I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Post Is A Little Out of Character

I saw this quote today: "That awkward moment when you're not sure if you actually have free time or you're just forgetting everything."

Lately I find my family staring at me as though they don't understand what I have just said. Then I realize I said a lot of stuff to myself in my head, it just didn't all come out of my mouth. The family just shrugs and answers what they thought I meant.

Once when my granddaughter was in the second grade or so, she was playing in my guest bedroom. I kept hearing something tearing. I went in the room to check on her and she was writing page after page and laying them on the bed.

"What are you doing? Playing school?" I inquired.

"Oh, no. I am letting people out of detention," she replied.

Amused, I asked, " What have they done?"

"Oh, all sorts of stuff."

I became a little concerned and bent over to read their sins. Each paper had the name of the offender, their offense (example: talked out of turn), their reprieve and her signature, The Prity Quen of Inglin. Formally translated that would be The Pretty Queen of England. (This is the grandchild you read about in another post who once asked me (loudly and with great clarity) in the checkout of Big Lots, if I had remembered to wear my underwear that day. Another story for another day.

Now I am NOT a princess much less a queen, but it seems to me that if you've tried to lead a decent life you deserve a certain amount of respect. I have followed the old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place." I tried to make my parents and Home Economics teachers proud. So as I come to my twilight years, I've decided to cut loose a little. The queen thing brought to memory times when I didn't do what I really wanted to do but did what I thought was expected of me. Do I deserve a crown, certainly not...but at this stage of life I feel I can divulge certain activities in which I participated now that a number of years have passed.

Today I admit that once I swigged directly from the Pepto Bismol bottle. (It was an emergency, there were no clean spoons...another story.) But I have to further admit that I hid the bottle like an alcoholic hides his whiskey. I was afraid someone might get up in the middle of the night and double swig...that would be a catastrophe. As soon as school was over the next day I drove straight to the drug store and bought a new bottle for the family. I kept mine hidden and nipped at it when necessary. This began my downward spiral from Goody Two Shoes to what I have become.

Another case in point...I have been practicing getting into and out of the bathtub (no small task when you have a trick knee)...fully clothed except for my socks and shoes. As I was trying my exit the other night I realized that the bath mat had been kicked aside and I was barefooted. So? you ask. One of my cardinal rules has always been...No Bare Feet...anywhere except the tub. Well, I had no choice...so my bare feet actually touched the floor and NOTHING HAPPENED! I even used to prefer that if Coach had to exit the bed during the night, that he wash his feet before re-entering. He complied for over 3o years and then one night he snapped. He did it quietly. He acted like he didn't hear me. I didn't say anything. We really walked on the wild side with that.

This morning I was dressing and Facebooking at the same time when I was faced with a challenge of epic proportions. At the appointed time in my makeup ritual of 50 years, my mascara was gone. I looked in the cabinet...no Maybelline. Then my eyeliner and my blush. The "big three" were all missing from my arsenal.
I began to perspire. I retraced my houseshoed steps. How could three things just vanish? I had never gone outside to work without makeup and I was not beginning today. That's just TOO WILD! Then I remembered that I had to go to my grandchildren's school yesterday and I took a change of clothes and my makeup to work (wouldn't want to embarrass The Prity Quen of Inglin and her brother by being in work clothes.) I located all the items, did a reasonably good job of applying every item and hurried to work.

Now the reason for this post has totally escaped me. Normally, that would upset me greatly but for some reason it doesn't really bother me today...I have decided to loosen up. You should, too. And if you are already too loose, then tighten up. Whatever..

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Yesterday in post, I skipped one of the most important pictures I intended to show.
For years I have collected small sheep and lambs. Some are reproductions of old
German sheep. Others are bisque or chalk, but they all have one thing in common.
They all represent an animal that Jesus used frequently in talking about His followers.

In this little display are my sheep.

The top shelf contains a redware candleholder, my grandmother's miniature Webster's Dictionary, a salt glaze sheep from my trip to Pennsylvania and a redware bowl my mother brought me from Williamsburg.
The bottom shelf contains a Friendly Village bread and butter plate and my other lambs and sheep.

I say all that to say this...years ago I read the most wonderful book by Phillip Keller. It's title is
A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Keller, who was a shepherd himself, explains the context of the Twenty Third Psalm from a shepherd's view. It is not only an insightful interpretation, but it is also a down to earth explanation of the various symbols in the chapter. I think you would find it interesting.

In his concluding Introductory paragraph Keller says that if the reader comes to the book with an open mind..."fresh truth and exciting glimpses of God's care and concern for him will flood over his being. The he will be brought into a bold, new appreciation of the endless effort put forth by our Saviour for his Sheep.."

I highly recommend the book. It's older and you may have to go through Amazon to purchase it. But its revelation will be worth the effort.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 1st...It's Fall To Me! Fall Tour

Living room gets a hint of fall.
Whether a rebellious red leaf who falls early has been spotted or September the first arrives, I declare it Fall!! And you know what that means!! Time for Fall tips and tours. Viewing other people's houses and their Autumn decor always sets me on fire to get mine done, too. After several months away from the blog, I decided that September 1 would be my target date to get back in the saddle and "giddy up" by crackie, I'm here. Only my dining and living areas are decorated. Didn't want to freak out all the neighbors quite yet!

After removing the leaf from my oval table, I "lost" a chair (until Thanksgiving) and am enjoying the coziness of the round set up. I also added drapery panels and "lost" the toile swags for a little update.

The picture below is the AFTER...just a few adjustments here and there. I did, however, break my cardinal rule of Fall decorating...by bringing out the pumpkins BEFORE October...it's usually fall leaves until the end of September..but, oh, well...  

This centerpiece is a McCarty Cotton Row vase with assorted feathers and berries.
I also added placemats...am having horrible computer issues and can't seem
to load the whole dining room shot...ugh.
Small sideboard got the look, too!
Those lampshades are one of my best finds EVER!
When lit, the black velvet leaves show through the front silk panels...
$2.50 each at Ross.

A recently purchased iron birdcage has many possibilities
for the upcoming seasons. Right now it's a candle holder.
Friendly Village china prepares for the upcoming fall
and winter months.
The coffee bar which houses not only all my
coffee supplies, but also part of my nesting
hen collection only got a few berry sprays.
Pitcher and bowls got the treatment with bittersweet vine and leaves.

My "collections" lend themselves to the fall months.
Pine needle  and woven baskets.

Tiny pine needle baskets.

Redware collection...love the colors.

Below is my salt glaze pottery collection.

Buckrun Pottery houses Cream Brulee candle and is surrounded by
little nutmeg McCarty birds.
 At the risk of losing every picture I post...I am going to add a few more with NO comments. Each time I comment, I lose the picture above and below. I have been at this for about 4 hours over the last 2 days.
Computer issues drive me around the bend! My apologies!

Will try one more time...Buckrun pottery bowl and McCarty bunny on coffee table.

Bittersweet vines and branches are such a reminder of fall.

I LOVE this table that I got on an online yardsale.

Pottery Barn basket (that I got on sale)..with fabric pumpkins that I made years ago.
 This has been such a trial...I have no idea what's wrong with Blogger (or it could be the blogger..me)!
I wanted to show you what I have done...not to brag...not to say..."Look at what I did!" but to encourage you to enjoy the moment...to not worry if it's too early to decorate...to not listen to the "it's not time to decorate" naysayers. I love every season. I enjoy letting my home reflect that. Most of my decor has been
gathered over time or made by me. (For the first 25 years of marriage EVERYTHING was made by me.)

 As I age, I find special joy in savoring the little moments life offers. Fall is one of those moments. Just as your children won't stay little forever...neither will you be able to recapture "the moment".

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Real Truth about Total Knee Replacement

After suffering severe knee pain for over a year and having two minor surgeries, I finally gave in this summer and signed up for total knee replacement in the early weeks of June. Five weeks out from tkr and I have some good news to report! Finally.

First the not so good news, I have spent much of the past five weeks in bed in pajamas with no makeup and not particularly caring about much of anything. (That gets old very fast.) Next, I followed doctor's orders both pre-and post-op. I gave it my best shot. Exercises, medication, ice, elevation, on and on.

 Last Friday I came to a crossroads in recovery. I made a decision that I hope will help others. I decided that some things just weren't working and I needed to take my own health in my own two hands and make some changes. I have googled tkr to death on my KindleFire. I have read every chat there is on the internet...both good and bad. When I would read those rare posts about how great things were after their surgery...no pain, walking, really feeling better...I would silently cringe and turn over and go back to bed. (Not sleep, mind you, I haven't slept well for over a year.)It has been a discouraging, ragged road and frankly, I am very disappointed in, well, in me. I truly thought I'd pop into surgery and be up and around and feeling like I was 40 (maybe 50) again in no time. Even though there are some patients who are quickly begging for their second surgery... or worse, had both knees replaced at one time, I have been "down for the count". My long suffering husband, has literally been on call 24/7 since this "adventure" began June 11.

 So Friday, I made a decision. It hasn't been easy, but I will say that today is the best I have felt in 5 weeks. It may be that I finally turned a corner or it may be that STOPPING PAIN MEDICATION has helped me grapple with the nuances of recovery with a more clear mind and steady leg. I actually think that the extended use of the pain meds was making me worse. Saturday, Sunday and first thing this morning (Monday) have not been pleasant. But as I was sniffling into my Kleenex on the way to physical therapy this morning I noticed that I actually felt better emotionally.

Now, I would never say that you shouldn't take anything to control pain after major surgery like this. I don't know that I could have survived, but I think you have to come to a fork in the road with pain meds...you have to say...I think I've had enough and I am going to have to "gut" it out on my own. (I am greatly hopeful that I can continue this way.) But making the transition to Tylenol or Aleve has been a good decision so far.

1. I endured a pretty rigorous physical therapy session.
2. Fixed my own lunch and went to the garage freezer to get another loaf of bread.
3. Walked to the mail box and retrieved the daily mail.
 4. Fixed the pork chops for supper.
5. Have remained dressed all day.
6. Only took two short naps.

Now in comparison to Saturday and Sunday where I:
1. Stayed in pajamas all day long.
2. Wore no makeup.
3. Watched Hallmark Movie Channel movies 24/7.
 4. Ate jellybeans because nothing else sounded good.
I think I have fared pretty well.

This is not a surgery for the faint of heart. For most people (according to chatrooms and ortho internet sites), it's a long, hard road to recovery. But for my friends that are contemplating tkr...get in touch with me...I will tell you the unvarnished truth. Your thoughts, posts and prayers have been greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm Still Here!

It is July 2, three weeks after having my knee replaced. I am lying in bed looking out my back Windows....watching my puppy, Dottie dart by, seeing the horses grazing in the pasture. Mostly I am watching life pass by like a blur. It is like sitting in your car watching the Illinois Central zoom by. I am, by nature, someone who likes to be out and about. Searching for antiques for my shop or house, working in my yard, visiting and shopping with friends, running errands with or for my grandchildren. That's my thing. Being down for the count was never on my bucket list. No position is comfortable. Not sitting, lying or standing. There is one thing I can do well and that is THINK. Being out of the loop has caused me to think about things from a different perspective. As in "old person's" perspective. I think back and wonder what my grandmothers must have felt like...alone waiting for a call or a letter maybe a visit from a member of the family. It's such a small expenditure of personal time...but such a large dividend for the lonely. Don't get me wrong....I will return...as the Terminator said. But older persons in our life don't always have that option. As I have caught up with long ago students and friends on Facebook, I have been thrilled to see the number who have gone into occupations that truly help others. Physical therapy (my current favorite), nursing, teaching...all require a certain giving up of one's own life. And I have seen the "good" side of Facebook. For each time I have felt lonely or afraid, if I post, here comes the Calvary. Sending good wishes and high hopes for the future. It may be little in other's eyes but it's been a Godsend to me. Hope you have a happy 4th of July!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

One Aspect of Womanhood

Women are "anticipatory" creatures by nature.
I don't know if that's a real word or not.
Sometimes I make up words to express myself...
that's my point here...

Men see things or people as they are.
Women see things or people as they can become.
Men check things off their to-do list.
When finished, they watch t.v.
A woman's to-do list is never done.
There is always something or someone that needs cleaning,
straightening, "fixing"...

Women anticipate...
they can walk in a room and in 30 seconds
figure out how to "be of help",
how to "speed things up",
how to "make things prettier".
I once had an employer who called me a butterfly.
At any social event, he said I was always fluttering around.

My response was (and still is)...
"That's what women do...they flutter...they see a need
and try to make it better."
It's not all we do, but it's what we do best.
Sometimes our "anticipatory" mode gets us in trouble.
We tend to worry a LOT.
Now I know that it's not a good thing to worry,
but we do.
We know an oncoming train wreck when we see it coming,
and we want our loved ones to avoid it at all costs.
(By the way, men see it as a light at the end of the tunnel.)

Regardless of your lot in life,
99.9% of women are great at spotting needs
 and doing their best to fulfill them.

We women are complex creatures.
But where in the world would the world be without us?


Friday, April 19, 2013

Treasure Broker

There are many benefits to being a Treasure Broker (words used by Cari...Cash for Cari on HGTV). I like that title. It sounds exotic...but that is exactly what I do for a living now. After retiring from teaching, I took on the occupation of someone who searches for "treasure", cleans it up and presents it to others for their enjoyment.It is more fun than I ever knew.

 This week I have not only found special treasures, but have met the most interesting people. Thursday a young man entered the shop and stayed quite awhile. He was quiet and unassuming but once engaged in conversation, was fascinating. He is a maker of mid-century modern furniture; he lives in an Airstream; writes fiction and has a great appreciation of all things vintage.

Then there is the "Toy Man" as I call him. He drops by the shop every week to see if we have any new toys to add to his massive collection. His dream is to find a curator and a town to house the toy collection strictly for others to enjoy. My son's old record player is now in the collection!

There is the lady who is about my age who enjoys collecting to help re-kindle "good times past". I so look forward to her visits (whether she buys anything or not!)And the younger woman who LOVES furnishing her house with as many vintage items as possible. She has a VERY understanding husband.

 Due to our location, we meet people from all over the United States every day. They are so different, yet so much the same.

I have divided our customers into several groups:
1. People who are on a mission. They enter, survey and either buy immediately or leave. I call them the "Tunnel Vision" folks.

2. People who are bored at home or need a break and come in just to browse and may or may not find some little something to purchase. Potentially could become Hoarders.

3. Hard Core Collectors, the purists, who put narrow constraints on themselves and don't look to the right or left...they only want what they want....period. Price isn't really important..they buy what they treasure. They want their purchases to be in v.good to excellent condition.

4. Then the group that is the most fun of all...the people who really "get vintage"... "The Visionaries". They make a round the shop once, twice, maybe three times. They "take it all in", they start bringing their finds to the counter...they ask questions, make comments, and tell stories. They may or may not be purists...but most are folks who love "the old ways"...dovetails, square nails, rusty enamel, gears, old screens...the items don't have to be perfect. As a matter of fact, they like a little chip or dent or scratch. Perfection isn't their goal...their goal is finding a treasure that will evoke fond memories for both themselves and their family.

This week I sold a wheat penny album to an older gentleman. He was delighted. We also made a gentleman's day who was looking for an old hoe with a wooden handle.

I bought a yellow push reel mower because it reminded me of a friend's daddy who mowed his lawn every week with an old mower like it. A good friend's husband picked out his birthday present...a vintage oak ice box...I've never seen him smile so broadly.

Yes, I think I like being a broker of treasures. Even broke treasures...lol. To hear people tell others about how "grandma used a dipper just like that" and then take it home with them to re-kindle memories of days gone by is something I am enjoying very much!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy 85th Birthday, Daddy!

Today, eighty five years ago,
my daddy, Robert Alexander,
was born!
Wow! 85 years!
That's a very long time ago...
imagine all those decades
and all that has
come to pass in them.

Here he is as a Naval Aviator.
Of all the things he enjoys,
 remembering his Navy days
and his Navy Pals
is one of his top "likes".
He left Tulane University for the service.

When he was gone in the Navy for my first birthday, he sent me this drawing.
I still have it!

My favorite remembrance of him was in my eighth grade year.
He had been taking pictures
 (he has been a professional photographer for over 60 years)
somewhere and while driving through a town he spied a department store
with a mannequin in the window.
The mannequin had on a pink dress.
Long story short...
he bought it for my eighth grade graduation dress!
Right size, right color...hit the bullseye dead center.
I was delighted!

Here's the dress, second from the right.

When I was a senior in high school, I was co-Editor of the high school yearbook.
I was also taking a Home Economics III course,
and in those days we had "home" projects that were due every six weeks.
Another long story short...
I had an annual deadline AND a reversible vest due the next morning.
We had both completed at 8 a.m.
Daddy sewed the vest.
(I hope my home ec. teacher, Mrs. Davis, isn't reading this.)

Daddy gets up every morning with something to do.
He never just sits (I think that's genetic.)
After a Burger King breakfast...he's out and about.
Always on the computer, taking pictures, doing something..
He just purchased a saxophone (he played many years ago)
and has formed a quartet to entertain his friends at his apt. complex!

I could go on and on, but I will part with this...
Daddy, thank you for all you have done for us over the years.
We love you and wish you a wonderful day today!
Happy, happy 85th Birthday from us all!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From Light to Light...with help from Annie Sloan

Look what I spied in a dusty corner of the shop!
A vintage light fixture!
I had a vision of something better.
Even after her transformation, she can still be rewired and used
as a ceiling fixture.

After cleaning, a coat of Annie Sloan Coco was added.
Then clear waxed followed by a dark wax...uh, oh...
too dark.
So I re-painted the fixture Coco
and rubbed off enough of the paint to let the brass show through.


The detail is so pretty.

What about some candles instead of light bulbs?

Or maybe some pretty crackled glass ?

Maybe some feathered candle rings?

The early morning hours were spent trying on new toppers!
I loved these etched glasses..

What else could be done with this dusty old thing?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

* Hummingbird or Bummingbird Cake?

I promised I'd post a blog revealing my Hummingbird Cake adventure..so here goes.
And I can make this snappy and to the point.
 My enchantment with The Bummingbird...er Hummingbird Cake began here:
(We southern girls consider Southern Living magazine the "go-to" place for great recipes.)

I read about the HB cake for years...so I thought..."How hard can it be?"
And after all, it was its 35th anniversary!
The most sought after and requested recipe in Southern Living history.
I decided to make the cake layers Friday since they needed to be refrigerated. 
Tip: a wise decision.
(I was slightly "ticked" when I realized I needed another cake pan and the hubster
had ruined a perfectly good one by Pamming it to death for his biscuits.)
So I used a slightly larger aluminum throw away pan I had on hand.
Tip: Do NOT make one layer a different size from the others.
Plus, it called for 4 layers and I crammed it all into three.
That was a very big NO NO!
Early Saturday morning I made the "custard" filling.
It was delicious...how do I know that?
I ate all the leftovers..
I then proceeded to layer and ice with custard and got so
carried away that I forgot and iced the top layer.
Which BTW was the oddly sized layer and kept sliding toward the back.
Tip: Do NOT ice the top layer. The real icing will slide off.
No problem: I just took off that custard and ate it too.
Sometime before 6 a.m. Sunday:
When I began getting the table ready, I decided I needed to go ahead and ice the cake...
with Browned Buttercream Frosting.
Sounds great....omgosh.
Centerpiece in place: "Check".

China, silver and placemats ready. (Triple "Check")

Now, on to the icing (time: 6:00 a.m. Sunday).
Browned Buttercream Icing...hmmmm, never done anything like this before.
Oh, well...how hard can it be? Fast forward...
Time lapse: 9:30 a.m.
Burned the butter the first go round...did it say Burned Buttercream or
Browned Buttercream?
Next try:
Stir 1 cup butter until it turns light brown..
is this like golden brown, light "burned" brown,
how light? Uh, oh...guests arriving at 11:15 a.m.
Stir constantly for 8-12 minutes.
Tip: When it says light brown that's what it means.
When it says stir 8-12 min.on medium heat,  it doesn't mean 5-ish on high.
When it says to pour into a SMALL bowl and cover and chill,
it does NOT mean large bowl, uncovered in the freezer.
(I laid down only for a second to rest my aching knees...
but when I woke up the browned butter was frozen.)
I pulled out the big guns...my Kitchenaid mixer
and beat the living daylights out of that frozen blob....all the while
adding powdered sugar alternately with 1/4 cup milk...ending with sugar.
When the husband walked in he remarked,
"Looks like a bomb went off in that side of the kitchen."
Tip: the cake must chill for 1 hour before serving...oh, no.

I know, I know..you are being kind...saying "It doesn't look so bad."
However, if you zoom in, you will see that those pretty yellow flecks
are NOT pineapple, but rather frozen browned butter...ugh.

Everyone raved, but I was too tired to notice.

I went back to Southern Living's website this afternoon, following my 2 1/2 hour nap
and guess what?
The original recipe was really quite simple...
it  had Cream Cheese Frosting.

Then I read the comments on this year's cake...they were hilarious.
We should have been on a conference call...
they had some pretty awful comments.

My Unconventional 2013 Easter Menu

Rotel Chicken
Deluxe Green Bean Supreme
Green Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Almonds
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette
Texas Toast
The 2013 Anniversary Version of
Southern Living's

Yes, I think I will just have a carrot tonight...nibble on.

A joyous Easter to you,