10.25.2016

Charming Ann Arbor, Michigan

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I love the details in these towns built in yesteryear.  The attention to detail is what captivates me. The arched windows, the small shops snuggled close together differentiated by their colorful store fronts.  Tree lined streets offering shade and shadow.  A few years back I discovered my great-great grandmother grew up in Michigan. This adds a special delight,  thinking about her carrying on with her life in these very areas which I am very fortunate to visit.

Main Street in Ann Arbor.  This is a college town with many outdoor cafes, pizza parlors in old Victorian buildings and hip clothing stores lining the street.
I feel my day is complete if I can take a stroll on such a street soaking up the history of the buildings.  Questioning as if they would be so kind to answer my questions. What year were they built? What was it's original purpose? If only these walls could talk of another time.   Graceful architectural embellishments give character to brick and stone.  Always beautiful details. 
A fairy garden tucked under a big tree.was a happy surprise.   One of these days I am going to find a place for my own fairy garden.  In the meantime, Bostyn and I made a lovely one in a garden pot.  We found all sorts of things from the house that made a perfect landscape for our little fairy.  Glass pebbles for a stream,  a little mirror for a pond, a small wood bird house Bostyn had painted was the perfect fairy dwelling. 

More enchanting details.  What ghosts of the past looked out of these windows watching the hustle and bustle of the street below.  A business man, a maid, a professor, a student, a child, a writer?

Antiques or Book shops are a definite stop.  I can get lost for hours among the dusty shelves.  Luckily Mr.T also loves books so we disappear into our own corners for a while.  Later we stop at a cute little restaurant with it's original tin ceiling  and tell each other about the historical treasures we found in the book store.
Are you a modern girl or a Victorian at heart?  Do you get lost in history?

10.19.2016

Enjoying Fall Everywhere



I guess you could say I'm way behind on my blog with the excuse being since July we have just about been around the world in 80 days.  I always lug around my laptop with the intention of posting wonderful adventures and pictures of where we are, but many times there's hardly a minute to catch my breath before we're off again.  When I do have a spare moment I love to look at your beautiful blogs which doesn't require much effort on my part.

Before leaving for Fort Lauderdale, Florida a few days ago we were beginning to feel the coziness of fall with breezes tossing autumn leaves to the ground.  Puffy white clouds scooting across the sky with dark thunder bumpers following behind.
As we drive up the canyon road to our house both sides of the streets are lined with rows and rows of sunflowers. That's when we know fall is really here.

What I'm seeing today from my 19th floor hotel balcony just a few steps from the beach is more of a summer paradise.  A couple of white sail boats navigating through choppy waters. Royal blue umbrellas dot the white sands and flutter in the hefty breezes .  Palm trees sway and tangled hair whips around the faces of  sunbathers .  Seagulls squealing as they dip and soar high above the blue-green swells and the constant crash of waves on the sand are soothing sounds to my ears. A friendly fat gray pigeon and his friend are poking around the balcony, for crumbs I suspect, from my granola bar.

Since I'm really in the mood for the enchantments of fall I thought I would post a few of my favorite pictures from previous travels.   For me the rich fall colors, the aroma of baking cookies and pies, the anticipation of the coming holidays are things I love. These bakery windows showing off their delectable desserts which are to die for. These tasty treats in the bakeries of  France and Germany are as delicious as they look.  That's not to say I tried all of them!  How would it be to have such an enticing dessert bar at a fall gathering topped off with some hot chocolate or warm cider?

Let me show you some of my favorite places to enjoy the fall.

Boston, Massachusetts and Exeter, New Hampshire

 The New England woods have such a variety of red and orange leaves.   Just beautiful.  The timing is always very tricky if you're trying to catch them.   The colors change anytime between September and October.
  This beautiful roof lines have the makings of  haunted houses especially on a dark, windy night.

Just the beginning of glorious color.  The woods are so tall and thick they hide neighborhoods, walking trails, secret gardens and estates. It's magical.
Mr. T sports some red, red maple leaves in his shirt pocket from our walk through the grounds of one of the beautiful estates in Michigan.  Our lovely Ashley, the photographer in the family.  She often takes wedding photos here. 

Halloween is just around the corner.  It's the beginning of our party season  which our family always looks forward to.  Before leaving on this trip I decorated the house with witches hats, my Victorian themed dining table with silver dishes, sparkling wands and potions.  Invitations have been sent by Evite.  They make it so easy.   Costumes are an absolute must.  I haven't figured out the details of dinner yet but we usually have a tasty pot of Chili as our main course.  Then it's games and a fishing pond and spook alley.

What are some of your favorite fall traditions?  I would love to hear about them. Until next time enjoy your fall days wherever you are.

 














7.11.2016

Bringing The Family Together

"The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It."
                                                                                                                                                                Peter Dricker

Occupation: Mom

I'm a mother and depending who is calling me, I am mom, mama or marmee.  One of the things I love most about being a mom are the many opportunities for teaching moments.  One of our favorite sayings in our home is "No Empty Chairs".  It simply means we are a family and we are in this together.  We all have a responsibility to care and watch out for each other.  We want a complete family, everyone accounted for, no lost sheep.

No Empty Chairs

Life gets pretty hectic with schedules, school, work, responsibilities and a number of interruptions. One way we found helpful to connect with our kids while they were growing up was to adhere to the counsel of having a Family Home Evening.  This is a night set aside once a week  for the family where we gather round and talk to each other about what's going on in our lives, talk about goals, reinforce our love and God's love.  Monday Night for us was off limits to the demands of the world. 

What anticipations await us when we come home?
I have fond memories of coming home from elementary school.  Mama would be at the dining room table planning our family night.   We were excited to contribute to the 'program'.  I recently found a little red, spiral notebook that I kept with the minutes of our family night programs.  I don't remember if I was assigned to be the secretary or I appointed myself to the position, but it was nostalgic reading my childish handwriting of the nights events.

Always a talent was displayed.  Anything from reading a poem,  a musical number or a magic trick.
 "Hide not your talents: they for use were made.  What's a sundial in the shade."  Benjamin Franklin
Everybody likes to be a part of family night.  A great way to show your kids how special they are.
  In one of the lessons Mr. T and I had with our kids we taught them etiquette where they learned to shake hands with an adult.  The next Sunday at church the greeter at the door was very impressed with their handshakes.  He said they weren't wimpy 'fish' handshakes.  The kids were very pleased and proud to know they had learned something important.
Our Family Night was complete with an activity and treats. Afterwards everyone would get their assignment for the next week and then we would kneel together and have a family prayer followed by a big group hug.  Off to bed they would go knowing they were loved. They came to understand that they were part of a bigger picture.  They were part of a family that cared, loved by parents and loved by their sisters. We will always look out for each other so we won't  have any empty chairs.

"Raising Kids is like a marathon.  It's going to be a long run, but before you know it, it's over."


                  Home is the most important place in the world.


4.12.2016

T-Shirt Makeover

In our travels Mr. T can always find great looking logo t-shirts.  He has quite a colorful collection and it's a fun way to remember the places we've been.  I like to help him pick them out but I don't usually get one for myself because I feel like a walking billboard and they're pretty boxy on me.  When we were at Canyonlands I changed my mind when I saw the nice logo designs.  So with the intention of a little redesigning I bought a couple of t-shirts.   
Before the re-do
  The high round neck, the sleeves and the length aren't very flattering (on me), so the scissors and I got busy snipping when we got home.
 
Cutting the neck a little deeper and further out on the shoulder.   A couple of inches off the sleeve and about four inches on the bottom.  I had a shirt from Cancun that I also threw in the re-do mix.
The cut pieces

Finished Shirt
I had a 'fat quarter' that made a perfect bias trim. A couple of tucks in the front and back give the shirt a more feminine touch and eliminate the boxy look.  

I'll have to get some more t-shirts this summer to do a little more experimenting.   It was a fast project and a big improvement.

3.02.2016

Spring Teaser

I know it's a little early around here to be dreaming of summer lounging and gardening, but I'm so excited that our four foot pile of snow in the backyard has almost completely melted it puts me in the mood for the outdoors.  We can actually see some grass and tender little bulbs poking through the soggy ground.  With gardening and outside living catalogs coming in the mail on a daily basis I'm beginning to make plans for the patios and window boxes.  Still trying to decide where to put the pool,  besides in my dreams.
  Just a few pictures of warm weather inspirations from last summer.

I
A little touch of vintage with the cruiser bike.  The side panels on the side of the window are from our previous home.  One of our souvenirs. The geranium pot looks pretty sad.  The plant is a start I took from another healthy geranium. When we lived in California we could just break off a stem of a geranium, stick it in the ground and it would start to grow.  Not such luck here.
The calming, lovely stream Mr. T built has provided hours of fun for the kids.  Boat races, fairy houses along the rocks, and throwing sticks and rocks into the stream and watching them go under the bridge into the pond is better than any toy.
The  barbecue station or the summer kitchen.


The side yard is an English Garden in progress.  Looking forward to doing more this summer with a path, benches and statuary.  This is the favorite path of the deer heading right for the vegetable garden. bah humbug!  They are so tame they just wander around the neighborhood eating all of the delicacies we have planted for them.  Yes I know they are cute.
Looking forward to the beautiful color that will come back to our world soon.  Till then I will be patient, dream and plan.

2.23.2016

Write It Down

A few months ago I was asked to speak to a group of young ladies and their mothers about journal keeping.  What a great time I had with these cute girls.   My theme was a quote from Hans Christian Andersen, "Life Itself Is The Greatest Fairytale of All".  Well, he should know having written quite a few classic fairytales.

The sad fact of our day of texts and e-mails is that we have fewer and fewer personal written words  in a journal or a letter to a special friend or loved one.  Where are the day to day records of life?   Some of the best books that have been written have contained information from another period of time.  Those interesting tidbits come from from personal letters and journals.   Where is the proof to another generation that life was wonderful for us unless we record it?  I love to read letters from my grandmas and grandpas to their kids.  And what a treasure it is to read letters between my mom and dad during WWII.

If you haven't started or need some motivation here are a few ideas to make the process fun.

Journal prompts glued to popsicle sticks help get you thinking if you're stuck and can't  think of anything to write about.  i.e. What did you like to do when you were eight?  Why is it easy or not to get up in the morning?
I believe when you know you are going to be writing in your journal at the end of the day,  or whenever, you become more observant to what's going on around you.  You start looking for the good in the day.  Every once in a while I have to do a world update just so the future generation knows what was going on in the ancient year of 2016.
There are many ways to approach journaling as there are types of journals.  How about doodle journals, art journals, travel journals, spiritual journals.  The red book has all the details of my trip to Europe after high school.  Written with the perspective of a teenager, i.e. "Hungary has very cute boys." The Mary Englebreit journal is full of my learning years as a mother raising five daughters.  Some day they may find it insightful. They have a false illusion that I was the perfect mother and so were they.   The spiral bound sketch book is full of inspiring words,  written quotes, and favorite pictures from magazines.  It's a tale of what was interesting to me on a given day.  The yellow book is a copy of my blog.  In the background is a journal I made by covering a bound notebook with scrapbook paper and then embellished it with jewelry and ribbon.  I am the queen of embellishment.

To make it easier to sit down and write have all of your supplies close at hand.  This is an example I showed the girls which they thought was fun.  A wooden box from Michaels craft store painted and covered with scrapbook paper with a ribbon glued around the bottom.  Inside are stickers, pens, colored pencils, journal prompts and a journal.
Also writing letters creates a history of day to day life and the celebrations of life.  Since it's still the month for showing we care,  take a little time to find some cute paper, carve out an hour in your day and tell someone you're thinking of them.  Then rattle off about whats going on in your neck of the woods.  I know it's not as fast as an e-mail but finding a letter in your mailbox is a real treat!  Truly a labor of love.  And you will feel a great sense of satisfaction.  

                                                                    Deadline four days :)

2.08.2016

Pops Of Red

In my last post I talked about adding a touch of red to your decor.  This is the month to do it, all things red, right?  Over the last few years I find myself adding a pop of red in just about every room. It adds energy to the room not to mention a boost to your own energy level.  One of my favorite designers was a advocate of a bit of yellow in every room much like I am one for red.  It's so easy to add any shade of red with a sassy pillow, a thin red trim around a picture,  a bowl of white flowers with one stunning red rose, a cuddly throw across the bed or casually tossed on the arm of a couch or chair.  The ideas are endless.  Here are a few ideas, some temporary, others a little more permanent, for a few years anyway.  Accessories are always quicker and easier to change out.







Red is like a neutral.  It goes with so many other colors.  Some of my favorite combinations are navy, aqua, yellows, brown, greens, actually, etc. etc.  Go for some extra energy this month. 

 Let me know what touches you've added this month.  You'll love it.

See You Next Time......xo

Going to the party at:

Dwellings-the heart of the home

2.01.2016

Welcome Lovable February

I embrace you February with open arms.  Though your frozen fingers touch the trees with glistening icicles and shake snowflakes from the gray sky, my heart stays warm with thoughts of love notes on
Valentine's Day, birthday celebrations with family and friends, and a 3-day weekend to boot. February I look for the best in you.  Your cold heavy skies don't weigh me down.  Your heaps of snow don't discourage me.  It only means Spring is one month closer.  But we'll have to see what Mr. Groundhog has to say about that.

In the meantime I will begin to plan my party month.

Incorporate touches of red and pink in my decor.

Plan a special dinner for friends and family.

How about a tea party?

Make Valentine cards.

Think of special ways to show all those I love how much I care.

February is an excuse to reach out.  Let's do it!

 
     
  To  have joy one must share it,
Happiness was born a twin.
    Lord Byron

      Thanks my friends for stopping by! 

    Partying at
   A Stroll Thru Life                                       Cozy Little House              
Confessions of A Plate Addict
                                           

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