Thursday, March 31, 2011

My ways are not your ways

I've been sick this week. The stomach bug was immediately followed by a bad case of spring fever. A sunny day in the 50s is all it takes to get me highly motivated to do something active in the fresh air. So I spent Tuesday cleaning out all my garden beds - raking out all the old leaves and mulch and removing the dead plant growth left from the fall. I really do LOVE yardwork, it feels so good. It's one of my favorite times of year to discover the first little shoots of spring emerging in the garden. It's like FINALLY, proof that spring is here!
To be bright pink peonies!
To be tall red tulips...oops, apparently I forgot to rake out this area!
I also took out some of my garden decor, even though there's no plants to fill in around them yet. I have a soft spot for galvanized steel. (Though mostly off topic, I'll take this opportunity to say I'd even love a galvanized steel/zinc counter top like this.)


Back on subject, I snagged these old tin watering cans for $2 a piece a year or so ago at a yardsale. They look so naked now along my front walk without any tulips soaring beside them or impatiens cozied up around them or a bed of fresh mulch to sit atop. But they symbolize the warm weather so I had to put them out.
In my opinion there's nothing quite as tacky as putting fake flowers outside but for some reason I make the exception with forsythia sprays. Earlier this month I removed the winter greenery and berries from this galvanized bucket and put these on the front stoop.
They are obviously fake now because not a single real forsythia has bloomed yet. I just get so impatient for spring. If the forsythias don't seem on pace to bloom outside in March, I make sure I clip some and force them indoors, like I did this year.
Love how the blue painter's tape contrasts with the yellow blooms. Maybe one day I can be done with painter's tape...
Each season I plant annuals in this old toolbox that greets me at the back door. I "inherited" this treasure from my best friend's mom when I helped her clean out to move, gosh almost 6 years ago! (Going through 4 generations worth of stuff in her basement was a treasure hunt in itself that deserves its own post, for another time.)
Still hanging in there after six years of weathering.
When I was cleaning out the garden I started making a mental list of all the places I could fit another new perennial or two. I really want to do more plant swapping this year so if you've got anything you can spare to share, please do and I'll return the favor! I could use some more shade plants and am especially interested in finding free or cheap coral bells, monkshood, astilbe, corydallis, lily of the valley and hellebores.
Coral Bells have a special place in my heart because they are featured on the china my Nana gave me.
A demitasse cup and saucer from my coralbell china in front of a childhood picture of my Nana.
I love the color of monkshood. Anything else I have this color blooms in spring but this blooms in late summer, a nice contrast to zinnias and dahlias.

I'd take the lovely light fronds of the astilbe flower in whiite or pink.
Corydallis would tuck in nice around rocks like this.
I enjoyed lots of Lily of the Valley at our last place but its like a persnickity old lady and doesn't like to be bothered so didn't even try transferring any. Now I wish I at least tried.
Hellebores would be blossoming now or soon if I had some.
So I'm on cloud nine after being outdoors in the warm sun for hours and dreaming of what my garden will look like in a month or two. Nothing like a little news of a decent snowstorm due Friday to ground me pretty quick. Really??? Snow in April?? Come on! And to add insult to injury it would likely cancel a family day we had planned - a rare occasion. My first instinct was to complain and grumble about the weather but I was quickly reminded of some things I recently read and it put my attitude in perspective.

Isaiah 55:8-12 says, " 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seeds for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and acheive the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.' "

So I accept that God, in his infinite wisdom, which he does not need to reveal to me, controls the snow and the timing of spring. Who am I to question what He's up to? How dare I complain as if my thoughts and ways are better than His! But does that mean that I have to like it? Can't I just sulk and let it ruin my weekend?

I'm excited that a friend and I have just begun a study on the subject of joy in the book of Philipians from the Bible. We're using a study guide called Be Joyful by Warren Wiersbe. The introductory chapter overviews the four things that steal our joy - circumstances, people, things, and worry. In contrast it highlights the four attitudes of the mind that a Christian should have to maintain joy. Like most circumstances, the weather is out of my control, so if I rely on it for my happiness I'm going to automatically be miserable much of the time. Wiersbe notes that "The reason many Christians are upset by circumstances is because they do not cultivate 'the single mind'...the attitude of single-hearted devotion to Christ..." Paul, the author of Philipians, was inprisoned with a good chance of being beheaded as the wrote this letter to the church in Philipi. However, he filled the letter with practical advice on how to maintain joy based on his current personal experience. Wiersbe goes on to say, "But his difficult circumstances cannot rob him of his joy because he is not living to enjoy circumstances, he is living to serve Jesus Christ. He is a man with a purpose...He does not look at circumstances in themselves, but rather in relationship to Jesus Christ..."

Now granted, in light of all the difficult circumstances life can throw my way, snow is really not that big of a deal, but the fact is that its something out of my control that is certainly poised to steal my joy. So I must choose to cultivate my single mind and focus on the big picture - my single-hearted devotion to my Savior. In the grand scheme of God's plan for my life and the world, what's one snow day in April? I love how the passage in Isaiah also ends by saying that we will go out in joy, that the mountains and hills will burst into song before us and the trees will clap their hands. It's like yes, God is sending more snow or rain and the mountains, hills and trees will welcome it with joy and clapping because they are getting more water, which will make our eventual spring and summer that much more beautiful.

But I'm still antsy for blossoms so this morning on my way home from an appointment with my friend Naomi at Chromatics Salon, I whizzed past Pete's Oasis, one of my favorite local places to shop for annuals. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a tractor bed full of colorful pansies sitting out front. So I did a quick U-turn and Woo hoo! I came home with these beauties to plant in the toolbox out back...after this darn storm!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Catch Up

Is this technically still a blog if I only update once a month? Oh well, it is what it is. Apparently my priorities have been elsewhere. Including treasure hunting. :) So here's me playing catch up on sharing my finds over the last few weeks.

Going back to the first weekend in March, I spent all Friday afternoon running around my church building and town. I was gathering up supplies to set up a booth for my church at our local Chamber of Commerce's Home & Business Expo. I finished earlier than expected and had 30 minutes to spare before the high school opened its doors for exhibitors to set up. Well what's a half mile down the street from the school? My favorite local hunting grounds - Burnat Mill Antiques. So with no kids in tow and time to burn I raced in for a quick look around.

I spent only $7, walked out with these two finds, and got back to the school as they opened their doors:

$5 for a package of 250 jumbo size (3"x6") green tags. I was intrigued by these but I try not to buy anything unless I know what I'm going to do with it. Then inspiration hit and I decided to scoop them up.
Here is a closeup of one. I'm thinking next year's kid-photo Christmas card? I'll put a photo of the kids in the middle, some holiday ribbon looped through the hole, and on the back a personal note. Knowing me I better get started on these right away if they're going to make it out in time for Christmas!
For $2 I picked up this circa 1953 book. It's full of stories and prayers for kids with Dick and Jane style illustrations. I love that era and have collected quite a few kids books and readers from that period, displayed in the kids rooms.
For those who read my last blog entry, this page opposite the inside cover is why I had to get this book. (If you can't read the words, click on the picture to enlarge it.)  It further illustrates and hit home for me the treasure from scripture I last blogged about. God's timing is so amazing.
I usually do my shopping and errands when my 5 year old is in preschool so I only have my 2 year old with me. Some days I have time to get back home, put away groceries, and then do preschool pickup. Other days I don't quite have time to make the whole round trip but end up a little time to waste. That's what happened a couple of weeks ago when I remembered The Blessing Barn thrift shop that's between the grocery store and preschool. I thought I scored a beautiful $20 set of 4 curtain panels that would have looked great in my dining room but noooo.....there was permanent blue paint conspicuously spilled on two of the four panels. The lady at the shop even let me take them into the bathroom with some cleaner to see if it would come out.  I was so bummed the curtains didn't work out. (Can I still use the word "curtains" or does that automatically invoke images of lace-trimmed, window-length, tie-backs? I think "window treatments" is the phrase of the day but whatever, I will always call them curtains. I choose to buck the trend on that. Just like I REFUSE to describe anything as Fabulous.)

So back to the subject. The Blessing Barn did bless me with the treasures below and I feel good knowing that the proceeds from my purchases helped enable Compassion New England to assist many who find themselves in need.
Loved everything about this little 8" high globe for $4.
$8 silver plate gravy boat. When I host my family for the holidays we use 2 tables to fit everyone but I only have one gravy boat with my china set. Now I have a 2nd formal gravy boat that nicely matches the silver rim on my china.
$1 bud vase, 3"x4". The pictures doesn't show it is oblong shaped. I'm forever picking flowers and berries and greenery, if not from my yard then from nature walks. I needed something that was classic enough to put anywhere in any room of the house.

2 Thomasville 15"x18" frames $4 each. I've been searching for a long time for cheap frames that will fit vintage magazine ads for my china that I found on eBay years ago. I'll have to swap out the matts for custom ones to fit the ads, and I may paint the frames...we shall see. I'll share the finished results whenever that may be.
I can proudly announce I shopped my first official Yard Sale of the season. This past Friday was a gorgeous day and my husband had the idea that our family walk the mile or so up the hill between our house and his parents house for an early evening visit. One house on the way had a little table piled with castoffs and a "For Sale" sign at the end of the driveway. It totally counts. The only thing worth taking a second look at was a box of gardening tools. Some vintage rusty ones, some kid-sized ones, and a few quality trowels etc. I really needed to replace mine this season and the girls love to help garden so I wanted the whole kit 'n kaboodle. With only $2 on us we asked the homeowners if they'd set the box aside so I could come back Saturday morning to pay and pickup.

Here's the whole lot of gardening tools for $8. There's actually two identical sets of kids tools - perfect, no fighting!
Now comes the hard part - waiting until its warm enough to dig!
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