"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic...the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone." Charles de Lint

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Making a House a Home

I always wonder with these longer posts how many people actually read the whole thing. I'll tell you right up front that I'm feeling particularly reflective today and it's OK if you don't make it to the end...I'll never know.  If you do hang in there you will see that we have come full circle.

Since we left our dorm rooms Paul and I have lived in seven different houses.  Our first apartment was in Nashville, TN where Paul and I went to graduate school. It was an amazing place....up the narrow back spiral staircase off the kitchen in the servants quarters of a large southern home in Belle Meade.  And if you know Nashville you know this is where the big southern mansions are....the ones with the big pillars and long driveways.  Two sisters, Mary and Martha lived in the main home and were about as down to earth, unpretentious and progressive as anyone I know.  We paid $150 a month....utilities included...for a fully furnished apartment. Just perfect for young newlyweds starting from scratch.

We haven't owned all our houses. Because Paul is a minister...the list includes two parsonages, which is a church provided home, and of course the first rented apartment.  Each house has been different and a few of them not all that attractive...but it has been one of my joys in life to make all our houses a home.

So....from the first apartment in 1981...to the present....here's the Shupe tour of homes.

This is the only picture I could find of the house/apartment in Nashville. 
That upstairs window on the right was ours.  This is actually the back of the house.

After a year or so Mary and Martha included an extra room for us upstairs....that whole middle section which more than doubled our apartment.  In lieu of extra rent we did chores for them on Saturdays which included polishing a dozen or so brass doorknobs.  

Our first whole house...the church parsonage on Foreside Road in Cumberland, Maine.  The original part the house was built in 1740 and had the original wide pumpkin pine floors and an old cooking fireplace with the swing arm cook pot holder.  There was a living room addition off the back. It was a great place to live...and we were walking distance to the Casco Bay.

Hallmark Road in Cumberland Maine....suburbia at its finest.
This is the first house we owned after the church sold the parsonage.  We took out most of those overgrown evergreens and planted a couple of nice maple trees in the front yard.  We drive by every once in a while to see how they are doing.

Woodmont Street in Portland, Maine...one of my favorites on a dead end tree lined street. It was a good move for the family from the suburbs to the city.  

Deerwood drive in Madison, WI...at the top of a hill on a cul-de-sac of sorts.
It was really good space and close to my family and good friend Becky...which was awesome.  It had the best 3 season room in the back...I loved it!

Our current home on Hancock Street in Lexington, MA  (the church parsonage) 
It's a great house in a great town!  We can walk to almost everything...including a little movie theater and the Lexington Battle Green.  How lucky are we!

Our current weekend/vacation home on Sprague St in South Portland, ME.  You may have noticed that I had a small picture of this house at the top of this post.  Well...that's because as of a few days ago we have come full circle.

We had this house on the market in order to free up our equity to invest in a house that we see could see ourselves retiring into while interest rates were low.  We got 4 offers and a contract on the very first day.  But much to our surprise after the inspection, our buyers backed out.  Our real estate agent kept saying "trust the process"....and little did he know the process would take us right back where we started.  It was the WHOLE process of listing and looking at other houses that pushed us to take a closer look at what we already had.

We are going to invest into this house to fix some of the issues...and eventually make some changes that might make it work for long term.  We are choosing...for now...to make THIS house a home.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bits of Batik...

...and a little bling.  I think this little block has a watercolor feel.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Places to Pause

Paul and I have a delightful screened porch in Lexington.  It's a great place to read, take a nap, or work on a project...a perfect place to pause. (which as we get older we are doing more and more of) We live on Hancock Street which is a pretty busy street...and most of the time I can tune it out.  But during rush hour cars can be lined up in front of our house for hours waiting to pass through town....and it can be pretty busy all evening.  

But out the back door of the porch right around the corner is a little patio...part of which is covered.                                                                     Once of the first things I did when we moved in six years ago was to connect the two spaces with patio stones I found here and there on the property.  

The church had completely renovated the house but the patio was left as it was...with a dark stain. After a year or so I decided it was too dark and dreary and transformed it with a coat of paint.                                                                     
 What a difference!

When my friend Becky was visiting we found these great ceramic bird tiles on the bargain table at Crate and Barrel....and they worked perfectly under my shelf.  In case you haven't noticed...I'm a big fan of shelves.

So it looked much better...but Paul and I still weren't really using it except to grill and go to and from the garden.        

So I recently bought two new chairs and and started rethinking the space.  
It's still a work in progress....but I am liking how it feels.  It's kind of cozy and more private and it's definitely quieter...and because it's covered we could even sit and watch the rain.  
I will still enjoy the porch...but this will certainly be a another good place to pause!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

His and Hers

Here's a blast from the past.

I went through a phase many many years ago making soft sculpture dolls.  I made this one of Paul...complete with red hair, baseball cap, jeans and a Colorado shirt.

Secretly at some point....Paul made this one of me....complete with overalls and flip flops.  Very sweet....and nice job!

Here are a few others....

The floozy....a gift for a friend...can't really remember the story of why....?
My boss at my first teaching job

And...the hobo clown...a gift for a friend.  

I also made a likeness of Johnny and June Carter Cash.  Their nephew went to the private school where I worked and the dolls were part of a thank you gift for helping us with a fundraiser. I can't seem to find a picture....all of these were pre-digital.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walking the Yard

A few days ago I walked my yard in Lexington again with my camera and just put together this little collage.  I think the June garden is the prettiest!
The Hosta gardens are exploding! I know I've posted about the gardens before...and it pretty much looks the same....but it's where a lot of my creative energy goes this time of year...so here it is again!  

And for those of you who have been paying attention to what has been going on in my life I am stalling until I can talk about what's happening with my South Portland House.

Joseph's coat is one of my new favorite plants...no bloom to speak of but bright pink stripes in the leaves.  And it loves the shade!

I also love this burgundy/purple shamrock.  The color is just incredible!

This is the first time I have planted tall verbena in a pot....based on seeing it at a friend's house last year.  I think it's doing well...considering I don't have much sun.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Enjoying the Deck

I really enjoy the solar lights on our umbrella...and it was a beautiful evening to be out on the deck.

I love interesting lighting anyway....but when it gets powered up by the sun it's even better!

And I love it when the little solar 
globe lights come on.  

Connie's Garden

I planted Connie's balcony garden several weeks ago...

...and it's filling in nicely.  The clematis is starting to climb the railing and the moonflower is climbing at the other end.  I also tucked in an extra moonflower in the clematis pot...to crawl across the bottom of the rail.  I recently cut back the pansies to give them a second life.  It's a happy little garden!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quilt Card

This little quilt card was inspired by Cindy Grisdela's beautiful art quilts.  I started with some earthy batiks and finished it off with hand dyed solids. I added a few french knots and a button to make it my own. I like the teeny tiny red square under the button.

This was my mother-in-law Margie's Mother's Day card.  I hope you don't mind that I shared your card Margie.

Just like I save bits of paper...I save bits of fabric.                                                                                                                                                           
I spent an afternoon a while back sewing together bits of batiks....all ready for framing in solids and a little embellishments.  Margie's Mother's Day card started from one of these little blocks.  


Can't wait to start playing with them again!  I have been collecting some nice hand dyed solids to work with.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Catching Up!

I had a great day today with good friends Lynn and Skip from Madison, Wisconsin. The day included lots of catching up and story telling, a tour of Lexington and the church, and was topped off with Lobsters for dinner.  If you remember from a previous post I have Lynn's art all over my house!

Lynn came with some fun gifts.....

...an awesome photo collage of some  of her beautiful photography...

...and a whole pile fun! You know a friend knows you well when they give you scraps...and they know you'll love them!  All kind of uses for these!                                         
Remember this collage I made from Lynn punched watercolor scraps?  Thanks Lynn!