Saturday, December 26, 2009

14 Ways to Make YOUR Home Look Like a CHARLESTON , SC Home

I am a Charleston, South Carolina lover. I live close to Charleston, so have been able to visit quite often and take lots of photos of yards, gardens and outside of private homes there. In this short guide I will show you what I have deduced that will be fourteen SUREFIRE ways to make your home more like an authentic historic Charleston style home for the New Year.
All of these elements can be reproduced in your own yard and on the outside of your own home.
Let's start:
No. 1: Wrought iron fencing surrounding home and garden.
One of the biggest defining characteristics of Charleston is their wrought iron fencing and gates. Most are painted black. 

 No. 2: Cement fountains or cast iron fountains in the FRONT yards.
Most of these are inside round cement basins like this one. 

Backyard , grand fountain, painted black

No. 3:
Large cement planters all almost all painted black, if not black then left natural and aged by the elements.  But predominately black.
Just like the door.
No. 4:
Clipped boxwoods and small hedges with meandering paths.

Geometric designs with many knot gardens.

No. 5:
Black WOOD ( not wood composite ) shutters. Some of these are painted dark green ( Charleston green ), which is almost black it is so dark.

Brass doorknocker for your door. Most doorknockers here are lions, they are usually not polished, leaving the old , natural patina is best here.

No. 7: 
Brick pathways all around the homes, to me the biggest indicator of a Charleston style home. Try to get old brick if you can, or brick that looks beat up a little, new brick does not look as authentic. Also try NOT to make your paths perfectly straight and perfect ( I have no problem with this ), as most of the paths are a little ' off' , which makes them more charming.

No. 8:
Thick, heavy wrought iron gates, even if you have wood fencing around your home, if you can put a wrought iron gate at the entrance of your garden or yard, it gives it an authentic Charleston look.

No. 9:
Large wood ( not composite fiberglass wood ), doors painted black.

Also a natural wood stained door was popular, but not as much as the black doors. 


No. 10:
Climbing ivy and topiary , ivy was rambling up many steps, brick walls , doorways.
Up the steps, very common here.

No 11:

I love these authentic Charleston benches. Wood and wrought iron, no aluminum here. These are a must !

No. 12:
Window boxes with overflowing flowers. Most are wood, painted black, some are wrought iron. Anything will help your home look like a Charleston home, wood is just the original ones here.

No. 13:
Original , old cement statuary, beat up  looking is the best way to go here. Not too many in your garden, just sprinkled about and usually you want them to be in the same theme ( Victorian, angels, cherubs, animals, women, etc. ).

No. 14:
You'll need a dog , of any breed, lounging either on your front porch or through your wrought iron fencing. I swear most residents in Charleston have dogs !
My youngest daughter petting a spoiled one here.
See, told you.

Please check my archives in September and October especially where I have many more photos of homes and gardens in downtown historic Charleston, SC.

Blessings to you,

" ...And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. " 1 Corinthians 13:13


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


During this mad rush during the last days of shopping before Christmas...I had a recollection back of a vacation I had in New York city, courtesy of my Mom , who had taken me there for three days of Metropolitan Museum of Art Gawking...and also fancy lunches and dinners and a play.
She also had to shop for some shoes for my daughter's wedding which was coming up in a few months.
We stayed in a very nice hotel, a block off of Fifth avenue, with easy access for me to walk the two miles to the Met daily. 
What happened the first day we arrived has always left me with an impression, a deep profound impression.

EXPENSIVE shoes do not a Happy woman make.

We had checked into our hotel, decided to walk around 5th avenue to check out some stores.

Me and my Mom in the hotel lobby about to go to dinner
I had no idea what sights I would see !
My mom has always been a big shopper, she loves it...I only like shopping for antique paintings...clothes and shoes are wayyyy down on my list. I'm more like a man in that respect, get in the store, find what I need, and get out as quickly as possible. I hate even trying on clothes or shoes.
But the women I saw in these stores , made up for my lack of enthusiasm over high-priced designer label items.
These women were spoiled rotten.
They may have been nice, I have no idea.
But I do know they were spoiled rotten, at least materially.
AFFLUENZA was rampant.
We first went into Bergdorf Goodman, a expensive store with multiple, never ending floors of designer fashion. Most of the clerks were dressed better than I was that day, but let me tell you when we hit the shoe department,
I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
Let me describe it for you...racks and displays of expensive...and I mean EXPENSIVE designer shoes all around. At least 30 or so women milling about, some holding up shoes, some bossing around the shoe salesmen ( and they were ALL men ), and some sitting trying on shoes with boxes stacked beside them.
I walked around while my Mom was looking, picked up a sandal that was cute, may have had 4 pieces of leather total that created it...and it was 850.00 ! And that was one of the cheaper shoes there for sale.
I know I gasped ( which caused me to receive a few raised brows ), put it down, giggled, asked my Mom if she had any idea how expensive these shoes were ?
She says, " Of course, we're in BERGDORF GOODMAN !", like I should know what that meant.
I then glanced around and watched as women who were buying 1200.00, and 2500. a pair shoes, with boxes that were in the 'Yes' pile, I watched how they seemed.
They all seemed unhappy.
I meandered through them and the salesmen, no one was smiling.
Now I am not one of those very friendly , happy always smiling people ( my husband is ). But I would walk around and mildly smile at the women.
NOTHING in return.
Now you may say, " You're in New York. " That's why. No, I met plenty of nice people in New York city. 
But not the shoppers, not the women.
We then went to Prada, Chanel, and then to Nordstroms. I told my Mom I was being tortured at that point, I could go see 4 galleries of paintings, but not 4 expensive designer stores.
This was about to kill me.
She on the other hand was just warming up.
At Nordtroms, a larger shoe department  was full of women on a full scale mission of over-dressing their feet.
Credit cards would be smoking soon.
I walked around, it was really kind of fun to pick up a shoe , see  the exorbitant cost ( do you know how many antique paintings I could buy for that price ? ), and then go pick up another one.
It became a game to me.
Pick up a shoe,
1200. ON SALE
Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Chanel, too may names, mostly Italian shoes.
But still, no happy faces ( except mine being tickled at the prices), no smiles from the women.
No joy.
Then when I tired of my game of watching these women and the harried salesmen , I told my Mom I couldn't do this anymore.
I left, went back to the hotel but my little Mom ( she was only 5'3 ), kept shopping for another 2 hours.
She was a professional shopper.

The next day as I made my long trek to The Met, straight down Fifth Avenue again.I had on my jeans, Timberland boots, vest and jacket.  Not chic for New York standards...but I was happy, going to see my beloved favorite art museum ( The Met). I encountered woman after woman, all ages, mostly 20's-60's, dressed to the nines.
Expensive jewelry, expensive boots, expensive coats, expensive handbags, expensive haircuts , these women were over the top spoiled rotten , or spoiling themselves rotten with THINGS.
No one was smiling.
I never in three days saw any woman smile that was wearing terribly expensive anything.
Not one.
I entertained myself walking the two miles to the Met and the two miles back by seeing if I could get one of them to smile.
Not a chance.
Not a hint of a smile.
Not a glimmer in an eye of a smile.
Not one.
It made me realize even more than I ever did, that THINGS, material things do not bring you joy.
They were carrying lots of boxes too.
These lovely, beautiful women...were searching in shoe boxes for happiness, for worth, for attention.
But with each successive purchase, with each pulling out of the credit card, with each brand new bag with boxes full of leather and special shoe protective covers, it only made them happy for a short while...until the emptiness returned and more shoes were needed.
Or jewelry,
or clothes,
or handbags,
or hair salon trips,
or vacations, 
or cars,
or room make-overs,
My fun, sweet Mom died suddenly of a heart attack...unexpectedly and tragically,  a month and a half after we came back from New York. It was the last trip I had with her, she spoiled me with all she could there.
But what brought me the greatest joy was simply her presence.
Simply BEING with the ones you love , brings true the knowledge of God loving us with an everlasting, eternal love. 
He will never leave you or forsake you.
God gives us people, nature, bring us true, lasting joy.
I hope this season you realize that God longs to bless you everyday, longs to hold and love you...everyday.
And fill your life with TRUE joy.
Merry Christmas & Blessings,
" These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Me and my son's favorite store

A few weeks ago, my little boy came up to me on a Saturday morning, stands at a distance from me..and asks , " Can we go to Target ?'.
This was unusual for him, he goes if I ask him, but he typically does not ask me. I ask, " Why ?'
He looks down at his Superman wallet in his hand, fingers through his dollars, and asks if he can go buy a giant Nerf gun he found in the Target Christmas catalog.I had seen him rifling through that little catalog, with all the coupons for weeks...and I told him he does not need anything because his birthday and Christmas are very soon.
He is turn explains that he has enough money, exactly 35.00 to buy a GIANT nerf gun , can he pleeaassee ?
I debated with him that 35.00 is alot of money, especially for an 8 year old.
Then I sat there and looked at him, think I am going to say No again, then decide I will take him and his superman wallet full of cash to get his treasure.
I know God gives me things when I do not really need them, so I can allow this too , I surmise.
I tell him to go cut out his 5.00 coupon out of the catalog , for the correct gun...and we take off with all that we needed.
As I found out, but let me explain the process.
We get to Target, it is one of our favorite stores that seems to have everything any one or twenty people can ever need or want. We head back to the back of the store and the toy department. 
The we see it, the Largest Full-Auto Nerf Blaster Vulcan EBF-25.
The treasure of a 8 year old

The box is almost 3 feet long, heavy and we did not have a cart so we both carried it all the way to the front of the store. Stand in line, place it on the little boy is getting more excited. The cashier rings it up, tells us it is 39.95. I look at my son, tell him to hand her his 5.00 off coupon. He reaches in his wallet, pulls it out, hands it to her...she scans it. Over and over she scans it.
Nada, nothing.
No discount.
She looks at it again, and calls a manager. They look at it and go , " Oh, you cut the numbers off under the bar code. " 
I look at the coupon , look at my son, and tell then we will be back.
He almost starts crying, I reassure him the whole way problem...we will find the numbers, tape them on..and get back today to buy it.
We get home, rummage through the trash..I do scold him a little for cutting off the numbers but only to make him aware of it so he won't do it again. It was so tiny, but we tape it back on...he is all smiles..and we head back to Target.
We go back in, get a cart this time...and head back to get another gun. We load that big thing in a cart, smiling ...we head back to the cashier.
We have his gun, we have his cash and his coupon !
All is perfect.
The cashier pulls the large nerf gun through, my little boy hands her is coupon...his superman wallet is open with his little fingers ready to hand her all his cashola...when the horrible words came...after she ran the coupon.
" This won't work." 
By this time a man comes behind us in line , I mildly smile at him but he then gets the pleasure  of hearing me tell her she better get her manager.
Dreaded words no one likes to hear the person in front of you say in line.

My son was getting his discount from their stupid coupon if it was the last thing I did that day.

A manager is called, she gets there, runs the coupon while I explain to her about this being our second trip, all the trouble, etc. The manager runs the coupon, the man starts getting a little antsy behind me...and she goes,
" We can't use this, the very last
TINY number is missing, it is invalid. "
I told her, " No way, " nodded my head at my little boy , still holding open his Superman wallet...and said , " He is getting his 5.00 off. "
The manager then gets a bit huffy ( can't imagine why ), and says there is nothing she can do.
I get equally huffy...tell her I am POSITIVE she can, ask her if she has a code she can use, ask her if she has any catalogs in the back with more coupons ? She just stands there and says, " Nope. " 
By this point the man behind me wants to give me the 5.00...I hold up my hand and say . "No, thanks."
I then turn to the manager and ask to speak to a manager. She retorts SHE is the manager.
I then get huffier and ask to speak to HER manager, the head store manager. 
During all this last huffiness, the cashier is rummaging through her drawer in front of her, picks up a CATALOG, cuts out the coupon and uses it for the sale.
I stood there in disbelief, the WHOLE time this cashier has a catalog.
My son hands over his 35.00, the man behind me gets a little happier, and I help my little boy carry it...but only half-way to the car,  as he was showing shoppers how strong he was to carry this giant gun.
I get in the car with a smiling 8 year old boy, and I tell him," You know what lesson that should teach you ?'
He says, " Be careful clipping coupons . "
I say yes, but also do not be AFRAID to stand up for what is RIGHT in this world. Do not back down , that God gives us power through the Holy Spirit , to stand strong for what is right.
He just looks down at his gun and smiles.
At home with his awesome gun
I'll bet also when we head back to Target they will see me coming and turn on the red lights in the back office area...Red comes Trouble.
Such is life.
I hope you have courage to always stand up for what's right, and always stand up for ' The little guy ' in this world who cannot stand up for himself.
God is our enabler, Jesus is our advocate.
Many blessings,

" And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, the He may abide in you forever--
The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither knows Him; for He dwells with you and will be in you. "
John 14:16,17

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This ' DYING to SELF ' is about To KILL Me

In the Bible, where it says," I affirm , by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31, made me again feel like I am missing the mark as a Christian.
We are supposed to die to our present lives, our sinful nature , and become more Christ-like. That means being less selfish ( guilty), less concerned with my needs over other's needs ( guilty ), and being a servant to our fellow man ( guilty ). It also means that we are supposed to put aside our wants and desires, even ' needs' , and allow God to show us what is best for us.
That made me think of our beautiful, goofy dog and her chocolate-chip muffin obsession.
Every school day morning I make my son chocolate chip muffins ( I sneak an egg & milk in them as he won't touch either normally), and I put them in his lunch box with his lunch. Every morning our black lab stands there and watches me and hopes quite earnestly, that THIS is the morning I will accidentally drop a muffin,
So she can eat it.
She has done this for 4 years straight.
No dropped muffins, but that does not deter her yet.
She just looks at me, waiting.
Just like we do with God, waiting for our prayers to be answered.
Now I know she does not NEED that muffin, she only THINKS in her little brain that she needs it...but she wants it SO bad...and I just look at her and know that I am not going to give her one. She looks at me while I'm stirring the batter, she looks at me while I put them in the pan, she looks at me when the timer goes off and they are ready.
She looks , hopes, and DROOLS.
She has no idea that they are NOT necessary for her life, they are not good for dogs, I have something better for her soon...she wants them NOW.
She NEEDS them. 
Just like we look to God.
We are like that , we want what we want when we see it, think about it, and we do not understand why GOD does not give it to us.
Now some things , sinful things, we KNOW why He does not allow us to grasp...or if we do , then He speaks to us in that still small voice, " Stop, turn back, that is not necessary for your happiness or your life. "
But many of us, still kicking and screaming ( or whining ), say back to God,
" But this or that is IMPORTANT, NECESSARY, I NEED it. "
Just like my dog , we do not understand WHY ?
But some things that are not sinful, simply OUR dreams and hopes, our needs...He allows to either put on hold or allow to never happen. 
That predicament can cause us to not trust God, not know for certain that He hears us.
 We also can ignore God if we cannot mentally figure out why He wants us to do something other than what we want to do or not do.
Jesus explains it to His disciples:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:24-25
So we are supposed to put aside, place in second , our hopes, dreams and desires and let God's glory be paramount.
To do this, we have to learn, through reading the Bible and lots of prayer, that God's plan for our lives is far superior to our plans.
His vision, far superior than ours.
His purpose is far superior than our own comfort,
as the development of our character, to be more like Him,
will bring us the greatest joy ,
Our timeline, is usually not God's timeline, and that is where the trust factor comes into play.
Trusting God has always been a big challenge for me. I am a stubborn, strong-willed woman who does not want anyone in charge of my life but me.
Even God.
That mindset has to change if I am to grow into the Woman God wants me to be,
That He knows I can be.
That He can use.
I just need to die to self daily, bite my tongue more, put other's needs above my own more, and watch for more opportunities to bless. Saying that, is easier to say than to do. The easier thing to do in most circumstances is to take care of yourself first, to oftentimes NOT put others needs before yours.
Selfishness, ME-mentality reins in the World.
Gonna shake myself up and out of that pattern.
I will write more about my attempts to learn to trust God in other articles,
I hope you grow in your spiritual journey and learn more about God this week,

Miss Spoiled rotten Black Lab
" Living for Jesus a life that is true, Striving to please Him in all that I do; Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free, This is the pathway of blessing for me. "
Hymn by Thomas O. Chisholm
early 1900's 

Monday, December 7, 2009


I am always amazed at the way God chooses to touch us. It is oftentimes in the smallest ways , not fancy , not ostentatious , but always effective. 
We were in church yesterday, had gotten there in one of those moods of ' Not too bad-Not too good ". The pressures of life and living , weighing on many in the building.
We go to the traditional service in our church...where old hymns are sung and everyone is dressed fairly nice. The contemporary service our church holds at 11:30, is much more laid back...jeans, shorts, whatever. But the old hymns are not usually sung ,and my husband and I still believe a church is a building that deserves some reverence when you come to worship. So we go to the fuddier-duddier service that we enjoy. 
We sat up top in the balcony, this time at the very edge where people walk by in front of us. While I was standing , singing a Christmas hymn with the congregation....right in front of me passed a blessing from God.
He was dressed a little oddly, he had a red velour jacket over pants, it was not quite zipped and his collar was askew. He was probably in his late 60's or so, and he had the most warm happy eyes.
He passed in front of us and went directly behind us, and then he started.

He started whistling to the hymn.
No singing, but every note, every word...was whistled.
I have been to this church for over 30 years, and I have NEVER heard anyone do that.
I turned to my husband, he turned and looked at me...I was smiling with delight over the whistling.
When we all finished, we have a' Turn and say Hi to someone' time at church. I turned around to the whistling man in his red velour jacket, he looked shy and sweet. I asked him if that was him whistling ? He says , " Yes."
I could tell that he must have had someone NOT like it before, or maybe just give him strange looks when he does his manner.
I then told him I really liked it.
He had the sweetest smile come over his face...and then we all sat for the rest of the service.
During the rest of the hymns that were sung...I could hear his beautiful whistling, it had gotten drowned out a bit by some more people coming to sit near him...but it was still there...floating in the air to bless in his own special and unique way.
When the service was completely over , and we were leaving...I turned again to the man and took his hand in both of mine, and told him how much I enjoyed his whistling again.
I guess that time I blessed him, as his eyes were shining and he just nodded and smiled.
I left there appreciating so much the boldness of this shy man , of how he chooses to whistle...go against the norm...and give glory to God.
I thanked God for that small simple blessing of whistling, and I wish you all to have something really small and special touch you today from God. I also encourage you to touch someone for God today,


" When in our music God is glorified , And adoration leaves no room for pride , It is as tho' the whole creation cried, Alleluia, Alleluia ! " 
Old hymn by Fred Pratt Green mid 1900's