12.07.2016

a kitchen refresh





Hello everyone.  This is my friend Judie's kitchen, or what it looked like just a few weeks ago.  She had turned the house into a rental several years ago and when she decided to move back in, her tenants had vandalized the house.  It's hard to see in this photo but they had stomped on the island and it destroyed the structure so the sink was actually sinking.  Many of the cabinets were ruined as were the countertops.  There was extensive damage throughout the house and Judie was pretty distraught as to how to fix it all. Luckily her insurance came through and she could make all the repairs but she was still a bit lost as to how and where to start and remain on budget.






That's when she invited me into her home to help.  We started with the kitchen.  The decision was made to save the existing cabinets and have them repaired or replaced.






We had them painted in Benjamin Moore's Simply White because I think it's the most beautiful white paint on the market.





The island was rebuilt and it begged to be painted Benjamin Moore's Old Navy.  So we did.







I took this photo yesterday and even though the cabinet pulls are not on yet, you get the gist.








Gorgeous, right?!









I'll do another post soon listing all the finishes, product details and more pictures of the rest of the house as progress is made.  It is going to be so beautiful!  What do you think? xo



11.27.2016

my thanksgiving







I've been trying to figure out a way to tell my thanksgiving day story without all the pretty pictures that take me a ton of effort to create.  There are none of those.  But instead I think I'll tell you how my actual day went.

We decided just a few days before thanksgiving that the family would meet at my oldest son's home at 2pm for dinner.  I was relieved to not be hosting this year for a variety of reasons but I felt sorry for them as between the 2 of them they have 5 children and often have 2 more little cousins at their home.  7 kids with both parents working full time no less.  So dinner for 20 or so.

There was the usual dysfunctional cast of characters, including 1 perfectionist (me), a sweet holy roller, an atheist, a critic, 4 world class passive aggressives, 1 control freak (hello, me again), 3 recovering addicts and one still wrestling with recovery. Quite the ensemble.

But you know what?  It was fine.  Weeks of pre-worry which transferred into present day worry was a waste of time as usual.  No one killed anyone, no one judged and no harsh words were spoken. We were all kind to each other and accepted each other exactly where we are in each of our journeys.  The children were adorable. An older married couple kissed for the first time in years, I'm sure because of the lightness of the day. Young couples held hands and we all said grace.  The food was excellent and the house was immaculate but that was never the point. The point always was and will always be love.  xo




11.18.2016

butternut squash stuffed mushrooms










Don't let this poor photo fool you into thinking these stuffed mushrooms are not delicious because they are. The sun was setting and this was the best image I could capture.  The recipe for the risotto is right HERE and is super easy.  I just brushed the insides of the cleaned portobello with some garlic infused olive oil and roasted them for about 10-15 minutes at 375.  I overdid it a little and the edges started to burn but they were still delicious.  I then scooped the risotto into each mushroom cap and added some chopped fresh cilantro.  You could add parsley or whatever other fresh herbs you have on hand.  Also some chopped walnuts or pecans would be wonderful.







Are you all ready for Thanksgiving?  I'm not.  I'm not even sure if I'm hosting yet!  No worries tho because if I am I'll just call and place an order for everything with our local gourmet market.  They do a great job.  I'll make these as a side or even a main dish for people like me.  Last year these Wild Rice stuffed Mushrooms were a huge hit.  So fingers crossed everyone will be happy.

I'm working on a side project helping a friend completely remodel/renovate her house.  So far it's coming out amazing and I cannot wait to share with you!

xo


11.14.2016

inspiration for trying times






These are trying times in many ways. Financially speaking many people are suffering terribly.  I stumbled upon the Ohio Department of Aging/Story Projects (Stephen Andrew Jones' great state) and have been reading everything I can on the site.  Times may be tough now but wow, compared to the Great Depression they are nothing. Reading these stories really show just how luxurious our lives have become. There's so much to learn from the people who actually lived through the depression and most think they are better people because of it.  It's amazing the generosity that existed then.  I wonder what it would be like now?  In the next week I'll be sharing more of these stories.  Enjoy...



Food, Cooking and Eating During the Great Depression

"Mom could make everything taste good - or maybe we were hungry. Our meals were mostly cornmeal mush, dandelions, sybutcel (another weed), puff balls, wheat from the grainery (with permission), wild rabbit, groundhog and turtle. Vegetables, if we had a garden, were cooked in salt water - no flavorings. We used a lot of tallow in place of lard."
- Wilma Blasiman, age 88, Lake Milton
"Our menu for the week was always the same: pasta, vegetables, beans and on occasion some fish. Sundays were always homemade spaghetti and meatballs. So, when we had 'Wonder' bread and bologna, it was a real treat. That did not happen very often."
- Madge Contin Browning, age 92, Columbus
"My mother and my husband's mother both canned a lot of vegetables and we would pick berries in the summer to can and make jelly. My father used to raise his own vegetable plants in a large hot bed, and after he planted all he wanted he gave away the rest of the plants to our neighbors. We also raised chickens (mostly for eggs) and rabbits. Once in a while, my mother would roast one of the chickens for a Sunday dinner. We had homemade beef noodle soup and vegetables nearly every day for our supper. If we didn't like what was put on the table, we just had to do without."
- Irene Burkhart, age 83, Shadyside
"Almost all of the food we ate came from Mom's huge garden. We also had plenty of fresh milk and eggs. Mom would exchange eggs for a few items from the peddler wagon twice a week. On rare occasions, there would be a few pennies left over and the peddler would bring down the little box of penny candy from the top shelf... In the fall, to provide for her five sons and two daughters, Mom would begin canning. She would fill mason jars with vegetables, meat or fruit, then store the pretty glass jars on the shelves in the dirt cellar underneath our home. There was also two large bins, one for potatoes we had dug and one filled with apples from our orchard. In the city, men formed long lines waiting to buy what they called day-old bread. We grew up with homemade bread and the aroma of freshly baked bread would drift up the open stairway at night."
- Ruth Maloney Cowgill, Marion
"(Mom) became friendly with the grocery store owner, so she would go to the store when he closed and bought any meat that would not keep - there was no freezer. Unsold vegetables that would not keep, he gave to her. So, we had lots of vegetable soup. She would can what she could for later."
- Carolyn Davison, age 86, Columbus
"My husband and I, with our baby daughter, Ruthie, worked for a family in Gustavus. It was a three-generation farm owned by the Waters family. There was a grandfather, son and grandson living in the household. I was the family housekeeper doing all the cleaning, laundry, cooking, baking and canning. I baked bread twice a week. We had no freezer, so everything had to be canned. All veggies and fruits were canned. Meats that were not smoked in the smokehouse were canned also. Meals were always ready at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m."
- Josephine DiBell, age 103, Cortland
"My father and several other friends made maple syrup back in the woods by the creek in the sugar bush shed that housed the special equipment needed to keep a fire going under the vats holding the sap collected from the maple trees. We kids were runners with food, etc. for the maple workers. The men put metal tubes in the trees and hung a bucket from them. When they were quite full, they dumped the sap into a large tub on a large sled pulled by the horses. They took the sap to the sugar bush and placed it in vats over the fire to be cooked down several hours before it became wonderful maple syrup. My mother made large fry-pan sized pancakes for us with yummy maple syrup for breakfasts."
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights
"Everyone farmed and raised vegetables to can and eat. If your garden was in a sunny spot and you harvested early, your family shared with others who planted in a cooler spot and harvested later in the season (when they shared with you). Potatoes were buried. Meats were smoked for the winter. We didn't have a freezer and had to preserve food for leaner times."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood
"No matter where we lived, my father had a huge garden. He also had rabbits and goats. We became vegetarians long before it was in fashion. My brothers worked the garden with my dad."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights
"Food was always a problem, or should I say the lack of food. The kids were always looking for a bit of something. If one kid had an apple to eat, they would surround that one child yelling 'core, core!' Then, one person would get the core of the apple to suck out the final bits of apple and juices that were left. The rest of us just stared and hoped that someday we could have an apple or a core to eat."
- Edna Hanson, age 76, Toledo
"My contribution to the family table was turtle. Coming home from school when I was quite small, I would look for turtle tails along the river or creek bank. I would pull the turtles out of the bank, being very careful not to get my fingers snapped off. I'd take the turtles home and turn them over to my father, and the next night we'd have a delicious supper of turtle meat. Later on, we'd have turtle soup."
- Elizabeth Helber, age 87, Logan
"Our Victory Diner customers varied from young to old. But one woman's plight and desperation stayed with me for life. This little old woman came daily into our diner for months, sat in what we called one of our small (2-seater) front booths, ordered only a cup of hot water. Then she drew out a single tea bag from her satchel-purse, put it into the cup. Finally she emptied our sugar bowl into the cup. She drank that. I suspect that's all she had to eat or drink for most of the day. Her plight and desperation haunts me to this day."
- Alice J. Hornbaker, age 82, Cincinnati
"Mom would walk to the East Market on Mt. Vernon Ave., basket in hand, to seek the best bargains at the vegetable and meat counters within. As she approached the meat counter, she would eye the row of calf heads very critically. These were the cheapest items at the butchers' stand. The way she would prepare it was to embed it in a shallow pan of rice and pop it in the oven. (In leaner times, we had our share of lard sandwiches.) Other meals she cooked were pots of sauerkraut and wieners, lima beans and neck bones, and hamburger patties smothered in a deep pan of thick brown gravy."
- Alex James, age 91, Columbus
"We never bought bread. My mother and grandmother always baked homemade rye bread, so we always had food on the table and extra to help feed our help, and they truly appreciated it in that time and era. We also made our own butter. I recall how many times I had to turn the churn. We also made ice cream in the old fashioned hand-turned ice cream maker."
- Carl Krob, age 82, Bridgeport
"The owner of our farm was Bob Pickens, who had a grocery retail store in Mt. Vernon. From the store, Bob gave us a fifty-pound sack of corn flakes that had gone stale. Mom put them in the oven and warmed them up. This was a good, cheap mix with the acre of soup beans we had planted."
- Wendell Litt, New Concord

Something to think about the next time we are in the grocery store...xo

11.07.2016

thanksgiving inspiration


We have about 2 weeks until Thanksgiving to get it together.  All the meal planning, guest lists and logistics need to be addressed.  I didn't get around to making the stuffed portobellos like I had planned, but I will in the next day or 2.  I did make a great soup that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving though.





I have no idea who is coming or where we will eat, but since I love to put the cart before the horse, I went through my archives looking for some inspiration.   The above photo is my idea of heaven, for simplicity sake alone.









 I do love a good Pendleton blanket.














This was a lovely and quiet Thanksgiving, fingers are crossed for another one like that.
























Last year was crowded and rainy but one of the best in recent history so who knows what'll unfold around here.  Do you have a well-behaved family that all pitch in and act appropriately?  What is that like? lol  x








11.02.2016

when the blues hit








Some days are easier than others. When it seems as if persistent problems will never ever end, I just want to curl up in bed and ignore the world but that is rarely a feasible option.  I suppose like everyone, I have to push on and get through these days.  So I made a list of things to do or think about when things get me down.  And as always, I'd love to hear what you do.

1.  Make a gratitude list - I've heard it said that gratitude is the way out of every single problem we face.

2.  Watch the world news for 5 minutes and realize how fortunate I am.

3.  Take a nap.  I swear the world will not come to an end if you do.

4.   Hang a load of laundry outside - I don't know why this simple act is so calming.

5.   Take a long soak in the tub - my all time favorite.

6.   Get still and pray.

7.   Conngratulate myself for meeting a goal, even if it's small.

8.   This is hard to do when I'm down, but a walk or quick run is so good for the blues.

9.   Clean and polish my shoes and handbags.  Mindless and comforting.

10.  Remind myself that no matter what has me down, that this too shall pass.

Care to share what gets you through the blues?

xo

10.25.2016

thinking about thanksgiving






Thanks to Stephen Andrew Jones I now have Thanksgiving on my mind.  I want to try his pumpkin pie recipe.  Last year we squeezed over 25 peoples into this small house and it was an engineering feat. Secretly I hope someone else hosts this year although I do love decorating for the day.






One thing I do know is that I plan to make stuffed portobellos again this year.  This time with a roasted butternut squash risotto.  I'll start working on that recipe this weekend.

Is it too soon for you to start thinking about the holidays?  xo




10.11.2016

finding storage where there isn't any


The number one question I'm asked regarding living in a small house is where do I put my stuff.  I've had people come over and question whether or not we rent a storage unit, we do not.  Or look around in the back garden for a 2nd house, true.

I like to get creative when it comes to storage.  Those suitcases up on the armoire are not just decorative, they hold pillow covers and magazines I want to keep.  That newly acquired chinoserie tin holds little snacks for my grandkids.  I love using pretty storage solutions because then it is a double win.  I'm not a big fan of underbed or hidden storage.  I tend to forget what's stored in things like that and then there is the dust issue too.  I like most of my stuff front and center so I can enjoy it.

Of course the ultimate storage solution is owning less.  Could you manage with one closet and no garage?  I've forgotten what it's like to have those options!  xo

10.03.2016

my daily cleaning list







Good morning and happy October.  Some people wonder how I keep my house so clean so I thought I'd share what my cleaning list looks like.  Plus here comes the holidays and why not get a jump on a lot of the chores? 

Daily Chores

Straighten living areas
Make the bed
Attend to all mail, either file it or recycle it
Plan my dinner for the day (do I need to soak beans? etc.)
Wash dishes and countertops right after we eat
Sweep kitchen and entryway
Straighten and wipe down bathrooms
Check the laundry and run if I have a full load
Take out the trash

Weekly Chores

Dust furniture 
Launder sheets and any other large items such as towels or blankets
Scrub bathrooms
Wash the floors
Refresh vases with flowers or branches

Monthly Chores

Deep vacuum the whole house including inside kitchen drawers with this Eureka vacuum
Clean out and organize refrigerator and pantry
Thoroughly clean kitchen cabinetry and other woodwork
Clean chandeliers
Wash the inside of the windows, sills and drapery rods

I do most of the cleaning with a little hot soapy water and I know this sounds like a lot of work (I'm tired just reading it) but honestly it takes me about 15 minutes each day to clean the house.  The added weekly chores adds another 30 minutes and the monthly list takes me about an hour.  Keep in mind this is for a small house with only 2 adults.  When I had 3 little boys running around wreaking havoc I still tried to stick to the same schedule.  Don't forget to leave your tips in the comments because that is the best part of this blog.  xo


9.28.2016

hey there


I finally had to replace my old computer with a new one and I've yet to figure out how to transfer photos to it.  I pretty much lucked out getting the above photo to cooperate.  I actually purchased this Chromebook instead of a computer.  Please don't ask me the difference because I really don't know, I just have to trust L on this. I do love that it is so quiet and lightweight, but you'll have to bear with me til I get the hang of it.

The fact that the weather here in southern California still says summer, it is indeed fall. I brought in these dead branches because I adore their color.  The season change is so subtle here but I love it nonetheless. And like the rest of the world, I confess to have been making pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  It's easy to turn just about any recipe into a pumpkin recipe with teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

I only have one last slipcover to get washed before the heat ends and summer is officially over.  The fall garden clean up has begun and the days are getting shorter.  What is fall like in your area?  x