Monday, February 8, 2016

weekend shenanigans

 Yesterday evening as the sun was going down, I thought I'd grab my camera and head outside to take some photos. The sky was so beautiful. I snapped some photos, then headed back into the house. I was going to feed the cats their dinner, then heat up some leftover soup for myself. Brian was working and wouldn't be home for another couple of hours. I wasn't planning on watching the Super Bowl, as I'm not a football fan (unless it had've been the Chicago Bears playing, but I won't hold my breath on that one).

I turned the doorknob to go into the house and the door was locked. At first I was confused, because you need a key to lock the deadbolt. I hadn't brought my keys outside with me, and I never lock the door when I'm only going to the side of the house for a moment. I tried the door again and then realized it was the doorknob that was locked. There is a turn knob on the doorknob inside the house. We always leave those unlocked. There was another momentary "what the hell" pause, and then I remembered that my mom and aunt had left my house through the front door the day before, while I had left the house through the garage door. Aha! I'm guessing one of them turned the turn knob from force of habit at their own house. 

Good thing I had my phone with me, because it was darn cold out there!I called a nearby friend and she came and rescued me. I ended up watching part of the Super Bowl with Rescue Friend and her boyfriend. I was in bleached stained yoga pants since I had been at home all day, but hey, at least I was wearing a bra. ;-) The boyfriend took pity on me and wined and dined me with a glass of wine and a piece of pizza, so all was well. 

 So, speaking of guilty culprits my mom and my aunt (on the left...that's me on the right in the blue coat), we spent the day at the local antique mall on Saturday. Mom and Aunt both found a couple of treasures, while I actually came home empty-handed this time. I never even noticed the Maxfield Parrish print behind me until I saw this photo. There is just so much to look at, that it's easy to overlook things. I ended up zooming in on the price tag on my phone and I believe it says $269. Way overpriced! I found the same print ("Daybreak") on eBay for $98. 

 I love when the mail brings something "good" - a magazine, a book, a card or package from a friend - instead of junk mail and bills. Patty from Lemon Lane Style had an Instagram giveaway for her darling fabric flags ~ and I won! I played around with how to display these, and they finally ended up in a vintage milk bottle in my china cabinet.

The colors are perfect for my kitchen. Thank you, Patty!

It's another gray, cold day here with bursts of light snow. I had a dentist appointment first thing this morning and now that the Novocaine has worn off, my tooth is very sore. I have terrible dental phobia, so between being "worked up" this morning over my appointment and now with the soreness of my tooth, I am worn out. Time for a cat nap!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


What's adding a bit of cheer to my home when I'm feeling winter will never end...

(Flowers from Trader Joes)

What I'm listening to lately...

(New-to-me music...give it a listen! It starts out slow but picks up. Beautiful, gentle voices and a catchy tune.)

What's making me laugh...

(Monkey's goofy faces)

What I'm creating...

(a little art journaling/scrapbooking)

What I just finished reading...

(Really enjoyed these stories of food and how it brings us together ~ fantastic recipes, too)

What I'm now reading...

What I'm making in the kitchen...

 (Cavewoman Cafe Bars - my hubby's latest fave! Since we don't do processed sugar and I'm also trying to cut gluten wherever possible, these are perfect for when we have a taste for a little something sweet. You can find the recipe here).

What I'm grateful for today...

 (Sunshine - finally!)

Linking up with Rattlebridge Farm Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party

Monday, February 1, 2016

deals to be had all over

Driving past our local library this weekend, I saw these chairs at the curb. I told Brian to turn the car around and I jumped out to give the chairs an inspection. Fabric still in good shape? Check. Frame still sturdy? Check. Sink into a well-worn hole when you sit down? Umm...yes. Heavy enough to practically give your husband a hernia as he tries to load them in the car? Another yes. Perfect for a college student and his roomies (after you text him to make sure)? Affirmative. Free is good.

While visiting said college student this weekend, I ran into the nearby Goodwill while Brian and Tim were working on Tim's taxes. I found this vintage child's cup for just 79 cents! While I think it's adorable, I have no room to display it and it's not going to be used, so it will go with me to my favorite antique consignment shop to be sold.

At this same Goodwill, I also found a set of brand-new queen-sized flannel sheets and pillowcases from Target. With a 20% off scratch-off ticket, the entire set was only $8! The bedding is in the wash now and will go on my bed later. 

I only pop into Goodwill once in awhile now since I'm really trying to reduce what I bring into my home. A couple of months ago, I found this set of retro plates which will also go with me to the consignment shop for resale. For me, it's a great way to make a few extra dollars.

The one thing I really can't pass up when I'm at Goodwill is quality apparel that one of us truly needs. On the same trip a couple of months ago, I saw this Land's End barn coat in Brian's size for only $7.99. I grabbed it off the rack before someone beat me to it!

Brian loves this coat. Not only does it look good (cool plaid lining, too), but he said it's warm and comfortable.

Speaking of the brand-new Target flannel sheets that I found at Goodwill (above), did you know that Target donates their merchandise to Goodwill? I don't know how that works...if it's close-out or clearance merchandise that didn't sell, or what. In the past, I've gotten a $50 lamp (Target price) for $13 and a $180 (Target price) chair for $35. Anyhoo, these were the latest Target donations that were in the store a couple of months ago - just so you can see some of the bargains that are to be had. I need new bar stools...these would've come home with me if they had've fit in my car. Perhaps my next car should be a SUV. ;-)

I didn't need this ottoman, nor would it go with my furniture, so I didn't buy it. Again, just to show what you can find at Goodwill. And no, I don't work for Target or Goodwill, nor am I getting paid to mention either of these stores. I'm simply a fan.

On to other stores and deals, have you been in Aldi lately? Did you know they now carry an organic line and and keep upping their selection? They started out with just a few canned and boxed items and now they've extended it to some produce, dairy and bread. Again, I don't work for Aldi nor am I getting compensated in any way for mentioning this store. Just passing along information about good bargains. 

Organic, cold-pressed coconut oil is only $4.99. If you're not familiar with the health benefits of coconut oil, do a Google search. There's a wealth of info out there! 

Not organic, but cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil (which is another healthy, "clean" oil and perfect for making salad dressing) is just $3.49.

Organic, steel-cut oats are $2.79.

 Talk about a healthy bread! This one rivals the "famous" Ezekiel Bread, which is a bit pricey. I don't remember the exact price ($2-something, I believe), but Ezekiel Bread is $4+ in other stores.

Now, my best deal of all this weekend turned out to be free steaks! We were grocery shopping at Trader Joes and my favorite employee was at the register. He's one of the managers who's been there for years. I hadn't seen him in awhile, so I expressed how nice it was to see him and that I had assumed he had been transferred to another store, or had quit. He told me that he was there just about every day and said he didn't know why I haven't seen him. 

Mr. Manager continued chatting with us as we were checking out and then he told me to go back to the refrigerated meat section and to pick out a couple of steaks! He said, "It's on me." I stood there with my mouth open as other customers started lining up behind us at the register. I said, "This isn't coming out of your wallet, is it?" He said, "No, no! Now run back there and get yourself some steaks." I couldn't believe my eyes when I got back to the meat section. There was filet mignon, rib eye and top sirloin. At $12.99/b., the sirloin steaks were the least expensive, so that's what I grabbed. I didn't want to be too greedy! I got back to the register and Mr. Incredible Trader Joe's Manager didn't even look at which steaks I had chosen. He simply took the package and stuck it in my bag. We profusely thanked him and walked out of the store still in a state of shock.

The funny thing is, I don't even normally eat steak. I haven't had a steak in many years, simply because steak doesn't appeal to me. My sister told me to freeze them for her, ha ha. I told her I was willing to try them. ;-) Even though I'm usually a good home cook, since I'm not familiar with steaks, I'm not sure what would be the best way to cook these. In a cast iron pan with butter? Would this cut of meat be best as a steak sandwich or served "as is"? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend ~ and that perhaps bargains were to be had by you, too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

sweetness and love

I poked around in my tub of Valentine's Day decor the other day and ended up putting most of the decorations back. As with decorating this past Christmas, I'm really feeling that less is more lately.

I added just a few touches in the kitchen and my office.

A simple place setting on the table...oh, hello Clementine on the chair!

Added just one heart to the china cabinet. I'm liking the red, white and's cheery. I didn't feel like removing everything and starting all over with all Valentine's Day stuff.

Like the china cabinet, the kitchen cart had enough stuff on it, so I simply added a heart bowl with a little birdie on it (found at Target years ago), and filled it with stuffed hearts (gifted from Carol of www.artandsand a few years are all the stuffed hearts in this post) on the middle shelf.

In the office, I stuck some more stuffed hearts in the little drawer of the vintage letter holder. This piece belonged to Brian when he was a boy. Can this be considered vintage already...are we that old?!

On the cookbook shelf in my office...I got the pretty plant pink polka dot plant on the top shelf (in the rose planter) for just 79 cents at Aldi today. I bought two: the other is in my kitchen. And I made a little banner with vintage Valentines and hanging ornaments to string across the middle shelf.

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action." (Mother Teresa)

Linking up to Share Your Cup #182

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

me and my big ideas

My living room is an awkward decorating space. 

~ There's no designated foyer or entryway: When you walk in the front door, you're smack dab in the living room. 
~ The (unfinished) fireplace is on an angled wall. 
~ The only windows in the room are next to the fireplace. 
~ The only way to get to the other rooms in the house is right through the middle of the living room. All the furniture has to be pressed up against the walls to preserve that walkway. 

Every so often I get the urge to rearrange furniture. You would think that I've had enough change with getting new glasses a few days ago and then getting my hair chopped short yesterday. But, nooo. I was so determined today to pull that dang huge sofa from against the wall. I put it on an angle facing the fireplace and then put the console table that used to be on the wall in the "entryway" behind it. I figured the new walking path to the kitchen and hallway could go behind this arrangement.

I thought I could make a nice, cozy seating arrangement by the fireplace. So far, so good. In this photo, you can see the front door and how you walk right into the room. The console table used to be right under that mirror.

 You know how one thing leads to another when you start a project? That was the understatement of the day. I then had to move the huge mahogany buffet that was on the wall next to the fireplace because that space was now too crowded. That left the wall empty, so I "shopped the house" for other furniture. I ended up moving the butler's table from my office against the wall where the buffet used to be.

Of course, when I started moving furniture, I had to take the tchotckes and lamps and plants off all the furniture so I could move it. Which meant everything went into the kitchen. My counters, table and floor were covered with stuff. Zippo seems to be looking around at everything and thinking, "What the heck is going on?"

Then the little "oh crap" moments set in. I realized the canvas flower pictures on the wall to the right (that's where the couch used to be) looked silly just hanging there on a wall with no furniture underneath it. And there wasn't any room to put furniture on that wall because that was the new pathway! Frustration was really setting in.

 Sorry for the bad lighting in this photo, but the sun was setting when I took the photo. You can see the buffet's new spot in the background. Look at the wall art above the buffet. There used to be a tall ladder bookcase there (which I moved into our bedroom) and the wooden HOME piece and the sconces fit perfectly around the top of that bookcase. Now those pieces looked terrible with the buffet there. The scones are screwed into the wall and the HOME piece is actually pretty heavy, so it's hung with some heavy-duty nails. I knew if I had to take those items off the walls, that I'd have a lot of plastering and touch-up painting to do. Ugh.

Another problem? Nowhere to put any lighting. All the electrical outlets are on walls; there are none in the floors. Any lamp beside or behind the couch would mean there'd be a cord stretching out across the floor to reach an outlet.

 The only thing I ended up happy with was moving the secretary desk from our bedroom under the "entryway" mirror. It really opened up the space since the console table that was there took up the entire wall.

After moving furniture and dusting and vacuuming for over four hours (amazing how much dust accumulates behind furniture!), I finally called it quits and went and soaked in a hot bath with lavender essential oil and epsom salts. When hubby got home from work, he helped me move all the furniture - with the exception of the secretary desk since we both like it where it is - back into its original places. I was disappointed and felt I wasted so much time today. Nothing on my to-do list got done. Brian just shrugged his shoulders and said that I would've never known unless I tried. 

Tomorrow I'm sticking to my to-do list.

Monday, January 18, 2016

warmth and cheer

 These past few days have been brutally cold, with wind chills as low as -25F. I always know that when I see the little igloo icon on my phone's weather app, that we're in trouble. Brian had the weekend off, but the cold didn't keep us indoors. We had a lot of errands to run, so off we went. On Sunday, we visited a friend in the hospital which is in a town that we haven't been to in years. This town has a few of my favorite shops, so despite the cold, we braved a few more stops. I can never resist browsing in an independent bookstore.

We also ducked into Sur La Table. A cook's paradise! They even had a kitchen in back of their store where you can take cooking classes. I'm a good cook and can both follow a recipe and make dishes up on my own. But there's still a few things I've never tried and think it'd be cool to learn, such as making pasta and Asian dishes.

How would you like to own your own little coffee-shop-in-one-machine? I nearly fell over when I saw the price. Sheesh, this thing had better give you a back rub, too!

That coffee machine isn't going home with me anytime soon (OK, how about never - not that I'd even want that in my house), but the red ceramic utensil holder on clearance for $8 was doable.

Speaking of cooking, I also stopped in Penzeys, which is a spice shop. I only needed two spices: the Italian Herb Mix and saffron. The jar of air-dried shallots was free, as I had a coupon from a promotional email. They have high-quality spices and herbs and the prices are good, too. 

Back at home...spring-like flowers bring warmth and cheer to my living room. I also have a bouquet on the kitchen table. A budget buy at $3.99 for a bouquet at Trader Joes.

New towels were needed in the main bath, so sticking with cheery, I chose a hot pink hand towel to "pop" against the gray. The wall art is from Hobby Lobby from several years ago.

To warm and fill up our tummies, I've been making a lot of homemade soups. I try to keep a container of soup in the fridge all the time, as it makes for a perfect quick lunch (for me at home, or for Brian to take to work) or light dinner.

But, the other day I wanted to make something different and also wanted to use what I had on-hand. I had a few organic russet potatoes that needed to be used up, as well as some leftover meatloaf in the freezer. So, I made a Shepherd's Pie. It was easy and so delicious! I started put by putting frozen veggies in the bottom of a greased baking dish. All I had was green beans, peas and corn, but you can use whatever you have. Carrots would be delicious in this dish. I then layered on big chunks of defrosted meatloaf and sprinkled the meat and veggies with a little beef broth. I made a pot of mashed potatoes and smoothed them over the meat. Then I sprinkled the top with shredded cheddar cheese. Into the oven the dish went for about 1/2 hour at 350F. 

Brian and I were both saying we weren't very hungry that night, but when this dish came out of the oven, lust of the eyes and flesh took over and we dove in.

We ended up eating almost half the pie. ;-)