Friday, July 3, 2015

a little bit of everything

 In my last post, I was telling you about how my friend introduced me to a vintage shop...that was the place where I showed you all the outdoor succulents. Well, I also found a couple of lovely treasures there. I came across this stack of Fire King dishes and thought that by the tag, they were either $6 each or perhaps that rather large period after the 6 was a 0, so that the stack of plates (11 of them) was $60. Wrong on both counts. This entire stack of beautiful dishes was only $6!! The owner of the shop told me that this consignee was an elderly woman who simply wanted to get rid of some of her things; she wasn't looking to make money. This is the Primrose pattern which was made from 1960-1962.

I'm keeping them stacked in my kitchen china cabinet ~ so easy to grab a plate at mealtime. I haven't used paper plates in many years. I try to be environmentally friendly, plus it's a cost savings. Not to mention, even just a salad or sandwich looks more inviting on a pretty plate.

 I also found this small vintage print for $3. I was drawn to the little girl with her braid sticking out of her scarf, the bird in the tree, and the worn frame. This print is now part of my gallery wall that I've been working on in the hallway.

Isn't it fun to receive packages in the mail? This pretty rose tureen recently arrived for me from Cathy at My 1929 Charmer. I won it in her blog anniversary giveaway. Thank you, Cathy! If you're not familiar with her blog, go pay Cathy a visit. She has the most beautiful gardens and has a ton of talent with her decorating and vignettes. You will see why her house is called "The Charmer". :-)

 After a very rainy and cool June, the sun finally came out yesterday afternoon and it warmed up a bit, so I was out in the yard for a few hours pulling weeds, trimming neighbor's overhanging trees, sweeping the porch and patio, and watering and moving potted plants. I found this forgotten chair in the garage and decided to use it as garden art.

 Nothing new here. Just thought this area by the patio was looking so pretty with the tiger lilies in full bloom. I sure wish they'd stay that way the entire summer.

 Brought more houseplants outside and put them on the table on my front porch...

 I normally have a bouquet of fresh flowers on my kitchen table and if they don't come from my yard or the roadside, they're from Trader Joes. I usually stick with alstroemeria since they're only $3.99 per bunch. I keep my table simple since it's small and right there in the kitchen. I don't have a formal dining room.

 I moved the bouquet of flowers to the living room for a change of pace...

 and then added this basket with bottles and blooms instead to the kitchen table. The hydrangea and lamb's ear are from my yard.

 I played switcheroo with the vintage utility cart and the red chair. This is the "after" photo. I like this arrangement much better than the "before". Looks more balanced.

 This was the "before"...

 And since I was playing in the kitchen, I also whipped up a batch of my homemade granola:

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups mixed nuts & seeds (your choice...cashews, almonds, pecans,
 walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas)
1/8 cup each chia seeds, flaxseed meal, & hemp hearts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp each salt and cinnamon
1/3 cup olive or coconut oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (don't even think of using the fake crap!)

Mix oats - cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive or coconut oil and maple syrup, then pour over oat mixture. Stir until oats are thoroughly coated. Bake in 300F oven for 1/2 hour, stirring halfway through. Let cool on cooling rack and then store in an airtight container. You can add any kind of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, apples, figs, dates, bananas) to the mixture when it's cool, if you'd like. I prefer it as is in the summer...I like it on top of plain Greek yogurt and then topped with fresh blueberries or strawberries.

Brian's had a few vacation days and the lucky guy has been painting our bedroom. After a lot of deliberation, we decided on this light gray - Lattice by Sherwin Williams. So much better than the baby blue it once was! Here's a sneak peek. The room is getting a complete makeover: hardwood flooring, new mattress and headboard, blinds, curtains, furniture, lamps. Will probably take awhile knowing us, but stay tuned.

For those of you in the US, please have a safe and fun Fourth of July weekend!

Monday, June 29, 2015

let's talk succulents ~ unique containers and care

Hello there! I hope you had a great weekend. My weekend included a couple of fun outings, including getting together with a friend at a local coffee shop and then shopping at a nearby vintage shop. I never even knew this vintage shop existed ~ until my friend led me there.

One of the things I was really impressed with was all the unique ways the owner displayed succulents. Loved this vintage birdcage filled with moss and plants...

and this old letter holder.

Very creative use of an old dolly and plant hangers, don't you think?

I also liked how she planted succulents in old tins...

and boxes and galvanized metal containers. But, I was wondering...don't these plants get waterlogged in these types of containers? She keeps all of these plants outdoors and we've had lots of rain. I didn't think succulents liked too much water. But yet these succulents look vibrant and healthy! Anyone in the know?

Here's another cool idea ~ using an old wagon to make a small garden. I like how an old piece of metal fencing (I'm guessing that's what it is) was used in back for height and interest and then an old piece of wood in the display, as well. You can see how much rain we've had by the wagon underneath the one with plants in it. Look at all that standing water!

As for myself, I've been collecting small vintage animal planters for my succulents. I took this photo outdoors, but I do keep all these plants indoors.

I also have some succulents planted in a milk glass container. The plant on the left started dying; these were the two small pieces I was able to save.

I also have succulents in teacups ~ and, as you can see, the plant in the flowered teacup is not doing well. What's up with me and succulents?! As with the milk glass container and the small, vintage planters, I put a layer of tiny rocks on the bottom of the containers for drainage. I only water them once every two weeks. They're not in direct sun.

Do you have succulents or have you ever tried keeping them? If so, do you keep them indoors or outdoors? Do you use any kind of unique containers? What kind of light do you keep them in and how often do you water them? Any fertilizer?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

summer salads

Seems that in the summer, I'm always looking for something light, healthy and quick to eat for lunch. Am I the only one who opens up the refrigerator several times, hoping something good magically appears? ;-) So that actually happens, I did have to do some prep work to make several salads to keep in the fridge, but in the long run, it was worth it. These would make great side dishes for a heavier dinner or to take to a barbeque, too. And...they're all easy-peasy to make.

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced and then cut into 1" pieces
Fresh herbs of your choice (dill, chives, oregano, basil, parsley), to taste
2 T. cold-pressed olive oil
1 T. white wine or white balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste

In medium-sized bowl, toss together cucumber, onion and herbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss until combine.

1 lb. each red and yellow potatoes
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 T. cold-pressed olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
Fresh herbs of your choice (dill, tarragon, chives, oregano, thyme), to taste

This is a wonderful potato salad to make early in the day since it requires turning on the oven to roast the potatoes first. Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub potatoes and cube into 1" pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, turning potatoes after 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Put potatoes in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the cold-pressed olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and herbs. Pour over potatoes and stir gently to coat all the potatoes. Add more salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.

One package Rainbow Salad (red cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower)
1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 T. cold-pressed olive oil
1 T. white wine or rice wine vinegar
1 navel orange, juiced
Raw honey (approx 1 tsp) or stevia, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, toss together the Rainbow salad and broccoli. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, honey/stevia and salt and pepper. Pour over salad and mix gently.

 Nom-nom. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2015

around the yard in june

 This entire month of June so far, has been an endless blur of rain and storms. I took some photos around the yard a few days ago when we finally got a break from the rain.

This table is on my front porch. My spider plants do really well outdoors in the warm weather. The plant in back is spinach, which I'll have to dump soon. See how tall and leggy it got? Greens don't do well in hot weather; they're more of a spring and fall veggie.

This pot of flowers is also on my front porch ~ dahlias, bleeding heart, and ivy. 

 We like to upcycle when we can, so several years ago when our iron arbor started to rust and fell apart, we used two of the pieces as trellises. I don't have any flowers planted to grow up the trellises right now (I've tried clematis and morning glories - they didn't do well due to lack of sun), so for now I have little copper pots of flowers hanging from the bars on one of the trellises. The other one has a grapevine wreath hanging on it.

This pretty vintage garden chair was gifted to me by my aunt before she moved.

Taking a walk on the side of the house to the patio, the hostas are about to flower any day now. I know there's many varieties of hostas, but these ones with the leaves outlined in white are one of my favorites. We have a different variety of hostas lining the patio (you can see them a little bit in the background) and on the other side of the house. We didn't buy any of them...they were all transplants from neighbors and friends. Same with all our tiger lilies.

Instead of using a traditional hanging basket of flowers from a shepherd's hook, I went with potted flowers in a bird cage.

I need to harvest the basil growing in the blue pot. I'll be making pesto!

Love dianthus. Adds such a pretty punch of color.

The Joe Pye Weed (foreground) is really spreading - which is fine with us. It started out as two small plants. It will flower in July or August, which attracts a lot of bees.

I'm glad that I painted the table and ottoman this year. Looks so much better than having everything all white.

Looking at the patio from the other side...

Our little back yard is looking so green and lush.

Another perennial I love...tickseed. I never water it or do anything special to take care of it except to deadhead "spent" flowers.

This is my butterfly garden right now. It looks a little boring when nothing has bloomed yet. Perhaps I'll divide a small portion of the tickseed and transplant it into the butterfly garden to add some early color. In another few weeks, the black-eyed susan, echinacea and lamb's ear will be in bloom, and then the butterfly bushes bloom in August and sedum in September.

Here's the back of my house, with a big lilac bush (there's a Russian Sage plant on the other side that you can't see), a hydrangea bush and my herb garden which has mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary and chives. The only vegetable we planted this year is tomatoes, and they're in a big pot on the other side of the house where they get a lot of sun.

Thank you for stopping by ~ hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit of my yard!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


We just started the long, way overdue process of redoing our master bedroom. Every room in the house has been re-done except ours. Doesn't this figure? The first step was getting rid of the "elephant" in the room - our massive oak bookcase headboard. We finally did so - but it's a rather interesting story what happened to it. I'll tell you about that another time. Our second step is to paint. Our bedroom was painted a light blue a few years ago and I hated it from the minute I saw the room. It would've been fine for a baby boy's room...or, as I sometimes joked, "Looks like the Easter Bunny threw up in here." We hadn't taken enough time to pick out a paint color and the painter was rushing us, so basically we chose a blue paint chip that we thought would look good and that was that. This time, we are painting the room ourselves and are taking our time to make sure we get the color we want. We are sticking with a neutral color and I'm tired of beige, so we're going with gray. I did a ton of online homework on picking out paint colors and what grays have blue undertones (because I will have blue accents in the room) and what grays go with beige, because the hallway leading to our bedroom is a light coffee color and the master bath is a light beige. And instead of just using paint chips, we got sample sizes of the paint and painted swatches on the walls. Here's the first two colors we chose. I immediately knew the first color was too dark. Wasn't totally sold on the second color.

So then we chose three more colors (shown in the "strips" underneath the big swatch). Don't they all look beige-y in this photo?! It depends on the time of day in the room, plus looking at these colors against a blue wall doesn't help. Our decision is now down to two colors, so what we're going to do before making the final decision is to paint each color on a piece of poster board and hold it up to the walls in the hallway and master bathroom to see which gray "flows" best with these other two rooms. Then we'll get cracking on the painting.

Now into the kitchen...

I added a new (thrifted) mini pitcher (OK, so technically it's a creamer) to my collection ~ the white one with yellow and blue flowers. It's Noritake, Summerbreeze pattern. Even the name is lovely.

I also found a red spoon at Hobby Lobby that I thought would look nice next to the coffee artwork on the kitchen wall.

Here's the wall in its entirety...

I know this doesn't have anything to do with walls, but I can't finish this post without mentioning that the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2015 Stanley Cup last night! I'm a big hockey fan ~ it's about the only sport I watch with interest. I tend to like the fast-paced, soccer, basketball. I was born in Canada and my dad was Canadian ~ that should also tell you something. ;-) My dad played semi-pro hockey in his younger days in Canada and then when I was growing up, he taught me to skate and also brought me to a lot of the hockey games that he coached. Anyway, this is the third time in six years that the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup ~ 2010, 2013 and now in 2015. And this was the first time since 1938 -  77 years! - that the Cup was won here on home ice. We Chicagoans are very happy right now. The sun is even shining today for the first time in I-don't-know-how-many-days.