“Beachy-Keen”

Since my husband retired we spend our winters near the ocean in what we affectionately call our “beach house,” despite the fact that we are about ten minutes from the water. We are close enough to enjoy sea gulls and mild winter temperatures, but far enough inland to avoid the storm surge from hurricanes and Nor’easters. The interior decorating of the place has a decidedly coastal flavor and feels like a vacation home.

Tooling around Pinterest the other day, I stumbled across “Beach Wreaths” and fell in love! This place “NEEDED” one! I made note of the styles I liked, and then started searching the internet to see where I could buy one similar to the ones I liked on Pinterest.

My dream beach wreath is made from burlap, with kisses of blue and sea shells. I found several that I liked ready-made but they came with an exorbitant price tag. Not wanting to shell out $100 plus dollars for a decoration to hang on my front door, I decided to build one myself.

My supplies for step one: wreath frame, burlap, wire and wire cutters.

My supplies for step one: wreath frame, burlap, wire and wire cutters.

The process is easy. Attach one end of the burlap to the frame with florist wire, make whatever size loops you want and run the wire around each loop, securing it to the frame. Some instructions on the web tell you to just tuck the burlap into the frame, but I wanted my wreath to be more permanent.

Working the burlap around the frame.

Working the burlap around the frame.

Work your way around the frame, looping and wiring as you go. My frame is 18″ and I used two 10 yard rolls of burlap.

The back of the frame showing my wiring.  I ran the wire around the inner rings of the frame.

The back of the frame showing my wiring. I ran the wire around the inner rings of the frame.

I used a thin florist wire that is nearly invisible. Some directions suggest tan colored pipe cleaners, but I wanted to keep the costs as low as possible.

The burlap is complete.  Now to decorate!

The burlap is complete. Now to decorate!

I purchased blue Christmas ornaments from a discount store and a bag of sea shells. With the aid of a hot glue gun, I attached wire and fastened them into place on the wreath. I paid $3 for 12 ornaments, and another $4 for the shells. The burlap cost $7 a roll (I used 2), wire was $1, and the frame was $3. Total investment was @ $25 and 90 minutes labor while watching television.

I topped it off with a string of pearls salvaged from old Christmas tree decorations that haven’t been used in several years.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Most of the ready-to-purchase wreaths I found have the decorations hot-glued into place. Because I want to reserve the option to change things up with the seasons, my decorations are fastened on with wire. All in all, I am very pleased with the results and think my new wreath is “Beachy-Keen!”

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A nostalgic good bye…

In a few days I will return to my house in Michigan and prepare to list it for sale. It is a bittersweet feeling. This house has been my address for over 13 years, which is the second longest span of time I have ever lived in one place. There are lots of memories there.
We intentionally sought a place that needed lots of TLC when we bought it. Our children were quickly approaching their own launch into adulthood, and the life skills of remodeling are best taught with hands-on instruction. The house had “good bones” despite the many cosmetic issues and neglect. We replaced most of the floors, all of the doors, and re-did the kitchen. The “virgin” basement was transformed into a finished living area, complete with second kitchen and bathroom. We learned how to cook on a woodstove during power failures, raised chickens and gardened, dug a pond and built a barn.
The “Great Room” has hosted numerous holiday gatherings of friends and family, weekly Bible studies, and other celebrations. This house was our Granddaughter’s home for her first 5 months of life, and was a place of shelter for her parents when between jobs. Favorite memories are of campfires down by the pond, and sitting on the porch swing watching the fireflies dance in the fields.
I love the winding tree-lined lane that leads to the house. I love the wind-swept fields and watching the blue herons fish in the pond, the geese that return every spring to raise their babies and the small herd of white-tails that we try to outsmart from our garden. And it is hard to let it go. It is a little bit like a death.
As much as I love the house, I cannot live there anymore. My health prevents me from attempting to endure any more cold Michigan winters. Despite my husband’s retirement, my new career prevents me from wintering in a warmer state and spending my summers up north. And that is okay because I really love what I am doing. It is all good, but I still feel sad at saying good-bye to the house in Michigan. Or rather, I think I am saddened at the finality of that chapter of my life coming to a close.
God is always faithful and has a wonderful plan for my future. I can trust Him to lead and direct me into His very best. He is in the process of writing another exciting chapter of my adventure through life with Him.
Turn the page. A new chapter begins.

Learning Contentment

Several of my Northern friends have been asking me how I like living in Florida. I have answered, “It depends on the day. Weekends are great; weekdays, not so much.”

Living in a place is very different from vacationing in a place. On a vacation, there is relaxation, a step out of the ordinary routine of life, and usually a planned change of environment. There is a suspension of normal chores and dedicated time spent with one’s family or spouse. I like vacationing in Florida. What is not to like about palm trees, sun, sand and surf? When one lives in a place, however, life’s demands continue. There are meals to prepared, laundry and cleaning, and work. You get to do the same things you normally do, only you get to do them in a different place. And the sun, sand, and surf become nice weekend activities.

We are something of a hybrid in the Snow-birding world, being younger than all of the people we have met and at a different life-stage. They are truly retired and living on their savings and pensions, no longer punching a clock or having work dictate the hours of their days. The rhythm of their days is much different than ours.

My husband is still employed, and works remote from our motor home via the internet. His workdays are long, absorbed by meetings and phone calls, spent seated at his “desk,” interrupted only by three-step trips to the coffee pot and table for meals. He has made this sacrifice for me, to relocate me to a warmer climate and avoid more cold-induced asthma episodes from Michigan’s frigid winter weather.

My days have changed from full-time employment to having vast stretches of time on my hands – for study, for reading, for writing and whatever else I choose to do from the confines of the park, providing it is quiet and does not interrupt his workday.

Weekends feel much more like being on vacation. The laptops are put away, and we spend time together exploring the area, poking around antique shops, visiting the coast, and making the necessary weekly grocery run.

Do I like living in Florida? Not as much as I like vacationing in Florida. I miss my house, my family and friends, my job, and my life. But, the warmer climate is very nice and I love the freedom of being outside without needing to wear a cold-air mask; February in the Panhandle feels much like June in Northern Michigan. We have discovered a great Spirit-filled church that feels like “home,” and I am now volunteering some of my free time working at a local non-profit agency.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” I am sure he didn’t like all of the circumstances in which he found himself , but he learned to be content in them. I hope, like Paul, I am learning the secret to contentment during my tenure here in Florida. I would like to be able to echo his sentiment, that I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.