Category Archives: Making

Even February


has its moments of glad brightness.


Rough Draft

The boys and I spent the last hour of our morning doing a little writing yesterday. We’re not doing anything much in the way of formal learning this summer. Joshua and Sam are voracious readers anyway, and summer gives us more time for art making, soldier fort building, and marathon Lego construction. Monopoly and Yahtzee cover math and probability. All that’s left is a little word play.

We sat a few minutes in our breezy living room, jotting down our strongest sense associations with summer. What smells, tastes, sights, textures and sounds are the essence of summer to us? Then we spent a few more minutes shaping those into free verse poetry. In the spirit of process over product, and still smiling over the easy fun of those moments, I’ll share the rough draft of my contribution:

Summer Comes

Summer comes and calls

from the sliding screen and I follow

her out, closing the door with a snap,

metal on metal.

She is all flickering leaf shadows,

chemical cocktail of bug spray, sunscreeen.

She’s sweet-sour lemonade swallowed

all in one long icy gulp.

She dazzles my eyes with a riot of fuchsia roses,

the noon glare of the driveway,

the bright grassbound stars of daisies,

tethered to the long afternoon.

She follows me indoors

under the rhythmic wash of ceiling fan blades,

and sits at the still-sunlit supper table,

white plates and the sweet milky pops

of kernels bitten off corncobs.

As twilight finally creeps in

to our friends’ kitchen,

she is all blue

while outside the fireflies blink on,

falter off.

Tonight I’ll rest and tomorrow

summer will be waiting

crouched beyond the drawn shades

of another drowsy, sleep-in

June morning.

As I read over this first draft, I see perhaps only one or two phrases that will ultimately make it into a finished poem. But what I want to model for the boys, what I think may stretch beyond writing into this wholehearted living itself, is that we don’t wait for the one great wonderful idea to write the poem. We write, read, cook, make, to discover. The wonderful comes in the process, and sometimes the best part might not even be rows of words on a page, but the morning breeze, the focused faces, the flowers in the mason jars, the scratch of pencils and the imprint of memory.

Here At Home: Down the Hall, Bedrooms and Baths

Good morning. It is a drizzly, foggy morning here in SC, and I am feeling happy that all the pictures of the house were taken on slightly better natural light days. But we’ve been profoundly dry here most of the summer, so each shower overnight, each slow soaking in day is a gift.

Thanks for coming back for the conclusion of the house tour. Lots of pictures in this post, as I take you into the other part of the “L” that is our house, down the hall to bedrooms and baths.

Here’s where our boys sleep and play. I will tell you three things honestly:  I had cleaned the room the day this photo was taken, the photo is not very good, and the angle was carefully selected. But this room says something I’m passionate about in making home. I would not choose Nascar and monster trucks and images of the most fearsome Lord of the Rings scenes. I would not choose innumerable jars and rocks and shells and bottlecaps. But this is their space, to make theirs. A little spackle later is a small price to pay for their ever-changing self-expression.

Across the hall is one of our two bathrooms. It has gotten a light facelift type renovation, with a new floor and countertop and sink. But behind the white shower curtain lurks the original tub. It is lilac. Really.

Here’s another use for one of our old windows. I had one of my photos of the Middle Saluda river enlarged to poster size and just glued it to the back of the window frame.

On down the hall is our multi-pupose guest room.

A little but country. . .

and a little bit rock and roll.

Sorry, could not resist.

When the boys expressed an interest in learning drum set, it was time for John’s to come down from the attic. When we have company, they can go farther into the corner and be covered by a quilt, but in the meantime we need to live in our whole house, while we keep a welcoming space for guests.

Our guest space was created on a shoestring. My favorite project was this mirror, snagged at Goodwill for $8.50. I added the medallion and painted it cream.

Finally, across the hall is the master bedroom and bathroom.

Everywhere we have lived, it has been important to me that my and John’s private space be inviting, warm, and beautiful. It is easy to make the public spaces of a home lovely while neglecting those only family sees. Since the concept of “master bed and bath” was very different when our house was built in the early sixties, these are small rooms and tidiness and simplicity are a must. One of us makes the bed every morning because it takes up the whole room!

Our master bath did have to be professionally redone last year after we discovered that when we showered in it, a shower was happening in the crawl space as well. So our wonderful contractor gave us new walls, subfloor and shower stall, and John finished all the surfaces and installed the sink and toilet. It is tiny but works hard, since the boys prefer our shower to their purple palace down the hall! 🙂

Thank you for coming to our home over the last few days. It has been my joy to share it with you.

Like any home that represents the joys, pursuits and creations of living people, our home is never complete. “Done” and “Finished” may apply to individual projects, but never the home as a whole.

So do something new today–   frame a photograph, move a chair, make a corner for reading or knitting or making bread.  Making home is a joy and a journey, sometimes away from others’ expectations, catalogues and HGTV and into a space our own soul has been longing for.



Here at Home: Our Family Room

Good morning. It is a peaceful rainy start to Friday here in Upstate South Carolina. This home tour post is even a bit more “Here” than the others, since I am sitting in today’s room to type this post. Come on in to our family room.

This room did not get the same kind of major overhaul the kitchen received, but we have made a few changes. The sliding glass door was replaced when we got new windows, as well as the gas logs and surround for the fireplace. An old heavy brass hood with some kind of enclosed radiator made way for these black and glass doors that disappear when the fire is not in use. As you can imagine, this is the room we cozy up in in fall and winter, especially at night. And I love having a fireplace mantel to decorate for the seasons.”My end” of the sofa is by the lamp with the floral shade, which belonged to John’s grandmother and is one of my favorite things. Evenings find me there, reading, embroidering, or watching PBS, something on Netflix, or a West Wing DVD with John.

And here is the room with my back to the fireplace. The doorway on the left leads to the kitchen, and straight ahead goes into the foyer, or, with a right turn, down the hall to bedrooms and bathrooms. There’s the imac where I write posts, edit photos and loll in front of Pinterest. As a visually impaired person. i can tell you that the huge monitor has made so much of a difference in how much I enjoy working with my photos digitally.

This end of the room is clearly boy-central, with toy and book storage in the (on their last legs) laminate bookcases, their art on the wall, and a lego area with a table to build on and red bins full of creations in pieces, waiting to be dreamed up. And when you’re tired of playing legos? Beat out a rhythm on the practice pad with some drumsticks. 🙂

Sorry for the weird color in this picture–  it was a challenging day lighting-wise. This is a decor idea I reproduced after doing a version of it in our previous house. I masked off a rectangle with painter’s tape and painted it with a color complimentary to the Heavy Cream on the walls. In this case, it is a light caramel color called Pony Tail that we used in the boys’ room. I then gathered picture frames in silver and black (or made them silver or black with spray paint) and a few decorative objects with a slightly more weathered look to take the edge off the more modern feel of some of the frames. So this is a gallery of family pictures, some current and some vintage, but the painted area makes it a whole.

In decorating on a shoestring, often in the position of trying to make something work that is second hand, inherited or thrifted, or in re-imagining what I already have in a new way, I try to keep in mind balance and unity. A modern accessory on clearance from Target can perk up a tired antique and give it a little oomph. By the same token, the patina of an older object can warm up more functional pieces. And, as in the case of the painted rectangle that provides a landscape for the gallery wall, an intentional hand can bring together and unify disparate elements. It is just part of the dance of form and function, to add and subtract elements until the room feels right and works hard. And that equilibrium is intensely personal to the people who live and love and create in a home, and changes and shifts as our lives do.

Thanks for stopping by here at home. Have a make it real weekend!

Here at Home: Our Kitchen

My little house tour lands today in our kitchen. This is the room that has seen the most dramatic transformation since we moved into our house. The changes happened in a couple of large chunks, and were all DIY projects. Come on in!

Coming into our house from the carport, this is the view you’ll have of the kitchen. When we bought the house, the cabinets were dark wood and brown indoor/outdoor carpet covered the kitchen floor. (Don’t think too much about carpet in a kitchen.) The first summer we lived here, we ripped up the carpet and John laid our charcoal and ivory tile floor. As in intermediate, inexpensive step to brighten things, we painted the walls pale green and the cabinets ivory. At the time, where you see our stove, there was a cooktop with cabinets over it and a small built-in oven to the right.  In the second stage of renovation, eighteen months ago, we took out those overhead cabinets and the oven and cooktop, installed the range, and added the pendant lights. We painted the cabinets black because. . .

. . . we really needed to add more cabinet and counter space. There was no built in cabinetry in this corner of the kitchen, to the right of the door where you come in, so we added base cabinets from IKEA and created my baking center. We took one of the drawer fronts to Lowes and had the finish color-matched to black paint for the existing cabinetry. Silver retro hardware and new wood countertops unified old and new. (The framed picture is Julia Child. :-)) I chose a warm mellow gold for the walls.

So here is the kitchen from the other end, standing in the doorway of the living room. When we replaced the countertops we widened the peninsula to allow for a bar. We eat breakfast and lunch here, and I love to sit and plan menus here in the morning–  the room gets beautiful light. This is one of my favorite corners of the house, and where I recharge when I have a few moments. Since I am in the kitchen a lot, and there are so many necessary things that HAVE to be in a kitchen, I am very choosy about purely decorative things. We need to love what we give that visual real estate to.

These are a couple of recent additions.

I believe the folks at IKEA called this a bookcase, but it houses all our everyday dishes, larger serving pieces and a shelf of cookbooks.

When we need to replace our stove and dishwasher, we will go with black appliances instead of ivory. However, in the meantime, I am delighted with our remodel-in-stages. The kitchen works both harder and smarter for us now, and is a happy place. This is the view from the family room doorway,  where we’ll go tomorrow. Thanks for visiting our kitchen!

“September has come, It is hers whose vitality leaps in the autumn,


Whose nature prefers
Trees without leaves and a fire in the fire-place.”
– Louis MacNeice, “Autumn Journal”
       Something in me both eased and awakened this weekend as the air cooled, for though this is the nineteenth day of September on the calendar, the soul of the month arrived Friday in upstate South Carolina. All weekend I felt a renewed joy in our home, in cooking and nesting. In orange and gold and red and rust. In music and words and all the simple joys these four walls hold like a basket.
      So, this week here at A Daily Portion, some photos of our home. Not because this is a decorating blog, or because we live in a model showplace. I’ve turned my lens to our spaces because this is where so much of my making goes, into making this home warm and welcoming and comfortable for our family and for those to whom we open it. I know that an atmosphere of calm, beauty order and creativity contributes to our family life. This can be done without a lot of money or professional help, but at the same time, I recognize that having time and resource to devote to a space is a luxury in and of itself. Comfort and stewardship of what we have are uncomfortable questions, especially since we found our church home this spring. Our eyes have been opened as never before to the weight of our blessing, the depth of our responsibility, but we are just beginning to navigate those deep waters as a family.
     But in thinking about sharing our spaces here, I realized something much more simple. I want to share my surroundings because I’m here so much. This is where I write from, cook from, read and make from. Since I cannot drive, especially during the week, I’m here. And for those of you who stop by A Daily Portion, I wanted to open the door, ask you in, share our personal family canvas.
     So, see you tomorrow. Here at home.

Make It Real Monday

This post title sounds a lot like the beginning of a series. We’ll see. . . I would love a regular place to report back on my efforts to better connect online and offline living. This is coinciding with my annual autumnal desire to clear out some of the half-finished projects and stray materials hanging around as I cozy up the house for colder weather. I’m also trying new recipes and crafts in a back-to-school quickening of curiosity that always comes with this time of year.

So, today’s project is a general response to all the creative photo displays I’ve seen all over the web. Gone are the days when our only option is a traditional frame or photo album. I wanted to create a display of my nature photography that could change out seasonally. And I wanted to spend very little money. I’ll take you through my steps.

  1. When we installed a closet organizer in the boys’ closet some time ago, we had a couple of long boards that had been shelves. One was cut down to become another shelf in the bathroom closet, but my husband cut the remaining pieces into squares for me. They are 11 1/2 inches square. The longer, wider piece of wood is a shelf from a kitchen cart we used to have. I kept it with some kind of art project in mind.
  2. All the boards were already primed with white paint. I sprayed them with Krylon black spray paint, satin finish.  When they were dry, I lightly sanded the edges to give them a slightly weathered look. (The edges were pretty rough, so this made them seem intentional. 🙂
  3. I had several of my favorite nature photographs from last autumn printed as 8 inch by 8 inch prints at Costco.
  4. I measured to center the photos on the square wooden pieces, and positioned them where I wanted on the longer board. A bit of gluestick held them in place while I tapped in sliver upholstery tacks. I’ll be hanging the trio together once I get John’s vote on a location.
  5. The oblong piece will be part of my autumn mantel with some river rocks and candles.

Total cost for this project was about $12. I had the wood, the photos were $1.49 each, the spray paint about $3.50, and the tacks came 30 to a package for $1.

This was a fun project that came together quickly. Very satisfying for a first Make It Real.

So, what are you making real today?