Monday, April 14, 2014

hopping down the bunny trail

 I don't decorate much for Easter now that I don't have little ones at home, but I still
enjoy putting Easter touches in my kitchen. I put some of my favorite bunnies and
vintage egg cups in the china cabinet...

and placed some more bunny items on a shelf next to the china cabinet.
The egg cup on this shelf is a new one from World Market. The other bunnies
and even the miniature teapot were all thrifted in past years.

I keep my kitchen table very simple on an everyday basis due to curious kitties.
If I so much as put a tablecloth on the table or any elaborate place settings,
they must check it out and jump up on the table. So, I won't make a really pretty
tablescape until the last minute on Easter Sunday.

Easter dinner will be small and cozy ~ me, Brian and Tim ~ and my mom and cousin.
I'm picking up a nitrate-free ham at Trader Joes this week and I'll also make 
marinated asparagus and a fruit salad. My mom is making hot cross buns and 
potato salad, and  my cousin is bringing glazed carrots and an apple pie. I'm also going 
to make a pitcher of strawberry-peach sangria.

In other news, I started physical therapy again today for my shoulder. The MRI
last week showed I have a partial tear in my rotator cuff. I'm perfecting the art
of one-armed yoga and at least I can still exercise by walking and biking. I got a
"new" bike last night from a private seller in my town. It's a Schwinn Traverse and
was hardly used. All it needs is new inner tubes in the tires. Little bits of work continue
in the yard as weather permits (we had some warm weather, but then rain moved in
and's now currently snowing!) and in the guest room, too.

Happy Monday, Happy Passover, Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the color of ocean and sky

 I love color. Lots of, red, green, purple, yellow, pink.
But I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be blue. And if it's the shade of blue
like the ocean and sky, so much the better.

My living room is done in neutrals but has touches of bright blue...
turquoise, aqua. I recently painted the round mirror in the window
frame a beautiful blue.

I have other touches of blue in the living room ~ plates, candle holders,
lamps, and vases...

...pillows and plant holders.

 Perhaps my love of turquoise and aqua started when I painted this wicker
chair a few years ago. At first I thought it was "too much". Now I love it.

I found the blue throw last year at HomeGoods. I think it adds the perfect
color and balance to the all the neutral going on in the couch, walls, rug,
ottomans, and pictures above the couch.

" Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. 
It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. 
Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body." 

What is your favorite color? Do you show it in your home decor?

Linking up to Green Willow Pond: What We Accomplished Wednesday

Monday, April 7, 2014

new little succulents, signs of spring, and a bunny

 I had a really lovely weekend ~ a nice mixture of time spent with a friend, getting
things done around the house, and starting evening walks with Brian again.
We really slacked off on the walking during the winter. 

You might recall that a month or so ago, I was looking for succulents at Home Depot
and they didn't have any. Well, the other evening we were at HD and while hubby
was looking at boring stuff (gel stain for the front door and register vents), I told him
I'd be in the plant section. I was delighted to find they had gotten in a ton of succulents!

I bought three small ones and planted them in a couple of teacup planters and
a piece of milk glass.

I was also thrilled to see that the spring outdoor plants were on display at Home
Depot. It's always a mental and spiritual lift for me when I start to see beautiful
flowers appearing once again in the garden center. 

Speaking of signs of spring, I was walking around my yard this weekend and
was excited to see that the tiger lilies we transplanted around the compost bin
 last fall were coming up. This little area used to be a burn pit years ago, but now
 that we don't burn any yard waste (still legal in our area, but I have terrible allergies
 and burning really drives my allergies insane) and this was an ugly the
compost bin isn't exactly attractive either, we decided to fill the pit with dirt and move
 the compost bin into the center. To make the area more attractive, we planted the lilies
around it. We'll also need to re-seed with grass seed this spring.

 I mentioned spending time with a friend this weekend...we spent the morning going
to five thrift shops. My friend was in search of a small dresser, but no luck. In fact,
none of the thrift stores had any exciting treasures. Neither one of us bought anything.
We stopped for a bite of lunch, then on to a local art studio to paint a ceramic piece.
I have not painted ceramics since I was a teenager, so let's just say I was new
to this. The lady that ran the shop did show us a few pointers so that we weren't
totally clueless. I decided to start simple and chose a small bunny to paint...

 And this is how the bunny looked when I was done. It goes in the kiln this week and 
then I'll pick him/her up. Can't wait to see how it looks when he's/she's all shiny. It was 
more fun and relaxing than being serious about what we were painting. This studio offers
various classes, so perhaps we'll take some sort of painting class in the near future.

 Happy Monday!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

this and that on thursday

 It's always wonderful to have the snow melted from your yard (finally!) but it
does leave behind the ugly truth. As you can see from this photo, we not only live
close to the road and have a teeny patch of front yard, but the ground
is just gross. It's muddy and full of dead leaves and wood chips and rocks all flown
from the street and garden beds while shoveling. Unfortunately, I can't even start
raking this spring due to my shoulder injury.

When I was just outside taking the above photo (and I nearly froze - it's only 31 degrees!),
I noticed green shoots coming out of the ground on this prairie grass plant. Hooray!
Always exciting to see the first signs and promises of spring renewal.

Did some puttering in my office...this little bunny found a home amongst the plants.

The top of the dresser got touches of spring with yellow and green.

 A project that was on my to-do list got done: touching up all the white baseboards and
door moldings in the house. I'll let you in on a little secret. You don't know how dirty
your house really is until you're on your hands and knees looking at baseboards.

 Tim's room/the guest room is coming along...the hardwood floors that were installed and
had some damage were repaired. We're finishing some touch-up painting, I ordered a
Roman shade from and purchased organic cotton bedding at Target. I have
an antique twin headboard in the basement ~ Brian will bring that upstairs and we can
set up the bed.

 I saw the orthopedic doctor again this week and he determined my range of
motion and strength were greatly diminished. I'm also in pain pretty much 24/7.
He thinks I now either have frozen shoulder or a tear. I had a MRI last night and
will meet back with the doctor next Tuesday to discuss results and next coarse of
action. Always a good time in the Middle Age Kingdom.

Monday, March 31, 2014

getting rid of stuff, new curtains, and a dinner guest

 Good Monday morning, friends.
 I am so happy to report that here in northern Illinois, the sun is shining and we're 
supposed to reach 65 degrees F. today! The winds will be whipping up to 40+ mph
this afternoon, but I don't care. Much better than snow or freezing temps. Of course,
it only being the end of March, this weather is too good to be true. This is just a
one-day deal. The rest of the week looks to be in the 40's with lots of rain.

I worked on cleaning out more stuff and organizing this weekend. One thing
I did was to go through my Tupperware/plastics cabinet (everyone has one of those
cabinets, right?) and throw away anything that didn't have a lid, throw away anything
that was obviously too worn, and then donate whatever I didn't want or need that was
still in decent condition. Here's the messy cabinet before:

And here's the after. I did keep a few plastic containers and will phase those
out as I buy more glass containers.

I had mentioned in my last post that I had gone through my closet and dresser
and bagged up no-longer needed jeans, shirts and winter cardigans. I had Brian
go through his clothes and do the same. We ended up with two huge garbage
bags full of clothes for donation! Here they are on my porch, all ready for pick-up.

I also went through stuff in the basement and ended up with two paper bags
full of household miscellaneous - plus an unneeded desk chair.

I had a friend gift me with some beautiful cotton curtain panels. At first, I thought I'd
use them in Tim's room/the guest room, but because that room is so small and the
headboard of the bed will need to go near the one window in the room, we decided
to order a simple Roman shade for that room instead. So, I tried the curtains in 
the living room. I love them! I love the way they softly drape and how the light filters
through the panels. I know that they're not the "proper" length. All the experts say that
curtains should either hit the bottom of the window frame or just skim the floor. Well,
you know what? I don't care. I happen to like these just the way they are. That's the
thing with decorating your house. Forget the rules, people. It's your house. You
can do whatever is pleasing to you. That all said, I can envision a piece of
 contrasting material sewn on to the bottom of these panels so that they hit the floor. 
But, I don't sew! I wouldn't even know what material to pick out. My eyes glaze over 
when I go into a material store. I just might have to commission a friend to work on 
these someday. ;-)

 Brian will be home quite late from work tonight. Unfortunately, he has a wake to
attend. A coworker passed away suddenly due to complications of diabetes. All
I know is that the paramedics found this 46-year old man unresponsive, with a blood
sugar level of 1000! I have never heard of that high of a blood sugar level. By the
time he got to the hospital, he also had a heart attack. Then he was on life support.
The next day, he was gone. So incredibly sad.

Anyway, I decided to invite one of my best friends over for dinner tonight.
I'm going to make these White Chicken Enchiladas. Don't they look
delicious? I found the recipe here.

 I am off and running now to do a big grocery shopping. 
Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

nifty thrifty finds ~ and getting rid of stuff

  I've been working hard at purging a lot of stuff from my home...I went through my
closet and took down the tops and sweaters that I didn't wear all winter and bagged
them up for donation. I figured if I didn't wear something yet all winter, then I never
would. I also got rid of anything that didn't fit exactly right or that was uncomfortable.

Moving on, yesterday I worked on clearing out some vintage and a few newer items
that no longer serve a purpose for me. These are items that are more "valuable", so
I don't want to just donate them. But yet I don't want to sell on eBay or etsy either.
For right now, I have listed the items for sale on a couple of Facebook pages, but 
whatever doesn't sell, I think I'll list some things here on my blog to see if any of
you are interested.

Needless to say, I haven't been thrifting as much as usual. In the past few weeks,
I've run into Goodwill in passing and only came home with a few treasures. At
least I'm getting rid of a lot more than I'm taking in!

I'm a sucker for small, pretty pictures. This one of the Cosmos flowers looks
like someone hand-painted it on glass.

I thought this small oil painting of the roses was so pretty...

Whoever painted it, wrote a message in Polish on the back...

I passed up this business card holder a few times before deciding to buy it.
I'm glad I did - I love it! So cheeky.

Brian and I both love Sun Tea (usually herbal) in the summer. I'm slowly phasing out
all the plastic in our house, so this glass jug is perfect.

And speaking of phasing out plastic and using glass, I found these two small 
Fire King containers. Great for storing small amounts of leftovers in the fridge.

What about you ~ are you bringing more stuff into your home or getting rid of
things? Or, a little of both? Happy Thursday, everyone. Its a chilly, rainy day here
in northern Illinois ~ but, at least it's not snow!

Having fun with ~

 Green Willow Pond - What We Accomplished Wednesday
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson - Share Your Cup Thursday
Lavender Garden Cottage - Cottage Style Party

Monday, March 24, 2014

monday chat ~ weekend goodness

 The past week and weekend flew by. Nothing terribly exciting, just busyness.
The weather here is still cold (only 23 degrees here right now and an inch of snow
expected's ridiculous), but walking around my yard the other day, I 
did notice that the daffodils (at least, that's what I think they are) in front of my
neighbor's house were poking up out of the ground. Hooray! I'll take any little
signs of spring that I can get. I still have not seen any robins, but I am assured
from everyone that I've spoken to, that they're out there.

Friday evening, I drove into Chicago to attend my friend's Spring Equinox dinner
party. I left several hours before the party started so that I wouldn't have to drive
in rush hour traffic. Trust me - you don't want to experience Chicago rush hour
traffic, especially on a Friday. So I stopped in at an independent book store to
kill some time. How I would love to work at a place like this! It had a cool little
cafe in there too, where they serve coffee, tea, wine, beer, and some baked goods.

I wish I had've remembered to bring my regular camera with me to take some
decent photos of my friend's house. It is so warm and inviting and beautiful.
Her cat, Sky looks like an Egyptian prince posing on the fireplace mantle. I
love how the window in the background is void of any window treatment except
for a beautiful asparagus fern plan.

We had a wonderful array of healthy food: Cin had made a pot of one of the most 
delicious soups I've ever had -  a curried sweet potato soup. (Recipe at the end of 
this post, in case you're interested.) I had made a seven-layer Greek dip as an appetizer.
 We also had a spring green salad, an orzo salad filled with asparagus, black olives, 
and juicy little tomatoes, and a ginger pie for dessert. And wine - natch. Poor timing on 
the photo of the food spread on the kitchen island. This was after the food was demolished.

After dinner, we all bundled up and went out in the back yard for a ceremonial
fire. Cin had passed out little slips of paper and we all wrote down what we
wanted and needed to get rid of in our lives...what we were hiding and burying
this winter as we ourselves were hibernating. We then took turns throwing the
pieces of paper in the fire. Letting go. Burn baby, burn!

Yesterday I visited with another friend who just became a grandma. Her
daughter had her first baby - a girl. I got to hold her for over an hour as
she slept. There's nothing like holding a newborn baby and relishing the
miracle of such perfection and beauty. If it feels that good to hold someone
else's baby, I can't imagine how amazing it must feel to hold your own 
grandchild. I look forward to that someday!

As I write this post, the flooring guys are here installing the hardwood floors in Tim's
room. It'll be good to finally get going with getting his room finished. Instead of putting
new blinds and curtains up in this room, I think I'm going to go with a Roman shade.
Two months ago, I won a $100 giveaway with through Cedar Hill Farmhouse.
I'm going to use that credit for the Roman shade. We have a new bed for the room
and I'm going to be using an antique headboard that we've had stored in the basement
for years. Since this will now be a guest room, I'll probably move the TV from my
office into this room (I rarely watch TV, especially in my office). And we'll also put a
small bookcase in this room for Brian's "stuff"...some of his books, radios, and a 
turntable that I had gotten him for Christmas. Here's the soup recipe...happy Monday!

Sweet Potato Curry Soup

3 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 Tablespoons green curry paste
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
1/2 stick butter
splash of lemon juice

1. Saute the onions in coconut oil, when they are tender and translucent, add ginger and garlic. Cook a few minutes longer then add curry paste. Cook just a little longer and then add broth and coconut milk.

2. When sweet potatoes are baked and cool enough to handle, peel and chop into small cubes. Add to soup pot along with salt. Let it all boil together for a few minutes so the sweet potatoes pick up all those tasty flavors. Then blend with a hand blender until silky smooth (add more broth if needed to reach your desired consistency).

3. Throw in the butter and the splash of lemon juice. Serve in bowls with a drizzle 
of sesame oil if desired.