Red, White & Blue Spaces:From Classic to Rustic

With July 4th upon us, I was inspired to explore some red, white and blue patriotic color combos. Typically thought of as vintage Americana colors, many of the photos I found illustrate how this classic combination can be so much more.

It’s summer, so why not start off with an inspiring, cheerful porch? Polka dots and stripes have always been a favorite of mine. Love the pillows and birdhouse.

red, white and blue rooms

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These red barstools illustrate just how effortlessly red can liven up an all white space.

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I love the texture of the rattan chair paired with the red leather ottoman, and there are those polka dots and stripes again. At least I’m consistent ;).

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Contrary to the color ‘rule’ of using a color three times, these contemporary red floating shelves may be the only red in this space, but it’s all it needs to finish it off.

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If you’ve ever doubted how much of an impact a small detail like knobs can make, just take a look at this next picture and imagine the cabinetry with simple chrome knobs. Big difference, right?

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Deep blue walls really help this space stand out against the view and white cabinetry.

Red, white and blue rooms

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Want to do something bold but maybe not in an entire room? The hallway is the perfect place!

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This outdoor space is where I want to be right about now! 

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I love me some Ralph Lauren! This bedroom looks like it belongs in a house in the Hamptons…on the beach of course!

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And this one definitely belongs in the mountains of Tennessee. Can you just imagine yourself sipping some hot chocolate, cuddled up with your favorite fur baby and a good book on a winter’s night in this room?

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I love, love, LOVE this bedding! I wish I could find the source for this photo :(.

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Which is your favorite??

 

In other news…

 

Do you ever have one of those weeks that fly by, and although you might have done a lot, it feels like you really didn’t do anything? That’s pretty much what this week was like. The Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett concert that I mentioned last week was excellent on Tuesday. There were more than 18,000 people there, elbow to elbow on the lawn. We really went for Lady Gaga, but it was super cool to see someone as iconic as Tony Bennett too. Thursday we went into Manhattan for the day which probably wasn’t the best idea ever. It took us 4 hours to get home! Lots of people leaving early to get a head start on the weekend I guess, and the long drive sucked the life out of me. Guess this ‘country mouse/city mouse’ is changing ;). 

One thing I do want to mention is if you’re interested in photography, check this out. Unfortunately, the sale at that link is over, but they will certainly have new ones. They’re even going to have a ‘homemaking’ one which sounds intriguing, and I know you’re interested in that ;). I purchased the photography bundle, and it looks like I have my work cut out for me. Soooooooooo many things to look at, I think it will take me YEARS to get through them all, but at $67 I couldn’t pass it up and I thought I’d share (not an affiliate link).

The backyard is still a mess. We haven’t had more than two days without rain and the contractor doesn’t want to bring any equipment back there until the ground has dried up. At this rate, I’m wondering if we’ll ever get our fire pit :(.

I’m working on updating the guest bath with some peel and stick ’tiles’. I’ll also be giving the dated cabinetry a coat of paint and changing out the hardware and a few other inexpensive changes so stay tuned.  (I ran out of tiles and have to wait for another shipment so it may take a few weeks.)

Enjoy the holiday my lovelies! Till next time…

Garden Update

Remember last week when I said there were a few hiccups with the landfill for our backyard? Well, I hardly know where to begin, because the hiccups were really more like belches.

We had gotten three different estimates, and aside from the prices being wildly different, the amount of fill we were told to get was all over the place too. The first guy said we needed 16 yards of fill. The second said we needed about 30-40 yards of fill and yet another said we would need 90 yards of fill, and maybe 20 yards of topsoil depending on what we wanted to achieve.

My gut told me that 90 yards was about right, but we ordered only 50 because we figured that would be a good start. The guy came last Friday to spread it and I knew fairly quickly he had a few screws loose. We were in the house when we heard a loud scream and no, he didn’t lose an arm or leg (which is what it sounded like), but he did manage to get stuck in a few feet of mud.

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It had been raining and the ground was wetter than it should be for that kind of work. Without going into too many details, his truck was brought to the backyard and he tied a chain to both the bobcat and truck and Fisherman helped pull him out.

He didn’t have enough fill to complete the job which wasn’t his fault, but I couldn’t wait for him to hit the road. He was constantly talking to himself and repeating the same things over and over. There must be something in the water around these here parts. 

 

If I start acting weird, send reinforcements (and maybe bottled water).

 

So the bottom line is we need more fill, and right now the backyard looks like a disaster area. Since we don’t ‘do crazy’ we need to get someone else to complete the job but we need a few days without rain before that’s attempted so the ground has a chance to dry up.

Meanwhile, we’ve been working hard on the front of the house, and it’s finally starting to look like the people who live here might actually have teeth and clothing that don’t include suspenders or overalls. Mostly, we’ve been weeding and digging up endless saplings. That’s the worst part. There are literally hundreds of them and it’s impossible to simply pull them up.

Here’s a portion of the yard before we weeded…

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and here’s what it looked like after a full afternoon of working on it…

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There’s still LOTS to do, mostly the area to the right of the wood pile.

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You see the area behind the arbor? That’s mostly weeds! Speaking of the arbor, isn’t that a beautiful hanging plant? I got it for just $12.50 on sale this week. That’s not a typo. The place where we get our plants typically has great prices, and this week everything is 50% off, making it almost impossible to resist bringing home a few things.

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As much as I love a bargain, free is even better! I’ve gotten pretty lucky lately in that department. I picked up this birdhouse for free a couple of weeks ago. I love the cute little details!

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Garden Update

This one I got at the same sale for only $5, and it just perfect for our rustic cabin. I’ve seen birdhouses like this for around $40!

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If you look closely you can see two other birdhouses I got for free. As much as I like giving the birds a place to hang out, I kinda like the idea of being able to see the nests.

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Speaking of which, we have three hanging baskets on the porch, and one of them has a nest and the babies were just hatched yesterday. This next picture is of the Daddy bird.

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Did I have you going there for a minute? Well, Fisherman actually thought this was a real bird!

To be fair, from a distance it does look pretty realistic. 😉

A friend was combining two houses into one and had tons of stuff to get rid of and one of the things she gave me is this pretty quilt. It works perfectly on the sofa in our enclosed porch.

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Here’s another freebie I received from my sweet blog buddy Jemma. I originally had it on our deck but moved it to the front where the newly constructed stone retaining wall is.

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This Mallow is also planted in the wall and it seems to be thriving! I’ve never had this plant before, but I love the vibrancy of the leaves and the delicate flowers.

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The deck planters are doing well too! The lemon grass seems to be doing a decent job at keeping mosquitos away, even though there’s very little of it.

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Last weekend we had the Grands and their mom and dad and I made this cheese platter. You can’t see it, but there was a chunk of chocolate on the platter and I left it on the enclosed porch for about 30 minutes and when I returned it looked like a chipmunk had helped himself to the chocolate! There were scratch marks on one side and I can’t imagine what else might have made those marks. I wonder if chocolate is bad for them, like it is for dogs?

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The weather was rainy last weekend except for the later part of Sunday which was when they were leaving so we took them to a place that has some games and go carts and Maddox and I had a go-around.

go-cart with maddox 

 

In other news…

 

Some of you have asked about Brenda’s campaign. While we didn’t raise as much as we had hoped, we were able to raise nearly $4,000 dollars and the good Snews is the campaign is still up and running so if you’d like to contribute be all means do so! I know Brenda is extremely appreciative of any contribution, no matter how small.

We’re going to see Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett on Tuesday at Tanglewood. I thought she did a great job at the Grammy’s and I’m really looking forward to it. (Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain, because we have lawn seats.)

 

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My First ‘Photo Shoot’

Elizabeth Park, located in Hartford, Connecticut, is the largest municipal rose garden in the United States. Located about 50 minutes from our home in Massachusetts, a photography group I belong to opted to meet here on Thursday to take advantage of the numerous roses that are now in bloom.

This lovely young lady, Megan, is the daughter of one of the members. She graciously agreed to be our model for the evening and I don’t think we could have had a better subject. Apparently, she’s modeled before for the group, but since I recently joined it’s the first time I had the pleasure of meeting her. I’m usually taking pictures of food or a tablescape or some other inanimate object, so this was a nice change of pace and a great learning experience.

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What did I learn you might ask?

For one, that no matter how good the photographer might be, there’s no substitute for the ‘glow of youth’. 😉

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This is the only picture I did some editing on. It was taken under a gazebo with very little light so I brightened up her face and arms a bit.

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After a quick change of clothes, Megan was ready for round two. To highlight her dress, we asked her to pose in front of white and red roses.

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Do you have a favorite?

Now for just a few pictures of the garden…

 

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elizabeth park

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Lots of photo shoots take place in this park on a daily basis, and this time of year the park becomes dotted with brides eager to capture its beauty. The family in the bottom left were getting their picture taken by a photographer. (I kept it blurry to protect their privacy, but I wanted to show you that gorgeous tree. Kinda reminds me of a huge mop).

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I think that’s enough beauty for now.

Back to reality.

 

In other news…

 

We had 50 yards of backfill delivered and Friday it was spread. It’s not enough but it’s a start. We had a few hiccups with the process which I’ll tell you about another time, but I’m just happy things are getting done. Maybe not as quickly as I’d like, but it never is ;).

 

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Chocolate Fudge Pound Cake

Have you noticed that the world of desserts is being overrun by all things fancy smancy? It seems good old fashioned desserts, like a simple chocolate cake, are the red-headed stepchild in the world of chocolate concoctions. 

That ends now. At least for me it does. 

chocolate pound cake

In the mood for something simple and delicious to serve a chocolate loving friend last week, I turned to my trusty McCalls cookbook, published in the early 70’s. It’s never let me down before, and this cake was no exception. It’s rich, dense and full of old fashioned flavor and goodness.

 
chocolate pound cake

 

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Topping
A moist and rich chocolate cake for the purists in your life
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Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. I cup all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur, but any will do)
  2. 1 scant teaspoon regular salt
  3. 1 scant 3/4 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa
  4. 3 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  5. 1/3 cup boiling water
  6. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened overnight if possible
  7. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  8. 5 eggs
  9. For ganache topping
  10. 6-8 ounces of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  11. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. 1 - Grease VERY well a 9x5 inch loaf pan and line with parchment or wax paper
  2. 2 - Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  3. 3 - In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt together
  4. 4 - In a heatproof bowl, place the chopped chocolate and pour the boiling water over it to melt
  5. the chocolate then add the cocoa and let cool for a few minutes
  6. 5 - Mix the softened butter and sugar until nice and fluffy in a stand mixer,mthen add chocolate
  7. and cocoa mixture and mix well
  8. 6 - Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each
  9. 7 - On low speed, gradually add the mixture of flour and salt and stir well
  10. 8 - Pour the batter into loaf pan and tap making sure it settles and air bubbles are eliminated
  11. 9 - Bake for 60 minutes and check for doneness by placing a toothpick in the center. It should
  12. come out clean, but not 'too clean'. Don't be afraid to remove the cake from the oven when
  13. it's slightly undercooked
  14. 10 - Let it cool for a few minutes, then turn it over onto a plate and let cool
  15. 11 - While the cake is cooling, make ganache. In a pan, melt the chocolate and whisk in heavy
  16. cream, stirring until smooth and shiny. Pour over cake, allowing it to cascade over the sides.
Notes
  1. This cake is especially good with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and of course, a cold glass of milk. Surprisingly, it's even better served several days after baking, making it the perfect make-ahead dessert.
Adapted from McCalls
Adapted from McCalls
HouseHoneys.com http://www.househoneys.com/
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In other news…

 

The other day Fisherman and I were driving when we saw a large turtle in the road. We stopped to see if we could somehow prevent it from being run over before making it to its final destination. It happened to be a snapping turtle, so we didn’t want to pick it up, but soon after we stopped a man in a pick up truck stopped, got out of his truck and placed his foot on the shell of the turtle and grabbed it by its tail and threw it into the back of his truck. We thought he was going to bring it into the woods. No. He was bringing it home for turtle soup. I’m not kidding. :(

We know who the man was, so the next day I went to the local police to find out if there’s an ordinance against that, and no, there isn’t. Too bad, because I was sooooooo looking forward to the police going to his house and at the very least, issuing a summons. I also called the Environmental State Police and believe it or not, they actually have a ‘turtle expert’ who said they’re considering a law that would protect animals in these situations, but nothing is on the books yet. Ugh.

Remember my ‘House With A Broken Heart’ post? There was a house I was going to include, but since it has a brown facade I knew it wouldn’t photograph well so I decided against it.  Turns out this house was purchased by a couple that are totally renovating it, top to bottom. It’s a huge undertaking, as the house was built in the 1700’s and has many of it’s original details. I got a sneak peek today and I’m hoping I can take some pictures of the progress, or at least some before and afters. Should be interesting. 

 

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My Achy Breaky Arms

I’m thinking of giving up my gym membership and becoming a mason.

 

At least I would if I had a gym membership.

 

Now I know why masons not only charge a lot, but have killer biceps.

You probably already guessed what this post is about.

The stone retaining wall is finished!

Can I get an AMEN!??

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Here’s what we had to work with when we started. An undefined area that was overrun with invasive day lilies.

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After working for almost a day, this is how far we had gotten…

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But like most things, it got easier as we went along. We learned it’s best to work in spurts, maybe a couple of hours at a time and not to overdue it. We lost three days due to rain, but on Wednesday we pretty much finished placing the stones and just did some adjusting on Thursday and Friday. All toll, it probably took about 3 days.

We also put some stones around a rose of sharon tree on Friday. Compared to the wall, that went super quick, but we weren’t nearly as fussy with it. Nevertheless, I think it came out pretty good. We still have some tweaking to do, but we were in a time crunch.

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I was anxious to get some plants so I went out Friday morning and did just that. I picked up some fox gloves, spider wort, one passionate rainbow wand flower, honeysuckle to cover the ugly utility pipes, and mallow. 

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I also got two flats of alyssum and used them as edging and a few in some open areas between the stones.

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I got two large hanging baskets of purple petunias and placed one on each end of the wall. I kept them in their baskets and just removed the plastic hanging piece.

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You’ll notice the front is just dirt. Yup, we still have tons to do!

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There’s no question this was an ambitious project, but one that I’m glad we undertook. I wish I could give you some tried and true advice about how to do this, but frankly, we pretty much winged it. There’s lots of information all over the internet on how to build a dry stack wall (which, btw, is harder than a mason wall, but not as messy). All the tutorials tell you to lay gravel as a base, and although we did lay a little bit, we ended up not really using much at all, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not 100% necessary. As for tools, a tamper is handy, but other than that your hands are your best and most useful tools. 

Now on to the next project…

 

 

In other news…

 

As bad as the front of our yard is, the back makes it look like Shangri-la. Next up on the day list is a firepit. But that’s not as simple as it sounds. There’s lots of very large rocks that need to be removed before we can attempt that. One of the reasons Fisherman and I decided to do the rock wall ourselves is it is very difficult to find qualified, responsible people here, but removing the rocks ourselves just doesn’t seem feasible. So we shall see how that works out.

I am sitting on the porch as I type this, observing a bird building a nest in one of the hanging planters on the porch. I’m looking forward to being able to see things as they progress. There are a couple of more nests throughout our property but they’re not in spots that are as easy to see as this one!

 

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Catching Up & A Country Fair

It’s early morning, and I’m in the enclosed porch now, by far my favorite place to be when it’s not too cold. The birds are busy tending to their babies and serenading me.

Unfortunately, so is the neighbors dog, who barks incessantly when he’s alone.

But nothing’s perfect.

I am waiting for Fisherman to wake up so we can continue the retaining wall. That man can sleep like nobody’s business. As for me, I don’t need much. Maybe 5-6 hours at most, but every so often I make up for it. On Wednesday, we finished up the first row of stones in slightly under two hours, so maybe we’re finding our mojo. Hope so, because a Dr.’s visit this week revealed Fisherman shouldn’t be lifting heavy objects. Seems he has a cyst on his wrist and that would cause it stress. So guess who will be recruited to do the heavy lifting? 

We will need to take an unanticipated trip to the Apple store later today. My keyboard for my Mac isn’t working, which pretty much makes blogging almost impossible. So I’m typing this on my iPad, but will hopefully finish it up tonight from the comfort of my desk. For me, the iPad has way too many limitations.

Or maybe I’m the one with the limitations. 😉

This is the first time I’ve had planters on the deck. I’m happy to see what I’ve planted so far is doing well. I bought a few of these deck rail planters and I love them. They just straddle the top of the railing. No muss, no fuss. We found them at a local nursery, but I know they’re available on Amazon, and I’m sure other on-line sources just in case you’re interested.

I planted some lemon grass in the hopes that it will help repel mosquitos. Looking at what I have compared to what I saw on Pinterest, I’m not too optimistic my measly display will cut it.

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I’m really drawn to the vibrant color of Gerber Daisies this year. I found some geraniums in orange too, which I’ve never seen before. Have you?

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See that angel? I just got her this week, via a giveaway the lovely Jemma from athomewithjemma had a few weeks ago. Stop by and say hello. I know she would love to meet you! I don’t think this will be the angel’s permanent home, but until things shape up in the yard, here she will remain.

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Years ago we took a trip to Palmas Del Mar in Puerto Rico, and I’ll never forget the aroma of the hibiscus that seemed to be everywhere. Surprisingly, they seemed far more ubiquitous there than in Hawaii, and even more fragrant. 

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I’ve got quite the bumper crop of herbs too. Parsley, rosemary, cilantro, and tons of basil. I see some pesto in my future.

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We went to a true ‘country’ flea market which was a short drive from the camping site last weekend. There were lots of antiques, mostly tractors, which really don’t interest me that much, but I do love me some vintage cars. 😉

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country fair

Can you imagine the amount of work that went into hand carving this? Just look at the detail!

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And while not exactly antiques, who could resist these cuties? 

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Now about our weekend RV trip…I wish I could say it was all fun and games.

Turns out we had some serious electrical issues. The heater went on by itself at around midnight Saturday,  and couldn’t be turned off or adjusted until the next day. NOT fun for someone who likes to sleep with a temp around 60. The pilot light for the water heater kept shutting off, making a hot shower impossible, the grey water tank wasn’t draining properly, which caused the water to back up in the shower, and the fuse panel was crackling, which is kind of scary.

And that’s the good news.

J/K.

The good news is everything they say about campers being friendly and helpful is true. I don’t know what we would have done without their assistance. We got through it, and learned a few things in the process…one of which is we need to take a few more short trips before venturing down to Florida next winter for three months. The issues are hopefully being fixed this week by the dealer. Fingers crossed. 

And in case you’re wondering, we did have the RV inspected by an independent garage. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

I think I hear Rip Vanwinkle now. Be back later tonight.

Ok, I’m back. 

And I have a shiny new keyboard to show for it. :)

We did a little more work on the stone wall. It’s getting a little easier, and Fisherman (maybe I should call him ‘Rip” from now on?) is helping me pick up the really heavy ones with his good hand. We ventured out to do some shopping for things we need for the RV mostly and stopped off at an Estate sale on the way. This may sound funny, but I thought of you all while I was there. I think some of you would have had heart palpitations seeing all the treasures! I’m at a point where I don’t want to get anything unless I really need it, or it somehow speaks to me. I ended up getting 10 large size mason jars for just $2. I like to make this tomato sauce every year and I never seem to have enough of the right size jars. Now I do. 

Is it me, or do any of you feel a little strange looking through someone else’s stuff, knowing they’re gone? I find it somewhat sad. A lifetime of collecting, sold to strangers or worse, thrown away. I overheard the women in charge of the sale tell a shopper the woman’s daughter was overwhelmed with all the stuff her mother left behind and didn’t want any part of going through it all. A couple of year’s ago I wrote a post about just that. I wonder if people realize what their family members will have to go through after their gone.

After finishing up our shopping, we had an early al fresco dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then took the scenic route home and stopped off at a country store for some dessert. I couldn’t resist indulging in a cannoli, my all time favorite thing to eat. I’m justifying it since I’m doing all the heavy lifting ;).

 

In other news…

 

Our son-in-law Josh is in town from Singapore for a few days, sans Sarissa :(. She was debating joining him, but decided against it. I can’t say I blame her. It’s a looooooong flight and they did it three times last year. Twice for two of their friends’ weddings and once for theirs. It’s hard to believe their first anniversary is coming up this month. I put together a wedding photo album for them, and one for us. I really enjoyed the process, although it’s very time consuming. Now I know why photographers charge so much! 

If the weather holds up, I’m optimistic the stone wall will be completed by next week, and I’ll be sharing some tips…like ‘hire someone to do it for you’. :/

 

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It’s Time To Help Brenda

 

brendas dream

 

I will make this short and sweet.

By now, many of you know about Brenda’s recent hardships. You probably also know that I’ve set up a GoFundMe account for her, located in my sidebar. If you’re not familiar with Brenda’s story, here’s an excerpt from her GoFundMe account:

 

‘My name is Doreen and I’m creating this GoFundMe account on behalf of a friend.

 

A friend I’ve never met.

 

Allow me to explain.

 

About three years ago I stumbled upon Brenda’s blog, ‘Cozy Little House‘ . Like many home and garden blogs, Brenda provided practical and useful advice. But her blog was different. Brenda’s writing was compelling. So much so that after discovering it I spent the next two weeks reading EVERY. SINGLE. POST…all 500+ of them…something I had never done before nor since.

 

Brenda’s life, one which she shares openly, reads like a novel and is proof positive that truth is stranger than fiction. She writes from the heart and shares her unbelievable true-life stories with her readers. By doing so, she has helped many come out of darkness and depression.

 

As a baby, she was sold by her mother and raised in less than ideal circumstances. She spent her youth with families that didn’t want her. She found herself pregnant, alone, and nearly homeless at 17, but somehow managed to fight her way out of what seemed like a hopeless situation.’

 

To read the rest of the story, go here.

Many of you reading this have blogs. I would love it if you would put the GoFundMe donate button on your blog, and maybe write a quick post about it too. If you’re on Blogger, here are the instructions as provided to me:

1) Sign into your blogger account
2) Click on your blog name to go to the dashboard
3) Click on the Layout tab
4) Click “Add Gadget” where you would like the widget to appear. Here is a screenshot: http://screencast.com/t/Go2KWrnCZavj
5) Select the “HTML/JavaScript” gadget pictured here: http://screencast.com/t/wfrSw5y9uS
6) Choose a Title and copy and paste the code there before pressing “Save”

 

Here is the code you need:

<a target=”_blank” style=”border:none;” href=”http://www.gofundme.com/vg36h4?utm_medium=wdgt” title=”Visit this page now.”><img style=”border:none;” src=”https://funds.gofundme.com/css/3.0_donate/green/widget.png”></a>

And that’s it! Your widget will now appear on the blog.

If you’re on WordPress like I am, just use the same code and add a text widget. If you have any questions or issues, let me know.

I know many of you either don’t have Twitter or Facebook accounts, or you’re like me and rarely use them. How about making an exception and sharing this on whatever social media accounts you have that are active? Now is not the time to be shy or complacent. Nothing much will happen if we don’t work together, but if we do, anything is possible.

Can you imagine how awesome it would be if we helped Brenda realize her dream?? For years she has helped many of us, giving unselfishly of her time and expertise. Now it’s our turn to give back.

 

Let’s make this happen! 

 

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Cooking and Packing and Flagstones, Oh My!

By the time you read this, we will be deep in the throes of our first RV excursion with our sexy beast. I’ve been asked if we’re nervous.

A little.

We are, after all, driving what is essentially a glorified bus into uncharted territory to hang with over 200 other rv’ers, none of whom we’ve ever met or even spoken to. But I’m more excited than nervous.

Getting the RV ready to roll is like outfitting a small apartment. We need utensils, pots/pans, linens, toiletries…everything. I spent a couple of hours getting everything together only to have Fisherman come along and undo most of it. I knew that would happen. He just doesn’t understand why we would need 2 dozen mugs, a bread machine and a butter churner for a weekend trip. Besides, if they gave out degrees for packing he’d have a doctorate. He can’t help himself, and I just can’t compete.

You’re about to see more links to food recipes than exists at Food Network. I’ve been cooking my ass off for the last two days so we won’t starve to death once we’re there. Fried chicken, coleslaw, sweet potato salad, fruit salad, and more…and that’s not counting the amazing lemon tart, (the one Amy shared recently) popovers and chicken in a sun dried tomato cream sauce dish I made Wednesday night when we had some friends over. I’m not going to post the recipes here but I’ve shared the links and encourage you to click on over and pin them, bookmark them or whatever it is you do so you’ll have them. The fried chicken recipe is one of my favorites, as is the author of the recipe, Tyler Florence. Everything he touches turns to gold. 

I had some blueberries that were on the verge of going bad and after checking out my Pinterest ‘Recipes‘ board found this delicious recipe using everything I already had on hand. I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!

I knew it would be good as soon as I read Greek yogurt was an ingredient, and I was right. If you like blueberries and lemons, you’ll want to give this a try. You can find the recipe here.

blueberry bread

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Do you know anyone that doesn’t love popovers? I don’t. I’ve made more than my fair share of them over the years, but this recipe produces the most humungous popovers I’ve ever seen. They popped up so high they hit the rack over them in the oven. I softened some butter and added a bit of honey to it that my friend Poppy sent me, and it was sooooooo good!

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A couple of weeks ago after we went to the Showhouse, we stopped at a lovely nursery and I picked up this cute ‘handbag’ that is made of moss. I had it on a shelf on the porch but I decided to use it as a centerpiece when our friends came over and I decided to keep it there for now. It’s so cute, and a bargain at $16.

floral centerpiece

Now for the reason every muscle in my body aches right  now.

The flagstone was delivered Wednesday. We ordered a palette and a half and we sorted them out by size to make choosing easier.

flagstone

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After working at it for the better part of Thursday, this is what we accomplished:

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Stop laughing!

Putting together stone walls is not for the faint of heart. I thought by next week I’d have a finished wall to show you, but at this rate you might have to wait till the next millennium. 

 

In other news…

 

For the second time this week, we’ve had to take our plants indoors due to a chance of a frost. Enough already Mother Nature. We get it. You’re the boss.

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The Pretty Rug and Not-So-Pretty Yard

If you’ve ever shopped for rugs on-line, you know too well how overwhelming it can be. There are thousands more to choose from than in any retail store, and after a while you feel like your eyes will pop out of their sockets.

What made it worse was I was looking for not one, but two rugs. 

Unlike the opinions for the living room rug which were varied, most of you favored this one for the dining area, and so did I. It was backordered for a few weeks, but I got it last week as promised by Wayfair.

It’s an 8′ round, off-white shag rug with a taupe/tan swirl throughout. When I first saw it I was a little disappointed, thinking that it might be too big, but once the table was placed on top it’s actually the perfect size. Just large enough so the chairs won’t get caught but small enough so that it doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic.

dining room rug

 

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An unexpected surprise is the swirls perfectly match the fabric of the existing drapes. The same drapes were also in our living room, but a couple of months ago I switched them out so now I have fabric if I want to make some seat cushions. Just what I need…another project. I’m just not sure I want to tackle that right  now that the weather is getting nicer and there’s much to do outside.

Which brings me to my next topic…

Mother Nature has been unpredictable this season. Just the other day, we had the air conditioner on, I put away my winter clothes, we turned off the pilot light in the gas fireplace and I planted some flowers in containers. Notice where the flowers are now? The other day was so cold and although it’s been a bit warmer, a frost is still possible.

Meanwhile, my body looks like a mine field that blew up because the May flies think I’m their personal buffet table. Maybe a frost would be a good thing. Might kill off those m+%&##fu#@!s!

Confession time: I put some tulle over my head and tied a piece of string around my neck to keep them off my face. That’s how desperate I was.  I finally broke down and bought one of those silly looking net thingies you place over your head, but not before a fly bit me on the eyelid and I puffed up like Popeye. 

At least it matched the rest of my ravaged, bitten body, which Fisherman so sweetly pointed out. 

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We had some much needed tree work done last week. Here’s a couple of piles of wood for your viewing pleasure…

outside yard tree work

and a couple more…

outside2

and one more on the right, but I’ve got some plans for that tree stump. Can you guess what they are? 

fairy garden tree

There was a large tree in the front that was removed and it used to have an outside light attached to it which we definitely need for safety reasons, so we bought this lantern and attached it to the stump. The only thing I don’t like is the cord is visible, but once the plants are filled in it will be fine.

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First up on the agenda will be to get the backyard leveled and ready for a fire pit and maybe a raised garden bed or two. I also want to put a small stone wall in the front of the house by the foundation and maybe around a small tree on the front lawn. We bought the stone today and it will be delivered Wednesday.

 

In other news…

 

I bought some of those peel and stick ’tiles’ for our guest bath and spent some time putting a few up the other day. I’m not sure how I feel about them just yet. Don’t love them, but don’t hate them. They’re a bit more colorful and busy than what I normally gravitate toward, but maybe that’s a good thing ;).

Memorial weekend we’re going on our first RV event. It’s only about an hour and a half away near the Vermont border and there should be at least 200 other RV’ers there. Should be interesting. :) 

Remember I told you I was going to Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut? Well, this was just about the best thing there:

elephant's trunk

 (Sorry about the picture, but it seems like every time I use a pic taken with my phone it doesn’t look right). 

Maybe it was because it was Mother’s Day and a lot of vendors didn’t participate, but it was nothing more than a glorified garage sale. A bunch of junk, and what wasn’t junk was way overpriced. I had such high expectations based on Flea Market Flip, but I should have realized after attending Brimfield a few times, everything else will fall short.

 

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A Sophisticated Showhouse

I’m so tired right now I can barely type. I went to sleep around 1:30 (pretty typical for me) and woke up at 6:30. That’s also typical but I usually go back to sleep for a bit, but today all I could think about was the huge amount of work we need to do outside, so the only logical thing to do was get up and get started.

The first order of the day was to dig a small ditch about 30′ long, 6″ wide and about 10″ deep. We need to extend the existing foundation drain pipe that is buried so that more of the yard will be usable. The dirt was completely water logged, as this isn’t water from rain, but from our very high water table, so it’s a constant flow.

After I showered and washed off all the mud, I took a much needed break and picked up some flowers and arranged them in hanging baskets and containers. While I was doing that FedEx came with the delivery of the dining area rug (I’ll show that to you next time) and a sweet and savory surprise for Mother’s Day from my daughter (see below). 

On Wednesday I went on a fun house tour with some friends and I thought I’d share a few pictures with you. When we got to the house I realized I packed the wrong lens, so I wasn’t able to get good shots of an entire room, but I got some close up shots and I also took some pics with my phone so all was not lost.

connecticut show house

The house is a traditional Tudor style built in 1930 and is approximately 7,000 square feet and sits on 5.3 park-like acres in a lovely area of Connecticut. The house was in disrepair, but was beautifully restored in preparation for this event and is now on the market. 

When you enter, the room to your right is the living room. I love the ceilings and the huge fireplace, and although I do think the furnishings are perhaps a bit too modern for everyday living, I like the stylish and elegant feel of the space.

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A close up of the living room floor lamps. Gold ‘twigs’…the perfect blend of elegant and rustic.

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The green sofa in the background is what you see when you first enter the home. I love the beautiful color, which is even prettier in person. Oh, and you see those lamps flanking it? They were $18,000 each. Hand carved and covered in 14k gold plate.

showhouse

Each room in the home was decorated by a different designer, and they all did a fabulous job. I’ve been on many home tours, and invariably there’s at least one room where you wonder, ‘what were they thinking?!’ But not in this home. I enjoyed every room, but my favorite was the master bedroom, where the designer combined classic, glamorous and trendy elements and the result was spectacular.

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It was furnished like a movie set, just waiting for Lombard and Gable. (Strangely, this next picture sometimes looks wonky and other times it’s fine. If it looks weird on your computer, I’d love to know.)

connecticut show houseThe space consisted of a mix of antique and modern pieces, creating a visually appealing and calming retreat.

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Another drop dead gorgeous room was the dining room, which was embellished in Robert Allen fabrics, china from Richard Ginori and a porcelain mirror from Lladro. That’s the designer in the picture. What do you think of the ceiling? I love it!  All the furnishings in this home were for sale, and we did a quick calculation so if you’re interested in the table settings it will only cost you about $13,000. 

showhouse1-3

The kitchen, while not large by today’s standards, had a very interesting stove which was installed in the 80’s. Although I didn’t take photos, just on the other side of the kitchen wall was a butler’s pantry that was nearly as large as the kitchen itself, with lovely glass-fronted cabinets and a huge double sink.

showhouse1-2

Moving on, there was a lovely little dressing room with so many pretty touches tucked away in the corner on the third floor.  

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showhouse-9

One thing we noticed was a generous use of metallics in many of the rooms. It was highlighted in interesting ways, such as ceilings covered in unique, textured metallic cork wallpaper, aluminum foil cut into squares and given an interesting patina, or simply using Rustoleum metallic products to achieve a bit of glam.
showhouse-13

We ended our tour outside in the charming garden.

showhouse-16 showhouse-15
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Are these not the most gorgeous flowers you’ve ever seen??! We couldn’t remember their name. Anyone know?

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showhouse

 

In other news…

 

Remember my bear incident in my last post? Well, the next day we heard on the news that a bear in the same town was chasing two women. They were not harmed, but when they found the bear they euthanized it. That made me sad because I can’t help but wonder if the women were exaggerating and if they were, well, there should have been a better way. (I don’t think it was the same bear that I saw though.)

Now about that Mother’s Day gift…

It arrived in a cute little wooden box covered in corrugated cardboard…

jam

and inside were six of the most delectable gourmet jams I’ve ever seen.

Jam From Eat This

Flavors like Raspberry Chambord, Orange and Cardamon and Tipsy Peach (which has a touch of irish whiskey!). AND…they come in reusable Wick jars. :)

jam-3

I had a hard time deciding which jam to have but I ended up with the meyer lemon and lavender which went really well with some apricot goat cheese I had on hand. 

Notice that cute little vintage cup on the right? We took a quick trip to Vermont on Monday and came upon a building that houses tons of antique vendors and picked up six of these Stengl ‘Autumn Harvest’ cup and saucers. The colors are so pretty, I wish we could have gotten the entire set of dishes and serving pieces. 

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gourmet jam

 

I’ve never heard of ‘Eat This’, but I think they’re certainly going to be hearing from me again!

If you’re a mom or have a mom, are you doing anything special for Mother’s Day? It will just be the two of us, so even though Fisherman made dinner reservations at one of our favorite places, I decided I’d rather spend the day at Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut. Have you heard of it? It’s featured on Flea Market Flip a lot and I’ve always wanted to go. Maybe I’ll have some pics to share soon. 

 

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