A Wreath-full of Christmas

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t say to me, generally several times a day, “What a cool job you have.” Agreed. The coolest job I know. Check out what we’ve been doing lately.


Love the burlap bow with a bit of bling in it. Awesome.


Mantle piece done by BH for Deerfield Retirement Center–bronze is a hit this year.


Swag with some sparkle and bells.


Stick a birdhouse on it and it sells.


LH added some ginko leaves. LOVE.


We’re dying over the blueberries.


Don’t forget the tree.


Red Twig Dogwood goes into every arrangement and wreath. Again, LOVE.


Ballerina hellebore for winter containers.

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Greens for the container, drop and go.



A Suggestion for the Anti-Moms: Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook

Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook is huge. As in, over 700 pages long. Evidently, that is nothing compared to some of the home Homekeepingkeeping handbooks roaming the world. Martha informs the reader that one such book is some 1600 plus pages in length. That seems a bit daunting but I believe I’d still read every word of it. There is something about page after page of house cleaning tips (not to mention a schedule) that just compels me. If you’re rolling your eyes, well, what can I say? I’m a sucker for a clean house and love a woman who writes a book on how to do it.

My hairdresser, Anna, noted, at my last highlight and cut visit, that there is a trend among moms NOT TO CLEAN. They don’t like doing it, they don’t feel like they should be the ones doing it (why do they think they had kids???), they can’t afford a maid to do it, their husbands aren’t taking the initiative on doing it (really, how surprising…), so they simply don’t do it. They refuse to clean and the mess piles up.

I really don’t know how to address that.

Anna referred to it as the “anti-mom” movement. This not cleaning the house business has an actual name. So if the mom is busy being the anti-mom, who is being the mom?

It does stink that moms went to work but dads didn’t jump in on the household chores. It really does. Because the math on that is simple. For the women it looks like this: A career + a clean home= 2 jobs. For the men it looks like this: Wife goes to work + a dirty house= he doesn’t care about a dirty house but loves the extra income.

So, yes, it stinks but as for me, I could never stand a dirty house. I still can’t. Ask my kids how many times they had to re-clean the bathroom while learning that particular chore. Right down to the baseboards. 

What a shame I didn’t have Martha’s handbook then. I could have posted her weekly schedule for them. Here’s a sample just for the kitchen. Once a week you should:

  • Wipe all surfaces including sink, ventilation hood, outside of refrigerator, cupboards–basically all surfaces and doors including shelves in cabinets and furniture.
  • Discard all food and drink past its prime.
  • Wipe out the garbage bin and recycle bin (both inside and out).
  • Vacuum and mop the floor.
  • Flush drain with boiling water.

Lord, I love this woman. Of course, you should do all of that. And, if you’re thinking that is simply too much for one week, do one thing a day. If you wait until it piles up, well that does become impossible. I suggest moving at that point.

Here’s the thing. Beauty takes effort. But that’s what cleaning and taking care of our homes really is–creating a space of beauty for everyone (the mom included) to enjoy.

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Martha would be proud. My living room (and my legs, which don’t look as good as the living room).

And, before you get all bent out of shape here and groan about not having the time, the energy, the whatever…I ain’t talking perfection, here, just a bit of a reality check. Moms judging moms is likely what created said Anti-Mom movement in the first place. Chill on one another. Help one another. My BFF Debbie cleaned up my rotting potatoes (that were dripping brown goo from the cupboard under the sink onto my kitchen floor). She didn’t hesitate in her skinny jeans, french manicure, and fashionista style (on the way to dinner), to get down on the floor, find the rotting potatoes, toss them out and then clean up the mess. Take note and follow suit.

Starbucks, Getting Rich, Good Deeds, and Dirty Ovens

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being us...

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being used as a secondary logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a friend who is very rich. She once said to me, “If people wouldn’t spend 5 dollars for a Starbucks coffee everyday, maybe they wouldn’t be so broke.”

Well, there you have it. The answer to welfare.

So, I think of her when I stop at Ingles’ grocery store after work, and get my daily Starbucks iced tea. A large–very large, the largest one you have please, (I generally point to the plastic cup I want)–with a little sweetener and a little lemonade.

Now, here’s where it gets wonky. I get the exact same size iced tea every day, made the exact same way. I mean Starbucks majors on that, right?  Yet, in one year of visiting this Starbucks, I have never paid the same dollar amount for my tea. It ranges in price from $4.32 (what I think it actually costs) to $2.32. Sometimes it is $3.32. I never know. Mr. Starbucks Man/CEO are you reading this? Because here’s what I’m thinking. While my friend assumes I’d be so much richer if I didn’t waste money on my daily Starbucks, I’m figuring Starbucks would be much richer if they charged the right amount for their tea, consistently (whatever that is).

But, I’m glad they don’t. That would be so boring.

Okay. On to good deeds. I did two today. One involved money. I have no idea what my rich friend would say about me giving money to a single mother who is pregnant again, and dying for some ice cream.  If they wouldn’t waste their money on ice cream?  Who knows? My rich friend is on a cruise in the Greek Isles at the moment, where the temperatures are getting close to 100 degrees, so I imagine she is throwing down some cash on her own ice cream (or iced latte).

My other good deed did not involve money. It involved me withholding judgement. It was the harder one of the two, especially since the single mom inspired me to my own Rocky Road experience, so that good deed didn’t feel too hard.

The reason for all this good deeding on my part is church. The pastor keeps yammering on doing them and so finally, I thought, what the heck I’ll a good deed a try. I will admit to feeling like the Lord should reward me “just a tiny bit.” He did not. Here’s what I got for my good deeds.

After being oh so noble, and helping others or withholding judgment, I decided to cook for my evening meal. For the enormity of that statement, read this. I roasted vegetables that I bought at Ingles’, right after purchasing my Starbucks tea (today’s cost: $3.32). I put them in my 350 degrees oven, grabbed a quick shower, feeling amazingly organized, and then when I reached in the oven to pull them out, I flipped over the roasting pan, and well, potatoes, zucchini, squash, kale, all ended lying in a olive oil heap on the bottom of the oven, smoldering.

At least there was no fire.

I considered eating them, anyway. When was the oven last cleaned? I couldn’t remember if it had ever been cleaned. Wouldn’t that just make them char-grilled? Then, I remembered my good deeds. Hey what happened to that? Where’s my reward? On the bottom of my dirty oven, that’s where.

So, instead, I had Rocky Road ice cream for supper with my Starbucks tea. I am poorer to the tune of $3.32 for the tea, but I am not sitting in 100 degree temps, and somewhere there is a single, pregnant mom eating Rocky Road ice cream with her six-year old daughter who likes Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My granddaughter likes her too.

Abraham’s Journey to Home (and mine)

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (G...

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (Gen. 12:1-6) Русский: Авраам переселяется в землю Ханаанскую (Быт. 12:1-6) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Scripture, Abraham was told by God to pack up and start moving. But God did not tell him where. Instead, God told Abraham to go to “the place I will show you.” Abraham didn’t argue, although he did camp out at one place for awhile before he really started moving along on his journey. But, eventually he started walking (let that soak in) in earnest toward the “place God would show him.”

I never envied Abraham that trip. There are plenty of people I’d like to be in Scripture. The Woman at the Well comes to mind. The servants who watched the water turn to wine before their very eyes at the wedding (Jesus’ first miracle). Priscilla is intriguing. Philip, mainly because he literally got to space/time travel. But Abraham just seems old and tired to me when he begins his trek and like, he really would have been okay hanging out near the pyramids of home and simply enjoying retirement. That is exactly how I feel. Old. Tired. Ready for Retirement.

My biggest fear right now is that I will not be able to work as hard as I do for as long as I’m probably going to need too. My livelihood depends on me working. Period. From month to month, if I am not employed we don’t eat or have a roof over our heads. It is humbling.

So, while I wonder where home for me is, I am acutely aware that it might always be someone else’s home, i.e. a place that I rent.

I spent some time with a financial planner after my divorce, and we discussed whether he thought I’d ever purchase a home or not. He was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing when I mentioned the money I’d “throw away in rent.” He said, “How is it throwing money away? You need a home, and yet you can’t purchase one because you don’t make enough money. This isn’t about money management, its about staying out of the cold and the rain.”

Sometimes, a good reminder of the most basic sort is in order. It allows you to re- frame your thinking and begin to have a paradigm shift.  Abraham lived in the City of Ur of the Chaldeans. Reportedly, the place was very developed for its time. Houses had indoor plumbing and running water. There were markets and fresh produce. He had all the comforts of home. Then God said, pack it up, we’re moving, and Abraham finished out his years in a tent in the land of Canaan. Canaan would become the Israel of the Old Testament, and Abraham’s descendants would live in the land as their own.

So, sometimes the plan is less about the immediate and more about the eternal, as in Abraham’s case. It wasn’t about providing Abraham with a home. It was about bringing forth a Savior (Jesus) through a group of people whom God would build through the lineage of Abraham.

In my own trek, I am not living in a tent, but a nice rented home. Every night I thank God for putting a roof over mine and my son’s head. For paying the electric bill. For paying the internet, because my son needs it for college. For buying the groceries. For heat. For plumbing. For air conditioning. For cleanliness. For good landlords who treat us with respect.

Oh, there is a paradigm shift happening. From a home of 20+ plus years where the comforts of home were simply taken for granted, to a very real awareness of what a good thing hot water is.This type of consciousness is necessary if I am to discover my new home. I must first start to think of home differently.

Abraham followed God to unknown places, but in reading his story again, I do not see Abraham (or Sarah for that matter) all that focused on, where’s home? They seem more intent on where is the Savior (who would come through their child)? It makes me wonder if my focus is in the right place. Is it a home I am searching for, or a Savior?