Letters to my Mother

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, we drove up to visit my parents like we usually do. We enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch at Cotton Patch…..okay, just kidding, that place is so noisy, you have to yell to carry on a conversation. Afterward, we visited more at the house, and my nephew, his wife and their adorable 3 year daughter came by to visit.

I had asked mom for some letters that she had kept from the time my kids were small, so yesterday, she handed me a large envelope full of letters and some photos. YAY…..more treasures! Oh, but wait….maybe not. The first letter I opened was from El Paso in 1986, after I had moved there with my boyfriend. It was quite sobering, even though I was sober to begin with. How my life has changed since then. For the better, of course.

The rest of the letters were far more entertaining, written in the early 1980s when we had moved to the country and were living in a ramshackle farm-house that we were renovating. Renovating is really an exaggeration. Trying to keep it from falling in on our heads, is more accurate. Most of the time that we lived in Forney, Texas, we didn’t have a home phone, so I wrote letters to keep my parents informed of our general progress on the house and the kid’s activities. Just an aside…..the postage stamps ranged from 20 to 22 cents on these letters.

The farmhouse….we paid $2,500 cash for the house and had it moved around the corner to our 2 acres.

The house did look better about a year later, and was still standing in spite of the wood-burning stove in the living room. Luckily the house did not burn down the winter that everything froze up for more than a week. We endured cold winters, and very hot summers in that house….and lots of dust, dirt and construction. Whew.

 

The best thing in the envelope was a hand written poem, that was once set to music, that I wrote for my mom for Mother’s Day 1979. I actually don’t remember writing this down and decorating it like this, but I did.

And she kept it.

All these years.

And people say *I* am a hoarder!!!

This is quite fragile as it’s written on construction paper, and I even made an envelope from the paper also. Who knew I was so thoughtful and resourceful?

 

So, the most funny thing was a handwritten list, I must have been as young as 13-14…..titled “My Real Life Problems”….

I particularly love #15 and #18……my little brother was quite a brat back then. You can see I had a very low self-esteem, and I outgrew that for the most part. It does sneak in every once in a while to try to bring me down. I’m not sure about #14 as I never had trouble with my complexion, I was blessed with good genes in that department! Still, pretty funny to read now and see how insecure I was then. (this proves that I have always been a really good speller!)

 

When I began writing this today, I had intended to scan some of the actual hand written letters and include them; however, after re-reading them, they seem intensely personal to me, so I changed my mind. Some things are better left un-shared, I think. But, these letters reinforce my belief that my life has gone through a great many changes in the last 30-40 years, and I have come out on the other side a better person. The once painfully shy first grader who wouldn’t speak a word for six weeks, somehow morphed into a musician who loved to entertain on stage, and then became a force to be reckoned with in the retail world.

So, thanks mom, for keeping these for me. I am sorry for the many times I’ve let you down, and I’m thankful that you always forgave me, and you never gave up on me.

 

 

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Life’s a Beach

If I have any faults, and I’m pretty sure I have a ton, it would be that I love to decorate. I get carried away, just a bit. Give me a theme and I am off and running…to Hobby Lobby or Garden Ridge, two of my favorite places. When we moved into our house, all the walls and carpet were white, a big blank white canvas just waiting for me to make a splash. And I have made several splashes. Several do-overs along the way, too.

The guest room began with a day bed and a huge assortment of Barbie dolls; then we gave the day bed away, packed up the dolls, and put a full size bed into the room. A full size bed simply isn’t big enough these days for two people, so after we replaced the master bedroom furniture, the guest room acquired a nice queen size bed. Much better.

The room still had no theme, until my father in-law died, and we inherited a lot of his things. He lived in Florida, and loved all things from the beach and ocean. Voila…..my theme became Nautical!

I saw several ideas on HGTV, one of which was small wooden oars, criss-crossed over a window with fabric draped over. I gave my hubby my idea and he asked one of his guys at work make me some oars. When Mike came home with the new oars…..I was shocked……they were about FIVE feet long! I had to re-think my plan…..lol…..So, I painted the oars with a crackle finish, and hung them on the wall above the bed. They are FIRMLY attached to the wall with metal brackets; then I draped some fish netting over/around and filled in with some assorted sea shells. Perfect!

I made the duvet cover and pillows....

Next came the window treatment, since I didn’t have the *small* oars I wanted, I just used a regular café rod, some sheer fabric, tie backs, rope cord trim and a navy blue napkin!

I hung some small wooden shelves above the bed, and decorated with small items and sea shells…..lots of photos of lighthouses fill the walls.

Antique transistor radio....
Sea shells, vintage blue/white doily...

We found this interesting poster in my father in-laws things…..it has something to do with sailors and crossing the equator for the first time, it’s dated October 26, 1943. Very interesting and pretty, too!

Mike took me to Alabama and Mississippi in 1994 to see where he grew up, and to see the HUGE lighthouse at Biloxi. He was so disappointed when we got there, because the lighthouse was so *small*…..he insisted “it was way bigger, it was huge!”…..I just laughed and said, honey…..you were much smaller then, so it WAS huge to you!

The HUGE lighthouse at Biloxi....
Small chair that belonged to my grandmother, the quilt she helped me make as a child, and our Pelican, the Phabulous Phred!

And of course, last but not least…..the beach Christmas tree that has remained in place for 3 years now. Just never seemed like I should remove it, it’s so cute! It’s not like we have guests checking in and out on a regular schedule and no one has ever commented negatively about the tree!

Beach Tree

I decorated this room on a very slim budget….some paint, fabric, fish netting, shells, most of these items came from Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s and were most likely 50% off. I do love a bargain!

This room makes me feel happy……so, kick off your flip-flops, dig your toes into the sand…..life’s a beach!

My Tuscan Kitchen ~ Before and After

Eleven years ago, my husband and I bought a brand new house, and I was so excited since this was my very first *real* home of my own. We got to choose all the paint, brick, cabinetry, carpet and colors, however, we were on a budget, so we went with just the basics, no upgrades. Over the years, we have managed to replace/upgrade all the lighting fixtures, repaint most of the rooms, put laminate flooring in the living/dining area, and we did *DIY* tiled entryway. We decided that laying tile was not for us, we were too old/fat/out of shape for that job!

Two years ago, we began shopping for granite countertops for the kitchen. We had already replaced the stove, microwave, dishwasher and refrigerator with graphite appliances, as I was never a big fan of stainless steel. Just a little too cold and industrial looking for my personal taste. After pricing the granite countertops, which would have cost around $5,000.00, we backed up and started to rethink our plan.

We spent the money to have ceramic tile laid by a local company, and they did a beautiful job. Our cabinets are not custom-made, although my husband works for a custom cabinet company, those are also out of our price range. Have I mentioned yet, that I am cheap thrifty??? Mike had a friend who would put new laminate on our countertops, so I found a beautiful laminate at Lowe’s, which cost about $450. Quite a savings, right?

We began by removing all the shelves, wallpaper border, mini blinds, and painting the walls in a neutral beige. Goodbye purple.

Goodbye purple.....
Paint prep.....
New color....wow, so much better!

Next came the new flooring, which took several days to complete, since I wanted the tile on the diagonal 🙂

New ceramic tile....in progress..
Mike, who hates to paint, but won't let me climb a ladder!

After the tile was completed and all the appliances were back in place (after being in my living room)…we replaced the light fixtures, finished painting all the trim work, and had crown molding put around the ceiling. Poor Mike, who hates to paint, had to paint the crown.

The cabinet tops were in place by this time and we were almost ready to do the tile back-splash. Since we had done the tiled entryway, I felt confident that we could do the back-splash by ourselves. We finally got it done, but, boy oh boy…..it was nip and tuck for a few days!

Pretty copper-colored glass tile that I chose. Good choice, Debi!

Next came the new oil rubbed bronze faucet, that someone else installed….we know our limits!

New faucet, and the ceramic tile border for the back-splash in place. Making progress!

And the completed back-splash,with which I am very pleased!

Almost finished......YAY....whew!

I decided against curtains for the big windows, we installed new wood blinds, and had a cornice made from the crown molding, painted to match, for a simple clean look; but I wanted a curtain over the sink and on the back door. I chose to make these myself, for a more custom look. They are also very simple and clean, but incorporated all the warm colors of the tile and counter top.

Curtains, with beaded ribbon on tiebacks.....
Looking toward the living room....
So warm and pretty, exactly what I wanted!
Wow....no more purple!

They say that if a marriage can survive remodeling a house, it can survive anything! I’m here to say, truer words were never spoken!

We finished this project not only with our marriage intact, but our budget as well. This whole project cost about 2/3  what the granite countertops would have cost. I got the look I was going for, at a price I could afford, and didn’t go into debt to get it!

I have to add that Mike has teased me for years for watching endless episodes of Bob Vila and HGTV, and DIY shows….but when the time comes to do something like this, I’m pretty well knowledgeable…..I just don’t always have the physical capabilities to do what I want….That’s when being our age has it’s advantages. Hire someone young!

Thanks for looking in on my project, I welcome your comments!

Debi