Tuesday, April 30, 2013

adding excitement to the hallway bath

 My main bath is done in neutrals ~ gray, white, and black.
While those colors can look striking on their own, I need color.
 I played up the floating shelves with blue and yellow mini picture frames, a colorful
bird, a bright green candle, and what was originally a (bright blue) cupcake
 stand, now used to hold Dixie cups.

I think these pops of color fit in well with the vivid colors in the towel
and pictures on the wall beside the sink.

See the basket beside the toilet? I was looking for a tall, narrow basket
to fit in this space and found this at HomeGoods. It's great for not only holding
extra rolls of toilet paper, but for hiding the ugly piping that comes off the back of
the toilet and goes into the wall. The basket has a little chalkboard label, so I
suppose I could find a piece of chalk and mark the label, "TP". Naah, that's
too boring and obvious. I think I'll write, "wipe". :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

just keep tweaking

 You all know how I can't leave anything alone.
I'm the Tweaker Extraordinaire. 
I'm also a night owl and sometimes instead of reading or writing email,
I get restless and start rearranging things. Last night - around midnight -
I decided to take all the red and white items out of my china cabinet.
I then took my rooster and hen collection off the top of the fridge
and moved that into the china cabinet.

The top of the fridge wasn't exempt from my restlessness ~
it got my collection of small pitchers.

One of the little tweaks I did today was putting this wooden piece
with a bird carving on the wall - love 3M strips! I found this beauty at
Savers awhile back. Does anyone know what it is? Or maybe it's a piece of
handmade art? The bottom is like half a bowl. 

I think it ties in nicely with the overall look in this part of the living room.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend ~ the weather is finally in the 60's here!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

the gifts of friendship

Deb was one of the first neighbors I met when we moved here almost 23 years
 ago. She and her husband and three little boys moved into their house soon
 after we moved into ours. Our boys all grew up together and Deb and I have
 always been close friends. She was one of the first persons to come
over when my son, Phil passed away 3-1/2 years ago. She sat with me and 
helped me breathe and not pass out or completely "lose it".

It has always been Deb's desire to move out west and live off
the grid. Her dream has finally come true. Her husband is retiring next year
and they have already bought a tiny house in the mountains of northern
Washington on five acres of land. Since they are moving to such a small
house, they are now greatly downsizing. Deb had a bunch of her girlfriends
over to her house the other night and we all got to choose some of Deb's 
personal belongings that she didn't want to sell to the general public when
she had an estate sale. Honestly, there was nothing I really wanted ~especially
since I'm purging things out of the house myself right now with cleaning up
after our basement flood.

However, I did want a couple of her larger plants. I'm in love with this
Christmas cactus. She said it flowers beautifully, and she basically left it alone.
 I'm hoping it will love my house as much as it loved hers!

 Brian carried home this very heavy pot of plants for me. There's a bunch of 
different plants in here including Mother-in-Law's Tongue, ivy, a spider plant,
a couple of others I'm not sure of...and then I added my  "shamrock" plant.

How gorgeous is this piece of furniture?! Deb had it marked at only $5
for her estate sale. I snatched it up immediately. When the weather is warmer
and the rain goes away (seems like I've been saying that all month), I'm taking
this baby outside and priming and painting it. Then she'll get new knobs.
Brian's currently using it as his nightstand.

 Today has been one of those l-a-z-y days. Cold, gray, and drizzling rain. Just
what we need here in Illinois - ha. The rivers are overflowing onto the sidewalks
and streets. Some towns have even been declared a state of emergency.
We feel a bit safer with our sump pump now, as Brian went out and bought and
installed a battery back-up sump pump. Even the cats haven't gotten out of bed
all day except to eat. Monkey has been curled up in front of Brian's pillow all
day. I normally make my bed every day, but if the cats take over, I let them be.

 I'm off to bake some banana bread now. Cooking Light has a fantastic recipe.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

just a little something i whipped up

 I made a yummy egg dish for a late breakfast today.
 This meal has everything going for it ~ quick, easy, delicious, nutritious,
AND it can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Start out by cooking one cup of quinoa according to package directions.
{Have you ever had quinoa? A lot of people think it's a grain, but it's actually
a seed. It cooks quickly (15 min.), is high in protein, is gluten free,
contains no cholesterol, and is also high in folate and magnesium. It's 
a great change in your diet and meal plan instead of rice.}

In a medium-sized frying pan, pour a little olive oil, and saute chopped veggies
of your choice until crisp-tender. Use whatever you have on-hand that would be good
 in an egg dish ~ onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes. 
All I had in my produce stash today was onions and peppers. So I went with that.

While the veggies are cooking, whisk up some eggs. This dish was for two people,
so I used four eggs.

Pour the whisked eggs over the sauteed veggies and cook over medium heat.
Use a wooden spoon to scramble the egg and veggie mixture in the pan.

When eggs are done, you can choose to serve them as is...

or, sprinkle some cheese on top. I used shredded cheddar. You can use any
kind of cheese you like, including feta.

Spoon the quinoa onto a plate and then pile the egg and veggie mixture on top
of the quinoa. Delish! A salad of baby greens would be perfect with this egg
dish, too. Bon apetit!

Won't you join me over at Elaine's Sunny Simple Life and
The Charm of Home today?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

thrifted finds ~ and lots of news around here

I needed some groceries at Trader Joes today, so I ran into the nearby Goodwill
 and Savers. Found some cool stuff, including a MFK Fisher book (not shown).
 Anyone familiar with this awesome writer? She was an unsurpassed American
 food writer.

Up first is a set of vintage Godinger spoons and a set of new buttercream placemats
 from Kohls. 

{Speaking of Kohls, they have a great selection of table linens. They have given
me a code to pass along to my blogging friends through May 10. Just use
BLOGS10 when shopping online and you will receive a 10% discount!}

 Next is a vintage rolling pin (love the red handles!), a trio of frosted glass rabbit
 candle holders, and a tiny pitchfork that will be perfect in the fairy garden that
 I plan on creating once the weather warms up.

Couldn't resist this charming, vintage bunny with a fluffy tail.
Just need to get out the Goo Gone and remove the sticker residue off its body. 

Lastly, a pretty Fitz and Floyd butterfly candle trinket box...

 Well, I'm sure a lot of you have seen the news of all the floodings in
the Chicago area. And, as you know from my April 12th post, my basement
had flooded. You're not going to believe this, but Brian woke me up at 4:30 a.m.
again today, telling me that water was now pouring in through one of our window wells.
He was outside in the dark, scooping water, dead leaves, and debris from the window
well, while I was inside trying to sop up all the water with every towel in the house.
Long story short, the drain in the window well got clogged (another lesson learned the
hard way ~ clean out the window wells in the fall AND get new window well
covers), thus wasn't draining the water. We then used the wet/dry vac to suck up
all the rest of the water and set up fans. Thank God, we got it under control and
were able to clean up the water ourselves this time. Here's what my back yard
looked like this morning....

And here's a field down the road from me; this is what it looks like in all the low-lying land around here.

 On top of everything this past week, Tim's car has been nothing but trouble and
money - which, as a college student who delivers pizzas part-time, he doesn't have.
And we are only able to help him out financially so much. After shelling out another
$250 for repairs yesterday, his car was smoking today. Found out it's now the heater
core, which is very expensive. Since the car isn't worth that kind of expense,
the mechanic is just going to bypass the heater core, which will be a minimal
expense. Tim really needs a "new" car, but how? He doesn't have the money for
even a used car, and neither do we. I hate these dilemmas. 

I DO have some positive news. Brian, Tim, and I spent the entire day yesterday at
the college that Tim will attending in the fall. Tim had orientation and signed up
for his classes, and Brian and I attended the parent sessions. We then checked
out the house that my cousin's daughter rents with some other roommates.
They have an opening for another roommate and since this house is less than
1/2 mile down the street from the university, it would be a perfect place for
Tim to live. The house is old and a little dumpy ~ definitely has that "young people
live here" look! But it was clean(ish), has a big kitchen, original hardwood floors,
a big back yard - and a sweet dog named MoJo. My cousin's daughter said MoJo
loves to get in bed with someone in the morning and snuggle. Tim liked that,
as he will miss our three kitties. He's an animal lover like me. Sooo...if all goes
well with all this, Tim will be moving out July 1st. Brian and I will be empty nesters!
Big changes for all of us.

Monday, April 15, 2013

a collection of blue and white ~ and home disaster update

 One of my favorite color combinations is blue and white.
I have quite the collection going on a bookshelf in my office.
All are pieces I've collected at Goodwill, Savers, and other thrift stores.
The only pieces that are marked on the bottom are the pitcher in back
(hand painted in Portugal) and the little Dutch shoes in front (Delft).

It sure was a busy morning. The new springs for the garage door were installed
at 8 a.m. The old water softener was hauled away and the new one installed
at 9. And the restoration crew was here at 10 to take away all the fans
and industrial dehumidifier in the basement. Basement is all dried out now
and all it needs is all new baseboards installed. Not bad - could've been
a ton worse. Good thing we caught the water just in time (it was only about 2"
deep) and that the restoration company was able to come out right away to
start clean up. Now my days will be spent going through the tons of stuff
that we had stored down there and either putting in bags for donation (I already
have huge piles ready to go!) or re-organizing on shelves or in plastic storage
boxes. Gotta get all that stuff out of the garage as soon as possible so we can
park our cars back in there. 

I leave for my yoga class in about 40 minutes. I know I say it every Monday,
but I really need it tonight. All that breath work and stretching feels so
 good and quiets the mind.


Friday, April 12, 2013

april showers bring home disasters

It happened again.

The basement flooded.
Some of you will remember this happened to us exactly three years ago.
For us, April showers don't bring May flowers. It brings a flooded basement.
It was another freak happening: Brian woke up to find water in the 
basement and the sump pump not working. He discovered in the main circuit
breaker box, that the switch for the sump pump had tripped to "off". It
was the only switch that had done so. And why? No one seems to know.
So, here we go again with a restoration company and drying out the basement.

The owners of the restoration company - a family of 7 - worked their
tails off, carting load after load of  years of stuff that somehow accumulates
in basements, and stacking it all neatly in our garage.

 Some of the major furniture items were able to stay in the basement, like the
 couch, the table, and treadmill. The couch got a little bit of water on the bottom,
 but it's being dried out. All my bookcases were ruined though, and had to be
thrown out. Some books were ruined, too. The restoration people took our area
rugs and are treating them and drying them out in their warehouse. Hopefully,
they can be salvaged.

Not only is our garage filled, but the top of the bar has things piled
all over it, too. It's amazing how much "stuff" one accumulates after living
 in the same place almost 23 years.

They ran out of room to pile all my books, so some are piled in the living room.

Even the poor kitties are discombobulated. Normally, their cat boxes are
downstairs, so we had to bring them upstairs. I didn't exactly want a cat box
 in my living room, a bathroom, or our bedroom, so they went into the spare

Believe it or not, that's not even all the stuff we had in the basement.
There's also the unfinished part of the basement, AKA, the dungeon.
Huge Sterilite containers of out-of-season clothes, the cat tree, baby toys...

Shelves full of paint cans, tools, home repair stuff; a couple of
garment racks full of coats and sweaters due to lack of closet space.
Egads, how to start all over and clean all this stuff out and put it back together?
We sure have out work cut out for us.

But, that's not all. On top of the stove breaking the other day and having
to get a new one - which will be delivered on Tuesday - and now our
basement flooding, Brian went to open the garage door, and one of the
main springs broke. The garage door guy will be here Monday morning.
And if that's not enough, when the restoration man was here today to
check the humidity levels in the basement, he asked me if I knew that my
water softener was leaking from the bottom! I told him, no. He told me I'd
better call the water softener company immediately, as it could actually
explode if it malfunctioned. Talk about a high anxiety level! A serviceman from
the water softener company came out and looked at the softener and released
the pressure valve and turned the whole machine off. They will be installing
a new water softener on Monday.

Trying to keep a smile on my face and breathe. I know things could
be worse. We shall get through this. We somehow always do.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

a new wall arrangement ~ and soon to be new range

 You might remember that one of my kitchen walls looked like this
(minus the white stool; now a black table is in its place)...

 I never felt like the left side was balanced, so then I tried adding
the two flowered trays ~ and didn't like that look either.

So, yesterday I decided to take everything down and move the "share a moment" 
picture to the left and add something new to the right. A little better so far?
I'll show you in a moment what I did with the smaller coffee print and the red
metal coffee sign.

What do you think if I then added two plates - one blue, one red - to the
 side of the white shelf? (That's Brian, helping me out.)

Or, two red plates? I think I like the blue and red better.

 As for the smaller coffee print and the red metal coffee
sign, I put them on the wall by the coffee maker.

 Speaking of kitchen stuff, we have to get a new range. Our 15-year old 
Hotpoint gave up the ghost. The serviceman told us it was the circuit board. 
With the price of parts and labor, it wasn't worth repairing. So I spent a lot
 of time online last night and today, researching different brands, prices,
 and reviews. When every dollar counts, you gotta do your homework!