Monday, March 31, 2014

Simplified Kitchen Design

Now if simplify was the word for 2014 (and it just might turn out to be) then this is about as simple as things could get in the kitchen.  It's the "poster child" for EMPTY.  I imagine opening the cabinet doors and finding--nothing.  But it is soothing.

The counter tops in all the pictures (I have three more for you--someday) are marble.  Very difficult. Stains, scratches and gets dull.  Chips.  I often wonder about people going "simple" and then choosing marble.  It's a true contradiction.

Yesterday went amazingly well (for me).  I don't think we had the sales or customer counts we needed to recover from the winter from hell.  And we had so much rain yesterday and blowing winds. People may have just decided to stay home.  My class had, possibly, 25 and they were all very good students.  G brought over the "models" of a raised bed with hoops, a square foot garden and a vertical garden made from a used pallet.  Before and after class I answered questions regarding these three items.

I stuck to my promise and did not have one single crumb of the mountains of doughnuts.  I also resisted the two large bowls of potato chips.  I did have the samples of roasted peanuts.  Of the three "devils" I chose the one with the lowest number of carbs.

Today I am in the process of cooking a huge pot of chili (it's my day off).  Three and a half pounds of ground beef. I think it will make enough for many dinners and a few lunches topped with sour cream and shredded cheese.  I am hoping pork butts go on sale soon so I can make a huge pot of pulled pork.  I like that on top of a big green salad.

G asked about my "to do" list for the day.

Complete my unemployment paperwork and mail it. (meaning--let them know I am back to work)
Pay bills.
Make chili.
Do some work on the taxes. Collecting things.
Call my IRA advisor.

I have a few ripe, spotted bananas to turn into banana bread for G, but I will wait until tomorrow evening.  G is having his colonoscopy on Wednesday.  Tomorrow is the "no food" day.  No sense having a loaf of his favorite bread sitting around. Better that he has it waiting for him when he gets home--after.  Ten years ago, he was NOT required to drink the "stuff".  This time he is.  I am glad I will be away at work most of tomorrow.

That's it for today.
On the declutter front: I have done the kitchen drawers, the toiletries, my purse, my socks and undies, the DVD's was easy (we have none) and the jewelry (fits in a small bag).   The only one that didn't get done was my scarves.  I like them all.  It;s time to go to the website and get new "orders".

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Made It Through The First Week

Rolled newspaper or magazine pages, imported from somewhere in Asia, supposed to be under hot dishes on the table.  I am having the four I purchased (many years ago) framed for the new kitchen wall.  A nice, square, white frame and a matt (grey or charcoal).

I made it through the first week of two things.  My job and my diet.  Both were a maze of contradictions, choices and successes and failures.  But I made it.  It's Saturday.  TaDa.

Tomorrow is another story.  The second day of Open House @ greenhouse.  And I am teaching the Big Class at 11 am.  Vegetable Gardening.   I think I will be busy before and after the class answering questions--which should keep me away from the piles of donuts and bowls of potato chips.

I ate both of these things at the winter Open House.  Breaking away from my good choices of the previous few years.  But that is behind me (pun intended) and I am moving forward. Eating more protein, drinking 3X the water of earlier attempts at low carb, sleeping well.

I have not stepped on the scale.  I am feeling good about things right now and I think stepping on the scale, too soon, could make trouble for me going forward.  I will judge the effectiveness of the diet by the fit of my clothing.  Period.

The sun is shining today.  The weather guy has promised us two full days of hard rain, sleet and snow starting tonight.  Enough, already.  Everyone coming to the greenhouse is ready for Spring as well.  They want to plant things.  Get outside.

My decluttering for this week:  My recipe box.  I went through every letter (A to Z) and tossed the cards with recipes I haven't ever made, didn't like, or have made but didn't like enough to make a second time.  I also saved all the handwritten recipes from my mom, dad, old friends.  And the funny little joke recipes my 8 year old son slipped into the box--long ago.

I haven't done much decluttering in my closet but I realize I could.  I wore the same outfit each day this week.  Clean tee and thermal under layer, but the same because I own multiples, same baggy cord pants with the mended knee, same socks (I have 6 pair of identical socks), same shoes (three identical pairs).  I didn't wear any of the other "new" 20 cent pants I bought for "work".  None of the fleece vests or jackets.

So much for "need based shopping".  The thermals are new (in my defense).

G purchased a new shower head yesterday.  I got home from work, jumped into the shower and was seriously disappointed.  The water was like a "gentle rain"-- I hardly felt any water hitting me.  The whole shower experience was a total bummer and I was so sad I nearly started crying in the shower.  The one thing I could count on.  Gone.  I would prefer a shower head with the caption "firehose strength". Well, not really, but you get the idea.  Strong water output. Nothing gentle.

Anyone know where G can purchase the nylon webbing for old fashioned folding lawn chairs? If you see any rolls or packages at garage sales this spring, buy it and I will pay for it and the postage to send it here.  We don't care what color it is.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Like Herding Cats

Some days.  Today was my first day back to work.  A frozen hose.  Lots of lifting and carrying. Trying to arrange the tables for our Open House this weekend.  My muscles are saying "hey" and I think I will sleep like a rock tonight.

I cooked breakfast this morning (before work).  A frittata with hot sausage, onion, cheese, dinosaur kale (new to me) and two, fresh from the Feed Store eggs.  Not Egg Beaters. Can you believe it?  Real eggs. I ate it after arriving at work, while listening to the "news" regarding the other employees.  Fascinating stuff.  I wish I could tell you. :-)

Lunch was romaine lettuce, a handful of carrot strips (I did the prep work yesterday for the week), a piece of chicken,  and my own dressing of really good olive oil, s/p and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner was two (almost too ripe) avocados, 2 hard boiled eggs (purchased that way in a little bag), a big spoon of mayo and s/p.

Then my shower.  Then my jammies. Then the blog reading with a large glass of water spiked with a wedge of Meyer lemon.

It's good to be working again.  I really missed it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

As We Grow Older- Relive Your Life

In memories.  In friendships.  In returning to those activities that made us happiest.

The last time I visited the library (where I worked quite happily for nearly 10 years), a friend and co-worker asked if I did much quilting any more.  I said no.  I admitted to losing interest when the last Twelve by Twelve  project ended.  My friend said it was much the same for her, only it ended when I left the library I think.

She said she has looked at the lovely appliquéd quilt she made (with my help and instructions) and can hardly imagine that she made it.  She looks at it now, and can't remember how it was done.

I think it's this way with much in our lives.  We are deeply into something at the time and then move on to other things--or have life changes that take us far away from that time and place. I talk to her and remember spending so much time with her and her family as I helped her through this newfound love of quilting.

I remember when she called, in the midst of machine quilting a large bed quilt, asking me to "come" help her with the mess she had made.  Her son answered the door.  Still a child (he's in college now)  he confided to me "she's had quite a bit of chocolate".  That still makes me smile.

Just that chance comment at the library opened me to remembering those days and those emotions.  I know that sorting through things here at the house has triggered memories.  Good ones, mostly. But going into my workroom to sort the fabric, threads etc--not so much.  It makes me sad.  To have lost all that.  To not be doing that work any longer.  Why did I let it all go?  What else was so much more interesting, important???

Today, on the Sunday editorial page there was a letter from a reader.  Asking us to remember our past, our old friends, our old loves.  To relive our lives.  To make time to visit a old friend, a sick friend and recall the sweet moments of our friendship.  Before it's too late.

I did this once, when my father was dying, and I wish I had had the opportunity to do it for every friend I have lost.  I sat next to his bed and recalled only the best moments of our lives together.  The day he taught me to draw an elephant when I was 10.  The failed root beer experiment as the glass bottles exploded in the attic.  How proud I was whenever I saw him in his crisp police officer's uniform. The hilarious fish on the line story when he left my brother and I alone for only a few minutes on the shores of Lake Erie. I hope I sent him off into the unknown of death with sweet memories.

I hope someone does the same for each of us....someday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Laundry Room Or Room For Laundry

I have neither.  My laundry set up is in the master bath.  Behind a door.  Across from the toilet. The best and worst of situations. Not the toilet part, but being close to the bedroom, where almost all the clothes changing, bed making etc happens.  It's pretty convenient.  But only if you are actually doing laundry as the stuff comes into the bathroom.  Otherwise, where do you put the dirty stuff?

I have devised a "so-so" plan.  Whatever is in the majority (darks or whites) goes directly into the washer where it waits for a "full load".  The minority has to wait in a pile on the floor in front of the machine.  I tried a basket.  But I had to kick it out of my way to use the facilities and sometimes my bladder doesn't have time for that.  Using the bathtub for a dirty clothes hamper--well, it's roomy but not attractive.  And, because of the roominess, I procrastinated on the actual "putting the clothes into the washer" part of doing laundry.  I will always look for a way out of doing something.

Most of my friends have a designated room for laundry.  Yes, it may also be named "basement" but it's where laundry sits, unnoticed.  Out of sight.  In other homes, it's a room off the kitchen, next to the pantry.  And it has a door which can be closed because I have never seen one that wasn't a riot of dirty, clean (but unfolded), hanging to dry and piled up to be ironed.  A mess.  Stuff everywhere.

Now the laundry in the top picture---  all those watering cans, the old zinc basement sink (we had one in every house my parents lived in) that looks as nasty as the ones I remember, the flowers.  But where are the clothes?  Where does one fold.  Sort.  Unload.  Hold and wait?  Good for a picture but useless in real life.

I unload and fold on the end of my bed, it's best if I get there just as the dryer stopped but it rarely happens.  Then G gets a pile of his clothing, folded, I get mine and I walk the bath towels to the hall bath, sheets to the hall linen closet and the kitchen towels, napkins and placemats to the kitchen.  Then I'm done.  No one is wearing anything that needs ironing these days.  But if we were, that goes across the hall into the "office".  To wait.  Because as much as I enjoy the finished product, I am a reluctant starter when it comes to ironing and starting up for only one or two things--just not going to happen.

Where do you wash clothes?  Are you happy with the location?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What G Built This Winter

He bought the pattern for this a few years ago.  It was supposed to be my sewing table.  Silly me, didn't want it.  So, instead it will be G's office desk.   I did get a nice table with a pop up and down sewing machine thingy.  Which I like very much.  The pop up and down thing was supposed to be installed in the desk (when the top is opened).  I told G that this wasn't the sort of set up for quilting--it's more for clothing construction.

The amazing thing about this piece of furniture is---this is the FIRST furniture G has ever built. Yes, you read that correctly.  He has tools and he fixes things and has made rough wood tables--but this is furniture.  The doors open, there are shelves and drawers inside.  (I don't have the pictures of that but I should have included the insides).

Now, I would paint it white.  Very Shaker or Cottage.  But G is going to stain it and then do a gloss coat to protect the wood.  When the weather is warmer.  The garage space he's using is unheated.

Now, me?  Well, I got my haircut today, stopped in at work to pick up my schedule for next week, visited TJMaxx and didn't find much, other than new underwear, to purchase.

It may get up to 44 degrees today.  Last night we had snow so some places farther from the coast got 6 to 8 inches of slush for the morning commute.  Slip-sliding.

Yesterday I hemmed three pairs of pants (the 20 cent variety) and sewed buttons on two other pair, washed two sweaters, folded laundry, actually ate a "real" meal at 6 pm and played "telephone" with my new IRA investment person.  After the third call in 20 minutes, I was about ready to go looking for a new guy.

Still haven't found that plane.

I have a container of cauliflower curry from Whole Foods for tonight's dinner along with that baked tofu (I don't like).  You can't begin to imagine how uninteresting these two things are to me right now.  The morning paper had an article about Bruce's Burritos.  Those are some good burritos.  I wish they wouldn't write about these things in the paper.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Yellow & How To Wash A Cashmere Sweater

This photo isn't mine. It came from 66 Square Feet, I think.  But it looks amazing.  So different from the grey, black and white of Maine right now.  There is a bit of sunshine. But the wind is sharp and cold, so I gave up on the nap out on the deck with my face in the sun.

Today I started the day with a big glass of water.  Before breakfast.  Which was bran flakes and soy milk.  I also had a ruby red grapefruit in segments with a few spoons of plain Greek yogurt.  I add sugar free Vanilla flavoring (thank you for that hint, Terry).  Then coffee.

I buy the brand Walmart stocks near the coffee section.  It comes in various flavors and you have to be very mindful as you choose---making sure what you buy is actually the sugar free one.  They also have French Vanilla in regular and sugar free.  I have wondered what that tastes like but haven't purchased it because--if I don't like it, I won't use it.  I LOVE the SF vanilla.

Lunch, I wasn't all that hungry, but G was eating lunch and I think things will be "happier" around here if we eat at the same time.  We have waited too long for our last meal of the day (7pm) and have just skipped it the past two evenings.  Once we subbed in popcorn and yesterday G had carrot cake and coffee instead.  I had a handful of cashews.

It's now almost 2 pm and G is up in his workshop and I am putting together bills and tax papers.  Then I am going down to the sewing room to hem the pile of pants I have there.  After that I think I will hand wash a few cashmere sweaters.  I wash them in the sink with cool(warm) water and a squirt of mild shampoo.  Yes, shampoo.  It works better than any cleaner.

The first time you do this, the water in the sink will turn brown and filthy.  Especially if the items have been dry cleaned.  Just squeeze the lightly soapy water thru the sweater gently.  Then open the drain and as the water empties, press down on the sweater to release any water.  Then refill the sink. Repeat until the last water is clear.  Than press again as you drain.  I lay a nice fresh fluffy white towel on the carpet in my bathroom, lay the sweater as flat as I can make it without any stretching, and the roll the towel and the sweater up into a roll.  Then step on the roll, releasing any water.

After that I lay the sweater over the ironing board, turning it every day, until nice and dry.  The sweater will be soft, clean and lovely to wear.

Most of my cashmere has been thrifted.  And most of it was dry cleaned in it's previous life.  The dirt in those sweaters took three or four washings--- separated by wearing the sweaters--- before the water was clear from bringing to end.  No rubbing.  Just gently lift, turn and press.  Any stains or spots can have a bit of gentle rubbing with bubbles of soap or a tiny extra squirt of shampoo on the area.  You can even walk away and let the sweater soak on it's own.  Then press, drain and rinse.

Try it on your least favorite sweater the very first time.  I tried it on my favorite the first time (it was stiff and smelled musty) and it is now--after  many washings--very soft and has no odor at all.

I should warn you---- sweaters don't get washed as often as, say your tees and undies.  I wash them very infrequently (only when I feel they are dirty or smell like food since I wear them while cooking) and usually at the end of the season before they are tucked away, just up on the shelf or in one of the wire baskets of my closet organizer.

More Windows--More White

I think more windows and more white wood is a lovely thing.  I may just start painting the sunporch white and the rattan chairs.  My word for 2014 will be WHITE.

I go back to work on Tuesday the 25th.

I baked some tofu.

I don't like it.

I added TJ Teriaki pineapple sauce to it.

Somewhat better.

G and I drove the 25 miles south to Trader Joe's and then visited Whole Foods (cause we were just down the road from it)  We had lunch there.  G noticed that the majority of WF customers were very self absorbed.  G felt the atmosphere at TJ's was friendlier and more open.

I just think I spent a great deal of money today on groceries I hope I use before their expiration dates.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Bag & It's Repair

Another of the "bargains" from the retail job.  This messenger bag was well loved by the previous owner before being returned.  The zipper was off it's track.  This bag, unlike the black tote, has long enough straps to be carried on the shoulder.  I don't like carrying bags on my elbow which seems to be "the fashion" right now. Or swinging it along the ground at the end of my arm.  Especially at an airport (in the days past when I seemed to be spending so much of my life in airports).  I like my bag to be securely tucked under an arm.

After having G (he has greater patience that I do) get the zipper back together, I stitched the track at the end so it couldn't go off again.  Then I stitched a short bit of seam between the zipper and the leather trim at the opening of the bag, near the handles, where it had ripped apart.  After that it was just some effort (oh yes!) and some leather conditioner to get the bag back to it's original color.  I checked on the website.  The bag is still being sold.  I know how to repair because I am my father's daughter.  He could fix just about anything and I loved watching him work.

The bag is heavy.  The top of the bag, when unhooked, stands up and allows for even more stuff to be stuffed inside.  Then zipped shut.  A good travel bag.  As I mentioned.  It's heavy empty.  I wonder how heavy it would be to lug around fully loaded. I remember coming back from trips with so much "good stuff" that I was tempted to buy another suitcase.  I could fit all my clothing for a week away in this bag. In the past, I packed way too much.

I wonder at people returning something because the zipper is off it's track and the zipper seam has opened about 4 inches.  Both may have occurred when the bag was overloaded.  A short trip to any shoe repair shop and "good as new".  Perhaps they wanted the $200 back to buy a new, more fashion forward (lighter) bag?  Good news for me---- for $6

The sun is shining here in Maine.  But the wind is blowing and it's very cold.  I am very, very tired of all this cold.  All this hard packed snow. It will be weeks and weeks before I can even see the edges of my raised beds in the vegetable garden. Weeks longer before I can plant anything there.

 Here in the house, the amaryllis are blooming, one deep red and the other palest pink, the one geranium that didn't get put into the cellar, is starting to bloom, also a pale pink.  The orchids have had flowers all winter.  My rosemary, over wintering here in the house, has put out tiny blue flowers for the first time ever.  I am watering the plant more than usual.  The lavender is out on the colder sunporch.  Green but not flowering.

The ferns are perking up, sending out new fronds with the increase in sunshine.  The clivia (so many now that I divided them) didn't send out any flower shoots this year.  Neither did the cymbidium orchids.  Both have produced good green leaves, with lots of baby leaves at the centers.  They look healthy.  The bromeliads are doing very well, getting bigger and bigger--all of them were just side shoots from larger plants that I repotted.  I had never thought of myself as a bromeliad person, but I like them.  Just fill the leaf cups with fresh water.  Simple.  And eventually they will produce a colorful "flower" from the center of the leaf rosette.  Only one has done this so far, but it's a beautiful golden yellow.  I can wait for the rest.   I'm not going anywhere.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Post with Extras

I found the website that had my favorite (well, new favorite) kitchen.  I showed you the yellow sink last time.  This is the upstairs bedroom.  What I like.  The door has a window to let in light. The kids room or guest room has two full sized beds--not twins.  Here's that yellow again.  I found it fun that the cotton coverlet is on top of the down (well it would be here) comforter.  I wonder if the additional of yellow was just for the photo shoot?

My carpenter says too much beadboard is a bad thing.  Here we have bead board everywhere.  Ceiling, walls, door.  I guess, technically, the walls are "board and batten".

I have been reading a certain "low carb blog" for almost 4 years now.  The guy has almost as much trouble as I do staying on the straight and narrow when it comes to food choices.  He does do a better job than I do because he likes eating meat.  I like vegetables and fruit.

Here's what he said to a reader who is focusing on the number on her scale;

Now – about you. Is the scale getting in the way? You’ve been at this for a while yourself. What if you ditch the negative energy the scale is causing you and just focus on eating the way your body wants you to eat?
Dieting is a mind game. Focus your game just on eating the right foods for you. Get that part of your game going, and once you have a handle on that, then go back to the scale.
I find if I try to do too much I get depleted and do nothing at all. You noticed I’m not counting calories, carbs, fat, protein, steps walked, quantity of food – nothing except focusing on eating what I consider for me to be high-quality food.
All the counting, weighing and measuring can drive us batty – and drive us to eat that cake – it’s called the ‘What the Hell Effect’.
Worst that can happen in this scenario is that the scale doesn’t move but you’ve taught yourself better eating habits that become second-nature and you don’t have to think much about. That’s a great place to start a diet from. Then when you start counting and measuring, the ‘what’ you eat is effortless because you got that nailed.
This guy is, like, my diet guru.  And I am liking what he says here.  Eat the foods that are good for you and let the scale sit in the backseat for awhile.  I think the counting and measuring and wondering is what makes Joanne an very sad and angry person.  The food doesn't.

There are a number of things that make me crazy.  I don't want my breakfast, lunch and dinner to be three of them.

I had a very good day yesterday.  Very busy.  A good busy.  I am anxious to get back to work.  Too long sitting around the house watching Netflix, reading and waiting for the snow to melt.  This morning I tried on pants from two of the bins I have in the closet.  I found three or four pair of pants suitable (in fit) and have them on top of the pile so I can just reach in and take a pair and dress for work.  I am hoping it's one day this coming week.  But it will probably be the 24th.

Of great interest to me --not all the pants that fit suitably (I have to bend and move) are the same size. They are all the same brand.  Not the same style.  They all fit differently.  How on earth is a customer going to be able to know what to buy?

I guess it was a good thing that I just took any pair of pants off the 20 cent rack (in styles I liked) and didn't care what size they were.  I took mostly green, dark tan, khaki.  Greenhouse colors.  Who knew I would do something that smart?  Certainly, not me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Finally, Some New Pictures

Here's the new set up of the draft dodging curtain.  The foyer (behind the curtain) is on a heating zone which no one can identify.  Let's just agree that's it's very cold and dark behind the curtain.  The curtain used to hang (for many many years) on the inside of this--what would you call this? A hallway?  anyway, we decided to try it on the foyer side and it just opens the room so much.

We are finding so many new nuances to this much used room.  The new floor to ceiling windows on the south side (directly opposite the foyer/curtain), the beadboard on the long wall at the left.  It's just one surprise after another.

Remember I was supposed to declutter a kitchen drawer on March 10th?  This was the drawer I decided to start on.  Look at that mess.  In fact, when I emptied the drawer there were items in there I could not identify with a use. I was wrong about the twist ties.  They were not in this drawer.

Here it is all decluttered.  We can now see the ravioli press (never used but the 1980's me thought I would use it) the grater from my dad's house, the ginger grater (a white porcelain fish shape), biscuit cutters (found the third in the fourth drawer I decluttered), Pampered Pantry useless items but you have to buy something at those parties, and four board scrapers.  I think two are mine and two were my dad's.  The other three drawers look just as tidy.  I also noted that my potholders are looking very sad.  So I intend to make a few new ones and to also make a four cornered microwave safe bowl holder.  So I don't burn my hands getting my oatmeal, reheated soups etc out of the microwave.  I saw the pattern on Life Scraps and Patches a few weeks ago.

The sky yesterday as the storm was approaching.  We got rain for about 12 hours which was a delightful change from snow.  Today we are having light, swirling snow globe snow.  About 2 inches on the deck.  The sun was just behind the bright white part of the cloud.

Terry (the first blog in my blog list to the right) opened up a discussion on blogs/ comments/ readership yesterday.  She expressed what I have been feeling for quite a while now.  I write but it seems I am speaking to an empty auditorium.

 I started blogging (seven or eight years ago) just to have a space where I could type and press publish.  I think my two children were the only two reading.  Eventually, through the 12 by 12 project which I was not a member of--just a tag a long--- I picked up a few Readers and a few Good Friends. Like Terry.  I would comment, she would reply, I would reply and we started a dialogue that increased the happiness factor here at my house and I hope at hers as well.

What Terry and I are both noticing is increased readership (the stats we get--but they could be false) but hardly any comments.  Which translates to hardly any companionship via dialogue in the comments.  I admit to being pretty damned excited when a comment shows up.  I don't get many and ONE is a pretty big deal.  So, I always reply.  Sometimes just thanking the commenter for stopping by to read my simple little blog.  On the very rare days (sometimes years apart) when I get two comments--I am jazzed up all day.  The bloggers who daily get 40, 100, 200 comments--- I can't imagine it. What a rush it must be.

I have gotten information, magazines, fabric, cream wool for my sweater repair and sweet cards from my small but mighty band of readers.  Oh, I nearly forgot---reading book recommendations.  Oh the books I have discovered and loved.  So I am never going to complain about my solid little tribe of commenters.

But I wonder if Facebook is making blogging for companionship a thing of the past.  It's like the difference between writing a post it note and a letter.   "look at this!"  rather than "let me tell you about this".

How do you feel about it?  Prefer a great photo with a five word tag or the written essay with pictures and the personal imprint of the writer?

I know you are out there and have an opinion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ruby Red Grapefruit Time

I am enjoying my segmented (supreme-ed) grapefruit with whole milk Greek yogurt as much, or more, than I did last winter.  Harder to find with the CA drought but worth it.  I am also eating the Cara Cara oranges which are a mix of pink grapefruit and navel oranges.

It's raining here in Maine.  38 degrees but the sun has set, so we'll see it get closer to freezing and the rain will turn to ice.  It was nice to see rain.  Made it seem less like winter.

Today's tip from "The Gardener's Cottage" was to streamline and minimize the kitchen.  Not happening around here--though I did clean out those four kitchen drawers!!!!  Today I used Janet's cleaning tip of bar cloths and hot water and washed all my kitchen cabinet fronts.  The Dream Home builder (6 years before I moved here) liked lots of "detail" on her cabinet fronts.  I have sprayed, scraped, and rubbed these cabinets and they remained greasy and dirty.  Hot, hot water and the bar cloths--they are clean.  I am a believer.

My visit to the dentist was as usual.  Dr D and his assistant talked about all manner of really interesting topics and I had stuff in my mouth and couldn't talk.  I have progressed from soft lukewarm foods to more sturdy stuff.  All is well.

I ventured out to JoAnn's again (with a valid coupon) to get twill tape for my apron conversions.  I hate having the apron hanging on the back of my neck so I am going to take that part off and make two 36 inch straps that go from the front yoke to the opposite back of the apron.  Then the apron will rest on my shoulders and the tapes will cross in the back.  The only two colors I could buy were black or beige.  I got beige but now think I should have gotten black.  It's always that way with me.

At the greenhouse, I can choose to wear the company tee shirt or the company apron.  The company apron keeps me cleaner.  If this works, I will be so much more comfortable not having the apron dragging on my neck, tensing my shoulders etc.  And I can wear button shirts with collars.  My own.

I went to bed last night watching pictures of the San Francisco fire and woke to see images of the New York City fire.  And the airplane is still lost.  Anyone out there revisiting LOST????

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stuff We Need -- The Stuff We Save

And stuff we don't need.  And how to decide which is which. Hum.

Today I went to the dentist.  At 67.5 I developed a cavity. There is some info out there that older people don't get cavities.  They do.  We had to do the numbing shot twice.  Once at the beginning and once in the middle.  I'm such a "sensitive" type or Dr T. hit a nerve straight on.

The best news of the day, our supplemental Medicare coverage now covers some "dental" things.  They paid for my 6 month cleaning and full panorama X-rays last visit.  And this visit they are paying for some of my work as well.  This "service" is cost free for G and I.  Medicare Advantage. They even paid for my eye exam.

After leaving the dentist office, I walked through Town to the Optical Shop where we get our glasses made.  I ordered the red frames.  And got ARC.  Anti-reflective coating.  Which Dr A says will help with the night time glare while driving.

On the way back to the library, where I parked, I stopped in a nice little import shop and purchased a leather ring with a square red stone.  Red is my new color.  I can't stop admiring my new ring.

I noticed, in the bright sunlight outside, that my brown pants and my brown fleece are two different shades of brown.  And they looked pretty stupid together.  So, I need to not wear them together anymore.  It wasn't as noticeable here in the dim, dungeon of the house where I got dressed.

I am considering what I should eat for lunch.  Not hard and chewy.  Not hot.  Or cold.  The bones in my jaw are starting to ache a bit.  Imaginary pain I am sure.  I am testing my new filling with warm coffee right now.  It's doing okay.

Oh, Paula---the yarn arrived and I loved the black and white polka dot tape on the envelope almost as much as the yarn.  I picked it off (the tape) and am looking for a tiny craft project to use it on. Perhaps a bookmark.

I also picked up the circular part of a crushed lampshade on the street in Town (as the snow melts, things appear).  I think it will look amazing hanging in a tree with all sorts of bits and pieces dangling from the circle.  Like all the sea glass colored plastic tops from my foaming toothpaste containers that I have saved.  I'll just have G drill a hole in the top of each--to make a "bell".  I have quite a few pale blue ones and only four of the pale green ones. Sensodyne if you are interested.  Comes with a white cap as well but I haven't tried that variety as yet.  If it whitens teeth I can't use it.

It's 3 pm.  I'm hungry.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Another Yellow Kitchen Cabinet


This one has a super large soapstone sink on the far right (by the windows) and I like the open look into other rooms.  This is an older Craftsman style home.  The shelving up along the ceiling is quite charming but I would never use or clean the stuff up there---so best not to entertain that idea. Yellow is not a color I am thinking of using in my kitchen.

Yesterday the curtain rod holding up the draft dodging curtain between the dining area (warm) and the hall foyer (cold) fell down.  Twice.  So G had to find a way to repair it.   While it was down, we realized the room looked so much more open without the curtain.  So, "bright idea" we moved the curtain into the foyer side of the entry.  Wow.  Now we can see the curved ceiling of the entry, the framed pictures on the walls of the entry.  Pictures to come.

I seem to be also wanting to do some "spring cleaning" of a more personal nature.  Change some habits. Cultivate new ones.  Renovate myself.  Remodel my personal habits.

I found a wheat free bread made of husks, seeds, oats and nuts.  Certainly would keep the new me "regular".  You mix it and then let it sit for a day or two before baking.  I have everything needed to make this hearty treat.  Just wondering if it's a good idea.  Not all ideas are good ones.

I am also reading a new blog "The Gardener's Cottage" and finding out everything about living a "less is just enough" lifestyle.  Elimination seems to be the key concept here.  (if you get the humor here--2 points)

My home work for the day, if I choose to follow the minimal (365) path-- 1. to remove one item from my living room and give it away, sell it or donate it.   2.  Try a "trial separation" from 50% of my plastic storage containers.  (I already did that a few months ago and haven't had to dig into the box for any of it--do I really want to get rid of half of the few items I have left?)  3.  Declutter one kitchen drawer.

UPDATE:  It only took the shortest amount of time to empty, sort, sweep, and organize FOUR kitchen drawers.  I found some interesting items.  I have a bag of things for Goodwill, noticed I have many paper cupcake liners and four wooded forks I purchased in Spain (for the baby eels they eat as a tapa-- I thought it was a pasta dish until the pasta started moving).  I have more things in the washer to go into the Goodwill bag when they are clean.  Aprons, potholders etc.

Remove one item from the living room.  So many to choose from.

Well, that lets me know I am far from living the "less is enough" life.  I could cheat and get rid of one pillow.  There are piles of them.  Or one dog toy.  Two full baskets of them.  Or one dog bone.  A full basket of those as well (though I think Riley would notice if any were gone).  Now, it's not move the thing or put it away.  It's remove it from your house and property.  Gone.  Not coming back.

I still have a pile of tangled Christmas lights on one of the chairs we never sit in. On.  A bag of ornaments I never returned to the attic.  The actual living room isn't a room we use at all.  I could empty it all and not miss any of it.  Should I????  Right now it's just where Riley keeps all his stuff and where he sleeps, part of the time.  It's also where he usually barfs when he plays with his toys too soon after eating.  So, if anything should GO it should be that very stained sisal rug.  Okay!!!

Now to choose a kitchen drawer to declutter.  I think it will be the one on the far left of the stove. If I remember correctly it has a lot of plastic twist ties, an extra drawer knob and a few other odd items inside.  I would miss the twist ties.

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to remove one item from the kitchen, remove 50% of my "fashion accessories" to a container and see if I miss any of them and declutter my toiletries.  (I did that whenI cleaned the bathroom last week).  What are "fashion accessories"?  Belts, scarves?  I do have way too many scarves.  And I only have to remove 50% and put them in a container.  I can take any that I miss back out in the 30 days before giving the container away

We'll see.  I just got finished bringing tons of bargain items into the house from the E-store.  I mean--lots and lots of stuff.  More is more around here.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Paperwhites Are Blooming

And the smell is overpowering.  I clipped off half the flower heads, hoping that would cut the fragrance by half.  It's still too much.  Now, I am wondering why I start them?  Is it habit?  Or the power of suggestion with so many customers buying bags of bulbs (even now) so they have an unending supply of the stinky things.

I felt bad putting the perky little white blossoms in the compost bucket.

Maine, where I am, got up into the 40's today.  The sunshine is warm as long as the clouds stay away. I was out sitting in the sun while G and Riley took their walk.  then Riley and G napped in the sunshine until it was time for lunch.  Now they are off on a car ride.  Both my boys like going away in the car--to look at stuff.  It's a guy thing.

I am working my way through my book "Bellman & Black" by Diane Settlefield.  Oops, I was going to explain what is happening, but don't want to ruin anything for any future readers.  I stopped and deleted.   This isn't your regular work of fiction.

I brought home Roy Choi's autobiographical cookbook from the library.  I don't like his life and I wasn't interested in his recipes.  Drunks, gamblers, the f-word.  No thanks.  I saw him on Anthony Bourdain's show but they must have heavily edited his conversation.  He was also on the recent Top Chef as a guest for the Quick Fire. I wonder why the library chose to buy that particular cookbook.

G and I are still viewing our way through the five seasons of Fringe.  I think we are getting close to the end of season two.  G is watching Arrow on Netflix while I watch Rake, cooking shows etc.  Now that he has the iPad, he doesn't pretend to like what I like to watch.  He just sticks the ear pods in his ears and....... it's like living alone.  He does ask if I want anything from the kitchen when he takes a break. So it's okay.

Well, G and the dog just rolled into the garage.  I am interested in seeing what they got at the grocery. Always slightly different from my list.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Cleaning the Bathroom Today

Wishing it looked like this.  Simple, clean.  And it would be nice if we could have the window open.

I am getting sick and tired of snow and cold.

I took almost 80% of the stuff off the bathroom counter in my bathroom. Equally divided between the dishwasher, the trash can and the cabinets under the sinks. Mine is the master but it has no shower (duh!) so both of us use the other, hall bath.  No shower but it does have the stacked washer and dryer.  So, always a pile of dirty clothing on the floor.  Or in the tub.  Because we are slobs, I guess.

I scrubbed the tile counter top (why tile?) with Simple Green and then Windexed the large wall to wall "over the sink" mirror (I don't even want to know why someone did that).  I folded one load of wash and started another and then I took the full wastebasket with me and slammed the door shut.  This house and all it's design flaws and wallpaper (every room was papered) was someone's dream house.

Mrs C, who came after the dream house builder and before me, removed all the wallpaper and most of the cream colored wall to wall carpet.  Bless you Mrs C.  I have Mrs C to thank for the plain beige walls, beautiful walnut hardwood in the living room and dining, the finished upstairs master suite with full bath and shower.  Mrs. C did all that work and still sold the house to us for 70K less than she paid originally. Sad but true.

So originality and this dream house business---well and good, but it doesn't mean anyone else will buy your house.   I'd prefer the bathroom to be plain vanilla and USEABLE.  It's not large so I can't have a SPA.  Which I wouldn't want.  Those big tubs take forever to fill with hot water ($$$) and then you have to clean them after the bath.  Hardly anyone uses them after cleaning them the first time--or more likely, been left sitting in rapidly cooling water with only cold coming out of the hot tap.  When I see them in someone's house, I always ask how often they are used.  Never is the most common answer.  Second answer is "when the grandkids spend the night".

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Kitchen Is Still On The Back Burner

I found this one today.  Three things I am liking.  The hanging lights.  The bead board sides and door fronts on the island.  I actually like the sink but wouldn't want one.  We had a bigger model of this in the kitchen I grew up in.  And it marked and stained so much, and my mother bleached it so often, that she wore the porcelain finish off.  Ruined the sink.  Stainless is much more forgiving of careless sink use (not that I would EVER bleach a porcelain sink surface).  Soapstone sinks are very nice but they are flat on the bottom so there is always water in the sink (never completely drained).

I found another yellow cabinet kitchen on Houzz but the site wouldn't let me transfer the photo to the blog.  It had a soapstone sink you could wash a medium sized dog in.  Not Riley.  I liked the cabinet design very much. I'll keep trying to transfer it.

But.... I remain indecisive.  The carpenter put a thought in my head I can't quite shake.  He said "why not buy a smaller, more energy efficient new house with everything you want instead of changing this one which is really too big for the two of you".  In my heart of hearts, I would like a new, smaller house.  This one has too many rooms we never use.

How many of you have downsized to a smaller more efficient house? Do you recommend it????

Today we did errands.  Joann's to buy tightly woven white cotton to make pillow covers for the feather inserts I have for my sofa pillows.  It's not tight enough.  The feathers keep getting out.  It seemed like all the fabric in the store was 30% off, which was okay with me.  I got 4 yards which should be more than enough to do all the inserts I have (in use and in the attic) and it has a bit of spandex in it to make it more flexible for pillow stuffing. The clerk said it could be used for pants. Then Goodwill to drop off things and look around.  I found a wonderful bowl (I am always looking for the "perfect bowl" for oatmeal and soup) and this one seems pretty darned perfect-- and only 99 cents.  If I had only one bowl-- I want it to be perfect.  We'll see.  Then we stopped at the library, the bank and a store where G said they had red eyeglasses frames.  They did not.  Then we came home.

I tried to find a small packet of cream colored wool (cashmere) yarn (@Joann's) with which I can repair about four holes in a cream cashmere cowl neck sweater.  Looks like the front of the sweater got snagged in a zipper. No luck.  I thought I might ask my Readers if any of you have about 2 yards of cashmere wool in cream that you wouldn't mind sending me (selling me).  The sweater cost me only $2 and will probably only be worn around the house or under something else so it's not super important that the weight or color is a perfect match.  I just don't want the holes to get any larger. I can probably add small appliquéd circles over the holes.  But that still means finding cream cashmere or baby wool.  I've never repaired a sweater before.  I think you just weave the sides of the hole back and forth, up and down and hope for the best.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Dining Room Table: A Guide To What Is Going On Here

The usual suspects in the clutter department.  The Ficus tree is covering the worst of it.  Magazines, seed catalogs, books, receipts, glue sticks, recipes torn from the Food section of the paper on Wednesdays (mostly vegan for my friend P).  A cluttered table means I am not paying attention.  Decluttered means I am trying to pay attention.  I still have a few  feet of table to work on--G's side.

After.  Mostly done.  A scarf, a few winter hats and some gloves have already made moves on the north end of the table.  We tried having a basket for these things.  But they migrated to the kitchen and then we seemed to have hats and gloves everywhere.  I prefer to stuff them in my coat pockets.  That way, I am pleasantly surprised to find them there as I rush out the door.

The chairs are Danish or German.  Purchased in Germany at an "antique warehouse" in 1988 or 89.  Stripped of all finishes.  G has had to re-attach the legs with dowels and glue on many occasions.  I think they are early 1900's.   I bought a table with them, but the table and chairs didn't belong to each other.  The table with two added plywood "wings" is in my sewing room.  Raised to a good working height.  The table is older I believe and was probably of better quality.  The chairs, not so much.  One is missing.  No one knows where it is.  Believe me, we have looked.  My daughter has even had her house searched.  Still, missing.

The chili turned out quite nicely.  It's packed into containers (for me as G doesn't eat chili).  The meatballs were (are) delicious as always.  We had them for dinner.  Then I packaged the  leftover pasta and some sauce for G to have one of these days and the remainder is in two packages ready to be frozen.

People are divided into two groups.  The first group (mine) will eat the same thing over several days until it is finished.  And we enjoy doing that.  If it was good yesterday, well, it'll be just as good or better today.   The second group (G) doesn't want to eat anything, today, that they ate yesterday. Or the day before.  So, I package and freeze all leftovers after one day instead of watching them decay in the fridge.

It doesn't help that we (G and I) don't eat the same foods.  Different breakfast cereal, different yogurt, different milk, different bread, different sandwich fillings.  Even different grapes.  Green for him and red for me.  And that continues for toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc.  Even sugar.

No wonder our dining room table is cluttered.  Our lives are cluttered with two of everything.  What did we see in each other when we met????  I sometimes think the only reason we stayed married was that G was never home.  The kids and I enjoyed chili, tuna casserole and spaghetti--night after night with a side of tacos and pizza.  Those were the days.

G and Riley are back from their walk.  G said it was "okay" meaning it wasn't as freezing cold as he expected.  No wind.  No pals for Riley to run around with.  Riley is ready for the snow to be gone, his pals the squirrels to be back and sunshine to warm him as he naps on the back stoop.  I am ready for the greenhouse to be open, my pals to back at work and the sunshine to warm me.  I am also ready for that evil Polar Vortex to go back to the North Pole where it belongs.

Our local weather man said the Polar Vortex might be spending the entire Spring season over the northeast.  I hope, hope, hope, he is very wrong about that.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Today's Work: Cleaning Off The Dining Room Table


It must run in the inherited genes.

My father's table was piled high with tools, bills, slips of paper, pencils, pills, coupons and grocery flyers.  And this morning I looked and saw the same things on mine.  I am not pleased.

So, I will be working most of the day on clearing the table, because, touching each thing means taking it to "the place it belongs" and that takes TIME.

Yesterday I had to shove things around before I could set my hot bowl of soup down so I could eat supper.  Leftover soup.  The very last of it.  Which means, I need to think about what I have in the pantry and freezer that can become this week's soup.

The first of the three amaryllis looks to be opening.  The flower color seems to be a very dark, dark red or cranberry.  Exciting.  My paperwhites are flowering.  The scent must to bothering Riley as the glass container is right next to his bed.   I should move them.

Until later.........

Sunday, March 02, 2014

"Pointless" Sunshine

 A good description of weather this winter.  There are a number of storms moving across the country with various amounts of rain, snow and ice depending on your location.  I'm not sure we are getting any "weather" but I am very sure it is going to be colder than ever here in Maine.  And, as of now, we aren't having any of the "pointless" sunshine today.  It's cold, grey and dismal.

Pointless because it provides no warmth.

I am thinking of starting some seeds today.  Onions, fennel, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas. Putting them on the heating mat to germinate. I am also going to be working on gluing carrot and beet seeds to toilet paper strips--making my own "seed tapes" in other words.  I am using a paste made of flour and water.  And a small paint brush to dab a bit of paste on the tip, pick up a single seed, and then dab it on the toilet paper.   I guess you could use an inexpensive paper towel if you wanted.  Square paper gardening.   Why?  It saves on having to thin the seedlings when they sprout.   I had wanted to buy "pelleted" carrot seeds but I think I waited too long to send in my order.   I will glue basil and parsley seeds to TP later in the season.  Those seeds are very tiny, as well.  In fact, G has offered to do most of the seed pasting for me.  We can make the strips, let them dry completely and store them until it's time for planting--- which at this point seems like forever in the future.

I stopped in at Walmart yesterday to purchase those shiny foil "emergency blankets" that we should all have in our cars this winter.  You can wrap yourself in the thin foil "blanket" and retain body heat if you should be stuck in a winter disaster.  They are good to pack on hiking trips as well, in case you get lost or injured.  Less than $3 and they weigh nothing.

I will be using the emergency blanket to wrap my germinated seedlings (on their shelving).  The blanket will help retain heat from the grow lights as well as reflect the light produced back onto the seedlings.  Boosting the light they need to grow strong and sturdy.  As is well known to all pot growers.

The pasta I made on Friday was a combo of onions, roasted red peppers and smoky bacon.  It needed just a touch of something to make it really good but I was working without a recipe and afraid to add unknowns to the sauce.  I am not a good enough cook to know what the "missing" something was.  But the pasta was tasty enough and we enjoyed it.   On Saturday, G followed a recipe he found on the internet and made Asian Spareribs.  They were tender, tasty, sweet and sticky.  Very good.  He gets an A plus and he used a large number of "new" to him ingredients (he went shopping) and techniques.

What are your favorite things to make when you want to use what's already in the house and not go out shopping?