Tuesday, March 27, 2012

fluffing my nest for spring

In my post from March 19th, I showed a picture of a green, glass bottle
that I picked up at TJ Maxx. I had it on a stack of books on the buffet
in my living room and was saying that maybe it would look better
with some pussy willows sticking out of it. A reader commented that
 forsythia would also look nice. Yes, indeed!
Lo and behold, I was in a little shop in town this weekend and found
some nice sprigs of pussy willows for $3. Bingo!

I moved the green bottle to the console table and put it
in-between the two red lamps.
What do you think?

At this same shop, I also found a spring candle wreath.
I had this wire candle holder and green candle in a storage box
here at home, so no need to buy those items.

And then I couldn't resist this cute, mini chick pillow.
It's on a small shelf in my kitchen for now.
I "play" with decor quite often, so it might end up somewhere else. ;-)

Found this sweet Lefton figurine at the local antique mall a couple of months ago.
I think the bunny looks a bit evil, lol.

Like objects look better in groups instead of scattered around,
so I lined these bunnies up on the ledge of the china cabinet...

I bought these miniature wooden Easter eggs from World Market
a few years ago, and I know they're made for hanging since
they have strings, but I think they also look pretty 
stuffed under a cloche.

These are just a few of the spring touches I've created in my home.
Flannel sheets and down comforters are packed away; wooly throws
draped over couches and chairs have been replaced with lighter blankets
for chilly mornings and evenings.
Even hubby has been in a spring cleaning mood, with working on
cleaning out the garage and basement.
We still have a lot more work to do, but it's a start.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

homemade granola

Granola is so easy to make ~ and so much better than the stuff you get 
at the grocery store. For this recipe, I used:
3 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. nuts (I used 1/2 c. each of walnuts & pistachios)
1 c. snipped dried fruit (I used cranberries)

 Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
(I didn't have any parchment paper, so I used wax paper. Big mistake.
The oatmeal stuck to the wax paper in several places.)

Anyway...whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla,
cinnamon, and salt. Pour over oats and toss well.
Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet ~ as shown below.

 Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.
Let cool completely, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in nuts and fruit.

Store in a resealable bag or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
I like to layer it with Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries for breakfast.


Monday, March 19, 2012

putting a little spring in my step

 This weather is C-R-A-Z-Y.
March 19th - technically still winter - in the Chicago 'burbs
and the trees and perennials are blooming!
We've had six straight days so far of temps in the low 80's.
 Normal high is the mid-40's.

 Hubby has been working hard outside on raking and cleaning up all the yucky winter
stuff (lots of dead leaves and sticks) out of the gardens and the lawn
while I've been putting little touches of spring inside...

I picked up this green glass bottle at TJ Maxx this weekend
for only $4.99. I can picture pussy willows sticking out
of it...ooh, will have to try and find some of those.

I'm not big on traditional Easter decorations, but I did incorporate
a few things in the middle of the kitchen table.
The ceramic blue and yellow egg in the upper right was a
recent find in a resale shop.

I recently bought some little succulents and repotted them in 
pretty little containers. This table is in the guest room/office ~
the room that used to be Phil's bedroom.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

crockpot meal, shopping, and spring

Warning: This post is about three things that have nothing to do with each other!
My life just seems too busy and swirly and hectic sometimes
and it's hard to post often, much less on one subject.

Thus said ~ ever wonder what you're going to make for dinner?
I think most women face this dilemma. Doesn't matter if you work outside the home
(which I do, three days/week) or if you're busy at home (which I am).
I've read that slow cookers are making a comeback, and with good reason.
I have found that you can basically throw anything into the pot
and it turns out delicious....the only necessary prep work is chopping
 veggies and/or meat.

I decided to try a meat-based spaghetti sauce. I used a pound of ground
sirloin, one link of hot Italian sausage from the butcher, a 28 oz. can
of whole tomatoes, a little tomato paste, 1/4 c. white wine, and finely
chopped carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. I then added a lot of Italian
seasoning, freshly ground black pepper, and a bay leaf.
Set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low....

And this is what it looked like 8 hours later - yum! The house smelled so good
while this was cooking. And, if you're gone most of the day, how wonderful is it
to walk in the door and dinner is done?
We had it served over whole wheat spaghetti noodles and topped it with freshly grated
Parmesan cheese.

There's leftover sauce which I put in the freezer, but for a new meal
I will toss the sauce with penne pasta and chunks of mozzarella cheese
and bake in a 9x13" pan.

My husband actually had this past weekend off ~ he's not in the "normal" 9-5 office profession ~
so we spent the day on Saturday in one of our favorite browsing towns...Geneva, IL.
You may know that one of the decorative items I love is cloches.
Well, I was in a garden shop and I saw the world's tiniest cloches!
So cute...but what would you put under those two teeny ones?
They had some other miniature garden items, so I'm thinking they were for people
who make fairy gardens.

See the glass bottle with the heart-shaped bird stopper on top - at the left?
I found it at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Geneva
 for just $3. I hung some sterling silver bangles around the neck of the bottle.

One of my favorite stores in Geneva is Cocoon (http://www.cocoononline.com/)
Couldn't resist this wooden bird necklace.
Mmm...besides cloches, I'm a bit obsessed with birds and nests, too. :-)

Spring has sprung in northern Illinois! Saw these beauties popping out of the ground
in Geneva. Are they Lily of the Valley?

I did a lot of spring cleaning on Sunday and started some spring decorating.
That will be another post for another day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

adding a cheerful touch with spring blooms

 Even though the calendar says March, it is still cold and snowy
here in northern IL.
I was at Trader Joes (don't you just love that store?) the other day
and couldn't resist a bouquet of lovely flowers for just $5.99.
Instead of just lumping them all-together in one big vase,
I decided to take the individual flowers 
and disperse the beauty throughout the house.

I love how this one simple red flower adds 
just the right touch to the white pitcher.

And, how this cluster of yellow flowers plays off the blue and white.

 Yellow and red...such a cheery combination.

Even the bathroom gets a fresh touch.

 "Where flowers bloom, so does hope." (Lady Bird Johnson)