Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hard, hard work.


Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time working on our ever-evolving house plan.  Things are coming along (sorry, but I'm not going to post floor plans online . . . that just weirds me out for some reason), and I got to spend more time than was probably necessary "researching" studio/craft room layout and renovations.  I discovered some very definite trends in the images that drew me.

1. Even though the decorating fashionistas say colored walls are going the way of the dinosaur, I love clear, clean, bright, airy blues and greens with white, ivory or black cabinetry.

2.  I must have concealed/restful-to-the-eye storage.  Kitchen cabinetry, closets, workstations with cabinets and drawers, etc.  In order to feel creative and peaceful, I can't be looking at every craft item I own.  I've discovered I'm a very visual person, so while it's really important for me to be able to see what I have at a glance, most of it simply must be behind closed doors.

3.  At least a 10' x 12' room for the work surface necessary for really thorough scrapping/crafting/sewing/etc, and for friends to come over and "play".  12'x 12' would be wonderful.  (I know a lot of you are probably thinking "Only 12' x 12'? That's tiny!", but when we've got five children to house as well (and Vern really needs an office to facilitate pay for all of this) I find it hard to insist on a room that's as large as one of the childrens' bedrooms.  (It'll probably end up being larger than the master bedroom, though! lol)

Here are some of my favorites . . . (now, if One Pretty Thing would just post another Craft Room Redo roundup!)  I'll start with the rooms who have elements I really love.

Cathe Holden's creative space, from a profile at Craft.


I was kind of surprised that I liked this one, because it's definitely the busiest of my favorites.  I just love the color, and the way she uses vintage mail sorters and card catalog files to provide homes for everything.

Yvonne's Bright White Sewing Room, at Apartment Therapy.


I've discovered that I just love bookcases with square cubbies.  I can hardly bear it. lol  I'll have to make my own out of green plywood (no voc-glues are a must around here).  I won't have a basement space (her transformation is incredible!), but I love the way she makes things large, clean, and bright with lots of white.

Here's one from the Handmade Spaces Flickr Pool, belonging to Lavender and Limes, featured on the Modish blog.


Pink walls and another Ikea bookcase.  Sigh . . . lovely.

And now, onto the winners in the "Overall Look and Feel" category.  In no particular order:

HGTV had a great little collection of rooms I adored.  Here's the first, from Ingregory, whose photo was on Rate My Space (HGTV sure made it hard to link to these! Sorry I couldn't give better attribution):


The incredibly blue, set off by the restful black cabinetry and desk, are simply lovely.

Next up is Nichole's efficient and excellently-designed small-room makeover.  (This was a 9' x 10' bedroom!)


You need to head over to her blog to see more photos . . . she posted tons of them, and showed off her excellent use of cabinetry, keeping a very small space feeling open and uncluttered.  I simply <3 her arrangement here.

Wookiemouse had a photo on HGTV, with more cabinets.  I love the shiny chrome-topped jars in her glass-fronted cabinets.


And Valentine's Stampin' Space gave me some excellent ideas . . . the banks of Very Useful Boxes, and slim shelves with chubby little spice bottles filled my deep inner need for abundance in a most satisfying way. ;o)


I found Valentine's craft space at the Crafty Storage blog . . . and I could get lost there for days . . . 

Vanessa Coppola's space really profiled over at Craft appeals to me, too.


 (Although I must admit that her glossy green songbird and macro shot of pinchable-chubby Ikea spice jars were home runs. :o)

And finally, I've saved my absolute favorite for last.  Kari's lovely room at her blog Spring Chick Designs.


Some of you may recognize that photo . . . it was on Ikea Hacker, Apartment Therapy, and probably a few more.  You need to go check out her space, and see what a wonderful place it is . . . and all in a 12' x 12' room, too.  (She gives me hope.)

And finally, what started all of this was an old article in a Creative Home Magazine (sadly now discontinued, sniffle, sniffle), of a living room makeover that included a crafting corner. I've got this one filed under "Craft Room of my Dreams". :o)


It's a smallish-scan, but it gives you an idea.  While it's no longer my all-time favorite (Kari's and Nichole's are my top two.)  And, while I won't post a floor plan, you can bet your bobbins I'll post photos of finished spaces in a year or so when the whole thing is done!

So, with these percolating in my head, I'm off to try to make something of my Saturday morning . . . wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Be not faint of heart . . .

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a special series of meetings, essentially a micro-conference, for the women in my stake.  Titled "The Divine Light Within", I was able to attend an opening and closing service and three smaller classes in between, and came away fairly glowing with the spirit of what was said, and the powerful principles of which I had been reminded.  The following quote was shared in a class titled "Be Happy Anyway," and is probably the most memorable quote of the day.  Spoken by Elder Neil A. Maxwell in the April 1991 General Conference, it rings with his distinctive sincerity, love, and piercing clarity:


"Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'" (From "Lest ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds", by Elder Neil A. Maxwell).


I hope you all have a wonderful week!  (But I hope it won't be that long 'til I post again . . . :o)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bob's Red Mill Owner Gives Away Company

This man knows what it means to be a Christian.  (You'll have no idea what I'm talking about unless you read that link. :o)

And, lest you think I'm anti-freedom, let me explain.

The Law of Moses, which for most of my life I just thought to be a bunch of nanny-laws and mindless restrictions (such as detailing the number of steps you can go on the Sabbath, unless it's to retrieve something you've lost or dropped), is in actuality a body of laws teaching only one thing: lovingly care for one another (a.k.a. no greediness allowed!).  A prime example:  

"In passing through any field or vineyard in Israel, anyone was free to take what he needed if he was hungry (as the Lord and the apostles did; Mark 2:23); if the owner denied him that, he was breaking the law; if the person took more than he needed for lunch, then he was breaking the law–it was still manna (Deuteronomy 23:24–25). When gathering harvest, said the law, never go back to make sure that you have taken all the olives, grapes, or grain of your farm to the barn or to the press. That may be sound business practice, but the Lord forbids it. Some of it must always be left for those who might need it. From the wine and olive presses we get the word "extortion," meaning to squeeze out the last drop, another way to make a margin of profit–putting the squeeze on, wringing out the last drop. The Latter–day Saints, like the ancient Israelites, are to accept God's gifts gratefully and not "by extortion" (D&C 59:20)."

(Quoted from an awesome resource for understanding this concept further. Hit "Page Down" four times to "Moses Distributes the Lunch".  Quote is the 11th paragraph of that section.)

In our highly-industrialized modern world, it is more difficult to do this, as money is such a touchy subject and a highly corruptible thing.  It's a lot harder to turn a loaf of bread or a home-cooked dinner into a pint of whiskey or a joint of marijuana than it is to turn money into such a thing.  But I think that Bob Moore has the story straight.  His original plan was to retire to Oregon a couple decades ago and learn to read the Bible in its original languages . . . but I think that he has done far more good in the world by listening to the desire born in him and building Bob's Red Mill into what it is today.  Now, the employees not only have a way to feed their families as the years go by, but have a guaranteed retirement plan when they're done working, essentially being bought out when they retire.  I think that's tremendous.  And Bob's got a good few years left in him to help them transition and to see that his plans are executed in the spirit in which they were given. :o)

Good job, Bob.  The world needs more men like you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Farmhouse Dreaming: Dining Room Inspiration

So, as I've begun to work on home plans, often wanting to bang my head against a real brick wall, instead of an energetic/emotional one, I've started collecting images for inspiration, to remind me what I want to plan for, and why this whole process is going to be So. Worth. It.

Here are two of my favorite contenders for dining room storage, images scanned from an old Pottery Barn catalog that fell as one of the casualties of one of our many moves.  (And Pottery Barn should thank me for posting these, as it's free advertising for their Logan Collection.)  I absolutely looooove the robin's egg blue china in the first one . . .



I love the simple lines, and the way that the monochromatic dishes turn into sculptures on the shelf.



And, thanks to Ana* over at Knock Off Wood, I'll be building this myself . . . either from her plans, or ones I modify from coordinating plans she has already done, if she doesn't have all of these components planned out by the time I need them. :o)

(*Why is it that a couple of my favorite bloggers have names similar to mine? Hmmm? I think it's a sign. We of the clan of An(n)a are pretty cool. ;o)
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Babies are the same the world over . . .

as this home video shows. :o)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Night I Met Einstein, by Jerome Weidman

When I was a very young man, just beginning to make my way, I was invited to dine at the home of a distinguished New York philanthropist. After dinner our hostess led us to an enormous drawing room. Other guests were pouring in, and my eyes beheld two unnerving sights: servants were arranging small gilt chairs in long, neat rows; and up front, leaning against the wall, were musical instruments. Apparently I was in for an evening of Chamber music.

I use the phrase “in for” because music meant nothing to me. I am almost tone deaf. Only with great effort can I carry the simplest tune, and serious music was to me no more than an arrangement of noises. So I did what I always did when trapped: I sat down and when the music started I fixed my face in what I hoped was an expression of intelligent appreciation, closed my ears from the inside and submerged myself in my own completely irrelevant thoughts.

After a while, becoming aware that the people around me were applauding, I concluded it was safe to unplug my ears. At once I heard a gentle but surprisingly penetrating voice on my right.
“You are fond of Bach?” the voice said.

I knew as much about Bach as I know about nuclear fission. But I did know one of the most famous faces in the world, with the renowned shock of untidy white hair and the ever-present pipe between the teeth. I was sitting next to Albert Einstein.

“Well,” I said uncomfortably, and hesitated. I had been asked a casual question. All I had to do was be I equally casual in my reply. But I could see from the look in my neighbor’s extraordinary eyes that their owner was not merely going through the perfunctory duties of elementary politeness. Regardless of what value I placed on my part in the verbal exchange, to this man his part in it mattered very much. Above all, I could feel that this was a man to whom you did not tell a lie, however small.

“I don’t know anything about Bach,” I said awkwardly. “I’ve never heard any of his music.”
A look of perplexed astonishment washed across Einstein’s mobile face.

“You have never heard Bach?”
He made it sound as though I had said I’d never taken a bath.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach,” I replied hastily. “It’s just that I’m tone deaf, or almost tone deaf, and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

A look of concern came into the old man’s face. “Please,” he said abruptly, “You will come with me?”

He stood up and took my arm. I stood up. As he led me across that crowded room I kept my embarrassed glance fixed on the carpet. A rising murmur of puzzled speculation followed us out into the hall. Einstein paid no attention to it.

Resolutely he led me upstairs. He obviously knew the house well. On the floor above he opened the door into a book-lined study, drew me in and shut the door.

“Now,” he said with a small, troubled smile. “You will tell me, please, how long you have felt this way about music?”

“All my life,” I said, feeling awful. “I wish you would go back downstairs and listen, Dr. Einstein. The fact that I don’t enjoy it doesn’t matter.”

He shook his head and scowled, as though I had introduced an irrelevance.

“Tell me, please,” he said. “Is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well,” I answered, “I like songs that have words, and the kind of music where I can follow the tune.”

He smiled and nodded, obviously pleased. “You can give me an example, perhaps?”

“Well,” I ventured, “almost anything by Bing Crosby.”

He nodded again, briskly. “Good!”

He went to a corner of the room, opened a phonograph and started pulling out records. I watched him uneasily. At last he beamed. “Ah!” he said.

He put the record on and in a moment the study was filled with the relaxed, lilting strains of Bing Crosby’s “When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day.” Einstein beamed at me and kept time with the stem of his pipe. After three or four phrases he stopped the phonograph.

“Now,” he said. “Will you tell me, please, what you have just heard?”

The simplest answer seemed to be to sing the lines. I did just that, trying desperately to stay on tune and keep my voice from cracking. The expression on Einstein’s face was like the sunrise.

“You see!” he cried with delight when I finished. “You do have an ear!”
I mumbled something about this being one of my favorite songs, something I had heard hundreds of times, so that it didn’t really prove anything.

“Nonsense!” said Einstein. “It proves everything! Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose, at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

“No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his pipestem. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. you would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, because of that one small mistake by your teacher, it is possible your whole life you would be denied the beauty of long division and fractions.”  The pipestem went up and out in another wave.  “But on your first day no teacher would be so foolish. He would start you with elementary things--then, when you had acquired skill with the simplest problems, he would lead you up to long division and to fractions. So it is with music.” Einstein picked up the Bing Crosby record. “This simple, charming little song is like simple addition or subtraction. You have mastered it. Now we go on to something more complicated.”

He found another record and set it going. The golden voice of John McCormack singing “The Trumpeter” filled the room. After a few lines Einstein stopped the record.

“So!” he said. “You will sing that back to me, please?”

I did--with a good deal of selfconsciousness but with, for me, a surprising degree of accuracy. Einstein stared at me with a look on his face that I had seen only once before in my life: on the face of my father as he listened to me deliver the valedictory address at my high school graduation.

“Excellent!” Einstein remarked when I finished. “Wonderful! Now this!”

“This” proved to be Caruso in what was to me a completely unrecognizable fragment from “Cavalleria Rusticana.” Nevertheless, I managed to reproduce an approximation of the sounds the famous tenor had made. Einstein beamed his approval.

Caruso was followed by at least a dozen others. I could not shake my feeling of awe over the way this great man, into whose company I had been thrown by chance, was completely preoccupied by what we were doing, as though I were his sole concern.

We came at last to recordings of music without words, which I was instructed to reproduce by humming. When I reached for a high note, Einstein’s mouth opened and his head went back as if to help me attain what seemed unattainable. Evidently I came close enough, for he suddenly turned off the phonograph.

“Now, young man,” he said, putting his arm through mine. “We are ready for Bach!”

As we returned to our seats in the drawing room, the players were tuning up for a new selection. Einstein smiled and gave me a reassuring pat on the knee.

“Just allow yourself to listen,” he whispered. “That is all.”

It wasn’t really all, of course. Without the effort he had just poured out for a total stranger I would never have heard, as I did that night for the first time in my life, Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.” I have heard it many times since. I don’t think I shall ever tire of it. Because I never listen to it alone. I am sitting beside a small, round man with a shock of untidy white hair, a dead pipe clamped between his teeth, and eyes that contain in their extraordinary warmth all the wonder of the world.

When the concert was finished I added my genuine applause to that of the others. Suddenly our hostess confronted us. “I’m so sorry, Dr. Einstein,” she said with an icy glare at me, “that you missed so much of the performance.”

Einstein and I came hastily to our feet. “I am sorry, too,” he said. “My young friend here and I, however, were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.”

She looked puzzled. “Really?” she said. “And what is that?”

Einstein smiled and put his arm across my shoulders. And he uttered ten words that--for at least one person who is in his endless debt--are his epitaph:

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.”

--Jerome Weidman

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Simple way to avoid SIDS

I've never been asked to face the challenge of losing a child.  Miscarriage, yes.  Death of one of my children, no. My heart goes out to those who have lost a tiny, precious member of their family to SIDS.  And that's why I'm posting this short article.

Please read it.  I'll wait right here.

Wrapping a baby's mattress is such a simple thing to do.  Whether or not you've lost a baby to SIDS, you have nothing to lose.  The materials are inexpensive for DIY'ers, and it's dead-simple to do.  If you don't have a tiny baby, please post this on your blog so more parents can know that they have a simple way to protect their babies from the dangerous gases that cause SIDS.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lately Overheard

Between my 4yo, Lil'MissL, and her 4yo friend, MissM:

MissM: "I got this hat fow Chrwistmas. It was made fwom an Indian in Pewu."

Lil'MissL: "Huh? Then how did you get it to your house?"