Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moving On

Our next door neighbor is selling her house.   She's very nice and her daughters are so cute, I am sad to see them move.  At the same time I'm happy that they will get to live closer to her parents.   As much as I hate to see them go, I know it's best for their family, so I'm doing my part to help her sell her house. 
One of my flower beds needs a bit of weeding and a lot of water.

I am spending my early mornings weeding my flower beds.  O.K., let's be honest, I'm weeding the flower beds for me and my flowers - but my neighbor should benefit from this.  I'm also replacing my old bird feeder.  And, yes, I realize this probably benefits the birds and squirrels more than my neighbor, but it does make the side yard look 'happy' with all the wildlife roaming or flying about. 

Birdfeeders in February

And until her house sells, I promise not to grease the pole the bird feeder is on.  It's a cheap thrill, spraying the pole with Pam and watching the squirrels jump up and start to climb.  They sort of stay in place, with their paws moving frantically - like Fred Flintstone's feet just before his car moves - and then with one last effort they'll throw themselves against the pole and hang on as tight as they can... and that's when they slide down to the ground.  Like I said it's a cheap thrill.  It gives me and the squirrels something to do.  I don't think the squirrels care for this trick and once again they have made it to the feeder and have eaten through the cord that holds the top in place.  

My original bird feeder was a gift. Homemade, wooden and cute, it took the squirrels a little over a year to eat through the wood and destroy the feeder.  So I bought a plastic bird feeder.  The first one was large, some days there would be four or five doves on it.  It was a little bit creepy - they were all over the place waiting for their turn.  I now have trouble associating the words peaceful and dove. 

By the time the squirrels destroyed that feeder I knew to go with something smaller.   The next feeder I bought was destroyed in just a few weeks, so my husband used two bungee cords, one green, one yellow, to hold the top on.  I just left it like that (why waste money when the squirrels will just keep ruining the feeders?).  When anyone asked about it I told them I was going through a redneck phase.  We quickly noticed the squirrels thought little of this arrangement.  The cords started to get a fuzzy look.  We began to find bits of green and yellow nylon in the grass.  One morning, as I looked out over my kingdom, I noticed the top off the feeder and only one cord barely hanging on.  I went out to check on things and there, next to the pole, was the little yellow bungee cord, shredded.  One of the hooks was missing - it was found in the yard a month or so later.  I bought another feeder, making sure I liked it with or without the top.  


Doves guarding the topless feeder.

Now with all this work I'm doing for my neighbor I have to confess I've asked a favor of her. I want more good neighbors.  So I have come up with a little test to see who can live next door to me.  I have asked my wonderful neighbor not to paint her foyer.  It's a bold red, very nice.  I know, all the decorating shows tell you to tone it down, paint it a neutral color so the potential buyers can visualize themselves living there.  But I don't want a new neighbor too stupid to see past the red paint (if it turns out they don't like the color).  "This foyer has red walls, I can't live here."  That's right - you can't.  I want to know that my new neighbors have vision.    Maybe I should get the Pam out, I want them to have a sense of humor, too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Estate Sales & Such

I would like to go to my estate sale.  No rush, sometime in the distant future.  Someday.  What would people say about the things I have surrounded myself with? 

I can't get too close or you'll see the tea stains and the scratches on my well used (and loved) treasures.


I enjoy watching PBS' Antiques Roadshow. It makes me a bit sad when an expert looks at a piece and declares it in mint condition, worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the owner says they'll never part with it because the whole family (or granny) loved it so. Really? It was loved and never used? A Picasso, sure, I can believe that wasn't 'used,' but what about the china, furniture, silverware, tea pots, Tiffany Lamps, jewelry?   The family Bible?   How do you love things and not use them?  If you're not using a set of dishes you own - maybe they own you. 

Maybe Purgatory is a theater-like waiting room where you spend a few weeks listening to what your fellow man thought of you and your life.  A place to see the true value of your earthly treasures.  No, that might actually be Hell - the sadness of watching yourself treat things better than people.  How would you explain loving a television show about friends visiting with friends more than making, having, and spending time with actual friends of your own?


I can't show you my real treasures, I just hope they will read this and remember some of our adventures.  This year is almost half way over, stop now and call someone you love (don't text them or email - actually listen to their voice).  In the next few days have your favorite meal with the people you love best and use your favorite china or stoneware or whatever dishes make you happy.   Life comes at us pretty fast, it's up to us to figure out how to slow things down. 

Now is always the best time to enjoy life.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Work Continues in the Garage

It always seems to take longer in real life than it does on television. Progress is slower than I would like, but steady.  
Before, in this photo the wall doesn't look THAT dirty. 
I measured the wall and the ice chests (someday I'll explain why so many) and went shopping.   I got this 'system' because we used a smaller version in our pantry.  It took a Saturday to get it up, it probably would have taken a couple of hours (or less) but we have wonderful neighbors to visit with, there was a garage sale nearby that we checked out, steaks and asparagus were on sale and we had other shopping to do...  Oh, there was this magazine at the grocery store that I saw and wanted, but didn't buy (it cost $14.99 - maybe I could find a better deal somewhere else?)... but it was beautiful... it looked made for me...  it was called Where Women Create - it seemed to combine the best of both worlds - decorating the area you craft in.  It might be just what I need but I didn't have time, didn't want to spend the money and didn't buy it - that day.  Back to work and (eventually) we ended up with this....


After-ish, there's still work to be done, just making sure stuff fits, shelves were level, etc.
If you look at the wall, left side, just above the car, you can see the 'hole in the wall.'  This is before the patch.  The patch (finally) dried but there's a crack in it, so this morning I'm going to fill it with spackling (again) and it should be ready to sand and paint this afternoon. 

Sometime today I plan to take a break and read a bit...



I'll let you know if it is the best of both worlds.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating the New Season

Happy Summertime!  Today I'm celebrating the Summer Solstice.  I'm not talking dancing naked under the moon, although I suppose anything is possible.  I started this day giving thanks to God for the wonderful world.  My plan is to move on to dusting the part that I've been entrusted with and later on fixing a wonderful meal.

I'm looking forward to a beautiful Cosmopolitan. (I'll start with a Cosmo, I can't think of anything pink my husband drinks).  
 
My recipe is:

3 oz. Cranberry Juice Cocktail,
1 oz. lime juice,
1 oz. Triple Sec, 
1/2 oz. Dripping Springs Vodka
                          (yes, it's a Texas vodka)

Pour everything into a shaker, fill with ice, shake until the top of the shaker is frosty, then pour into your favorite glass (the one you keep in the freezer).

Dinner:
Grilled Chicken over Salad
Garlic Toast Croutons

I'll warm up the chicken (we grilled a huge batch of chicken and froze it, so it's ready we when are), put it on top of the salad and it will taste great.  And it's easy.  I'm a big fan of easy dinners, especially in the heat of the summer. 

The seasons fascinate me.  Circle of life and all that.  My husband has walked around muttering "der l√§ngste Tag" (German - "the longest day") and has now gone to work.  I'm enjoying a cup of coffee, o.k., it's my second cup.  This whole blogging world might be dangerous.  I find that I am easily influenced by beautiful pictures and clever words.  My friend, Patti, sent me a link to a cooking blog,  The Pioneer Woman

 http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/perfect-iced-coffee/ 

I read above article on iced coffee - I usually don't drink iced coffee (even in the heat of summer I enjoy a cup of the hot stuff) but The Pioneer Woman's coffee looks so good.  Unfortunately I don't have time to make hers, so I've settled with mine - a cup of the hot stuff - sweetened with honey and cooled by adding a little cream.

I'm new to the blogging world, think it's great!  Like getting a new magazine every morning - or once a week - or every now and then... it all depends on when my favorite Bloggers blog. 

Work continues in the garage.  I'm busy washing walls and painting.  Yesterday I patched a hole made by a Ford 150 'kissing' the wall.  Today I'll sand and paint it - and the wall will be good as new.

I got the paint for free! 

I went to our local envirnomental office and selected two almost full cans of white - one was a glossy "bright" white, the other an eggshell antique white.  Stopped by Home Depot and bought one of their orange buckets with a lid then came home and mixed my paints.  I collected all the samples I had around the house from recent  paint jobs and just mixed everything together.  I figure it's the garage, any color will do.  The samples I had were shades of gray (the living/dining room) and shades of green (I'm still looking for the right shade for our bedroom).  When I put my new, old paint on the wall it looked white to me.  I noticed when I got a bit on the ceiling (and I know the shade on the ceiling is "Ceiling White"), the wall paint isn't white.  I think I'll call it Sage Linen.
 OOPS! Don't worry, I can fix that. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grab a Drink, This May Take Awhile, Time to Confess

I'm painting the garage.  In 100 degree weather, I'm painting the walls inside our garage.  I'm hot, dehydrated, and tired... but I have a plan.

For a few years I tried to make our guest room work as my sewing room.  Everything was fine until some weary traveler stepped on a size 18 cross stitch needle or the time someone reached for an extra blanket and hundreds of two-inch squares showered down on them as they grabbed an almost ready to put together quilt project on the bookshelf, instead of the extra blanket on the shelf in the closet.  The real problem was I couldn't find a place to put my sewing machine, so all sewing was done on the dining room table.

In a flash of inspiration I got rid of the beds.  I decided guests could sleep on  a blow up mattress on the floor (forgive me) and set about making a sewing room.   It made sense, in theory.  I spent more time sewing than having out of town guests sleep under my roof.  

In real life there was a problem.  My new sewing room was marriage threateningly close to our bedroom.  Here I am with all my stuff within reach and I'm supposed to be quiet?  I don't know about you, but with me creativity arrives as a noisy party girl.  I sometimes wake up at 3 in the morning with the desire to create.  Sometimes my creativity shows up around 9:30 p.m. and wants me to stay up most of the night.  If I used my sewing machine I would wake up my husband.   I also like to watch TV when I work - old movies, DIY stuff, anything, everything.  This arrangement really limited what I could do.  This arrangement was depressing.  So I stopped sewing and creating and enjoying this wonderful part of me and just started putting things in my sewing room.  Old magazines - I seem to remember they were headed for the recycle bin, but I decided they might come in handy some day and tossed them in the 'sewing room.'  The same with some baskets I bought at an antique mall.  I was going to use them as cute little packages for Christmas gifts... trouble is last year I couldn't find them.  They were hidden behind an old television, a cardboard box that someday might come in handy... Things just started to pile up.  Was I trying to bury my creativity?

Looking back I figure it was just my creative, noisy party girl trying to get my attention.  Finally, after a year or so of this nonsense, I woke up. 

Wish I could get those beds back.

There will be a happy ending here.  I have been blessed with a storage room. In fact, the storage room was one of the reasons I liked this house.  It's in the garage and we've used it to hold everything from Christmas decorations to our stuff to our friends' stuff ("Hey, I'm moving to the moon for a few years, can I store this in your garage?").  The trick is I'll have to  find a place to store Christmas decorations and return several boxes and a few pieces of furniture to an assortment of friends... o.k., this may take a few weeks and a bit of planning.  I love planning.  It's like day dreaming with a notebook and pencil. 

My new studio (that's right, I'll call it a studio - that may not do anything for you, but I'm impressed) is approximately 8' x 20' - I think I'm up to the challenge.  Face it, I've watched two years of HGTV's House Hunters International.  I've seen large families pay big money for an apartment in Paris with less floor space - I can do this.  One window.  One door.  All I have to do is organize the garage, clean out the storage room, paint, bring in the furniture, install shelves, figure out if there is a clever way to hide the bright blue vacuum thingy in the storage room, and hang a picture or two.  Light a candle, say a prayer ...


I can do this?



...to be continued....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Addicted to House Porn

House Porn - (noun) - Any picture(s) in a book, magazine or (especially) in a 30 minute television program that makes remodeling or redecorating a house look simple, quick, and easy.  Especially dangerous when it looks inexpensive. 

I should warn you now that if you google the words "House Porn" you will not see this definition.  Trust me on this one. 

I heard the expression or read it somewhere, I just don't remember where.  I'm truly sorry I can't remember where I heard it because I believe in giving credit where credit is due.  I also wish this was my original idea. 

I should also tell you now that I am 50 years old  (51, but who's counting) and I have spent more than half my life watching "This Old House."  By the time HGTV arrived I was addicted House Porn.

Almost six years ago, we found the oldest house we could afford (that was in a neighborhood we wanted to live in) and bought it.  Yesterday we had an electrician repair all the bathroom exhaust fans.  Almost SIX YEARS it's taken to getting around to that job.  Six years without a heater in the bathrooms.  Six years without an exhaust fan where it is needed most.  Our powder room could have been used to get confessions out of harden criminals - excessively hot in the summer, bottom freezingly cold in the winter. 

Today, I'm a happy woman. O.K., truth is most days I'm a happy woman, it's just my nature.  Today, I'm an 'extra' happy woman... except now I need another project.  So I leave you to go and find my list.   The one I made six years ago as I walked through my 'dream house.'  The list that we add to each New Year's when we plan the year before us.  The list that grows almost every time I watch a little house porn.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why I Blog. Chapter I. . . Part I

I've taken up blogging to avoid finishing projects.  To put my life on hold.  To have something to do that is good, but not the best use of my time.  Busy work.  Fifty years ago a person like me would have purchased a rocking chair.

Maybe I'm being a little hard on myself.  Maybe I fear finishing projects, maybe I fear finishing because they will (probably) not be perfect.   I'm not really sure if I fear or hate or love PERFECTION.  It's my ultimate fantasy, that just out of reach of mere mortals idea that if I could just get hold of it - life would be.... well, perfect.

We live in a perfect world.  I stand in line at the grocery store and glance at the covers of the magazines on sale and realize that perfect is everywhere... except where I am.  Just look at the folks on the covers, women and men, hundreds of years older than me, look like teens - without acne, of course. Why do I even bother?  I don't always wear makeup and can usually be found in jeans and tennis shoes.  Is that a glamour thing or perfection?

I have several sewing/quilting projects that are unfinished "What if they aren't perfect?"  "How dare I give an imperfect baby quilt?" 

My garden needs weeding.  "Again!?"

And would someone please tell me where the clutter comes from that is all over my house.  Is there a secret government program that I have mistakenly signed up for that comes in at night and breeds clutter, especially on the table tops and counters? 

What's up with my car?  I wash it and then before the month is out, it's has to be washed, again... 

I'm almost finished with a baby quilt I started... when did I start this?  I do know the baby is now 16 months old...  I'm still in the putting it together process.  I went with the "X" design because he was born in 2010.



I truly enjoy creating things.  Maybe it's not about perfection.  Maybe it's the whole - we're created in God's image - God creates - God's children enjoy creating.   Right now I'm creating ideas and sharing thoughts.  Maybe that's why I've taken up blogging, so I can finish a little something... maybe....



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Still learning...

I'm listening - I listen to books when I walk - to Peace and Plenty by Sarah Ban Breathnach.   She did Simple Abundance in the 90's and I enjoyed that book so I just assumed this would be more of the same and I would feel more feminine and just fine after each chapter. 
Whoa!  This is a cautionary tale.  She tells a story of losing all her fortune with the help of her 'Englishman' husband. It's almost like she was afraid to know how much she had (she had a bunch) or to plan for the future. As a woman who went through a divorce (decades ago) and lived to tell the tale, I can relate to some of her 'let the husband handle everything' attitude, but I was in my early 20's at the time. It makes me sad that at 60 something she's had to start all over again.  At the same time it's wonderful that she's learned and become stronger and smarter having survived this mess.  I figure I can be a better person by avoiding some of her mistakes and following some of her advice.  Like knowing how much money I have right now.  Had to think about that for a minute or two. 
I enjoy her writing style - so peaceful - yet bitter - but peaceful.   I'm just about finished with it - I do hope she lives happily ever after.  Knowing that her Englishman only stole the eggs and didn't kill the goose - I figure she will survive and thrive.
I leave you now to go balance my checkbook.  It's the 7th day of the month, have you balanced yours?
Enjoy this day!



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cookies

I love cookies.  Even the idea of a cookie puts a smile on my face.  They are little packages, complete in themselves.  You can have one or a dozen.  Great for grownups and children, good with coffee, tea or milk.  Years ago I was given one (by a friend) that tasted of sawdust and oatmeal...  Sad.  In the name of good health she had created little dirt piles and couldn't understand why her children wouldn't eat them. Since then I've made it one of my life missions to bake and share only good tasting cookies.

A cookie is a sweet, a treat, not something you eat all day.  I suppose if you ate nothing but carrots all day long you would feel uncomfortable at the end of the day, so it is with cookies. 

I'm currently working on a Chocolate Chips Cookie Recipe. It started with the Original Toll House Cookie Recipe on the back of the familiar yellow bag of Nestle Toll House "Semi-Sweet Morsels."  My mom used this recipe, so one taste and I'm young again (pretty amazing stuff!) and while this is a fairly good cookie, I can taste the baking soda.  Also, their recipe calls for nuts, I rarely add the nuts - I'm just looking for the chocolate. I went to work on trying to make it more to my liking (I believe it's important to play with your food).  Here's what I have so far, see recipe below.  If you don't agree that it's a perfect chocolate chip cookie, you still get a wonderful treat.


My Favorite Chocolate Chips Cookies Recipe:

2 1/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Sift these together and set aside.

1 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla flavoring
2 eggs (I use extra large/large is o.k.)
2 cups of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 F-
Mix butter and sugars until fluffy (3 minutes with a hand mixer)
Add vanilla and eggs, mixing well. (2 minutes with mixer)
Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until everything is blended together. (2 minutes with mixer)

Put mixer away.  Pour in chocolate chips and stir by hand until chips are evenly distributed in the dough.  Scoop out a tablespoon of the dough and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper to line my cookie sheets - but I'm just lazy and want the easiest clean up possible). I get 12 cookies per cookie sheet, don't crowd them.

Bake for 11 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes then move to cooling rack to cool completely.  Makes at least 4 dozen cookies.

Enjoy.