In Which I Dish On China

A few days ago David helped Mother / Martha / “Martie” move into a garden home (oh, the stories. THE STORIES.), and when he made it back to our house Sunday afternoon, he walked in the front door with a special treat.

GIN!

Oh, I kid. Kiddy McKidderson Kid.

Because do you know what’s really inside that box?

CHINA!

I know that might not seem very exciting to a lot of people, but let me tell you: I am such a fan of pretty dishes. Apparently I inherited the loves-pretty-dishes gene from my mama, and I have been crazy about china since I was in high school. It makes me laugh that I can be so sentimental about, you know, PLATES, but I totally am. I remember all the dishes my mama has ever owned, and if I ever happen to run across a full set of the everyday pattern that she used when I was a little girl, I’ll probably cry just a little bit.

Now I feel like I should go hide. Perhaps I’ve overshared.

Anyway.

Since Martha’s new house doesn’t have quite as much storage space as her old one, she was very sweet to give me 12 place settings of a china pattern that David’s daddy bought when he was stationed overseas back in the 50s. I can’t even tell you how much I will treasure it. The pattern is Noritake LaSalle, and I LOVE IT. It’s so different than anything else I have – I think it’s delicate and retro and modern all at the same time.

By the way, I’m pretty sure that you’re officially a grown-up when you enthusiastically snap a picture of a covered vegetable bowl.

But DID YOU NOTICE THAT FUNKY HANDLE? ISN’T THAT THE GREATEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN?

It took me all of five minutes before I started trying to figure out how I could mix the new-to-me pattern with dishes I already have. My fine china is Lenox Eternal, and I love how it looks with the LaSalle salad plate. I think they’ll look sassy on top of some charger plates I bought a few years ago at Old Time Pottery – they were a whopping $1.50 a piece, I think.

Won’t they all be so purty together on Christmas day? Is it wrong that thinking about all the mix-and-match china makes me a smidge giddy? Do I need to go hide again?

Maybe I need to go hide again.

I love the cups and saucers, too – even if the cup will only hold about two tablespoons of coffee. Because those two tablespoons of coffee will look fab next to that kicky handle, now won’t they?

So what about y’all? Do you use your “good” dishes on Christmas day? Do you have a favorite Christmas pattern? Do you like to mix and match the dishes you have? Or do you save yourself the headache of having to wash a bunch of dishes and just break out the paper stuff instead?

Sanctuary

At breakfast a few days ago my friend Paige and I were having a mighty deep conversation over scrambled eggs and these little sausage stick thingies that were ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS, and somehow we got on the subject of our friend Angela’s house.

Because here’s the thing about Angela’s house, and I am not exaggerating: it is a SANCTUARY. As soon as you walk through the front door, you want to take off your shoes and curl up in a chair and drink something warm and pour out your heart. There’s always music playing. There’s always something good to eat. There’s always honest, wide open conversation. And there’s always a very big God at the center of it all.

Seriously. There is so much Light in that house that darkness doesn’t stand a chance.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days (listen. I don’t know what it is, but “reflective” doesn’t even begin to do justice to my current state of mind, and that is a problem because quite frankly IT IS INTERFERING WITH MY TV-WATCHING SCHEDULE) about how much I treasure the peace in our home. Granted, I know better than anyone that I am a solid gold goofball who can be a smidge difficult to live with what with all my overcommitting and procrastinating and not-folding-the-laundrying. But even still, when I’m at home I am so grateful for the freedom to be myself, for the blessing of laughing and singing whenever I please, for the fact that I am never more at ease than when I’m with my people. And lately I’ve been thinking about some inexpensive, personal touches I want to add here and there so that our house feels like home to whoever happens to visit.

And by the way, is anyone wondering if an alien has abducted the person who normally posts on this blog and replaced her someone who doesn’t know that she’s supposed to be writing about fried chicken, reality television and SEC football? I won’t blame you if you think that. Really.

Because do y’all know what I did this afternoon? I WENT TO HOBBY LOBBY. AND BOUGHT CRAFT SUPPLIES.

VOLUNTARILY.

So all that to say: I’m curious. What are some specific things you do to make your home a haven for the people who live and/or visit there?

I can’t wait to read your ideas!

True Colors. Shining Through. And Somebody Stop Me Or I’ll Quote The Rest Of The Song.

When D and I bought our first house way back in ye olden days – also known as the late 90s – I was totally fascinated by the fact that I could paint the walls whatever colors I wanted. In fact, I remember calling my friend Bubba, a very gifted interior designer, and asking him if he could recommend a good yellow for the kitchen.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “There are a lot to choose from. I mean, think about it this way: you majored in English. Can you recommmend a good VERB?”

Oh, touche’, Bubba. Touche’.

And yes.

PROPELS.

It’s always been a personal favorite.

Anyway, Bubba totally came through for me and picked out paint for every room in the house. His tasteful palette of neutrals lasted for approximately six months, at which point I decided that I HAD TO HAVE a purple kitchen, and really, the front bedroom would be so much cuter if it had a few stripes. And maybe the guest room really needed to be a bright green. And maybe I should never be allowed in a paint store ever again because LOOK! ORANGE!

When we moved to Birmingham a couple of years later, I decided to go with muted colors since our house was brand new. I have no idea what one thing has to do with the other, by the way, but somehow I decided that a new house with muted colors meant that I was officially a grown-up. A Grown-Up, even. Responsible. Far too mature for bright colors. I was going to be content to sit on my beige couch in my beige living room and watch PBS or maybe even some “Murder, She Wrote” reruns if I was feeling kicky.

GROWN-UP.

So y’all know what happened. I made it two years with the muted colors before I painted my kitchen a gold so bright that I’m fairly certain I still have some residual corneal damage. And when I finally got tired of kitchen walls that basically required me to wear sunglasses whenever I wanted to, oh, cook some oatmeal, I re-painted the kitchen a lively green that didn’t really match anything else in my house. BUT IT MADE ME HAPPY.

I’ve fought the neutral / bold balance ever since we’ve been in our current house, because while I get the whole concept of subdued, understated decor – and while I love it in other people’s houses – nothing about me is really subdued. I mean, I don’t know if y’all have picked up on this, but I tend to ERR ON THE SIDE OF LOUD. And so back in the summer, I decided that since color is what energizes me and makes me smile when I walk in a room, I wanted more of it, dadgummit. That’s why I painted my kitchen cabinets green. And then whipped up some no-sew window treatments in a bright fabric.

(So. Now that I’ve established my love of color, maybe now I’ll move along to the actual point of this post.)

(Because do you know what I apparently resist almost as much as I resist neutrals?)

(BREVITY.)

Earlier this year I made my first attempt at turning Alex’s old playroom – which is adjacent to our kitchen and breakfast area – into an office for me. It was functional and had some fun stuff on the walls, but after I painted the cabinets and put up the window treatments, it looked a little blah. And so last week I was cleaning and moving some stuff around when I looked at the desk in that room and thought, I want to paint my desk turquoise.

My logical, rational side thought, That’s ridiculous. No grown woman has a turquoise desk.

And then my creative side thought, Hush it, logic.

I bought the desk at a thrift store a couple of years ago for ten dollars (TEN DOLLARS!), so it wasn’t such a valuable piece of furniture that I was worried about ruining it. It has a not-so-lovely piece of laminate on the top, but the body of the desk is real-live wood, so it’s sturdy and practical. Here’s a picture.

I decided that I was going to tackle it with spray paint because Thanksgiving was two days away and quite frankly I was in no mood to fool with paint brushes, so I went to the Walmarts and picked up two cans of spray paint. I decided on a color that was the closest thing I could find to a light-ish turquoise in a glossy finish, and six dollars later, I was ready to go.

And no kidding – within twenty minutes I was ALL DONE.

I painted the hardware because, well, it was easier that way and we’re talking about a ten dollar desk. I can always take off the hardware later and paint it some kind of metallic finish. Or not.

Clearly I am an artiste who is deeply committed to her craft.

I let the desk dry for about an hour, and then we brought it inside. I moved it to a different wall, and then I hung (read: TACKED) a whole bunch of my favorite colorful things around the desk. And then I was all done.

(I have no idea why I went with the angle on that last picture.)

(Perhaps I have unrealized dreams of becoming a beret-wearing photographer who specializes in images of painted thrift store furniture.)

Anyway, there you have it. The desk isn’t perfect, but it’s colorful. And it only cost me six whole dollars to give the office a little facelift.

Which certainly propels me to paint more stuff.

All In The Interest Of Research, You Understand

Last night after supper I was sitting in the living room, clicking around on the computer while my husband flipped around on the remote. At some point between shows D stood up to go fix himself a Coke, and as he walked past me, he stopped for just a second and stared.

Trust me when I tell you that he did not stop and stare to meditate upon my loveliness. I was wearing sweats and had my hair pulled back with a clippie. JUST LIKE I LIKE IT.

(Attractive.)

“Is everything okay?” he asked. “I mean, you’re sitting in the living room and playing a game on the computer. Why aren’t you writing a blog post? Is something wrong? Are you okay? You seem weird.”

“I’m caught up.”

“Huh?”

“I’m caught up. I’ve written my blog stuff. Finished my deadline stuff. Answered my email. Cleaned up the kitchen. Clothes are in the dryer. I’m caught up.”

And then I sort of stared off into space.

“So, does being caught up make you weird?”

“I THINK IT DOES!”

But then I remembered all the mail that was waiting on me when I got home Sunday afternoon. And I remembered what was in the mail. And I realized that I was missing out on one of my favorite pre-Christmas activities in the whole wide world because YOU CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE HOW HAPPY IT MAKES ME.

Seriously. Two Christmas magazines and some post-it notes for bookmarks. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

I spent the next couple of hours flipping through the magazines, marking the pages that have recipes or decorating ideas that I want to try this year. And when I was finished – at least with the first read-through – here’s what the magazines looked like.

I found some great new recipes to try (that cake on the Southern Living cover is first on the list), and I also found a little inspiration for decorating our front porch.

And don’t think for one second that I won’t be dragging out some of our Christmas decorations this weekend. Because I TOTALLY AM. Thanksgiving weekend and the first weekend in December are going to be a little cuckoo around here, so Mama needs a jump start. I can’t wait!

What about y’all? Any pre-Christmas preparations underway? Found any good ideas in your favorite magazines or on your favorite websites?

I’m all ears.

(Or eyes, as it were.)

(Because I guess I’ll be reading as opposed to listening. Since I can’t really hear you over the internet.)

(Bye bye.)

So I Painted My Kitchen Cabinets, Part One

Every once in awhile I’ll get a big idea, and then about ten minutes into implementing said idea I’ll wonder what in the sam hill I’ve gotten myself into.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened when I started painting my kitchen cabinets.

But I have to say – now that it’s all said and done – that it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was sort of fun, actually. I think I’m just obsessive enough that I enjoy taking on a big project and then resolving over and over again that THE BIG PROJECT WILL NOT BEAT ME, OH NO IT WILL NOT. I WILL WIN.

Now before I get too far gone in this little decorating tale, I probably should explain why I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets, which led to re-working all of my accessories in my kitchen, which led to crafting some new curtains for my kitchen, which led to BIG HAPPY SMILEY JOY at the changes in our kitchen / breakfast room area.

(Sidenote: I feel like I need to tell my friend Bubba – who is a deeply gifted interior designer – that he might want to run from his computer before he sees what I have wrought.)

(Bubba, there is a lot of color on the horizon. You know how I love color. And I also know that you love me enough to forgive me of my color-related trespasses, amen.)

First of all, my kitchen cabinets looked like this before I got started.

They weren’t too bad – just outdated and pretty beaten up. Creme-colored paint on the cabinet frames and white doors. Paint rubbed off in spots. Stainless and white hardware. Very 80s. And given my love for bursts of color, the cabinets felt a little bit blah.

I mean, have you noticed my blog colors? Not exactly subtle.

So.

When we moved in this house the walls in the kitchen looked fine, but they weren’t a color I would have picked: a deep blue called Swamp Willow. However, since the paint job was pretty stinkin’ awesome, there was no way I was going to paint over it – especially since it’s one of those textured Ralph Lauren deals – until the paint started to fall off or the color blue made my eyes bleed, whichever came first.

Much to my surprise, the color has actually grown on me over the last two and a half years. I especially love the way the leaves outside my kitchen windows pop against the blue walls. And about a year ago, I told my husband that I might want to paint the kitchen cabinets a really light – but sort of smoky – green. He smiled and sighed – his usual response when I start to get the new project glaze in my eyes since new projects tend to turn me into AN OBSESSIVE FORCE THE LIKES OF WHICH YOU HAVE NEVER KNOWN.

Anyhoo, last week there were two separate things that finally prompted me to take the paint-the-kitchen-cabinets plunge.

The first one was this painting that I showed to you a few posts ago.

Blues and greens. Oh, I do love them together.

The second one was that my cousin Paige reminded me of some fabric that I got from my mama when she and Daddy moved to a new house about four years ago.


Mama had about ten yards of it, and I thought it was ever-so-kicky and fun. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I figured at some point I’d find the perfect spot for it. It belonged to my Aunt Roxie, and according to Mama, the fabric is about fifty years old. I adore it.

The painting and the fabric were just the inspiration I needed. I went to the Sherwin-Williams (I joined their Preferred Customer club and got 15% off my paint since it wasn’t on sale), decided on a color, then came home and got-to-paintin’.

Here is where I will pause and offer three cabinet painting tips that I learned during this process (or as Jillian would say: PRO-cess).

1) Spend ten more dollars and buy really good paint because it will make the job so much easier. I bought Sherwin Williams’ Pro Classic semi-gloss, and it was a DREAM to work with. Worth every penny.

2) Don’t assume that you have to run out and buy all new kitchen cabinet hardware. I used Rustoleum Hammered spray paint in brown, and it transformed my hardware for about $5.

Seriously. I started with this:

And ended with this:

FIVE DOLLARS, PEOPLE.

3) Read The Nester’s cabinet painting tutorial.

Okay – I believe I’ve rambled enough. So I will show you the shiny “new” cabinets. Just keep in mind that I’m having a devil of a time getting pictures of the cabinets where they still don’t look white – the green is pretty light, and it’s not showing up quite like it does in real life. Therefore comma some of these pictures are a little dark because I took them without a flash, oh thank you.

But nevertheless.

One unexpected bonus is that late in the afternoon the cabinets take on a completely different shade – the green darkens and starts to look just a wee bit blue-green. For whatever reason. And I do enjoy it.

By the way, there was one day last week when I decided that I was insane for painting my cabinets anything other than white or beige. But then I picked up the little man from Vacation Bible School, and he gave me two crafts he’d made.

The first thing was a bracelet, which I eventually tied to one of my cabinets as a reminder of my unexpected color confirmation:

The second thing was a cross he painted:

Blue and green definitely seemed to be the theme. So I decided that maybe I was on the right color track after all. And regardless of the color, there’s something to be said for having cabinets that are clean and fresh and crisp. It’s a welcome change of pace around here.

As soon as I can get my pictures together – and if you can muster the will to read after surviving this epistle – I’ll show y’all the curtains I “made” for our breakfast room without sewing a single stitch (thanks, Nester!).

Have a great Monday, everybody.