Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our First Florida Treasure Hunt

I say our first Florida treasure hunt because it was sort of a family affair. My girls are veteran yard salers but I've thought it best to keep them away from antique stores in their younger years. Familiar with the phrase, "like a bull in a china shop?"

We were nearing the end of our first of (hopefully) many Florida vacations. Hubby had flown home to get back to work. My in-laws had already overlapped with us for a week and I decided to stick around an extra week with the kids and Grammy & Poppy. Having already done all the Disney we were going to do and with lots of other local kid-fun checked off the list, my mother-in-law suggested we head into old downtown Kissimmee for a day. Tucked away from the neon lights, typical "$2.99 Disney t-shirt" souvenier shops and fastfood restaurants were some unique places like antique shops, cafes, galleries, gourmet bakeries and ice-cream shops. Right up my alley.

I was a little nervous stepping into the first antique shop with the girls. I gave them the whole "we look with our eyes, not our fingers" spiel and had to continually remind them to "stop touching" and "no running." It was fun watching them "Oooooh!" and "Aaahhh!" and point to things they found interesting - usually vintage toys.

Even the baby was excited to be out and about with the big girls on her first antiquing trip!

I found lots of things I really liked. Like this set of Asian-inspired plates.

I LOVE the flowering trees with birds in them. Surprised? :) If I could have bought just one I would have, and added it to the collection of photos and frames on my dining room wall. But since they were sold as a set, I passed. I've got no where to display them all and I would rarely, if ever, use them for serving food.

I have a sweet spot for silhouettes so I paused to admire these. But since I have them of my own kids, I passed these up.

I also loved this whole corner full of western-inspired treasures.

I think its the part of me that's dying to go back to Montana.  And oh, if only I'd had a boy and that retro-cowboy inspired nursery. Then I would have at least picked up this little framed picture for sure. But since I had a girl, I continued on my way.

I left the first shop empty handed. My mother-in-law got a really cool necklace. Then we moved along down the street. In between shopping we stopped at this super-cool ice-cream shop called Boola. Someone needs to open a shop like this in the Blackstone Valley.

They actually make each dish of ice-cream individually. First, they squirt sweet cream into a metal bowl.

Then you choose your "toss-ins" from this loooong list. My oldest chose brownie and peanut butter cup in chocolate ice-cream and her sister chose M&Ms and sprinkles in vanilla ice-cream. I decided to share each of theirs. :)

Then, get this....liquid nitrogen is poured into the bowl of cream and toss-ins! SOOO COOOOOL!

My girls' eyes turned into big marbles as "smoke" poured all over the counter while the employee mixed and chopped.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the best part - the finished product.  But it was DE-LISH. Definately going back there time!

So, on to the next curiousity shop.  I just adored this vintage navy and white beaded purse. I would SO use this in the spring. I'm sitting here now wondering why didn't I get it again??!!

My M-I-L modeling the adorable purse and the necklace she bought at the first shop

And I don't know why I find old skeleton keys so appealing. Maybe its the mystery of what they once kept locked. Over the years I've seen various collections creatively displayed that look really cool. I've already got just one on display that actually locks my basement door. So I kept on perusing.

By the time we were done with this last shop, my oldest daughter and I had each found one treasure I was willing to buy. First, let me introduce you to Creepy Alice.

My daughter just had to have this doll and she immediately named her Alice. (It might have something to do with the fact tht she watched Alice in Wonderland the day before.) But you can see why I call her Creepy Alice. She's got a lazy eye...that my daughter is trying to immitate in the picture with her beloved new friend. I'm guessing this giant plastic doll is from the 60s or 70s based on her clothing. 

Here is Alice sitting patiently on the bench while the girls played at the nearby park after our shopping excursion. Nevermind the fact that her pants have a gaping hole in the crotch and her shirt says "Peepers" all over it. Further confirming my nickname Creepy Alice. :)

I picked up a much more traditional, conservative, treasure for myself - a pair of silver earings that remind me of little silver platters. I just need to polish them up a tad more.

I'm proud to say that as we walked up to the registers to buy the doll and earings, the shop owner raved about how well behaved the girls were in her shop. She told them they could each take a free ring out of a little bowl of beaded rings on the counter. We thanked the lady, I paid and off we went. After a few minutes the girls each removed their rings and one asked me to hold hers. So as not to lose it I shoved it on one of my own fingers. I actually thought it was pretty cute and have continued to wear it on several occasions since.

Man, my hands are showing age!

You'll never see me model my whole hand...I'm always picking at my cuticles. I'm so ashamed!

There were a few other shops that I would have liked to visit that day but we were there on a Monday, when many antique shops are typically closed. I'm sure we'll be back to the area time.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wishing & Hoping

We officially survived our first Disney vacation. Okay, so we only spent one day at Magic Kingdom, but that was enough for one Florida trip. Baptism by fire. Our heads and wallets were spinning by the end of the day.

Literally spinning on the tea cup ride
Our oldest is five, so it was the perfect age to bring her - while she still thinks some of the characters are real. She and her two year old sister are young enough to still "believe in the magic," as Disney would put it. For my five year old, meeting the Disney Princesses was "a dream come true."

Weeks before we even left for Florida, my daughter made each of the Princesses a card.  On the front she placed a big sticker of that Princess. Inside she wrote a message, personalizing it for each one. "Dear Ariel, God loves you. You are special," followed by the names of everyone in our family. And then on the back she drew that Princess and herself in the typical five year old "trees-grass-flowers-sun-sky" setting. The highlight of my day was watching her wait in anticipation to meet each princess and give them each her special card (that I actually remembered to hang on to at home, pack for FL, and bring to Disney). She'd jump up and down and clap her hands faster and faster as she got closer and closer to the front of the line. Of course all the other girls in line had their autograph books with them. We didn't think of that. She doesn't even know what that is. She asked me with deep concern, "How come Cinderella is giving all the other kids their cards back? Isn't she allowed to keep them?" :) Here are my girls giving some of the Princesses their cards.

I have to admit I'm not really a Disney fan and for the longest time, I remember how anti-Disney my hubby used to be. That was before his Marvel Comics stock got converted into Disney stock. And before he had three daughters. :) So we now tolerate Disney. We didn't know our oldest daughter was going to "drink the Disney Princess kool-aid" until it was too late. It was probably almost a year ago now that she came up to me one day and said, "Mom, you know how you know when it's true love?" Of course I prompted her to tell me. "It's when the prince kisses you like this." And she held my head in her hands and tipped her head to the side and kissed me on the lips.  I was floored. No one told her this. This was what she had gleamed from the countless times she has watched The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Aladdin, and even Pocahontas.

I realize Disney is a culture based on fairy tales, but at age five, the line between pretend and real is still sort of blurry. As we (and 10,000 other people) were herded out of the Magic Kingdom park 2 1/2 hours after my girls' normal bedtime, I found myself analyzing our day. The girls had a ton of fun. We made great memories. But at the same time I felt a little sick. All we heard all day long - on every ride, at every show, in every shop - "Dreams do come true!" "Just believe!" "Believe in the magic!" "Wish upon a star and your dreams will come true!" Gag me.

Fast forward a few nights later. I was having a little quiet time, reviewing some Bible study notes from the book of Hebrews' chapter 11. I'm more than familiar with this "faith chapter" of the Bible but the notes made me think about a few things in contrast with our Disney experience. My Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) notes are copyrighted so I will not quote them word for word, but in essence they were saying that faith is not believing that we can be all we want to be, nor is it the power of positive thinking. Instead, faith is fully trusting God because his character has proven that he will do what he says he will do. How refreshing. SomeONE to believe in and a solid reason to trust Him. Anything less than that is just empty dreaming and wishing - the Disney way. And since the Bible is not copyrighted, here is the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Fast forward a few weeks again to a couple of nights ago when I was reading notes on 1 Thessalonians in the same study. This time it was talking about hope instead of faith. It saddens me that, for many people, hoping is nothing more than wishing. There is no expectation. It is not based on any assurance. Just a blind, empty hope. But for a Christian, hope is so closely tied to faith and is based on the trustworthy character of God. Hope for a believer and follower of Christ is a waiting for something that is expected to come or happen. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, the writer, Paul, is telling the early believers in Thessalonica that he remembers them for their "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." Again, I found myself underlining a portion of my BSF notes on this passage. The hope Paul was referring to was not a passive sitting and waiting for something that might or might not happen. It was actively continuing to endure for a future certainty or reward based on what God had said and who He is. 

What are you hoping for? Are you passively sitting around while you wait in blind hope for your "dreams to come true", "believing in the magic", "wishing upon a star"? Or are you actively, expectantly, enduring and waiting for something you are certain of based on the promises and character of a God who is always true to His Word, is all-powerful to overcome any and all barriers, and loves you with unconditional and unending love?

So, back to my daughter's Disney Princess obsession and her figuring out what she believed to be the sign of true love. Needless to say we've since talked quite a bit about what true love is really all about in contrast with all the "signs" prevalent throughout her favorite movies. We still have all of our Disney Princess movies, which we watch less often, but talk about more when we do. I did get rid of all our Disney Princess books - we've got tons of great kids books at home but the Disney Princess books were always her first choice. Now she can choose to read something with more substance instead.

I don't think my kids need to be sheltered from everything but I do want to control what influences the shaping of their values, what they believe to be true, and their aspirations. It's hard to curb a five year old girl's love of princesses but I've been determined to find her some princess stories where the main stars aren't hour-glass figured, have caked-on make-up, with a main mission in life to make a prince fall in love with them and fulfill all their materialistic fantasies. Over the past couple of years I've tried to find some other princess stories that illustrate natural beauty but focus more on a beautiful spirit and character that pleases The King. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop

The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt

The Three Weavers by Annie Fellows Johnston

And I recently ordered these Gigi, God's Little Princess set for her birthday. I hope she likes them!

On a side note....I copied and pasted below what comes up when I searched Amazon for the Gigi books... How 'bout that Disney Princess ad? NO THANK YOU!!!

Showing results for: "gigi god's little princess". Search instead for keywords: "gigi god's little princess books"
Showing 1 - 12 of 33 Results
Visit the Disney Bookstore Looking for books about all your favorite Disney characters and parks? Visit our Disney Bookstore.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Curb Alert!

It was late last Thursday morning when I got the call. My mom's friend Marcia (who also happens to be my BFF's mom) is in town for a couple weeks and she was pulling out of my mother's driveway when she noticed a bunch of furniture and junk piled up at the end of the neighbor's driveway. Thankfully she thought it was a good idea to tip me off. I was at home with the kids, trying to get back into our routine while still picking up the insane post-Christmas/post-vacation mess. With school and a painting project behind us already, the kids were watching a little TV. So they were not very happy when I came running into the living room to shut it off. "Kids! Quick! Put on your socks and shoes! We gotta run out to Grandma's house for a minute!" I had to make sure I beat the trash truck. :)

I have no qualms about pulling up at a stranger's curb and digging through their discarded junk. However, this was not only my parents' neighbor but a woman I worked with for a short while. I was really hoping she would not be home. It figures, there was a car in the driveway but I didn't care enough for it to deter me. As I pulled up along the side of the road across the street from the neighbor's driveway, my kids started in with the questions. "Mom, what are you doing?" "Why aren't you pulling into Grandma's driveway?" "Where are you going?"  "How come you're doing that?" "Why???"

"Because I want to see if there are any good treasures out there!"

There was an assortment of furniture and a box of junk. I decided to take one of the chairs as a some day makeover project. It is a nice solid oak chair that has good lines. I figured it could easily be repainted and reupholstered. And it fit ever so perfectly in the back of my minivan.

The only thing worth taking out of the box of junk was this dirty glass covered cheese block.

My plan was to clean it up and use the cover like a cloche at some point.

Since it was trash day, I decided to drive around the rest of my mom's neighborhood to see if there were any other curbside treasures to be found. No such luck. So we headed home and I pulled in my driveway right after my sister, who had stopped by with a plate of homemade muffins and a little belated birthday gift.  The gift was this adorable little sparkly bird.

The bird prompted an idea: Use the Spanish moss I gathered in Florida as a nest, place the bird my sister gave me inside of it and cover it with the curbside "cloche!" Yeah... Sometimes things sound better in my head than they look in reality.

The glass cover is too short and too thick on the top. Even without the wood block, it looks ridiculous. Not going to work as a cloche. I already have a pretty cool covered cheese block but I guess now I have another one. Hey, I'll use it.

I'm keeping the bird in the moss nest though. For now it is, nesting by my kitchen window.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My First Florida Nature Hunt

I didn't set out to do any nature hunting during my recent Florida vacation. Most of my time was spent sitting by a pool... amusement parks...

...or visiting with friends and family. I did spend a day at Clearwater Beach but I didn't bother doing any beach combing.

My girls started to set aside a little shell collection but none of the shells were anything special and they all got left behind.

One of the highlights of my trip was our 2.5 mile hike around the Disney Wilderness Preserve. This mural at the visitor's center showed all the types of wildlife that we might see.

However, the only wildlife we actually saw were a few birds from afar.

And because we were there during the winter we didn't see as much beautiful or interesting variety in flora and fauna as we probably could during other times of the year.

I did get to see my first cypress trees though.

And I spied with my eagle eyes some red berries way up out of reach. You know I'm a sucker for those.

Regardless of what we did or did not see, it was a nice break from the neon lights and highly commercialized community around our condo.  It was a gorgeous bright sunny day - cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon - and the kids got to run around.

Apparently 2.5 miles is a bit too much running even for kids. Good thing we had plenty of extra arms available.

Although I'm pretty sure I should not have been "hunting and gathering" on a nature preserve, I didn't think they'd miss the few treasures I stuffed into the basket of our stroller along the way.

Anyone who lives in or spends much time in Florida will probably laugh because my "treasures" are actually very common place down there. But I took them because I thought they were pretty cool natural elements that could be used somehow in crafting and/or decorating.

The first treasure I gathered was a bunch of huge pine cones from what I believe are white longleaf pines.

The trees were full of them and they were not too difficult to find on the ground.

I'm pretty sure that my "smuggling" these out of Florida and home to MA would be like a Floridian "smuggling" a bag of white oak acorns out of Massachusetts. Big woop. But I really liked the pine cones because they are so huge and it will be fun to find a creative decorative use for them during the fall and winter. Maybe something along the lines of one of these inspirational ideas I grabbed off the web:

Hang individually like an ornament - but where? I think they might actually be too big for this.

Hang in a group from ribbon, in lieu of a wreath? Again, maybe too big for even this.
Gather in a basket with pinecones of other sizes and white lights. I really like this idea.

Tuck into greenery. Ooohh, maybe do window boxes like this next Christmas!

Glitter them? Looks so pretty but not a likely project for me. I don't do glitter. Period.

Cute idea for one

Plant in small pots and line up

Fun for kids to make into turkeys

The second treasure I gathered was a tuft of Spanish moss.

Finding this in Florida is like finding sand in the dessert. You don't exactly have to go to a nature preserve to find it. I actually hate the way Spanish moss looks hanging from the trees.

It gives a ghostly, messy and even deathly look. However, up close, it is soft and fluffy. I know I can buy this stuff for cheap in craft stores or florist shops. Or, for a real rip off, from Pottery Barn for $10/little bag!!!  So I figured I'd take home an authentic native tuft of Spanish moss. I'll come up with a good use for it eventually. Here's one idea I found that uses both large pine cones and Spanish moss. And my shed is actually pretty well stocked with a variety of terra cotta pots. Hmmm....

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