"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


Letter Perfect

About eight ago, in the back of the gym at the National Guard Armory there was (yet another) box piled high with junk. I opened the flap of the box and heard the angels sing saw a pile of very dirty metal letters. Lots of them. 

Oh my gosh. I quickly put my hand down in the box. You could hear the tin letters clang against each other. Many were stuck to each other, connected by the metal hangers on the back of each letter. There were letters as far as my hand could reach down. Again, oh. my. gosh. 

I (very excitedly) tell my Hubs about the treasure we have just stumbled upon. He opened the flap of the big box. I quickly slapped his hand and the box lid back down. I didn't want ANYONE else seeing the treasure and potentially bidding on it. I looked around at where I could possibly hide the box until it was time to auction that end of the gym. My Hubs looked around to see if there was someone coming to take me to the Looney Bin. "Treasure? " He wondered if I had really just uttered that word. 

I guard that box like a mama bear guarding her den. There were over a 100 letters in that box. Some were black, some were rusted, and most were well-worn ivory. 
I would find out later that not only was the whole alphabet in that box, but there were more than one of each letter. Some letters had MANY. There was also dollar and cents signs, all the punctuation letters and several &'s. Oh glory. Yes, the angels did sing.

Obviously, the secret is out and I did win that box of letters, but not before someone actually did bid against me to get the letters. My Hubs couldn't believe there were two people crazy enough to want the box of junk. (His words). I got the entire box for (brace yourself) $60. Yes, Hubs thought it was highway robbery....as in I got robbed. I KNEW it was a steal. 
Letters had not gone popular yet, but I knew the beauty in that box. Now when I think that I got 170 letters, numbers and 'others' for $60, I can't believe it. 

I have used the letters SO many times in the last eight years. They are perfect for so many ideas. I used them to spell out my niece and her husband-to-be names. I took the pics then took the pictures to Kinko's and had them printed off on thick paper.

I also did their wedding date (and added some flags since it was the 4th of July). 
Here the pictures are framed. (above). Below are the newlyweds opening their pictures. I mean really, how original can those presents be?  All because I bought the box of letters. (As I frequently tell the Hubs.)

Another time I used the letters on my grill and made a cute invitation asking everyone over for a .....you guessed it BBQ.  
I used the pics, my computer and my flash drive. I took the flash drive to (again) Kinko's and had them printed off. 

I use the letters to decorate for all kinds of seasons. Here I have them for FALL and football. 

Here I used them to spell out BOO. Once I made a wreath with the BOO words (but I couldn't find the picture.) The BONES was from my daughter's Radiology graduation party. 

I used them to spell DAD in a Father's Day tablescape. 

When I took my son Fielding's engagement pictures, I used them in several ways. Those little hooks on the back (pictured in the third pic at the beginning) make them perfect to hang from any type of shelf. My son Luke can be seen putting up the letters I brought to the photo shoot. 

This is the picture they sent out as Save-the-Date-postcards. Yes, you can bet I reminded my Hubs of that $60 steal! 

Of course I had to put my blog name in letters. On this one I simply lined them up on my deck outside and shot from above. 

I could not even begin to keep track of all the ways I have used the letters over the last eight years. I have done nothing to make them chippy or rusty. They just came in that perfect condition. 
What about the crazy "O" above? Half black and half white. 

I spelled this out, because I am sure that is what the Hubs is thinking. Still. Even after I have clearly shown how valuable the letters have been through the years. HA!

When they aren't being used, the letters sit in this huge old metal basket. The basket itself was a steal at $20!!!!  The basket of letters sits under a side table in the (gasp) living room. They have been quite the conversation starter, whether they are being used or piled high in the basket. 

While I have always thought the find was a 'letter perfect' buy,  it took a lot of convincing for the Hubs to get on board. I guess all these years later he has finally agreed....or just resigned himself to the fact that chippy old letters spell out HAPPINESS for his wife!
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Simple Sundays

Gosh. How does 29 years go by so quickly? It's one of God's mysteries about raising children. The days (at times) seem long, but the years are just a whisper and they are gone. They add up so quickly....Toddlers are all of a sudden starting school; then school has become high school; then you glance again and the children are grown and on their own...And 29 years old and you are taking them wedding dress shopping. There is absolutely no way to explain it to a young mother. It has to be lived. Hug those babies, because those tiny feet will one day be stepping into a wedding dress....of her own. There is so much excitement about planning weddings. ....and a little reflection too! 


Sowing the Seeds....

When we lived in Kansas for 17 years, we lived smack in the middle of God's farmland. I say that because only God could create the beauty of the farm fields we got to see on a daily basis. 
The area we lived in is apparently considered some of the best soil in all of America. Believe me it showed each year in the spring as the farmers planted, in the summer as the crops grew, and in the fall with the bountiful harvests. There was corn as far as the eye could see. There were fields of soybeans. There were beautiful waving wheat fields and of course, the fields of Kansas sunflowers. 

While we lived in Kansas we got to know a couple that owned an auction company. The gentleman was a farmer by day and an auctioneer by night and weekend. We loved going to their auctions, as the man had such a wonderful sense of humor while auctioning and the woman was as sweet as they come. 

We went to auctions frequently, as they were often held at the National Guard Armory, which was just a few blocks from our house. We were one of those couples that were willing to wait out what we wanted. Sometimes that might mean that we were at the auction the better part of (usually on a ) Saturday. During a Kansas winter, that was an enjoyable way to spend the day. Almost always the concession stand at the auction was sponsored by some church group....Which meant there was ALWAYS homemade pie made by those Kansas farmers wives! My taste buds are salivating as I just think about it! 
Once you get to know an auctioneer, let me just say, it gets easier to get what you really want at an auction. The auctioneer knows the regulars. He knows what they like. He knows what they will bid up to. Sometimes he sweetens the pot by throwing something else in with the item you are bidding on. Sometimes he just auctions so fast that if you're ready, and fast enough, he's got it so you get what you want! 
Then there is all that stuff at the end. By that time most of the people are gone. There are just a few faithful still bidding. LOTS of stuff gets lumped together. Believe me, it is NOT all junk at the end. And if it IS junk, it is usually the kind of junk that I really like. 
Such was the case of when these cute little vials came up for auction. There were a couple of cigar boxes crammed with these little glass vials. Each vial has a galvanized lid. Each vial has seeds. Each vial has written in that wonderful old-school hand-writing what kind of seed is in the vial. In addition, there were some empty vials. There was also a cigar box filled with miniature (about an inch square) envelopes (home-made of course). Each had a (rusty) paper clip keeping the (pseudo) envelope together, and once again with the old-school hand-writing telling what seeds were inside. 
Well in the Land of Farmers, no body was really interested in the boxes of vials and (pseudo) envelopes...except for me and my neighbor. I mean, really, what were the chances?  She and I always wanted the same things! I am sure all the farmers thought it was crazy anyone wanted old seed vials.
On the other hand, I was crazy for the vials!
So I bid and I won. I got the boxes of old vials for a couple of dollars. I also got the box of (pseudo) seed envelopes thrown in. I gave my neighbor the box of (pseudo) envelopes. Believe me, they were cool too. I kept the vials.
I have had them on display ever since. In one form or another. Remember, this was WAY before it was "cool" to love "junk". I guess that makes me "cool" before cool was cool. 
They have been picked up a kajillion times. They are great conversation pieces. People always try to read all the writings on each label. They turn them over trying to examine each type of seed. My only rule is that no one can open a vial!  I want to preserve them just as they are!!! 
Sometimes they are lined up on a shelf. Sometimes they are in a crock. Sometimes they are in votive holders in a galvanized holder. Sometimes they are in baskets. It just depends. 
They are 2 inches of interesting. 

They are a reminder to us of the Kansas farmers we got to know. They are a reminder of the little piece of paradise where we got to raise our children. 
They are a reminder that seeds are indeed important. It might not be corn, or beans, or wheat seeds that are of significance. But the seeds remind us of other seeds: seeds of learning, seeds of compassion, seeds of love, seeds of friendships and seeds that grow roots. That is what we found in the little Kansas town where we raised our children. 
The $2 boxes of two-inch glass and galvanized bottles are just the tangible reminder of seeds we grew in Kansas. ...
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Seeing Red

Remember that storage shed I said we were purging?  Well this table came from the same storage shed. It has been somewhere in our house(s) since the 1980's. That not only dates me, but the table too! The table had to spend the last year in storage....because as I told you, after moving five kajillion pieces of furniture on our Big Move, the boys just threw (literally) anything they wanted to into the storage shed. I am just now rescuing things a year later!
This table, made totally out of real wood, has been a work horse. For the past ten or more years it has been in the children's den. Before it was in their den, it was a solid oak color with little pieces on the end of the table top. I took those pieces off and painted the bottom of the table white and white-washed the tabletop. It stayed that way for about ten years, while the kids used it in their TV room/den. As you can imagine, there were a lot of shoes put on top of the table. There was a lot of drinks and food on the table as well. It was way past time for a make-over! 
I took my Annie Sloan red chalk paint (Emperor's Red) and painted two coats on the bottom. I was going to put Old White on top of that, but I liked the red so much, I just decided to leave it. I stripped down the top as much as it would strip, then applied a dark wax to the top and the entire table. It was just what the table needed. 
I really want one of the old furniture carts for a coffee table in this room. But until I can find one I can afford, this will suffice. The pop of red against the rug and couch is just what I like. 
There was zero staging involved in these pictures (that were taken in the evening). Can you tell by looking at the backgrounds? Oh well, such is real life! 
The top if pretty scruffy, but I had a good idea. I wanted to find someone to make me a zinc rectangular top to put on top of the table. I mentioned that to the Hubs and he gave me the 'ole familiar "uhmm". I always take "uhmm's" to mean a definitive YES! (They should learn to listen better!) 
Yes, that would be Hubs in the background on his laptop and watching TV at the same time. Hence the "uhmm"!!
After the table had been in the room about a week, my son Luke saw it and said, "I really can't believe it took you a year to get it painted and in here. What took you so long?"  I agree!  I took that as a compliment too! 
Then just yesterday, I was looking through some of my "favorites" that I have saved in a computer file. (Pre-Pinterest)!  
Guess what I found?  A picture from Pottery Barn that looks very much like my own den. I had forgotten all about the picture and table. Apparently somewhere in my head I remembered the table, because it looks like mine is painted the same color. I have the sofa and walls. I even have that exact typography picture (although in a different room, thanks to Susie Harris). 
When I found this picture I excitedly showed the Hubs how closely our own room resembled this long-forgotten (except for somewhere in my psyche) room. His reply.....(you guessed it) "Uhmmmm."  I am sure that means to GO BUY THE LAMP! What do you think?
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