Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Organizing on the mind

Time out from surfing ideas for organizing the arts and crafts room, I need to post something!  It's been a month (again!) since my last entry and of course there's a lot in the works around our humble abode. 

We got new carpet in the lower level bedrooms in preparation for moving the previously mentioned arts and crafts room downstairs to bedroom #1 and combining my husband's "man's room" with the guest bedroom in room #2.  While we haven't gotten too far on the move, we have gotten the guest bed and a chaise set up for guests in the man's room/guest room and it looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  We mounted my husband's road bike on the wall, ala NYC loft style to free up some floor space and relocated some of the other sporting equipment to places that just plain made more sense. 

You see, we've lived here for almost 7 years (I can hear the gasps from those who know us well, since prior to this home we'd not lived in one place more than 2 years since leaving our parent's homes.)  Without the mandatory purge that goes with moving all the time, we have accumulated a bunch of "schtuff" as my friend Tracey would say (check out her blog on my favorites list - Makin' Schtuff.)  Worse yet, it has haphazardly been placed in any free nook and cranny instead of given a permanent, organized, know where to find it next time, HOME.  Soooo...

We have embarked on the task of reorganizing our home, making some room shifts, and purging all we can in preparation for the new member of our family who will be joining us in 2011.  We could not be happier about expanding our family and the news gave us just the push we needed to clean and organize the garage and shed this fall for the first time since we moved in.  We've also tackled my son's closet and bedroom, our closet, and now the new task of relocating the arts and crafts room so that space can again become a nursery.  Whew!  With Christmas right around the corner it feels very busy in our home right now.

Back to my first paragraph of the post - tonight I have been surfing around looking for ideas to better organize the arts and crafts room when it moves.  It needs to be well organized and efficient since I enjoy sewing (machine, notions, fabric, trims), crafting with felted wool, making jewelry (beads, shells, sea glass,) doing paper crafts (scrapbook paper, card-making supplies, stamps,) and projects with photos (frames, albums, photo storage.)  Add in my son's paints, crayons, stickers, pop-it beads, and other preschool craft items and you have one awesomely busy, extremely fun space!!

Here are a few of tonight's finds you might want to check out...  The blog, Chez Larsson, has an awesome section on organizing - it breaks out each area of your house and gives solutions for organizing or reclaiming those spaces.  Plus, the 12/7/10 posting is called Holiday Loo so you know I'm hooked on this blog, since I also change my "Loo" decor seasonally.  ;-) 

Simplify 101 has organizing tips, articles, and a link to their blog, Creative Organizing.  Perfectly Pretty also has amazing tips for organizing things (and she has a great sense of humor - like laughing at herself because her small designer handbag collection is kept in a drawer of her IKEA dresser. HA!)  

So friends, no photo with this post, just a few links to get you lost in blog-land for a few hours if you too are craving some new ideas for organization.  Enjoy!  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Loose Ends

I was re-reading some of my past posts yesterday and realized that I had a few loose ends to tie up!  So I ran around quickly and took a few snap shots.  Remember this chair from my July 11th post about a great estate sale I stumbled upon?  Here is the before and after. 

The ticking I used on the seat was from my favorite thrift store.  The ticking is a versitile neutral blend of cream, white, black and gray - plus it looks french to me, which I love. And for those of you who wonder -yes, I truly do find uses for all the splendid finds I bring home.  

Here is a before and after of some wicker chairs I got at a garage sale for $5 each.  I wanted some casual seating outside our front door so friends and I have a place to sit while the kids ride bikes/trikes/scooters in the driveway.  The chairs look less stable than they are, due to a support frame built under the base.  I have purchased some fun Sunbrella brand fabrics on clearance with which to sew cushions, but that will probably wait until next summer since I hear freezing rain is on the way soon (boo!)

Finally, I promised a picture of my seasonal decor change in our main bath way back at the beginning of June (gulp.)  I love the Alexander Henry fabric as the focal point.  I originally wanted to stretch it over an IKEA fabric frame, but the remnant I bought was not quite the yard it promised so it didn't fit.  I improvised by stapling the fabric over a cork bulletin board.  I love it because I can reuse the fabric when it's no longer wall decor (which will be soon, as I'm busy coming up with a fall theme.)  A side note for those of you new to my blog - I do a super simple change of the decor in our main bath each season to keep things fresh (I get bored too easily.)  It's a small space with a neutral palette, so it's easy to move things around from other rooms of the house, such as the b&w daisy pics I stole from the entryway this time.  Different colored towels, rugs, maybe shower curtain and I'm done!  Since I rotate through the different colored towels and rugs I already own, it's very inexpensive to do and truly doesn't take much time at all.  Big reward for little effort - love it!!  It's something you could easily do yourself if you were so inclined.

Enjoy your Saturday, my friends!  Thanks for stopping by.  xoxo ~J

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Much Needed Post

Hi!  Hi, hi, hi!  Hi, hi, hi!  I'm so excited to be blogging, I can hardly stand it! 

Life has been too much work and not nearly enough play lately.  You know how I can tell?  First, the last post was a month ago - ugh!  Second, I am about to explode like a cork out of a champagne bottle if I don't get something written (or made, or sewn, or constructed.)  Know the feeling?!

I've done a few mini-projects out of necessity, but they aren't cutting it.  I've sewn a stuffed animal holder for O's room and a black-out curtain for the one window that didn't have one - both were quick, sloppy projects that didn't satisfy my itch.  Although, O really likes the stuffed animal holder hanging above his bed (it's just a couple of pockets sewn to a larger piece of fabric,) so that's good.  I've also tried some new recipes, like Emeril's baked mac and cheese with bacon from the Food Network Magazine which the guys loved!  However, it's not been enough to help me find the balance that comes with some serious making, crafting, or re-inventing!

So, step one toward balance is to write this blog entry.  *Big sigh with a grin*  Step two is to do a few of the projects I've been contemplating (or at least one of them - he, he.)  Also, to share some of the cool things I've come across.

Yesterday I was looking at plans from Knock-Off Wood's Ana White for wall cubby shelves.They are on my list to make for the arts and crafts room, which needs to be reolcated btw, as I've completely outgrown it.
I found a round foot stool on metal casters at a garage sale this summer.  It's currently covered in baby-poo yellow pleather and my plan is to make a slip cover for it out of some awesome upholstery weight linen I scored at a different garage sale for $4.  I am thinking I may try a flowy drop ruffle around the slip cover, we'll see.  I will post some before/after pics, as I don't have a pic to post today.

Then there are the felted wool embellishments I enjoy making.  Mostly flowers for now, but I'd like to try some new things, and I'd like to fatten the stock in my Etsy shop for holiday shoppers.  I have tried some different techniques after making flowers with friends one weekend and seeing the cool ideas they came up with.  The result was very frilly and fun flowers, but they still need some finishing touches and I need more time experimenting!

On a side note, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law have launched a website for their awesome felted wool mittens, Asbury Mitten Company.  Check it out!  You might recognize some of the same felted wool in my flowers, since I started making them with some of their scraps.  It's really been a fun new medium for me this year and I owe them a big thank you for introducing me to "fabulous felting."

Enjoy your weekend, friends.  If you have a project in your sights, please share with us.  It's always fun to hear what everyone else is working on (besides WORK, right?!)  Happy Friday!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 Minute Organizational Project

Hi, friends - Here's a quick post to show you an even quicker project you can do by yourself or with little ones.  If you decide to do it, I'd love to see some photos!

I will start by saying,  in yet another way I am becoming my mother - I am recycling empty glass pickle, olive, and jelly jars.  It seems a shame to toss them in the recycling bin and go buy something to use for organizing my bits and bobbles!  So to spruce them up a bit and disguise their former use, I decoupaged some fun paper and even some newsprint on the lids.  If the food label extended to the side rim of the lid, I glued ribbon around the edge (like the black jars pictured.)

Your little ones can help you trace the lids on paper, cut out the circles, and even "paint" the glue/water mixture on the tops.  I used roughly 2 parts White Elmers Glue mixed with 1 part water to stick the paper circles to the lids, and then painted over the paper on the lids with the glue/water mixture to give it a nice finish.  I have Mod Podge, but decided to save it for something fancier like decoupaging photos.  You could certainly use it if you have it on hand.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friendly Fall

Good day!  I've been away but you've been on my mind, lovely blog and blog readers.  There is a brisk chill in the air which goes beautifully with my late morning coffee.  It's a welcome relief from the hot, HUMID summer we've experienced (or perhaps, endured, if you're speaking to my plants.)  I think most of America immediately pictures snow, ice, and frost when they hear the word MINNESOTA.  True, true, that is our wonderland a good piece of the year.  However, we are the land of extremes and have a fair share of 90+ degree (farenheit) days with extreme humidity.  Although, between the two seasons of extremes comes a bursting spring and a calming fall.  It's most excellent.

Friendly fall means the neighborhood is quiet once again as the kids have headed back to school.  The temperatures have cooled down to 50's at night and upper 60's to low 70's during the day.  The sun often shines on these crisp days and wearing a sweatshirt and a favorite pair of jeans is a special treat all of a sudden.  The changing seasons is a friendly rhythm to our life and a gentle reminder that life is a journey - always moving and changing.  It's sadly missed by many a Minnesotan who venture out of our state, usually for warmer weather.  As with all changes, each new season brings positives and negatives and the range of emotions that accompany such things.  Today I am rejoicing in a slower pace and not feeling the pressure to pack it all in as I often do during the summer since warm weather is fleeting.  Alternately, I am also mourning the loss of daylight as our days are already getting shorter, and the inevitable cold that I know is only weeks away.  Such is life - two sides to every coin.

As the season changes my focus is shifting away from gardening, although I have a couple of lingering plants I'll stick in the ground with hopes they make it to spring.  Coming back into light are my crafty urges.  With a gentle nudge from a dear friend who recently got her Etsy shop"Geen Green Turtle Photography", up and running, I have finally listed some items in my Etsy shop"Sprinkle of Joy"!  It's exciting to share a few of my vintage finds and some of my fun little handmade accessories.  It's most interesting to see how many people are interested enough in your creation to pause and take a closer look.  It's exciting to think that my little babies might be loved by someone else - even loved enough to be worn, nay, proudly displayed by another.  Ah, the small pleasures in life.  When you get a minute and feel like doing some surfing, or shopping, check out Etsy and all of the wonderful handmade items displayed there.  It's amazing what creativity there is, and what fun flows from other people's hearts and hands.  Perhaps you'll even venture to open a shop of your own!  Or - if you are already one of the marvelous sellers on Etsy, we'd love to know where to find you.  Please post your shop in the comments.  Cheers!  ~J

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Other G of Summer - Garage Sales

Good morning!  A week has already passed since my last post; so much for sharing garage sale finds a day after I shared our garden progress.  But then, if you can't do as you please with your blog, in what area of life can you enjoy such freedom?!  Tra, la, la, la, la.  This seems to be the theme of summer.  *big grin*

On to the meat of the post!  With the end of the week upon us and the prime garage sale days it brings, below are a few of my favorite finds from the summer.  But first, a little background - my mission in 2010 is to renew our home, brighten it up, and change our furnishings from "Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel circa 1999" to something more eclectic and casual with vintage touches sprinkled in.  I jokingly told our neighbor I'm on a mission to sell or consign every "new" piece of furniture we own in exchange for something comfortably used.  Along the way I'm incorporating fun fabrics, lots of ticking stripes, vintage light fixtures, and slip covers (for now - I'd love to replace our couch etc.)

You've seen the perfect little desk from a farmhouse yard sale earlier this summer, and the makeover of the $2.95 thrift store find, so here's the $5 table from my return trip to July's estate sale.  Ta-da!  The crock, books, and milk bottle holding the massive hydrangea are all garage sale finds as well.  I love this new corner of my dining room - much better than the tacky fake ficus tree that sat there for the past 4 years! 

Here is the $2 side table discovered at a neighborhood sale displaying the $1 quilt I found at the same sale.  I'm ashamed to say I've paid more for a glass drawer pull like the one on this table before!  All the table required was a little scrub down, and it was ready for use!

Finally, here are before and afters of the $5 chandelier that replaced our heavy black Home Depot chandelier.  It took some serious clean-up, reshaping, and 2 cans of "Canvas White" spray paint, but it looks great!  I only wish our Nikon was fixed so I could've gotten better pics.  (note: the little pink sticky notes are to mark which arms need re-wiring, as only 3 lights work for now, so turn a blind eye as I have.  Patience is NOT my middle name so I'd rather enjoy it as is for a while until my hubby has a chance to work on the wiring.)

  There have been so many other treats and treasures from garage sales, estate sales and yard sales this summer.  I love it.  I love that it keeps the items someone else is done with out of our landfills.  I love the opportunity it's given me to teach O about money's value, spending it, and making choices about what we want.  Finally, I love the thrill of a gorgeous discovery and figuring out where it will fit into our home.  Happy hunting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Two G's of Summer - Gardens and Garage Sales!

Hi, friends!  I cannot believe how difficult it is to post entries these days.  Between play dates, trying to stay cool at the splash pad or beach, garage sales, gardening/landscaping, and all of the fun BBQ's and festivals of the season, we all seem to collapse into bed totally exhausted (but happy) each night.  I figure you're all doing much of the same, so like me, you probably aren't keeping up on reading all of the wonderful blogs entries either!

Here are a few highlights of the two G's that dominate summer - gardens and garage sales.

Gardens... When we moved into our home 6 years ago there were no gardens or landscape to speak of.  The prior owners had 5 kids and understandably had their focus elsewhere.  Here is what our backyard looked like. 

We started slowly, as we'd never done this sort of thing before, and added a few things.  We put in some pavers for our fire pit, mulched the area where no grass would grow and our dogs use for their "business", and transplanted some hosta.  Here are the pics a year later.  The white string is for the fence that was about to be installed to keep said doggies safe.
Over the years we've experimented with this and that, but were still not sure what we wanted to do with our space.  We knew mowing the hill at the back of our property was tough so we wanted to limit that.  Also, we'd talked with the city about the RIVER that rages through our yard due to the slope and the engineer's suggestion was a dry riverbed to direct the water and give it a place to flow in the spring and during heavy rains.  So last year we paid a friend-of-a-friend to provide some consulting.  He owns a successful landscape business and had some wonderful ideas for us! 

The result is a plan to incorporate some larger rocks and "planting pockets" into the dry river bed to naturalize it.  Plant perennials on the hill that don't require much maintenance or water and mulch them so there's no mowing.  Plant some trailing vines and creeping plants to cascade over the rocks and hills.  We started this work last summer and got to this point. 
My wonderful hubby has started digging the dry river bed and filling it with rock we dug out of the front last year (we pulled out ancient, overgrown arborvitae and rock, planting perennials, yews, and blue spruce in their place and mulching.)  Last weekend we went out to my dad's and loaded up larger rocks from a farmer's rock pile so we could start on the planting pockets.  We finished the first one last night, yippee!  Here it is, along with our progress to date. 
There is so much satisfaction in a project like this for me.  Do any of you feel the same way?  Knowing that I get to enjoy the beauty and cultivate the growth/maturity of our efforts is particularly rewarding.  Not to mention that I love working together with my husband (it isn't always rosy, but it's a great opportunity to work through some of our communication glitches and enforce our compromise skills - even practice concession occasionally!)  Thanks for letting me share our landscape journey - it's near and dear to us and we'd welcome your reactions and suggestions.

I do believe this post is long enough, so we'll have to save the other G (garage sale) for tomorrow.  I have some fab finds we've incorporated into our home and I am excited to share with you!  Enjoy your day, my friends.  ~J

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Glimpse of Real Life

Happy Friday, friends!!  I was just giggling at Mamalooma's blog Kids&Crafts&Food&Love and one of her lines immediately brought to mind a post I'd just read by Amanda Soule at Soule Mama.  These two together said exactly what I've thought myself so many times lately.  So in the spirit of a semi-lazy Friday post, I'm going to let them both tell you what's been on my mind lately too.  Have a wonderful weekend and check out their original posts when you get a sec!!  Hugs ~J. 

Mamalooma says, "I tell you this (admittedly much too long) story so you know that even though I’m posting all these things I’m doing, most days I’m still just trying to brush my teeth or pee alone. Sometimes when I read crafty or fun mama blogs I feel like, “How can she possibly be doing all this creative s**t and be making all these things from scratch?” Yes, I’ve had good luck this far either incorporating the kids into my preservation efforts (not the boiling water stuff though) or doing the harder stuff with ample backup from Dan.

I am reminded of something Sharon Astyk wrote once. I will paraphrase as I got the book from the library. It was something like, “People see the things I do and wonder how I canned 30 quarts of tomatoes and harvested all our corn in one afternoon, but they don’t see how many times I told the kids to leave me alone and how my husband had to do a disgusting diaper change in the field with some corn husks.”

It’s a balance, and it’s healthy–nay, necessary–to see the humor in all this. As the saying goes, courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It’s all part of the fun.

Soulemama says, "The adults around here have had a bit of a trying week. Nothing earth-shattering and everyone is healthy, so of course that's what really matters. But it's been just enough of a roller coaster to make our heads spin and our stomachs turn (and I really do hope there is happy news to share about all of this soon). I mention it, not to be vague or invoke mystery, but because it's too much of our life right now not to. Just like the pile of dishes, and the unphotographed piles of laundry. Of course, our home and our lives are full of that, just like I know yours are too. 

We all have so much 'life' happening all around us all of the time, don't we? Some good, some hard, some truly awful. It's in the context of that - a life of good and bad and up and down - that I write this tiny little blog post each and every day. And you know, these past few weeks, as has been the case before at times like this, it's been a little more challenging to find something 'nice' to say each day. But....it is precisely at weeks like these that I end up feeling so grateful for the way in which I've chosen to write here. To use this space as a way to see and seek the simple joys in our lives, and in my days. Because, of course, when you set about looking for it, that's what you find.

At the end of another long day here this week, a day full of frustrating phone calls, and tiresome paperwork, I found myself exhausted, deflated and sad as I sat down to look at the day's photos. And there...there I found these four photographs. Just these. They tell, to me, a most wonderful story of the day I had just had. They remind me that amidst the yuck, there was a whole lot of lovely too. Simple stay-at-home family pleasures and magical moments of connection and love and fun.

So, I edited my photos, plopped them into this here blog post, took a deep breath and found myself heading off to bed, smiling with the memory of Harper, Adelaide and Ezra running back and forth from the washtub to me, giggling all the while, and dumping cold water on Mama's toes. Which, really, is just about one of the greatest feelings, I've decided, in all of the world.
I was reminded that All is Well.

Thank you, blog."

No, Thank YOU Mamalooma and Soule Mama!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fork In The Road - a GREAT place to be

And under the heading of "sharing the things I love..."   Today's post is a plug for some friends who have followed their dream (yessss) and started a small business centered around their love (and mine) - FOOD!!  The bright orange Fork In The Road truck can be found daily all over the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area serving up their delicious eats over the lunch hour at local businesses and in the streets (literally!)  They also cruise the region, supplying delish dishes at fairs, festivals, and sporting events.  Check them out, and where they're serving next, on their facebook page or via Twitter (forkNroadtruck.)

If you've never eaten at a lunch truck, but always though it would be a fun, funky experience, you have a good reason to hunt them down!  An even better reason is this...Summer Salad with red bell pepper, red onion, cashews, and sweet poppy seed vinaigrette - add chicken if you choose.
Congratulations to Kari and Amy on the launch of this fantastically yummy new venture!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it {or how my heart swells with Joy for $25}

Friday and Saturday yielded such outstanding, inspiring, exciting finds that simply had to pop in to share them with you!  

First, apologies for the crummy photography.  Our Nikon D40 took a tumble out of the back of the car a month ago and has yet to be repaired (or replaced? *Gasp*)  That leaves me with the little point and shoot camera which even in macro mode, doesn't produce very detailed pics.  This long apology is necessary because the photos just don't do this stuff justice I tell you, it's so great and I'm so inspired to begin transforming, creating, and incorporating it into our home and our life!!

Details of the finds: 
*One garage sale with 5 boxes of fabric found in a mother-in-law's attic, each scrap was $.25.  This sale was a block over from my house and I met a really cool mom of 3, so we're certain to meet again at the neighborhood playground that's also a block away.  Such a bonus! 
*One estate sale happened upon by accident on our way home from Farmer's Market yesterday morn.  As it was the final day of the sale, everything was 50% off!!

First the fabric:  This piece is 53x35 and begging to be stretched on a wooden frame and hung on the wall.  It's from Finland circa 1972 (and totally my colors - love that bright citrus!)

Here are the rest of my scavenged scraps----(can you see the little green critter at the base of the apple?!  Wish I had my good camera - ugh!)  What ideas spring to mind when you see this stack?

The estate sale gave me some new projects and a bit of whimsy for our expanding garden.  I dug the chair out of a corner in the basement, there was no price on it, and the worker's response was that he'd check on the price but couldn't imagine it would be worth much.  The result - I paid $3 and felt that it was indeed worth A LOT.  The white plant stand only needs to be cleaned up and filled with pots of flowers.  Next year I think I'll use it to grow herbs.  The side table/magazine rack will stay in its weathered state, but I will probably replace the glass top with something a bit more preschooler-friendly.  Either a fabric covered board, a brightly painted top, or maybe a rustic tiled surface?  Maybe this is my hubby's chance to try a mosaic?  What do you think? 

Finally, the textile pieces from the estate sale.  A couple of fun dresses that look to be a perfect fit for my friend Jen and her daughter (wish I could've gotten a better picture of each so you could see the rhinestone studs on the pink dress and the texture of the fabric on the red/white one), a soft linen pillow case embroidered with yellow flowers (my color!) a softly worn white mid-weight blanket for O's bed (reminds me of grandma's,) and a great quilt which was hiding under a cheesy pink satin bed set (only $3 folks!!)

Time to sign off the computer, close down its screen, and head outside!  Talk with you soon, friends!  Hope your weekend has been wonderful.  ~Joy

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peach Crisp: Nature's Candy

Hi, friends!  The last day of our long weekend is upon us.  It started strong with a trip to the flower mart (50% off, so time to fill in the landscape a bit) then to swimming lessons with O.  Now it's raining, boo, so I decided to bake a peach crisp even though it's nearly 80 degrees and muggy outside.  When I was a kid we had a giant house fan in the window at the landing of the stairs, but no air.  Somehow my mom still cooked, canned, and baked all through the summer and we all survived!  I guess that's why baking on a hot day still causes me to pause.  Thank heavens for the luxury of central air!  But I digress...Back to the crisp...

Here it is, cooling on the counter as I type.  The peaches were already "nature's candy" (my hubby's phrase) before they were coated in cinnamon, honey, and crunchy goodness.  I can't wait to taste the finished result, so this will be short.  He, he, he.

I'm more of a cook and less of a baker, too much precision needed for the later, but crisps are easy.  I use my Grandma Adell's recipe - good old flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter.  Today I substituted white whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour and cut back on the butter, using a little half and half to create the consistency I'm used to.  Also, I used honey to sweeten the filling instead of sugar since it has a lower glycemic index.  Nope, no diabetes here - my 3 year old needs absolutely no sugar in his diet to be a wacky ball of energy, so anything with less refined sugar is a bonus.  The whole wheat flour helps a little too and you can usually sub 1/2 of the amount called for without sacrificing the taste of a recipe.

On a side note, the little coffee station behind my strategically placed crisp is a new vignette.  I gathered up my morning supplies on vintage tray I thrifted from an estate sale a couple of weeks ago.  It's all on the counter everyday anyway and looks a little more tidy this way.  I love it.  My inspirational friend Jen does this and I always think it's such a good idea, so thanks Jen!

Okay, off to taste the crisp!  By the way, I made that Cilantro Lime Coleslaw from the Food Network Magazine I blogged about last week and it was perfectly refreshing.  What seasonal recipes have you been enjoying with the awesome summer produce?  Do tell!  ~J.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Good morning!  After a horribly excruciating day of online continuing education yesterday (and no, I'm NOT exaggerating, it was terrible) I'm very happy to do something on the computer I enjoy - blogging - with coffee, of course.

There isn't much originality in this post; I'm not the first, and certainly won't be the last, to paint a piece of tired furniture.  However, this project is such a satisfying reminder of exactly how wonderful a cast-off item can be after a little TLC. 

I found this little number at a thrift store for $2.95.  It was badly beaten up and the top was full of dark rings, marks, and almost deplete of finish (it had been well worn.)  The lines of the piece were adorable though, so home it came.  Also, it's made by Bassett furniture, is solid wood, and even has dovetail joints on the drawers - not your typical MDF or plywood special.  It had some "bones" to it.  I was pretty pumped! 

After it sat in our lower level for 6 weeks, I finally made time to take it out in the yard during nap time and give it the attention it deserved.  I wish I would've taken a photo before I sanded down the top and removed the drawer and hardware, but I guess I was too eager to get going and lost my "blogging head." 

I applied a couple coats of blocking primer to conceal the dark rings and a couple coats of semi-gloss white paint, then brightened up the original hardware with some Brasso, and presto-chango...my beautiful new end table!!

Now that I look at it, I may have the hardware on upside down, but I like it better that way!  It is so much more interesting than the matchy-matchy, mega furniture store coffee table/end table set we had (which is at a consignment store as we speak.)  Most importantly, I smile every time I walk in the room and see it!  My goal is to trade everything in the house that's just "there" for something that makes me smile - a piece I really love!  My quest continues with this weekend's new batch of garage sales, yard sales and maybe even a flea market or two.  What's the latest quest in your life?  Or, what have you brought back to life in your home or yard recently?  I'd love to see some makeover pictures if you're inclined to share. 

Happy Thursday - big holiday weekend upon us in the USA!  Hoping to catch some fireworks and sending you all my best.  ~J.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cuttings from my garden and fresh bread

Just the title of this one gets me smilin'!!  After going to bed thinking about my last post and how happy our little piece of nature makes me, I woke up excited to replace last week's cut flowers. 

The storm on Friday night damaged a lot of ferns in the backyard, so I have a pile of fronds waiting to be put into a large, square, cut glass vase.  Meanwhile, here are some other cuttings I took this morning and arranged into a couple of my favorite thrifted bud vases.  Since they're from my yard, they're FREE FREE FREE.  And wait, it gets better, add a cup of coffee, a hard boiled egg (mashed warm with butter and salt,) a piece of home made french bread, and you'll get why I'm smilin'!!  A delicious breakfast and cut flowers make for a wonderful beginning to this Monday. 

The homemade french bread is from our dinner last night.  My good friend Jen, who inspires me in too many ways to count, gave me her simple bread machine recipe.  I've always been scared to bake with yeast, sticking instead to boxed mixes, but I made both raisin bread and french bread with success, so call me converted!! 

One of my hopes for summer, now that regular work is out of my life, is to eat better.  The homemade bread is one piece of the puzzle.  Pairing it last night with grilled, lean, pork chops I'd marinated in sesame ginger sauce, and fresh peaches was the rest.  Making my own bread (when I can) is appealing because, #1 - it tastes fantastic and #2 - it gives me control over what goes into it; only a handful of simple ingredients and no preservatives.  Since the bread machine does most of the work, it's actually pretty simple. 
Here it is, my first french loaf!  

While I'm thinking about food... With 4th of July just around the corner I've been clipping new recipes like mad!  The July/August issue of Food Network magazine has Chorizo-Potato Tacos; Savoy, Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw; and Bourbon Peach Cobbler.  Mmmmmmm....  The poor friend who gets this month's copy of the magazine will have to look past, or maybe look through (ha, ha, ha), some pretty large holes.  These recipes look like keepers!  One last idea was to put crushed, blue, pop rock candy on the rim of a glass of red beverage (thanks, Tyler Florence.)  Now THAT brings me back.  I LOVED those little candies, how fun!? 

What will your Independence Day celebration entail?  Hopefully good friends, family, and good food.  Blessings to you and yours from me and mine.  ~Joy 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Love Affair

The longest days of the year are here!  Hip, hip, hooray!  As I've blogged before, sunlight is a beloved thing in MN since we have such a shortage of it during the long, cold winters.  We've had a particularly rainy spring and summer, with rain for 13 of 14 days recently (I might as well move to Seattle at that rate, since I love that city even more than Minneapolis!)  Today, however, was a gorgeous day. 

I took the opportunity to plant the last of my flower pots and help my hubby clean up the yard after Friday's big storm.  I did some landscape maintenance and also began a new phase of our on-going landscape project in back.  It feels good to work hard, get dirty, and see something accomplished at the end of the day.  *big smile*

Here's a glimpse of our front door area; I found the tiered wire planter at a garage sale 2 years ago and bought the wire basket from my friend Cindy during our joint garage sale last summer!  (Yes, I actually have garage sales myself, I don't simply shop at them *wink, wink*.)  The chalkware dog was purchased from my friend Jen at our garage sale this year.  She was selling a portion of her collection, and the long-haired Chi had to come home with me!  The wooden planter has a crazy ponytail grass I love on the left and one of my favorite annuals on the right, "Cerveza 'N Lime" Plectranthus.  The soft, fuzzy leaves really smell like cerveza and lime - it's so VERY refreshing on a hot day!!  My sister even asked if you could eat it because it smelled so GOOD!!!  It is worth checking out if you're not familiar with this plant.

Looking toward the street from our front door is where I put the newly acquired garage sale plant stand and I couldn't be happier every time I open the door.  Ironically enough, the day after I found this one I was at my aunt and uncle's and saw that they have the same one on their deck!  Guess good taste runs in the family, ha!  I planted marigolds this year because I was in the mood for something traditional, but paired them with portulacas; I love the tissue paper-like flowers of this plant and the texture of the spiny greenery. Long Bloom Double Mix Portulaca - 100 Seeds, 300 mg

Here are a couple of other photos from our front flower beds.  I am still crazy in love with the color of these deep wine asiatic lilies, and the bees are crazy in love with our bright gaillardia!  I guess this summer love affair with gardening explains why the arts and crafts room is piled high with incomplete projects and why my postings have been so few and far between!  For the love of the great outdoors...  Enjoy your week, my friends.  ~J.