Come Thou Fount

Be joyful always, pray continually, in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  I love this brief passage.  In fact, I love it so much that I stenciled it on the risers of the staircase in our old house.  My hope was that we would all be reminded of this simple, difficult truth. 

Several times a day I drive by a small church with a portable sign in front.  This past Sunday the sign read: BE A FOUNTAIN, NOT A DRAIN. In my opinion, that's a terrific paraphrase of the verse above.  So, with that in mind, here are some lovely fountains I've had the pleasure to enjoy in person. 
Lake Eola, Orlando
Furman University entrance
Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina

Refreshing

Yesterday afternoon I did a terrible thing, something I had vowed years ago never to do:  I drove by a lemonade stand operated by children.  I was headed home, and I was, as usual, in a bit of a hurry.  Also, the sunlight on the street was beautifully dappled, and I almost didn't see the girls until I was upon them.  At least, that 's how I consoled myself as I zipped on by. 

 
      Now to drive by a lemonade stand might not seem like much of a transgression, but several years ago, when Middle was about seven, he decided to set up a lemonade stand.  We lived in Florida at the time, so, of course, it was plenty hot enough to generate some business.  The problem was that we lived on a quiet street with no outlet.  Middle was not deterred.  I think that he had just discovered that having money was desirable.  So, with a small table and a bright poster, he set out to make his entrepreneurial mark.  He had the lemonade, ice, and cups, too, of course. He waited.  No cars.  He waited some more.  A landscaping service truck passed.  Mr. T & C and I watched from a front window.  Middle trudged in, and we thought he was throwing in the towel.  Middle was no quitter, though, and the next thing we knew he had Little, 4, standing out there with him in a bright blue bathing suit!  Having grown up in Florida, Middle had figured out that you could sell most anything with a blonde in a bathing suit.  Mr. T and C made a couple of calls to nieghbors, and business began picking up--mostly foot traffic.  So, yes, I circled back and bought a cup of lemonade yesterday afternoon.  It was only one degree cooler than tepid, but it was pretty sweet.

In the Pink

It's been a long and frustrating week at work, mostly because some software hasn't quite lived up to its billing.  Thankfully, I thought of several things I discovered this summer that have met or exceeded expectations, so I decided to share them here.

When I went to drop off clean towels in the girls' bathroom at the beach house, I was overwhelmed by the number of products three teens and one tween could leave on the counter.  Gels, sprays, foams, scrubs, spritzes, mousses, lotions--you name it!  And there was quite a selection of scents--green apple, kiwi, strawberry, peach, coconut, vanilla.  My unscented Dove seemed rather boring in comparison.  The product that really caught my eye, though, was the Neutrogena Grapefruit Scrub.  It was so pink, and I love, love, love grapefruit.  So I bought it, and it has become my favorite part of my getting ready for bed routine.  It does, however, make me a little thirsty for grapefruit juice.


Another favorite little treasure that I found this summer is a leather envelope for my handbag.  The ones in this photo are from The Daily Planner, which is a cool website to browse, but I found my envelope at TJMaxx.  I think it cost about $7.  I use it for receipts that I need to keep, for business cards, really it's great for just not having things loose in your bag.  I have a nifty red leather tape measure, which I also keep in my envelope. I was looking for a green envelope because I thought it would be easier to spot, but I ended up with a pink one because, well, you know how it is at TJMaxx.
               Finally, while on a quest for a very obscure AP required summer reading book for Big (of course, it was two days before school started, so it's possible the book was less obscure in June!), I found this pocket calendar/planner at Barnes and Noble.  (I am not one of those folks who can keep all her life on her phone.)  It is an 18-month calendar with lots of notepaper for lists in the back as well.  It comes in lots of colors.  I got pink, what can I say?  I was on a roll.  I'm checking dates for a shopping expedition early next month.  I am going to have all my Christmas shopping finished by Halloween.  Well, all the mandatory shopping anyway.  Really, I am.
            Here's to being thankful for the little things that work the way they're supposed to work!

House work

From time to time I get hired to do some freelance writing, which, blissfully allows me to work at home.  I've found the best place to write or edit is my dining room table.  I have several desks at home, the most practical one in our basement, but I can never quite get over the sense of being underground.  Kind of weird, I know.  And now, to make matters worse, that lizard lives there in his terrarium with his daylight and his blacklight and his container of crickets.  Big, Middle, and Little named him "Blinky," but I call him TDL.  You can probably figure out what those initials are for.  If not, you are a much nicer person than I am.

Speaking of nice people, Mr. T & C was noodling around on the laptop the other night, looking at house plans.  We really would have made a great team of architects.  He went to the website of the fellow who built our home in Florida, Keith D. Field, and found that several photos of our old house were in Keith's gallery.  The photos were made at Christmastime, and since that blessed day is only four months away, I'm posting a couple of the shots here.  One, obviously, is of my dining room table.  It was my grandmother's.

Ironic, isn't it?

Yesterday's mail brought a copy of Emerson Eggerichs' book Love & Respect subtitled The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.  I am reviewing the book for Thomas Nelson Publishers.  I found it ironic that this book on building and saving marriage arrived on the same day that the September issue of Vogue hit the newsstands. 







In addition to delivering the fashion and beauty trends for Fall 2009, this gigantic issue includes an interview with South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford.  Mrs. Sanford has been recognized as demonstrating amazing grace under extremely sad and sordid circumstances.  Informed by her strong Christian faith, her character and her responses to her husband's infidelity and indiscretion have been without peer, and she has received an outpouring of support, and yet . . . .  it seems that some folks are up in arms that Jenny Sanford would give an interview to Vogue as opposed to one of South Carolina's newspapers or perhaps, a news magazine or even a more "traditional" magazine like Good Housekeeping.  To these naysayers, I say, "Oh, be quiet."  In the Vogue interview, Mrs. Sanford continues to take the high road, and, yes, she looks great.  She got to wear terrific clothes and have her hair and make-up styled by a reknown stylist, and I say "Good for her!"  And, really, what a great platform for her to share her willingness to forgive with her resolute insistence on accountability and responsibility to her children.

On the lighter side, I finally made a visit to our neighborhood Lilly Pulitzer shop.  I have loved Lilly for years, but never really felt I could afford to indulge in those sherbet prints.  The 75% Off sign in the window was definitely a draw!  It was  a cute, cute shop with so many fun paper and accessory items!  You know that is my weakness--Mr. T & C is mystified by my love for cocktail napkins especially.  Anyway I did splurge on a clearance robe and a needlepoint key fob, which features fish! 

ahhh . . . sweet Thursday

Working two part-time jobs along with the too-rare freelance work means that my weekends are not the traditional Friday night to Sunday night affair. This week, Thursday is my Friday, and although I'll be working Friday night, Saturday day, and Sunday morning, tomorrow is all mine until 2:30 when I will drive into the carpool line. Yippee!
Remembering that the most elegant woman in the room is always wearing black and white (who said that?), that is what I decided to wear to the Art Museum cocktail party. (By the way, this is a portrait of John C. Calhoun--not a photo of me!) I think I looked okay. Mr. T & C said I looked beautiful under the Museum lights, which is sort of a funny compliment but I imagine it's accurate. Regrettably, both of us were a bit underdressed. I think I was thinking we were still in Florida, where we would have been a bit overdressed. I wore elegant wide-legged black slacks and a classic white linen sleeveless blouse with a mandarin collar, accented with a black enamel and silver necklace and earrings. Mr. T & C wore a cadet blue golf shirt and pressed khaki slacks, which I chose and delivered to him to wear. He was the only man there not wearing a sport coat! To his great credit, he was a trooper, held his head high, and did not berate me for such a faux pas. I was very proud of him. Most of the ladies were wearing lovely shifts and great heels. I saw a couple of glitzy outfits, but they looked a little "trying to hard." Here's the thing, though, the art was amazing! I almost had forgotten how much I enjoyed looking at it and talking about it. And that's another great thing about Mr. T & C, he likes talking about it, too, and he is very observant.
images: Greenville County Museum of Art from top: John C. Calhoun, George P. A. Healy; The Bombardment of Fort Sumter, John Ross Key; The Coronation of Powhatan, John Chapman

Twas the Day Before School Starts

Without a doubt, this has been the shortest summer in my lifetime. I know that--by the calendar--a month of summer remains, but one's mindset seems to shift once the children go back to school. It may still be hot, the pool may still be open, and peaches are still in season, but fresh apples and Halloween costumes are once again on my radar. It's funny how I don't want the summer to end, but after accepting the inevitable, fall begins to seem mighty appealing. After a major shopfest at Old Navy, Costco, Target, and Staples, we have new jeans that look old, tights without feet, healthy snacks, and Ticonderoga pencils, which really are what they seem to be. We also have a lizard, which will aid in the fulfillment of the requirements of a Boy Scout merit badge. In addition, to the lizard and his terrarium and sand and daylight and nightlight, we have a carton of crickets and a carton of mealworms snuggled in next to the olives and hummus. I am less than thrilled. I am thrilled about my new cell phone, the Samsung Propel, which seems capable and rather sleek. All three children were shocked that I sprang for a "cool phone." It seems that my previous phone was nicknamed the "welfare phone," because it "wouldn't do anything." Will, the phone guy, shared this tidbit. Tomorrow night Mr. T & C and I are going to the Art Museum for cocktails and a tour of the permanent collection. We never do anything like this on a Wednesday night, but I am so looking forward to visiting the Museum and having a really good gallery tour. But, of course, what to wear, what to wear? I want to wear my white wideleg pants with a coral tunic, but it is the middle of the week, and I am sure lots of guests will be coming straight from work. It's a dilemma. Girl With Lantern Helen Maria Turner

Up in Smoke

Blessed to be able to go to church this morning and help with the children's ministry. Those five-year-olds have a lot of energy, or at least a lot more than I have! After a stop at Publix, Mr. T & C decided to make lunch this afternoon, so he deftly whipped up some Philly cheese steaks from the Publix recipe he picked up along with the milk. I have to say, I was doubtful--I'd never bought or eaten a Steak 'um, but the sandwich was quite tasty. Did I look at the ingredient list? Oh no, no, no--some things are just better left alone. I do think Mr. T & C used a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables in his concoction, so at least that was healthy. Really, I'm not quite sure what to think about his wanting to cook--I mean, where does that leave me?!
C & T arrived for dinner about 7, and we had a good time catching up. The menu mentioned in yesterday's post was a big success. We tried a new wine Fish Eye Reisling, and it was light and set off the tomato tart nicely. I do believe, however, that I have the most sensitive smoke alarms in all of the Southland. They went off twice tonight, and nothing was burning! So annoying!
I'm starting to think about fall clothes, and I have a burning question. When are you too old to wear tights? Or is that a weight/height determined cut-off rather than age? I'd love to hear your insights!

Saturday Market and Julia Child

After a lovely cup of coffee this morning, I headed to the downtown Saturday Market for some of summer's bounty. Inspired (really re-inspired) by the great Julia Child, I fancied myself strolling the markets of Paris, looking for the perfect ingredients while sharing clever conversation with the locals. Okay, well, sort of. Lots of folks were shopping this morning, young families pushing strollers as well as older couples holding hands and looking over all the beautiful offerings. The scents of coffee and pastries and sizzling sausages were in the air, too. I made a beeline for the fresh flowers, where I bought two bunches of sunflowers. The purveyor told me that they typically lasted about two and a half weeks, which makes the $5 price seem like a bargain. Next, I got in line for the peaches, by far the most popular item this week. I bought a half peck of peaches and a pint of blackberries, and already I regret not buying a quart of those jewels. I'd estimate we've eaten at least two bushels of peaches this summer, and they have all been delicious. Most have been eaten out-of-hand or chopped up on cereal, but we have had a couple of cobblers and one batch of peachy salsa. After peaches, I headed for vegetables, where I was in the market for tomatoes. I bought a few "regular" tomatoes, and then several heirloom varieties, too. The farmer/seller recommended the Purple Cherokee as a great tomato sandwich tomato, so I will be trying that for lunch tomorrow. Tomorrow evening our dear friends C & T are coming over, and I'm planning a tomato tart, blackberry, pecan, & bleu cheese salad, and peach cobbler for dessert. Needless to say, the sunflowers will be the floral centerpiece--I am hopeful of making a "Paul and Julia Child" type dinner party, which looked so fun in Julie and Julia. Speaking of which, I did enjoy the movie so much. I had read My Life in France several years ago, and I loved it. I am ashamed to say I haven't tried anything from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but someday, perhaps. It isn't so much about the cooking for me, as it is about the willingness to share, to be so generous, and to try something new at--let's face it--what's rather late in life. Meryl Streep is amazing as are the sets and the wardrobe and the cinematography. I also loved how marriage shined in this movie! Each spouse supportive and accountable to each other. Truly refreshing to see on the big screen!
Thank God for friends who will tell you the truth. Although I have nothing in particular in mind at the moment, I am so grateful for my friend Michelle. We have been separated by miles and miles for all of our adult life, but God has allowed our friendship to thrive nonetheless. We were able to have a good long telephone visit today--so refreshing. She is a friend who always has my best interests at heart, even when she has to tell me something I may not want to hear. Lots of work today--a teacher training tonight, so I didn't get home till later. I am still rather unsure about this job. Sometimes I think I am exactly where I should be, but other times I miss doing something more creative and collaborative. I really think I would like working at the art museum again. And then there's always the lure of interior design. I am going to see Julie and Julia tomorrow night. I've read a few good reviews, so I'm looking forward to seeing for myself. I am sure Meryl Streep is amazing as Julia Child! I loved reading My Life in France, Julia Child's biography. I am inspired when I think that she didn't even begin cooking until she was 50.

Catching Up

I am so thankful for honest businesses and service people! A day or so before we left for St. George, our downstairs a/c stopped working, leaving us in a bit of a quandary about who to call and what to do. Mr. T & C is quite handy, but he is not an a/c mechanic. I am completely hopeless. Today the repair servicemen arrived on time, took one look at the air handler, and told Mr. T & C that somehow a switch had been flipped, which had cut the fan/blower off. They did not even charge us for the service call! Needless to say, we are so grateful and the good news is that we are giving this company the service contract on our business downtown. I was back to work today, leaving a note this morning to our sleepy children. Happily, when I returned a little after 2 pm, all the Monday chores had been finished. We made a delicious and simple baked spaghetti for supper tonight, and then Mr. T & C took Son 1 to get a haircut for his senior picture, which is scheduled for tomorrow! Really, it can't be possible. I remember his choosing the perfect dinosaur backpack for St. Edward's nursery school; how can he be a senior this year?! I know it will be a fun and busy year--so exciting for all of us and a bit bittersweet for me. All for tonight!

Post Vacation Post

After arriving home around 10 last night from a weeklong vacation with family, we awoke this morning and headed to church. We actually made it to both Sunday School and worship, which is where we heard a good sermon on hope. Based on 1 Corinthians 15, the gist of the message was that everything we do or say matters. We cannot slog through our days, thinking "someday I'll be in Heaven and none of this will matter." It all matters because God's plan--or at least one of them--is to redeem this planet and this life. This life is meaningful!
I had been thinking about writing a blog for a month or so. I'm a faithful reader of Beth Moore's blog, found at www.lproof.org and of Michael Hyatt's, at www.thomasnelson.com Before leaving for the beach, I read the book Julie and Julia because I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I didn't love the book, but after reading it, I was even more intrigued with the idea of writing a blog. Then, I was looking at these really cute plates at www.laplates.com and there I discovered two really fun blogs Manicures and Monograms and Mrs. Blandings. I am addicted to both.
Vacation was great. We went to St. George Island and met Mr. T & C's family there. St. George is quite remote, but that is part of its charm. We stayed in The Plantation, and were blessed with great weather and healthy and safe children. All seven cousins enjoyed the beach and the pool and, of course, the usual relaxation of home rules. We cooked and ate and walked and read and played games and watched a few movies. The only grocery is about 20 minutes away, and it is the quintessential Piggly Wiggly. So fun and beach-y! Otherwise the shopping in Apalachicola is unremarkable, but we did have some great seafood (best oysters ever!) at The Grill. Also saw some great examples of Florida vernacular architecture in homes around the little town.
I did a little shopping this afternoon to find something for the sweet folks who took care of Good Dog while we were away. We bought pecans for them on the way home, but I wanted to do something a little more special, so I set out for Swoozies, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx. I managed to find some great things at Swoozies sale before we left town--gorgeous monogrammed natural linen napkins that will be perfect for this fall. Also some cute bedside organizers for the "girl cousins." Today I found some lovely shell potpourri, adorable cocktail napkins, and really pretty silvery blue serving plates. I've arranged the goodies with the pecans on the plates, so I hope the gifts will be a hit. And, yes, I managed to find a few treats for myself, too. I am always on the lookout for great placemats and napkins, so I was happy to find some today that will work well with our everyday (antique) Blue Willow. Also, I found some cute pink shoes with pointy toes and little black bows--they will be great for next spring, and they were only $15! Lastly, I threw in a package of fun Caspari Halloween napkins--I know it's early for fall, but they are so cute to put in the children's lunches when October rolls around.
Good night!
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