Friday, February 27, 2009
I'm scraping together the cash to buy myself Happy Mix makings tonight. I am, after all, facing a monster of an emotional yard sale tomorrow. Yup. Freeman House is opening her doors and selling a lot of her stuff - furniture and the like - all in the name of keeping of the house. I'm letting go of many things I'd rather keep, and some I'd rather not, in an attempt to stave off the bank and county tax collectors. Fun times.
But this is just stuff, right? They are just things. Stuff is stupid anyway. If Thoreau said to simplify, simplify... and more importantly, if Jesus said a man's life is more than the sum of his possessions, then this should be no big deal. I'm simplifying. I am more than the sum of my posessions.
Yeah. Hmm... yeah. I'm still sad. I'm going to cry JUST LIKE THIS when someone drives off with my cornflower blue Staffordshire. And my cool white mirror. And that antique pink thing I bought for if I have a daughter one day. And these rocking cool pillows and ...
... hmm. Well, if you're close by, please come over and take a look at the sale. And tell your friends. Yard sale at Freeman House tomorrow. Happy Mix served afterward....
(Blogliners and Google Readers: there are new spring aprons up in the Shop. Don't want you guys to miss out.)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
It's cloudy today and windy - just like spring. It's supposed to rain buckets tomorrow but that didn't stop me from splashing just a bit of water at the maids' feet anyway. They make my heart glad.
And so do you. The outpouring of kindness and... well, the entire response I got from yesterday's news... is overwhelming. My Blackberry's nearly exploded with your comments, email and text messages, and it all has continued today. Thank you. Thanks to you all. If you emailed with a specific request or question, I'd appreciate heaps of patience as I begin to sift through all this and get back to everyone.
Faith has to do with things that are not seen
So here's to you. And here's to things that are not yet at hand.
Keep those email addresses coming here. I'd hate for you to miss the May newsletter....
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
And... wow. Brace yourself for this. My Messy, Thrilling Life, this blog I've dutifully posted to and worked on for almost four years, will be shutting down on Tuesday, April 7. I'm telling you now, way in advance, so you can copy down favorite recipes, quotes, or other tidbits you may have found pleasurable and want to keep. I'm also telling you now so you can post a comment to this post with your name and email address to get on the upcoming Freeman House Newsletter, which will begin going out via email in May. Consider it a concise version of the blog... still with photos and recipes and news... but minus the ramblings and things of a personal nature that we're used to finding here.
Why? Why will this blog be gone on April 7th? Well, it's simple, really. I'm ready to move on. April 8th I turn thirty. 30. I'm ready to kick off a new decade afresh. I'm ready to funnel my creativity into new projects. I'm ready to reroute the time I devote to this to other ventures. Yeah, I guess I'm simply ready to leave this behind.
So. There you have it. I'm leaving the comments open on this post until the end, so feel free to rail or complain or give me your reasons why I shouldn't quit the blogging forum. Only be sure to leave your information so I can keep you advised on what's going on with the house, garden, kitchen and other various upcoming events and happenings at Freeman House.
It's been a wild ride, hasn't it? Thank you for joining me. It's been such a pleasure to take you along on my messy, thrilling life.... -Brin
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
He came up missing January 14, 2009.
Taped on the posting of Lucky's disappearance is a collection of his favorite toys and a collar he used to wear. You know, in case the vigilant towns-folk should require them for identification or some such.
So. The town's on Lucky alert, carefully keeping an eye out for 11-year old Cassidy's horribly unlucky "Favorite Cat Ever". And no doubt, once he's found, we'll all stop by to pay our best wishes and congratulations.
We love the city, but the country feeds our soul. And helps us search for missing cats....
Monday, February 23, 2009
I looked through a lot of Domino Magazine images this morning around 3 AM when I couldn't sleep. Last night I dreamed of the one I spend all day trying to forget, and woke sobbing puddles into my pillow. So I pulled up my laptop and went online to Domino because it's one of my online refuges with all things fancy and wonderful. Of course, the site is plastered with notices that March 2009 will be Domino's last issue. Stupid economy. I teared up again, blubbering something about how there's really nothing in this life you can truly hold on to, be it men or magazines....
Suppose I'm a little glum today. Think I'll take myself out to the garden. Fresh air and loamy soil always happys up my world.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
In the city, when I'm broke, I eat Ramen Noodles on the couch. In the country, when I'm broke, I eat a brown rice/orzo mix, tossed with organic broccoli from my garden. And I eat it sitting in the green, green grass, staring up at the blue, blue sky. Blue skies are, after all, always on your mind while in open spaces. (Follow that link and give a little listen to Blue Skies for the soundtrack playing in my head.)
When you're a small town/country girl, you pick the broccoli you grew, give it a squirt with the water hose, and eat it raw. Country garden broccoli tastes nothing like broccoli from the store. I'd rather eat grass than I would store broccoli. But, straight from the ground, broccoli tastes mellow and buttery and nutty. Perfect with rice, which you can buy here at the feed store for a few bucks a sack.
You can buy dog bones at the feed store, too. Those help keep the pup from eating your lunch.
Hometown life? Garden-fresh produce lunches, eaten on lush patches of green with soft, chocolate puppies under a blue, blue sky.
That's the life for me....
Friday, February 20, 2009
Blog statistics tell me that a good number of you folks who read my blog are in urban areas. And if there's one thing Miss Marple and those Mitford books taught us, it's that many of us secretly pine for a cozy, quiet country house where neighbors know neighbors and the "good ole days" aren't so far gone. So over the next week, I thought I'd share with you a little about hometown life. It's still alive and well, you know. So here's the first story: a basket for Betty.
Betty, of course, is the neighbor who lost her house to a fire on Sunday. Betty is nearly 80, with snow white hair and crinkly blue eyes. I liked her as soon as I met her... probably because she knew Ms. Freeman and could tell me stories about my house. Stories from WWII and the days when the Blue Moon Cafe, a long-dark diner, was the happening place. I can't imagine what it's like to live in the same place forever, but Betty can.
My friend JoAnne, the one who lives next to Betty, and I were talking about this yesterday. We were gingerly crawling around the burned-out ruin of Betty's home, trying to find something to salvage and give back to her. We'd dig a little and then just stare at the shell of a home that housed so many memories and moments. In the end, all we could find were four cast iron pots and an old doorknob. JoAnne took the doorknob... she's going to clean it up and put flowers in it for Betty. I agreed to try to scrub the rust off the pots and reseason them.
Tomorrow's a big day. The city is bringing a dumpster to Betty's home and crews of people around town are pitching in to help tear everything down and haul it away. JoAnne and Lori (another neighbor) and I are doing lunch for everyone... chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, potato salad, desserts, cold drinks. Then we'll roll up our sleeves and start hauling, too.
But Betty. This morning Millie and I found her outside her house, crying. She needs everything, she said, but seemed especially sorry to lose her coat, her Bibles, and all her gardening tools. I couldn't afford a coat and can't replace a family Bible, but I did fly to the store for some toiletries and some hand-held garden tools. As I was unloading the car, a friend pulled up with an enormous cut glass bowl and a covered glass cake stand. These are for Betty, she said. And please consider coming to the food pounding we're having for her next week.
So. Hometown life? It's knowing all your neighbors. It's everyone pitching in when a neighbor loses all she has. It's cleaning crews and cut glass bowls and tuna sandwiches and toilet paper and canned goods. It's crying and praying with people in their front yards when they've lost everything, then inviting them in for coffee and muffins.
We all need a little more hometown life, no matter our address.
I love the city but the country feeds my soul....
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So I tried my luck job hunting in the city. Now we wait. I high-tailed it back to Freeman House yesterday and was relieved to find everything here is fine.
That can't be said, of course, for the home that belonged to my neighbor, Betty. Her house is a charred shell, with twisted metal and smooty brick chimneys exposed. I felt guilty for staring at it. The carnage reminded me, oddly, of my first years as a reporter when a girl named Beverly Rose was pulled from a stream, naked and murdered. I was riding with Sheriff's deputies when they found her and witnessed it all. I'm not sure why I thought of Beverly Rose when looking at that house, but I did. Such beauty, such waste. The one who steals, kills and destroys isn't playing around.
But there's still life, and life to the full. So I picked daffodils and put them on the kitchen counter and stepped back and sighed.
No matter the circumstances, it's always good to come home.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
2. Ten months without a haircut is bad. As in, wearing-hats-every-day bad.
3. You can spend all day in Barnes and Noble skimming ridiculous books like Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him and How It Feels to Be Attacked by a Shark and not feel the slightest bit ridiculous.
4. Insurance companies, the same ones who gave you free notepads and such when you had money, turn on you quickly. They even send rude letters. At least now you know who your friends are.
5. The same coupons you recycled six months ago are now like golden tickets.
6. In a recession, you can only invite your anorexic friends to dinner. Pals who eat like Paula Deen? You can't afford 'em, and they don't like ramen noodles anyway.
7. With movie theatres costing $9 a ticket, suddenly you find yourself watching your own movies. (When you bought Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you never anticipated actually having to watch it.)
8. Quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies add up. And Coinstar is a ripoff.
9. Toilet paper rationing is pointless. Using only three squares per squat does you no good when you bawl into half the roll later on.
10. Gardening really does pay off. Also, there are 3,493,029 ways to eat homegrown broccoli. And after this stupid economy rebounds and you're back to recycling coupons, you will never eat broccoli again. With God as your witness.
11. You really were brainwashed. Paying $4 for a mint mocha chip latte is ridiculous.
12. Benjamin Franklin was an angel; public libraries are true friends.
13. Swiping all those hotel soaps and shampoos was a good idea.
14. Church potlucks are of God. And deviled eggs are of the devil.
15. Gas, no matter the price, is expensive. People who live in cities with subways and public transport? Smart.
16. Holidays and occasions that require gifts are way out of hand. Unless homemade gifts are acceptable. But still.
17. Oil lamps are really, really great. They are clean, inexpensive and nostalgic. Until they scoot themselves off the table and sling oil everywhere. Then they are scary, expensive, and a fire hazard.
18. Clotheslines rule.
19. Best friends are those who understand that you haven't had a paycheck in over four months and can't afford expensive meals, pedicures or cruises. Best friends are the ones who, instead of avoiding you until you're flush again, come over with popcorn and cocoa and announce it's time for DIY pedis while playing Caribbean music in the background. (Thanks, T.)
20. No matter how broke you are, you can always, always find money for dog treats.
Time to take a break. Be back soonish. -Brin
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
That's why I'm saddened - no, angry - that the U.S. government has taken steps to make it illegal for me to give Stuffy Sams - or any homemade toy - to the children I adore. If this Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) isn't stopped or stricken, our children will never know handmade gifts, local crafts or second hand clothes. Forget knitting baby hats for your friend's son. Forget Grandfathers making doll houses for their granddaughters. Our collective crafty hands will be tied, and our families, not to mention our businesses!, will suffer.
So I'm getting involved. Reading up. Calling Washington. I'm trying to do my part.
It's what Stuffy Sam would want, I think.
Monday, February 16, 2009
One hundred and seventeen. 117. The number of days I've been out of work. The number of days I've been praying for a job. The past week I've been an absolute mess, alternating between hopeful and devastated, laughing and sobbing. And when I was awakened in the middle of the night to a phone call that my neighbor's house was burning to the ground, endangering lives and pets and raining down embers on Freeman House, I lost it.
Mercy drops 'round me are falling, but for the showers I plead.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Hoping your Valentine's is cozy, warm and happy. Love, Brin
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I have several patchworked things stuffed with organic lavender from the beautiful Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Washington's Dungeness Valley. It's all gone up today in the Freeman House Shop, ready to rush over to someone who could use a little pampering this weekend.
Which is probably all of us, I suspect.
And hey, if you're not at work or don't have a creepy co-worker trying to look at your computer screen right this second, click on that link to the lavender farm and view their webcam. Wow. It's like a vacation without leaving your computer.
I wish I were in the hills of that organic lavender farm right now, flat on my back and breathing it all in. Sigh. Oh how I wish I were...
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
So we loaded up and went to the dog park. Poor little lab needed some room to run.
And there she went. Two dogs caught her eye, running and wrestling as they were. Millie got close, then stopped. But she wanted in on it. I could tell she did.
She watches the dogs play, then wanders back over to me and sits at my feet. Millie! Get up and play with your friends! I encourage her. You can sit around at home!
Her brown eyes look back at me wistfully. Her two doggy friends prance by and Millie sits up. Then she whines. Go, Millie! I say. She sighs. I mean, audibly sighs. Obviously I just don't get it.A lady standing nearby laughs. She comes close, and bending down to look into Millie's face, says, Hi Millie. Those are my dogs, Scissors and Lola, and I'm sure they'd like for you to join them.
So she did. And the three of them: Scissors, Lola and Millie had quite a time.
I was so proud. But it does seem like just yesterday that little Millie was content here at home. Now she needs a gaggle of girls to keep her occupied.
They grow up fast, don't they? Grin
Monday, February 9, 2009
This one is from the page of Lamentations 3. It's where that oft-quoted, "every morning His mercies are new" passage lives. But two verses down from those beautiful thoughts, believed Lamentation's writer Jeremiah declares: 'The Lord is my portion', says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him'.
In my margin, this is written:
The Lord is my portion... I'm reminded as I wait on Him - ear to ground, heart in hand - that each day, He is enough.
His love? It's enough.
His grace? Enough.
His cleansing flood? Enough.
His Word-made-flesh shed blood? It was enough to save me, and is enough to keep me.
He is enough. Today. This very day. He is my portion.
So. As I see His portion carry me... sustain me... keep me close to Him... as I live His faithfulness, I can truly say:
Therefore, I will hope in Him.
Sometimes I let the days get ahead of me. I worry about moments that haven't come or anguish over what God will - or might not do - tomorrow. Reading again, this morning, that He is my portion, my right-sized, just-what-I-need-for-today-God, sets comfort in my head and hope in my heart. He is enough, therefore I will hope in Him.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I'd hoped to make it back to Dallas in time for Kari Jobe's CD release party, but I didn't. My roommate and I watched some of it live on the internet instead. Go ahead and do yourself a favor: if you haven't gotten yourself or a loved one anything for Saturday, grab Kari's new (first!) CD or download a song or two to your computer or iPod and call it a happy Valentine's Day. I know that's what I'll be doing come the weekend...
With this, I'm calling the weekend over. Wow, it was busy! Millie and I are both uncomfortably zonked. (Of course, it could have something to do with that soggy taco we just ate....)
Friday, February 6, 2009
My week's been full of resumes and applications and interviews and job leads. Nothing yet. But yesterday, after watching my now-routine hour of Samantha Brown and knitting like a fiend, I put on my shoes and grabbed my keys and took Millicent to the dog park.
Millie, it turns out, adores the dog park. (My friend Marie told me about it, so Millie really has her to thank.) Each time we go, Millie runs and wrestles and plays and gets in the middle of all the enormous dogs, where she's forced to cower against the fence and wait for me to come rescue her. But yesterday, a girl named Carrie beat me to it. Millie licked her in thanks and I said, "Gosh, thanks so much" in thanks, and Carrie and I started to talk.
Carrie, it turned out, is a rock star at Hunt Oil in Dallas. I could feel God smiling as Carrie and I exchanged contact information and she offered to do a little nosing around to see what positions there I might be qualified for. Only God could arrange such an oil exec/oil and gas girl meeting at a dog park! As Millie and I got in the car, happy and dusty, I thought about how God really does have all this under control. Not that we doubted. It's just awesome to see some evidence.
So I'm back to knitting and Samantha Brown as I wait for the phone to ring and emails to come back. Good news? There are a handful of new HouseHelpers in the Freeman House Shop. Oh, and now I know I have to go to Crete before I die. Samantha was there this week and I loved every minute of it.
The weekend already? Happy weekend, everyone. -Brin
Thursday, February 5, 2009
But there are more, too. Stacks of pillows. Tiny Valentines. Pink nail polish. Fancy dinners. Simple dinners. Daughters. And movies. Movies like Chocolat.
And one chocolat puppy, asleep with her loyal sidekick, nap buddy and partner in crime, Quackers.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
A little birdie told me there are some Dallas/Fort Worth ladies interested in learning to knit. How exciting, then, that KnittyBitty classes are starting in March! Here's the low-down:
What: knitting classes!
Who: anyone age 12 and up
When: beginning March 2, 2009
The following classes are available and now open for registration:
Mother & Daughter Knitting
Knitty Bittys (ages 21 and up)
New Knitters (beginners only)
Teen Knit (ages 12-17)
Registration for all classes runs through Saturday, February 21, 2009. Seats are limited so act fast to reserve your spot! Additional classes are available for private groups (friends, churches, clubs, etc.). For more information, check out the new KnittyBittys Blog or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you there! -Brin
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
When asked to describe herself in ten words, Tami, owner of Cupcake Studio, didn't hesitate. I'm a jeans-wearing, farmhouse-living Midwest mom... authentic, crafty, old soul, she said. One look at her creations also reveals she's a vintage-adoring mama with an eye for charm and detail.
I sat down with Tami and asked her a few questions about her life, her shop, and what motivates her to create. Here, pull up a chair and listen in:
Brin: How did Cupcake Studio come about? Had you been dreaming of opening a shop for awhile?
Tami: If I could have any job in the world, I'd choose to be a professional gift-giver. Ever since I was little, I always enjoyed creating tags, cards, art and special gifts for family and friends. Folks kept telling me that I should sell my cards so my sister and I set up at a church bazaar and that's how Cupcake Studio came to be. I get so excited to create and am especially inspired by vintage buttons & baubles.
Brin: What's your favorite item in your shop? And what's your best seller?
Tami: It's so hard to choose a favorite. I love making cards and jewelry with vintage bits. I just made some new flower pins from felted wool sweaters and old buttons that are currently making my heart sing. My bestseller? Cards. I love old postcards, sepia and black and white photos and have fun incorporating them into card designs. It's especially fun to watch folks at a show...they seem to connect with a photo and think of someone that it reminds them of or that the card would be perfect for.
Brin: Does creativity play a role in your job? If so, what inspires you?
Tami: My full-time job is as an editor and I love it. While it is a creative career, it's a different kind of creativity. Cupcake Studio is where I can play, relax and share some joy with others. My two largest sources of inspiration: magazines and flea markets.
Tami: If you've got an idea on your heart, pursue it. Make time for it and love it.
Monday, February 2, 2009
I'm packing to return to the city, and eagerly anticipating finding a satisfactory job there. After my winter of discontent, I find this, my only option, relieving. Freeing, almost. I'll be packing up and shutting down Freeman House... who knows for how long. It's bittersweet.
So much has changed since the fall. The oil and gas industry, which afforded me a comfortable living and funded renovations for Freeman House, caved under unexpectedly. It's strange to lose a career. Say you're a teacher or a chef or a firefighter or a plumber. And say today, as you're teaching or sauteing or fighting fire or fixing a leak that, without warning, there's no more need for you. There are no more students who need teachers. No more hungry people wanting meals. No more fires flaring up or no more plumbing to install or repair. Suddenly the schools, restaurants, fire stations and plumbing trucks are dark. Empty. Abandoned. What would you do? What job would you turn to? How would you cope and survive?
That's been my life, and that of many, many others, for the past four months. It's wrinkled my heart and strained my patience and tested my faith. What do you do when you can no longer do what you've done? When you're no longer a teacher or a chef or a firefighter or a plumber or an oil and gas broker? When you can't find a job? I'm not sure. But I suppose I'm about to find out. I'm thrilled and heartbroken in the same breath.
My friend Lisa has been such a rock for me these past several weeks. Thank our gracious God for friends who stand along beside you when things get funny! I was sitting on her couch last week, prattling on, when the old, When God closes a door, He opens a window bit came up. I snickered. Then she grew quiet and sort of smiled. You know what Captain Stottlemeyer says on Monk, right? (Monk is one of our favorite shows.)
No, I said, pulling my legs out from under me and wincing. My left foot had fallen asleep.
When God closes a door, sometimes He breaks your heart.
So I'm off to the city. I look forward to the opportunity to pick back up with friends. To indulge in Indian food and take off to the theatre and forage through the farmer's market and catch a concert and ... well, be a single 29 year old. I've missed my friends. Missed Starbucks. Missed a vibrant church with ministries for my demographic. But wow, will I ever miss this place! I guess there's nothing to say I can't return once I'm back on my feet again. I'm told that nothing here will go anywhere....
Yep, I'm off. Off to smooth the wrinkles in my heart and attempt to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, and reverent. And obedient. Obedient to the God I've never had a reason to call unfaithful. For that is, in the end, the ultimate triumph, isn't it? That is what it means to triumph.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Hoo boy. We Christians sure do know how to crack a good Genesis/laundry joke, huh?
I rushed in last night from my parents', where my Dad is doing much better. (Thanks so much for the prayers! He's a private guy, and when I told him that I mentioned him on my blog, he moaned. So suffice to say he's doing better, and we all appreciate your support.) It amazed me, sitting by his bed yesterday, how tough he was, even hooked up to machines lying in a hospital bed. He bragged, every half hour, that he hadn't pushed the button on the morphine pump in (1, 2, 3, etc.) hours. He also took great care to tell the nurses about it. One nurse said, "Mmhmm, good. Now let me take a look at your feet," to which my Dad grumbled, "What will looking at my feet tell you? I have on socks." The nurse didn't reply, but scooted up the sheet and prodded his feet, then pursed her lips and wrote something down.
Looking at his feet, I thought of all the laundry I needed to do, and how many socks I'd have to hang on the clothesline today. Weird, but that's what I thought about. That, and Even God had to separate the lights from the darks.
Still cracks me up.
Corny jokes aside, I'd like to welcome those who've made it over here from the Top 100 Christian Women's Blogs of 2008. I'm honored this little blog won that distinction, but am even more thrilled by all the visits and moments we had last year. It was quite a year, wasn't it? And for all of those who nominated My Messy, Thrilling Life, thanks. -Brin