24 June 2016

23 June 2016

Recent Thrift Store Finds

I can't help myself...I can't resist a good thrift store run. I know, I know...I'm supposed getting rid of stuff. I'm really, truly trying to do that. But the frugal part of me, the part of me that hates to see good stuff languishing unloved, the part of me that picks up stuff off the curb...well those parts of me just can't be squelched!

I knew I was headed for trouble when a Goodwill opened just up the street from us. WAY TOO CLOSE. So as I drive daily past that place, I sometimes helplessly feel my steering wheel veering right into the parking lot! It's like my vehicle drives itself there!

But look at the treasures I've found! Two tiny old nesting leaf dishes...49 cents. I mean, seriously, how sweet are they? JOY!

 Who can fault me for spending pocket change on these adorable little dishes?

 I'm not certain what they were originally used for, but they are the perfect little soap dishes for our bathroom, one for each sink, and oodles better than what I'd been looking for! Perfect color, charming little shape, awesome price...and put to good use!

And look at this sweet little watering can! I removed the decorative label and discovered that it actually works! When I shared a picture of it on Facebook, I posted that it was 79 cents but I've since remembered that it was actually 10 cents! Seriously, 10 cents!

I love galvanized tin, and this little watering can is the perfect size for a tiny bouquet of flowers. I put a small jar inside it to hold the water and keep it from rusting. So sweet!

I found this swanky Mad Men ice bucket last fall, and I'll admit that at $10 it was way more than I would normally spend at the thrift store. But look how awesome it is! If I ever decide to sell it, I know it would go for much more than that...but for now I just love how it looks on our bar cart! Meanwhile, we are ready for a party that we will never have! :)

Perhaps best of all, I recently found this little camping percolator coffee pot at a different thrift store for just 79 cents! All the parts were there and it was in great condition. After a bit of clean-up, it looked as good as new! Spouse and I have enjoyed wonderful percolator coffee a few times! More on that in a future post.

 How sweet is this little guy with my mom's mug tree and old restaurant china?

I figure that for every joy-filled thrifted item I bring home, if I donate or sell at least two other items that no longer bring me joy, I'm staying ahead of the game, right? If you see Spouse, please back me up on that! :)

22 June 2016

Homemade Chicken Broth

I think rotisserie chicken is just about the best invention ever. My mom used to have one of those large tabletop rotisserie ovens that would roast two or three chickens at a time. In fact, just a few days before she passed away unexpectedly, my parents dropped by our house so that my mom could deliver a homemade rotisserie chicken to me. She had never brought me a chicken before, and it struck me at the time that she was so intentional about placing it in my hands.  I've always felt like my mom knew something was going to happen to her soon, and bringing me food was her way of taking care of me during the very rough week that was to come.

So for the longest time I associated rotisserie chicken with my mom and of course, I still do. It's taken me some time to come around to store-bought rotisserie chicken, but now I buy them often. The added flavor really enhances soups and salads. And trust me, my soups and salads could use a little enhancing! :)

Since rotisserie chickens can be kind of expensive, I like to get as much value as I can from them. Time permitting, I put the carcass (eww, I hate that word!) in water to make chicken broth. Now that I have lots of herbs growing, I add whatever is available to the pot (such as sage and rosemary) and set it to boil. If you have leftover celery or carrots, throw them in the pot, too. (Warning: This operation will attract hungry kitties to the kitchen!!)

After awhile, most of the remaining bits of meat fall off the bone and you're left with a broth that can be strained for recipes.

Last week I was able to get four containers of broth from one chicken! The broth is very handy to have around for all kinds of recipes and it's more flavorful than store-bought chicken broth. I labeled the containers and popped them in the freezer for future use.
If you're using rotisserie chicken, I'd definitely suggest giving homemade chicken broth a try. It's a great way to get more value for your money, and I know my mom would approve. :)

21 June 2016

Old Made New: Tulip Box

The first apartment we lived in after we got married was PINK. Pink toilet, pink sink, pink bathtub, pink stove, pink oven...PINK. When choosing the apartment, I had a choice of pink or teal and I remember thinking at the time that neither of those choices were good. I considered pink the lesser of two evils but in retrospect, I'm not sure that was correct!

Anyway, when we got married, we received a PLETHORA of pink stuff: towels, kitchen items, you name it. Everything PINK. I am not a fan of pink, and still to this day (30 years later) we have some of that pink stuff still in our midst.

Case in point: This box of pink tulips, given to me by an old college friend. Other than the pink part, I've always liked the tulips so I've kept it around, plus it matched our old bathroom decor. Now, of course, it matches nothing so I decided to update it. 

 I repainted the tulips with cream acrylic paint. I used a dark olive paint on the leaves.

I glued the stems in place to keep the tulips from annoyingly tipping over as they've always done.

To finish it up, I filled the box with small decorative rocks which are easy to remove and wash when needed.

This was a quick and easy project and I'm happy with how it turned out. Much better than pink, for sure! Now this box of tulips can return to its place of honor on the back of the toilet! :)

20 June 2016

A Few Spring Bouquets

With the abundant rain we've had this spring, it's been a banner year for my spring flowers. My iris bloomed more than ever before -- and many of my friends experienced the same bounty! And, naturally, more flowers = more bouquets!

Right now, I have more perennials that bloom in the spring than in the summer, so I've been cutting flowers for bouquets each week while the color lasts! I try to remember to take photos of each bouquet so I can remember various color schemes and arrangements from year to year. I especially love small vases which are easy to place on a sink or a nightstand but I'll admit I'm a bit of a sucker for all sorts of vases and containers!

This collage is in the order of bloom-time, starting with the Pasque flowers in the upper left corner, followed by lilacs, iris, honeysuckle, globe allium, and my grandma's beautiful fern peony in the bowl. The bouquets in the bottom row were gathered more recently and include the flowers that are blooming right now: white cone flower, heliopsis, yarrow, and pink flowers from our spirea bushes, with a few annuals and mint sprigs mixed in for filler!

As always, I look forward to seeing how my perennials do this summer...and how I can bring some of that outdoor prettiness inside! 

18 June 2016

Landscaping Project: Phase 1 Done!

 I am excited to report that the first phase of our landscaping project is done! Unlike our bathroom remodeling project that went on for a very long time, this project was finished in two days. It was great to see it started and wrapped up so quickly, and I could not be happier with how it turned out. Click HERE and HERE for "before" and "during" posts, if you are interested! :)

In this part of the project, the flower beds were re-shaped to soften some of the sharp edges for both aesthetic and mowing purposes. Many of the spaces were also expanded based on the plans I had drawn up a couple of summers ago, and stone edging was installed around most areas. In addition, we had two bushes removed and three trees planted.

This is a Miss Kim lilac tree on standard at the corner/front of the house. This tree replaces a different type of small tree we lost a few years ago. Obviously I have a lot of work to do to clean up this bed!

We added a flowering crab tree to the front yard in a place where we've never had a tree. I'm very excited to have a tree in that space.

This Japanese lilac replaces a very messy but lovely locust tree we had removed a few years back. I have missed that tree, so it is very nice to have another one in its place. Let's hope I can keep all three trees alive!

In the front of the house, we had two boxwood bushes removed, and I can't believe how much better the area looks. The bushes were the last remaining bits of an old hedge and I can see now how awkwardly they blocked the house and garden. 


 This bed has been expanded (where you see the mulch) and the edges reshaped. In the fall or next spring, I will need to add more perennials to fill it.

  This back garden area is still a mess but at least the big prickly crimson barberry bush is gone. It was the lone remaining bush of three we had planted there many moons ago. In addition, the entire bed was edged. 

Edging was added along the side of the house but this area stayed about the same width. I have a few issues here (notably an aphid infestation) that need to be addressed this summer but on the plus side, there are some empty spots available for plants I divide in the fall.

Walking around the back of the house, you can see the new softer line of the flower beds. I absolutely love the curves! The areas with empty mulch are all new spaces.

For years, I've struggled with the bed in the photo below. It definitely needs the most work of any of the garden spaces. The coreopsis spreads uncontrollably and will be removed. That will leave plenty of room for other plants. In the meantime, it is great to get the borders cleaned up and free of infiltrating grass!

This same bed was expanded on one end where it meets the patio. New plants there will provide a bit of a "screen" to make the patio feel more enclosed.

 In the fall, the crew will come back and we will work on the content of the beds -- moving, splitting, removing, and adding perennials to better achieve a cottage garden look. In the meantime (as you can see from these photos), I have a lot of work to do to clear out weeds and other gunk!

I'm very happy with how this part of the project came together. I can't believe what a big difference the edging makes! And with the beds expanded and re-shaped, I can better visualize the changes that need to take place this fall!

17 June 2016

Feline Friday: Wake Up!

Excuse the blurriness of these pictures as I share with you what has lately become my morning "routine". :)

I'm in the last few minutes of a dream when I hear Lily quietly jump onto my nightstand with a little THUD. I try to keep my eyes closed, hoping she'll let me sleep a few minutes longer. The next thing I know, NPR's Morning Edition turns off, so I know she's now standing on the on/off button of my radio!

Did you know that Lily fancies herself a hair stylist? She's very exclusive...it seems that I'm her only client! Since she's taken up this early morning hobby, I've learned to put my head under the covers as she RAKES across my hair with her very sharp claws. If I wasn't already awake, this pretty much does the trick!

  So now my eyes are a little more open and I'm repeatedly lifting Lily down off the radio and placing her gently on the floor. But like a little boomerang, she just keeps coming back!

Apparently my fancy hair style is not quite done! Ouch! That was my ear, Lily!

 Mommie, get up! Itz tyme for mi brekfast!

So with my hair freshly coiffed, I'm ready for my day! 
But Lily? Soon after breakfast, she'll be ready for her nap. :)


16 June 2016

Landscaping Project Underway!

I am happy to report that the landscaping project (Phase 1) is happening! What was left of the black plastic edging has been removed and the new bed outlines have been cut. Almost all of the beds have expanded and their shapes modified. I love the new curves!

As you can see from the dirt, there will be a lot of new space to plant this fall. This is very exciting for me...and also a little bit scary! I am happy that the landscape designer will be on hand to oversee Phase 2 and that the crew will provide much of the labor. With the size of these perennials, there is no way I can do all of that digging on my own!

 Although I could see the new perimeters as they were marked with spray paint, the shapes became REALLY clear when the guys finished cutting out all the sod. I love the new softer curves!

There was a sharp corner where the patio bed met the narrow bed at the back of the house. Now that has been reshaped into a more natural curve. This will make mowing easier and should look much nicer, too.

 The guys did an amazing job re-shaping the beds and clearing out all the gunk which must have been there. Imagine doing all of this in 90+ degree heat and high humidity. Ugh.

The content of the beds will change this fall as we remove some plants altogether, split others, and add new perennials. We are still tweaking the final design and I'm sure it will continue to be modified when we start on it this fall.

After the sod was removed, the crew cut these big "planks" of stone to fit the curves and set the pieces in place. This is very hard work, especially in the heat.

I still can't believe how much nicer the beds look with the new edging! Even with those big expanses of dirt and all of my weeds, they already look so much more "planned" and tidy. Once the edging is in place, the crew will mulch the empty areas so that the beds look more finished...until we tear them up in the fall!

One or two more days of work and this part of the project will be done. I'm so happy this long-awaited project is underway!