The Importance Of Place Cards

As someone who loves to have people come eat at my table I am a big proponent of place cards. I don’t like that, sit-anywhere-you-want, attitude. I like to curate my table. Now, I have no problem inviting a random group to come for dinner, but once they are at my house I want to mix it up around the table. I never want there to be any feeling that there is a “cool” group at one end of the table and an outcast group at the other end.

It helps to put the loud with the quiet, the extroverted with the shy, the good listeners with the story tellers. By writing someone’s name at a place I am saying specifically, “I am glad you are here and I think you will enjoy the people around you.”

Place cards can just be simple bits of paper with a name hand written on them or something more elaborate. My very favorite place cards I ever did were when I had a string of “bass” Christmas lights and I wrote each guests name on a fish and strung it around the table.

I wish I had a photo of that because it was brilliant.

I was having more people than my dining room table could fit in my little house in Washington. So I got a piece of plywood and put it on top of my table and covered it with. Big sheet of green felt. I ran the string under the felt and cut holes in it and stuck the light up plastic fish out of the hole at each place. The rest of the decorations we small succulents in little pots and a scattering of votives. It was very fun.

A few years ago Nancy at Chapel Hill Needlepoint was clearing out stuff she hadn’t sold in a while and a roll of hunter tree canvas caught my eye. It was a steal of a price and I thought it would be good to make Christmas things out of. One plan was to make place cards.

Well, the roll sat in my office for a couple of years and today I decided it was time to make some place cards for my annual Needlepoint exchange with the stitching table advisors. Since time was running short I forgave myself doing boarders or cute holly leaves and berries. I thought it was ambitious enough for me just to stitch the names.

Then I had to come up with a way to make the canvas stand up and act like a place card. I went to the dollar store and bought some fat stubby peppermint sticks which I hot glued to a card leaving a skinny space between two sticks as a slot to hold the canvas. Ta-da! I had a place card that was a little more than a slip of paper with a name scribbled on it. And it makes a nice trinket for the guest to take home.

It looks good, but I have to say, it in no way beats the light up bass name cards. I wonder where that string of lights went?

Back To Basketball

For years, six to be exact, I sat in the bleachers of Carter’s basketball games. It was a great place of camaraderie, joy and a little pain. I got to know and love the other parent supporters, a group that morphed through the years with some who had older girls who showed me the way and explained calls to Moms and Dads of younger girls who explained the calls and I showed the way.

It was a giant family I loved spending time with. Over the years parents of graduates would show up to support the current team and it was like old home week to have them back. I have missed basketball games. My calendar is still subscribed to the RSS feed that says when the games are. Although I no longer have a parent account on the school system I have no way to unsubscribe to the girls basketball, I have made no attempt to change this because I still like to know when they are playing.

I looked at my calendar yesterday and realized that this was the only game I could go to before January. I made myself go out in the dark and drive over the gym where I spent so many hours sitting in my crazy creek needle pointing, cheering. I got to the gym ten minutes before the game started and got a big hug from Carter’s coach Krista. Her sweet baby, Hayes was in the stands with the volunteer Mom, Stephanie taking care of him. Having a team baby is the biggest change this year.

I joined the other parents in our regular section of the bleachers and got caught up on all the news. I cheered for the girls and lamented missed opportunities. I was happy the girls won a big victory, but I missed seeing Carter out there, or more specifically her calling plays in from the side.

After the game was over I went out in the hall with Krista and Hayes and she said, “Imani says she misses Carter because she was the best at doing the introduction flourishes with each player as they are introduced.” I miss Carter doing that too!

Talking About Art

Harkening back to my college days as an art major, today I spent the better part of today at the Nasher Art Museum. Ruth Caccavale, who is a docent at the Nasher, had invited friends to come for lunch and a tour of the museums show of Carlo Dolci’s works. It was a most glorious way to spend an afternoon.

When Ruth invited people you just picked the time that fit best in you schedule. It was luck that some people I like, but don’t get to see often we in today’s group so we had such a nice lunch at the Nasher Cafe.

I had mistakenly paid for the maximum amount of time in the parking lot, but it turned out to be a good thing because I ended up being at the museum for almost four hours. We had a little time between lunch and the tour so I went through the exhibit of the 60’s to 80’s works. I was pleasantly surprised to see a work of my cousin Maude Gatewood on display. It was a good warm up before going into the Dolci exhibit.

What? You have never heard of Dolci? That is how Ruth started her tour. Carlo Dolci was a 17th century Florentine painter who was supported by the Medici’s. He was a devout religious painter and thus many of his works have biblical subjects. But he was also considerable conservative so not even baby Jesus is ever really naked.

Ruth brought the whole exhibit to life and I highly recommend you go see this show which is closing in January when all the works of art from the major collections from the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Getty and other collections will be returned to their home museums. On December 9, at 11:00 Ruth will be doing what is called a slow art talk about one painting, Poetry, which I wish I was going to be in town to go to for it is a beautiful work and she is an excellent docent.

To me there is nothing more enlightening than spending an afternoon talking about art. It is so much more pleasurable to hear about the issues of the 17th century than deal with those of today. Thanks Ruth!

Your Chance at Being a Duchess Just Ended, But What a Happy Ending It Is

Hooray for Meghan Markle and her engagement to Prince Harry. What great news, that a divorced biracial American could land the most eligible Prince around. This is exactly the kind of mind candy we need to take our attention off the mess of political and sexual wrongdoings that have dominated the news for the last year.

Since Harry is about to be the sixth in line to the throne when Princess Kate gives birth to her third child, he is probably never going to have to be King. And honestly, who really wants to be king? Being a well loved Prince with a beautiful and smart (she went to Northwestern) finance is the best spot. Harry has really come into his own with the Invictus games and his new best friend Barack. I bet that he and Michelle get an invite to the wedding and 45 does not. Talk about something that will make the current POTUS mad.

So now your chances of becoming a Duchess or even a princess have gone way down. Unless you re about two or three years old. Then you can set your sights on Prince George. The future King on England. Hopefully with Harry marrying a divorced American it can open up George’s possibilities to anyone, so why not another American.

This is way bigger than Grace Kelly Marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco. Yes, she got to become a princess, but it was of a place that is less than a square mile big. Meghan is going to be a Duchess of the United Kingdom. That’s big.

Let the hoopla begin! There is nothing more fun that a royal wedding!

For The Love Of My Robot

When I got the call that long term house keeper couldn’t keep cleaning my house because lifting my vacuum up and down all my steps was too hard I was despondent. I decided I could clean my house myself. Once day of working with my very heavy Dyson animal I understood why my house keeper quit.

My mother had sang the praises of her robot vacuum a few months back so I decided that might be the answer for me. I researched online and chose an Ecovac Deebot N79 based on reviews and a good price.

When it arrived it did not take long to set it up and learn to use it. I could let it go on it’s own or I could use one of the programmed methods. I tried them all. The evidence that it was working well was the full dirt tray I emptied after every use.

Yesterday I did all my Christmas decorating which is a fairly dirty job, between the dust on the Christmas boxes coming down from the attic to the pine needles from the many garlands I put up. After all the decorating was done I let the vacuum go on automatic mode while I took a shower. By the time I was clean so was my whole house.

The machine can run for two hours on a charge which is more than enough time to clean the rooms on my main floor. It is slim enough to fit under most of my furniture and the cabinets in the kitchen. The most amazing thing is it’s ability to clean around the legs and under the table of the dining room.

It may not be a sexy gift, but if it is given with a pair of diamond earrings I bet that if you asked the receiver to give one gift back after six months more would give back the diamonds! As sorry as I was to see my housekeeper go, I have to say my house has never been so clean. As long as I keep dusting first and sweeping the steps the Ecovac does the rest.

Christmas Still Threw Up at Our House

When we built our addition we designed a place for my fourteen ft Christmas tree to go that could be seen from either the front or back of the outside of our house. Ever since that time, twenty one years ago I have put up a giant tree. In the early days it was a real tree stand it took three days to decorate it and two days to undecorate it. Then one year the real tree fell over, breaking hundreds of cherished ornaments.

That was when I made the change to a fake tree. Since the lights stay on each section all the time I was able to cut down the tree time to two days total. The tree was not my only christmas decorating. Outfitting the rest of the house still took a good while.

Due to our visit with Carter I had made the decision not to put our big tree up this year. Carter vetoed the idea of no tree, so she and I will put up a small real tree very close to Christmas. In the meantime I had to put up some decorations today so I can hold my annual needlepoint Christmas.

I hung my garland around the entry to the living room to display my Needlepoint, just like I did last year. I built the Christmas village on the dining room side board, just like every year before.

But what to do with the big space where the tree used to go? I just couldn’t leave the space empty awaiting a small real tree two days before Christmas. So I decided to install my Christmas village under glass that usually goes on the glass coffee table in the living room in the big room in front of the window.

I started with one table but quickly realized I needed another one at a different level to make the village more interesting. I added a third, then had to scour the house to add more green and white decorations to compliment the glass village. After it was done I realized it needed light. Off to Target to get a compliment of fairy lights. I came home and wrapped the lights around the village and ta-da! A new Christmas decoration. I am not sure I am ever going to want to put my big tree up again.

Not Exactly Glamping at the Farm

After a lovely fancy post Thanksgiving breakfast with my parents and our very proper cousins Harry and Margaret, who dressed up for breakfast, Russ, Shay and I set down the road to see my other family. My father’s brother Wilson, who sadly is no longer with us in body, lived next door to my parents on the farm in the original family home. His children, my first cousins and all six of their children come home to be with their mother for Thanksgiving. The three first cousins, their spouses and their kids are a very tight knit group, so there is always some kind of fun going on around their house.

As Russ and I were leaving my parents I saw down the road that my Uncle Wilson’s 1970’s era pop-up Cox Camper was out of the stable and opened in the field. What I could not see from my original vantage point was that the whole family was sitting on the the other side of it in vintage camp chairs. If I didn’t know them to be doctors and therapists I would have thought some red neck family of gypsies had just set up camp on the farm.

My Uncle Wilson was a great camper. He also incredibly fastidious when it came to camping. We stopped to visit. We got quite a laugh about the many camping items my cousins had discovered still in their original boxes in the camper. It was as if my Uncle Wilson was right there with us. The many blue tarps, still in their factory folds were there, just in case there was a sudden storm. A never used camp griddle, still in it’s box was at the ready in case we wanted to cook up a batch of flap jacks.

My cousins were busy inspecting the whole contraption making plans for future camping trips so their children could experience camping like they did. The kids were intrigued for a while, but not enough to join in in the cleaning of the candy apple congoleum floor.

I told my cousins how much Airbnb places were charging for glamping experiences. We decided we could really make my father crazy by setting up a half dozen pop-up campers just in sight of his house and renting them out.

It may not have been the traditional Black Friday activity, but it was the perfect farm entertainment for a bunch of kids. My cousin Leigh is bound and determined to take this thing camping. We looked at the official registration sticker on the dirt covered license plate and since the last year this thing was registered was 1994 we decided it might need to be checked out to see how road worthy it is now. I’m sure that Cox Campers are not yet in the airstream category of vintage campers, but you never know when hipsters are going to decide they are the thing. When that happens my cousins will be set.