Thursday, March 26, 2015

little happies, cute bunnies and naughty cats

 Hi there, hope you're having a good week. The weather here in northern IL has been so cold and gloomy all week. It's more like winter with temperatures in the 30's and gray skies. We still have little piles of snow in the yard and mountains of snow in parking lots. It's rather depressing for the end of March. Sunshine came in my front door this morning in the form of a friend though. D lived across the street from us for about 22 years and she and her husband moved out-of-state last year. I've missed her so much! She's back in town for a short visit, so she came to visit me this morning for coffee and chat. D gave me such a lovely compliment when she walked in my front door. She looked around my living room and said, "Your house is so pretty. Your photos don't do it justice." I thought that was so sweet, especially since I'm still working on my living room and staring at a blank fireplace wall and an antique buffet that desperately needs a makeover. To brighten my day even more, Brian and I are meeting Tim for dinner at a restaurant in-between our house and his. I'm so glad he's at a school where he can come home for a weekend every once in awhile and where we can meet up with him for dinner.

I don't decorate much for Easter anymore, but I do enjoy my collection of bunnies. I placed a few on some shelves in the kitchen. I especially love the little Beatrix Potter teapot on the top shelf.

I put the rest of my bunnies and a couple of other Easter-related items on top of the dresser in my office. Silly me for thinking plants and breakables were safe up here.

 Nothing is safe from naughty kitties! The little plate that I was using as a saucer for the orchid was so pretty and one of my faves. But the plant seems to be OK and that bunny that's underneath the dresser somehow survived with nary a chip! {Sorry for the poor photo quality of this picture but when I heard the crash and went to investigate, I had my phone on me so used it for an evidence photo. ;-) }

"Wasn't me. I don't move from my sunbeam."

"Not me, either. I was napping on your nice quilt."

"Um, I was busy washing myself."

 I think I found my culprit. Happy Thursday, everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2015

thoughts from the bathtub

Don't worry, there's certainly not going to be any bathtub shots in this post. Not of the tub itself (nothing of beauty - the thing is fiberglass and 27 years old) nor of me soaking in it. Yes, it was a soaking-in-the-tub kind of morning as I woke to a beautiful spring day of 25 degree temps and three inches of snow. Mother Nature sometimes gets a little confused around these parts. Anyway, you know how when you're in the shower or tub and all these random thoughts come to you? I really need to buy Aqua Notes so I can write down all my brilliant light bulb moments when I'm water-logged.

 Before I delve into what mindless drivel  thoughts lit my brain on fire, I thought I'd share some fun things with you first. Saturday was spent antiquing with my aunt. Our original plans were to visit a new-to-us vintage store in a neighboring suburb. I was all set to go and grabbed my coat, purse and umm...where were my keys? I then realized in a moment of panic that I had left my keys in Brian's car the night before when we went out to dinner. Problem was - Brian was at work! I called my aunt and she said not to worry, that she would just come out to my house and we'd go somewhere else. We ended up going to the antique mall by my house. How do you think I'd look behind the wheel of this truck? Just kidding - not my style at all. Now if I were posing by an antique Corvette, that'd be another story. 

 We both found a couple of fun treasures. I got this fun tray for $2. The colors were perfect for my kitchen.

 I put a 3M sticky strip on the back of the tray and hung it on the wall space between my upper cabinets and countertop. Adds a little bit of personality to the wall since I don't have a tiled backsplash.

 I also found a vintage framed owl print which now happily resides with owl friends in a bookcase in the family room.

After me and Auntie were done at the antique mall, we went to a privately-owned vintage shop in town. Auntie found the prettiest yellow metal pie safe which she is keeping on top of her fridge. She said she's going to store bread and snacks such as rice cakes and pretzels in it.

 I found two little antique planters: a pretty deer....

and a sweet chick and egg. I wish I had wide window ledges where I could line up a collection of these cute little planters.

 The thoughts I had while soaking in the tub were about blogging. I'm on a new Facebook group for a specific blogging group and we had a discussion about blog comments. Of course, there were different opinions on how to handle these. In all my years of writing this blog, I have always replied to comments underneath the comment itself - even if just to say "thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a kind comment." I realized that the person leaving the comment was most likely not coming back to see my reply. But I thought acknowledging comments was part of blogging etiquette. If someone asked me a specific question in a comment though, I would - and do - answer that question either on that person's blog or in a personal email.

 I would love to reply to every comment with a personal email, but I simply don't have time to do so. (Nor does any other blogger that I know of!)Taking photographs, editing them, uploading them to my blog, and writing and editing content are time-consuming as it is. I think the consensus was that if no one comes back to your blog to read your reply to their comment, why keep on doing it? True enough. Thus said, I'm going to stop replying to my comments just on this blog. This does not mean that I don't read and treasure every comment - nothing could be further from the truth! Comments mean everything to me. To know that people are taking their precious time to even read my little blog warms my heart ~ and reader comments are like finding an unexpected twenty dollar bill (heck, I'd even take a dollar) in my coat pocket. So, please ~ do comment!  In turn, I will visit your blog and leave comments and answer any questions you might've asked me. If you don't have a blog, I will send you an email if you have one listed through your profile information.

I've been working on and off on this post all day and now it's dinner-time. Seeing it's a cold, snowy evening, I think grilled cheese sandwiches and roasted pepper tomato soup sound mighty good.

Friday, March 20, 2015

thrifty nifties

Like most women, I like accessories ~ but I certainly don't want to pay full-price for them. I have a bunch of scarves and most of them were found at Goodwill and Savers. Can't beat the price of $1.49 for a scarf! I won't - and can't - pay $25+ for a scarf. I thought this one with the pretty shades of blue would be perfect for spring.

And this cotton navy and white eternity scarf is another good one for spring.

Ah...cookbooks. How I adore thee.  I love to cook and enjoy being inspired by new recipes. I don't hold on to all my thrift store cookbooks though. If there's only a few recipes that interest me, I just photocopy them and then re-donate the cookbook. That's what happened with the Chicken Dinners book. I've only gone through one of the Food & Wine books so far, and there's a lot of good recipes, so I think these might be keepers.

Is this not one of the most beautiful covered casserole dishes? It's made in France - brand name is Lourioux and the design is la faune, which is loosely translated as wildflowers. There is a small chip on the edge of the lid on the other side, but for $4.99, I didn't care. I looked this piece up online...someone has it listed for $100 on eBay!

Bowls in my favorite kitchen colors - aqua and red. The red bowls are made in Germany.

On Wednesday, my "oldest" best friend (we met when we were three years old and lived across the street from each other) came out here from Chicago to visit me. We went out to lunch and then we hit a thrift store. Cin found a gorgeous teapot and some toys and clothes for her little boy. I found this metal rack which was marked as a dish rack. I was dubious. It looked more like a mail or bill holder to me. I wasn't going to buy it but Cin said, "I bet small dishes would fit in it. It'd look perfect in your home!" So, I bought it. But guess what? It is not a dish rack! I tried different sizes of plates and nothing fits. I knew I could figure out something to do with it though, so for now it's serving as a book display. I can always spray paint it a different color, too.

Happy spring! Our weather is still wonky, which is to be expected. Sunday and Monday will only be in the 30's. I spied my first robin yesterday and now as I'm sitting here looking out the window that faces my back yard, I can see several plump little robins hopping all over the grass, pecking at the ground. Hooray for spring and happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

in the mood for food ~ bread baking and breakfast

Who doesn't love fresh bread, especially when it's homemade? I went to a sourdough bread baking class this past Sunday. Andrea of My Kitchen Clatter teaches these bread baking classes out of her home. She buys wheat berries in 50 lb. containers and using a NutriMill, grinds the berries into wheat flour. This is the flour she uses for all her bread, waffles and pancakes, pizza crust, muffins...any kind of baked good calling for flour. She will also grind 5 lbs. of flour right then and there for you to take home - which I did. The bag was still warm when I got home. Andrea had sourdough starters in Ball jars, all ready for us to take home, too.

Andrea made a big batch of English muffin dough and we all got to cut, weigh the dough
(we made each piece into two ounces, which makes small English muffins), and shape into rounds.

We then cooked the muffins on a cast iron griddle and a cast iron pan right on top of
the stove.

The recipe made a ton of muffins! And yes, some of them did get burned. These were
sooo yummy while still warm, slathered with butter and homemade jam.

If you don't have your own sourdough starter at home, here's a great tutorial from King Arthur flour on how to make your own:
There's also links on the above page as to how to maintain your starter and even how to make a gluten-free starter. Another great website for everything related to bread baking, including recipes and great video tutorials is Breadtopia.

I also mentioned in my last post that I was going to make my "famous breakfast casserole" for Tim while he was home. Rue of An Old Fashioned World asked if I'd be sharing the recipe. I forgot to take a photo while the casserole was still in the pan - it was much prettier then. In fact, I didn't even remember to take a photo until this morning when I was eating up leftovers. Warning: this isn't the healthiest breakfast casserole. I normally eat very healthy and "clean" and don't eat prepared foods, such as these Crescent rolls. But, I only make this casserole maybe twice a year, so I don't beat myself up over it. I also didn't buy the traditional Pillsbury Crescent rolls - I bought the ones at Trader Joes. They're a little bit healthier. FYI, the Pillsbury ones have hydrogenated soybean oil in them (which I try to totally avoid, if I can help it) as well as food dyes (another big no-no). The Trader Joes ones have healthier oil in them and no food coloring. If you really want to be "good", you could always make your own Crescent roll dough. Also, this recipe is adaptable to your own tastes. Use pork or turkey bacon; pork sausage or a vegetarian sausage - or, no meat at all. Use any kind of veggies that you like or have on-hand.

1 package (roll) Crescent roll dough
5 slices cooked bacon or 1/2 lb. cooked breakfast sausage
1/4 onion, diced 
1/2 green, red, yellow, or orange pepper (or combination), diced
3/4 c. shredded cheese (cheddar or a blend with cheddar in it)
6 large eggs
1/2 c. milk
Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.
Unroll dough and place into a greased 9"x13" pan. Sprinkle cooked bacon or sausage on top of the dough. In a small frying pan, saute the onion and peppers (you could also add broccoli, mushrooms, or any other veggies of your choice) in a little bit of olive oil until partially soft, about 4-5 minutes. Layer the cooked veggies over the bacon (or sausage). Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cooked veggies.
 In a medium bowl, use a mixer to blend the eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour evenly on the top of the casserole. (It will be a thin layer and may not be completely even.) Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until egg mixture is set.

In other news, I'm happy to report that we just had a string of beautiful, sunny, warm days
that melted most of the snow and had green shoots coming out of the ground. I discovered
chives coming back in my herb garden...

daylilies poking up in the ditch in front of the house...

and Lamb's Ear trying to poke its way back through the clumps of ice and snow still stuck in the shady part of the butterfly garden, even though temperatures were in the 60's. Temps are back in the 40's again this week, which is normal here for this time of year. March is very fickle in northern could be cold and snowy (and we'll most likely have at least one more round of snow before it's all over), cool and rainy, or warm and sunny.

The sunset last night was incredible. At first, shades of pink and purple danced across
the sky.

As the minutes flew by and the sun sank lower, the sky turned a darker shade of 
purple and a fiery orange glowed underneath. I stood outside on my patio and watched
the entire light show until the sky was almost black.

Happy baking and happy St. Paddy's Day (we're not doing anything special; we don't even
like corned beef roast, plus Brian's working tonight)...don't forget to take a few minutes from
your busy life and stand in awe of the beauty in our world.

Linking to Cozy Little House Tweak it Tuesday.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

inspiration for a lace curtain and gratitude

My front door has a decorative glass window that brings needed light into my darkish living room. Even though the glass is beveled with metalwork in it, I always worried a bit about the privacy factor. You can't see into the house from the street during the day, but at night when the lights are on in the living room, it's a little spooky knowing someone can somewhat see into the house. I also didn't like knowing that a stranger could walk right up to the front door and look straight into my house. A bit creepy, right?

Then I saw Alice's entryway and front door. I loved how she had a lace panel hung up across the glass window in her door and wanted to do that with mine. I asked my mom if she had a lace panel that she wasn't using and yep, she did. Mom joined us last night for dinner and brought me the lace panel. Using the inspiration from Alice, I hung the lace across a couple of 3M hooks, tied it in the middle with some twine and am really happy with the results. Of course, the lace panel isn't totally fool-proof and there's still the small side window if someone really wanted to look into my house, but it's an improvement. Plus, it looks pretty!

The curtain added some needed softness to this part of the living room, too.

Tim's been home from school since Thursday as he's on Spring Break. It's been a whirlwind of taking his car to the mechanic for some brake work, his phone with a broken screen to a repair shop, shopping for jeans and shoes, extra cooking, cleaning and laundry ~ but I'm enjoying every moment while I can. We visited our favorite coffee shop this afternoon and indulged in iced mochas. As we drove home with the sun roof open to the glorious, sunny sky, the radio blasting The Doors, and groaning to each other how our tummies ached from the chocolately caffeinated goodness, my mama heart was filled with gratitude. Tomorrow morning I will make my "famous" breakfast casserole and then Tim will be packing up his stuff to head back to school. And I will be heading to a bread-making class. I'll tell you all about that in my next post. In the meantime, I hope your weekend has been filled with inspiration and gratefulness, too.

Monday, March 9, 2015

happy sunshiney day

 Thanks for all the get well wishes. I've been feeling just fine and dandy since the last time
I posted. It feels so good to be well that I've been out galavanting every day for the past
six days! Some fun things such as breakfast with a friend, thrifting, visiting another friend
and her baby granddaughter, and finally getting my hair trimmed (way overdue). And some
not-so-much-fun things like errands and going to the dentist this morning.

Our weather has finally given up the sub-zero - teen temperatures. Well, at least for now. 
You never know what March may bring around here. We are at 47 degrees today and
 it practically feels like a heatwave. I had the windows in my house open for hours this
 afternoon. As you can see from this photo, we still have a lot of snow on the ground. I'm
 hoping tomorrow's weather - 55! - will be enough to melt most of this snow.

Besides feeling good, I think the warmer temps and sunshine make just about everyone
in a better mood. As I was doing some housework this afternoon, I tried to be mindful of
the little things around my house that made me smile. Aren't these flowers pretty? They're
alstromeria from Trader Joes. They have yellow ones, too. They sell a huge bunch for only
$3.99 and they last for at least two weeks. The vintage drawer was part of a Christmas gift
from my dear blogger friend, Penny from At Home in English Valley. The white cake plate
belonged to my great-aunt, Sylvia who passed away a little over a year ago.

 Sweet kitties settling in for their afternoon nap on my bed. You can see more of the
alstromeria flowers in the white pitcher and the little kitty vase on top of the secretary desk
in the background. (The secretary desk was my grandma's.)

In my china cabinet ~ a trio of vintage egg cups on top of a recipe box and a collection
 of vintage salt and pepper shakers. All were thrifted or found inexpensively at vintage shops. 

 My bulletin board filled with things that make me of Brian, Phil, Tim, one of
my nieces, myself as a bride, myself as a flower girl, my dad and Phil, quirky ephemera,
a Haiku poem a friend wrote about me, a reminder note from a friend that she loves me,
 a couple of greeting cards, little cardboard pieces of art with pins on the back that my
boys made for me when they were in grade school.

A cheerful, sunshiny spot to blog and journal. See the pictures on the wall to the left?

The one on top is from my childhood - 1971. I was nine years old. If I remember correctly,
I was at a craft show with my mom and this artist - Art Lieb - was there doing these drawings.
I've Googled about this man and found he's now passed away. I'm glad I hung on to this all
these years because it's still something that makes me smile.

Vintage mirror and DIY art.

A side table full of plants.

 Blue glass bird in my living room window that catches the light just so. I love that I can see 
way out into a corn field when the trees are bare. Just too bad my neighbor's 
dilapidated garage ruins the peaceful view!

All these little things are what makes a house a home, don't you think?
I hope you are having a happy day, too. 

Linking up with Cozy Little House Tweak it Tuesday

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

a whole bunch of this 'n that

Day 12 of bronchitis and sinusitis and I'm just now feeling well enough where I think
I can manage running a couple of quick errands this afternoon. I haven't been out of the
 house in 12 days except to go to the doctor! That's a record for me. I don't think I've ever
been housebound this long. And our weather continues to be very cold (below zero 
again tonight) and the ground covered in snow. If it were only warmer where I could open
 a window to get some fresh air or even sit out on the patio and soak up some sunshine.

 In the meantime, I've been relying on some natural remedies for my healing. I had mentioned
in my last blog post that the doctor had given me an antibiotic. I stopped taking it after three
days. Yes, I know you're not supposed to just stop an antibiotic and are supposed to take the
 full course, but I was having some questionable side effects. And yes, I did call the doctor to
 tell him about this and get his "OK" on stopping this medicine. Some of you know from reading
my blog that I am very much into natural health. I don't like taking any prescription medications
unless absolutely necessary. The warnings on this particular antibiotic alone were enough to
cause me to be concerned and scared - mainly, tendon rupture that could happen even several
months after you were done with the medication! Seeing I had a rotator cuff tear last year as
it was, I was a bit freaked out that I'd now have a chance of having that happen all over again.
Oh, and the side effects I was already having from this medication? Severe anxiety and feeling
 very hyper even in the middle the night to the point where I couldn't sleep. I also researched
  bronchitis and sinusitis and found that, in most cases, they're both viral. So, antibiotics won't
  do any good anyway. And both bronchitis and sinusitis can easily last two - three weeks,
sometimes longer.

 A friend of mine has extensively studied the healing properties of essential oils and passed
 on a few "recipes" to me. These are the only essential oils I have on-hand right now, but she
 was able to work with what I had. I thought I'd pass on one of my favorite remedies for a 
stuffy head:

Bring a pot of water on the stove to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat and add two drops
of tea tree oil and five drops each of peppermint, lavender, and lemon oil. (If you have
oregano and/or thyme oil, add two drops each of those.) Stir the oils into the water with
a wooden spoon. Hang your head over the pot of water (I find this easiest to do at the
kitchen table, sitting down) and make a "tent" to drape over your head and the pot so
you get the full benefits of the steam. Close your eyes and inhale deeply. I find this really
opens up my stuffy head and lungs...keep the Kleenex handy!

I won a giveaway from King Arthur flour! I received a copy of their new magazine, Sift
plus a bag each of almond and coconut flour. I've always been a fan of King Arthur flours ~
it's the only brand I buy ~ but I was dubious when I first heard about this new publication:
$12.95 for a magazine? I went through it last night and I was impressed. It's more like
 a softcover cookbook. The quality and photography is top-notch and the magazine is filled
with beautiful recipes and stories. I'd say it's worth the money. 

 I played around with hanging some pictures in the cubby area at the end of
the hallway.

 On the right side, I hung a trio of thrifted pictures with gold frames.

 On the left side, a vintage sorority paddle that Tim found in an abandoned
house that he photographed a few years ago.

I just took a look at our extended forecast and supposedly by Monday, it will
be 40 degrees ~ and 49 degrees on Tuesday! Maybe there really is a light at
the end of this dark, cold winter tunnel. Happy Wednesday, everyone.