Saturday, May 31, 2014

patio time

I love this south side of our house where the patio is. We live on such a small plot of
land that this is the only semi-private space we have. And with all the neighbor's trees
on this side of our house, it stays shady until mid-afternoon. It's a great place to have
morning coffee.

On the double shepherd's hooks on this side of the house, I decided to go
with what I had instead of spending money on hanging baskets. 

Our patio set was given to us by some dear friends of ours who were down-
sizing. It's perfect for our space. The little table/ottoman and wicker stand are thrifted
 pieces that I've had for a long time. I'd like to find a large metal art piece - perhaps a
big sun? - to hang on the aluminum siding. I know they make vinyl siding hooks that
you can just slip under the siding, so I'm assuming they make ones for aluminum
siding, too. Or that you can use the ones made for the vinyl siding. 

The neighbor's trees that hang over the patio are the perfect place to hang
things such as wind chimes... 

and a candle holder that I use as a bird cage.

We're taking advantage of the beautiful weather before the mosquitoes
get too crazy and spending some relaxing time on the patio in the 
early evenings. The vintage colander ~ now planter ~ was a recent find at 
Goodwill. I lined the bottom with coffee filters so the dirt wouldn't fall out of the holes.

 Brian installed a new thermostat last night and no luck with either the AC or furnace
switching on. We're going to be calling a HVAC guy later today. Today it's 86
degrees but the humidity is only 28% which is really low for our area, so it
doesn't seem too hot in the house. Good thing we have a lot of fans!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

great weekend, changing some things around, and a hot, sticky mess

 Hello, friends! I hope those of you in the US had a wonderful, long holiday weekend.
It was a quiet Memorial Day weekend around here. One of my aunts visited
on Saturday for a few hours and then Tim came home on Sunday. Brian grilled
fresh bratwurst sausages from the butcher and I made potato salad. It was just the
three of us and it was perfect. Monday was hot and humid and our AC wasn't working
so we hung out in the basement family room and watched movies. Then we went out
to dinner and sat there for two hours having a great conversation. It is so cool to
be at the point in your life where you can have an adult conversation with your child
on a variety of topics. I'm so thankful we have such a close relationship.

 I moved some side tables in the house. I had a black cabinet next to this ladder
bookshelf, under the home sign. I replaced it with a lighter arrangement. Not too
sure what I think of this know me, constantly rearranging things! It might
be different later this week. Sometimes I just have to play with things and live
with it awhile to see how I like it. Other times, I know immediately if an arrangement
doesn't work.

I put the black cabinet next to the couch as an end table.

 And then the black spindle table that used to be the end table, got 
moved into Tim's room.

Speaking of Tim's room (that we're still updating), I found a red rug at IKEA...

 and ordered a masculine winter comforter from It's cotton
and very thick - great quality. But obviously too hot for the summer. So the red
and white checked thin cotton quilt will stay on the bed for the summer.

Back to moving tables around...this black table that you see in the corner of my
office was previously in front of the living room window topped with a lot of plants.

 I then moved those house plants out onto the front porch for the summer.

 So I mentioned at the beginning that it was hot and humid (my bare feet are sticking
 to the hardwood floors and even my kitchen cabinets are sticking to the frames!) 
and that our AC isn't working. We thought it was an electrical issue in the basement
 so we had an electrician come out to the house today. He did fix some loose wires in 
the basement light fixture that Brian recently put in and then we had him install a new
 outlet in Tim's room on a wall that didn't have an outlet. But the electrician said that 
our AC and furnace not working was not an electrical or circuit issue. The weird thing is,
 the furnace and AC stopped working exactly when Brian was installing that
replacement light fixture. We are crossing our fingers and praying that we don't need
 a new furnace or air conditioner - or both! But we also realize that we've been living
on borrowed time...

Both the furnace and central air conditioning unit are the original units of the house ~
25 years old! The electrician said it might be something as simple as that we need
a new thermostat - which is also original to the house. So now we have to have a 
heating and AC man come and check things out. Frustrating and nerve-wracking,
especially with having financial constrictions.

I am now heading out to my air-conditioned yoga class. Good thing I
don't practice hot yoga!

Friday, May 23, 2014

oh amazing day

 We could not ask for more beautiful weather lately. It is perfect.

On my way to my doctor's appointment this morning, the words I wrote above
in haiku form played in my mind. And then on my way home, I saw this view
and pulled over to the side of the road to snap the photo with my phone.
This horse farm is just a couple of miles from my house. I feel blessed to
live in such a beautiful area. Hope your weekend is filled with sunshine!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

our own little midwest meet-up

 Yesterday I had the pleasure of lunching with Penny from At Home in English Valley
 and Cathy from My 1929 Charmer. Penny and I had actually met last year at the 
Midwest Bloggers Conference and have become good friends and see each other
once in awhile, but neither one of us had met Cathy. We talked and laughed for almost
three hours. It's a lot of fun getting to know the person behind the blog!

 {Penny, Cathy, me}

Penny is so sweet, generous, and talented ~ she gave me and Cathy a gift bag
 full of pretty things that she had made. I love this crocheted Ball jar cozy.

 I'm not sure if this vintage Oriole fabric piece is supposed to be a dish towel,
but I think it looks pretty in my office, hung over the door of my vintage dresser.
The colors and the bird theme fit in perfectly!

Another pretty puffed heart to add to my collection! Penny finds gorgeous
vintage fabrics when she's thrifting and then repurposes the fabric by making
something new. I love the colors and details of the flowers in this fabric.

We are finally having warm weather here in northern IL (85F today - a bit too warm
for my likes, but I'm not complaining - sure beats winter!) so Brian and I have been
doing a lot of yard work. I was at Home Depot a few days ago looking for annuals
and they didn't have much of a selection yet - just the usual petunias and marigolds.
I bought a couple of hanging baskets but that was it. I'm going to another garden
center tomorrow to check out the annuals. Hopefully, they will have a good selection
and I can get busy planting flowers in pots for my porch and patio.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

healthy homemade granola

 Most store-bought granola is loaded with sugar and/or unhealthy oils such as
canola oil. Even if you find a healthy brand, it's usually pretty expensive.
Making your own granola at home is much healthier and cheaper, too.
And you can tweak the ingredients to suit your taste.

Here's my go-to recipe:

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsalted nuts or seeds, any combination
(pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup unsweetened organic shredded coconut
1 T flax seeds or meal
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, apricots)

Preheat oven to 300F. In large bowl, combine the oats - cinnamon.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive or coconut oil and maple syrup.
Pour over the dry mixture and stir until well coated. Spread the granola
onto a rimmed 11x17" baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway
through, until the oats and nuts are a deep golden color. Remove the granola
from the oven, stir in the fruit, and set the sheet on a wire rack to cool
completely. Seal in a tightly sealed jar for up to two weeks.

I love this granola stirred into plain Greek yogurt and topped with
fresh berries for breakfast. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

love ~ and a few goodwill finds

Once again, I'm apologizing for being MIA from blogging for awhile. I really
haven't done a lot in my home or garden lately - nothing worth blogging about,
anyway. I've been away from home a lot with physical therapy, doctor appointments,
 yoga classes, and errands. Though there's been some fun things thrown in too,
like retirement parties, a birthday celebration, and Mother's Day. This is me
 and my mom in 1963. Wasn't she adorable?

 My own "baby" came home last weekend for Mother's Day. As usual, it sure
was good to have him home for a few days. We went to my sister's house, so
I got to spend time with my two nieces. I don't see them often, so really miss them.
I have no idea what was so funny, but it doesn't take much to make teenage girls
collapse with laughter. And no, that Lite beer does not belong to my niece!

 I ran into Goodwill today since it was their monthly scratch-off coupon day.
I only picked up a few things...I'm still working at getting more things out of here
than I'm taking in.

 I love this basket. I can use it in the living room to hold magazines,
on the kitchen table to use in a centerpiece, or outdoors to hold potted plants.
I might tape off the basket and spray-paint the metal.

I'm going to use this metal colander as a planter. I am so behind in getting containers
of flowers planted this spring. Our weather here in northern IL has been so cool
and rainy. It's been feeling more like March and early April rather than May. This
morning when I woke up, it was only 38 degrees!

I collect small white pitchers and it's a bonus when they're from Europe. This one
is Ironstone from Spain.

I also found this blue and white plate marked Royal Staffordshire, Cathay Ironstone,
by J&G Meakin, England. 

It'll join the other blue and white plates on top of my fridge.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

around here

Hello friends ~ sorry it's been awhile since I last posted. Life has been busy
and I haven't been online as much as usual - which can be a good thing.
I recently read Jen of the Cottage Nest's post on "stopping to smell the flowers".
What she said in her last paragraph about not being so frantic about your to-do
list and being easier on yourself really hit me. I am a doer. A list-maker. A 
perfectionist firstborn. I like to get everything on my list done in one day and if
I don't, I sometimes feel like a failure. Nevermind that I'm away from the house almost
 every day because of physical therapy twice/week, doctor appointments, yoga class,
 and errands. I also do a lot of physical therapy exercises every day at home.
And then I have the battle with spending too much time online. I'm really working on 
that one, especially with the weather being nicer now. I have a lot of yard work to do. 
And walks to take. Exercise is important!

Anyway, here's some of what I've been up to lately:

Clearing out all the dead leaves, twigs, and other winter "yuckies" from the
butterfly garden and cutting back the perennials...

It's a start!

Bought starts of buttercrunch lettuce, a mesculan mix and spinach...

and today will plant in this pot that hubby kindly filled up with a mixture of potting
soil and our own compost.

Hostas are starting to come up on the south side of the house. We will need
to re-mulch, as we do every spring. So much outdoor work to do!

Indoors, I made a huge pan of mostacolli and a pan of blondies for friends
who lost their 27-year old son/grandson last week.

In the downstairs family room, I moved the black IKEA cube from under the
Chicago print and put the sofa table there instead.

I put an unused coffee table in back of the sofa to use as sort of a sofa table.

 The black IKEA cube moved upstairs into Tim's room. We're still working on this
room and got some things done recently, but still have a lot more to go. We also
made an IKEA run and got this chair. And I found gray and white pinstripe curtain
panels that will have to be hemmed and put up.

We moved the TV and TV stand from my office into Tim's room
Still need to put the closet doors back on.

This is just temporary bedding. I'm looking for a masculine bed cover or comforter
using the colors of black, gray, and white. I will then fold this red and white checked
quilt at the end of the bed. The white nightstand (turned around since the drawers
aren't in it - I still have to paint them) is not staying and neither is the lamp or the
teddy bear. Clementine definitely is a keeper! I think she's waiting for her boy to
come home. He'll be done with finals today and will be coming home for awhile on 
Friday.  I'm not even going to start hanging things on the walls until everything else
is done in this room.

 Speaking of cats, this boy is 15 years old today! He and his two brothers, whom
a friend adopted, showed up on our property when they were about three months
old. We think someone dumped them, as they were healthy and friendly. Zippo is my
faithful fur companion ~ one of those overly-sweet, cuddly cats who is always by
my side and sleeps with me every night. For being an elderly cat, he still has lots
of energy and can jump up on the bed and even the kitchen counter. He's starting
to lose his muscle mass though, so looks a lot thinner through the hind quarters.
As with humans, I believe in feeding my pets a healthy diet too, and I believe that's 
what keeps him in such good health. Sure, the food costs more, but I feel my pet's
health is worth it - and it saves on vet bills!

I went to a meeting the other night to join the planning committee for 
Overdose Awareness Day. Some of you who've been with my blog for a long
time know that my oldest son, Philip passed away 4-1/2 years ago at the age
of 21 from a heroin OD. I have always felt like I wanted to do something to spread
awareness and information about this epidemic that is sweeping our nation and
killing so many of our young people. Did you know there are 100 overdose deaths
in the US every single day?  I mentioned the death of my friend's son/grandson (the
mom and the grandmother are both friends of mine) above. He also passed away
of a heroin OD. Seems everyone I talk to knows someone who is either an addict
or that has passed away from drugs. I don't have any answers - but I can at least
work on education and awareness. If something like this can happen to me and
my family, it can happen to anyone. No one is immune. And I have met many parents
who have said the same thing. "We would have never dreamed this could happen
to us." So, with that all said, the meeting was emotionally draining, but this group
is planning a week-long awareness campaign here in the suburbs of Chicago in
August. The actually OD Awareness Day will be August 31st.


 Thanks for visiting and for listening to some of the things that have been going
on around here. Please leave a comment and let me know what you've been up
to as well ~ and if you feel some of the same struggles as me with getting everything
done. Do you feel like you're merely spinning your wheels most days?