Tuesday, August 30, 2016

finds and fadings

Sharing some of my latest finds with you...

Aren't these plates perfect for fall? The thrift store only had two each of these dinner plates and salad plates, but that's OK. They'll look pretty as part of a place setting on the table. They're made by Vernon Kilns (USA). 

A pretty hand-painted pitcher...

Mini hobnail sugar and creamer...

Another owl to add to my collection, but this one is different. Instead of a figurine, it's a vintage clip and quite heavy. Found in my favorite antique shop.

This was my best find, by far.  A brand-new Dooney and Bourke wristlet! Still had the original price tag of $75. My price was $13. :-)

These aren't thrifting finds, but they're still bargains: wire magazine holders from the Target dollar section. They were $3 each. I snagged the last two. The navy and aqua colors are perfect for my office. I just need to make labels for the fronts. 

Meanwhile, being the end of August, the gardens are fading. All my potted annuals are history (except for one hanging pot of petunias in a shady spot) and some of the perennials are starting to dry up.

The end of August is when Sedum starts showing its beauty and since I have it planted in the butterfly garden, it's nice to have something blooming while the Purple Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan are fading away.

I just cannot get over my coleus this year. This pot started out as four small plants. At first, these plants weren't doing well. The leaves started to shrivel up and were crispy. I tried a sunny spot, shady spot, more water, less water...nothing was working. One of the plants even died. I was just about to give up when I decided to move the pot to the other side of the house. I don't know why this was the "magic spot", but wow! Next year I'm planting coleus in the ground in this spot.

I had to run into the grocery store while I was out this evening and I found mini mums for $2.99. I bought two yellow and one purple to plant in the planter box that previously held basil (now harvested and made into pesto and frozen). I guess fall really is coming. I'm one who wants to hold onto summer just a bit longer.

Monday, August 22, 2016

on the homefront ~ from morning 'til evening

The past couple of days here have been picture-perfect. Temps are in the 70's, the humidity is low and sunshine abounds.

 It's delightful to turn off the AC and open the windows to feel the fresh air. The kitties concur.

 My front door, which faces east, opens right into the living room so there's always always a nice sun puddle on the floor in the morning. With the cool breeze coming in through the front door, too ~ just heavenly.

When you walk in the front door into the living room, there's a little foyer-like area. I got a new console table from Target a few weeks ago. The original console table we had there was dark brown - and now that's in our bedroom with a TV on top of it. Then, I was using my grandma's antique secretary desk, but it didn't really fit the space. It was too tall and not wide enough. This new table fits the space perfectly, brightens up the area, and I like the empty space underneath (the original dark brown console table had shelving underneath). Our leather ottomans - which open for storage - fit perfectly underneath this table.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, things are a bit more chaotic. When the husband works an overnight shift and thus is sleeping during the day, I lose the use of our bed as my spot for folding laundry. So, the kitchen table does double-duty as a folding spot. Oops, I see a kitty tail underneath one of the kitchen chairs! Somehow, a cat always makes it into most of my photos. Good thing I only have three. I met a lady in my yoga class last week who has 11. Not going there so don't even say it. ;-)

And now with Tim being home, it seems like there's three extra people in the house instead of just one. I think I got too used to be an empty nester after three years. I'm back to making big batches of food to keep in the fridge for hungry men. With the cooler weather, yesterday was a perfect time to make a pot of veggie-beef soup. I don't follow a recipe ~ I just make things up as I go along. I started out by lightly sauteeing chopped up onion, carrots, celery and garlic - just enough to bring out the flavors. Then I added a pound of organic, grass-fed ground beef. Browned that up with the veggies, drained the grease, then added four cups of organic beef broth, two cups of organic vegetable broth, and a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes.  Let that simmer for a few minutes, then in went the diced zucchini, green beans, and frozen corn. Spices were next - some Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Blend, freshly ground pepper, and Italian seasoning. Brought this up to a boil and added 1/2 cup ditalini pasta. Let simmer for eight minutes - and done!

Today I made a batch of corn muffins. A perfect accompaniment to the soup.

With so much cooking going on (Tim does a lot of his own, too), the dishwasher usually goes twice a day now. I relish the times the kitchen is finally clean ~ which doesn't last long ~ and the table is clear of laundry. ;-)

I always love to have fresh flowers around the house and my gardens have been supplying most of them, but when I saw a bunch of chamomile flowers at Trader Joe's, I couldn't resist. They look like miniature daisies, don't they?

The thing is, these cut flowers don't last very long. Interestingly enough, at the beginning of summer I had a pot of chamomile flowers growing and the entire plant died off within less than two months. I'm assuming it's just a delicate plant. 

The sun is setting noticeably earlier these days - about 7:40. 

This late summer sun casts the most beautiful glow down the patio on onto the Joe Pye Weed...

which the bees love.

Savoring every moment of these last summer days and nights.

Have a beautiful week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

birthday fun ~ and a tour of gorgeous houses

 Just one thing I love about summer is being out and about, enjoying the beautiful weather and dining outdoors. Last Wednesday, the 10th of August was my birthday. Me and my mom celebrated the weekend before that with lunch at a lovely restaurant on a nearby lake. (Ignore my stringy, limp hair - the humidity does a number on my tresses!) Aren't those big, puffy clouds fantastic? 

On the actual day of my birthday, Brian and I went to a Coach outlet store, as my present from he and my mom was a new purse! I picked out a classic black purse that can be carried with short handles or worn as a crossbody. I needed a new black purse and I've been a fan of Coach since I was a teenager, as they've always been quality handbags that last for many years.

 I chose a Thai restaurant for my birthday dinner - the ending to a perfect day.

This past weekend, we went to our happy place - Evanston. We hit our favorite vintage store, had lunch at a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant and took a walk in the park along Lake Michigan.

 Right next to the park is a block of multi-million dollar homes on the lake. I snapped a few pictures to share.

 Loved the terra cotta roof on this house that was under construction.

Isn't the house itself gorgeous? Wonder what's in that tower with the three windows in front?

Several of the homes were covered in ivy, but very neatly trimmed around the windows. Every yard was professionally manicured. 

Something we noticed was there wasn't a soul in sight. No one out in their yard, no kids playing, no one working in their garage. Maybe they all hang out in their back yards because it's more private? 

 Love the entrance to this house ~ and check out the unique stone driveway to the right.

Close-up of the driveway.

This was my favorite house on our walk, though we were trying to figure out why an air conditioning unit was on the roof! (See the block on the top left?)

 I zoomed in for a close-up of what looks like a four season room on the front of the house...

Even the entrance to this home is enchanting. 

We then headed back to our humble home (we definitely don't have a manicured lawn and that's just fine with us - we both actually like yard work!) and to watch our little town's annual fireworks over the lake. We avoid the massive crowds and watch them from our back yard.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

surrounded by beauty

Yesterday morning was sunny with low humidity, so I took a lovely walk in my neighborhood. The rest of this week is going to be hot and humid, so I take advantage of these cooler days outside whenever I can.

I enjoy looking at other people's pretty gardens as I pass by. Doesn't even feel like exercise when there's so much beauty to take in. And the mornings are so peaceful with most people at work ~ no traffic, just the sweet song of birds and hum of cicadas. I love small town living.

The tall, colorful zinnias in this neighbor's front yard always make me smile when I pass by. I must plant these next year! 

Now this is a creative idea to do with a tree stump, don't you think?

My walk also took me down to the lake. This is where my boys swam and fished when they were growing up, and is home to many geese and swans.

Sunsets on the lake are pretty spectacular, too. Sometimes, Brian and I walk down to the lake in the evening to just sit on the bench and watch the sunset. This photo was taken just a few weeks ago.

Back at home, my own butterfly garden is still thriving in the August heat.

I spied another swallowtail fluttering around yesterday afternoon, but it didn't stop long enough for me to get a close-up photo.

The Black-eyed Susans are at their peak right now ~ aren't they so pretty and cheery? I wish they'd last longer.

Another thing I love about living in a small town is that I can walk down the street and cut wildflowers from the side of the road.

I'm relishing these last few weeks of summer and lush beauty in my surroundings, as it certainly doesn't last long around here. Happy Wednesday, dear friends.