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Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday O' Freebie

On the top of my places to visit wish list is Ireland. There are so many wonderful things that I would love to see there.

I don't do much in the way of decorating for St. Patrick's Day given that some years Easter takes precedence. But this year I gathered up a few green bits and bobs and placed them on a tray.

Starting on Monday I will begin a two week salute to all things Irish.

In the meantime let's celebrate my one year blogging anniversary with a wee bit o green.
The giveaway includes festive fairy dust, tea, chocolate, vintage green bits and bobs, Irish Creme cocoa, bath salts, earrings, and such.

This contest is open to everyone. If it captures your fancy and you feel the luck of the Irish is with you then leave me one comment.
If you are a follower of this blog, aka "adorable person", leave me a second comment.

UPDATE: The random number generator has selected Lady Dorothy of Daffodil Dreams as the winner. I am so happy as Dorothy is an original reader of this blog and one of its first followers.
Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Fat Tuesday!

It's Mardi Gras!

My cousin lives in a New Orleans suburb and says that the city is full of joy, floats and parades.

Any plans for a festive feast before Ash Wednesday and the begining of Lent?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!
This is our Valentine breakfast. Store bought spice muffins with cream cheese frosting. I added a wee bit of food coloring to the milk, but you could also do cranberry juice or strawberry milk. Good thing Sweet boy has a soccer game to get rid of the sugar high.

More love in my mailbox came from my swap partner at Robin's Blue Nest. She sent me this beautiful candy box that she had lovingly decorated. She said that she enjoyed eating the chocolate out of it first. That so made me laugh! She filled the box up with many wonderful goodies including Godiva chocolate. Thank you Robin. I love it all!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for stopping by to visit me. I adore you.

Be blessed!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A lesson in love and friendship

You just never know when you will meet a person who will change your life forever.

In the third grade I met T. She sat at my table in Miss Dobson's class. When we walked home together we discovered that we had become next door neighbors.

My third grade photo

By all accounts we were as opposite as two little girls could be. I was a gangly brunette who loved barbies. T was a petite blond who loved softball. But somehow we became good friends and shared many childhood rites of passage such as ...




School talent shows

Slumber parties

Bi level haircuts~also now known as "the mullet".

Drivers ed, first kisses and prom.

At times, my childhood was really rough. But T was my constant. Even when I moved away from one foster home to another, I knew I could just call T and she would arrive in her Pontiac LeMans to take me anywhere I needed to go.

After graduation I moved far away, but that didn't stop us from being there for the adult milestones.


And the big one, turning 40.

She always makes me laugh...

...even when I want to cry. The past few years have been especially tough. I had to watch as Alzheimer's stole away the Papa Jack that I knew and loved.

I became his legal guardian and when I had to move him into a locked facility T drove several hours, so I wouldn't have to do it all alone. When he passed away, she once again was at my side to help me make all the arrangements so I wouldn't be by myself. I never could have gotten through the tough moments in life without her.

How do you thank a person who is so loving, giving and selfless? A person you know you can always count on no matter what. A mere "thank you" just doesn't even begin to feel like it would be enough.
"We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last, one which makes the heart run over." ~Samuel Johnson
T, my heart is not just full of love for you, it has ran over. I am so thankful for the day on which you were born. Happy Birthday dear friend.
Be blessed!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A bit of pink and red

By now you have probably heard that Domino is the latest magazine victim to stop its presses. The great thing about Domino was that it made design accessible to everyone. It provided inspiration and the belief that a great room was possible with just a can of paint and a good day at the flea market. In honor of its passing I have posted my favorite pink and red images.

Classic kitchens

Lovely living rooms

Kitchy kid spaces

Breathtaking bathrooms
Pretty patios
Beautiful bedrooms

Thank you Domino for 28 great issues. Here's hoping you pull a Victoria.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Love Story Set in Stone

It's been awhile since I've done a post on historical architecture. They generally require several hours (sometimes days) of research on my part and I just haven't had the time.
In thinking about Valentine's Day I asked myself last week "Are there any buildings that have been built for love alone?" My mind quickly recalled that I had done a thesis paper on such a marvel for a historical architecture class.
Interestingly enough, I posed my original question to a few people and they all responded with this same answer/ guess.

Alas, no. Even though the Eiffel Tower is a monument (versus a building) located in the City of Love, and has its own wonderful history, it was not built for love. Perhaps I will write about my personal Eiffel Tower story on another post if you are interested. For now, let me tell you about a love story and the magnificent structure built to glorify this love.

In the 1600's there was a Shah named Shahabuddin Mohammed Shah Jahan. Under him, the Mughal Empire attained its greatest prosperity. Mughal art and architecture also reached its zenith during his rule. As was custom at the time, the Shah had 10 wives. But it was his third wife that captured his heart. He favored her so much that his other 9 wives were virtually ignored. She was the Shah’s closest confidant and traveled with his entourage throughout his many military campaigns. She was a highly religious Muslim and also had a love of gardening which was evident in the creation of the riverside garden in Agra. During the birth of their 14th child, (yes, they loved each other VERY much) complications arose and his wife on her deathbed made one request: that the emperor create a symbol or monument of their love.

Oh I forgot to tell you her nickname. It was Mumtāz Mahal. Meaning “beloved ornament of the palace". The grief stricken Shah began immediately planning a mausoleum and garden in Agra. It was of course the Taj Mahal.

Two things were considered during the planning and drafting phase of the Taj Mahal: the Islamic religion, specifically its teachings and principles, and Mumtaz’s love of gardening. It is only upon closer inspection that you find such details. Muslims believe that a synthesis of line, shape, color and numbers provides the awakened soul with a means of expression. Placement was orientated towards Mecca, the holiest city of Islam. The Taj Mahal is located along a riverbank in Agra, India. Over three acres had to be filled in with dirt and a series of wells created to prevent seepage and bring it 50 feet above the water level. A marble platform was then created to raise the structure even further off of the river’s floodplain.

It is possible that the white marble veneer was chosen because of the influence of the ancient Indian caste system in which the Brahmin caste, the systems highest caste, had been assigned white stones. Another possibility is that in the Islamic faith, white is considered “beingness” as opposed to the “nothingness” of black. The Taj Mahal’s most distinguishing feature is its tall double dome (also known as an onion dome). It rests on a central drum that is surrounded by four octagonal towers that each supports a smaller domed pavilion. Four minaret prayer towers are placed along the edge of the podium and were created strictly for compositional effect.

Above the pointed arches is a calligraphic inlay made of black jaspar as well as several panels that feature various verses of the Qur’an (Koran).

The vaulted recesses themselves are framed with floral patterns using an inlay of precious and semi precious stones such as jade, sapphire and lapis lazuli.

The calligraphy is in thuluth script, very floral in manner. It was created by Persian calligrapher Amanat Khan, who signed several of the panels. The texts refer to themes of judgment.

As you enter through the Taj Mahal Gate, the calligraphy reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."

Inside the central space of the Taj Mahal is a screen that surrounds the centographs. The screen was originally made of an enameled gold which was considered too precious. The screen today is made of white marble that has an arabesque design of flowers and plants in keeping with the Muslim faith.

A close up detail of the screen.

The original design consisting of an inlay of gold and semi precious stones still appears on the tombs themselves.

The mausoleum was completed in 1648. Construction on the other areas of the complex continued on for several years until 1653. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan ordered the amputation of the chief mason’s hand at the completion of the Taj Mahal so that a replication for another building with such exquisite detail could never exist.

The entire complex contains four intersecting canals that represent the Four Rivers of Paradise and feature fountains that have water drawn from the river into subterranean chambers used to feed the canals and water the gardens. Here is an aerial layout of the complex.

At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb. It is said that he spent his remaining days looking at the magnificent structure he had created until he was buried next to his beloved Mumtaz in 1666. The Shah envisioned that the Taj Mahal would become a universally admired piece of architecture. He considered it to be a Masterpiece of Days to Come. The Taj Mahal has indeed withstood the test of time for over three and a half centuries. It has overcome the Indian rebellion of 1857, two world wars and the India-Pakistan wars. The current threat is environmental pollution, acid rain, and visitors who want to carve their own name into the inlaid and carved marble and sandstone facing. (That makes me really cranky.) The Taj Mahal is the best known monument in India with thousands of visitors flocking to the site daily. It is truly a masterpiece of Mughal and Islamic architecture. But one must also consider that its success may also be in part to its romantic appeal, a true testament to enduring love.

Images courtesy of Great Buildings Online and Wikipedia.