Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween to one and all!  It doesn't seem quite as festive on a Monday, but I am guessing I will still be able to eat some fun size candy bars.  I hear that legislation has been introduced to make it a law that Halloween always be celebrated on a Saturday...

It's amazing how many 'scary' movies were on tv this past weekend.  I was attempting to make things for my show while suffering from a migraine, and did not even have the energy to search for good tv.  I had watched all of my recorded shows, and our dvd player was on the fritz.

I stumbled across a movie on the Lifetime channel, "Within", about a little girl who could see things others couldn't.  I got sucked in, and Charlie came out and saw what I was watching.  His comment?  "Wow mom, how depressed are you?  LIFETIME?"  I told him I wasn't depressed, just feeling too lousy to bother turning the channel.
Jeri Ryan Secrets in the Walls
The next movie on tap was "Secrets in the Walls".  Well, I HAD to watch that.  This one was about a single mom with two daughters who move into a house with a past. You can just imagine what happened....

I am amazed at how many scary movie moments take place in a bathroom.  Have you noticed?  Either the closed shower curtain that must be pulled back, or the creepy images seen in the mirror.  And then there is the major bathtub scene in one of my favorite scary movies "What Lies Beneath".
Then it was on to "Orphan".  Major creep factor.  I had to finish that one today, as I ran out of daylight- of course I can't watch movies like that in the dark...even then I still had wacky dreams last night.
What are your favorite scary movies?  And will you be watching one tonight?

(all images borrowed from google searches)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

let the holiday shopping begin!


What am I doing when I'm not making dinner, cleaning the house, doing laundry, keeping ACES going, or drugging my cat?

Making things as fast as my fingers will go for the holiday boutique I am a part of this year!

Here's a link to the page that has all of the details, including the list of all of the other creative people who will be selling their goodies:

What will I be selling this year?  Over the next couple of weeks I will be featuring some of the items on my blog that I have been working on:  my button bracelets, gorgeous soft scarves I am calling the 'roundabout' (similar to infinity scarves you are starting to see in catalogs and fashion magazines), necklaces crafted from interesting chain and stones, charm bracelets with vintage beads, and rings made from antique jewelry and buttons.

What a fun way to start your holiday shopping!   Mark your calendar:  Saturday, November 19th from 10 am to 4 pm, and stay tuned to my blog to get a sneak peek at what I will have for you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

Better late than never...

I am busy getting ready for the only holiday boutique I will be participating in this season (look for more details to follow soon).  Last night I wanted a yummy, filling dinner that would have leftovers but wouldn't take forever to make.  I scoured my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and came up with this:

Pasta with Red Peppers and Sausage in a Creamy Sauce

1 lb. pasta (I used orichiette-Charlie's current favorite- little hats!)
1 lb spicy hot Italian Sausage
1 jar marinara sauce (Trader Joe's)
1 jar Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo (Classico)
1 pkg. fresh whole mushrooms, sliced
2 big handfuls fresh spinach
2/3 c. or so diced roasted red peppers (I always keep a jar of them in the cupboard)
garlic (you choose how much)

I got the water going on the stove for the pasta and started browning the sausage.  Once it was done I took it out of the pan to drain, then added a bit of olive oil and a Tbsp. of butter to the pan, then threw in several cloves of minced garlic along with the mushrooms.  Once they were nearly browned I tore up the spinach and threw it in the pan, along with the peppers.  It was so colorful and smelled delish!  I then added the sausage back in, and poured in both jars of sauce.  I let it simmer while the pasta was cooking, once the pasta was done and drained I threw it back in the pasta pot, poured the sauce over, gave it a good toss, then served it with a sprinkle of grated parmesan.  We had some crusty ciabatta bread alongside with oil and balsamic for dunking, and a good bottle of red wine.  Two thumbs up from the men in the house!

What do YOU cook when you want a mostly homemade, satisfying meal but don't have a lot of time for the kitchen?

Monday, October 24, 2011

back in time

Heather and Riley joined us for the extended weekend.  What a treat!  (This is a very lengthy post, be forewarned....)

Before they had arrived, I had been perusing the Garage Sale classifieds in the paper, on the off chance that we would be able to go to that last sale of the season.  We love treasure hunting.  There were none close to my neighborhood, but my eye was caught by a very long Estate Sale ad, further up the page.

I was immediately intrigued.  A 15 bedroom mansion on a 200 acre estate, including everything from five hundred 78 rpm records, to a vast library of books,  to linens, many monogrammed "H".  Sleighs, buffalo robes, china, silver, how could we not go and check it out?  It was the estate of the last surviving great grand daughter of James J. Hill.

We had already planned to hit up Pine Tree Apple Orchard while she was here, so when I saw the location of the estate I knew it was meant to be-it was a mere 2 miles from the orchard, in Dellwood.

The day dawned frosty with clear blue skies.  We wound our north, enjoying all of the sights along the way.
Cars lining both sides of the road up ahead confirmed the location, seeing how many cars were parked on the property we decided street parking was the way to go.
We entered the driveway, marked by brick pillars, and began our trek.  We first came along some outbuildings,  the most modern one held old sleighs and buggies once pulled by horses.  My imagination was already wandering, envisioning those adventures.
We walked further, stately old oaks were splashed with color.  A long neglected fence rail led to another building on the estate.  I wondered who had lived there, the gardener?
The drive led further along, to a five stall garage.  We wandered through, and I was intrigued by the old intercom system-with bells to ring the kitchen and other parts of the house.  Clay pots, old garden hand tools, and ladders were offered up for sale.
We glimpsed the ancient greenhouse, with plans to explore it further after checking out the house.

Approaching the main house, we found a white painted brick structure facing the small lake below.  I glimpsed huge screened porches, and also the large line of people waiting to get in.   Many were more interested in touring the house than buying anything, I heard snippets of conversation as we waited.  "It hasn't been lived in for years",  "my friend was walking over here to explore one day and was chased off the property by a caretaker with a gun", "can you imagine what it would cost to heat this place?", "look at those amazing metal gutters".
The building was neglected but still had elements of beauty, a beautifully carved lintel over the door, interesting light fixtures, and ancient ivy spreading it's fingers along the windows and walls.
As we watched earlier shoppers leaving the building with an old mixer, a vintage sewing machine table, and other treasures, we giddily imagined what we would find inside.  It was finally our turn to enter, and the first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful old wall coverings, and lovely floors.  People were moving from room to room, looking for glimpses of a time long gone.

Main floor rooms held tables full of gorgeous old linens, endless tablecloths and napkins, antique lace, blankets and towels.  I imagined the parties held here, sparkling crystal and shining silver, women in gloves and men in tuxedos.
The wood paneled library was brimming with books, 78 rpm records, a grand piano, and endless rolls of music.  The porches offered up old darkroom equipment, leather luggage, huge cedar boxes where blankets and pillows had been stored, and buffalo robes for those cold winter sleigh rides.  As I walked the hall I could very nearly see the occupants of times past, small children racing down the stairway on a Christmas morning, elegantly dressed guests gathered around the piano singing a song, people in light linen sitting on the verandas in the summertime drinking lemonade out of cut crystal glasses while children played croquet on the huge lawn.
We walked through the pantries and kitchens and other main floor spaces, I picked up some great porcelain and metal pieces, and some English pudding molds.  Heather spent most of her time browsing through the huge stacks of old sheet music, their artistic covers had caught her eye.  I headed up to the second floor, and several of the bedrooms were open and full of interesting things:  christening gowns and crib blankets and old rolls of wallpaper.  Maid's uniforms and linens and furs and racks of old clothing could be found with silver service storage bags and bedroom sets.  I picked up a wonderful box full of old satin and silk ribbons and seam tapes, just what I was hoping I would find.
Again I imagined the home's occupants; guests sitting on the beautifully upholstered furniture in front of their sitting room fireplace, perhaps working on needlepoint or reading a book before they headed down to dinner.  Maids donning their aprons and hats before heading down to serve at a special banquet.  A woman of the house in front of her dressing table, brushing her hair, spritzing herself with expensive perfume, perhaps exclaiming over a hat her husband had just given her in a pretty hatbox.
We were there for nearly two hours, completely engrossed in the experience.  We checked out the glass greenhouse, realizing it had been years since it had been used.
Again my imagination went wild, seeing it full of green and blooming plants that found their way across the estate in huge urns, or in arrangements that graced the dining tables.
Happy and full of images of the past, we headed off to our next adventure.

Thanks to my sister for all of the great pictures!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

busy crazy autumn daze

I have decided that our brief flirtation with autumn each year is rather like a wedding.
Weddings take months of planning and preparation, there are sunny days and rainy days along the way.  The anticipation builds, and the final day is a big bright blur.
And then it's over.
I longingly wish for extended autumns each year, a few weeks of vibrant color and days to enjoy them and feel the crunch of leaves under my feet.  Beautiful dawn sunrises and sunsets with harvest moons.
As usual, this year the trees seemed to turn and then the wind blew them all away just days later.  I may exaggerate a bit, we do still have some leaves left, and the maple on our boulevard sometimes doesn't turn until November.  But is just goes too fast for my liking.
Perhaps it's the contrast of the vibrant colors of early fall to the stark landscape that greets us each day when the bare tree trunks are silhouetted against gray autumn skies.
I find myself in September and October trying to take mental images of every landscape, trying to imprint in my memory the beautiful trees so that I can recall them on a gray November day.
These photos were taken two weeks ago, already all of these beautiful leaves are gone.
But I will also have these photos, to forever hang on to autumns vibrancy.
This will be my only post this week, we are trying to finish up the giant painting project before it snows, and my sister and her son are coming to spend MEA break with us.  Huzzah!  I really miss her, and need some sister time.
Hoping you all have a wonderful autumn weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

aging gracefully

No, not me.  My cat.

He is at least 20 now.  When we picked him out at the Humane Society, they thought he was at least a year old.  Someone had found him as a stray and brought him in, so that was all we knew.  We adopted him 19 years ago last summer, so 20 he is.  Which is 96 in human years.  NINETY SIX.

He is such an integral part of our family, Charlie doesn't know life without him.
He can be a pain in the butt.  He has always been very vocal, the thought is that he is part Siamese.  He likes to visit Mike and I in the wee hours of the morning, and meows until we bring him in bed with us.  He used to just jump up and snuggle in, but the arthritis in his injured leg doesn't let him do that anymore.  So we pick him up, and love him, and go back to sleep.

He eats a lot, three to four cans of food a day.  And he has no trouble letting you know when it isn't fresh enough for him.
He LOVES to go outside.  Based on his last fateful unsupervised adventure, he doesn't get to go out without one of us by his side.  Sometimes he will just lie in the grass, soaking up the sun.  I planted lots of catnip for him this year, he always visits it for a snack when he is out.

Being 96, he mostly sleeps.  As the temperatures drop we will put a heating pad under his cat bed, so he can have a little extra warmth for his old bones.  (safely, of course....)

We give him 5 meds twice a day.  Clearly a senior.  He just had a check-up a couple of weeks ago, and his vet is always impressed by what great shape he is in "for his age".

Even when he wakes us up at 4 am, meowing loudly, we still love him, and can't imagine our little family without him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Farmer's Market Fun

Sunday morning was gorgeous (I think the eighth or ninth day in a row that we hit 80 degrees).  Since I am a fair weather market person (you won't find me there on a rainy day) I decided it was time.

After a lengthy discussion with Charlie on why he needed to go with me, I ended up bribing him with the promise of spring rolls AND a breakfast bagel.  A small price to pay to have him carry the heavy stuff.

Farmer's Market in the fall is so gloriously abundant.  I bought so much stuff we could have used another person to help carry everything.

Fresh raspberries, picked early that morning:
Pumpkins and squash-I love to find odd varieties to decorate my house in and out.  It takes me a while to choose, as I like to find interesting stems.
Local brats, buns, bacon and eggs,  oh my.  Brussel sprouts, peppers, onions and broccoli.
I stocked up on potatoes, two 20 lb bags (one red and one russet) for only $7!  No pictures of those...Charlie was wondering why I bought so many-I reminded him that potatoes keep a while in our cold basement.

I had to splurge on this beautiful bouquet-kale and eucaplyptus!  What a great combo, and it should last a really long time.  And it wasn't really a splurge, only $4.
(all photos taken with Charlie's new Ipod touch, since it was the only camera in the house!)

I had to leave behind the fresh cranberries, and handmade soaps, and honey, and chocolates, and crusty bread.  I had to save something for my next trip....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

sushi, anyone?

It was 1990.  Mike and I were in Hawaii (oh, those were the days....) on the beach of Oahu.  We were attending an amazing dinner put on by his company, and I approached the sushi table.  Back then, you didn't find it in grocery stores, and very few restaurants served it.  So I tried it.  I wasn't quite sure if I liked it or not, I had never had seaweed before.

Fast forward to today, and you can buy sushi at SuperTarget.  Charlie loves it.  We often have it for dinner when Mike is not around.  So when I saw a Sushi class in the Community Education catalog, I had to sign up.
Tracy and I made our way up to Como Park High School last night, and spent 3 hours having fun.  Our instructor, Laurel Severson, was WONDERFUL.  The class of 8 prepared chicken, shrimp, crab, avocados, salmon, asparagus, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, Daikon radish, scallions, shitake mushrooms and eggs.  When everything was ready and beautifully presented on huge trays, we sat with our sushi mats and giant platters of specially prepared rice and went to town.  There was also pickled ginger, black and white toasted sesame seeds, caviar, wasabi, and soy sauce to add to the fun.

We each grabbed a sheet of Nori (roasted seaweed) and followed our instructors tips to make our own creations.  It was really fun to create our own combinations of flavors, and slice it up and present it.  It was DELICIOUS, I had to eat my first roll as all of that cooking made me hungry!  We all took home lots of sushi, Charlie can hardly wait to get to his lunch box today.
Are you looking to learn a new cuisine?

( I didn't bring my camera, these are pictures I found on-line.  Sushi is quite an artistic cuisine!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

happy birthday Charlie!

In the midst of the mess our house is in, old paint and used sandpaper and messy drop cloths everywhere-a birthday cake needs to be made!  Charlie has requested the Pastry Queen's Tuxedo cake.  I love that he has such good taste.  (here's a link to a web site that has posted it,  if you are intersted....)
Our  baby boy turns 14 today, and it hardly seems possible that fourteen years ago today we were patiently awaiting his arrival in a labor room in Burnsville.  He was overdue, and had to be induced, and even then he took his sweet time showing his face.
Fourteen years of giggles and questions and smiles and tears.  Chubby thighs to hairy legs.  A joyful little boy voice into a mature man-like timbre.
I cherish every single moment.  (okay, not EVERY single moment, but for sure all of the really good ones....)

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

our old house

Long time followers of my blog will know that Mike and I are mostly do-it-yourselfers.

When we wanted a new kitchen, we did it ourselves.  You may remember my kitchen chronicles from a few summers ago.  We painted our dining room, living room, and hallway about a year ago (or was it longer?)

This time, it's the exterior-a monumental job.

Our house was built in 1935, and still has most of it's original windows (six over six and four over fours) and cedar shake siding.   While I love the charm these features offer, they are a PAIN IN THE BUTT to maintain.
But maintain we must, and since the exterior was last painted the week after Charlie was born (FOURTEEN years ago) it was past time to tackle this project.
Mike started on the south side, since it was in the worst shape.  Scraping, sanding, sealing, priming, removing bird's nests from fan vents....
And then it was time to pick a color scheme.  Oh my, there are far too many choices!  And since I adore color, in all of it's variety, it was tough to decide.

When you live in the city, and have close neighbors, you need to choose something that fits in with the rest of your immediate area.  (Well, you don't NEED to, but I think it's the kind thing to do.  Which is why we vetoed Charlie's suggestion that we paint it navy blue.)
After much deliberation, sampling, and playing with color on-line, we made our decision.  For the main body of the house 'Classic Taupe'.  A bit darker than our current creamy color, but still neutral, and not a glaring change, so no need for multiple coats of paint.  For the trim, we are keeping our rust/terracotta color.  We added that accent to our house several years ago, all of our trim used to be a french blue, but one year I got the idea that we needed to add a little more zing to our house, so I went around and painted all of the outer trim, and our side door, a rich rust color that accents the brick on the front of our house, and seemed to work with the remaining blue trim and shutters.  Now all of the rust will get a clean fresh coat, the color which closely matched our existing trim was 'Firebrick'.

I felt it was time for a change from the blue, and after consulting my color wheel determined that we needed to find a green that would work.  Again, far too many choices, but we settled on 'Old Vine'.  Mike was skeptical, but as we are progressing on the project the color is growing on him (as well as seeping into his skin and fingernails...).
We have been blessed with amazing weather, with highs in the low 80's forecast for all of this week.  There have only been a couple of days in the last few weeks when Mike was unable to get out and work due to weather.  Please everyone cross your fingers that the weather will hold until we can finish!
The south side is mostly complete, we are just waiting on a new storm window for the living room to finish it off.  Mike is almost done with the front side that faces Hamline Avenue, now we can really see how the colors accent our brick, and fit in well with the giant pine trees in our front yard.
While Mike does the hard part, I have been painting storm windows in our back yard, scraping extra paint off of window glass, and painting trim.  With our style of window, it is far easier to paint over the glass and then remove it, rather than trying to tape off every individual pane of glass.  Mike has had to do a lot of reglazing of the windows and storms as he goes, he has become quite expert at it!  Music helps the job go better.
We are very pleased with our paint, Behr exterior.  We switched to Behr paints several years ago, the quality is exceptional and the colors are gorgeous.  This time around we selected the paint with primer, and I love it's consistency and coverage.  No, Behr didn't give me any paint to tell you that.  I wish!
So here is a before picture of the front, from a few weeks ago.  Can't wait to show you the AFTER!

And this is the side of our house, before....
I am currently on the hunt for some shutters to replace those on our office window (we had a busy woodpecker visit us this summer), the last time I needed to replace shutters I was able to find some at an antique shop.  I prefer older ones, rather than buying brand new, but so far have not found some that are the correct size.  I want old ones not only for their character, but for their price!  For the price of brand new wooden shutters, I could buy two new storm windows-and we need those far more.

So hopefully once the first snow flies our home will be done and ready for winter, and then we can find inside projects to tackle.  Shhhh-don't tell Mike I said that.

Do YOU do it yourself?  Do you do it because you enjoy it, or to save money?  Or are you lucky enough to have a big budget, and people?  Lately, I am wishing I had both of those things...

Monday, October 3, 2011

autumn walk

Grabbed my camera on Friday as I headed out for my walk:
Fall is slowing touching our world, in spots.
Gardens in fall:
(as you can see, STILL haven't harvested my basil...)

And I even planted some new pots to honor the season:
Supposed to be in the EIGHTIES all this week.  What the heck?  Awfully glad though, as we are in the midst of repainting the exterior of our house.  And THAT is a post for another day...


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