Thursday, March 15, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Mantle, the Long Version

I wouldn't say I didn't care how my house looked - decor wise - or that it didn't matter.  It was more not knowing what my style was.  I knew what I liked, but it was more about cohesion, about what I wanted to make my house feel cozy, comfy and a refuge from the rest of the world.

I'm 50-something, married for almost 30 years with four kids, but it's only recently that I've come to realize what I want in my home, and from my home.  I know I like aqua and red.  I know I like reproduction old stuff in some items - rust isn't something I want to mitigate and chippy paint isn't for me - I like the look of unpainted wood, for the most part.  I know I prefer neutral walls (mostly because I hate picking paint and the whole process of painting) and neutral colors in furniture.  I know I like to bring in color with accessories, window coverings, pillows and such.  It's much less expensive to replace pillows than a couch. 

I think I've always been drawn to older things and a more timeless or classic appeal - contemporary is not for me.  I love the history of places and things.  I enjoy watching period shows because I love looking at the sets, the furniture and accessories.  If the show was actually filmed during a given time, 40's or 50's, and I can see actual pieces from then, it's even better.  A good set designer, with an eye for detail and knows the time period, well, I just love them!  Crazy?   Probably.  

When we were first married, style was hand-me-downs, wedding gift decor and left-over college-life.  When the kids came along, decor focused on how to hide dirt, finger prints and cheerio crumbs, and still look good - plaid hides a lot - and keeping things safe.  Accessories were Little People sitting on tables mixed with tough-to-mess-up picture frames and a parking lot of Matchbox cars.  Anything with value (monetary or sentiment) was out, but up high.  Pillows were various stuffed animals.  Past college life and wedding decor was replaced with kid art and pictures of the kids, scattered with blankets for forts and baskets filled with all manner of kid toys.  My "side table" was a kid-sized table and chairs; we didn't have a coffee table for years because of racing kids and pointy corners.

When Pinterest came along and I was able to put a finger on what my likes were and really identifying what I loved, because I could see it all, in one place.  I could name a style or two that I wanted reflected in my home.  I could define it. 

Now, my kids are older, almost out of the house, save the 9 year old.  I find I am able to focus more on what I like, get it and have it out.  Instagram has helped me solidify what I see in my mind's eye.  To shop my own home.  To flush out things I had, and loved, on hand by looking for more.

In recent years I've taken on changing some areas of the house for a given season, outside of the usual holiday decorating.  It started with multiple sets of dishes, one for each season, and changing them out accordingly (I might have a serious dish obsession.)   Then it moved to the bedroom and getting seasonal quilts for the bed.  More recently it has been areas in the house that get a small make over for the season or holiday.  I'm hoping to work my creative intention for 2018 into some simple home decor projects - I have a list.  

All of that brings me to here.  Decorating for the season and where to reflect that in my house.  The easiest places to decorate for a given season is my dining room table, my kitchen table and open shelves and my mantle - well and the boxes in my front hall, but I'm having a serious block on what to put in them right now.  I'd love to include my bedroom, outside just changing the quilt, but one step at a time.

For the dining room I had a reproduction tray - I don't need to have an old one, but I'll take the look of it - and added a colored Ball jar (can I just say I can't ever have enough jars - and I've finally picked up a few old ones!) and some real-feel white Tulips from Amazon.  I could do real, but $10 for five stems that won't last very long, I just can't do that.  The ones in my own garden are still sound asleep.  The little doll was Girlie's.  The candles are obviously not real, but I like their look and they are on timers, so they provide a nice soft glow after dark.  I initially got them for Christmas, and liked them so much I needed to find a way to use them all year.

The mantle is always a challenge.  The room is tall.  The mantle is all dry walled, which I have always disliked.  A lot.  I have finally come up with a plan for it, and the wall above it, but it will require hubby, some reclaimed wood and a weekend.  For now though, I like to keep it colorful.

I saw someone's post on Instagram where they mixed a couple pieces of copper (they were copper stemless wine glasses) and ironstone - and I loved it immediately.  Copper is another thing I've always been drawn to; I like its warmth.  I had a small ironstone pitcher, and the two cracked green pitchers were my grandmother's.  The large green glass jar was a Target Dollar Spot find.  The large copper pitcher was a Marshall's find, and it was on clearance.  The vintage copper luster ware pitcher was an antique find, that required little thought on whether or not to purchase it.  It needed me.  Besides the color, I love the painted flowers around it, which are also dimensional.

A little shuffling and before I know it, there's a touch of Spring and a nod to St. Patrick's day in my house!

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

We Are

It's been a quiet week.  Quieter than it should be given there are things to do.  Spring Break is looming, with the 19 y.o. coming home at the end of this week.  Then next week, the 17 y.o. leaves for Spain for his Spring Break, which is the following week.  Then we have the 9 y.o.'s Break the week after that.  Nice that they can all be at the same time, you know, so we could maybe do something.  As a family.  

  • Daylight Savings Time kicks us all, but I have to say I love the longer light.  Even if it means summer will be here soon.  #ihatesummer
  • This pup celebrated her 7th birthday with a scoop of peanut butter.  We get asked how old she is because she's already going white in the face, but it's a breed thing to whiten early.
  • Nope, not me on the sewing machine.  Girlie is taking it over this week.
  • I love that she just goes for it.
  • Her finished piece is amazing.  You'd think she screen printed it, but she hand drew it.  I'll need to get a pic when it's all finished.
  • The Girlie and The Boy - she's found someone to hold her hand. 
  • Given she's in health care, and she's on a difficult floor, I think it looks pretty good.  I've seen worse.
  • The skies are pretty, but the wind was ridiculous.  Half way into the walk, I wished I'd stayed home and done laps in the house.  For the record, I've been logging steps and meals for over 139 days now.  I'm impressed.  
Happy Wednesday,


Friday, March 9, 2018

Food for Thought

So the key to catching up on recipes posts is to not menu plan for a couple weeks - no menu, no recipes.  No recipes, no posts to put up.  The downside would be is that you are perilously close to serving up Fruit Loops for dinner.

I'm pretty sure at some point I've posted this Barbecue Pork and Penne Skillet recipe, but in case I haven't, here you go.  We had pulled pork left over and this is an awesome use for it.  The Rotel gives it just enough spice but the sweetness of the BBQ sauce helps off-set that.

I wish there was a photo for these
Crispy-Topped Bacon and Green Onion Baked Beans but I couldn't find one anywhere.  I originally found this recipe after watching Rachel Ray back when she was on Food Network, but couldn't even find the recipe there.  Anyway, I love this version of baked beans - the bacon-y crumbs on top of the beans is amazing.  I use panko rather than regular bread crumbs - they're just crunchier.  I also enhance canned baked beans by adding brown sugar, mustard and onions.  Great anytime of year.

This is another recipe from Rachel Ray's Food Network show -Sloppy Joe DiMaggios.  I'm not a fan of sloppy joes, in general, but these are good.  These I'll eat.  I'm sure it's something about the spices that I prefer.  They are great for feeding a crowd.  I used only one pound of beef, because I didn't read the recipe before thawing, and I can tell you one pound, plus the hot dogs, served 10 people.  I have no idea what a serving using the two pounds would look like.  Crazy big, would be my guess.

We had leftover dinner rolls from another gathering, so looked up more sliders and the winner was these Hot Italian Sliders.  I didn't have roasted peppers so I used tomatoes instead.  Otherwise, what can I say.  Sliders.  Meaty.  Cheesy.  Crisped up butter rolls.

Crock-Pot Mexican Casserole as yummy as it looks.  Beef, quinoa and spices underneath and all gooey on top, though I left the cheese off to serve on the side.

Yes, I played with another chocolate chip cookie recipe and this Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies my family didn't question as much as last week's.  Maybe it was the caramel bits.  Maybe it was the bit of salt on top.  Whatever it was they wanted more!

I was drawn to these Bourbon Bacon Roast Beef Sliders because of the whole "bourbon" part.  Holy cow these were good.  There's a link to the whiskey candied bacon with the recipe.  I cooked it on a rack, instead of flat on the pan, and I chopped the finished bacon instead of using strips.  I like that, you got bits of the bacon in each bite.   

I finally broke down and bought and Instant Pot.  I kinda had to - it was at Kohl's, on sale, plus I had another 30% off, and $10 more savings for buying something for the house, so it was like I had to get it.  These Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches were the first thing I made in it, and I have a feeling it won't be the last.  They were so, so good!  And then you dipped them in the Au Jus and, well, over the top.  I used port instead of red wine, because I had it on hand.  I'm actually craving them now - but it's Friday.  I'll have to make do with eggs, fish and cheese.

I've said before baked oatmeal is the only kind of oatmeal I'll eat, outside a cookie that is.  This Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal a little more crumblier than my other recipes, but just as good.  Lots of chunky apples and bright bites of dried cranberries.  Perfect start to the morning that kept me filled until lunch.

Don't serve cereal for dinner - pick any of the above instead.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Layout!

I joined Scrapbook and Cards Today's SCT365 for 2018.  I took the class last year, which includes a sketch for a layout and a card a month, along with instructions, cut files and a Facebook group for sharing and cheering.  Last year I didn't do so great, but I'm hoping to right that this year.  Sketches, after all, don't expire.

This layout, and the card below it, are based on the February's challenge.  I used the We Are Family paper line by Echo Park.  It was in a Bigger Apron Strings kit.

I still feel like it needs more "things" along the top of the page.  I'm a minimalist when it comes to layouts, but it feels sparse even to me.  I used some of the embellishments from the kit, but I also used a few of the chipboard pieces (along the top) from my Ali Edwards Stories by the Month kit.  The note card is also from the AE Stories kit.  The little kit was geared towards New Year's, but they were celebratory, so some of the items worked for this birthday layout.

Like I said, the monthly challenge comes with a card sketch as well.  The "feel" of the card sketch is reflected in my card.  Sort of.  The sketch had a grid set-up and my paper has a grid-like-feel.  That's about it.  I rarely put specific sentiments on my cards because then I can use them for any event I may need them for.

I did try to embellish the card, but the background is fairly distracting.  I may go back and either pop some brads in the centers of the reels, or I think I have some star-shaped rhinestones that I could put in there.

Overall, I'm pleased with the outcomes of both.  Plus the best parts - I created something and I have a page and a card to show for it!

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

We Are

I have lost track of my days this week.  I don't know why, we really don't have anything much more than the regular stuff going on.  We've had a couple mind-exploding appointments about making changes to the house.  Note to self, don't go to a home show unless you've won the lottery because the following appointments will only lead to major disappointment and utter shock.   Bonus points for working on my poker face when they hand over an estimate. 

  • When you're clearly begging, but you don't want anyone to know you're begging
  • When Girlies in your spot and not noticing your move-your-butt-over dog stare
  • When you just "wing it" and "eyeball it," stitches are coming out.
  • When you have to look-up the Blanket Stitch later in the day - and you used to know that stitch - and need to sleep on it because you can't figure out WTH they're doing on the video.  It took some, but got it.
  • Niece's birthday party.  I think the whipping wind was as much help to crushing the pinata as the 9 y.o.'s whacks.
  • Just when you wish they had stayed little, there's a bouncy house at their cousin's birthday, and they are, in fact, little again.
  • There are no words - it was a requested photo.  I guess I should be happy he's thinking "take photos."  
  • Two clear blue days of walking outside beats the laps I do in the house when it's not so clear and not so blue.
  • When the 19 y.o. comes home for the weekend and leaves his Shrek shoes at the door - his sister will notice
  • Someone who appreciates her sweaty hands as much as we do
  • And he was brave enough to take her to an Av's game.  And folks, that takes big courage.  Now he gets it, LOL.
  • If they start to show, snow will come. #inevitable.  Way, way too early for this in Colorado.
Happy Wednesday,


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We Are

It was a super quiet week. . .at least in terms of photos, well activities, too.  Had an "Outlander Couch" session at my sister's.  Outlander is a Starz show, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon and it is amazing; the books and the show.  Anyway, we gather every-now-and-then for binge sessions, oogling and food.  

We also hit the Home and Garden show looking for some project information.  When your home is 20 years old, you know stuff's about to go down - furnace and air conditioning aren't getting younger, floors need refinishing, cabinets need upgrading, replacing the slider.  You know, big ticket crap that has a habit of happening at the same time.  Like we just replaced all our appliances.  Water heater was a couple years ago.  Painted the exterior last year.  Something's coming and we want to be ready.

  • I took time for some scrapbooking - the first in a long time.  Did a layout, a card and set up another layout.
  • My sister and her husband have a new puppy - which added some spice to our Outlander Couch day.  Don't let this angelic photo fool you, she's full of . . . it all . . . energy, the dickens, puppy teeth and nails (both sharp), and bounces.  She can launch herself from 10 feet away.
  • FINALLY!  Snow.
  • Working on another towel
  • Catching up on a year-long display project.  *All crafting will have posts to come. :)
See, light week on activities, but pretty heavy in the crafting area.

Happy Wednesday,


Friday, February 23, 2018

Food for Thought

I did no cooking this week.  Well, almost no cooking.  I used my new InstantPot (on sale at Kohl's, plus 30% off, plus $10 off Home purchase - so I kinda had to buy it.)  Anyway, after cooking on Monday, the rest of the week was reinvented leftovers.

Some weeks are just like that.  But if you're looking to infuse one or two recipes into your leftover nights, there's a few goodies below.

I have my grandmother's chocolate chip recipe and it's awesome.  So why mess with a sure thing?  Because I like chocolate chip cookies and you have to be sure the one you use all the time really is as good as you think.  So I made these Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They were soft and chippy and good.  They actually had a similar flavor to my grandmother's, but they were more cakey, less chewy; a highly dunkable cookie - if that's your thing.  I liked them and would make them again.  The family did too, but wondered why I didn't bake the standard.

We have a serious love of mexican foods.  These Crock Pot Tex Mex Chicken Tacos are just another in a long string of recipes.  This was among the easiest of dump-and-go recipes ever, and the flavor was great, even if I did forget the mexi-corn.  I opted to serve them in crunchy taco shells, rather than the boats, but it would be a great filling for burritos, or bowls.

Yep.  Mexican flavors in these Healthy Chili and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.  They had great spice and flavor.  This could be a totally meatless meal, just up the beans and/or quinoa.  This would also be a good stuffing in zucchini boats.

Catching a theme yet?  Skillet Chili Taco Pie with Polenta was another delish, warm, comforting meal.  Another one you could also do meat free, by upping the beans, or adding a grain like quinoa or farro.  My family isn't quite sold on the whole polenta thing (I've tried a couple recipes with it.)  I think if I sliced it even thinner than called for, and maybe fried it first to get it a bit crispy they may go for it.  Maybe.

Hmmm . . . yeah, we may need to branch out.  Quinoa White Chicken Chili was a great light, but filling meal.  Lots of good flavor, in part to using homemade broth.  This would freeze great.

Girlie made these Homemade Peanut Butter Treats for her friends' dogs (I think they all have dogs) and for the neighborhood pooches.  They made it to the friends but not the neighbors, which our dog loved because she got the remainders.  Don't store in air-tight bags - brown bags or open containers.

No big plans for the weekend, except to see if I can make broth in my Instant Pot.  Oh, and at some point hitting the Home and Garden show.

Happy Friday,