Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Not About the Snow...

... It's never been about the snow.

When I lived in Florida, people would ask me if I moved because of the snow. And my answer was always, "no."

I am actually okay with snow. I am pleased with it in the beginning of the season and I love to look at it - especially if I don't have to drive in it. Yes, it scares me to be on slippery, icy roads, but it also scared me to drive in blinding downpours that were a common occurrence during a Florida summer.

Generally, I like snow. And I'm fairly good at romancing the snow for the winter season. Winter is at the bottom of my season list, it is true, but I don't hate it. I think I used to, but I don't anymore. I have learned to appreciate it for what it is.

Most of the time, I don't even mind shoveling too much. Shoveling is no fun when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. It is also no fun when the snow is really wet. But most of the time it is okay. Most of the time, you don't get huge amounts and it is workable. But sometimes you do get dumped on and then you just have to deal.

No, it's not about the snow. But what it IS about is this. When the view above changes to the view below. When the snow is gone and the sun is shining. When the grass is greening and the strawberry plants are already beginning to take over the garden box. When the tulip leaves are emerging from the ground... it should NOT be 20 degrees outside.

THAT is what it's about and what it's always been about. No, it's not been 20 degrees for days. Yes, we've had delicious days in the 60's. But April always swings so! I want to stop dressing in layers! I want my house to stop feeling COLD. Yes, it is warmer and that means the heat doesn't come on as often. And my bedroom is in the basement and it's darn chilly down there. It has always been the length of the cold that has gotten to me. Today's high was 37. Next week promises to be warmer as April tends to do. But that's next week. I told my mom in a text message this morning that it was threatening to make me grumpy. This is the text message I got back:

"Don't give in to the GRUMP!"

Sage advice. I love my mom. :)

For the record, I did not give in to the grump. Instead I took pictures of the flowers we've got scattered around the house. And I wore a skirt with flowers and a spring green scarf. I wore my poppy red lipstick. And despite needing a jacket the sun was shining and it was a good day.

I'm hoping Easter Sunday will prove to be a nice day. I try to remind myself that 37 felt balmy just a few weeks ago. At least I know it won't snow. But it's never really been about that anyway. :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Favorite Quote Friday and Playing Tag

 "The French are able to live in the middle ground, because they don't go overboard in either direction. They are able to eat wonderful food and not gain weight, because they are not into the idea of feast or famine. They are into pleasure. They are not wearing lingerie because they're in love or wearing sweats because they are out of love, but rather they are a little sexy all the time."
- Jamie Cat Callan, Bonjour Happiness

As I think I may have mentioned, I am on a bit of a French kick lately, learning about French culture and style and I'm really enjoying it! That said, true Francophiles tend to wax poetic about their heart's desire and sometimes the French themselves seem to get a bit annoyed with it all, if Amazon reviews of some of the books I've been reading are any indication. Be that as it may, whether quintessentially French or not is beside the point for me. As my neighbor, Rob, might tell you, I am somewhat of an idealist and if joie de vivre means elevating even the mundane and getting the most out of life, I am all for it!

Remember when we played these games a number of years ago when Facebook was still young? The only thing constant is change, so I'm sure some of my answers will be new even to those of you who know me.

1. Are you named after someone?
Although my mother likes to suggest I was named after my great-grandfather, Nicholas, I think that is just a convenient tie-in, because she just loved the name, Nicole. Don't deny it, Mom! :)

2. When was the last time you cried?
On Monday. As a student with students, a graduation and all the mom duties, I got frustrated. Just when I think I'm at the end of my to-do list, another Monday rolls around and it all stacks up again. But my younger daughter, Eve stepped in and offered her help and really changed the tenor of my week by helping with suppers, putting away dishes (without being asked) and just generally making herself available to me. And hey, it's Friday and I've worked my way through another one, so I'm feeling pretty good right now!

3. Do you have kiddos?
  Two beautiful, teen girls, ages 14 & 17.

4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I think so. I would like to give myself some of the responsibility for the things I take care of, because I know I would do them! Plus, I'm a planner and I would love to have someone plan something for me! I would love to see what I dreamed up! :)

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Pintrest and blogs.
6. Do you like your handwriting?
Yes. I love writing all kinds of things by hand: my journals, notes, letters. Unless my hand gets tired, I like the way it looks.

7. What’s your favorite cereal?
 I'm not a huge cereal fan, generally. I do like granola and I like my homemade granola. And I like peanut butter flavored cereals.
8. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
What they are doing, I think. I like to people-watch and I especially like seeing stylishly or originally dressed people.
9. What is your eye color?
10. Scary movie or happy endings?
Definitely happy endings. I don't like scary movies.
11. Favorite TV show?
Hmm... Downton Abbey, I suppose. My husband and I are also enjoying watching through episodes of Parenthood on Amazon Prime.

12. Summer or Winter?
In order: Fall, spring, summer, winter.

13. Hugs or Kisses?
14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Isla Mujeres, Mexico for my honeymoon.
15. Do you have any special talents?
I knit and paint. I like the portraits I've painted of people and think I render them pretty well. I'm good at yoga. I have a nice singing voice; I'd never win American Idol, but I do well enough for church choir and some solos now and then. I have a very good sense of direction and I love to write.

16. Where were you born?
Clarion, Iowa.
17. What are your hobbies?
In addition to the things listed in the talents above, I like to journal and blog. I would love to travel more. And I love to read.

18. Do you have any pets?
Yes. Three cats and a parrot who thinks she's the boss of all of them.
19. Favorite movie?
I have a few: "Enchanted April," "Under the Tuscan Sun," "Chocolate," and "A Christmas Story." Oh, and "Nacho Libre" is so absurd and always makes me laugh.
20. What color is your car?
We have a gray minivan (that came with FLAME decals on it - oh, YEAH!... and which we proceeded to remove right away) and a white Mini with a black hardtop.
21. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Well, I'm in school to work in a library... so I'm hoping that's what it is. I have LOVED being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and I have a few years left of that. But I'm on the hunt for my next starring role.

I'm tagging a few friends:

Marianna at Cardinal Acre

Shirley at Under an English Sky


Aimee at Living, Learning, and Loving Simply

 As you can see, I've only listed a very few here. If you'd like to play along, please do so by leaving a comment. Let me know when you plan to post your tagged post and I'll be sure to stop in and say hello!

Have a lovely weekend, all!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Tea Party Edition!

I think I have loved tea parties all my life. I think I love them even more now than when I was a little girl, because they are so easy to do. Well, my tea parties are easy to do, anyway. And if you are lucky enough to have friends like mine who also love tea parties, then you can all pitch in and it very soon turns into something magnificent!

Tea parties are much easier to throw, in my opinion, than dinner parties. It's hard to go wrong when you have a table full of baked goods, sandwiches, and little desserts. And you don't have to be all "matchy, matchy" either! I mean, I suppose at really fancy tea rooms or restaurants or when attending a "high tea," you would expect many elegant pieces of fine china, glassware, etc. But for your home-grown tea party, the more tea cup designs the merrier. Plates and all the other trimmings don't have to match either. Of course, they're lovely if they do, but I have been to small tea rooms where even their dishes didn't match and it didn't matter one iota! 

I loved having tea parties for my girls when they were littler. One that we really enjoyed was a Dolly Tea Party where the girls and their dolls dressed up and we had tea for all of them. Part of the allure is in the preparation and the anticipation of the event to come! For the Dolly Tea Party, I made heart-shaped cookies and Maia (above, and now 17 years old and a graduating high school senior in a few short months!) and I made cookies for the dolls, cutting them out with thimbles! And there were portraits taken too, of course!

We had juice in the tea pot and fruit and that was it! The dollies got to use their own small tea set too.

I have found that children - like grown-ups - often put on their best behavior when they are presented with a lovely situation. Realistically, of course, you must consider that their dignified behavior will last only as long as their age will allow and plan accordingly. The tea cups in the photo, for example, were purchased from a thrift store. I still have them and they are still in use, but if one were to have broken, it would have been no cause of undo tension which might ruin an otherwise marvelous party.

Around the very same time these photos were taken, I was also in the habit of serving my girls breakfast on pretty plates too and I had purchased some inexpensive, cut glass, sturdy stemware that they thought was so beautiful to enjoy their juice in every morning. They felt very fancy and most often behaved that way too! They were children, of course, and allowed to be so, but tea parties and using "fancy" dishes is a delightful way to teach manners.

Presently my girls love tea and drink it nearly every day, as do I. Sometimes they will make their own, impromptu tea parties if they have a special treat and want to make it even more special.

But having tea with friends is the MOST fun. And while it is fun to be waited on from time to time, helping to set it all up is part of the fun of tea parties too - even if you, yourselves are the guests of honor!

One of my favorite tea parties we had was the "Snowflake Tea Party in the Magic Attic" we had in January 2013. It was really wonderful and, strangely enough, put me in mind of Disney World and haunted houses. Disney World and haunted houses? Whatever for, you might ask?

Well, Disney World and haunted houses are all about illusion and the illusion always works on the younger crowd the best! Our guests ranged in age from 4 years to 8 years old. I don't know how much they will all remember of the day, but we (ourselves and another homeschooling family) wanted to create a magical environment. We hung snowflakes all over the ceiling and had twinkly lights on the way up to the attic to set the mood. We all prepared treats with a "snow" theme and everyone wore blue and white. It was so much fun to do!

The big girls got to have fun too, as we decorated until 1 a.m., had a sleepover and then were up preparing the tea bright and early. My Eve, (above on the far right) even got a fancy hairdo before the guests arrived.

Do check out that post! There are many other photos that show just how beautiful it was, how hard the girls worked, and the little guests that enjoyed it! I think you'll enjoy reading about it!

Children are quite selective in what they notice, so the environment didn't have to be perfect. I hope what they will remember from that day will be the kind, teenage girls that waited on them and the pretty snowflakes that hung all around them as they enjoyed (too many!) treats with their friends high above the city in a magic attic!

And finally, I wrote about our most recent Christmas Tea Party in THIS post. This year, the same group of us decided not to host for little ones, but to treat ourselves instead and we had a wonderful, beautiful, memorable day that just may become a tradition.

And that is the beauty of tea parties. They make us feel special. Whether we have one for ourselves, or for our friends, or throw one for others, it is a little bit of pampering that elevates the day from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

I am participating this week with Mom's Small Victories linkup party. Be sure to stop by to find a bunch of fun blog writers profiling some of their old, favorite posts!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Task Overload!

Oh my. My own schoolwork, homeschooling, and chauffeuring duties are going to be pushing my blog posts to the back of the line. Enjoy the start of your week (we've got some warmer temps, open windows, and birds singing!!) and see you in a few days!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Favorite Quote Friday & A Week In Review

 One new panel each Sunday... Our Cross is growing toward Easter.

 April's Warm Greeting: Wind and Snow Blowing Across the Pavement

 My neighbor Margo and her son, Matt, brought us "brownies" for April Fools Day. :)

Creating our own warmth and sunshine inside...

And where is Maia? Either sleeping in due to late nights or at play practice! It's tech week this week and they premier today!

 Craving Color!

Thanks for stopping by and a blessed weekend to all of you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Leopard Kittens: Thrift Store Fashion

Maia and I popped into Rewind when we were over in Northeast Minneapolis on Friday. I've never been an animal print person, but I'm thinking just a little goes a long way.

Inspired by this:

And this:


Embracing my inner French girl & thinking they're my spring neutral. And I'm getting these flats when I hit "publish" on this post! :)
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