Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Decorating with Patience

Before I start blogging,  I want apologize for the crappy pics.  The lighting has just been wrong several days in a row and I'm really not very good at editing pics.

Like so many people, I enjoy decorating my home without spending a fortune. Unlike many, I'm willing to wait as long as it takes to find what I'm looking for at second hand shops. I can handle bare walls. 

So far, I've been pretty successful find exactly what I wanted. All I need is a little patience. I routinely scrounge through our local Goodwill, or browse Craigslist postings for inexpensive items. Thankfully, my decor taste is pretty casual. I like cozy, comfy and little country. All of which is easily found at second-hand shops given enough time and elbow grease.

Take our dinning room for example. Almost everything in this room is second-hand. The table and chairs belonged to my grandmother. The gorgeous dresser I use for linens is another family heirloom. The colorful quilt came from a vintage dealer found on Etsy.com. Oh, how I love Etsy. I searched high and low for an old quilt until I found this funky, colorful quilt that is just right. After I found the quilt, I was stuck. Do you have any idea how much a quilt rack costs? Well, let's just say it's more than I paid for for the quilt. So, the quilt was displayed on the table for a few months while I searched Goodwill, Ebay and Craigslist. In the mean time, my wall remained blank. It had been blank since we moved into the house-so no big deal.

On my trip to Goodwill last Saturday, I came across a wooden shelf with dowel. The shelf looked abused and dull. It also had a heart shape cut out of the top of the shelf. I'm not a fan of hearts. However, I quickly realized that the shelf was also a plate rack. Any plate displayed would cover up the heart cutout. And the shelf was the perfect size. And it was only $5.00. All it needed was a little paint, so I bought the shelf.

Once home, I wiped off the shelf. Hmmm. It wasn't as dull and ugly as I originally thought-just dusty. So, I grabbed some dark wood furniture polish and polished the shelf. Wow! What a difference! The shelf look great. After that, I just screwed it into the well, added plates and quilt and stood back to admire the decor. I love it! And it only took 4.5 years to do!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ten Years Later

Friday, July 17th marked my 10 year wedding anniversary. Wow, did the time pass quickly! With my wonderful husband still deployed, I had to celebrate with just the kids. Here's how I spent my day.
1. I went to work and left an hour early-Woo Hoo!
2. Went to the market
3. Received a gorgous boquet of orange roses and a thoughtful card from my husband
3. Made The Best Chocolate Cake EVER with my son
4. Picked a bunch of veggies and herbs out of the garden to make this yummy ratatouille recipe
5. Took a walk with the kids
6. Straighted the house
7. Started my new crochet project from the alpaca yarn my sis gave me for Christmas

We've come a long way in 10 years. From a day of partying with 80 of our family and friends to a quiet evening at home with the kids and Hubby on the other side of the world. I sure hope the next ten years brings us as much joy as the first. Hopefully, we'll get to see each other more too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Family Who Gardens Together

Almost daily, the kids and I pick a small bucket of produce from our back yard. The kids love it.

To the right, you'll see my kids' wheel barrel full of our harvest from today. Gardening had been such a great learning experience for them. I believe it's one of the best life lessons and experiences we have given them so far.

Lessons the kids have learned from our family garden:
1. So, that's where our food comes from! Whenever I need a smoothie or salad ingredient, I send the kids into the back yard to grab a handful of food. They actually see how the food gets to our family dinner table.
2. Patience and hard work yields rewards! My son has his own strawberry garden. He is responsible for planting, weeding, watering and eating of his garden. He also helps with our larger family garden. And he does a great job! Unfortunately, he also learned that sometimes, our best efforts aren't always enough. His strawberry plants produced very few berried this year.
3. Families work well together. At least one evening a week, the kids and I weed the vegetable garden beds. By combining our efforts, not only is the task done quicker, but it's more fun!

I really hope that I have instilled the appreciation, if not love of growing things in each of my children.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Also commonly called snowball bushes, hydrangeas are gorgeous flowering bushes that produce blue, pink, purple, white and/or green flowers. Furthermore, one can often change the color of the flower by changing the ph balance of the soil. These bushes grow quickly and can tolerate my less than sunny front yard. My only problem with them is that they are just plain ugly in the winter. By November, all that is left of the bush is dried twigs. I prefer to plant evergreen bushes in the garden so the garden looks good even in the winter. Hydrangeas are my one exception.


Hydrangeas make gorgeous bouquets. I love fresh cut flowers in the house. However, fresh flowers are expensive, so I often go without. Since we have such a nice hydrangea bush, I get fresh cut flowers for almost 6 weeks for the house. The best part? They're FREE!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I made some super yummy strawberry freezer jam this week. Strawberries are in season. Consequently, strawberry jam is cheap to make right now. And it's simple too! I mixed 1 packet of freezer jam pectin, 4 cups of crushed strawberries and 1.5 cups of sugar and poured them into freezer jars. Then, I waited 30 minutes for the jam to set. We left one out to eat with homemade bread and put the other jar in the freezer. I highly recommend anyone try this easy, delicious recipe.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

First Harvest of 2009

Last Saturday marked the first day I pulled something out of our vegetable garden.  It's not a lot, two zucchinis, 5 peppers and a handful of raspberries, but that very first harvest of the season, is always so thrilling.  This is the first year I planned, planted, and cared for the garden without my hubby.  My kids occasionally pitched in and helped weed.  Well, as much as a 6 and 2 year old could anyway.  I can't help but be proud.  Proud of what I grew using my own two hands.  Of what I was able to show my children.      

I have picked vegetables and/or berries every day this week  since.  But, unlike so many people who plant vegetable gardens now days, I don't do it to save money on groceries, or even for health reasons.    Heck, I usually give half of our produce away to friends, family and neighbors.  Don't get me wrong, I do like that we save money and I make a conscience effort to eat healthy.  However, these are not my reasons for planting a vegetable garden.  I find gardening both fulfilling and peaceful.  Gardening meets my urge to create something useful with my own two hands.    The slow and steadiness required to plan and maintain a garden teaches me patience and to enjoy the rich soil and green plants.  For me, gardening is meditative.