Thursday, October 28, 2010

big fan of junk and surplus and anything old and funky

Selectively, of course.  When you live in a small house you can't collect EVERYTHING. 

When you live in a small old house, it is nice to find a resource to replace the 75 year old bathroom light fixture that you broke when you were painting.

Two weeks ago I talked Mike into joining me on a trip to Art and Architecture, on University Ave. in St. Paul. They are a treasure trove of architectural finds and antique maps and minnow buckets and anything old and full of potential.

 Twice a year they also host Junkmarket, a treasure trove of fun (BRING CASH).  Junkmarket has fun website with all kinds of ideas on how to repurpose treasures:

At Art and Architecture, we explored the aisles and piles of rescued finds, everything from drawer pulls to antique bathroom light fixtures to bowling balls.  My brain was abuzz with possibilities!

They have a pair of antique elevators doors that are a work of art, and if you have $35, 000 you can take them home with you.  Definitely wouldn't fit in my house....

Their assortment of chandeliers is awe inspiring-some were as big as my kitchen!

I ended up buying some keyhole covers and skeleton keys to use in creating some custom jewelry for my Etsy shop, can't wait to get creating.  And happy to know that I now have a limitless resource for things of that nature.

My Junkmarket find was a jar full of clock and watch parts, that I will turn into something fun, someday...

And then Mike took me to lunch next door, at Cupcake.  It's times like this I am glad to live in a vibrant metro area!  check out the fun, here:

Last week I stood in line to attend an estate sale.  I usually don't frequent estate sales, as they make me sad.  Sad for a life that is usually gone.  It feels strange to walk through someone else's home, and dig through their possessions. 

But I had seen the ad in the paper, and I knew I was meant to attend, as it was the first time I had looked at estate sale listings all summer, and this one very specifically listed buttons for sale.  So of course I had to attend.

When it was finally my turn to enter the tiny house, crammed to the rafters with the stuff of life, I asked the woman running the sale where I might find the buttons.  Luckily she directed me to the basement, and the jars were lined up on the dryer.  I grabbed them all, feeling as though I had struck gold.  The little house was literally packed with treasures, but it was also packed with treasure hunters, so I ended my hunt, paid for my goodies, and went home.

Charlie was intrigued as I opened the first jar, and he ended up spending the whole night helping me sort the fourteen jars I had purchased.  A little unplanned time with my newly minted teenager.

You just never know where the pursuit of 'junk' will take you....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Mother Nature has gone from kind and beneficent to downright nasty.

Listening to the wind howl last night, I was just waiting for one of our ancient trees to drop on our house.  Mike is in Florida (great timing!) so if that would happen I would have to deal with it.  So far, so good.

Today seems like a perfect soup day!  I won't be cooking, Charlie and I have been living off easy to make freezer food all week.  Last night we had creamy tomato and roasted red pepper soup (thank you Trader Joe's!) and grilled cheese.  Mmmmmm.

But if I WERE going to cook, I would be making this:
(photo from the Cooking with Trader Joe's website)

Taco Soup

(from the new "Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook-Dinner's Done!)

1 (approx 1.3 lb) pkg boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped
1 pkg Taco Seasoning Mix
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans black beans
1 (15 oz) can corn, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth (optional; omit for a thicker stew)

Your choice of toppings:
Tortilla chips
Fresh cilantro
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Fresh chopped tomatoes
Chopped green onions or red onions
Jalapenos or chiles

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions for 5 minutes, or until softened.

2. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour.

3. Remove chicken, shred, and return to pot. Stir and heat through before serving.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Hands-off cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 6-8

Slow cooker method: Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours on low setting. Remove chicken, shred, and return to crockpot. Stir and heat through before serving.

I just picked up this cookbook on Sunday, I LOVE IT!  With my new super busy life, I need easy to make meals that are still going to be delicious and good for us, and since TJs is just a few blocks from our house, it makes perfect sense to use them, and this book, to simplify my life.

The authors of the book also have a web-site, check it out for more great recipes!

Monday, October 25, 2010

we have a winner!

Charlie just took a break from creating his 3D cell model for science class and we held a drawing.

Each entry was written on a piece of antique paper I found at the YMCA yard sale, folded several  times, and placed in my antique tin sugar canister.

Charlie closed his eyes and pulled out:

Julie Poling!!! 

She entered on Facebook:  "What should I say?? Um...... Hello, it is a beautiful bracelet. And we know I LOVE your jewelry. That has already been established. Um....anything else?"


I will pop it in the mail tomorrow.

Thanks to all who entered the contest, and your kind comments.  My aunt would think you are all very sweet!

not enough hours in a day...

I will be announcing the bracelet winner later today, I got comments on my blog, on Facebook, and also emailed to me, so since I can't use the Random Generator function I will do my own version (Charlie pulling a name out of a hat!)

If you haven't yet had time to comment, the contest will run through 5 pm today, central time.

Sorry I have had no stories or recipes to share lately, getting ACES ready for fourth quarter and managing my Etsy shop has quite overtaken my life!

Mike is in Florida all week, so I am hoping to get caught up on things and get back to blogging!  But first laundry calls.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a giveaway


1.  My furnace came on this morning, and it is kind of nice to hear that quiet hum in the background.

2. I am going for my yearly physical today, and I have not been able to drink ANY coffee as I have to fast for my cholesterol test.  Be glad you aren't in my house this morning.

3.  I have to schedule my yearly mammogram today, which always makes me think of my aunt, who isn't with us anymore.

So to honor her, and give all of my dear blog readers a chance at their very own maybaby custom button bracelet-here is what you will win:

Please leave a comment below (one entry per person, tell your friends!).  Winners will be announced on Monday Oct. 25th (as we could all use a little pick-me-up on a Monday...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

early to rise....

Right now our life is full of amazing things, so much so that I often awake at 5 in the morning with zero chance of returning to sleep.   I stumble back from the bathroom, thinking that the ultra comfy bed and bargain velvet comforter will allow me to drift off for another two hours, but my brain has already been kick-started.  I lie in my bed,  my head buzzing with my to-do list, and I realize that returning to a deep slumber just ain't gonna happen.  (sorry Mary, this grammar is the only way this post could fact this whole post will be red pen-worthy...)

Today, Saturday, a day I really could have slept in, I hobbled down the stairs at 5:30 am.  Our newspaper carrier was just walking away from making his deposit on our step.  (side note:  we have the world's best newspaper man.  He NEVER fails to deliver the paper on time.  EVER.)

Used to be, the newspaper was part of my morning ritual.  Hot coffee in hand, I would relax on the couch (or out on the patio in the summertime-shown above, in July) and catch up on current events.  Having checked out the world and local news, and the current Target stock price, I would also read my favorite comics, review my horoscope, and do the Sudoku puzzle.  On Thursdays I would look for recipes, and on Fridays for rummage and estate sales.

Ever since I opened my Etsy shop, I am lucky to catch up with the paper once a week-usually Sunday.   I kinda miss it!  And forget the puzzle.

Even if I am not reading about it, the world carries on.  And I am still able to function, even if I am completely unaware of what my day is supposed to hold, or have not worked my brain numerically.

It's okay.  My life is REALLY full right now, and so far, so good.  Routines do not need to be routines forever.  But I DO miss reading my magazines.   I have a pile of glossy untouched magazines, just waiting on my coffee table, for that day I have time to read them.  January???

But life is not too full to take some pictures, and capture the beauty of the season....

The weather forecasters tell us that starting tomorrow, we will be experiencing a bit more 'seasonal' weather.  We may even come close to a frost. 

Which means I really need to pot up my Italian parsley, my rosemary, my sage, and my basil for the coming months.  It is almost like we have been lulled into a feeling that the nice weather will stick around forever, and fall garden chores can wait.  Maybe I can hire Charlie to take care of gardening things for me....

Friday, October 15, 2010

for your Sunday afternoons

Did any of you grow up listening to the radio?

Maybe it was a Twins game, in the background, on a summer night.

Other than "A Prairie Home Companion", I am guessing most of you have not listened to a true radio show.

Well now, you have a chance. 

Mike's aunt Mary, who lives in Alexandria, is part of the Lake Area Theater, and beginning this Sunday they will be sending out radio shows!  Here is a link to the article in their local paper, telling all about it:  If you live near there, you can even attend the live performance of the show as it is being recorded.

But if you can't get to Alexandria,  you can catch the show Sunday afternoons at 12:30 pm, streaming live from this website:

Mary will be performing in the show on Sunday, October 24th:  The Diary: A Ghost Story.

How fun is that?????  Modern day technology giving us access to a genre that's been around a long time...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

mad for the men (and everything else)

My newest Netflix obsession is Mad Men.  I started from the beginning this summer, and just finished Season 3.  And now I will have to wait, as patiently as I can, for season four to come out on dvd.

Oh, it's so good.  I love the costuming, the little details that they get right.  Perfectly selected desk accessories, and kitchen items, and ashtrays.  The characters are really well developed, although the majority of the men are not very nice, (or devoted to their wives...) 

In season 3, it is 1963, and the Drapers have just had a baby.  Since I was born in 1962, it's almost like getting to watch what life was like around me during that time.  Except my dad wasn't an ad executive, who regularly cheated on my mom., and even though Don is extremely handsome, he is a total jerk haunted by his life.  I am pretty sure that my mom didn't have Betty Draper's wardrobe either,   But I do recall her owning the same earrings Betty had on when she was in Rome-only my mom's were bright orange.

A few nights ago,  I dreamt that I had been transported back in time, and was at a party with women from that era.  Everyone was DRESSED, hose, and gloves, and bouffant hair.  There were snack sets, and cigarettes, and cocktails in really neat glasses.  But I felt out of place, and when I told them I was running to the store to get milk they looked at me like I was nuts.  "But the market isn't open on Sundays!".  So then I told them I would just run to the gas station to get the milk, and again they looked at me as if I was crazy.  "But you can't buy milk at a service station!". 

I can't remember now, the rest of the dream, but I kept wondering when they were going to figure out that I was from the future, and have me arrested.  And the police would show up in this huge cop car and take me away. 

When I woke up this morning, I stopped to think about all of the amazing changes in our world since the era that Mad Men starts out in, not the least being 24 hour grocery stores and the ability to buy milk at the gas station.  Really great things, like more equality for women in the work place ( you will just be amazed at how women are treated in the offices of Sterling Cooper ), and husbands in delivery rooms (rather than smoking and reading Life magazine in the waiting room).  And having worked in a corporate office, the days of smoking at your desk and keeping bottles of liquor in your office, that are often opened long before the lunch hour, are pretty much gone.  (at least in the retail world, I can't speak for the advertising industry...)

I could blog about this for days, but I won't.  Sit for a bit and just think about how much the world has changed, and appreciate the good parts.  And if you haven't already, start watching Mad Men.  It's a treat!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

I haven't had to cook for the last few nights, so I am feeling a little out of practice.  On top of that, the weather lately has tended more to grilling and pasta salads than fall food.  But there has been a shift in the wind, and I have once again put away my sandals and dug out my socks.

And you know what that means.  Time for comfort food.

Yesterday this was the recipe emailed to me as part of my "Dinner Tonight From Everyday Food" daily email, and I decided I would make it, soon.  (photo from the email I received):

I can almost taste the creamy mashed potatoes, and hear the crunch of the green beans.  When I make meatloaf, I always make Ina Garten's Turkey Meatloaf.  It's a family favorite.  But it's time to try a new one.  Here is the link to the recipe if you want to try it too (be patient and wait for the right one to load):

Oh Martha, thank you for making my menu planning so much easier.  Even though I don't use the emails I get daily, well, daily, I find that I make 2 or 3 of them a month.  And that makes everyone happy.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

garden notes - 2010

First, some gardening irony.

This was the picture at the top of my post last year on October 12th:

Today, temps are predicted to be close to 80 again.  And this is where that same little ghost is hanging out today, with snow nowhere in our forecast:

If you don't have a green thumb or could care less about gardening, this post is not for you.  This is intended to be a written reminder so that I will spend my plant money wisely next spring.  Lessons to be learned!

Best Value for My Garden Dollar (in terms of care needed/longevity of blooms):

1.  Impatiens - basic impatiens flowered in my garden beds, shady window boxes, and containers from the time I planted them in May and are STILL going strong.  I splurged on a couple of tropical varieties (the yellow and salmon colored ones above, combined with a basic orange) for one of my window boxes, they grew like crazy (over 18" tall!) and are still blooming profusely.  In the past I have ignored impatiens, as being too common, but they really work with the shade in my yard.

2.  Coleus - If you are a regular reader you know I am a huge fan-they provide color all season long with very little care, and are a cinch to divide and multiply.  Still looking lovely in my autumn garden.

3.  Dahlias - I bought a whole flat of small plants through a school plant sale-while they took a little longer to get going than other plants did, you should see how huge they are now.  Simply lovely, and cheerful.

Best Filler Plant for Containers and Window Boxes:

Sweet Potato Vine - in every color and variety.  I even planted some of the dark purple in my beds, and the ones that didn't get eaten by our resident rabbit added wonderful contrast to the green plants.

Biggest Disappointment/Mistake:

1.  Lisianthus.  It isn't the plant's fault, I think I just put it in the wrong spots.  Even though I planted nearly a dozen, only a couple meekly survived, and I only received two blooms.  Bummer.

2.  Empress of India Nasturtium.  Again, my fault.  I had planted it alongside our shed, hoping to coax it up the metal grid to hide the ugly plastic.  It grew out rather than up, next year I will plant it in my herb bed instead.  And buy a true climbing vine to do the job I thought it could handle.

Lovely Surprise:

Black Eyed Susan Vine Hanging Basket.  I have planted this in the ground in the past, and enjoyed the vigourous climbing qualities, but really liked it in a hanging basket this year next to our garage door.  It is still giving me cheerful yellow blooms.

Best Autumn Bloomer:

Aster.  If you don't have any in your garden, get yourself one and plant it NOW.  It will resemble a large green bush all summer, but when it decides to bloom in the fall you will be rewarded with days and days of blooms.  The honey bees love them, and they will flock to your yard.  Can you spy one in this picture? 

On top of that, they self seed like crazy.  I planted one small plant a couple of years ago, this year they covered nearly four square feet (or would have, if our rabbit hadn't eaten part of them....).  And don't they pair lovely with dahlias?

Best Plant Food:

Bar none, it is Fish Emulsion.  I fed my plants once a month, and they rewarded me handsomely.  Forget Miracle Grow (unless you don't like the smell of dead fish....)

Container Visions:

Guess which photo was taken in May, and which one in October?   The only plant I added to the pot was the sweet potato vine.  And as you can see, the violets didn't survive.  I did divide the coleus from that plant and put it back in the container.  The scented geranium (I believe this year it was nutmeg) and the angel wing begonia are ginormous.  The wonders of Fish Emulsion.....

While I have yet to perfect the kind of garden where I always have something blooming, and everything is at a good height and blends in seemlessly together, I keep trying.  And each year I get a little closer.  Keep in mind, this is what worked (and didn't) in my yard, with it's mix of sun and shade, here in St. Paul.

How did YOUR garden grow this year?

Monday, October 11, 2010

summer in October

Don't get me wrong, the weather Mother Nature has kindly bestowed on us for this month has been nothing short of incredible.  Record breaking, etc.  I have had to run the air conditioner in our bedroom the last two nights, and "humidity" has even crept back in to the weather forecaster's lingo.  The last few days have been in the eighties.  80's in October!

It was peak fall color here in the Twin Cities this weekend, everyone was out and about taking it all in.  There were harvest festivals with giant pumpkins, and impromptu baseball games in the field across the street.
I have been out walking in it, driving in it, soaking it all in.

But one tiny little complaint?  Am I allowed?  I have now been tending and watering my gardens for SIX MONTHS.  I am growing weary of it, but the impatiens, and coleus, and begonias, and dahlias, continue to thrive.  I would feel so guilty just letting them go now, after all they have been through this summer.  Extreme heat, hail, downpours of rain, they have survived it all.

So I am still watering.  And the forecast is for continuous good weather.  Here in Minnesota, we will take it, store it up, hoard it for the cold winter months to come.  And I promise not to whine anymore about watering my plants.

Tomorrow, look for more garden shots and my thoughts on what I will (and won't) plant next year....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dear Charlie-

Here is the post I intended to put up yesterday, our main computer died this week, and if any of you have had the experience of reloading everything on to your system once it gets fixed, you will understand why I am a bit behind!

Thirteen years ago today your dad and I were on the way to the hospital at 7:30 am.  It had been prearranged, no late night hurried packing for us, or a mad dash to the hospital.   You had decided you didn't want to be born, and two weeks was the longest they would let me go.  So they were ready and waiting for us.

For the last few months I had been singing to you, and reading to you, and imagining what you would look like.  As all parents do, I was hoping for ten fingers and ten toes.

You arrived just before 9 pm that night, and we were smitten.

The first year was an adjustment.  Lack of sleep, late night feedings, and watching as you wrapped us around your tiny little finger.

You were a delight.  Even though you weren't much of a sleeper, you loved food.  And your cats, and car rides.  And your soft blue blanket.

As you got older, you were obsessed with anything with wheels.  Garbage trucks rolling through the neighborhood, bobcats working construction sites, lumber trucks in VHS tapes we got at the library.  Remember Lenny the Lumberjack?

Books were always at hand, "Mike Mulligan" was well loved and worn.  You discovered "Thomas the Tank", and loved playing with your Brio train set.  One of your favorite things was the Al's Farm Toys catalog.  We kept one in the car, for you to enjoy on trips.

Before we could blink you had started school, and I missed having you at home with me.  You were confident, and sweet, and smart.  Your world was expanding, and you explored every part of it.

You learned to ride a bike, reluctantly setting aside your all-terrain trike.  You played t-ball, and soccer, and we cheered you from the sidelines.

You loved to help me cook, and sometimes garden, although the dirt was always more fun to play in with your trucks.

You developed wonderful friendships, and were quick to giggle.  We loved taking family trips, and watching you explore every place we visited.

We taught you the importance of family dinners, and spending time with your cousin was always one of your favorite things.

Today you turn thirteen, and I just can't grasp how the time has flown so quickly.  You reminded me that becoming a teenager is the "last phase" before you become an adult.  I don't think I'm ready.

But I can't turn back the clock.  You are turning into an amazing young man, the glimmer of which I saw in the wide eyed look of your toddler years.  You have a great sense of humor, and are redefining what you like to do in your spare time and who you want to spend it with.  You ride through the woods on a dirt bike through trails I can barely walk on.  While we have far different taste in music and tv programs,  we can still find common ground now and then.  Family movie nights used to be videos of Thomas the Tank, and now they are the works of Alfred Hitchcock.  Time flies indeed.

We will do what we can to help you grow and become the adult you want to be.  Hands off when necessary, arms open wide for a hug when you need that. 

Happy Birthday sweet boy.  We love you so.


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