Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rust Bucket

     On Wednesday, Pat and I took the day off from house projects and went for lunch at Harney’s Tea Shop in Millerton.  It was a lovely treat.
     After lunch, we wandered through the town.  Pat waited patiently as I walked through Millerton’s Antique Center.  I have a feeling that this store is where the saying one man’s junk is another man’s treasure was first said.  The Antique Center is full of old jewelry, clothing, dishes, furniture, and assorted odd items.  There are old blue bromo seltzer bottles, rusty saws, comic books, cast iron iron’s that you have to heat by placing them in a fire, and even the head of a rather unfortunate alligator.
     I love to imagine the people who touched these items before me.  The woman who carried the little beaded bag.  The child who sat on that little wooden chair.  The man who used that wooden shoe shine kit.
     I was near the back of the store when I saw it.  A bucket tucked behind a chest. The bucket was roughly the size of a five gallon paint pail. It had once held ice cream.  What caught my eye was the name emblazoned in a banner across it.  “Johnston’s Ice Cream.”  Johnston is my maiden name.  When I lifted the bucket for a closer look, I realized that the bottom had pretty much rusted through.  Flakes of rust rained down.  At some point, the bucket had been used as a planter.  Bits of dirt clung to the inside.  It had been a long time since it had held any ice cream.  The price was $25.  Twenty-five dollars for a rust bucket.
     I considered carefully.  After all $25 wouldn’t break the bank, but what on earth could I do with it?  It was too far gone to hold anything.  If anyone got scratched by it, they might get a tetanus infection.  I couldn’t think of where this rusty thing would go in my house. Then I pictured the faces of my brother’s if I gifted one of them with a rusty old bucket, even if it had their name written on it.  The only reason I considered purchasing the bucket was because of the name written on it’s rusty sides.  I put it back.
     Jesus said:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  ~Matthew 6:19-21
     The treasure that will never rust is found in the name of Jesus.  The One who paid the price that we could never pay.  The One who loves us to the grave and back again.  The One to whom every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.
     In the book of Acts, Peter says to the lame man,
“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  ~Acts 3:6
     May the Name of Jesus be the banner over your homes and hearts this morning.  May He be your treasure.

Friday, September 26, 2014

UpCycled Vintage Typewriter Table

     Can you believe this vintage typewriter table was heading for the dumpster?!  I begged convinced the owner that I needed it.  I knew it would be perfect in our kitchen.
     Here is the Before.  She was just a drab beige typewriter table.  Still sturdy and mobile, though dusty and sad.
     A few spritzes of spray paint and HELLO GORGEOUS!  Hammered copper finish on top with black legs.  I added a coordinating shelf made from a tray I already owned.
     This repurposed typewriter table is sturdy enough to hold my Kitchen Aide.   Our Kitchen Aide is one of the most frequently used appliances in our kitchen.  Now it is so much more convenient.  I do not have to lift it out of a cabinet, or have it take up precious real estate on my countertop.  I can push it over to the counter for mashed potatoes or use it by our baking center when making cookies.
       Here's how:
  • Rust-Oleum Hammered Copper Protective Enamel Spray Paint
  • Rust-Oleum Semi-Gloss Black General Purpose Spray Paint
  • Rust-Oleum Clear Spray Paint
  • Frog Tape
  1. I removed the castors and put them safely aside.
  2. I taped off the top and then sprayed the legs black.  I gave it two coats.
  3. When the black was dry, I taped it off and sprayed two coats of copper on the top, including the undersides.  
  4. The tray received the same treatment.  
  5. Everything was coated with the clear spray paint to add a layer of protection.
  6. Finally, the castors were replaced.
     One more look.  Sigh.  I just love it.

     I think this would even be wonderful in a bedroom as a nightstand.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bedford Gray

    Pat left me in the paint department at Home Depot while he picked up the other widgets and supplies he needed for one or more of the dozen’s of projects going on in our house.  My task was to choose the perfect paint color for our kitchen and family room which form a long rectangle.  It had to be a color that I would love and Pat would like.  I wanted a grayish taupe.  The color had to be neutral, but not boring.  Up to date, but not too trendy.  It had to say this place is home, sit stay awhile, and be comfortable, but not be a snooze-fest.  It had to look good when the sun was streaming through the window and when the day was cloudy.  It had to coordinate with the floor tile, the cabinets, and the brick on the fireplace.  It had to be perfect.
     I arrived at Home Depot armed with a list of about ten different colors in several paint brands.  I had notes that I had diligently copied from websites and Pinterest.  Colors with names like Agreeable Gray, Balboa Mist, Mineral, Edgecomb Gray, Woodrow Wilson Putty, Gallery Buff, and Sandy Hook.  I could picture the color in my imagination.  The question was, could I find it among the paint displays.  Slowly I searched, pausing over likely colors.  I checked my list.  I lay paint chips across the gleaming stainless steel counter.  I held each chip up to a white piece of trim to check out the contrast.  Pat stopped in now and then to check my progress.  Finally, I  settled on Martha Stewart’s Bedford Gray.  The very color that Martha Stewart has in her own kitchen!
     The bottom of the walls in our kitchen/family room are white beadboard.  The top of the walls had been freshly sheet rocked, puttied, and sanded.  Pat and I were excited to see the gray sheetrock covered by my beautiful new perfect color.  The big moment had arrived.  The paint included the primer, so it wasn’t necessary to prime the wall first.  I poured the paint into the tray.  I had great expectations for this color.  Holding my breath, I rolled the paint onto the wall, and it promptly blended right in to the gray color of the sheetrock!
    “There are thousands of colors and you choose sheetrock gray, Donna.  I wouldn’t have picked that one,” stated my beloved husband as he left to work on one of the other projects.
     Feeling more than a little disappointed in my color choice, I nevertheless rolled it up on the wall.  It was hard to tell where I had been, because wet, Bedford Gray really is the color of sheetrock.  Pat shook his head each time he walked through the room.  Patty came home from work, sat in the kitchen where the paint smell lingered in the air and thought I had repainted the trim, while she was looking at my freshly painted walls.
     But fortunately for me, paint dries darker than it looks wet.  The Bedford Gray dried overnight to a really wonderful warm gray that met all of my expectations.  Pat is even pleased with the color.  Martha Stewart really does know her way around a kitchen.
     I had a long list of expectations and requirements for so simple a thing as a can of  paint.  Were I to be asked to make a list of expectations that God would require of me, I would have a document containing bullet points and details for behavior and thoughts in all manner of situations. I would have separate sections for marriage, parenting, words of wisdom, and relating to others.  There would be pages of “Must Do’s,” “Should Do’s,” and “Don’t You Dare Do’s.”
     It helps me to shed these unrealistic expectations when I read what the prophet Micah wrote.
     He has showed you O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God  ~Micah 6:8
     Not a long list.  Love mercy.  Be just.  And walk in a humble relationship with God.  Walking in a relationship with God, is not a matter of performance.  It’s a matter of love.  God loves us, even when we mess up.  Even when others think, “I wouldn’t have picked that one.”  God does not accept you after you become good enough, He loves you just as you are.
     God’s expectations are perfect because He knows us perfectly and loves us completely.  He knows exactly what we are, and are not, capable of.
     Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine.  You are precious in my eyes, because you are honored and I love you…the mountains may depart, the hills be shaken, but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken.  ~Isaiah 43:1,4; 54:10
     Our worth and value are not in our possessions, talents, esteem, income, or reputation.  We are His Beloved, and that is expectation enough.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black and White Cookies

     As we are preparing for a move to Low Country, South Carolina, we are embracing everything New York.  Patty made these Black and White Cookies for her friends over the weekend.
     Black and White Cookies are soft, cake-like cookies, traditionally iced with half chocolate icing and half vanilla icing.  Black and White’s can be found all over New York City, in Grand Central station and in the New York deli’s.  They remain an unofficial symbol of New York.  Traditional cookies have a mild lemon flavor.  Patty, my baker, prefers almond extract over the lemon.

Patty’s Black and White Cookies



  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon (Traditional)  OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (Patty)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cups milk


  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 9 tablespoons milk (more if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (Traditional)  OR 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (Patty)
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease several cookie sheets
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  3. With your mixer, beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar and cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until it is almost white in color and the texture is fluffy.
  4. Add the extracts, the egg whites - one at a time.  Mix as you add each ingredient.
  5. Add a third of the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of the milk.  Mix until just combined.  Repeat two times.
  6. Drop 1/4 cup sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheets about 5 inches apart.  Wet a spatula with water.  Spread each ball into a 3 inch circle.  Smooth the surface with the spatula.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Edges should be just turning gold.  Let cookies cool on sheets as they come out of the oven.


  1. Mix the confectioners’ sugar, milk and extract(s) in a bowl until smooth.  Put half of the icing in another bowl and add the cocoa powder.  Mix until smooth.
  2. Ice the cooled cookies on a wire rack.  Patty suggests laying a piece of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the drips.  If you are icing the cookies half white and half black, draw a straight line across the diameter of each cookie to use as an icing guide.  Another option, is to be creative and make designs.  Let the iced cookies set for 30 minutes on the wire rack in order to set the icing.  

     This recipe yield about 2 dozen cookies.  Cookies should be stored in an airtight container, layered between wax paper.  Cookies will last for up to 3 days.   Well, not in our house, but in theory, they last for 3 days.
     In the comments, tell me where you had your first black and white cookie.  I had mine in Grand Central Station with my Grandmother as a child.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


     Twenty one years ago, my friend Janie  asked me to pray for her neighbor, Lori, who had just given birth to her fourth son.  As the mother of three boys the same ages as Lori’s first three, I understood completely why she needed prayer.  Shortly afterwards, at a church potluck, Pat and I met Lori and Denis and the four of us became close friends.
     God has a sense of humor.  The Lori and I who did not know each other, had married the man of our dreams on the same day, honeymooned in Disney World in the same hotel, had mother-in-laws named Florence, and gave birth to sons, and only sons, in fairly rapid succession.  The only way for either of us to have a daughter, was for me to adopt our Patty.  Our boys played soccer together.  Lori’s were the talented ones, mine, unfortunately, had their mother’s athletic prowess.
     Over camping trips, shoe shopping, family dinners, celebrations, weddings, and hospital visits, our lives and hearts have been knit together with love.
Keke Palmer was Cinderella and Sherri Shepherd the Wicked Stepmother.
     Lori and I were even born just three days apart.  Each year we celebrate our birthdays together.  It has been harder since we lost Denis three years ago right before Lori’s birthday.
     Last week, Lori and I went to see the Broadway musical Cinderella.  The music was by Rogers and Hammerstein, which means the songs were the ones that we remembered from childhood.  Cinderella was a movie that came on once a year starring Leslie Ann Warren.  I remember, my wonderful teacher assigned it as homework.  It was the best homework ever!  Oh, how I loved that movie.
     Lori and I were transported to France in the days of Princes, Fairy Godmothers, Ball Gowns, sparkly shoes, white horses, and Royal Banquets.  It was magical when Cinderella’s rags changed into a sparkly white poofy tulle gown complete with tiara and updo before our very eyes.  Lori and I were amazed. We could not figure out how it was done.
     I was once a freckle-faced, tinsel toothed Cinderella rescued by a young prince named Jack.  You can read the fairytale Embracing Your Cinderella, The Ball, and Midnight.
     The story of Cinderella is something everyone can relate to.  Feeling alone and unworthy, working hard for people who just don’t appreciate you, the monotony of doing the same things day after day, being treated like a servant instead of the child of a King.
     But God gives us beauty for ashes.
    In Bible times it was a custom for people to, like Cinderella, sit in ashes during times of great mourning or difficulty.  But the scripture says that God will take our difficult, depressing situation and give us beauty.  He will pick us up out of the ash pile in life and make something beautiful out of us.  He will wrap us in the white robe of salvation.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  ~Revelation 19:11-16
       I pray for all of you a true fairy tale ending.  May you marry the Son of the King.  I will see you at the Banquet.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

See My Hands

Pat & I spelling "Love."
      Jesus may have been crucified and His body buried in a tomb, but, here is the  important part - He didn’t stay there.  Jesus rose from the grave.  Shortly after, He appeared to His disciples.
    Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"    But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
    A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."  Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."   ~John 20:24-29
       Jesus ever so gently restored Thomas.   “Put your finger here, see my hands.”
      “See my hands.”  Thomas had most recently seen those hands pierced by cruel nails at the crucifixion.  He had also seen those same hands cause the blind to see, raise the dead, tenderly bless a child, comfort the grieving, break bread, and wash his own dirty feet.
      Jesus used those nail scared hands to express His great love for us.  Cuts on the palm of your hand ensure that no matter how busy you are, you will notice and pay attention to them.  Every small amount of pressure reminds you that they are there.
     Jesus told Thomas, “See my hands.”
     In Isaiah 49:16, God the Father also said “See my hands,”   He said, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."   The word translated "engraved" means to cut.  God has cut us into his hands.  He can not forget us.  We are His.  He redeemed us with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
     To Thomas, Jesus said "Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe!
     In the same way, our heavenly Father is reaching out to us, saying, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; I cannot forget you, I have redeemed you... stop doubting and believe!”

Thursday, September 4, 2014


When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.  ~Ansel Adams
     I lost my voice.  Silence has ruled.  While things have been quiet here, life has battered us with a series of changes, both good and bad.  Retirement, loss of our beloved dog, deciding to move from the Hudson Valley of New York to the Low Country of South Carolina (but not moved yet), tag sales, home renovations - the kind where every room in the house has a bucket of spackle and array of tools lying about, and the usual life events of a large family.  It all quite took my breath away.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.  ~ Josh Billings
      September has arrived with a hint of gold on the trees.  A time to reset.  A time to start again.  Apple cheeked school children, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, pumpkin coffee, and golden moments.  So I'll begin again, but this time, you'll be along for the journey.  
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