Friday, March 24, 2017

keeping the rug, lilacs, cats and warm weather

Thanks for all your comments about my new kitchen rug! After living with it for a few days, it grew on me and I decided to keep it.

A few of you commented that the rug was too small. That the chairs needed to stay on the rug when they were pulled out. I've heard that decorating rule for dining room rugs. And I can see why that makes sense and why it would look better. However, I can't do that in my kitchen. And here's why. This rug is 5'x7'. The next size in rugs is 6'x9'. There's no room either way for a bigger rug. Any longer - and the rug would stick out past the doorway of the kitchen/living room.

On the other end, the rug would extend too close to the cabinets and door that goes into the garage. We use this door a lot since our cars are parked in the garage. You can see that there's just a small space to walk into the house from the garage. I certainly wouldn't want dirty shoes on a kitchen rug - especially a rug that can't be washed! Shoes come off on that little red rug by the door as soon as we walk into the house.

Then there's the width. Any wider, and the rug would go over the vent and into the wall.

There's not enough room on the other side either. That's the main walkway through the kitchen. I don't want a rug going almost to the fridge and cabinets.

So, this is what we're stuck with. I honestly don't mind the smallness of the rug. I think it denotes our little eating area just fine. After all, this is not a "dining room".

In other news, it was a fabulous 76 degrees today! I went into the backyard to check on the lilac bush, and sure enough, the buds are starting to open. :-)

Clementine was in all her glory, sleeping in the open window. I'm sure you noticed the bird feeder is empty. I need to clean it and take it down. I'm done feeding the birds for the winter. All the seed is doing now is attracting big, noisy crows and a naughty woodpecker who is now pecking at my house! Though we can't figure out what he's "drilling" at: our house is all aluminum and vinyl. I've stood outside looking around, hoping to catch Woody in action, but no such luck. You can also tell from the photo that I desperately need to start on spring yard cleanup. That boxwood wreath is from Christmas and the branches on the bench below are winterberries. They once had beautiful red berries on them that looked so pretty against the snow.

Spring yard cleanup is going to have to wait though. Rain is now moving in again and looks like it'll be here throughout the entire week. Plus the temps are dropping into the 40's and 50's. Today's weather was just a teaser!

Some of you know I'm not crafty. About all I can handle is a can of spray paint. So with today's nice weather, I went into my stash of spray paint in the garage (I think I have just about every possible color) and decided to paint this metal tray white. Previously, it was gold. And before that - aqua. I don't even remember what color it originally was when I bought it! I'd been looking for a white tray for the coffee table for awhile and couldn't find one I liked. This was definitely a much more affordable option anyway.

And I suppose I can now put the winter throw and pillow covers away until October and unpack the spring ones. (That's Monkey - Clementine's "baby" - snoozing on the couch.)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2017

spring, new pottery and rug, and knee update

Happy Spring - finally! 
Here in northern Illinois, the signs of spring are subtle at this time of year. Just a few buds on bushes and the green stalks of lilies and daffodils sticking out of the dirt. I took this photo just a few days ago when we still had some snow on the ground. Thank goodness, that's all gone now. I just took a look at our 10-day forecast and it looks like nothing but clouds and rain, which is also sucky. But that's the way March rolls around here - it's very fickle.

I know sunset photos are cliche, but I never get tired of seeing a gorgeous sunset. This was also taken a few days ago, when we were driving home one evening. I made Brian pull over by the lake that's just a few blocks from our house so that I could take this photo. I like how you can see some traces of snow on the shoreline.

This past weekend while out running some errands in a nearby town, we had the chance to pop in at Fox and Finch Antiques and say hello to Ginene. If you're a fan of antiques, check out her blog. And if you're ever in the Richmond, IL area, be sure to stop in and check out her beautiful store. While browsing, I found a piece of pottery to add to my collection. This one's made by Hall China. I think technically it's ceramic, not pottery ~ but I was still drawn to the fabulous colors and design. 

More shopping news...

I've been on the hunt for a new kitchen rug for our kitchen. The previous rug was a solid cream color. It served its purpose for a couple of years, but that's as long as it lasted because it started showing a lot of dirt spots. I really liked the solid, light, neutral color so that I could use whatever colors I wanted as far as tablecloths, napkins, runners and other kitchen decor. We don't have a separate dining room, so this is our only dining space. I looked on every homegoods website that I could think of, plus took a look at the rug section in every store I went to.

We were in Target yesterday, so we took a look at the rugs there. We were thrilled to find a neutral jute rug in the size we needed - and bonus - it was on sale. Once it was on my kitchen floor though, I wasn't too sure. Our floors and cabinets both have red undertones and this rug is definitely more taupe. I wasn't sure if this is too much of a contrast. Brian likes it, but I'm still a little dubious - though I admit, I think it's growing on me. I told Brian I'd post some pictures on my blog and see what you all think.

I left the tags on the rug in case I end up returning it.

My knee continues to improve a slight bit every few days as far as strength and range of motion. I can now walk any store unaided (no cane) - even a big grocery store - though I still have a limp and walk slow because of swelling and tightness. All this is normal. The first week of physical therapy went great - though it's a little brutal and tiring. I also do my exercises at home every day, plus elevate and ice several times a day to help with the swelling. For those of you who were concerned I'm doing too much, too worries. I talked to the physical therapist and she said as long as I'm not in any pain or having an increase in swelling, it's all good.

Happy Monday ~ have a beautiful week!

Monday, March 13, 2017

spring puttering pleasures

I'm glad I bought this beautiful orchid for a bit of spring cheer yesterday...

because this is what we woke to today.

Granted, it was only a few inches and light and fluffy, but still disappointing to see in mid-March.

Thank you all so much for the kind comments and support on my last post! I am feeling good and no longer use crutches, though I do use a cane here and there. That helps alleviate the limping. My knee is still quite swollen and feels tight and stiff, despite doing gentle physical therapy exercises at home and elevating and icing several times a day. I start formal PT tomorrow, so I know this will be a big help in the healing process. I've also been doing a lot of walking...I'm pretty much back to my usual home care routine and I even went grocery shopping by myself yesterday, including making several trips into the house to carry in the bags. I've been having some calf pain, but I think it's from too much walking. I had my post-op appointment this past Friday and the doctor thought perhaps I had a blood clot. I didn't think so - I had a blood clot in my other leg/calf after a surgery in 2001, so I know what one feels like - but the doc sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound just in case. Thank God, no clot.

One thing I really missed while being laid up was puttering around the house and playing with decor. Now that I can (slowly) walk up and down the stairs again, I'm able to go to the basement to dig out some spring decor. Nothing fancy, but I put some lighter colors in the china cabinet...

and fresh flowers on the mantel.

I made some other simple vignettes, too. I love using these mini Limoges teacups every spring.

I just bought this shamrock plant at Trader Joe's. I'll transfer it to a pretty planter after St. Patrick's day. I have another shamrock plant that I bought several years ago and it's lush and full of white flowers. The secret is a south-facing window and giving the plant a thorough saturation only when it starts to wilt a bit (about every 5 days).

Time to bring out the spring birdies...

Of course, it's also time to bring out the bunnies and Easter decor.

Since Mother Nature is still in winter mode despite the spring decor, I'm trying to keep this proverb in mind:

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

shuffling along ~ doing just fine

I've gone over and re-written this blog post several times. I finally decided that instead of ignoring the ugly parts and basically saying, "Oh, I'm doing fine." 
"Everything is just fine."
(the most ambiguous word in the English language), I'd be open and honest about how things are really going. 

Not that I am not truthful on my blog; just that sometimes it's easier to just paint a pretty picture and not leave yourself open and vulnerable. Well, hell, I'm vulnerable and at the mercy of others after having surgery anyway, so I may as well go all out. And be forewarned: this is a wordy post. Get comfortable.

Mind you, I do not want this to be a whiny, looking-for-sympathy post either. What I'm going through after knee surgery is nothing compared to....well, a lot of things. My several girlfriends that have cancer right now (mostly breast; one uterine) immediately come to mind. So does my cousin who recently had a kidney transplant.

It's now six days after knee surgery and I'm pretty much bored out of my gourd. I'm still on crutches, so have to rely on Brian to fix me food, help me shower, bring me a book or magazine (you can't carry anything when you're on crutches - though one time I carried a book between my teeth - you get inventive when you're on crutches) and do the housework and laundry. And, of course, since I can't drive - heck, I can't even get out my front door because of steps - Brian has to do the grocery shopping and other errands. Being at the mercy of another - even your husband - sure is humbling.

Since my leg has to be elevated a lot due to swelling, I spend a lot of time in bed surrounded by kitties and reading material. I've watched so much HGTV and Food Network to where if I never see another episode of Love It or List It, it won't be too soon. I've even watched the Price is Right several times. Talk about desperate! At least I'm not resorting to soap operas. Yet.

 I thought about starting a new series on Netflix, but nothing appealed to me. Plus, while the TV is on, I'm not really watching anyway. I'm usually reading or on my laptop at the same time. A Netflix series would actually require me to pay attention. So maybe lying around doing nothing sounds dreamy for one day, but after that...boring. Let me tell you, it sure makes you realize how "freeing" being mobile truly is. 

The first few days were rough. I had a fair amount of pain and one evening had severe nausea to the point where I hyperventilated. I'm assuming the nausea was from the pain killer (Norco). Another nasty side effect of pain killers and general anesthesia is constipation. No one talks about that - except for your doctor. They told me ahead of time to take Dulcolax. Which I did - three times a day. And still, it didn't help. I upped my fiber and roughage by eating prunes, apples, salad, flax and chia seeds and extra veggies. Still didn't help. It took five days before things umm..."moved along". Funny thing is, I've had two previous surgeries and this hadn't happened to me before, so I wasn't prepared for this little side effect. Just hoping this info helps someone else out there!
*Later edit: forgot to mention that drinking a lot of water helps, and so does coffee.

 I don't have pain anymore; just a lot of pressure, swelling and "uncomfortableness", as I call it. I get up every hour to walk around the house on my crutches. I'm able to put weight on my foot/leg to the point where I'm hoping to graduate to a cane by Friday when I see the doctor for my post-op visit. Then I'll be starting physical therapy next week. I've been doing a couple of very gentle PT exercises at home in the meantime.

Brian doesn't like to cook - it's just not his forte. But, we gotta eat. And there's only so much take-out we can rely on unless we want to eat unhealthy every day - which we don't. One dish he can handle is meatloaf. He did have a little help with suggestions from me, but he pretty much made it on his own by using both ground beef and pork, onions and celery, eggs, panko bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, seasoned salt and pepper. He then made a sauce for topping using organic ketchup (no high fructose corn syrup!), mustard, vinegar and a little brown sugar. He glazed the top of the meatloaves, wrapped them in bacon, then added another layer of glaze. He also made baked sweet potatoes. Dinner was delicious! PS - Brian's been pretty much a saint; although he's had his crabby moments, which I don't blame him. He's probably looking forward to going back to work. ;-)

Another thing I've learned is, that you will be surprised who checks in with you, who sends cards, who offers to visit. What's more surprising is, those whom you would expect to, but don't. I remember from other difficult circumstances in my life - the worst of course, being the passing of my oldest son, Philip back in 2009 - that the most thoughtful, generous people were the unassuming ones.

When Brian went to Trader Joe's a few days ago, my favorite employee sent this bouquet of flowers home with Brian for me. He had remembered that I was having surgery and actually asked Brian how I was doing. Isn't that incredibly thoughtful?

And yesterday, I received two cards in the mail (one from a blogger friend), which totally made my day.

This book also arrived in the mail, but it was a present from myself. ;-) I'm sure most of you are familiar with the author, Elizabeth Berg. If you follow her on Facebook, you will know that she posts uplifting snippets of everyday life. Posts that make you smile and give a little pick-me-up. There were several FB readers that asked her to compile some of these short essays into a book. This is the result. I haven't read the book yet, but I plan to today. Even the cover makes me smile. I have a feeling this book would be a great gift for anyone who is feeling down or is physically ill. 

Now go out and make someone happy, starting with yourself. And when asked how you're doing, remember that the word "fine" is not in your vocabulary.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

after surgery

Thanks for all your well wishes on my knee surgery yesterday. Brian took this photo of me in pre-op. The nurse from the hospital called me the day before and told me the doctor's schedule had changed. I had to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. and I was first in line for surgery at 7:30. Fine with me - I wanted it over as soon as possible.

Good news was that the surgery itself was only 24 minutes and all went smoothly. I remember dreaming while I was under general anesthesia, but couldn't tell you what the heck the dreams were about now. They had me up and walking (with crutches) in a couple of hours. Then I was able to go home.

I felt fine all day yesterday. No pain, just a little discomfort and more tired than anything. Animals are so perceptive. My three fur babies stayed with me on the bed pretty much the whole day.

Today, day two, has been a little different. I felt OK this morning, but then the pain hit around noon. I can really feel it in the front of my knee where the incisions are. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - I think with any surgery that days two and three are usually the worst, from what I remember. The nurse called me today for follow-up and told me that I need to be up every hour, walking around for about 5 minutes. I am using crutches and walking verry slowly, but able to put some weight on my foot with every step. Otherwise, I've been propped up in bed with my knee elevated and icing it every few hours. And this sweet boy, Zippo (who will be 18 in May) has loved being my constant companion.

Other than that, I'm in good hands with Brian off work and taking care of me. And my mom stopped by this morning and brought us a big pot of her beef stew. That was so appreciated. We'll all have a wonderful dinner tonight. Thanks again to all of you for your good thoughts and prayers. I am looking forward to complete healing, but I know I have to be patient and just remember it's one day at a time.


Monday, February 27, 2017

two more days

My arthroscopic knee surgery is in two days. March 1st. I wish I could push a fast-forward button to March 2nd. My anxiety has been really bad today and I have a headache. I've tried everything: talking to friends, praying, yoga, telling myself positive thoughts. But those of you who also have anxiety know how well that goes (said sarcastically). It's like another entity takes over. *sigh*

In my heart, I know things will go well and that I'll be fine. I've had surgery before (two of them, as a matter of fact.) It's more fear of the unknown.

If you are inclined to pray, please do so for me, OK? I'll also take any good thoughts sent my way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate it. I will write a post-surgery post as soon as I can!

(Wish I could be as peaceful and calm as Monkey!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

eating my words, weekend fun, and monday at home

In my Valentine's Day post, I spoke about how I don't receive flowers on Valentine's Day anymore ~ but that it didn't matter because true love was more than that. Turns out, the joke was on me. Brian came home from work with roses! I was so surprised, I blurted out, "For me?!"

The weather here in northern Illinois has been gloriously and amazingly warm the past few days, with temperatures in the 60's and lots of sunshine. Normal temps this time of year are 30 degrees - and we usually have snow, too. Walking around the yard, I spied tiger lilies already coming out of the ground. A month early. Exciting, yes - but also scary, as this warm weather won't last, of course. I'm afraid the returning cold will kill the emerging plants.

The middle of February usually finds me, my mom and aunt taking our annual winter trek to the antique mall by my house. It's a great place to spend a fun day while escaping the winter doldrums. Instead, we spent the day in another town that we love to frequent in the nice weather. We spent hours outdoors, walking up and down the main street, popping into our favorite shops and then having lunch at our choice Mexican restaurant. Of course, everyone else had the same idea and the sidewalks were crowded with young and old alike - and a lot of friendly dogs, too. 

 (me and my mom)

(my aunt and my mom ~ sisters)

I bought a couple of inexpensive things while we were shopping ~ found this cute teapot in a resale shop.

And bought this little ceramic heart in another shop (not resale, but only a few dollars). 

Today was a full day spent at home. I was going to run a few errands and then I remembered the kids were home from school today as it's President's Day. I knew the stores would be crowded. So, I decided the errands could wait until tomorrow. I don't have many days where I'm home the entire day, so this was actually a treat. I got a lot done in the house today, including washing the living room windows inside and out, and then cleaning the wooden blinds that cover the windows, too. I also vacuumed, dusted, cleaned bathrooms, did laundry, baked mostly-healthy brownies, made a veggie stir-fry, loaded and emptied the dishwasher twice, and brushed all three cats outside. I also did my yoga practice and PT exercises for my knee. (I have a torn meniscus.) Speaking of my knee, I'm finally going through with the arthroscopic surgery on March 1st. I was originally going to have the surgery in November, and decided to wait 'til the end of winter. Only nine more days - yikes! Though I'm at the point where I just want to be past it and on my way to healing. 

I had to move the spider plants that were on the ledge in the pass-thru to a safer spot. Mr. Monkey - sleeping on left - decided spider plants were fun to chew on. I replaced the spider plants with two different ones. For whatever reason, Monkey doesn't bother these. I'm probably being too brave with putting glass candle holders in the middle. Crossing my fingers that the cats will be cautious if they jump up there.

While I was rearranging stuff, I changed the decor in the nook above the microwave. Keeping it real with the pans left on the stove.

With spring weather on my mind, I've picked up flowers at Trader Joe's the past two times I've been there.. I know I've said it before, but their flowers are the best. They're inexpensive and they last a long time. This little bunch is leftover from the original bouquet that was 1-1/2 weeks old. Still going strong.

And here's another bunch that's five days old. The Wintry Blend coffee hasn't been used much lately. ;-)

These are the mostly-healthy brownies I made. I tweaked Nigella Lawson's flourless brownie recipe seen here by using 3/4 cup organic pure maple syrup instead of processed sugar. Guess that was a mistake because even though these look good, they don't taste so great. They're very grainy because of the almond meal. I bet the almond meal would've broken down more by using the granulated sugar. However, I don't eat processed sugar (as much as possible) I put the brownies in the fridge and will eat one here and there if I have a chocolate or sweet craving. 

Wishing you a joy-full week!