Thursday, August 15, 2013

She Is Too Fond of Books: My Summer Reading

I haven’t read as much as I typically do this summer. I’ve had other things on my mind.

In fact, I have not been able to settle into summer this year, and I feel the loss of it. Instead of enjoying the moments here at the cabin, I've continually looked into the future, to our return trip and a new house.

While I was peering anxiously ahead, the future crept up behind me. We leave tomorrow.

I still fit in some reading and have a few noteworthy titles I can pass along to you:

Two books I attempted to read and just couldn’t (nothing against the books; it was just me):
  • The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling
  • The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge

Mostly, though, I’ve been perusing decorating magazines and ripping out pages that appeal to me. I have a whole house renovation awaiting me when I get back home. To the home I’ve never seen, that is.

Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been able to focus on reading for pleasure this summer. Duh.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ambleside Online: The Perfect Fit for Our Family

I love a literary-based education, and Ambleside Online fills the bill for our family. Read my review of Ambleside Online and why we use it for our foundational curriculum at Curriculum Choice!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Power and Necessity of Human Touch

“It’s this way,” my dear friend said, smiling over her shoulder at us. Miss Priss and I followed her from the waiting room into a hive of activity. Pedicure clients lined the wall to the left, feet soaking, buffing, sloughing, and toenails filing. To the right were manicure tables and hair stylist chairs, some occupied, others waiting for the next clients. And everywhere students dressed in black moved purposefully, carrying tools of the trade, chatting with clients, mixing mysterious potions, talking with each other, comparing notes.

My friend and the fellow student she’d introduced to us opened a door and instantly everything changed. The hubbub of the cosmetology part of the school disappeared as the door closed behind us. We entered the realm of the aestheticians-in-training. Delicious scents enticed us. Piano music enveloped us. And a sense of calm descended upon us.

Miss Priss and I smiled at each other. We had come for facials.

Within a few moments, we were besmocked and swaddled in blankets atop comfy padded tables, our hair pulled back and protected by towels. By a happy stroke of fortunate timing, Miss Priss and I were the only clients there.

And then the loveliness began.


We seem to be losing the beauty of human touch in our culture. Too often, touching is seen as a negative, something forced upon us, unwanted, perhaps even violent.

Touching is even discouraged. Teachers can no longer hug their students. Strangers lean away from one another. The fear of misinterpretation immobilizes us.

Human touch has been relegated to Displays of Affection Only. And what a loss. We crave touch. Babies from whom human touch is withheld fail to thrive. Those who live alone wither either in spirit or in body and often in both without the benefit – the benediction – of another’s touch.

This fact comes home to me clearly when I’ve served food to homeless men in a church shelter downtown. Many of them, young and old, squeeze my hand in thanks when they come to the kitchen window for second helpings. They don’t have to. Some just say thank you. Some simply smile. Others, however, reach out and grasp my hand, giving my fingers a light squeeze. For a second we connect and then part, both of us a strengthened by even such brief contact.

My friend says that quite a few of their aesthetics clients are elderly and frail. They often express quiet gratitude to her at the end of their treatments. “Oh, thank you,” they sigh, as she helps them to sit up. She wonders about them. Do they live alone? Are they lonely? Who takes care of them? More importantly, who cares for them?

As I lay quietly on the table and my precious friend’s fingertips lightly skimmed over my skin, it came to my mind that aestheticians are in the enviable position of ministering to others through touch. In a time when so many of us are hampered, hindered by fears, suspicions, and, frankly, the concern of being misunderstood, aestheticians and others in such professions freely give us what we yearn for, what we need: human touch.

To each client they say without words, I acknowledge you as a fellow human being worthy of my time and consideration and compassion. They understand and take seriously the gift they have to impart to others. Their hands bestow a temporary peace. A blessing.

Photo credit: <a href="">Tamara van Molken</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My First Experience with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

But definitely not my last. I love this stuff. I have read about it quite a bit over the last year, especially on blogs like Savvy Southern Style and Miss Mustard Seed. I love those blogs!

But when it comes to decorating, I’m a big weenie. So I had a few qualms about painting the hutch at our cabin. What if it looks terrible? What if I hate it? I’m painting over stained wood here – there’s no going back once that first stroke is made.

Pulls and knobs removed.

Regardless of my fears, I decided to tackle the hutch this summer, after years of thinking about it. Armed with ASCP in Old White and a tin of her soft wax in clear (oh, and a paint brush), I went to work.

First I wiped down the entire piece with a damp cloth and let it dry. Then I removed all the knobs and drawer pulls. I left all the doors on and simply painted over the hinges. For a seamless look, you know. Also, I didn’t want to deal with removing doors and hinges. I can be lazy that way.

ASCP’s wonderful formulation allows you to skip all prep work. No sanding or priming was necessary. However, my project did require two coats, and I ran out of paint before I completely finished. There are only three ASCP stockists in Maine, and I don't have time to visit one of them. So I'll just bring paint with me next summer to finish up!

One coat.

After the paint was to my liking, I went over the entire piece with the soft wax and an old t-shirt, buffing it to a nice, smooth shine. I also washed and painted the drawer pulls and knobs. Miss Priss was drawn to Rust-Oleum’s Hammered spray paint in dark bronze. One coat of that did the trick.

Soft Wax in Clear.

Hammered, in dark bronze.

I’m excited about how it turned out. Now my Fiestaware and other colored plates really stand out against the white so much better than they did the dark stained wood. Note the two ceramic knobs on the doors. My sister gave me those years ago. They are hand painted and feature lighthouses.


In fact, I’ve decided to use ASCP on the kitchen cabinets in our new house. But for that project, I think I’ll use a dark glaze or dark wax to really bring out the details and give a nice, antique look to the cabinets. So look for more details on the cabinets later this fall!