Monday, October 31, 2011

Tip from a Tablescaping Cheapskate

Have you read Janette's beautiful post about honor over on Janette's Sage? If you haven't, stop what you're doing and head over there. She has some thoughts worth reading...

I'll wait...

On her post, Janette mentioned what she dubbed a trade secret  that I had shared with her prior to the big event. Since this little tidbit was new to her, I thought I might yak it abroad here...just in case it's new to someone else out there, too.

I never have been able to keep a secret. 

Now, it's no secret that I love to create festive table settings. While I do enjoy doing it for the invisible people, I actually like to do it for my family too. With my culinary aptitude,  I need all the meal camouflage I can get.

Yep. I like a pretty table. I also like using glassware.  However, I'm also big fat cheapskate who doesn't like spending money for dishes she might use once a year or once in a lifetime.

Quite by accident, I discovered a solution. I just use inexpensive glass salad plates and decoupage the backs of them to match whatever theme or occasion I'm celebrating.  Fun enough, but it gets even better.  You see, when dinner is over, I just put them in a sink full of warm, sudsy water, and off it comes, clean as a whistle and ready for the next creation.

 You've actually seen them in two tablescapes. 

This square magnolia plate was made 
with a photo copy of the napkins.

Same with this one, but with a bandana. 

 So anyway, that's the little trade secret. 
No, I don't do this all the time. I do have real place settings after all.
And no, I wouldn't  whip out the  Deco-Ware if the boss were coming to dinner.
 I'm not a complete idiot.

I just keep it handy for festive occasions with my real  guests of honor.
You know... family.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Now starring in the role of Pharaoh is...

One of my biggest fears is that I would ever become unteachable.

I ask my Bible study class all of the time to resist the temptation with me.  Let's resist the urge, I tell them, to read all scripture with holy victim status. You know what I mean, where you cast yourself in every story as Faithful Follower in need of comfort and strength.

Always the good guy.

Never is it any more tempting than in our current study. We're studying the Exodus, you see, and for the past several weeks, we've been camped out on those ten wonders of Egypt that we call The Plagues.  

Oh, how we want to be Moses, faithful servant of the LORD! Oh, how we want to picture ourselves leaning all of our weight on the Staff of God. What if instead, we were willing to try out for the role of Pharaoh?

You know the story...

The first plague turned the waters of the Nile into a bloody mess.  There was blood  in the river and the streams and the canals and reservoirs. The fish went belly up.  It stinketh out there.

 As bad as it was, though, the Word tells us that there was still some clean water to be had. The people just had to dig for it, and dig for it they did, for seven full days.

Is there anyone out there who thinks that Pharaoh was doing any of that digging?

I didn't think so.

No. This first wonder, although a great burden to other folks, didn't really affect Pharaoh all that much. He just turned his back and enjoyed the comforts of the Palace.

Then God sent the frogs. 
This is what He said:

They will come up into your palace 
and your bedroom, 
and onto your bed, 
into the houses of your officials and your people, 
and into your ovens 
and your kneading troughs. 
The frogs will go up on you and your people and your officials. 

Well, gross.

By the way, every single you and your  in those verses happens to be the singular form of the word. The Hebrew makes that obvious, but it's not always so easy to tell in modern translations. We tend to  glom all of our yous into one basket. This makes it more difficult to tell if God is speaking to the general public or he's getting a just little more personal.

pssst...He's getting just a little more  personal. 

This time, Pharaoh can't ignore the frogs and head to his palace. This time, the frogs are in his palace. They're in his oven ... in his bowls... in his bedchamber... on his bed... on his head.  Yep. It's personal this time, and this time, he has a different reaction.

Can we at all relate?

So what does Pharaoh do? Why, he makes a beeline to the guys with the Heavenly Hotline, of course. He begs them... please intercede and get these hoppers off of me.

And he bargains, too.

...and I will let your people go.

Yep. I'll be a changed Pharaoh. I'll hear and obey the Word of the LORD...if you'll just get those frogs out of my bed.

Of course, we know that's not the end of the story; it's actually closer to the beginning. We know that once the stench from piles of dead amphibians fades away (I love the Hebrew here: Once he could catch his breath...) his hard heart prevails once again. We can't relate to that part either, can we?

Or maybe we can.
And maybe, that will have to be a post for another day.

Yeah, sometimes that chocolate is bitter sweet...
From Exodus 8
comments are off 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Wise Old Table

This table was inspired by an old bird.

This is Hoot.

He's a little pitcher made back in the ceramics craze of the early '70s. Perhaps you remember it. Back in their Donna Reed days, The Duchess and her girlfriends took a class together. Hoot was actually made by one of them and given as a gift.

Poor Hoot perched in the corner of an attic for about three decades, but then...

... owls started flying all over blog land last year!  
We remembered old Hoot.  
Down he flew to her kitchen counter.

I was in TJ Maxx earlier in the fall and saw these little dishes. Don't those little owls on the rim resemble Hoot?

Yeah. I thought so too.

So I told the Duchess and suggested a little seasonal vignette for her kitchen counter. She offered to buy enough for a whole owl themed tablescape... on one condition.

She didn't want to see the word  Hooters in my blog post.

So she won't.

We found these little Ooters at the Christmas Tree Shop for about a dollar a piece.

The rest of the place setting is made with black chargers and a set of  taupe -on-white dishes that belong to the Duchess.  We separated the dinner and salad plates with a plain black plate for no good reason.

There was really no better choice than that iron flatware again.

 So we're using it. 

The water goblet belongs to the Duchess. I have no clue where it came from or a pattern. Sorry.
The flutes were purchased from a thrift store because we liked the black stems.

The napkins came directly off my kitchen table. They are usually gathered with those rooster rings from last week's table. I love them. They reverse with contrasting black and white patterns. A local gift shop decided to put all their napkins on mega clearance in the spring, and I was like a kid at Christmas.

I think I might need a 12 step linen program.

The larger candles were purchased at Hobby Lobby earlier in the year. I don't know if you can see it, but they have sort of a damask look.

Small votive lanterns belong to the Farm Sister. 

An owl table in the candlelight

By the way,  dry rabbit tobacco and
dog fennel from the side of the road is highly flammable
if someone accidentally sets it too close to the flame.

Just thought I would pass that along. 

And now in black and white.
I wanted to play with it. You can hardly tell the difference, can you?

Nevertheless, the black and white version is my favorite picture of all.

Not that anybody gives a hoot...

Sharing with Susan and the The Porch People

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Smack Down in the Walmart Parking Lot

Let's have a little Talk Back Tuesday...

I've yakked before how I feel about these spaces.

I personally don't think they're necessary, but I respect a store's right to erect them. Regardless of the Buddah belly I seem to be fighting these days,  I still wouldn't sneak Ebenezer into that parking spot. For one thing, I don't want to get the local tongues wagging. For another, well... I just think people ought to follow directions.

I've been thinking a lot about following directions lately. I don't claim to be perfect by any means, but I at least  try to respect and follow directions, even those for which there's no consequence.

Take those courtesy signs for example. They aren't the equivalent of handicapped parking spaces. You're not going to be ticketed or towed if you use one when you shouldn't. They are on the parking lot honor system.

Sort of like the grocery cart returns.

Does this look like a little yellow cart corral to you? Why no. It doesn't.

I just don't understand why it's so difficult to return your grocery cart.
Really, I don't.

And these festive yellow stripes are not pavement decoration. They are for pedestrians. Tooting your horn at the elderly couple moving as fast as they can across them is just plain rude.

Of course, so is strolling aimlessly across with a cell phone super glued to your head as four hundred cars wait to proceed... 

Is it just me, or does it seem that shopper's courtesy is getting worse by the day?

The express lane means just that. It's for folks who want or need to get in and out with their few items. Just a hint here, but if you have to count  the items in your cart,  it's probably not intended for you anyway. That's not to say that you shouldn't count them. I personally think you should.

Of course, I also think a big old alarm should go off at the 21st item... 

Yeah, I know. I need to work on that grace thing in the express lane. I'm trying. I'm also working on the fine balance between respecting the rules of courtesy without falling into the Pharisee Trap. You know the one, it's where you get all puffed up about following the letter of the law without considering the intent of it.

That's the reason for this ramble today.

I got a little smack down about this yesterday.  You see, I had the chance to "legally" use one of the little courtesy signs.  I was so excited.

It was late in the afternoon, and I was tooling about trying to wrap up one of those annoying errand runs. You know the type... the kind which resembles more of a scavenger hunt.  I had one thing and one thing only left on the list, and it happened to be located at my least favorite place. That's the bad news. The good news is that it happened to be a prescription pick up.

So I was going to get to use one of these things.

Or not. 

As bad luck would have it, they were all taken. I know this because rather than just park the car, I felt the need to circle the parking lot...three times.. in search of a courtesy parking.  By round two, I was feeling just a little bit cranky. By round three, I was talking to myself about all the big fat fakers who were probably parking in those courtesy spaces and not following the rules... like I was. 

And then, the annoying voice that lives inside my head cleared his throat.


Seriously, Debbie... Can we please get a grip here? Do you need that space anyway?

Sure, you have the right to it, but do you actually need it?  Is that the intent of the thing?  Is it really designed so the scavenger chick can have her privileged parking, or maybe... just maybe is it intended for the sick person or care giver who could use the shortest distance between two points and the courtesy of a well placed parking spot?

Well, oops. I think it's the latter.

So I parked Ebenezer about four spots down from paradise. And then, just to show Him that I got that clue, I pulled out and parked even farther for good measure. I'm kind of an over achiever like that.

Then Debbie and her baby steps headed in to Walmart to pick up her prescription, just a little bit wiser on the topic of parking lot courtesy.

So what about you? How do you feel about shopper's courtesy? Have you ever gotten the smack down about an area of your own courtesy that needed fixing?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Boy Named Chocolate Chip

Last week, our pastor asked me to speak briefly at the beginning of church on behalf of Sunday School and Bible study. It was a difficult request to fill.

For one thing, he used the words speak and briefly in the same request.

For another, he asked me to do that brief speaking on my favorite topic. It’s hard enough to limit the verbal meandering on a regular old topic. Limiting the word count on the topic about which I’m the most passionate is nearly impossible. It’s like asking the Duchess to speak briefly about her grandchildren.

Plus, what was I going to say?

How was I going to look out at that congregation and convey to them in five minutes or less what they’re missing when they don’t dig deeply into the Word of God. I wanted to be convicting without being condemning. I wanted so desperately to convey that the study of God’s Word isn’t something I do to satisfy the law. It’s something I do to satisfy the longing.  

And then I remembered a boy named Chip.

Years ago, I met a young boy with food allergies. These weren’t your run of the mill food allergies. These were of the severe sort, the type of allergies which, if his food were merely to touch items in the no fly zone, could lead to almost immediate death. Consequently, his parents had to watch him like a hawk. 

I was talking to Chip one day and asked him about the foods which were taboo to him. Poor kid…the list was exhaustive. I listened without comment until he reached one item.


The kid was allergic to chocolate.

Now folks, in Debbie Land, that would be a fate worse than death, and because I don’t have the sense I was born with, I told him so. I launched into an insensitive little yakabout lamenting all that he was missing. I’m pretty sure I used the words, bless your heart before I realized what I was doing and stopped.

Chip looked at me with a completely straight face and asked, “Is it good?”

Is it good?

He didn’t know, of course. The boy had never tasted chocolate. He had no idea what he was missing. Chip’s parents didn’t have to worry about him sneaking death defying little bits of chocolate heaven because Chip didn’t long for it. To him, it was just some brown stuff that other people ate.

Stick with me folks. There's a reason for my rambling. 

You see, I think God’s Word is kind of like Chip’s chocolate.  It's the most wonderful treat in the world, yet  many professed Christians have gone through life having never tasted it. Oh, they’ve had scripture sound bites. They’ve sat in church and listened to 35 minutes of commentary. But the chocolate, they have never even sampled.  That's because you can’t taste the chocolate without chewing on the thing.

You taste the chocolate when you get beyond the sound bite and dig in to the words, and the phrases, and the meaning and context of the thing. Then, you let it nourish your soul as you apply it to your daily life.  That's the point, after all.  

And then, you long for it.
Because, well, once you have tasted the chocolate...

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

comments are off for Sunday

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's a Hen Party

Nothing like being fashionably late to a party...

After our tablescaping  hiatus,  it was fun to play with dishes last week and hang out at Susan's Porch.  So fun, in fact, that we decided to get together for another dish party this week.

Which around here is more of a hen party...

OK, maybe that's a rooster. I can't tell. 
I'm not the Farm Sister.

 Our table inspiration was this little pumpkin plate. 

Like all of our tables, this one was imagined up after Sunday dinner.  We planned to gather on Tuesday to serve up our invisible luncheon.

Unfortunately, it was a dark and stormy day yesterday,
 and it rained all over our dish parade. 

We had to do it today instead.  That's why we're running  late.
 And that's why this post will be short on yakking.  

You're welcome...

Aside from the plate, the only new element on this table is the charger. I bought it this year at Walmart because I liked the leaves and acorns on it.   Originally, it was brown and orange.

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with its original colors.  It's just that I actually use chargers around here, and they didn't go with anything I was planning for fall this year.

They went Heirloom white with a  light brown glaze to match the luncheon plate.
We put it all on these warm fall place mats.

Basic black flatware

We used these harvest gold napkins last week. I got them at Walmart last year. 
 The napkin ring usually roosts on my kitchen table. 

I have absolutely no clue where the stemware came from. 

Little pumpkin place cards. 

Centerpiece of rooster- hens and a pumpkin filled cloche

And painted orange candles.

Once I discovered that I could paint plain old white candles any color I wanted,
 I stopped buying anything but  basic white candles for my tables.

'Cause I'm cheap ya know...

(I'm adding this to answer some questions below.) 

I just pick the craft paint or paints that I want and brush it on with a sponge brush. 
One coat should do, two if you want it darker. It dries pretty quickly.
And yes, it burns just like an unpainted candle.

Easy. Peasy.

And there you have it.
 Welcome to the Duchess's kitchen table,

Where you can always find something to cackle about.

Now, I'm headed over to join  The Porch People

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Sister-ing

The sideboard is finished and so is the table. 
Woohooo! I'm getting a bit closer to my big reveal.

I've been playing again...

Actually, I think the table is my favorite piece of all. I'm so crazy about her legs that I named her Betty Grable,  Betty for short.

Look at the gams on Betty...

You might recall that my cost for this set was basically zilch. It was given to me in its fix-r-up state by my sister. Now, this is not the tablescaping Farm Sister who shows up regularly in my posts. This is our Colorado Sister.

She's our big sister.

Several folks wanted to know what the Colorado Sister said about the furniture transformation. Well, I sent her some pictures, and she said,

Way to go, Kiddo! I knew you could do it! 

You see, that's the kind of sister she is. She's a giver and a cheerleader. She didn't need that set  because she already has a gorgeous one of her own. She didn't sell it because, to her, the joy of giving is far above rubies.

I said in THIS POST  that the word "sister" isn't really a noun; it's a verb. That's because being a sister isn't something that you are. It's something that you do. And big sistering? Well, that has a connotation all its own.

Big sistering Debbie was no small task. I was afraid of everything and good for nothing. I was a cry baby, a tagalong, and a copycat.  To make matters worse, I lived in a happy little place called Debbie Land.

Oh the thinks I could think...

Bless her heart, she tried. Whether driven by duty, love, or humiliation, I do not know, but my big sister tried. She taught me to catch a fly ball and not throw quite so much like a girl. She would have taught me to get a base hit, too, but she's a sister and not a miracle worker.

She loves horses and tried to teach me to love them too. Unfortunately, I'm more of a Shetland pony kind of gal.  In case you didn't know it, if a horse starts to gallop when you want to trot, it's best not to close your eyes and scream bloody murder.

Have I mentioned that she was a pretty fast runner too?

When I tried out for cheerleading, she taught me the moves. When I had tribulations in trigonometry,  she talked me off the ledge.  And when she was away at school for an unfortunate Homecoming incident, she sent me flowers, with a note that said just the right thing.

Yeah, as big sisters go, mine pretty much rocked.
She still does.

I just wish that she rocked a little closer to home.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy...

I've been carrying this picture around for a while planning to share it. It accompanied a heartwarming story in our local newspaper.

So here goes...

Can you guess what this woman is doing?

Yes, she's hugging,
 but more than that, she's listening. 

She's listening to beating of her son's heart.  

The man in the picture isn't her son. He's just the man who received her son's heart by transplant. He is alive today because that woman's young son died in a car accident.

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. If I had those thousand words, I don't think I could do justice to the gift of salvation as beautifully as that one picture, do you?

Of course, I wouldn't go so far as to compare the mother to God completely. I've never met her, but I think it's safe to assume that given the option, she wouldn't have chosen that plan.  I'm sure she had hopes and dreams for her child like all parents do, and dying so that another man might live wasn't one of them.

Who would make a plan like that? 

No, I wouldn't go so far as to compare her to God, but I think it's safe to say that she understands the heart of the Father just a little more intimately than most of us do. I think she understands why He loves us and why it is that He holds us so closely.  And I think she  knows the sound that brings Him the greatest joy. 

It's the sound of the heart of the believer
 beating with the gift of the Son.

I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 
Galations 2:20 NASB

No comments on Sundays

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old MacPatrick Had A Farm...

So did anyone else know that today, October 12

 is Old Farmer's Day?
Well, it is!

In celebration of Old Farmer's Day, we decided to do a little tablescape in honor of our favorite old farmer. You may remember him.... He's the fellow who called his cows for us to complete our very first tablescape....

And he's also the guy who let us traipse out into the middle of his high cotton.

He's pretty special, that brother-in-law farmer, but in truth he's not that old. He's just the only farmer we've got.

So we headed out to his  old barn...

... which we then felt the need to decorate. 

You have no idea how hard it is to drive a nail into weathered old barn board, but we did it. The rack was made by a local artist.  

We used this primitive farm table covered with some burlap. 

The place setting was inspired by some plates that
 the Duchess found earlier this year. 

 Hobby Lobby, I think...

We kept the rest simple and masculine by using 
solid red and  gold dishes and a hearty clay charger. 

And iron flatware

An old red truck 
is the centerpiece of the plate. 

And an old red truck was the centerpiece of our table. 
Our farm truck carries peanuts and cotton, of course.

Every old farmer needs his Old Farmer's Almanac. 
A lot of good that one will do him now.  

And every old farmer needs an abundant harvest, too.

These black weights are part of an
old cotton scale. 

It went on the table too.

'Cause cotton is his bread and butter. 

We were planning to use plain mason jars.
Then the newlywed niece found this Old Farmer stemware at a local shop.

Fancy, aren't we?

We placed our fancy stemware on some coasters with old farm scenes.

There's our old young old farmer and his wife.
Not that our farm wife ever got on a tractor in her life...

Maybe  she's out of gas, and there's a sale at the mall.

And that's about it.

Happy Old Farmer's Day!

From our old barn

to yours.

Just in case you're wondering, this is a table for invisible old farmers. I think it's pretty safe to assume that the last thing Old MacPatrick wants to do the end of the day is head back to his old barn...

Sharing with the Susan and The Porch People

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