Thursday, October 31, 2013

family gifts

 I went to visit my great-aunt yesterday. Aunt Sylvia - or "Sibo" - as we've always
affectionately called her - is now in her early 90's and has severe dementia.
Her son, my second cousin whom I've always been very close to and totally
adore, took care of his mom with no outside help up until about six weeks ago,
when he just couldn't do it anymore. Sibo is now in an assisted living facility
unlike any place I've ever seen before. Instead of your traditional nursing home
setting, this is a group of four ranch houses in a quiet neighborhood, where a
qualified husband and wife team lives in each one and takes care of the 
residents. Of course, there are medical staff that come by just about every day,
but for the elderly to be in a "real" home and have 24/7 care is so awesome.
My cousin is so happy and at peace with the care that is mother is receiving.

The last time I visited with Aunt Sibo was in August, so only two months ago.
I couldn't believe how much she's gone downhill since then. It was so sad
to see her totally incapacitated now. She slept most of the time and barely 
opened her eyes when we were there. She can't walk anymore and what little
speech she has is all garbled. Her petite frame is now just a bag of bones.
Other relatives from downstate whom I don't see very often, were there to
visit too, and at the end of our visit when the hospice chaplain prayed with
all of us, there were many tears. We were able to go out to lunch afterwards
and sat and talked for a couple of hours. Lots of hugs and gratefulness
for each other ended our visit. There is a lot of strife with other family members
over certain issues right now, and it's truly a shame. Life is just too short. dear cousin was kind enough to give me some things that
belonged to my Aunt Sibo. He knows my tastes and what I like.
He was going through the china cabinet in his house and found these
beautiful napkins and dishtowels. Perfect colors for my kitchen!

 How gorgeous is this Fenton milk glass cake plate? Be still, my heart.

I could see this cake plate used for so many things, but for right now, it's
on the living room buffet. I think Aunt Sibo would be happy to know that
her things are with me and will be used with love and appreciated.

Do you have any family heirlooms from beloved relatives?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

using natural elements in decor

Brian and I have been enjoying walks in the nearby State Park lately.
I'm trying to incorporate more exercise into my daily routine and the Park 
makes walking more pleasant and less of a chore. The views are amazing,
the woods are peaceful, and the fresh air feels so good. I come back home
feeling energized - physically and mentally. I dread the upcoming continuous
rainy days, and even worse, the severe cold and snow. I'll have to use
the treadmill (or, as I call it, the "dreadmill") in my basement. It's just not 
the same.

While climbing these stairs, I started noticing acorns amongst all the leaves.
I told Brian they'd make for some great decor, such as using them as a vase 
filler. So we started filling our pockets with acorns, acorn caps, and hickory
 nuts.  I hope it's not illegal to take these things from the ground  in the Park. 
I know you can't take plants, but I don't know about fallen acorns and nuts.

When we got home, I washed all the acorns and nuts and filled up
this vase and added a candle. Perfect for my small kitchen table.

Pine cones also make great fillers. I collected these pine cones years ago
from walks around the neighborhood.

I don't know what this beautiful, brushy thing is, but I found it on the ground
by the lake in my neighborhood. They were growing in great clumps amongst
all the cattails. I love the simplicity and beauty in just one of these.

 I even have some rocks in my decor. My friend found this heart-shaped
rock by my butterfly garden. I was so excited - my first heart-shaped rock!
I'm now on the lookout for more.

This little dish holds some of my favorite rocks ~ polished stones I've
had for many years and pretty rocks collected from various trips.

Even something as simple as adding a few polished stones to a tray
can add a touch of loveliness. The clear quartz pieces were given to me
by a friend.

How do you bring the outdoors into your living space? 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

light and blessings

I love the way the soft October light fills the sky in my little neighborhood.
I also love seeing Tim's old Honda back in our driveway. My boy was home
for a weekend visit. Leaves and pumpkins are everywhere, and the sun nudges
its way through windows, casting dancing shadows on floors, walls, and cats.

Lots of cooking happened this weekend ~ home-cooked comfort food was much
appreciated by my hungry college student and M&M cookies were baked and
packed up to take back to school. My dishwasher, sink, and counters over-
floweth. Piles of blankets and pillows still need to be folded and put away and
the bathroom cleaned. This mama is grateful for it all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


 I have to admit - I'm not good with change. I like routine. Predictability.
I'm sure a lot of people feel this way. It makes one feel safe and comfortable.

 But I also know that in certain cases, change can be good. It gets us
out of our rut. Makes life a little more exciting. Gives us a new perspective.
For me, change comes in little ways. I'll try a new dish at a restaurant. Or,
I'll get a little braver with my hair color - a bit darker or more highlights.

My husband, Brian has been out of town at a work conference the past few days.
I know this isn't a big deal to some of you, as having a spouse or partner out of town
for weeks - or even months at a time - is your "normal". But in my little world, even a
few days is unsettling. In Brian's line of work, he rarely travels. So I'm used to 
having him home from work every evening. We have dinner, we play a board game
 such as Backgammon or Rummikub, we take our evening walk around the 
neighborhood, we watch Wheel of Fortune. Boring? Perhaps. 
Comfortable and predictable? Absolutely.

I'm an introvert, so I've always relished my alone time during the day. I have my
daily routine, do some housework and laundry, run errands, work on projects,
go to appointments, meet with friends. But evening and nights are a different story.
 I like Brian here by my side. Where he's supposed to be and usually is. It made me
 think of how it would feel if he passed away and wasn't here anymore
forever. I guess it's natural that those thoughts go through my head...we're in
our early 50's and Brian's mom passed away when she was only 51. And my
mother became a widow when she was only 57 (my dad was 63). We've already
lost a son ~ so I'm well aware of how death can snatch a loved one away when
they're way too young.

Before I get too doom and gloom on all of you, I'm happy to say that Brian's
on his way home right now. I will make chicken enchiladas for dinner and we'll
play Backgammon, take a walk, and watch Wheel of Fortune. All will be comfy
and "right" in my little corner of the world again.

 Bonus? Tim is coming home from university for a visit this weekend!

Monday, October 21, 2013

reading and rugs

Hello friends ~ hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was quiet.
I went to a library book sale on Saturday and came home with these seven
books, all for $3.50. I'm reading Once Upon a Time, There Was You right
now. Elizabeth Berg used to be one of my favorite authors; not so much
anymore. Her old stuff was much better. I haven't given up on Elizabeth
though...I'm still hoping to find her old spark in her newer books. 

I ordered a new kitchen rug from and it was delivered in a few
 days. I'm really happy with it - it's modern, bright, and fresh. Though I wish it
were more of a true yellow instead of a goldish-yellow. It's thin, like a cotton 
rug (perfect for a kitchen), but yet it's 100% wool. 

 One of the dinner meals I made last week was Szechuan Peanut Chicken.
It was quick and easy to make and so delicious. I found the recipe here.

 Oh - speaking of rugs - remember how I brought the white shag rug up
from the family room and put it in the living room? (Sorry for the grainy
picture - I didn't have the original anymore and had to re-use the one
from my blog.)

Well, getting-old-and-a-bit-senile Zippo decided that he liked the rug upstairs
well enough to use it as a litter box. It was just a little bit in a corner, so I blotted
 it up and am using a product called Nature's Miracle that I got at PetCo. So far,
 it's working a lot better than just plain vinegar. I didn't want to take any chances
 of Zippo marking the rug again, so I moved it back downstairs. For some reason,
 he doesn't bother the rug down there. Maybe because he's hardly ever downstairs.
So now the brown and white rug is back in place.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, October 18, 2013

thrifty business and exciting friday night

Are any of you familiar with the scrapbooking store, Archivers? There were
quite a few of them here in Illinois, but recently several branches have closed.
One near me is closing on Sunday and everything in the store is now 40% off.
So, I headed up there today and along the way, I stopped at a Goodwill store
that I'd only been in once before. And it so happened that Goodwill was running
a special today where your total order was 20% off! 

When I was taking photos of my thrifty treasures today, I realized I never showed
you a couple of previous finds. Up first is this autumn glass. I actually have two of 
them. Found at a little shop in town. They look so pretty sitting on my kitchen table.

Last week when I was thrifting with Penny and showed you all the lovely
gold items I found, I forgot to show you this cool art piece. I wanted
another black and white picture for the floating wall ledges in the downstairs
family room, and since Brian really likes trains, this was perfect. The artist
is Russell Steel, an American artist who passed away in 2010. Most of his
works were of trains and train stations. He was listed in "Who's Who in
American Art."

 Today's finds included this white pitcher...I don't think it's Ironstone because it's
not marked on the bottom. It's a rather large piece and will be perfect grouped
with all my other white pitchers or even used on the kitchen table as a vase
in the summer.

I adore the color and pattern (retro!) of this coffee cup and saucer. I picked up
 two sets of these for $3! No markings on the bottom of these pieces either.

Cute little squirrel plaque...I think I'll distress the edges of the wood with
some sandpaper.

More gold for my living room! This picture frame just needs some cleaning up.

This book's colorful and unique cover caught my eye...

And when I flipped through it, was thrilled to find beautiful words and 
more cool art work.

I love this European cardigan...I believe from the language on the care tag,
 that it's from Poland. I also got a dark gray Geoffrey Beene dress shirt for 
Brian. Both pieces of clothing - $3.99 each!

 Brian and I were going to have dinner at our usual little mexican place
tonight for our Friday night date night and then look for some much-needed
gym shoes for me, but after being out in public for several hours, I was sick
of the noise (loud people, screaming kids, blaring music) and traffic and just
wanted to stay home. Brian agreed - he was very tired from work. So we 
stayed in and ordered a pizza and had a glass of wine. We were then watching
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and both fell sound asleep at 7:30! The warning
sound on my cell phone from it needing recharging was what woke me up.
I hadn't slept well last night...had gone to bed at midnight and then was wide
awake at 4:00 a.m. I didn't go back to bed until 6:30 and then slept another
couple of hours. That happens to me quite often these days, where I sleep
in shifts. I think of lot of it has to do with good ol' peri-menopausal hormones.

Linking up with The Thrifty Groove ~ a new-to-me blog that I'll be checking
out this weekend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

new pizazz for the living room

 I had a thrifting adventure last week with my sweet friend, Penny from
 At Home in English Valley. I'd been looking for touches of gold for the living
room to give it a warmer look for the fall and winter. I used to be a strictly
 silver person, but after seeing gold accessories used in decorating on
several blogs, I realized what a warm touch this color could bring to a room.

I was especially crushing on these candlesticks from CB2 as seen on
the Inspired By Charm blog and was going to order them with a 15% off
promotion code, but when I went to order them, CB2 wasn't
offering them anymore! Doesn't that figure?

 All was not lost, however. While thrifting, I found something even better ~
and for half the price of the CB2 candlesticks. Aren't they lovely?

I also found this little gold guy (bottom left in the photo) ~ don't know "what" he is;
 Penny thought maybe an eagle? Whatever he is, he's kinda cool and adds a nice
 vibe to my plants.

 I struck more gold (no pun intended) with this great little chest that fits
perfectly under the black cabinet.

And...lucky me, I also found this gold tray that now has a home on the bookshelf.
The fall painting is a find from an antique store years ago.

On the other side of the living room, I placed a gold pear (not a thrifting find, but
 a HomeGoods one) under a cloche and added a gold kitchen utensil (at least
that's what I think it is - it's an older thrifted find and not sure exactly what it is...
all I know is that I liked it!) to the window shelf above the buffet. I also added two
pieces of fall art between the buffet and window shelf since that area needed a 
little something.

 Lastly, I know this isn't gold or thrifted, but here's another change I made
in the living room today. I was tired of the brown and white rug in this room;
just tired of all the brown, I guess. So I hauled the rug from the downstairs
family room up to the living room to see how I liked it. I do like it here, but I
think I like it better downstairs. I think I'd rather have a rug with some color
in the living room. In the meantime, it's not as boring as the brown rug!

Joining in this week with Tweak it Tuesday and Inspire Me Tuesday.