Friday, May 31, 2013


Do you ever wish you could just wiggle your nose like Samantha did in the old TV show Bewitched , and whatever you wanted would happen instantly?  I have found myself wishing that a lot this week.  Especially, as I have attempted to finish all my garden projects, in preparation for enjoying the outdoors this summer.

Unfortunately,  I was not born with a nose-twitching gene.  I have to do everything the old-fashioned way, one project at a time and sadly,
on occasion. . .one failure at a time.


Recently, I purchased an old shutter and a set of bi-fold doors from a thrift shop.  I had planned to fasten them together into a privacy screen for the end of the patio.  Great idea, right?  Wrong!  I soon realized that the bi-fold doors were too tall to fit the space where I wanted to use them, and that since we get gusty winds with every summer storm that passes our way, they would never stay upright.  Instead, I decided to install a pair of 4x4 posts in the ground (at the edge of the patio) and screw only the just-right-size shutters onto them, making the shutters impervious to the whims of the wind.  That took care of the privacy issue.

But. . .what was I to do with the too tall bi-fold doors?  After surveying the patio, I had a light-bulb moment!

 I would stand them up against the brick wall of the garage as a focal point.  With the addition of my herb-garden urn, some unused picture frames and a couple of chairs, they would create a cozy and unexpected vignette on what had been a plain, and rather dull brick wall!

Don't you just love it when a failed
idea. . . 

turns into something even better than you imagined?  

Who needs a nose-twitching gene anyway?

Thanks for stopping by!

                                   ~Norma Jean~


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Do you remember the day you fell in love. . .with that beautiful, shiny, French Door fridge in the showroom?  The way it gleamed at you.  The way it made your heart do little flip-flops?  The way you lusted after it (yes, admit it, there was lust involved).  You could just see it in your kitchen.  You had to have it! 

Now that it's yours, do you find keeping it showroom shiny to be a chore?  Well, fret no more...I have a tip that will make you fall in love all over again.  Shh. . . don't tell, but I got this information from a Maytag repairman. . .Shh. . .

Step 1:  Wipe the surfaces of the appliance down with household 
              ammonia, wiping in the direction of the 
              grain of the metal.  (On most refrigerators that's
              horizontally).  This will remove those ugly
              smudges, smears, and fingerprints. 

Step 2.  Wipe surfaces again, with a soft rag, saturated with baby
              oil (that's right baby oil!).

Step 3:   Wipe the baby oil off with a clean, soft rag and VIOLA!
               Your refrigerator will now gleam, glimmer and shine
               in all it's former glory!

Really, you need to try this.  It only takes about five minutes.  Gather your supplies and give it a try.  I promise, you will be very happy you did. 

Behold, my nine-year-old refrigerator shining proudly in my kitchen!

I am definitely in love again!  Hope you will be too!
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The Playhouse

The garden is finally coming to life after a long, cold, gray Tennessee winter.  It's so amazing to watch!  Having spent almost my entire life in Southern California, where flowers are always in bloom, I never truly appreciated springtime.  I just took all that unending beauty for granted.  Now, I really see the newness of spring, the re-awakening of the trees and flowers.  I notice the call of the birds as they flit about nest-building and something in me awakens too.  I have a desire to get outside and dig in the fertile soil, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, plant, watch, listen, and breathe-in the fragrance of the sweet, clean air.

This winter I have been working on a few new additions for my back garden.  The first is an old armchair I picked up in an antique store for $10.00.  The manager of the store told me that she didn't think anyone would pay good money for that old, broken-down chair.  In fact she suggested that it be thrown in the rubbish bin.  However, the owner of the chair assured her that someone, would see it's "po-ten-tial" and be willing to part with their hard-earned dollars.  And sure enough, there I was, money in hand!   I have to admit that the chair was trashed.  The cane in the back of the chair was badly torn, the top of the chair was broken and hanging by a thread, the rush seat was destroyed and something had obviously been gnawing on one of the legs.  But. . .in that ugly little chair I saw potential!!  I saw beyond it's broken top, torn cane, useless seat, and gnawed leg.  I saw a lovely, purple throne, filled with flowers, bringing beauty and grace to my garden.  I saw it sitting proudly in a spot currently occupied by a very large, very ugly, very dead shrub!

In another part of the yard I'm growing a bottle tree!   Truly. . .I am!!  Not the horticultural kind, but rather one with jewel-toned, cobalt-blue bottles as branches.  I planted a fast-growing vine which will hopefully, twine itself around the "branches" and make a lovely color contrast.  I can see it already: shiny green leaves, cobalt blue glass, gorgeous yellow blossoms, all lifting their faces to the sun.  By summer's end, you'll see it too.

Over in the rose garden I have "planted" a floral toolbox on a pink, painted post, to keep my garden gloves and pruners clean and handy.

And. . .a new cobalt blue gazing ball adds a bit of pizazz to the concrete birdbath.

It was a long wait, but so worth it!  I love my little garden.  Stay tuned for the patio makeover currently in progress.

In the meantime...get outside...get those hands dirty...enjoy spring...'cause you won't see it again 'til next year!

Thanks for stopping by!
                                          ~Norma Jean~

Friday, May 17, 2013


Do you remember Heloise?  Oh, you don't?  Well. . .when I was  young and newly-married, her book was the resident authority on homemaking.  I didn't have the Internet with instant access to vital information.  If I wanted to know the best way to clean my oven, I consulted Heloise's book.  If I wanted to know how to keep ants out of my kitchen...I consulted Heloise.  Heloise was the new housewife's best friend (that's what we were called waaaay back then).

I still have my copy of that little book.  The pages are falling out, and the cover is tattered and stained, but I rarely consult Heloise anymore.  Not because I already know it all, but because today I have the Internet...and blogs...and Pinterest, and video tutorials

I can find instructions for everything on the Internet!  Yeah! Everything! Instructions on how to furnish my house with furniture made from discarded wooden pallets and raising kids and cooking gourmet meals and cleaning ovens and even keeping ants out of my kitchen!  All of that with pictures!

Not just ordinary pictures. Gorgeous, full color, professional-looking pictures.  Pictures that make me drool over strawberry pies and puffy souffles, pictures that
. . .almost. . .make me believe that I could actually demolish and remodel my own bathroom all-by-myself!

I love searching Pinterest,
reading the blogs of those accomplished superwomen,
drooling over the gorgeous photos...
but...sometimes. . .
just sometimes. . .
I long for the "good old days". . .
when all I had to compete with was Heloise and her little book of housekeeping hints.

Thanks for stopping by!

                                                    ~Norma Jean~

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BLOGGING 101. . .

This blogging thing. . .you know. . .it's not easy.  I had no idea how much was involved and what a commitment I was making for myself.  Right now I have a post about Springtime all ready to go, with some great projects. . . BUT. . .the projects I want to show you are not ready yet, because of inclement weather!  No.  Really!  It has rained every Saturday for the last two weeks.  My projects involve digging holes and pouring concrete.  Unfortunately, my primary hole digger/concrete pour- er  (who happens to only be available on weekends) refuses to dig and pour in the rain! Humph!  Can you just imagine that?  Dependable help is so-o-o-o hard to find these days.

Since I can't show you the completed projects, I thought I would give you a little sneak peek.  Are you ready?  Here goes:

Cobalt blue bottles. . . 

A little blossom bling. . .

An old rusted child's ice cream set. . .

Something purple this way comes. . .

Can you guess what?

Here's hoping you will check back in a few days to see the finished projects in all their pristine glory (well. . . at least in their appointed places)!

Thanks for stopping by. . .

                                                                              ~ Norma Jean~


Thursday, May 9, 2013



Don't you just love old-fashioned southern porches?

 You know, the kind that are filled with Victorian wicker, flowers, ceiling fans and a big, round table large enough to feed eight farmhands?  I often daydream of relaxing on one like that. . . sipping lemonade. . . enveloped in the fragrance of lilacs. . .the soft summer breeze drifting over me. . .

Well, there are day dreams and there is R-E-A-L-I-T-Y!  I have a southern porch alright.  It runs the entire length of the house, but. . .it's very narrow.  You couldn't seat eight farm hands around a table on my porch, even if you used a shoehorn!
So. . . my challenge was to make it inviting and usable, without lining up chairs along the front like a row of tin soldiers on parade.  Hmmm, what if I used a couple of rockers and a clever little table on one side and made a romantic dining spot for two (notice two, not eight!) on the opposite side?

Not wanting this to be an expensive proposition, I decided to see what I already owned that I could use.  I went "shopping" in my storage shed and back yard.  In the storage shed I found a child-sized, wooden ironing board that I re purposed for a side table.  I placed my twenty-plus-year-old Cracker Barrel rockers on one end of the porch, with the newly painted ironing board between them.  A cute lamp, a couple of ceramic coasters (stolen from the sitting room) and a large print purchased from Goodwill ($9.99).


Now, for that romantic table for two. . .

I brought my metal bistro table and two chairs (World Market) from the courtyard and placed them on the opposite end of the porch.  I also had a white, plastic, free-standing shelf that had not found a home yet ($5 from the ReStore).  I added that to the end of the porch to use as a buffet server/plant stand.  A couple of Kroger bargain-barrel prints on the wall ($6.00 each), a few plants, a candle or two. . and VIOLA!  A romantic dining spot for two (notice two, not eight!).

Pretty tassels borrowed from a bedroom
armoire. . .

A few flowers. . .

Well, What do you think?  Did I accomplish my goal?  Is it inviting, usable?

Whew!  After all that activity I'm bushed.  I think I'll go make some lemonade and spend the rest of the afternoon daydreaming on my southern porch!

Oh, if it's not too much trouble, could someone
plant a few lilacs for me?

Thanks for stoppping by!

                                                               ~Norma Jean~

Friday, May 3, 2013


Do you like surprises?

You do?  Well, me too! 

Today I went out to the front porch to water my newly-acquired hanging ferns.  When I reached up with the watering can, I noticed what looked like a nest.  I was a little surprised, as a few days earlier, I had removed what I had thought was an old nest from that same fern.  Apparently an old nest it was not, for when I brought this one down, I was surprised to see five tiny eggs in it.  The empty nest I had removed must have been her initial attempt at making a home for her future babies.

This tenacious little momma-to-be had returned to build another nest in the same spot AND had laid  eggs in it before it was discovered!  I carefully nestled the nest back into its fern hiding place and hoped that Momma bird would return to sit on her eggs.  I left the fern alone for several hours and then took a peek out the dining room window.  What I saw caused my heart to do a little jig.  She had returned and was sitting serenely in the nest. 

I'm so glad that I didn't cause her to abandon those sweet little eggs.

Thanks for stopping by!
                                                                                              ~Norma Jean~