Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Christmas Traditions Kick off at Barbara Cheatley's

Barbara Cheatley with daughter Kim

Barbara Cheatley's offers a touch of England to Southern California.   Its annual Christmas Open House is my kick-off to serious festivity planning. 

Whether the year's coffers overflowed or not, there is simply no place better to sugar and spice up an abundant holiday spirit. 

Barbara's specialty is inspiring customers to smile. Her decorating style- how can one go dour when there are mice and reindeer watching from on high?

Ms Modern Country would thoroughly appreciate Barbara's selection of Emma Bridgewater mugs.  I love their solid heft balanced with a bit of visual whimsy. 
Some people think romantic style is glamour and glitz. For me- it is a cup of hot creamy cocoa in front of a roaring fire. 

The shop is chock-full of collectibles full of meaning- like this simple bag of birdseed based on Scandinavian tradition of feeding birds on Christmas Day. How perfect is this for the bird-lovers on your Christmas list? 

Every inch of the store is filled with possibilities of future memories. 
Our personal Christmas tree, the primary theme is of our family history and hobbies. One of our sons once remarked- we are the only family he knows of with a hunting and fishing themed tree. Many of the ornaments, a special one for each family member each year, originated from this annual pilgrimage.

However, don't think of ornaments as only being for the tree or limited to our love of nature. Your holiday should be authentic to you.

Perhaps you love  The Wizard of Oz.  Warner Brothers is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the film. Why not plan a party. Watch the film. Maybe do a little sing-a-long, then give ornaments of the characters as mementos. 

Have family who live by the sea- or dreams of waves lapping at their feet- a seashell ornament would be a lovely dangling with curled ribbon from their gift. 

For the gardener- imagine a rosemary tree loaded with accouterments of their passion-  watering cans, spades...maybe critters??? 

Context is everything. Certainly a glass grasshopper will bring a bigger smile to the face than any hopping by the rest of the year. 

This stitched owl reminds me of my granddaughter's nursery. Made of stitched fabric- a child can launch into flight- this ornament won't break. 

Having raised boys in a home their cousin Manny described as having " testosterone bouncing off the walls" I suggest the hosts of a celebration including budding ball-throwers plan accordingly. If your the nervous type, maybe take a Valium. 

A confectioner's tree would be lovely in place of flowers on a dessert buffet. Ringing in at zero calories- imagine satisfying the sweet tooth of some disciplined soul who manages to keep to a proper diet while the rest of us indulge like on our next visit all the scales in the doctor's office will pretend the holidays never happened.

If it takes a village... make mine gingerbread. 

If you have a holiday kick-off- whatever your faith- or no faith- please share!  Let the joy of the season join back together what politics puts asunder.

God bless you all!

Linking to Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home.

Barbara Cheatley Antiques is located at 215 Yale Ave., Claremont, CA 
Phone 909 621- 4161

Quote from Brainy Quote

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day (GBBD) October 2013- Mostly Roses and Wildflowers

Time flies. In my garden. With my books. With you, dear friends, it is all first class. 

This Brigadoon Rose is rarely out of bloom. A very sturdy bush- I expect it could be clipped by the truck  which is parked next to it - and the plant would be the winner. It was a memorial gift from my friend, a force of nature herself, Glenda Thompson- Bona.

Now a Nevadan, Glenda  provided this inspiring wildflower  image from her days as a docent with the Tejon Conservancy to pair with my article, with promises of a field trip this coming spring .   

This view through the pine is from just outside my study. Last week, our  Mr. Garcia trimmed out some lower scraggly branches- the horticultural equivalent of a bang trim.

The 'Cinco de May' Rose dominates the foreground.

The background is largely fallow.  A lightly sketched upon canvas prepared for the next report of rain on its way. Then buckets of wildflower seeds are on hand to paint with. Once they take hold- there will be no stopping the color wheel turning the hillsides of Diamond Bar bright as in the Poppy Preserve. 

Where the land is planted, it not only looks cooler- on summer days, where it is green is much more comfortable to hang out in than where it is brown. 

The bracts of bougainvillea wave from a thicket near a hidden corner of  back hillside. The blue flowers of the old fashioned plumbago- beginning gardeners beware: this plant acts as though it is shooting  itself up with steroids. Its penchant to muscle in where it wasn't planted presents quite a dilemma. While it is invasive- the soft blue flowers are beacons to butterflies. 

The butterfly rose-  the delicate flowers are so light and ethereal- they appear ready to float away like delicately scented butterflies. The first time it enchanted me was at the former nursery owned by the late Mary Lou Heard. Still hard to believe she is gone. But what a legacy she left in gardens across metro Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

The trumpet vine. I thought it died.  Perhaps it is Hindu. For it reincarnated itself from the bare spot a good five years after it disappeared in the dirt. It was gone more than enough seasons to change the understory from shade-lovers  to sunbathers. So much for that plan. Now  one arm wraps through a re-purposed iron wine rack now serving nectar to hummingbirds when the vine is in flower. 

The summer of 2012 was brutally hot.  It killed the air-conditioning with over-use.  While on travel-the sprinkler to the dainty fuchsia failed.  What remained to greet me upon my return was a littering of parched leaves - and little else.  By the grace of God and a full year of intensive care, what looked like a hopeless case is now pushing her way up, blooming  through the protective outer skeleton of an iron obelisk. 

'Easy Does It' Rose-  Another long bloomer, she provides ample opportunity to study her character. While not declared in her lineage, I believe she is part cactus. She likes sun-bathing in a spot where other roses wilted; begged to be planted elsewhere. There is also a certain charm to the crimped edges of her petals.  Someday I will tell my granddaughter that  the garden fairies designed the unfurling edges with pinking sheers.

'Mary Rose' brings to mind the paintings of Rembrandt. If he were alive now- I imagine this would be a floral muse .  

'Tamora'  rose is one of those cheerful friends who gets along with everyone.  I wouldn't die for her- but I did once break my arm pruning her. 

What would be a collection of David Austin roses be without 'Graham Thomas'. This image was taken looking straight up into the shade.   


Friday, October 11, 2013

Blessings Counted, The Blessing of Organized

It took awhile, but now I am glad Mother Nature dropped in this unplanned Rose of Sharon
Whenever it rains, it doesn't matter how hard I'm working, it feels like vacation. 
With the first drops of the season giving the earth the first wet-kiss of the season, that last grasp of summer's hot breath last weekend is now a memory as distant as the moon. 

Yesterday was a blustery day to visit our accountant. A weather description that surely will bring laughter to relatives in northern latitudes. Half our circle of friends and family are already shoveling snow while I am putting finishing touches on an article about planting wildflowers. 

Thankfully,  business duties put me near Judy Duvall for a belated birthday  celebration. God graced this friend with this thousand mega watt smile and divinely husky voice. I am blessed that she is part of a group of girlfriends who put up with my journalist's quirks in attitude and behavior. I pray she has many more years filled with music, laughter and love. 

Drive-time home in the greater LA Area- one develops great sympathy for salmon swimming upstream. However, being fortunate enough to be caught in traffic when two of my favorite journalists, Jake Tapper and Hugh Hewitt  were chatting on current events- as a not fully-recovered political geek- I understand I have it better than the fish. 

Home. Every item filled with memories.  The changing of this season is swift. Time to open the fireplace flu, light a log and scented candle.  Unpack the electric blankets to warm the reclining chairs for a rare evening of just enjoying my husband's company. 

Near the fireplace is the rocking chair my wonderful sister-in-law Billie Plunk rocked her babies in. Like the Velveteen Rabbit of literature - it was loved so much that some of it plain wore out.  But the gorgeous lines of the chair- its solid construction- I was thrilled that she let me bring it home. Recover it. And dream of visits where I will read out loud to our darling granddaughter.  

Stock items are now easy to find.

Confession. The last couple years: life had gotten out of hand. This summer I hired myself to take back control. One closet. One drawer. One shelf. One shed at a time.  Physical organization= personal and professional empowerment. 

Yes- the top row of soups are alphabetized
 Just 12 " deep, the height and width of the freezer it sits next to in the garage, Gerry built this shelving unit just outside the door into the house. 

Above it are the over-flow of  kitchen gadgetry that made happy memories.  Upside- down acrylic frames serve as shallow shelves for cookie cutters, tools for frosting- things I often thought should be passed to Goodwill. But didn't. 

For that I am glad. For  I am finding in these years between beauty and the grave that memories aren't just about the past. Planning for future memories  is a great joy- if you can find what it is you need.