Friday, May 29, 2015

wrapping up the week ~ friday love

My oldest niece just graduated from high school. How can that be already? My sister and brother-in-law had a party for her this past Monday (Memorial Day). I hope that as a proud auntie, I have bragging rights. Miss S graduated with Honors.

And here she is, all decked out for her senior prom. She's such a beautiful young lady!
(Inside and out, of course.) 

I finally finished planting flowers in all the pots for the patio. This wicker stand is starting to fall apart from all the summers spent outdoors. I'll need to paint it and seal it. Lots of painting projects to do this summer.

The Columbine in my butterfly garden bloomed literally overnight. One day it was all green leaves and the next day - boom. Flowers. I always thought Columbine flowers looked like little crowns. ;-)

Mint and lemon balm (which is in the mint family) are taking over the herb garden!
Time to do some digging out.

Are you familiar with Ruth Reichl? I've been a fan of hers for many years. She was the editor of Gourmet magazine from 1999 - 2009 and was a restaurant critic for the LA Times and the NY Times. Two of her books, Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples are on my Favorite Books list. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile - it's been on my wish list - and it finally came out in paperback. I had a 20% off coupon from Barnes and Noble, so I finally ordered this book. Just finishing up another novel, so this one will be next.

Ah, it's the weekend. I spent the evening with a girlfriend...eating pizza, drinking wine and catching up on each other's lives. Tomorrow - Saturday - looks like a little day trip is in order.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

after the rain

 Sure hard to believe today is Tuesday. With a long holiday weekend here in the US and nothing but rain here most of the day today, it seems like a Monday. The heavens opened up this morning and it poured for seemingly endless hours. The humidity was a feet were sticking to the hardwood floors, my hair looked like a Brillo pad, and my arm with the lymphedema swelled up. But then it'd be like someone flipped a switch. The rain would abruptly stop and the sun would be shining. Ten minutes later, it'd be pouring again.

I ran outside at one point to take some photos when the rain stopped. I don't know where all these tree seeds are coming from this year...previous years were never this bad. Cleaning up the patio when we dry out a bit isn't going to be fun.

 Raindrops on a dahlia...

 The chive blossoms were at their peak after all the rain...

 I cut a bunch of the blossoms and put them in a Ball jar and filled the jar with rice vinegar. I'll keep the jar in the dark basement for two weeks, then strain the blossoms from the vinegar. I'll then use the vinegar to make vinaigrette (that will obviously have a slight onion flavor).

 My office (used to be Phil's bedroom) is at the back of the house and one of the windows faces west. The afternoon sun that comes in that window is brilliant. I love how cats seek out sunbeams, so it was no surprise that I found them in this room at one point when the sun was shining. Clementine chose the top of the chair, while her "baby", Monkey took refuge on the rug.

Zippo chose my desk, right by the window.

 My oldest niece's graduation party was yesterday...I'll post about that later this week.
Happy Monday Tuesday!


Friday, May 22, 2015

girl's day out, painting patio furniture and catching up on other stuff

 My friend, Sue and I headed up to Delavan, Wisconsin yesterday to check out a place called Everything Homespun. We were greeted by an older gentleman who came out of the barn and asked if it were our first time there. We chatted a bit as he explained about the store in his lovely southern accent. We found out he's originally from South Carolina but has lived in Wisconsin for 12 years. He then left us to explore and shop.

There were old ladders...

and galvanized buckets...

and even an old, rusty bed outdoors. Hmm, I wonder what someone would do with this. Perhaps use the headboard and footboard as garden trellises? I suppose one could get really creative and artsy with those bed springs.

The interior of the barn was filled with mostly primitive decor, which I don't really care for, but there were some antiques, too. I really liked this vintage table runner, but the green wouldn't go in my kitchen and it was also priced a bit too high for my liking.

A collection of pretty glassware...

Loved this old baby cradle. I would love to have one of these in my home for when I have a grandbaby (hopefully someday!). It would be so pretty when sanded and painted. Once the baby is too old for this type of cradle, it could be used as a doll and stuffed animal cradle for a child to play with.

I was also drawn to this vintage painting (much prettier in person - phone camera doesn't do it much justice), but again, too pricey for me.

 There's another small building on the property which has old gates, windows, doors, wagon wheels, fence panels, old rakes and shovels...even sections wrought-iron cemetery fences.

Plenty of old windows inside...

Some of the old doors were huge!

 I would love to use an old door hung horizontally as a headboard. But they are extremely heavy. I'd be worried the weight would rip our wall out! I wonder how in the world you'd even hang something like this to use as a headboard? I'm sure I could find out about it through a Google search. I just might look out of curiosity.

After shopping, we went out to lunch, then took the scenic route home and stopped for iced coffee. All in all, a wonderful day with a good friend.

On the homefront, we have a to-do list a mile long. We have so much to do indoors and out! We're getting little things done but a couple of the big projects are painting our bedroom and also our little front porch/deck and front door. I've also been chalk-painting a nightstand and spray-painting plant pots and patio furniture. In a previous post at the beginning of May, I was deliberating on what color to paint that ottoman. I wasn't sure about painting furniture to match the pillows because I'd probably be replacing them in a year or two anyway. But after reading Connie from Crafty Home Cottage's comment, I decided to go for it and paint that ottoman blue! Here's what Connie had to say:

"If I were going to paint the ottoman I would paint it the blue that is in the pillows. Then in a couple of years if you change your pillows, just buy a couple more cans of spray paint and do it again :) That is the nice thing about spray paint . . . fast and easy:)"

Connie was right - I love the blue ottoman!

 Since the colors on the patio are yellow, orange and blue, I decided to go with yellow and orange marigolds and some other like-colored annuals to place in the patio area. They're all sitting on my front porch, waiting to be put into pots and set around the patio. It's either been too cold, too rainy, I've ran out of potting soil, or...I've been dealing with some pain. I woke up with some neck pain on Monday morning and fought a bad headache all day, so thought it was related. But I've had this neck pain (in the back of my neck, more on the right side) all week now, and sometimes it is very intense and painful. It's not meningitis - I'm not sick. In fact, I feel fantastic except for this neck pain. I talked to my lymphedema therapist the other day when I went for my six-month checkup and she thought it was a pulled muscle. I had tried everything this week...gentle stretches, curcumin supplements (supposed to help with inflammation), moist heat, dry heat (heating pad), ibuprofen so I could sleep (I hate taking that stuff unless absolutely needed since it's bad for your stomach and liver), self-massage, and using Bio-Freeze to numb the area. (Inserting pretty picture of my chive blossoms as a paragraph break...)

Earlier today, I saw my next-door neighbor outside and remembering he was a massage therapist, I went outside to talk to him about my neck pain. He said he'd be glad to work on my neck for about 25 minutes to try and help me. What a nice guy! He has one of his spare bedrooms set up as a massage room, because he does have clients come to his house. He started working on my neck and shoulders as was laying face down on the table and he couldn't believe all the tight spots I had. He said, "You're a train wreck!" He explained everything he was doing and about the different muscles, then did some other techniques and stretches as I flipped over and laid on my back. It is now six hours later and I feel so much better, though not totally pain-free. I am incredibly grateful to have this pain relief though. I just finished making a Greek pasta salad and a batch of homemade granola, so I will be gifting my neighbor with some food tomorrow in gratitude for his help. 

For my friends who live here in the US - happy Memorial Day weekend!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

vintage suitcases and ottomans

 Last month I showed you the vintage yellow suitcase I found at Secret Treasures and was wondering how best to use it. At the time, I was using a chest and the yellow suitcase as a coffee table.

But, the arrangement didn't work. It didn't look right with the round otttoman next to the suitcases. I tried just the suitcases in the middle of the rug and while it looked nice, it wasn't the right height for putting your feet up while sitting on the couch. We feel more comfortable with an ottoman or casual coffee table where we can put our feet up.

 I decided to try this empty-ish corner next to the couch.

I think this works for now. The chest was too big for the corner, so I used the yellow suitcase on the bottom and then added another suitcase on top. Serves as an end table. I'm not crazy about the IKEA lamp in the corner ~ it's too modern for my living room ~ but it'll have to do for now until I find just the right floor lamp for that space.

The two leather ottomans are back in place and so is Zippo - in one of his favorite napping spots.

 I really wanted to finish up some painting projects outside today, but can you believe it's only 49 degrees?! I am wearing long sleeves and a hoodie again - and had to turn on the heat in the house this morning when just a couple of days ago, we were running the air-conditioning. Such is the crazy weather in Chicagoland!

Sharing at Tweak it Tuesday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

family time ~ a great start to the weekend

 Tim came home for a short visit yesterday and the three of us met up with my mom in one of our favorite hang-out towns - Evanston. I've talked before about shopping at one of my favorite stores - Secret Treasures - and have featured the things I've found there, including my vintage kitchen cart. This time, I brought in some things that I wanted to sell. Their buying policy is that they buy right then and there (except on weekends when they're super busy) and give you 50% of their selling price. They didn't buy everything I took in, but I did end up with a tidy little sum which I will add to my new laptop fund. After shopping at Secret Treasures (even Tim found some cool stuff ~ retro drinking glasses, ashtrays, pipes and a pipe stand ~ he said he's going to have a 1950's party), we all went out to lunch and just enjoyed each other's company. Mom went home after that, but me, Brian and Tim were just getting started.

Next stop was the Charles G. Dawes mansion right by Lake Michigan. I had forgotten my "good" camera, so these are just photos from my phone. Tim, being the professional photographer, took a lot of photos on our day trip, so I'm sure he got some stunning photos.

This house is supposed to be an example of the Chateauesque type of architecture. Isn't it beautiful? Charles Dawes was the VP to Calvin Coolidge, General during WW1, and Ambassador to Great Britain. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. This house is now owned by Northwestern University (Dawes left it to them) and is used by the Evanston Historical Society.

 Being fascinated with beautiful houses, I couldn't resist getting a photo of the house next door, too.

 Next stop on our tour was the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL. Growing up in the Chicago area, Brian and I have both been here several times before. Tim had been here once before too, but it was when he was little. Such a beautiful, interesting place to not only photograph, but to visit, too. Even though we're not of the Baha'i faith, I find their beliefs and philosophies very interesting. And the history and architecture of this temple is absolutely fascinating. You can read about it here.

One of the gardens...wouldn't this be a perfect spot for a wedding? Heck, I wanted to roll out my yoga mat. Or, start a game of croquet.

Photos of the interior of the temple aren't allowed, but I was able to take this photo out the back door of the temple. I loved this view with a glimpse of Lake Michigan in the background.

 You didn't think I came home from Secret Treasures empty-handed, did you? I found this 1938 "Modern Home Cook Book" in perfect condition for just $3. (The other two vintage cookbooks were found on different shopping trips to Goodwill.) Looking through this cookbook is interesting in itself...seeing what they cooked and ate back in the late '30's. Definitely not dishes you'd want to eat today...Cream of Lettuce Soup; a lot of kidney, veal, quail and rabbit dishes (OK, so maybe some people still eat this stuff...not me!); Milk Toast; Pineapple Cream...even a section of recipes "For the Sick".

The only other thing I bought was the glass dairy bottle in the middle. You can't see it in the photo, but the bottle has raised letters that say "Bowman Dairy Company".

It was so good to see my boy again and have such an awesome start to the weekend.
Hopefully, more family fun with my aunt tomorrow. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, too.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

mini miss begonia

 A special package arrived for me today...

In March 2013, Judy from 20 North Ora introduced us to Miss Begonia. You can read all about her here. What a beauty all decked out in beautiful pieces of lace and pretty buttons. This past April, Judy made a Mini Miss Begonia and had a giveaway. Guess who won?

 Of course, Miss Nosy (AKA, Clementine) had to immediately jump on the table and check out this mysterious package. She sure gave it a good sniffing!

 I knew even before Mini Miss Begonia arrived, that she would fit in perfectly in my office. (Little side note: I just recently moved this table into my office from the kitchen and hung the window frame on the wall, so this is something new, too.) Isn't she pretty? 

 And then I thought, she needs necklaces! What a pretty way to display them. What do you think?

I think Mini Miss Begonia fits right in this room. Thank you, Judy ~ so generous and kind of you and very much appreciated!

PS - it is still quite chilly here (only in the 40's!) and cloudy and damp. We even have a frost warning tonight! I couldn't stand the long grass any longer and mowed this morning. We're supposed to have our driveway sealcoated tomorrow...they're saying sunshine and a bit warmer, so crossing my fingers on that one. Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Linking up with Tweak it Tuesday.