"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


Once Upon a Mantel...

 By the middle of February, I am itching for spring to arrive. I am sick of winter and want some springtime. Although this winter has been completely mild in my part of the world, I have not even worn a coat a single time. Still, it was mid-February and my thoughts and actions were far from winter. So I changed my mantel.

 That means that anything remotely "winterish" in my home was put away. I wasn't ready to pull out bunnies and eggs, so I tried to think of spring ideas. I looked around the house and I saw lots of pictures of babies and lots of books. And because my mind works in mysterious ways, seeing books and babies made me think of my collection of children's books. 

 Then I thought, "Why not?" You get it don't you?  Springtime....babies and children's book? I knew you'd understand! 

 So the mantel got a facelift. Again. 

 I filled it with some of my books, some of my pictures of babies and a few other little gems. The colors of the antique children's books are just beautiful. Bold colors that are muted from years of enjoyment. 

 What else says springtime?  Well, in my world..puppies. So I added two special puppies to the mix. This one sits on a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales and flanks a copy of the book. Several of the classic children's books in my collection, I have multiple copies of, yet they are all different. 
 This cute little pup came to me via Harrods
in London. My daughters went to Ireland one summer with my mother and this is one of the things they brought me back. Isn't he cute? His leash even says Harrods

 Here's an example of the same book looking completely different. All three of my Three Little Pigs books have very cute graphics inside. 

 I put the pocket watch up there for symbolism. No one will get it but me. Heck, I don't know if anyone will even get any of this mantel idea! Anyway, the watch is to symbolize time....and how quickly the springtimes and babies and puppies pass through our life, and all of a sudden they are grown. (That's why I teach English, I can symbolize the heck out of anything!) 

 And the babies in the pictures?  This one is our sweet Leightyn. She will be 1 in two weeks. That's what I am talking about with that pocket watch!!! How did one year go by so quickly????

 The picture on the left are my two daughters when they were probably 2 and 3. Where did all those years go? I'm telling 'ya, I can almost hear that watch ticking time away!!!  The picture on the right is my Grammie holding my dad. How sweet is that? She was in her 40's when he was born, and her other children were teenagers. (Surprise!!!)

 The baby on the the right is my niece Caroline. She is 10 now. It seems like she "posed" for this picture about 6 months ago! 

Finally, look at that cute puppy. He was sitting out on my piano when I was trying to think of a pre-spring Springtime mantel. He was one of the reasons I thought of the whimsical mantelscape. He came to live at my house last week when a dear friend of ours died. She had him in her living room on a shelf and I got to bring him to my home. Every time I see him I will think of that wonderful friend and family. How appropriate that he is front and center on the mantel.

Wherever you are, no matter your weather, 
here's to early thoughts of spring..
and babies, books and puppies..
and time that passes too quickly! 
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Letters and Numbers and Symbols..Oh My!!

My family has been in the newspaper business for over 100 years.
I like to think that there is some ink in our blood.

 So a couple of weeks ago when I was redoing my Craigslist table, I put chalkboard paint on the top. But even when I bought the table, I kept thinking how cool it would be with letterpress blocks on top in a giant collage.
The letterpress blocks are what they used at newspapers a long, long time ago...
Back when my family was starting their business. 
 Over the weekend when we were watching a movie, I lugged out my giant sack of letterpress letters, numbers, symbols and advertisements. (When I say giant, I mean the big plastic bags with zippers that comforters come in...And a smaller version too!) I have been collecting them for years. I started by separating them into number/letter/symbol and ad categories. This is just a smidge of them! 
 Then I began spelling out our names. And the names of our beloved pets. And important dates. And teams we have loved and/or played for. And things we love to do. When you use letterpress blocks you are spelling things backwards....you do realize that don't you? That way when ink is rolled on the letters and the newsprint is put down, the words are then facing the right direction. 
 Here's the table when it was a cute little chalk-table. But then I added all those words and started filling in around my words to form my giant collage. It is fun to look at and try to find some of the words I have embedded. 
 Boomer (our cat) and OKLAHOMA. 
 Sooners! and right now it says "Wucas"...but as soon as I cabbage on to another "L" it will say Lucas. Wucas is okay for the time being, since our youngest son, Luke, pronounced his "L's" as a "W' and called himself  "Wuke Wucas" when he was about 3 or 4. ha!!!
Edited to add: Luke was at his grandparents house yesterday and I told him to get an "L" from his granddad, which he did not do...So I guess he is fine with the "Wucas" for now! (Until I get the "L").
 Tim and Lori

 Luke 18 (his birthdate)

 Cool punctuation marks throughout

 Former jersey numbers from ball teams

 I bought an entire collection of old flag blocks once...and a bunch of filler stars. They are all interspersed throughout. 

 Fractions...Aren't those fun? 

 A little nod to the political side of my family as well...

 And when it was all done, hundreds and hundreds of different blocks. All shapes, sizes and colors, combining to form the cutest little table for my office room. 

 All our names are in there somewhere...and all those other things I added too...pets, teams, hobbies, towns, dates, special numbers. 

 With the rest of the filler numbers and letters and symbols, the whole collage is wedged in tight. In fact I had planned on gluing each piece down and now I am not so sure. I had to get a screwdriver to pry a letter up that I wanted to change! I think it is safe as it is. I will watch and see how it goes. 
 I don't really expect people to try to abscond with any of the wood blocks! 

 I think I love the ink variations the most. I can visualize the printers with their printing aprons on and their rollers full of ink. I remember the printers at my Dad's paper very well...Sparky and Maynard. If I try really hard I can almost conjure up the smell of the ink and the newsprint. 
 That's why I love the table. It brings back so many memories I have from childhood. 

 And also so many recent memories because of the letters and numbers and names and words I put throughout the table. 

 A conversation piece for sure!!! My husband thinks I need to put a piece of glass or plexi-glass on top. I am holding out on that as well. We will see.
In the meantime, I am going to sit back and enjoy my little table-that-could in its latest makeover! ....And all the memories it provides! 
Edited to add also: While the blocks are stained from ink, the ink does not come off on things. They are old enough and used enough that they are "clean". Although I still am thinking about the glass top!

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Presidential Pride.....

At our house when the children 
were growing up,
we used even the most incidental holidays
as a reason to celebrate. 
(For instance St. Patty's day means there will be Shepherd's Pie and all sorts of stories about our Irish relatives. We celebrated First-Day-of-School with big ice cream parties....etc.)

 Well President's Day is one of those mundane holidays that can also be fun to celebrate. 

 We've set "Presidential" or "Patriotic" tablescapes through the years. 
 During those Presidential" dinners it is always fun to do a little "Presidential" trivia. It is a fun way to learn some interesting facts about our Commanders in Chief. 
1. Name three different sets of presidents that were related:
2. Which president was a movie star?
3. Which president served two non-consecutive terms?
4. Which president got stuck in the bathtub?
5. Name three presidents that were assassinated:
6. Which president signed the Emancipation Proclamation?
7. Which president did Marilyn Monroe sing "Happy Birthday" to?
8. Which president was a 5-star General?
9. Which president was never elected to office?
10. What song is played as the president enters the room? 

 11. Which president spoke Mandarin Chinese in the White House with his wife so no one would know what he was saying?
12. Which president skinny dipped regularly in the Potomac?
13. Which president did not use the Bible to take the Oath of Office?
14. Which college boasts the most presidents as graduates?
15. Who was the only president to earn a Ph.D.?
16. Who was the only bachelor president (that never married)?
17. Which two presidents were ambidextrous?
18. What do five of the past seven presidents have in common?
19. Which president lost the White House china in a poker game he lost?
20. Which president founded the University of Virginia? 
 Try that quiz and see how you do!

Another reason we like to celebrate President's Day.......
 Our two "furry" presidents. Eisenhower is the black and white Schnauzer and Abraham is the solid black Schnauzer. 
 We got Ike from a dealer in Kansas...hence the name "Eisenhower" (President Eisenhower was from Kansas.) 
 Abe was an Oklahoma boy, but he was born on February 12th, which is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Hence his name. 
Ike and Abe are a perfect pair. They give us reason to celebrate President's Day every day.
Have a great President's Day!!

ANSWERS: 1. Adams, Bushes, Roosevelts, Harrisons, Madison/Taylor 2. Ronald Reagan 3. Grover Cleveland 4. William Howard Taft 5. JFK, Lincoln, McKinley 6. Lincoln 7. JFK 8. Eisenhower 9. Ford
  10. Hail To The Chief 11.Harding 12. J.Q. Adams 13. Pierce 14. Harvard 15. Wilson 16. Buchanan
17. Garfield, Reagan 18. They were Lefties (except for GW Bush and Carter) 19. Harding 20. Jefferson 


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