Monday, August 31, 2015

well, hello

 Sorry I've been MIA for a week. No big deal ~ just busy with life. Nothing news-worthy. So, just a random post for now. :-)

 I can't believe it's the last day of August already. I love summer and wish it lasted longer. I know a lot of you out there are excited that it's almost fall and are already decorating for that season. Not me! I'm hanging on to summer as long as possible.

We had fall-like weather last week with the temperatures mostly in the 60's. Leaves are already starting to turn red. The skies were gloomy, the air smelled like that wet blanket of fall, and the neighborhood was eerily quiet during the day with all the kids in school. It was just too soon. Which is perhaps why it's going to be 90 again here all week and the AC is back on.

 I take a walk around my neighborhood most evenings and wanted to share this house with you all. Isn't it cool? I call it the Hansel and Gretel house. Even though I prefer light-filled houses, this one does look like it'd be cozy inside, especially in the winter.

 Master bedroom re-do update...the hardwood flooring is being installed September 11th. I've been touching up the tiny blotches of gray wall paint that got on the ceiling when hubby painted. He used painter's tape, but it didn't work well. And he's not expert enough at painting to do the cutting-in technique. (Not dissing him - I can't do it either!) This trying-to-touch-up is a huge pain. Not as easy as it looks and doesn't work well either. And my neck gets sore from constantly looking up. Let's put it this way: Now I know why we've hired professional painters in the past.

Clementine wanted to help, but I declined her offer.

Speaking of kitties, Zippo (on the right) had a senior check-up at the vet last week. He turned 16 in May. He had an exam and blood tests. The blood tests showed slightly elevated BUN and amylase levels which can indicate kidney trouble in cats. A fairly common problem, especially as cats get older, but one you don't want your fur baby to have. He eats a healthy diet, so for now we are trying a digestive enzyme powder in his food. Zippo also has a sinus problem...some fluid in his ear and a tender jaw, so a 1/4 crushed baby aspirin every three days is also going in his food. The vet said this should also help with the arthritis in his back legs. It breaks my heart that he's having these problems. He's been with us since he was about three months old and he is the sweetest, loving, personable cat. I want him to have the longest life possible, but a healthy one, of course. We will do whatever it takes ~ unless he's suffering. Otherwise, he is doing fantastic. He still runs around and plays a bit and has no problems with using the cat box. Now that naughty Monkey on the left...he looks so sweet and innocent snuggled up next to Zippo, doesn't he?

Don't let his cuteness fool you. He's been a naughty boy since day one! He's currently on a waking-mom-up-very-early-in-the-morning kick. And he's very persistent about it. He walks all over me, claws at my covers, rubs his head all over whatever body part is exposed (and if my hand, arm or head isn't exposed, he claws continually at the covers), meows, walks all over the top part of my pillow, jumps on my nightstand and paws at things...and repeat. If I try to push him off the bed, he digs his claws in and won't budge. We can't close the bedroom door - he scratches on it. I even tried squirting him with water from a spray bottle. I hate to say it, but he's umm...rather dumb. He comes right back after I spray him! And then he's all wet and I feel guilty. Sigh. I may have to resort to locking him in the basement at night, but that makes me feel guilty, too because he hates it. He scratches at the door and howls. He's actually destroyed the door from all his scratching. Any other ideas out there from you cat people? Oh - I've done the ignoring thing, too and that hasn't worked either. He's very persistent. 

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 24, 2015

summer weekend, autumn monday

 I spent Saturday with my aunt, enjoying the beautiful summer day in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. If you're not familiar with this town, it's 75 miles northwest of Chicago and has been a resort town since the late 1860's when wealthy, famous Chicago families such as Wrigley, Schwinn, Maytag and Sears began building summer estates around the lake.

Little did we know it was Venetian Weekend and the place was mobbed. We drove around for an hour, trying to find a parking spot. We finally got lucky with someone leaving in a school parking lot about 1/2 mile away from the main part of town.

 We walked around to pretty shops...

 fell in love with a pretty bench...

 had lunch at Sprechers, and posed with a hotdog.

 Side note: I'm sporting a new, short haircut. My regular hairdresser is out of commission for awhile with a broken arm and I went to someone new. I did not want my hair this short and at first was quite upset, but I reminded myself that I have two friends battling cancer right now and they don't have any hair, so I need to quit bitching about something that's truly insignificant. I have to admit - it is a lot easier to take care of. And it will grow out.

A simple pleasure that was pure enjoyment and made me smile...we found a quiet park away from the hustle and bustle of the town. There was a shallow, winding creek in the park with the clearest water and a stone bottom. I just had to take off my shoes and go for a walk. I hadn't done that since I was a teenager living in Kentucky. It's very calming and meditative and I felt like a kid again. I highly recommend it if you have a clean creek or stream nearby.

 So now Monday rolls around and we had a high of 69 degrees and strong winds. It truly felt like a September day. I actually made a pot of red lentil soup for lunch. (*Later update: I thought I'd better include the link for the soup recipe. It is so delicious, healthy and easy to make, that I'm making it again tonight! Hubby even requested it again. It's from the web site, The Kitchn - one of my favorite recipe web sites. Anyway, click HERE  for the recipe.) That might not sound surprising to you, but you see, I normally only eat soup in the fall and winter. (Likewise, I can only eat ice cream in the summer.) And then I actually turned on the oven...

and made banana bread! It's a healthy version - no white sugar, no oil, no dairy, and made with whole wheat flour. You can find the recipe here.

The good news: it's going to warm up again by this weekend. :-) After all, it is still August and summer is still on for almost another month. I'm in no hurry at all to rush in autumn.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

fun finds ~ and thoughts on getting rid of stuff

I still enjoy thrifting ~ it's in my blood ~ but like I've mentioned a couple of times this year, I only go once in awhile now, and usually only when I am looking for something in particular. Still slowly but surely weeding accumulated "stuff" out of my basement, working on that minimizing. Sometimes it's a painful process and I hem and haw over donating certain things - like if I know I paid more than a few dollars for something, or if I think it's "too nice" to donate - but I find once it's gone, it's almost a relief because then I don't have to think about it anymore. I have never missed anything that I've donated.

Thus said, here's my few finds from the past couple of months. Everything was only 99 cents - $4, except for the pillow, which was $8. Technically, that wasn't from a thrift store. It was from one of my favorite little antique stores.

A McCoy pitcher...

A handmade pillow whose colors go perfectly in my kitchen...

This is the back of the pillow. Love gingham! I'm using the pillow on "my" kitchen chair. (Everyone has their own spot at the table, right?) Feels good on my back.

We really needed these brand-new drinking glasses. My older set has a missing glass from having broken one, plus they're getting worn-looking from so many years of going through the dishwasher.

Loved this small woven basket, but I didn't know exactly what I was going to use it for until I got home and started looking around. Baskets can be used for so many things, right?

Right now it's being used in the kitchen to hold onions and garlic.

 My photo of Clementine fit perfectly in this brand-new wooden IKEA frame. The yellow outline of the frame pics up the soft yellow of the quilt in the photo.

 Couldn't resist this covered Hollie Hobbie dish. Loved Hollie Hobby when I was growing up! From what I saw on eBay when I looked this up, it's either a butter or cheese dish. I'm just using it as decor.

 Lastly, an old framed photo of the Windy City.

It made its way onto the gallery wall, which is still a work-in-progess.

Any fun thrifty finds for you lately, or perhaps are you minimizing, too?
Somewhere in-between? 

Linking up with Tweak it Tuesday.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

my gardens in mid-august

Despite the heat and humidity this weekend, this summer has been mostly a mild one - as far as summers go - where I live. Hopefully, this means a mild winter is in store for us, too? ;-) One can only hope.

Potted flowers are still doing beautifully...

Joe Pye Weed - which the bees love, is at its peak in August. Whatever that ground cover is underneath, always starts to brown and dry up in August. We didn't plant that ground cover. It's a volunteer that showed up a couple of summers ago and has really spread.

The bees also love wild onion - an Illinois prairie plant that I have in various places around my yard. It's a wonderful perennial that doesn't require any care and is easily divided.

Phlox is still in all its glory...

 as is the purple coneflower...

and the Black-Eyed Susan, all in my butterfly garden.

The purple butterfly bush is in full bloom right now, too but I haven't seen too many butterflies this year, which is really disappointing.

Most of the hostas are done blooming except for this variety in front of my house. I love the delicate white flowers on this variety of hosta.

The poor tiger lilies are past their prime now. They're drying up at the bottoms and all the orange flowers on top of the stalks have dried up and fallen off.

Cherry tomatoes are still producing like mad. I pick a handful every day.

Last week, a neighbor brought me some peaches from her peach trees. I told her I didn't even know that we could grow decent peaches here in the Midwest!

How are the plants and flowers doing where you live?
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a little spruce-up and a lovely birthday

I bought this large wicker basket at a thrift store and knew I wanted to paint it "some day" and finally got around to accomplishing that last week. I just used painter's tape to separate the two colors, and then used spray paint. I like the way it turned out.

 And then there's this boring, brown console table that I wanted to experiment with...

I know a lot of people would be like, "OK, so go ahead and paint it, what's the big deal?" But you're talking to someone who is not good with painting furniture. Just not one of my fortes. So I decided to paint just the drawers. I used the Americana Decor chalk paint from Hobby Lobby. 

You wouldn't believe how much of an ordeal just painting and waxing two drawers was for me. What would probably take anyone else an hour at most, took me a couple of days.

I'm sure this table would look better with the top and/or shelves painted white, too but I'm not sure about that either. For now, I'm just leaving it as is. 

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I had an enjoyable day yesterday with cards, presents, and then a fabulous Thai dinner out with Brian and Tim.

After we parted ways with Tim and were on our way home, we stopped in the downtown area of our town to take a walk along the riverwalk. We also went into the local cupcake shop to pick up my complementary birthday cupcake and chat with some locals. 

Turning 29 wasn't so bad after all. ;-)

Linking up with Tweak it Tuesday


Sunday, August 9, 2015

{almost} birthday babe

I had the most enjoyable girl's day out with my mom and aunt yesterday.
We walked up and down the streets of a charming town, laughed 'til we almost peed ourselves, talked serious stuff, went into kitschy shops and a thrift store, stopped for iced tea at a local coffee and tea shop (where the barista overheard my aunt talking about my upcoming birthday on Monday, so she decorated my cup), and had the most delicious al fresco lunch.

We dined on the rooftop patio, which had soft, pleasant music playing and a good view of the town. Oh my goodness, the food was marvelous! I had marinated pork tacos with roasted pineapple, and sauteed corn with epasote, serrano peppers, chipotle aioli, and cotija cheese.

 Our waitress must've picked up on my mom talking to me about my birthday, so at the end of our meal, she came out with a tres de leche cake with three forks for sharing. And the cake was absolutely delicious. My no-sugar eating plan, be damned! That cake was worth it.

My little town had its annual fest this weekend, of which I haven't gone to in years. There's carnival rides for kids, loud bands, tons of people, and lots of beer. Just not my style. The older I get, the more I crave peace and quiet. There's also fireworks over the lake on the Saturday night of the fest. I watched them from my back yard, wearing jeans, closed shoes, and a long-sleeved hoodie with the hood up over my head. Try and get me now mosquitoes - mwah ha ha! As I was holding up my phone to take photos, wouldn't you know it, those little buggers descended upon my exposed hands. Next year, gloves? Happy weekend, everyone.