November 20, 2014

What do You Want to Know? My Take on Writing

Paper. Pen. Pencil. Just a few tools you may need when writing something, anything down. Writing comes easy to me but it's also very hard. It really depends on what I'm writing about. I can knock off a post about decorating in minutes. I can start an essay in about thirty. The act of writing is easy, it's everything that comes before, during, and after that's hard.

"You can make anything by writing." - C.S. Lewis

Sometimes I begin with a photograph when I write a blog post and other times I just grab my notebook and write. When I write an essay, or something larger, my method is a bit different. That blank page can be awfully scary, and when I first began writing professionally I would sit and stare at that blank page for a long time. Now when I pick up my notebook (or pull up a document) I just start writing. It may start off as gibberish, but the more I write, the more ideas, words, and sentences start to fill my head and spill onto the page. I keep on writing. Then I look back and start to rearrange thoughts and sentences. I might switch out a word or two (but the first one that comes to mind is usually the best one), and then I do it all again. Writing involves a lot of repetition.

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." - Robert Cormier
 
I don't think you need to actually publish anything to call yourself a writer. Sometimes I get paid to write and sometimes I don't. That doesn't make me any less of a writer. Blogging, journaling—these outlets have merits of their own. You can simply decide to keep your writing to yourself, share it with the world, or something in between. It's the act of remembering, recording. It can be wonderfully cathartic....and extremely frustrating. 

FYI:

I prefer black ink. I like to write in pencil. But both need to be thinslender casing, fine point. I write long-hand first, type, print, and edit by hand. Then repeat. I prefer a desktop to a laptop. I need to type on a real keyboard. I own dozens of journals and notebooks. I hate making mistakes (spelling, grammar), but I always make them. I have re-written thousands of pages hundreds of times.

No matter what your process is or which tools you prefer to have on hand, just get it on the page.

Tell your story any way you can.

"Keep a notebook. Travel with it. Eat with it. Sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less expensive than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory." - Jack London

Thank you Julie who emailed me this question for my series What do You Want to Know?

You may also like Mistaken Identity, You Are What You Read, and Some Thoughts on Writing.

Photo: Fredrik Rubensson

November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to putting together Thanksgiving leftovers. I eat my Pilgrim sandwich the old-fashioned wayturkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy in between two pieces of a white doughy dinner roll. (Extra gravy on the side for dipping.) I think it tastes better almost as good as the meal itself.

However, there is more than one way to slice a turkey. Here are some delicious ideas for your Thanksgiving leftovers.
  1. To the above sandwich, add mashed potatoes.
  2. Turkey and Swiss Panini: Turkey, cranberry sauce, chopped pecans, fig or apricot jam, Dijon mustard, bread and butter.
  3. Stuffed Croissants: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, mashed yams, and cranberry sauce.
  4. Thanksgiving Grilled Cheese: Turkey, pepperjack cheese, provolone cheese, homemade cranberry sauce, bread and butter.
  5. Turkey Hand Pies: Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pie crusts, egg.
  6. Waffle Melts: Turkey, avocado, brie, cranberry sauce, waffles (bacon and eggs optional).

Photo: Kristen Taylor

Coral Reef

Sherwin-Williams announced their Color of the Year this week and here it is: Coral Reef (SW 6606). I have mixed feelings about this color. First of all, if you've been reading this blog, you know I love the color orange and the color red, so this mix of orange, red, and pink should be right up my alley. However, after viewing some of the photographs over on the SW site (having never used this color myself), I wasn't too thrilled. I love it in small dosesin a lamp, on a vase, a pillow, a chair, but walls are a harder sell. The folks over at Thistlewood Farms got it right. I love this accent wall they did in their office. And to me that's the key. Use it as an accent in your home and it won't disappoint.

Jackie Jordan, the director of color marketing says:

“Coral Reef embodies a cheerful approach to design that we’re seeing for the coming year. Its unexpected versatility brings life to a range of design aesthetics, whether traditional, vintage, cottage or contemporary.”
What do you think?
 
 

November 18, 2014

Done and Done: Instant Wreath Decoration

Oh, what a little spray paint can do... If you have a tired looking wreath hidden in the bowels of your basement or collecting dust in the attic, go get it. It could be dried, plastic, made from pine conesit doesn't really matter. Clean it off the best you can and then hit it with a good dose of gold paint. Voila! Now you have the perfect wreath for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
 

Color Inspiration: Fall Leaves

My favorite colors always fall into the fall/winter category. This photograph of fall leaves was my inspiration to create this palette.

Color Inspiration
Behr 390F-6 Tate Olive, SW 6423 Ryegrass, BM 488 Mountain Lane, BM 482 Misted Fern,
BM 2160-40 Roasted Sesame Seed, BM HC-8 Dorset Gold, SW 6129 Restrained Gold, RL TH13D Edwardian Gold, SW 6109 Hopsack, BM HC-17 Summerdale Gold, BM HC-75 Maryville Brown, RAL 8011 Nut Brown
 

November 17, 2014

My Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving used to be a big affairlots of family, lots of people. But our extended families now have families of their own so we're all more likely to stick closer to home these days. But just because I'm not cooking for a large crowd doesn't mean I skimp on the details.
 
My Thanksgiving menu still includes all of our favorite dishes, but my table decorations change from year to year. Some tablescapes are more colorful than others, some more traditional, like this one. I found my Spode Celebration plates a few years back at TJ Maxx. I love my brown and white turkeys. I layered them on top of plain white (find similar here) dinner plates that rested on top of rattan chargers (find similar here). My glassware is antiqued pressed glass circa Victorian era and courtesy of my mother. As for the centerpiece, I brought in one of my iron urns from the porch and surrounded it with an autumnal wreath and filled it with faux greens, stalks, and leaves. I threw in a few jack-be-little pumpkins for color. Scattered about, you'll find a gold and white china jewelry holder I use as a salt cellar and more antique glass vessels for sides and snacks.
 
I honestly don't know what I'm planning this year. That's the fun of creating something from nothing. Take stock in what you already own. Look to your local grocery store for inspiration. Hazelnuts can be used to hold candles or as filler with other greens. Hardy fruits and vegetables can be mixed with flowers and herbs. Don't be afraid to mix and match china, silver, and glassware. Use a fabric remnant (like I do) as a tablecloth. Grab some quilting squares in different patterns and colors and use them as napkins, just hem the edges. Candles cost less than a dollar, and candlesticks can be used to hold mini pumpkins or gourds.
 

November 14, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Those are my teenage daughters getting excited about the new attractions at Edaville. We haven't been back since they were in grade school and all of the rides and attractions are geared toward a slightly younger audience, but I'm game. The weekend after Thanksgiving we'll ride the train through Peacedale and watch the children laugh and take in all the lights. I think we might even visit Santa. So far, Dino Land is their favorite... As for this weekend, we'll be working around the house.

I hope you have a very happy weekend! Here are some fun links you might enjoy.

The 13 greatest food towns in America. Of course Boston made the list.

9 books to read this fall. Yes Please is one of them.

Enter to win a kid's library!

I think this is a great idea....therapy dogs for college students.

13 stores that will NOT open on Thanksgiving.

5 reasons to leave the house this weekend. (Boston style.)

November 13, 2014

Yes Please

I was hooked the moment I started to read Amy Poehler's new book Yes Please. But I bought this book on a whim. I haven't watched SNL on a regular basis since I was in college. I've never seen an episode of Parks and Recreation (although it may end up on my Netflix list soon). And even though we both graduated in the 80s, I'm a tad older than Ms. Poehler. I was drawn to her book for two reasons: 1. I knew I could expect more than a few laughs. 2. She's from Boston and we stick with our own. Whether or not homegrown celebs are making it or breaking it, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Mark Walberg, Steve Carell, and Ellen Pompeo, to name a few, will always be among my list of favorites.

So, I sat down to read this book and had no idea what else to expect. Just check out the back cover alone to get a sense of what you're in for. Were there laughs? A ton. Was it quirky? Absolutely. But it was also filled with beautiful sentiments and poignant stories. There are no seamless segues from one chapter to the next, she just dives right in and goes! Here are a few of my favorites.

As she regales her college years, she admits that she (like the rest of us) had no idea what she really wanted to do once she was finished.

"Instead of asking students to 'declare their major' we should ask students to 'list what
they will do anything to avoid.' It just makes sense."

On comedy and human emotion after finding out her ob-gyn just died while shooting SNL the day before she's about to deliver her first child.

         "Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your
life and that extreme right turn is the reason we are alive, and I believe it extends our
life by many years."

Seth Meyers writes a chapter. There's a printed birthing plan. Her parents chime in. There are letters, emails, snippets of scripts, and a list of reasons why we cry on an airplane. It's real and raw and incredibly entertaining.


What are you reading?

DIY Weekend: Company's Coming

Company's coming so it's time to pull out those extra chairs, tables, linens, and dishes. However, there's plenty of time to pull off a little magic and create this Hairpin Leg table (in any size you'd like) featured on Going Home to Roost. If you don't have old wood to use, read how to make new wood look old over at Paper Daisy Designs.

Welcome guests into your home with this beautiful console table from Shanty 2 Chic. She even shows you how to make the mirror. (Visit this site! It's filled with enough DIY projects to keep you busy until next Thanksgiving.)

Feeling a bit more ambitious? How about a new dining table? This Anthropologie knock-off only cost $60 to duplicate. This one was built by Jess at Homevolution. (Plans by Ana White.)

And here are a couple more. Update your lighting with 17 different light fixture how-tos from HomeTalk. Really make them feel welcome with one of these 16 DIY bedframes for your guestroom from The Budget Decorator.