Friday, September 28, 2012

Decorating for Fall with Gourds

One of my favorite Fall decorating accessories is gourds.

You can usually find them at farm stands or markets this time of year, and they are inexpensive, come in all shapes and sizes, and can be stained or painted to complement any style decor.

Here are a couple of ways I use mine:

If you decide to try this project, be sure to select gourds with character (lots of different colors and patterns running through them). The more interesting they are in their natural state, the prettier they will be after they're stained.

Before staining the gourds, wipe them off with damp paper towels and let them dry. I use Minwax stain in several different finishes (Special Walnut is my favorite), and you can also use oil paints if you'd like to add more color.

The best thing about working with stain is that you really can't make a mistake. If one finish is too light, you can go over it with a darker stain until the desired effect is achieved. If the gourd has a lot of color and interesting patterns, you may want to just spray it with polyurethane to seal it and not stain it at all.

I use paper towels (be sure to wear gloves because the stains are oil-based), and just "dab or rub" the stains on the gourds.

Stain also works wonders on concrete urns or statuary. I have a pair of urns in my courtyard and, as you can see in the "before" picture below, the finish on this one had faded and looked awful.

Here it is after a coat of Minwax "Special Walnut," which gives it a rich antiqued look ...

I usually do my urns about once a year, because the stain does fade after a while. This technique works on anything made of concrete or resin, like birdbaths, fountains, and statuary.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Town "Too Beautiful to Burn"

Located almost halfway between Natchez and Vicksburg, Port Gibson is the third oldest incorporated town in Mississippi. It is best remembered from the legendary Civil War story in which General Grant reportedly declared the town "too beautiful to burn."

Traces of that beauty still linger in the old houses lining Church Street.

Some of the houses have been restored and are well maintained, while others have fallen into disrepair. It always saddens me to see the toll time takes on these old houses, constructed mostly of wood, but I can certainly understand how costly it must be to maintain them.

My first stop on my photo tour was the Drake House, ca 1900, a lovely example of the Queen Anne style of architecture prevalent around the turn of the century.

Here is a close up view of the beautiful old stained glass window transom which is characteristic of Queen Anne architecture. I love those lace curtains, too!

My next stop was at the Disharoon Home, ca. 1830s, one of the finest Federal-style houses in Claiborne County.

This Greek Revival house is the Presbyterian Manse, ca. 1830-31, the first building to house the First Presbyterian Church.

And speaking of the Presbyterian church, its steeple is probably the most photographed landmark in Port Gibson. Built in 1859, the church's steeple features a gilt hand pointing to Heaven.

Another fine example of Queen Anne architecture is the Schillig House, ca 1896 ...

Gage House, ca 1830

One of the things I love most about old houses is the lagniappe you find in unexpected places. Like this pretty design tucked away under the eave of the house.

Here are a few more houses that caught my eye. The first one is McDougall House, ca 1820 (think about that for a second -- that's 41 years before the Civil War began!).

I love the flag hanging on this house, and just look at those magnificent swan planters waiting to welcome guests.

Spencer House, ca 1840. The rocking chairs on the porch caught my eye.

Be sure and click on this picture to see the details on the rocker, plus the beautiful stained glass hanging in the window.

I love the wide brick sidewalk leading to the Tuscan Columns Bed and Breakfast, ca 1904.

I hated to see the remains of this old home place on Church Street. What a waste ...

But next door, this cute little cow mailbox made me smile. Don't you know the postman loves to put mail in that.I wonder if it moos when you open it!

Traffic was heavy in the downtown historic district at the time I was there, but I did manage to get a shot of the old Trace movie theater ...

And this old Red Goose Shoes sign brought back some memories ...

If you're ever in the Natchez or Vicksburg area, I hope you will take the time to visit Port Gibson. And while you're there, I highly recommend you take a side trip to see the Windsor Ruins.

You can find out more about Windsor here: The Story of the Ruins of Windsor).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Case of the Late Summer Doldrums

For the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling listless and bored and just generally "out of sorts." I haven't been inspired to go out and take pictures or, if the truth be known, to go out at all.

I told my husband that I "needed to shake off the doldrums," and I decided to look up the word doldrums to see if that might be my problem. This is what I found:

Doldrums, as defined by Webster's — a spell of listlessness or despondency; a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump.

Synonyms — Blahs, boredom, disinterest, inactivity, lassitude, letdown, listlessness, malaise, mopey, slump, stagnation, and tedium.

Sad to say, but I have experienced several, if not all, of those symptoms during the past few days [it took me a week to finish writing this post, if that tells you anything].

I googled the word "doldrums" and came across a couple of articles about the effect the changing of the seasons has on a lot of people. I've heard that some people who live where winters are long and especially cold and dreary experience serious mood changes, sleep too much, have little energy, or feel depressed. This condition is called "seasonal affective disorder," and I think I my problem is a case of the "late summer" doldrums.

I know this too, shall pass, especially when the weather gets serious about ushering in Fall, instead of teasing us with cool Fall-like mornings and 90-degree summer afternoons. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I bounce back and regain my energy and inspiration ... but, until then, I hope you will excuse me if I revisit some of my "pictures and posts from the past."

The following post is from last September about this time, and features one of my favorite Fall plants here in Mississippi — the Croton (Codiaeum variegatum). It is a perfect "filler" plant to replace my long-faded and bedraggled summer flowers until I can plant pansies and snapdragons in late Fall. Its dazzling gold, orange, and red glossy variegated leaves are sure to add a blaze of color wherever you plant it.

They also do well in planters and urns ...

Crotons prefer bright light, and the sun really brings out the colors. They do well in the cooler fall temperatures here in Mississippi, but won't tolerate a freeze unless protected.

If crotons are hardy where you live, I think you would enjoy their beautiful display of fall colors, at least until Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Morning Glory

God has many ways of saying, "Good morning!"

The morning star ...

[Photo borrowed from Internet/Credit Unknown]

A sunrise ...

Early morning dew ...

Birds greeting us with their morning songs ...

All of these are what I call How Great Thou Art moments, but one of my favorite "good morning" messages from God is found within the petals of His beautiful Morning Glories.

Their glory glows from within ...

Dear Lord, please help me to be the kind of person who "glows" from within. Help me to remember to be kind and compassionate and patient with those whose paths I may cross today, and let my actions reflect my faith and love for You. Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy First Day of Fall!

Today is officially the "First Day of Fall," and for the past several days we've been enjoying some cooler morning temperatures, with a hint of Fall in the air. The sky is bluer and everything looks brighter without the overwhelming Mississippi heat and humidity we've been suffering from all summer.

Hopefully, we'll see some major changes in the weather in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, I'd like to commemorate this "First Day of Fall," by sharing a glimpse of what we have to look forward to here in Mississippi, when Fall really arrives for good.

"To every thing there is a season," and I am so looking forward to welcoming our Fall season for real, instead of just "officially."

Hope your weekend is filled with fun places to go and fun things to do when you get there! We're going to visit our grandchildren Avery Grace and Maddox today, so I know we're going to have fun.