Sunday, January 30, 2011

Groundhog's Birthday Party

My husband's birthday is February 2, so Groundhog's Day has always been a big holiday in our house. One year I planned a surprise trip to Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania to attend the big festival but something came up and we had to cancel.  What fun I had planning that trip - planes, trains and automobiles would have been needed (it isn't as simple as the movie makes it out to be.)  We will do it someday just to see the ice shavings fly, the elegant top hats and that pixie-pert rascal rodent, Phil!  So, in the absence of the real Punxsutawny Phil, this year I invited him to Rob's birthday dinner.  Table featured Phil peaking out among magnolia branches in the centerpiece.  How cute is he? (Purchased for $6 on the Official Groundhog's Day online Souvenir shop
 Phil on a little transferware pastry plate surrounded by river rocks and candlelight, that's how I picture the Puxsutawny Groundhog's Festival.  A rodent to get behind and love!
 I just love his little hands coming together as if saying, "Hmmm... I'm not quite sure if Spring is about to come...statistics can be deceptive" or "Sorry chappies, but Winter shall prlongre" or  "methinks Spring is in the offing, nigh and imminent."  He just has that sagacious professor look about him.
 It was also fun to preview my new dishes, Homer Laughlin Magnolia Burgundy, in this tablescape. I wanted to keep it earthy, use natural elements to compliment the tiger-oak wood in my Arts & Crafts table.

The glasses I use with my red transferware works with this set as well. The delicate & strong contrasts and compliments, like those elements in nature.
The Groundhog Souvenir site also featured chocolate Phil-Pops, so I tucked them into wooden napkin rings (99 cent store find!) and soft cream napkins picked up after Christmas sale. I associate magnolia blossoms with the heavenly soft petals I remember in Granny Annie's giant frontyard tree. I wanted to stroke their softness but knew that my touch would discolor their beauty so I held back and admired them from afar, learning that sometimes beautiful things need delicate restraint.

Way too serious for a meal with a chocolate rodent tucked into the napkin....

 I'll leave you with some factoids about Groundhog's day found on
1. Yes, Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just imposters.
2. There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil.  Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking “groundhog punch” (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life.
3. On February 2nd, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the world, to predict the weather for the rest of the winter.
4. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
5. No, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogese. His proclamation is then translated for the world.
6.  The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.
7.  Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob made on February 2nd, 1887. In 2008 it will be the 122nd prediction.
8.  So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.

but especially to my husband, Rob.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You say porch, I say deck

Rob said, "What is our next house project?"  I said, "Refreshing the porch!"  Rob said, "We have a porch?"  "The deck!  The deck!'  After months of Between Naps on the Porch viewing, I have come to think of our Southern California deck, as a Southern Porch.  Nonetheless, it is time to refresh the deck/porch.  So on January 23, I took before pictures.  The deck has seen better days.

January 23, 2011: Began Refreshing the Backyard Deck

The plan:
Clean, clean, clean!
• Recover the cushions
Replace the muslin drapes with bamboo shades
• Take down the gazebo Christmas lights
• Replace the gazebo light missing glass
• Replace the house lights
Replace the door mat
• Replace the rug - buy three rattan rugs that match (perhaps)
Purchase a table (temporary ok until after summer sales)
• Frame the outside windows with white or black shutters or something else wonderful
• Replant pots
Move the potting bench
Scrub the tile table
Spray all furniture and CLEAN
Lightly sand wood to get rid of splinters
• Purchase great table

A plan began to evolve!  I love this stage of dreaming and action.

Refreshing the deck includes finding the perfect table. I know what I want - a rectangular, aluminum table with either a tile or lattice top. I don't want glass since our Southern California deck needs to weather 110+ degrees in the summertime. But I haven't found it yet.  It is early in the patio furniture offerings and even earlier in the sales. Perhaps I should wait for the after season sales and find something as a transition table.  Sort of like a table with training wheels as I prepare for PERFECTION.

SO, yesterday while at the end of the month sale at the Salvation Army (1/2 Off EVERYTHING - and it's a donation!), I found a glass patio table for $25 - that's $12.50 with the 1/2 off sale if you're doing the math!  Of course I bought it.  Now I can continue my deck refresh, planning with a table that I can use until I officially fall in love with table perfection.

Welcome home, Salvation table. On the deck waiting to be loved and refreshed.
Today I will clean, clean, clean the Salvation table, and spray paint the base and sides to match my other furniture.
 Deck gazebo piled with deck furniture waiting to be cleaned.  Note the canvas drapes desperate to be replaced with bamboo shades.
 Base scrubbed into submission.
 Glass table top among other deck furniture waiting to be scrubbed with OXYCLEAN.
 OXYCLEAN to the rescue.  This is a green product that won't cause havoc on the aviaries that are below our deck.  We practice green cleaning and gardening as much as possible ..... backyard registered as a National Wildlife Habitat.
 Rub-a-dub-dub on the deck!  We keep it natural wood for lots of reasons but also try to keep it clean and mildew free. 
 Progress made!

 After a good Oxyclean and steel-wool massage, Salvation table received two coatings of Satin Chocolate Brown Spray Paint. 

 I'm so pretty!
 While the paint dried, we hung the new bamboo Roman blinds, needed to keep the bright sun off the deck and allow for privacy when needed.
 Newly scrubbed tile table hosts bird eggs and nesting box.
 Felt a tablescape coming on...grabbed my Pier 1 bird dishes and flowers from last weeks table for a quick photo op.
Love the yellow, greens and pinks in the late afternoon January light.
 Sun beginning to set on a day and project progressed but not yet finished. 
 Potting bench acting in the role of backstage prop table.
 Stage set for tomorrow's potting and snacking.
 The gazebo begins to sleep....Ruby is way ahead on the napping.
As Shakespeare wrote, "To sleep, perchance to dream."  Sleep well sweet Ruby and dream of deck delights to come. Thank you for keeping us company today, dear girl.

P.S.  Sunday morning, we awoke to gentle raindrops but enough resolve to put the table back together.  I'd say my husband did a great job on metamorphising this Salvation table! She will see us through for a while ... until we meet Table Perfection.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fly Away Dinner

How do you know when it is time to fly the nest, leave your comfortable hometown filled with childhood friends, parents, sisters, bookclubs and mommy and me meet-ups?  Last weekend, I prepared a going away dinner for two young attorneys that I've known since one of them was my high school student who have decided that it is time to move away, start a law firm together in an area that they love but is three hours away from "home."  In the spirit of adventure and flying away, the table theme - birds and adventure!

I found these plates at Pier 1 and sort of "yelped" for joy. My dining room is painted this color and my husband raises birds for local bird stores so collecting birdie stuff always delights me.  The plates called "Indonesia" sell for $5 and come in yellow, green and red.  I first bought a pair of each three colors, returned them, liking best all in yellow.
I mixed in the bird plates with an old KMart purchased Gibson fruit embossed plates and servingware that I've had since 1985, purchased set of 8 for $23.99!  I kept the price tag on the box so that it can delight me whenever I see it on the shelf.
 Another "yelp" escaped me when I happened upon these amber stemmed water goblets made by Clay Art.  Very delicate blown glass.

Fun opportunity to use my bird napkin rings found at Z Gallerie many years ago.  Birds, on sale and in my favorite green!  Had to have them.

Catalina pottery yellow vase, votive candles for sparkle, birdie salt and pepper shakers, flowers from neighbor as a thank you for babysitting adorable children.

I couldn't resist sharing this homemade ice cream porch party!  Theo and Paloma.  They call me "Robin" because they come to visit "Rob and CJ"  so somehow that became "Robin."  Love that!
I digress.  Back to Birds in Flight dinner. One of the couples coming for dinner happen to be vegetarians so I opted for a pasta dinner, one with meat, the other without. The tablecloth I've also had for years, puchased at Home Goods for those lovely Spring tablescapes.

The pasta decision, led to an anitpasta choice and opportunity to use other bird inspired treasures.

 These sweet little plates from Home Goods, 222 Fifth "Early Bird" $2.99 were perfect for the walking buffet.  I don't usually like using paper napkins, but I couldn't resist the charm of these garden birds.
Anytime I can work in this little vase found years ago in a flea market, it makes me smile.  "With a new day, come new strength and new thoughts."  ~Eleanor Roosevelt.  So with that thought, I sent my adventuring young friends, off to their new life, wishing them grand times and success with Baltadano and Baltadano Law!  Here's to new life, may we all be open to adventure!