Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not's a canvas for our own talents, to remake it...

Rethink, reuse, re-purpose...that's what we hear all the time. It's ingrained in our brains through what we read, watch on television, hear on our radio shows and it's become a way of life for most of us. I'm not talking about household trash...I'm talking about what we find when we "shop" in our attics, basements, find in our parents and neighbors toss-aways and of course, our own neighborhood flea markets.

How cool is it that we can completely transform our homes, offices and weekend get-aways with things we find along the way? It doesn't take much money, doesn't tax our checkbooks. You don't have to be a designer to get a great look in your home, you just have to be able to see beyond the obvious. Simply put, you have to have an imagination. That, my friends, is free. You cultivated it when you were a child. Every time you made a "Barbie" house from cardboard boxes or a highway with the dirt in your backyard, you used your imagination.

Over the years, some of us have lost that talent and replaced it with the notion that what we need is somehow, for sale somewhere. The "do-it-yourself" in us has disappeared and we've left it to someone else to design and sell what we need to complete or homes and living spaces. We settle for less when everything is pre-made and available for us. Our vision isn't quite complete, and we change it because of what's available at the moment.

What would happen, if you envisioned a room and then, by yourself, made it happen? We see pictures of beautifully styled homes in magazines and on all of the how-to shows on television. HGTV has excellent shows that give us a step-by-step on how to turn a flea market or dumpster find into a wonderfully stylish piece that only you know where it comes from.

Auctions, garage sales, tag sales and flea markets are always on my list. A little paint or stain, adding a little something here and there or taking something off here and there and you have something unique! You can always find that special something at an antique store or antique show but some of the fun has already been taken out of the hunt. Yes, I do go to the shows and sales when I can, but I generally go to the tag and garage sales. Prices are better, it's a nice ride on a warm day and when you look at things not as they are, but as they could be, well then it's a good day all the way around.

Garage sales are the best way to find vintage items at reasonable prices. Usually, the items are in good used condition and being 'vintage' and not antique, it's more reasonable to re-make the item into something that is more useful or more in keeping to your lifestyle and needs. Tools are not always required. Old wood step stools stacked can be an awesome sofa or bedside table. Find a great table top and make it into a shelf or a 'new' table with salvaged legs found at another outing. An old farm style kitchen table can be shortened and made into a great coffee table. Wooden crates make interesting shelves or a hutch top on a desk.

My point is...nothing is simply trash. It is true that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Rely on your imagination and see things as they can be. It's an interesting way to live and nothing is as it seems... :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A cup of coffee and ebay...memory trip through childhood

This morning started like many Sunday mornings for me. I wake up, get my mug of coffee and spend a little time online reading posts and 'shopping' on ebay. I don't always buy, but research and window shopping is almost as much fun for me.

I have my usual haunts on ebay...favorite searches, favorite sellers, but then something will pop into my head and off I go on a mission. Something arbitrary, like Cinderella Watch, and I'm off and running. I almost always find what I'm looking for and it amazes me to find that someone, somewhere has a Cinderella watch just like the one I had when I was in kindergarten (unfortunately, someone stole it from my cubby, go figure) and it's for sale, complete with the little statue of Cinderella!

I love searching for toys I had when I was a child. I thought about my sister, who had gotten a Tiny Thumbelina doll for her birthday (or maybe it was Christmas) when she was a youngster. It had the string in the back (that made it move like a 'real' baby) and she carried that doll around from the time she could walk. It got so ragged that my Mom and Dad had to get her a new one to replace it. Then she carried that one around for another couple of years.

Wasn't she very surprised that I found one so many years later, exactly like the one she had. I emailed her a picture. You can imagine how many stories she would have for her daughter when they talked about it. My niece is nine now and that was couple of years ago.

I found a couple of dolls that my Mom had when she was a child. I can't say how long ago that was, she'd have a fit, but suffice it to say, it was a while ago. She had one that was a "Magic Skin" doll. It was kind of cool, but not in very good shape, but I showed her and she confirmed that it was pretty close to the one she had. She was astonished to see one of those again!

I decided, a couple of years ago, to replace some of the "Barbie" Dolls I had when I was a kid. I bought a few, traded up when I could and even found some of the outfits I had for my teenaged dolls. I had "Bubblecut Barbie", "Midge" of course (I had to have someone for Barbie to interact with) and even had a "Francie" doll, Barbie's cousin, that had a long ponytail that would grow or shorten at my whim! Fantastic! I scored and found one of each and a couple of outfits. I have them put away and when my niece is older and able to understand their importance, she'll have them.
Another doll that had special meaning to me was a doll named "Penny Brite". I got Penny Brite when I was five years old, from Santa, and had clothes and plenty of other 'necessities' for a little youngster doll that looked a little like Shirley Temple, come to think of it. I found one of those too! It now has a special place, along with my Barbie's.
It's fun, to take a memory trip through your childhood and it's easy via the ebay highway. Sometimes I just look and I buy occasionally. Either way, its a nice way to pass the time while I sip on a good cup of coffee.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living History

I'm not a soapbox talker, not a political voice. I am only an American. Just a voter who, after many elections, and many changes in political leanings, can say our country really is a magical, wonderful place.

How many countries can say that they have a political system that actually works? Our country, after generations, has elected someone to lead us, that even a generation ago, wouldn't have been able to sit at the counter in a restaurant, drink from the same font of water, sit in the front of a bus, let alone be the leader of the most powerful, progressive, and free country, the United States of America.

I grew up in a small rural town populated of mostly white families. My graduation class of about 100, had no black students in attendance. There were only 2 black families in town at the time and I can honestly say, that those families were treated no different, the children were just 'students', not black students. I saw no difference, felt no difference, heard no difference. This was during the 60's and 70's...can you believe it?

I'm so proud to think that America has grown up enough to see no differences, at least none that would prevent a black man from becoming our President. I feel privileged to have been able to witness the inauguration this afternoon. To see that, yes, we are America, land of the free. The land of equal opportunity, people who are free thinkers, people who are able to speak freely and without recrimination. The country that was founded upon the notion that the basic rights of people are held most sacred and that we are all governed by the same laws regardless of race, religion or creed.

I don't know what drives a man, or woman to want to put their families and themselves in the political arena, especially as the President of the country. To enable comedians and the media (and therefore the people that support those people and institutions) to exploit them and the office that they hold. Although I realize that there is something called free speech, it irritates me when the media or a comedian publicly ridicules our president. Regardless of whether we voted for or agree with the one who has been elected, isn't it our duty as countrymen and women, to respect them? For heaven's sakes, they have given up their freedom, and their families freedom to lead our country and the least we can do is give them a little respect. the is history that we are living. Our great country has come along way since Lincoln's time and I think he would weep with pride to think that we have grown so much and that he had something to do with it. The world should take a lesson from this great country that has done so much to help, is so sympathetic and who puts someone else's needs before our own. Just think how far we've come as a nation, in so many short years........

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday, family day

Sunday morning is a family time for us. For the past, I'd say about 15 years or so, we've all gathered at my parents house for family "catch up" time. By family, I mean not only our relative family, but also those who we've sort of adopted as honorary family members. Those honorary members are those friends that are so close and so well thought of, that we love them as family members.

My immediate family, my brother and his wife and 2 sons, my sister and her husband, son and daughter when they are in town, various Uncles and Aunts and my Grandmothers when they were alive, all show up anywhere between 9 and noon for coffee and various donuts, muffins and cookies. Our family friends join us as often as possible and my great friend Wendy is in attendance almost every Sunday as well. It's casual, lively and always fun!

The whole thing started when we were kids and my Uncles and Grandparents would come over after church for coffee and often stay for dinner. As we grew up and went our own ways, it became a way for us to keep in touch with each other as our busy lives took over and it became more and more difficult to talk on a daily basis. We celebrate birthdays and special occasions on Sundays so it was just easier to do it on Sunday mornings.

My Mom's friends have commented to her many times throughout the years how great it is that we all still show up and wonder how she does it. It's not that she asks us to come, we just do it, mainly for ourselves and the family connection that, I think, is lacking in so many families. Don't get me wrong, there are times that for some reason or another, some of us can't, but we make it almost every week. Even my Uncle comes every week and when he doesn't its usually because he's working or has something going on with his own family.

I can't tell you how nice it is to know my family and how unfortunate whose are who don't. I wonder how unusual it is, that after all these years, we still come together on a Sunday morning, sit around the dining room table and just talk? I am so thankful that we do...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not Done Yet...!

Well, shiver me timbers...literally! It's freezing here! The temperature dropped 20 degrees in the last hour or so...a cold front came through blowing the wind and snow making it difficult to see the hand in front of your face. Apparently, just to prove her point (that it is winter, after all and she can blow in and control us whenever the whim suits her) , Mother Nature decided to show up in force and humble her followers.

We're not slated to get a lot of snow...just an inch or two, but it's supposed to be really windy and bitter, bitter cold...Brrrrrr.....

I'm going to be dreaming of a warm spring tonight! :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oh...wonderful Sunday......

What is it about a lazy Sunday afternoon that clears the head and rejuvenates the body? I wasn't really feeling well this weekend so I decided to take it easy. I made 'Zuppa Toscana" the soup that I love from The Olive Garden restaurant. I found the recipe online a few years ago and it really warms me up on these very cold days.

It's been freezing out these past few days and more cold weather to come. A look at the thermometer tells me it's only 9 degrees out and the weather report promises that it isn't going to warm up much over the next week. No snow, however today, and there was sunshine part of the day.

I spent the day cleaning and figuring out what to do this winter. I'm waiting patiently for the garden catalogs to come and planning, hopefully, for a sort of patio in the side yard. I've got all winter to dream about it, plan and come to some sort of decision about it.

Back to the office I ready to go, no, but go I must...someone has to pay the bills...:-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Small Town Traditions...

Here I am again...watching the snow fall. The weather report promises that we will accumulate at least 7 more inches of the white stuff. I don't really's warm and cozy in my living room. I don't have anywhere I have to go and am happy to sit back and watch it happen. My only wish is that I had a fireplace. I mean, my house is over 100 years old, you'd think there would be one, wouldn't you?

My house was originally a farmhouse. The land around here was mostly farmland and the village (which is only about 1/4 mile from my house) was vastly different. I've read up on the history of Jamesville and it was a very important stagecoach stop between Albany and Rochester/Buffalo. My town had 3 or 4 small hotels and the train station is still in existence.

Although the train still rumbles through here several times a day, it doesn't stop here. The "Depot" is now a community center. It's a beautiful building which now is the meeting center for the Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and various other clubs and groups.

In the summer and spring the local garden club makes sure that the building's planters are overflowing with a sea of colorful flowers. They are also the caretakers of our small but beautiful little park in the center of town. You can find those dedicated and talented growers out there like clockwork every Wednesday and Saturday mornings...weeding, watering and tending to their flowers as if they were precious jewels and they were the only ones who could care for them properly.

Of course, as the seasons change, so do the flowers. Early spring finds the crocus, peaking their tiny little heads up through the snow and reaching for the sun with all the strength they have. Later, just in time for the Memorial Day Parade, the tulips and daffodils are in full color.

In summer the Clematis and Trumpet vines are making their brave journey upwards and over the porch columns of the Depot and perhaps, if it's a good year, over the top to the roof!

Autumn finds the planters and gardens in rusty red, and orangey yellow colored mums. Baskets of pumpkins are on the porch and the leaves are like a painting of reds, yellows and orange.

The first weekend of December brings the tree lighting ceremony. They call it 'Light Up Jamesville' and garden club is at it again. This time stringing the tiny star like white lights on the trees in the park. The "Depot" is lit in a riot of colored lights that outline the entire building and they have already strung the tall evergreen tree that is in the side yard with twinkle lights guaranteed to make every child giggle with the delight and wonder of Christmas. Santa Claus comes, listens intently to each and every child and then hot chocolate and cookies are served.

Unfortunately, I miss the celebration of the lights every year as all the town businesses have agreed to stay open through the celebration (partly to offer an open door and a place to warm up) and I will be found in the Antique Shop with my friend Chris, offering hot mulled cider and cookies to the families that look for shelter from the cold. The choir from the church wanders through town (and stops in all the shops) Christmas caroling. It's a wonderful time and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Chris owns the shop and I fill in for her on weekends when she needs to take a couple of days off or team up with her when we have an event such as this celebration.

So, by now about 3 inches of snow has fallen and the thermometer reads 12 degrees. I'm warm and content, my cat, Coco is fast asleep and it's well past 11 pm. It's been nice to remember the wonderful things I love about my small town and the people in it, but now it's time I tucked myself in for the night.

Friday, January 9, 2009

After the storm....

The snow storm total, in my neck of the woods, was about knee high. Other places, not even far from me, had more and even other areas had less. That's the thing about "Lake Effect Snow", it varies town to town, street to street. I can drive only 3 1/2 miles, and as verified yesterday, and the totals will be different.

The sun was shining brightly this morning as if nothing had even happened yesterday! Glittering like diamonds, the snow drifts were undulations of white and blue shadow. BEAUTIFUL! The skies were clear and blue, no clouds, no indication of the havoc Mother Nature created on the previous day. Nothing is more spectacular than snow piled up on far reaching tree branches against a brilliant blue sky and a carpet of pure white snow.

I wrote a poem about the first snow of the season a few years ago, and although it's not our first snow, I remembered it this morning. Enjoy!

First Snow
It falls aimlessly from the sky,
slowly, gracefully and without a plan.
Light, sparkling stars wandering towards the earth,
form a fluffy covering over the leafless trees and frozen ground.
But it’s a comforting site, the fresh wintry layer of glistening snow,
with it, comes memories of lazy Sunday afternoons by a warm a cozy fire,
hot cocoa and snuggling happily while watching through the frosted windows
as the snow falls and covers everything in sight
in a perfect, pristine blanket of white.

Tamara J. E.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it SNOW!

Last night I checked the weather report, which is what every person around here does before they lay their head down for a long winter's night. The prediction was snow (not unusual) and a lot of it (again, not unusual). I knew I was prepared, as prepared as one could be, and turned off the news and was in dreamland in a NY minute.

The radio alarm went off at exactly 5am. I have to use the radio instead of the BEEP, BEEP alarm because it never wakes me up. I tend to incorporate the beep sound into my dreams and happily continue the dream, usually incorporating it as a phone ringing or something, which never wakes me. I also have to turn the radio to a hip-hop station because the music annoys me and I will eventually hear it and arise seconds after hearing the roaring of the beat.

First thing I did was check out the window and to my surprise, it wasn't too bad. I had about an inch or so on my car and I thought to myself, whew, dodged another one!!! I switched on the news and heard the dreaded words "LAKE EFFECT SNOW BANDS"! They were on the way and would be here just about the time I was going to hit the road.

Now, usually lake effect snow comes from the Lake Ontario area, but today we were getting a double whammy. The snow was coming from Lake Ontario and Lake Erie! Both would converge on our fair city metro area and we would be engulfed off and on throughout the entire day and it would probably last until Friday around noon. Jeez, does it ever end?

After about 45 minutes or so, showering and getting ready for work (I leave a few minutes before 7, but always leave enough time, just in case..). I opened the door and heard a scraping sound. Walking outside, I rounded the corner toward the driveway and my lovely, wonderful (just retired) neighbor was out there cleaning up the driveway. He had already brushed off my car and was now clearing the snow that had accumulated at the end of my drive. Now, I need to tell you that the dreaded "LAKE EFFECT SNOW" had already started and it was like a winter wonderland out there...not the nice kind, the kind that makes you tremble with fear that you might get stranded on the highway, and if you cannot get out of your car because the next car to go by you, may not see you in the blinding snow.

After a short but heartfelt "Thank you" he told me I should get on the road, drive safe and to 'keep an eye' on his tax dollars (That's a sort of joke in the neighborhood. They all seem to think I have some 'say' in how it's spent...we all know better...).

I put it in drive, said my "hope I get there in one piece" prayer and I was off! I cannot explain how hairy the drive was. You know how in a snow globe it snows down gently like feathers from heaven? Well, take it from was nothing like that. The snow came fast and furious and because it was still dark (even more than usual because of the clouds and snow) it was kind of mesmerizing. The snow, when it's coming at that rate, sort of looks like it's coming straight at you and you have no where to go but forward. You couldn't change your mind and turn around because the fear that the person coming might not see you and send you into a spin, is almost as bad as the driving itself.

The first 3 1/2 miles of my 7 mile trip was the worst I've had to drive in yet this year. It seemed to take a lifetime...then, the snow slowed and the roads were clear, less slippery and looking around, I realized that the "LAKE EFFECT SNOW BAND" had not reached this point and perhaps the rest of my journey would, maybe (cross your fingers) be safe and not so treacherous.

I was right! The rest of the drive to work was uneventful and honestly, fairly easy. It's funny how 'LAKE EFFECT SNOW" is so picky about where and when it'll land. It's nasty, scary and annoying at the very least. It's a dirty word around here. Nobody moves to Central NY hoping to live the lake snow experience. But, on a good day, it can be a cozy and warm and a great way of life. I mean, we live here don't we? We choose to stay and since we grew up with it and it's challenges, we've realized that it's just a way of life. The other seasons are wonderful...and SNOW season, isn't that bad on the whole. You get used to it, plan for it and plan around it. It's great to get snowed in at home, it's...not so get snowed in at the office. It's a fact of life around here.

So, off I go....I'll watch the 11pm news report tonight...figure out how much snow we'll get overnight and another day will dawn...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Welcome...come on in...

I thought I'd just write a quick introduction. My name is Tami (short for Tamara) and I' my late 40's. I work in an office atmosphere, but it's not a typical setting. It's a great place to go when I'm not home. Everybody has to pay the bills and I got lucky and landed a job in a great department that I don't dread going to every day. The people are great and the work is interesting.

I read blogs all the time, but only recently decided to write one. I do love writing (poetry, short stories) and thought I'd give it a try. goes nothing, come in, sit a spell and let's see if I can entertain you, inform you on subjects that interest me and I might know a little about and finally...let's see if writing blog this is as fun as I think it might be!


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