Monday, April 25, 2016

flowers and bees (no birds!)

 What a beautiful weekend we had ~ perfect for getting some yard work done! Saturday was spent at my mom's house. Hubby power-washed her deck for her and then we all went out to lunch. Sunday, we mowed for the first time this season, dug out a lot of weeds, sprinkled grass seed in bare spots, and started on the mulching. In this photo, hubby is digging out some of the pachysandra ground cover that has overtaken the stepping stones. That stuff is a bear to dig out - has very strong roots.

 We also dragged the old ladder out of the garage and put it on the south side of the house. This was a ladder that a neighbor was throwing away last year, so it was a freebie. I need to buy some more annuals to fill out the rung space. I'm heading up to a new-to-me garden center this afternoon!

We had a couple of envious window watchers. (The butterfly at the bottom of the screen is a magnet. It's for covering up holes in the screen.)

The lilac bush as it is now. In a couple more weeks, this bush will be exploding with fragrant blooms. 

Starting early Sunday morning, our neighbors two doors down were working on cutting down a huge tree in their back yard. We have no idea why they were doing this. Maybe the tree was diseased, who knows. Last month they cut down a beautiful, healthy maple tree on the side of their house. Now they have no trees at all on their property. I just don't get it.

 Meanwhile, back indoors, I made a delicious spring salad: brown rice, red quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby spinach, fresh parsley, radishes, scallions and feta cheese. I'm sure sugar snap peas and/or asparagus would be good in this salad, too. The dressing was simple: olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Makes a delicious light lunch or accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.

Later in the afternoon, we visited with some friends. I love the explosion of color in this spot with the tulips and azalea. 

Our friend is a beekeeper and the three hives are literally abuzz with activity right now. Our friend said he can actually smell the honey when he stands next to the hive. I'll take his word for it!

He got this close-up shot for me.

He even painted the sides of the hives with flowers. A guy of many talents and interests! He is dating one of my best friends right now.

Well, it is later in the afternoon and I'm home from the garden center. I bought some more pansies, coleus, gerbera daisies, and a few varieties of lettuce.

Here's what I absolutely fell in love with: Bougainvillea. I didn't know what it was at first, so I took one of the plants down to look at the tag. I was surprised to see what it was because Bougainvillea is usually a tree or bush. They also had this plant in pink. I didn't bring one home because of the $35 price tag. Mother's Day is coming up so I might drop a hint. ;-)

Here's a close-up of the flowers. They don't even look real!

I'm headed back outside now before the rain comes in. We just got a severe thunderstorm warning and the clouds are already rolling in. Looks like cool temps and a lot of rain for us the rest of the week. How is spring going in your world this week?

Sharing with At Home With Jemma - Spring Garden Party.

Friday, April 22, 2016

book review - it was me all along

I had never heard of the author, Andie Mitchell until I read her memoir. She's also now a popular food and weight loss blogger. This memoir isn't a how-to book on weight loss, but more of how Mitchell battled childhood trauma, how food was her comfort, and how she found independence and made changes in her life to overcome obesity.

 At first, the book was very engaging - and also painful to read at times. It was easy to understand how childhood trauma brought on binge eating: her mother was never home because she worked several jobs and she had an alcoholic father. I found myself wanting to hug and rescue this little girl. But the story went downhill from there. I found Mitchell to be self-centered and selfish: leading her boyfriend, Daniel on over and over and then breaking up with him; using her mother's retirement money to have plastic surgery to remove the excess skin from losing so much weight; and spending too many book pages talking about the thrill of working on a movie set and meeting Leonardo DiCaprio. That's great, but a brief mention in the book would've been good enough. I got the feeling it was "always about her".

Mitchell's blog does have a lot of weight loss tips and good recipes, if you're looking for more of something along those lines. She's also just written and published a cookbook, Eating in the Middle. And, you can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

I received "It Was Me All Along" from Blogging for Books for my honest, personal opinion review.

Monday, April 18, 2016

saturday antiquing

It was the perfect, sunshiny spring day to go antiquing and treasure hunting with my partners in crime: my mom and aunt. I discovered a new-to-us antique shop in a nearby town on Facebook. I read the Yelp reviews (sheesh, what would we do with social media?!) and they were all 5-star and said that the owners are helpful and friendly, the selection was fantastic, and the prices very good. We had to find out if that were true. ;-)

We were greeted outside the shop by a wide selection of outdoor decor...bird houses, baskets, plant stands, lamps, wagon wheels...

and plenty of galvanized watering cans and planters.

This old wheelbarrow would be beautiful filled with flowers.

The inside of the shop was filled with so many wonderful things, that the three of us kept calling to each other to "come and look at this!" Every time we thought we were done looking in a particular spot, we'd look again and find something cool we missed the first go-around. We spent so much time in this shop that it was finally lunchtime. We had started making a pile on the checkout counter, so we told the shop owner (who was as pleasant and friendly as the reviews suggested) we'd be back after lunch to look around a little more and finally check out. I only got a few general photos of the was crowded and I didn't want to get people in my photos.

So, here's the treasures that came home with me. I know this box isn't too exciting, but for some reason, I was drawn to it. The owner asked what I was going to do with it and I told her I didn't know; that I had to "play" with it.

For now, I have it on the top shelf of my ladder bookcase. I put some of my rocks and an antique key in the cubbies.

A piece of pottery, not marked on the bottom. I'm assuming Shawnee.

A pretty little bird, Occupied Japan.

A rooster egg cup - not sure who it's made by. The glass is thick and the piece heavier than it looks. The marking on the bottom is worn and unreadable.

This beautiful McCoy piece is what I passed up. And it was only $14. (It did have a tiny chip on the rim though.) The only reason I passed it up is that I have nowhere to put it. I am more discerning about bringing lots of stuff into the house nowadays, especially larger pieces like this.

Hope you have a wonderful week ~ spring has finally truly sprung here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

spring goodness

 Every couple of days when I walk around my yard, I spy something new blooming or coming out of ground (though it's usually weeds). Yesterday, I discovered my rhubarb.

 Today I headed to the garden center for the first time this season. What a welcoming sight to see all the pansies. I know they're common, but I don't care. They shout "spring" to me and are cheerful and lovely, so that's all that matters.

 I also found dahlias in bright pinks and purples...

and little Forget-Me-Nots.

Every which way I turned, more vivid colors. More goodness. It simply made me smile just looking at all these flowers. I miss them so much during our long, gray winters.

 This nursery also has a fabulous array of succulents, though I didn't buy any as they were too pricey. I'll wait for a sale.

Though it barely reached 50 degrees today, the sun was shining brightly. It felt so darn good to be outside. On the way home, I stopped at a church where they have a labyrinth in the back. Have you ever walked one? It's so calming. I could see hawks circling overhead and spied a few deer running out of the cluster of trees. Goodness.

 So, what did I bring home with me from the nursery? For now, some viola - also known as Johnny Jump-Ups - which are a relative of pansies. The purple and yellow ones are my favorite color combination.

A beautiful spring day also calls for a springtime meal. For dinner, I made a pasta dish (I used quinoa pasta, so it's gluten-free) with lemon, herbs, spinach and pine nuts. It was easy and quick to make, and absolutely delicious. You can find the recipe HERE.

I hope that your day was filled with some spring goodness, too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

needing green

 It's still cold and yucky here.  Dark and rainy all day. It's my only day at home this week, so the only time I ventured outside was to get the mail. I was surprised to be greeted by flowers on the vinca. A bright spot in an otherwise miserable day. Maybe the poor vinca doesn't know that there's still a 50% chance of snow showers on Friday?

As usual at this time of the year, I am itching to play in the dirt ~ especially when I am seeing the most beautiful garden photos from my blogger friends who live in warmer climates. Since outdoor gardening isn't possible for me right now, I get a little bit of planting satisfaction by going with houseplants or succulents. My mom called me the other day from her local nursery and said they had little succulents on sale. She asked if I wanted some.

Of course!

I spent the day with Mom yesterday, picked up my succulents, and got them planted today.

Here's my mom's succulents on her dining room table. 

We'll take our greenery anyway we can get it.
Happy spring!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

snippets of saturday, sunday

We woke up to snow on Saturday morning. Just not right for April, even though it's not a big surprise for our area. Hubby said it looked like powdered sugar on the pachysandra. It was the craziest weather day. We had bursts of snow and hail off and on all day, along with 50 mph winds that had its icy hands rattling the windows and gutters and clanging them against the house.

 Staying in on Saturday was a given. I actually dragged out some of my scrapbooking/journaling stuff. And the reason I say actually...I am terrible at making headway with this. It's hard for me to sit and concentrate on projects. I'm much more of an "up and doing things" kind of person. 

Had yummy food food going on all weekend:

Roasted pepitas make a tasty, nutritious snack. Just toss raw pepitas with a little extra-virgin olive oil, pure maple syrup, chili powder and cumin and toast in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Made a VEGGIE CURRY for dinner - delish over rice.

Sunday morning blueberry muffins...wheat and dairy free, no refined sugar:

2 cups almond flour or almond meal (I used almond meal)
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
4 T raw honey or pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
1 c frozen wild blueberries (NOTE: Do not thaw!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mist a muffin tin with cooking spray. (Note: This recipe only makes 7 muffins.) 
In a large mixing bowl, whisk almond flour/meal and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, honey or maple syrup, vanilla, vinegar, cinnamon and salt; pour into flour mixture and gently mix until combined. Fold in frozen blueberries.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.


Homecare (isn't that such a lovely different than housework) included repotting some succulents and making a new vignette on the top of the dresser in my office/Phil's old room. 

There's always the sweet pleasure of sleeping kitties, curled up like commas and squeezed into their little beds.