news” items in my Facebook feed. I landed on a clickbait article about how to achieve the very important goal of not having your home look like your grandmother’s home. According to the author, this is a horrible thing that must be avoided at all costs by following their wise decorating advice.

I have a wall clock. Those are ridiculous, says the clickbait writer. I think they meant those ones Joanna Gaines used to put on every house she did. My wooden owl clock from Germany makes me happy.

I scrolled down the numbered list (because numbered lists get more clicks) while ignoring the same ad for a watch that repeated every paragraph or so. As I did, I saw most of my decorating choices on the list. I am woefully dated. My house looks like someone’s grandmother’s house.

Fake flowers. Ick. We are told to buy real ones and throw them out. Who has that much money? I enjoy my obviously fake flowers. You can look away.

Wait. My grandmother, at least one of them, had really cool decorating taste. She had all this excellent Stickley furniture, a really cool art deco kitchen, and all kinds of fascinating collections of objects. I’d be happy to have a house that looks like hers.

Decorative plates that aren’t for eating off of? Ridiculous. How about empty wine bottles? That wasn’t on the list, but I bet it’s bad, just like pictures of chickens painted by the guy who tiled your floor or bronze baseball gloves that were once your father’s real one.

Wait. My house does look like hers. I have some of her furniture and much of her art. The rest was Mom’s. Mom was an artist. She had taste, even if she DID choose “Early American” as her style.

The clickbait person hated wallpaper. They haven’t read all the lates magazines who declared wallpaper to be back in just in time for everyone who’d wallpapered their homes in the 80s and 90s had removed it all. This is tasteful 2000-era wallpaper.

All these exhortations to get rid of anything that was popular in a decade prior to the current one strike me as mass consumerism at its worst. Throw away those perfectly functional kitchen cabinets! They are oak or cherry! Those are bad, outdated woods! Ick! Right. So all those poor trees live their lives in vain and how other trees have to give up their lives so barely used kitchen items can be replaced.

They railed about putting fake plants up on the shelf above the cabinets. I can’t argue with that. They are dusty. And ugh, look at those cherry cabinets! (They are REAL cherry wood and custom made – not getting rid of them)

And ooh, you can’t have the wrong color granite! Go dig up another mountain and get today’s color. Those beautiful rocks from the 1990s must go!

The article talked about Precious Moments figurines as being unfashionable. I am not fond of them either, but if you like them, keep them. Not everyone will like all my horse figurines.

I’m really glad that a movement toward sustainable decorating is starting to emerge. People are realizing that if the things in their home still do their job, they don’t have to go away.

Crochet. It is true, doilies collect dust. I happen to like pansies.

And at the same time, not everyone has to be “modern” and non-grandmotherly. I’m old enough to be a grandmother, so if I want a doily, dammit, I can have one. (Here’s a secret: modern furnishings were popular with many of your grandmothers – your grandmother or great grandmother might have had mid-century modern during the middle of the previous century.)

More doilies? At least I made this in the 70s and it’s bright orange.

So, I’m sticking with my cherry wood finishes. I like reddish wood. And I like natural stone, which is often brown or tan. So what? And I proudly display my mother’s collection of hand-painted floral plates right alongside the ones I bought for myself. I like them. And I decorated my house for ME, not whoever determines what’s “in” this month.

Rocks, wood, brown things, clutter. So what? I’m happy.

Please keep what pleases you in your own house and don’t throw away your stuff just because someone tells you it’s not cool (or whatever the current word for cool is; I’ve used that word since 1964). And don’t hide your needlepoint. I just want to stab whoever said to hide it and not display it with a blunt tapestry needle, even though I’m a nonviolent pacifist. Flower lover. Hippie. Maximalist.

I love my needlepoints, even with cherry wood frames.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. I’m now going to go hide in my distinctly non-modern tack room and not read any articles full of ads that are written just to get people to buy stuff. Trends. Ugh.

It’s Looking Good Inside, Not So Good Outside

There was a surprise waiting for me when I got home last night. My bedroom was no longer a poop brown color. It’s now yellow! Maybe it’s not the exact perfect shade, but it sure is more cheerful than before.

New sitting area

Lee knew how much I liked my bedroom in the Bobcat house, so he had the guys paint it while we were gone. Then he rearranged all the furniture and put up the art again.

The bookshelves show up more!

I’m very happy with the new look. Everyone says the room looks bigger and lighter. I still have some chests of drawers to bring in, along with my good mattress. Then the room will feel like it’s partially mine, not just Lee’s and the dogs. Of course, the dogs slept on me last night, but it was sweet.

I missed you.

Outside of the house things look less good. The drought is taking its toll. The big pond is going down fast and the little pond dried up completely.

Poor pond.

The grass is horribly brown. And it is very crunchy. Of course the grasshoppers are still here, but fewer of them.

Not pretty.

I asked my son to start giving the horses hay while we were gone (I can’t open the door to the storage container) and we’re going to keep that up until we can give them more grazing.

Thanks!

If things settle down a little more we can put some temporary fencing on the part of the front that we’d planned to fence in this spring. Keep your fingers crossed that Kathleen improves! At least the in-law suite is done and Lee’s brother is happily installed there. Progress!

Bonus. I got an Apache horse for the tack room. We spent so much time on Apache land I wanted a tribute. I always feel weird that Apache isn’t a Native American horse, but I guess paints are, historically.

More Yoj and Christmas Decoration Confusion

Yes, I have now broken down and begun turning my Austin house into a winter wonderland, even after saying how much I loved the autumn décor. It got cold. That did the trick. Thus, I’ve been wandering into all our secret storage areas and getting out items. And thanks to those crazy people at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, with their 80% off (with coupon) sale and curbside delivery, I got more.

I didn’t have to buy anything to create my thematic table setting. I just combined stuff I had around. I don’t have silver candles, so the pop of red is on purpose, yeah.

But, there’s another Yule mystery going on! It all has to do with our YOJ sign. I shared the story of it back in 2018, but I bet you weren’t reading the blog in 2018. In brief, I bought this light-up sign that said “JOY” at Target back when we lived at the tiny casita house in north Austin, when Anita first moved here. I proudly set it up in my bedroom window, which was the only window in the house visible from the street. I went outside to view it in its glory, only to realize that I’d set it up backwards, and the sign said “YOJ” (with the J backwards).

Back in the glory days when YOJ lit up.

This struck Anita and me as totally hilarious. It really felt just right to us, with our contrarian bent and strong dislike of the commercialization of the season. So, we left it that way. A few neighbors pointed it out and enjoyed the story. So, we’ve put up YOJ ever since.

Here’s how I improved the mantel. Garland and little pine-cone picks really make it look like a frosty forest, to me, at least.

The sign fell in the garage and lost a light, so now it doesn’t shine with, um, joy anymore. But it lives in our current living room year around, along with our tree for all seasons, etc. We had a second YOJ in 2008, but I don’t recall it returning last year (which was not our best year for decorating).

Where did this go? I’m confused!

This year, though, we spotted some stocking holders in a catalog, so Anita got them. Now we have matching signs in our living room windows, which makes up for the other one, which is probably hiding in the garage, where we haven’t looked yet.

Joy to our windows!

Sadly, we can’t light them up, because they don’t go on and off automatically, and we will not be climbing up there every evening to turn them on to save batteries. Maybe the last week I’m in Austin before Christmas, we’ll light them up.

One of my Christmas cactuses is doing its best to provide decorations, as well!

I’m not sure if the neighbors can see the signs in our windows, but I like the idea of bringing in some joy to our lives so much that I got a couple of smaller signs to go in the windows. They also look like they are knitted, which endears them to me more.

Here’s where the second YOJ is. The decorations around my ancient gingerbread house light up at night.

As you look around my decorations, you will see a lot of large, white branches with bells and snowflakes. I thought they were much smaller, and was going to put them on the mantel. Instead, even the sad cactus that got messed up last year looks happy again, thanks to those branches. And the little palm tree. Whatever, I made it all cheery and like a woodland snow scene around the house.

Now, that’s a happy cactus.

We will drag out the Christmas tree from the garage tomorrow, I guess. I hate to admit it, but that cheers me up. As for the ranch, we’ll see if I can come up with anything dog-proof. Maybe we will get a new branch or something. And I can look forward to doing something in my office next week! There, I have a reason to live!

Semi-happy palm tree, with weird broom I made.

Just kidding. What are YOU doing to keep your spirits up? Suggestions are welcome!

I Love Color Choosing

Today Kathleen and I headed over to the ole hardware store to look at paint chips. It’s time to get the paint for the Pope Residence project! (Content below stolen from another blog; sorry, but the blogs have different audiences.)

We chose the colors for the trim and walls that aren’t brick, as well as the painted ceilings. The main color is called Rosy Pashmina, and will complement the brick really well. It’s a shade lighter than the actual bricks, but will blend in with them, we hope. It goes mostly in the back of the building.

Paint samples! This is the image taken in the shade.

The trim is a “designer white” called Wings of an Angel, which is a very light cream. We wanted to be sure to get a warm white to go with all the brick and wood.

The main bathroom is a calm yellow (if you can call any yellow “calm”) called Deviled Eggs. I hope it doesn’t always make me hungry. It’s toned-down nature will go with the rustic decor of that room quite well.

My office bath will be a very vivid red-orange called Steelhead Redd. It shouldn’t be overwhelming, since one wall will be metal and the brick wall will be the cream color. Besides, I like vivid bathrooms. I love the one in Bobcat that is a paprika color.

These are the colors in the sunlight. Probably in the house they’ll look a third different way.

And in a move that I hope works out well, I selected a very pale blue (Dreamstress) for the ceilings that are currently white. I think they will register more as white, and will be a nice contrast to all the warm colors. I always wanted a ceiling that looked like the sky, and it reminds me of the tradition of painting porch ceilings the “haint blue” color.

If it doesn’t work out, like they say, “It’s only paint.”

My Car Is a Billboard

In an unsubtle attempt at bringing attention to Hearts Homes and Hands, I finally put the giant sticker of our logo and phone number on the back of my car.

Wave if you see me! Don’t honk; I’ll think I did a traffic faux pas.

Let’s see if the rest of them get installed. I think Kathleen will start using the car magnets on “official business” now that we rescued them from the back of her office.

Why Do I Do Stuff Like This?

I have been over-doing it in the decorating, lifting, toting, and moving department for the last week or two. I need to learn to do a few things, say “good progress, me,” and stop.

This is an old kitchen. But it’s less disgusting now. And our stuff is moved in

But no, once I get into a frenzy of decorating, unpacking, or moving furniture, I cannot stop until I feel like it looks to some unknown outsider like I’m finished.

That futon is another heavy object I should not have moved.

So today, despite having a sore back from lifting heavy objects the day before, not only did I completely decorate my new office in the old church building we bought, but I unpacked all the other office stuff, “cleaned” the kitchen (really made it less dirty), then rearranged all the furniture in the main room of the church building to look like a meeting area, an eating area, and a lounge area.

Why was I driven to make a little arrangement of random furniture?

I felt all justified when an unexpected visitor (the president of the bank who loans our business money a lot) showed up. It looks like people are working here, even though it is obviously an unrenovated space.

The lights don’t work in here, but maybe you can see the many chairs and tables I moved to make this arrangement. Not seen are boxes I moved OUT so it would look better.

My guess is that I am, at my core, a nester. I feel incomplete if the space I am in does not feel comfortable. Still, someoene MAKE ME STOP.

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