Have Blog, Will Travel: Meeting the Marvelous Marlene

How do you measure the success of a trip?

Is it the time you spent laughing?

Laughing out loud at Fabric Depot. We don’t have anything like this at home. It’s an acre of fabric and sewing notions

Posing with Marlene in her lovely home with Pauline King’s original art work in the background

Trying to find our good side.

Perhaps it’s the wonderful meals you’ve shared?

Breakfast at Bob’s (see Marlene behind the piano player)

Can you define success by the unexpected moments (for instance going out for breakfast, only to discover you’re at a birthday party for Bob Moore)?

Bob Moore, CEO of Bob’s Red Mill on his 89th birthday

Maybe it’s the “eye candy” spotted along the way?

BBB = Big Beautiful Building for lease. I love the colors and shapes

Plants of Portland

As I write this I’m reminded that some of the best moments aren’t captured on a camera chip, but stored in one’s heart.

I’ve been following Marlene’s blog In Search of it All for nearly six years. We’ve followed each other around the blogosphere, too, gathering like-minded friends along the way.

The stars aligned on Valentine’s day and I got to meet the marvelous Marlene in person. I boarded a plane from San Jose to Portland, and finally delivered on that promised squishy hug.

Portland bound: San Jose Airport, Valentine’s Day, 2018

We recognized each other immediately. Steps after leaving the gate, I wrapped Marlene in a long embrace and I don’t think either one of us wanted to let go.

We spent our time together talking about family history. Marlene has a rich and interesting past, much of which she’s shared on her blog. What you get in person, though, are the rich details that deepen understanding and expand friendships. Who doesn’t love the give and take of a good conversation?

If you follow Marlene’s blog, you know that she has a devoted younger sister and a loving daughter and son. They’re always checking in by phone or text, looking out for one another in an endearing way. Marlene is a mama extraordinaire.

Marlene’s sister drove us to downtown Portland for an afternoon. We spent over an hour at Powell’s City of Books, which is like saying you spent an hour at the Louvre.  Powell’s City of Books occupies an entire city block. It’s the largest independent book store in the world! Powell’s has three floors with color-coded sections to help you find what you’re looking for on the map. Yes folks, if you’re looking for a book on crafting or art or…well, anything, you’ll need the store map. It’s the kind of bookstore that requires lots of time and a pair of comfortable shoes. Be still my heart. I can’t wait to go back.

Powell’s City of Books: a multi-story, new and used bookstore. It’s so big you need a color-coded map.

Marlene’s sister lives in Washington, but drove down for the day. She treated us to lunch at her friend Sheryl’s restaurant, then drove us around to some of the sites. It was cold and damp so we didn’t venture too far, but I’ve been making mental lists for future visits.

Marlene and her sister refer to this as the “mushroom house”.

Mushroom house windows

A spectacular view from the hills of Portland

I met Marlene’s lovely daughter Saturday. Marlene made us breakfast, and then we spent the day hanging out at home and doing a few organizing projects before my all-too-quick visit ended.

Together we moved this bookshelf into Marlene’s craft room. Check out her gorgeous button collection on the top shelf

Marlene also blogged about our time together. You can read her post here. I’m almost embarrassed to share it as to hear her tell it, I walk on water. My ego may never deflate. (Oh wait…I still live with a teenager. I’ll be back on the ground in no time.)

Thank you, Marlene for your generous hospitality including rides to and from the airport, the satisfying, home-cooked (vegetarian) meals and for all those shared cups of tea.

Have you met a blogging friend? Are you planning a gathering in the near future?

One, One-Thousand

Growing up I learned to count by seconds saying “one/one-thousand, two/one-thousand” and so on. This counting device has been rattling around my brain all week as I pondered my 1,000th post. I considered other titles but you know how it goes: this one (one thousand) stuck.

Of course as soon as I realized I was a couple of posts away from 1,000 I panicked. Should I write something profound? What if I don’t have anything profound to say? Could I just keep writing and ignore the milestone? Who would know or care?

Is it time to check my ego at the door?

After all, it’s just a number. I don’t remember my 100th post or my 650th post either.

Somewhere along the way I transitioned from being a writer who blogs to a blogger who writes to connect with kindred spirits around the world. To blog is to be a part of a community. I found my people!

Of course it didn’t take 1,000 posts to figure this out. I wonder, though if I would still be blogging without you. Here is what I know:

Bloggers are kind:

gifts from bloggers

Beautiful and creative gifts from fellow bloggers

After starting a blog, trips to the mailbox became fun again. My heart still skips a beat when I see postage from another country on the top of a package or on the corner of a postcard. There is a special thrill receiving happy mail the old-fashioned way. It’s ironic too, since bloggers meet in a uniquely on-line medium. When my sweet Slinky died, I received heartfelt condolence cards in the mail. They meant so much to me. I love the sweet notes and the clever postcards you send and I’m aware of the time and care that goes into sending them. We all hear about on-line nastiness, but I seem to reside in a bubble of blogging kindness.

Bloggers are generous:

Blogging give-aways

Framed picture,left: Pauline made this art using my father’s vintage stamps. It’s a stunning piece. Framed picture, right: A blogger give away (artist Pauline King) Bavarian quilt in background, right: A a blogger giveaway from Dani who sadly is no longer blogging.

Where do I start?  Bloggers carefully and thoughtfully read your posts, then leave amazing comments. It’s an extraordinary gift. It’s also common to find that a fellow blogger took the time to do a bit of research, before dropping a link relevant to the topic at hand. Several of you have hosted generous blog give-a ways. It’s always something clever and unique. I’m delighted when I win, which has happened twice! and equally charmed to see others take home the prize.

Bloggers are creative:

When I first learned about blogging, I thought of it as words without pictures, more of a log than anything else. Boy was I wrong. I follow mixed-media artists, painters, and card-makers, as well as bloggers who sew, quilt, knit and crochet. Extraordinary photographers expand my world while brilliant writers can make me laugh or weep. I’m learning about weaving, what it means to throw a shuttle and how to turn an IKEA chair into a work of art.  I took part in a Sisterhood Traveling Sketchbook, a Craft it Forward Project and a Cards for Katherine celebration. Beautiful art graces my wall and a light-catcher bounces sunlight around my kitchen. Each year a growing number of hand-made Christmas ornaments decorate our tree.

Bloggers are a wonderful excuse to travel:

Bloggers here, bloggers there, bloggers, bloggers everywhere: New York, Alexandria, VA, Washington, D.C, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada, Radford, VA

Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine owning a mobile phone the size of a deck of cards that doubled as a camera while holding all my contact information, allowing me to listen to music or watch silly cat videos. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would travel to Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York, Victoria and Edmonton to meet and spend time with fellow bloggers. Blogging opened up a whole new world. Friendships cultivated online continue to grow and thrive in person. It’s extraordinary.

And finally, what anyone who blogs, knows: A blogger’s comment can make your day.

Here I am at the end of my 1,000th post. Have I written something profound? Definitely not. But the experiences I’ve gathered along the way are profound. I owe it all to you.

Two, one-thousand…

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Friends Who Blog and an Enchanted Light-Catcher

Washington DC and Virginia

The Gathering of the Bloggers, Washington DC and Virginia, Spring, 2015

A year ago last spring, I spent an extraordinary week gathering with bloggers from around the world. It was an experience I’ll never forget. We traveled from Canada, parts of the US and as far away as New Zealand, gathering in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

Laurie of Life on the Bike, and Julia of Defeat Despair, invited us to stay in their homes. They were excellent tour guides, showing us the sites and sharing stories about their community. Shelley, of Peak Perspective hosted several of us for an engaging afternoon atop a hill in Virginia. We enjoyed laughter and an amazing spread of food under the watchful, curious eyes of Haggis the dog.

Lisa of Arlingwoman provided local perspective as she guided us through the enormous Washington Mall. Her knowledge increased my enjoyment of the incredible history that resides there. We toured Lisa’s community garden and learned about her Plot Against Hunger.

We shared a meal with Lisa as well as Stacy of  Visual Venturing and Patti of Displaced Beachbums.

Rounding out this amazing journey: Kelly who blogs at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner  and Pauline of The Contented Crafter.

What started as “blogging friends” became “friends who blog.”

One of the visual reminders of our time together is my beautiful light-catcher. Pauline made one for each of us, selecting charms to reflect our interests and our lives.

You can see the amazing details in the short video below.

Five years and 940 posts later the most amazing statistic is this: there are nearly 16,000 comments on this blog. Comments become conversations, conversations lead to friendships and in this great big world of ours,  interesting, like-minded, bright, clever, talented, and wonderful people from around the world, log on and add sparkle to my day. I can’t thank you enough.

Life on the Spectrum: When the Universe Calls, You Pick Up

blog march 2016Many of you know that I have a grown son on the spectrum. You can read about our journey by following this link.

If you’re a regular reader or blogger you also know the amazing connections we foster around the world, and the tremendous support that flows from our blogging community.

On March 8th I received a private email from Pauline at The Contented Crafter.

Pauline had just read a post from her friend Sherri who blogs at A View From My Summer House.  Sherri’s adult daughter is also on the spectrum. Moved by Sherri’s recent post, Pauline put me in touch with Sherri via her blog.

Here is Sherri’s story.

About a week later, Marlene at In Search of it All also sent me a private email, this time about an autistic child and his mother, struggling to keep her son Ben in school. The story is similar to ours in many ways, an uphill struggle of a mom trying to do the right thing for her child. Ironically, Marlene saw the story when another writer blogged the news of Ben’s plight.

Garrett Winter, a writer and an adult on the spectrum, shares the plight of Ben and his mom Tricia in this post Help Me Get Ben Back to School

And finally, here is Tricia’s heartfelt post.

I’ve reached out to both of these moms, and to Garrett as well. I’ve also donated to the GoFundMe campaign set up to cover some of the legal costs she is now facing, simply to get him the education he deserves.  I know from personal experience that many of these school administrations are condescending, hostile and uncooperative, and at times violate the law by obstructing a child’s right to a public education. The fact that the family had to set up a fundraising page to raise money for legal help so her child can go back to school is infuriating.

Just last week my son’s former high school district invited me to speak to the board of directors at Campbell Union High School District. The executive director of special education put together a presentation on their program’s successes, and I was one of three guests invited to speak. Unlike our obstructive elementary school district, Campbell Union provided services and support to ease our son’s transition from a non-public school to a fully mainstreamed high school. He thrived because he got the right kind of support and because people cared and understood his needs while at the same time valuing  his strengths. He is currently attending university.

Campbell’s model should be shared with other schools and programs. Funds should be available to help all children succeed. After all, our children are the future. When they do well in school, everybody wins.

Garrett, thank you for sharing Ben and Tricia’s story. Tricia, don’t give up. There are lots of people who understand and support you. Sherri, my heart goes out to you.  Please know that people like Pauline, Marlene, Garrett and others you’ve yet to meet are pulling for you.

 

The Reveal: Teen Bedroom to Restful Guestroom in Ten Days

In case you missed yesterday’s post, you can catch up here.

I’ve been turning my teenage son’s bedroom into a guest room over the past ten days. He’s away at college and Boomdee is coming to town.

Boomdee’s needs are simple: coffee, toast, and a sea of aqua. I’m pretty sure she’ll love this room since she unwittingly helped decorate it. If you’re a regular around here, you’ll recognize several small touches as well. It’s a bit of a bloggers hall of fame.

Without further ado, here’s the reveal.

guest room doorway view

Completed Guest Room

guest room bed and banner after

Guest Room Alternate View

Touches of green, blue and pink worked well with the existing yellow walls. It’s a cheerful room. William Morris says “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I share this advice with my clients and try to live it day-to-day. As I pulled items from different rooms it all came together seamlessly.

The benefit of an adjustable closet system is that it’s easily reconfigured when needs change. Growing up, the boys needed shelves to store games, books and toys. To covert the closet for guests, I simply removed the shelves and reinstalled a hanging bar. The back of the closet needs a bit of TLC but I didn’t have time to paint. Instead I papered the damaged wall with a roll of gift wrap.

closet before

Closet: Shelves removed exposing damaged wall

guest room closet after collage

Transformed closet

This simple solution, though cheap, proved to be more challenging. The narrow opening of the closet and the cramped quarters inside made it a challenge. I used 3M spray adhesive and regret it. It’s too sticky to use on thin paper and made re-positioning nearly impossible. We used one roll for the top 80%, and an entire second roll just trying to align the pattern for the bottom 20%. Lessons learned. That said, I like the way it turned out. I just don’t think I’ll do it again.

blogger hall of fame

Blogger Hall of Fame

The spirit of blogging touches almost every room in our home. It was fun bringing all my treasures together in one room. Here’s the line up:

A: Photo album of our blogging trip to DC (Life on the Bike)
B: Dear Opl by Shelley Sackier
C: Play In the Garden by Sarah O’Neil and The Good Life, also by Sarah O’Neil (Sarah the Gardener)
D: Vintage mannequin a gift from Marlene at In Search of It All
E:  Craft it Forward heart pin from Diane at Garden Sunshine
F: Boomdee, Boomdee, Boomdee
G: Postcards of Pauline King’s original art (The Contented Crafter)
H: Postcard from Julia at Defeat Despair
I: Crafting goodness from Petals at Boomdeeadda
J: Creatively clever doodle art calendar by Robin Gott of The Forsyth Sagas

guest room before and after window view

Before and After view from the window

gurest room facing door view before and after

Before and after view from the closet

guest room closet after towels

Guest room closet details

guest room airmail letters

A bit of vintage

One of the many things we have in common is our love of vintage. I picked up a handful of vintage air mail envelopes from my friend Donna’s Greenhouse Supply booth at Antique Row. I wonder if Boomdee will write a letter and send it back in time?

DSC_0088-001

Shopping bag decor:  whimsical decorating for a song

I picked up a couple of aqua gift bags, then added photos and ephemera. The postcard is a gift from Julia at Defeat Despair. It’s a collage of photos from our blogging get-together earlier this year in DC.

DSC_0073-001

How could I resist? An aqua trash can in the shape of a petal.

An aqua-colored, petal shaped trash can. Be still my heart. The chess board does a great job hiding old phone lines that one day must go.

DSC_0059

Customized train case, a birthday gift from Boomdee.

The little bird is actually a pen, nesting in a small ceramic bowl a classroom art project from my youngest son.

Ikea bench covered with tea towel

Ikea bench covered with a charming tea towel, also a gift from Boomdee.

Another Boomdee Treasure: I covered this worn IKEA bench with a bird motif tea towel, then tacked the corners to keep it in place.

guest room washi tape lamp

I trimmed these IKEA lamp shades with postage stamp Washi tape from my stash. The stamps work well with the travel motif.

guest room floor after

Foot warmer

Never mind that the heat wave continues. The mornings are cool so a gal needs a place to warm her toes as she slips out of the bed to rustle up some coffee and toast.

DSC_0049

I added Washi tape to the top and bottom of the lamp shade. The bird quote is a page from the same calendar used for the bunting/banner

You guessed it: another gift from Boomdee.

nightstand

The perfect nightstand.

I found this table at an import store for under $90. It’s lightweight, easily movable and slides over the top of the bed, the perfect table for this cramped space.

wall decal

I’m hoping for a chance to dance in the rain this winter

I’m ready. I’m ready to dance in the rain. Truly.

guest room view plants

Room with a view: succulents line the fence

Boomdee arrives midday tomorrow. Her room is ready. Crazy fun times lie ahead.

3 Days, 3 Quotes: Friday Finisher

quote gibran with dew drop

Are you thinking at this very moment of a favorite quote to share?

Go for it!

Sometime in the next three weeks, share three quotes spread out over three days. Or do what Joanna did and share three wonderful quotes in one rich vibrant and moving post.

That’s it. I’ve been tagging different blogging friends all week, hoping everyone will join the fun.

That said, NO pressure. In fact, you can forget I even mentioned it. Think about this though before you go: you never know who you’ll inspire with a quote that is near and dear to your heart.

Pauline of the Contented Crafter  got the ball rolling with her quotes here, here and here.

There is actually a fourth and funny quote on her blog but I need to maintain my Rated-G WordPress rating. You can go take a look, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Tag, you’re it (but only if you want to):

Benjamin at Nest Of Squirrels
Joe at The Visual Chronicle
Robin at The Forsyth Sagas

Something Old, Something New

You’ve heard the Olde English wedding rhyme “something old, something new”. How about “something new from something old”?

That’s exactly what arrived in the mail last week: a charmingly attired wire dress form, an unexpected gift from Marlene Herself.  The attached tag reads: “A Gift of Something New from Something Old” hand crafted from vintage linen by That’s My Sisters Donna and Colleen. I love it!

full apron in garden

Something new from something old

Marlene, who blogs at In Search Of It All, is a wonderful seamstress and quilter in her own right. She knows how much I like dressmaking forms; I bought one in my size for the first time last year. This little charmer is about a foot tall and arrived wearing a crisp apron, hand-crafted from vintage linen. It’s pictured here in my garden between a begonia and a geranium, but only to show it off. Begonia’s and geraniums have their own vintage vibe, too, don’t you think? The darling dress form holds court on my bedroom dresser below, but I never have much luck with indoor shots. You can see how pretty it looks against the blue wall, but I could only capture the details when I took photos in the garden.

vintage apron dress form details

Vintage Apron Details

Marlene said she made “two women happy” when she bought this gift, but I suspect she’s been making many of us happy for years.

Thank you, Marlene, for this treasure and for a daily reminder of your kindness and friendship.

apron bodice in garden

Bodice Detail

Word(s) of the Year

Serendipity was my 2014 word of the year. This year’s word is connections. Here’s a bit of both. I recently connected with Kerry through blogging. I followed a link to her Etsy shop and fell in love with one of her vintage, hand-embroidered linens. In the same week I ordered the beautiful tablecloth pictured below, Marlene’s delightful package arrived in the mail. Serendipitous worldly connections, I love you so, and I love your hand-embroidered linens, too. ♥ ♥ ♥

kerry can table cloth vintage

Vintage Linen from Kerry Can’s Etsy Shop

Vintage Tablecloth Detail

Vintage Tablecloth Detail