Monday, March 31, 2014

getting rid of stuff, new curtains, and a dinner guest

 Good Monday morning, friends.
 I am so happy to report that here in northern Illinois, the sun is shining and we're 
supposed to reach 65 degrees F. today! The winds will be whipping up to 40+ mph
this afternoon, but I don't care. Much better than snow or freezing temps. Of course,
it only being the end of March, this weather is too good to be true. This is just a
one-day deal. The rest of the week looks to be in the 40's with lots of rain.

I worked on cleaning out more stuff and organizing this weekend. One thing
I did was to go through my Tupperware/plastics cabinet (everyone has one of those
cabinets, right?) and throw away anything that didn't have a lid, throw away anything
that was obviously too worn, and then donate whatever I didn't want or need that was
still in decent condition. Here's the messy cabinet before:

And here's the after. I did keep a few plastic containers and will phase those
out as I buy more glass containers.

I had mentioned in my last post that I had gone through my closet and dresser
and bagged up no-longer needed jeans, shirts and winter cardigans. I had Brian
go through his clothes and do the same. We ended up with two huge garbage
bags full of clothes for donation! Here they are on my porch, all ready for pick-up.

I also went through stuff in the basement and ended up with two paper bags
full of household miscellaneous - plus an unneeded desk chair.

I had a friend gift me with some beautiful cotton curtain panels. At first, I thought I'd
use them in Tim's room/the guest room, but because that room is so small and the
headboard of the bed will need to go near the one window in the room, we decided
to order a simple Roman shade for that room instead. So, I tried the curtains in 
the living room. I love them! I love the way they softly drape and how the light filters
through the panels. I know that they're not the "proper" length. All the experts say that
curtains should either hit the bottom of the window frame or just skim the floor. Well,
you know what? I don't care. I happen to like these just the way they are. That's the
thing with decorating your house. Forget the rules, people. It's your house. You
can do whatever is pleasing to you. That all said, I can envision a piece of
 contrasting material sewn on to the bottom of these panels so that they hit the floor. 
But, I don't sew! I wouldn't even know what material to pick out. My eyes glaze over 
when I go into a material store. I just might have to commission a friend to work on 
these someday. ;-)

 Brian will be home quite late from work tonight. Unfortunately, he has a wake to
attend. A coworker passed away suddenly due to complications of diabetes. All
I know is that the paramedics found this 46-year old man unresponsive, with a blood
sugar level of 1000! I have never heard of that high of a blood sugar level. By the
time he got to the hospital, he also had a heart attack. Then he was on life support.
The next day, he was gone. So incredibly sad.

Anyway, I decided to invite one of my best friends over for dinner tonight.
I'm going to make these White Chicken Enchiladas. Don't they look
delicious? I found the recipe here.

 I am off and running now to do a big grocery shopping. 
Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

nifty thrifty finds ~ and getting rid of stuff

  I've been working hard at purging a lot of stuff from my home...I went through my
closet and took down the tops and sweaters that I didn't wear all winter and bagged
them up for donation. I figured if I didn't wear something yet all winter, then I never
would. I also got rid of anything that didn't fit exactly right or that was uncomfortable.

Moving on, yesterday I worked on clearing out some vintage and a few newer items
that no longer serve a purpose for me. These are items that are more "valuable", so
I don't want to just donate them. But yet I don't want to sell on eBay or etsy either.
For right now, I have listed the items for sale on a couple of Facebook pages, but 
whatever doesn't sell, I think I'll list some things here on my blog to see if any of
you are interested.

Needless to say, I haven't been thrifting as much as usual. In the past few weeks,
I've run into Goodwill in passing and only came home with a few treasures. At
least I'm getting rid of a lot more than I'm taking in!

I'm a sucker for small, pretty pictures. This one of the Cosmos flowers looks
like someone hand-painted it on glass.

I thought this small oil painting of the roses was so pretty...

Whoever painted it, wrote a message in Polish on the back...

I passed up this business card holder a few times before deciding to buy it.
I'm glad I did - I love it! So cheeky.

Brian and I both love Sun Tea (usually herbal) in the summer. I'm slowly phasing out
all the plastic in our house, so this glass jug is perfect.

And speaking of phasing out plastic and using glass, I found these two small 
Fire King containers. Great for storing small amounts of leftovers in the fridge.

What about you ~ are you bringing more stuff into your home or getting rid of
things? Or, a little of both? Happy Thursday, everyone. Its a chilly, rainy day here
in northern Illinois ~ but, at least it's not snow!

Having fun with ~

 Green Willow Pond - What We Accomplished Wednesday
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson - Share Your Cup Thursday
Lavender Garden Cottage - Cottage Style Party

Monday, March 24, 2014

monday chat ~ weekend goodness

 The past week and weekend flew by. Nothing terribly exciting, just busyness.
The weather here is still cold (only 23 degrees here right now and an inch of snow
expected's ridiculous), but walking around my yard the other day, I 
did notice that the daffodils (at least, that's what I think they are) in front of my
neighbor's house were poking up out of the ground. Hooray! I'll take any little
signs of spring that I can get. I still have not seen any robins, but I am assured
from everyone that I've spoken to, that they're out there.

Friday evening, I drove into Chicago to attend my friend's Spring Equinox dinner
party. I left several hours before the party started so that I wouldn't have to drive
in rush hour traffic. Trust me - you don't want to experience Chicago rush hour
traffic, especially on a Friday. So I stopped in at an independent book store to
kill some time. How I would love to work at a place like this! It had a cool little
cafe in there too, where they serve coffee, tea, wine, beer, and some baked goods.

I wish I had've remembered to bring my regular camera with me to take some
decent photos of my friend's house. It is so warm and inviting and beautiful.
Her cat, Sky looks like an Egyptian prince posing on the fireplace mantle. I
love how the window in the background is void of any window treatment except
for a beautiful asparagus fern plan.

We had a wonderful array of healthy food: Cin had made a pot of one of the most 
delicious soups I've ever had -  a curried sweet potato soup. (Recipe at the end of 
this post, in case you're interested.) I had made a seven-layer Greek dip as an appetizer.
 We also had a spring green salad, an orzo salad filled with asparagus, black olives, 
and juicy little tomatoes, and a ginger pie for dessert. And wine - natch. Poor timing on 
the photo of the food spread on the kitchen island. This was after the food was demolished.

After dinner, we all bundled up and went out in the back yard for a ceremonial
fire. Cin had passed out little slips of paper and we all wrote down what we
wanted and needed to get rid of in our lives...what we were hiding and burying
this winter as we ourselves were hibernating. We then took turns throwing the
pieces of paper in the fire. Letting go. Burn baby, burn!

Yesterday I visited with another friend who just became a grandma. Her
daughter had her first baby - a girl. I got to hold her for over an hour as
she slept. There's nothing like holding a newborn baby and relishing the
miracle of such perfection and beauty. If it feels that good to hold someone
else's baby, I can't imagine how amazing it must feel to hold your own 
grandchild. I look forward to that someday!

As I write this post, the flooring guys are here installing the hardwood floors in Tim's
room. It'll be good to finally get going with getting his room finished. Instead of putting
new blinds and curtains up in this room, I think I'm going to go with a Roman shade.
Two months ago, I won a $100 giveaway with through Cedar Hill Farmhouse.
I'm going to use that credit for the Roman shade. We have a new bed for the room
and I'm going to be using an antique headboard that we've had stored in the basement
for years. Since this will now be a guest room, I'll probably move the TV from my
office into this room (I rarely watch TV, especially in my office). And we'll also put a
small bookcase in this room for Brian's "stuff"...some of his books, radios, and a 
turntable that I had gotten him for Christmas. Here's the soup recipe...happy Monday!

Sweet Potato Curry Soup

3 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 Tablespoons green curry paste
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
1/2 stick butter
splash of lemon juice

1. Saute the onions in coconut oil, when they are tender and translucent, add ginger and garlic. Cook a few minutes longer then add curry paste. Cook just a little longer and then add broth and coconut milk.

2. When sweet potatoes are baked and cool enough to handle, peel and chop into small cubes. Add to soup pot along with salt. Let it all boil together for a few minutes so the sweet potatoes pick up all those tasty flavors. Then blend with a hand blender until silky smooth (add more broth if needed to reach your desired consistency).

3. Throw in the butter and the splash of lemon juice. Serve in bowls with a drizzle 
of sesame oil if desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

spring cleaning and cooking

Lots of busyness around Comfy House lately ~ handyman stuff, picking up the 
hardwood flooring for Tim's room, cleaning out closets, running a lot of errands,
making appointments, and today - starting to do a little cleaning in the garage.
It was a little warmer again today - about 50F - so I got out the leaf blower and went
to work on blowing all the dirt and crud out of the garage. It's amazing how filthy
 a garage floor gets over the winter. It was covered in dirt, dead leaves, and road salt. 
 In the meantime, I opened up the back window in the house and let the cats enjoy 
the hint of spring air. You can see the snow that's still on the ground. 

I had to run into Joann Fabric a few days ago and thought I'd pass along
this cute find to you all ~ Mason jar "jewelry"!  There were several different
items to transform your jars, but I liked the frog lid inserts and the jar toppers
the best. I didn't buy anything this time, but think I'll go back for the frog lid inserts
later. I can picture Mason jars full of flowers from my garden this summer.


One of the more yummy dinners I made this past week was beef stew in the
Crockpot. As I tell people who are dubious or new to cooking, you really can't 
go wrong with food that you throw in a slow cooker. Sometimes I don't even
follow a recipe. For instance, this was just beef stew meat, carrots, onions,
celery, and potatoes - throw it all in your slower cooker and then add the 
ingredients for the gravy: beef broth, a little red wine, tomato paste, fresh garlic,
salt, pepper, some oregano and parsley. In the last half hour of cooking, mix up
3T. flour with enough water to make a thin paste, then add to the stew and stir.
Pop the lid back on and let it go for another half hour. The flour mixture thickens
up the gravy. 

I made mini Irish soda breads for St. Patrick's day yesterday. I find them more
like a drop biscuit with raisins in them. Good on their own (with butter!) with a cup
of tea or coffee, or would be a good accompaniment for soup or stew. They
were so easy to make, too. You can find the recipe here.

Still looking for those elusive robins...

Friday, March 14, 2014

a bird's life

 Even though it's not officially spring (six days!) and we still have snow on
the ground, I know spring is coming. The snow is slowly melting and every
morning, I hear more little birdies chirping away. I still have yet to spy a
robin though. Every year when I see my first robin, I know for certain that spring
 is coming. I keep scanning the bare tree branches along my drives and walks
 and no luck for me. Several people in my area have said they've seen robins,
so I know they're out there.

I love decorating with birds and nests, especially come springtime.


 Do you use birds and nests in your spring decorating?
Happy weekend!

Monday, March 10, 2014

teaser monday

 The sun was shining today and the temperature actually got up to 50 degrees. Let me tell you ~ it felt so wonderful after months of frigid air, that I turned off the heat in the house and opened a few windows. I was constantly in motion with doing work around the house, that I wasn't even cold. The cats were in all their glory too, sitting in the windows and sniffing the fresh air. I went outside later to take a walk and to see if Snow Mountain had diminished at all. All of you in warm climates who think snow is pretty - well, it is when it first falls and the earth is blanketed in fluffy, perfect whiteness. But the reality near the end of winter is huge, ugly  piles of snow covered with all the dirt and rocks from the road that are kicked up by the snowplows.
My lilac bush has buds! I actually discovered them last month. I swear, I don't ever remember seeing this bush with buds before April. Maybe it's confused. After all, it's supposed to snow again tomorrow night. And this is how March in Illinois goes ~ sun, clouds, snow, rain, warmth, cold. We have one day of hope and then it's taken away as swiftly as it came.

Which will be the case with Tim. I'll be driving him back to school tomorrow already. He has a lot of studio work to do with his photography and print making before school starts back up next week.  I've been enjoying having him at home again, even though he sleeps until noon and is gone immediately after dinner to friend's houses. When he's home it means more housework, cooking, laundry and the dishwasher sometimes running twice a day, but that just means I'm being a mom. The kitties are basking in his presence and piling up in his bed. They'll miss him, too.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

weekend happenings

Well, I survived the root canal yesterday. My anxiety was so high that I was up
most of the night beforehand. Was happy to find the doctor had a terrific bedside
 manner and was very reassuring. But then I got freaked out all over again when
 he showed me the digital xray on the computer screen and pointed out how one
 of the roots was mostly blocked. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to get all the way
 down in there - and that would mean the tooth couldn't be saved and that I'd have
 to go to an oral surgeon to have it  removed! He very calmly said, "Oh, it's not bad. 
They just put a metal rod in your gums and put a fake tooth on top. You'd never
 know it wasn't real." But I'm thinking, "That's not the point! Who wants more
 dental surgery?! And I can only imagine how much all of this would cost!"

 When he was almost done with the procedure, they took more xrays to see if he
 indeed got all the way down to the root tip. He had - totally clear! Whew. The tooth
 is saved. Now I have to go to my regular dentist in a few weeks and get a crown. 
Yippee - more Novocaine and tons of drilling. And of course, they only put on a temp
 crown and then you have to go back again and MORE Novocaine and the 
permanent crown. And...another bill. 

Anyway, you all were right. The procedure itself wasn't bad. The Novocaine shots
were the worst part. And I had a lot of discomfort afterwards yesterday and I'm
still pretty sore today and just feel worn out. Oh well, this too shall pass.

In other (better news)'s a few of my latest thrifting finds. This gold mirror
is a beauty. It was hard to get a good photo. It's about 17" across and 23" vertically.

 Of course, I couldn't resist this silver kitty ring holder.

I love using scarves as accessories for outfits, but I refuse to pay retail prices
for a simple piece of material. These three scarves are so pretty and were only
$2 - $4 each. boy is home for a few days! He's on spring break. It's so nice to
have his presence back in the house again and to make him some good
food. I hadn't been in a cooking mood the past few days, but now I am.
I was in the kitchen all morning, making Tim a nice eggs, bacon, and toast
breakfast then slicing onions, peppers, and skirt steak to marinate in a 
combination of olive oil, fresh lime juice, cilantro, garlic and cumin to make
fajitas for tonight's dinner. I also made a pan of Tim's favorite blonde brownies.

Sir Zippo ("The Million Dollar Kitty") has an eye infection. Out of the blue, he
 started having a green discharge from his eye. We took him to the vet this
 morning and he's now on antibiotic drops. I asked the vet how this happens - he's
not an outdoor cat. She said a lot of times it could be from allergies. Interesting,
because Zippo does have a lot of sneezing fits, so I always wondered about that.
Who would've thunk - a cat with allergies!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!