Charleston, South Carolina | Thankful

It took only 7 years of living in the Southeast to make it to Charleston, South Carolina.  When I told our friends and neighbors here that we were headed there for Thanksgiving, everyone vowed that I would love, love, LOVE it.  They were right!

Crisp, clear weather made it a perfect place to be whilst feeling thankful for our blessings…though not the perfect place to have a fake Thanksgiving dinner if a person prefers to eat vegan, but we managed.  Some Vegan with a Vengeance pumpkin muffins and Tofurkey sandwiches for the car trip at least started the trip right in my book before we entered praline central.  Y’all, do you know they hand out samples for those sinfully good candies all day long?  My kids soon knew where each outpost was in the city, and we’ve been singing, “Praline Samples!” ever since.  Anyway…

A Thanksgiving sweater for everyone!

Tops on my blessings list are these four peeps:

If I can have all these guys and gal healthy and happy, my world is good.  And exploring a new place together makes my world even better.

The Circular Church Cemetery

Charleston possesses the trifecta of deal clinchers for me when it comes to ideal destinations:  killer architecture, riveting history, and bucketsful of charm.

We mainly did a broad overview of the city–drove around The Citadel, College of Charleston, and Murray Boulevard to gawk at the waterfront houses.  We toured the Old Slave Mart Museum–unfathomable–and the Old Exchange Building & Provost Dungeon. 

The Dungeon

I met this cutie in uniform at the Old Exchange Building…we compared boots.

We walked all the way to the dock to take a cruise to Fort Sumter only to discover it was sold out.

We walked a lot.  But despite the look of fatigue on my daughter’s face, she exclaimed one night while walking past the shops on King Street, “I LOVE walking in the city!”  Girl, you and I are going to get along together all right.

There was also a history carriage ride…that didn’t end well.  Using poor judgment, I downed a soda before climbing up into the carriage only to be suffering with the dire need to pee midway through the ride.  As the carriage driver, dropping his voice to a whisper, finished a dramatic story of murders and hangings and ghosts, we emerged from a residential area into a commercial one with public restrooms.  I shot up my hand, and the driver asked, “Yes, ma’am?” to what he thought, I’m sure, what a curious, intelligent question to his creepy ghost story.  ”I’ve got to go to the restroom really badly–I’ve waited as long as I could!”  At that, the five of us slunk off the carriage, leaving the remainder on board to enjoy the rest of the ride.  Kind of embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as peeing my pants, so what could I do?

Carriage ride of torture

My husband humored us at night with Pic Stitch on our photos–we’re easily amused.  Looks like I might need to get my son to an eye doctor.  Patch me!  I did say “stuff it with stuff” at one point on our trip–an inarticulate moment that my family isn’t letting me forget.

Two of the three kids totally have their mouths stuffed with “Praline Samples!”

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, too.  Thank you for joining me here on The Painted House!

Yellow Tulips | A Painting

Nothing like a little child labor to start the holiday season, right?  My 7-year-old daughter has been busy working on Christmas gifts for the family–so, sorry for the spoiler, family, you’re all getting paintings…maybe.

The problem is this:  I love each and every one of her paintings like it is a newborn baby.  Her heart is open and selfless, excited to give these away to her family; I, however, can only selfishly think about how much I will miss them once they leave the fold.  Can anyone love them as much as I do?  I guess that isn’t for me to judge.

Meanwhile, until the art is framed and wrapped, I will enjoy the yellow tulips in the kitchen.

You can see her other paintings here, here, here, and here.

A Cozy Chair for Reading

I will never, ever romanticize homeschooling to anyone.  It. Is. Hard…for me, at least.  But there are so many perks or we wouldn’t keep going.  It was the following scene that had me thinking to myself, “Yes, this is one of the prime reasons why we homeschool.”

A cozy chair, a good book, time in which to leisurely read, and a soft kitty to pet all the while–what’s not to like about this school?  But this is just a snippet…remember, no glorifying here.  But I am reveling in a good moment–keeps the fire going, you know.

And if you have ever toured someone around your house, telling them the stories behind every single furnishing and thingamabob, assuming that they sincerely care about your ramblings–and I have done this to be sure–then please read the following excerpt from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  I had dogeared this passage last school year for its charming depiction of someone (like me) very house proud.  It is the first time that Rat sees his friend Mole’s house.

Then, while the Rat busied himself fetching plates, and knives and forks, and mustard which he mixed in an egg-cup, the Mole, his bosom still heaving with the stress of his recent emotion, related–somewhat shyly at first, but with more freedom as he warmed to his subject–how this was planned, and how that was thought out, and how this was got through a windfall from an aunt, and that was a wonderful find and a bargain, and this other thing was bought out of laborious savings and a certain amount of ‘going without.’  His spirits finally quite restored, he must needs go and caress his possessions, and take a lamp and show off their points to his visitor and expatiate on them, quite forgetful of the supper they both so much needed; Rat, who was desperately hungry but strove to conceal it, nodding seriously, examining with a puckered brow, and saying, ‘wonderful,’ and ‘most remarkable,’ at intervals, when the chance for an observation was given him.

Isn’t that such a great passage?  I love “that was a wonderful find and a bargain.”  Mole needed to keep a blog.  And, Rat, what a gracious guest.

This year our literature selection started with the slightly darker The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.  We are two chapters away from finishing.  The kids have been troopers through it–I’ve found it fascinating.  This morning we finished Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, which we have been reading in the evenings.  Heaven help me if I didn’t fight back tears with all my might last night reading them the chapter when Charlotte dies.  Darn, I’m such a sap!  I thought for sure I would be all over it by the morning when I read about Wilbur returning to his pen without Charlotte–darn!  I was fighting the tears again.  Don’t even get me started on the polar bear mom and cubs we saw this weekend in the IMAX movie.  Darn!

So yeah, homeschooling can be tough; but having this extra time to read with them is one of my very favorite parts.

Su Gologone

Aren’t we all thinking cozy sweaters and hot drinks right now?  I know, me too.  Except that every now and then my mind drifts back to Su Gologone.  I’m sure it has everything to do with how fabulous our time was there–I can’t get it out of my mind.  And, it was the last time I felt truly unwound.  Since we’ve been back late August, it has been home sweet chaos.

I’ve stayed in some posh places, sleek rooms, all the boutiquey trappings; but Su Gologone possesses a quirkiness that appealed to my sensibilities.  It was like staying at your artsy aunt’s compound, which is overrun with beautiful flowers planted all willy-nilly, tended to but hardly defined as manicured.  Rustic, simple, colorful, kittens and dogs roaming about–and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, there was the tinkling of bells on the grazing sheep nearby.

Su Gologne is located in Oliena surrounded by the limestone mountains of Sardinia.  It is just rub-your-eyes stunning and romantic.

Wandering the hotel is like navigating a maze.  Corridor leads to corridor leads to stairway and a split and a turn.  Just ask my husband how many times I got lost.

But here, getting lost is a delightful turn of events.  More to discover and what else do I have to do today?

Original art and folk costumes line the hallways…just like your eccentric aunt’s house.

Sweet little nooks and crannies tucked themselves here and there.

There is even an outdoor little piggie roaster that fires up each day.  Poor little guys…

Su Gologone was by far my favorite hotel of the trip.  It was the perfect balance of remote mountain locale but close enough to the beach for an easy excursion.  The scenic drives on our explorations were definitely gasp-worthy.  I just need one more day there…

 

Urgent (Decor) Care

“Angela, why are you showing us a boring ol’ medical office?”

Good question!  I will enumerate the reasons for you.  But first, a little back story:  I wasn’t a week out yet with the Room Service project when I received a call from a friend to help out with her new medical office…fast.  Urgent.  Like it has to be done pronto for the upcoming Open House.  The facility is new but the furniture is not–very traditional and dated.  There were no accessories, no art, and only a few tired lamps.

The entry before:

After:

The reasons I’m showing you these?

1.  Totally self-congratulatory but, I can hustle even in exhaustion.  I received the call on Wednesday and by the end of the next Tuesday everything was bought, installed, and Windexed.

2.  Target has some great stuff on clearance right now…okay, your turn to hustle!  The budget wasn’t big so this was good news.

Target vases, starting at $3.88; mirror and box, Home Goods

Waiting room before:

After:

Target garden stool, clearance at $34.98, TV to go on back wall

3.  Tired trad furniture can get a boost with untraditional art and a few shiny things.  The painting is one I did 6 years ago, and it has just been leaning against the wall behind our bath tub.  I’m happy it gets new life here.  Plus, it fills up that vast wall and there was no way I could have found anything else for that spot in the short amount of time.

The office before:

The office after:

Target round mirrors, clearance at $8.98 each (regularly $30!)

So this is where I try not to blast the mass-produced art market.  I usually don’t pay any attention to it, but for this I had to find stuff to fill the walls fast.  I picked the best I could at Home Goods and even found a real paint-applied-by-human-hands painting there that didn’t look too mass generated.  I had one opportunity to look for original art at an antique mall, but that search yielded nothing appropriate for this space, darn.

So on Sunday I thought it would be fun to whip out a little painting.

4.  Beautifully-framed simple art can have a big impact.  Never underestimate the power of a nice frame job.  I finished this on Monday morning in between the kids’ classes, rushed it to my framer Cynthia by the afternoon, and she had it for me the next morning ready to hang in the check-out hall.  Thank you, Cynthia–it looks amazing!

I’ll interject real quick with # 5.  Adding some painted furniture takes the edge off traditional stuff.

Who was that wise woman who said limitations are lovely?  So true!  When I discovered on Sunday that I had no watercolor paper in my studio and I was too lazy to go buy some, I dug around and found this gold star wrapping paper that I ended up using for the painting.  Thank goodness I didn’t have any plain white paper–I now can’t imagine these glasses without those gold stars.

6. Even serious spaces can use a touch of whimsy.  A little fat owl, oversized spectacles, a red-painted chest help lighten the mood just a bit and give that dose of unexpected when all the patient was expecting was cherry wood and generic landscape prints.

But I probably let my penchant for whimsy get a little, ahem, out of hand with the wall near the exit.  I searched and searched for something to set on these wall shelves I found at Home Goods.  Finally I stumbled on these porcelain hands, NFS, in a jewelry case in an antique mall.  Don’t you just hate NFS on something you love?  After a little sweet talking, those hands had a price and were mine.

  It’s like they are waving good-bye to the patients.

I told them that if the hands end up freaking people out, I will gladly take them home and replace them with something less animated.  Anyway, I have a few handless pieces en mi casa that wouldn’t mind a new appendage or two.

7.  Installations are more fun with a friend.  I could not have knocked this out in one day without the help of my friend and framer, Cynthia.  She hauled the large canvas in her truck, hung pictures the live-long day, put together that red cabinet like a pro, brainstormed and opined with me on where to put stuff, and was just a fun person to have around.  Thank you, Cynthia!

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