Sunday, December 18, 2011

Party Aftermath

Last night I hosted a Mad Men-themed Christmas get-together. Complete with fake cigarettes, Manhattans and a lot of pretty fabulous '60's fashions and hair styles! A good time was had by all, I think, as evidenced by the aftermath in my kitchen this morning. Sadly, my photographys kills are lacking, and very few of my photos came out well at all. Guess we'll just have to do it again next year!

In other news, the countdown is on for a White Christmas! Its most definitely not going to happen here in Virginia, but I've got my fingers crossed for Pittsburgh!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 10th Tree

The finished tree! I also managed to finish that tree skirt...
A paper village that I used to put together every year as a kid - my parents handed over to me this year!

As I was putting the last ornament on my tree this weekend, it suddenly occurred to me that this year marks the 10th time I've had my own Christmas tree in my own place. Yep, its been a whole decade since I dragged my grandmother's ancient artificial tree up all those stairs to my grad school apartment and decorated it with a grand total of 3 ornaments and a homemade paper garland. That kind of amazes me. Now, when I unpack all of the ornaments I've accumulated over that decade, I can remember each story and each occasion that goes with them - the tiny mittens that an old boss gave me, the glass candies acquired the day my cousin and I went shopping for my bridesmaid dress for her wedding, the miniature Congress Hall which was the hotel my grandmother worked at during the Depression. I love the process of decorating almost as much as the final product!

So, I think Christmas Tree 2011 is a suitable 10th Anniversary tree, too! Good shape, great smell, lots of good ornament-hanging branches... and lots of memories.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Goes Around...

Today, I bought a cloche. It will be my Christmas hat. I used to wear cloches quite often years back when they were in style - I don't wear hats very well, but cloches apparently are good for my head shape. Then cloches went out of style, or so I was told. I was very happy to hear that they are back in style this season!

Just a little something that made me smile on this extremely dreary day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Or, it would, if it weren't over 60 degrees outside. Its no secret, I'm a bit of a Christmas fanatic, but I must admit this warm weather is dampening my seasonal spirit just a bit. I'm pushing through, though! This weekend, I finished a felt wreath that I started at a recent crafting get-together and hung it up on the front door. It looks pretty awesome on the newly painted blue door, and I love that whenever I open the door I hear jingle bells!

I also brought the boxes of Christmas decor down from the attic, and as the coming week progresses, I hope to get most of the decorations up in the house. And then next weekend - THE TREE! I always get a little pint of egg nog to have on hand for the evening I finish decorating the tree. After I get the last ornament on, I pour myself a little glass, turn the tree lights on and listen to carols in the soft glow for a while. Its impossible not to be in the spirit at that point. My own little tradition that works like a charm every year!

Jingles everyone!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rare Occurrence

I'm not going to lie - mushroom risotto and roasted broccoli might be one of the most un-photogenic meals known to mankind. But, I made this risotto and broccoli, and it was pretty darn good! So, G (who helped me eat said risotto) thought it was worth a blog post. Well, here you go! Its a rare, rare occurrence that I either a) cook, or b) cook something well. Enjoy it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The new fridge, which makes the old stove and range hood look pretty bad. never ends!

After two years of intentionally trying to get my old refrigerator (and by old, I mean ancient) to die, it finally did last weekend. I used to kick it, shove hot food into it, never vacuumed the coils, just generally abused the thing in the hopes that it would give up and I could get a new machine. Well, apparently they made refrigerators to survive the apocolypse back in the early 1970's, and the old girl just kept on truckin'. Until last weekend, that is. Naturally, when the fridge decided to give up the ghost, it would be while I was out of town and had left two full bags of ice in the freezer, leftover from a summer cook-out. So, I came home about midnight last Sunday to find about an inch of water allover the kitchen floor, and a fridge full of defrosted meats and spoiled foods. It was nasty to say the least. So after a couple of hours cleaning it all up, I went to bed, consoled with thoughts of shopping for a new refrigerator.

And shop I did! The next evening I went to just abought every appliance store in the area. It was exhausting, but I learned the hard way back when I bought my washer and dryer that you really should never purchase appliances on-line. In the end, I got a fridge at Lowe's. Shocker. The price was the best, and they do free delivery and haul away of the old fridge. Unfortunately, Lowe's customer service leaves a bit to be desired. The fridge was suppsoed to be delivered the next day. After 2 additional days, no less than 6 phone calls, and one late night trip to Lowe's to physically show them what fridge I had ordered (yeah, seriously), it finally showed up late in the afternoon on Thursday. And its a beauty!! It makes my kitchen look better...and really makes me want to get started on that kitchen remodel that I've been mentally planning for 2 years.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Royal Treatment

I call this one "Blue Door with Cat"

Paint samples in the summer-long testing phase.

From left to right, they are Indigo Streamer, Royal Navy, Blue Coal and Twilight Purple. And yes, I am aware that in this picture they look like the exact same color.

After literally an entire summer of debating over color choice, I finally re-painted my front door this weekend. I finally selected a color called Royal Navy (I was somewhat bummed that it didn't have a more inventive name, but what are you gonna do?). It took a lot longer than I actually thought it would (turns out there actually is a bit of a method to painting a panelled door, FYI) and I might still have another step in the process (the addition of a coat of super-shiny polyurethane to make the door look very House Beautiful), but all in all I'm pretty happy with it! Now I have two more doors to paint before winter sets in. Anyone wanna lay bets on whether I'm actually going to get it done??

Monday, October 10, 2011


An original water fountain, installed in the 1950's.

After many years of kicking myself for never taking in the fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park, I finally got to check it off the list this past weekend. The parents were visiting, so we drove up to the mountains and drove the central section of Skyline Drive, stopping to do a couple of the short hiking trails and take lost of pictures at the waysides. The leaves haven't completely changed, but there was a lot more color than what seems to show up in these pictures.

We also stopped for lunch at Skylands Resort, one of those old-school national park hotels, with a lodge and cabins and everything. The food was kind of amazing, and the view from the dining room was spectacular. I had to take a picture of the drink menu - thought G and the beau might be interested! The national parks are celebrating their 75th anniversary, so EVERYTHING is Great Depression-themed up in Shenandoah - kitschy, but in a Great American Road Trip kind of way.

Next time, I'm taking a horseback trail ride. I used to do that kind of thing all the time back home, and seeing all the horseback riders in the mountains this weekend made me miss it. What a way to see all that scenery!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Win Some...Lose Some

Wins for the Summer of 2011:

7 radishes

2 heads of broccoli

1 fig

3 pumpkins

Losses for the Summer of 2011:

1 ornamental cherry tree

3 peppers (crushed under afore-mentioned cherry tree)

3 bags of zinnia seeds (not a single plant appeared after planting)

All in all, I'm going to call it a draw!

Friday, August 26, 2011

And then...

Yep, this photo pretty much sums up the week I've had. About an hour ago, B. called me to get the lowdown on what exactly has been going on this week, and after nearly half an hour of discussion, I realized that I had said, "And then...!" about 17 times. See, last weekend, the family left for our usual week at the beach in North Carolina. We should have known it was going to be an ill-fated trip when my parents arrived at my house the night before departure and we realized that we were woefully under-coordinated this year. Usually, with a family as big and shall we say boisterous, as mine, all en masse travels are planned with military precision. Its really the only way we can survive. Well, somehow this year we all kinda fell down on the job when it came to our pre-trip military maneuvers. Bed linens? Forgotten. Pre-baked, frozen casseroles? Only 2 for 7 nights. Who bought the various soaps - hand, shower, laundry? Uh, no one. We did, however, remember all of our assorted alcohols, so we decided to forge ahead despite the bad omens.

Now, I'm going to take a serious turn here for a moment. Because what happened on our first night at the beach was really not funny in any way. In fact, it was truly one of the most awful things I've ever witnessed. My dad and I decided to take an evening stroll down on the beach after we unloaded the car. It started out lovely, but within minutes had turned into a terrifying situation. A family had gotten themselves stuck in a massive rip-tide just off-shore, and before I knew it, my dad and I were involved in a full-scale rescue operation. We tried and tried and tried, but the waves and currents were just too ferocious to get everyone. In the end, a grandfather died there on the beach, and I was holding his face in my hands when it happened. I now know his name was John. And he was from Vermont. And that's all I'm going to say about it.

What followed was a really surreal week. Obviously a strange pallor had kind of fallen over everything we did, and honestly none of us had our hearts in vacation anymore. That's when the crazies started showing up. First, we felt an earthquake. A little investigation via Facebook and I discovered that EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE had felt the earthquake, and low and behold its epicenter wasn't too terribly far from my house. A flurry of calls and messages ensued, and luckily none of our respective friends/properties/places of employment had been significantly damaged, although there were a whole lotta freaked out pets. So, we get through the earthquake and suddenly there's this hurricane named Irene barreling down on the Carolina coast like its got it in for us personally. I'm not kidding - our annual rental beach house is literally the highest point on our particular barrier island of choice. So after a couple of tense days of watching weather reports, the Carolina coast was officially ordered to evacuate. We had exactly 1 hour to get ourselves packed and off the island. I've never seen such chaos - both in our house and around all the other houses in the neighborhood. During the rush to get things thrown into the cars, one of my nephews decided it would be a great idea to lacerate his foot and bleed allover the deck without telling anyone. My brother-in-law discovered him, and I spent some time trying to bandage hime up - luckily, it didn't look too serious, but man, was there a lot of blood. So, that little episode behind us, we all jumped in our cars and took off for the highway...where we sat and sat and sat and sat with all the other 3 million tourists trying to evacuate. The Outer Banks are great and all, but their one major drawback is that there are only like 3 bridges to connect them to the mainland. Not really a problem until EVERYONE has to cross them at the same time. Nevertheless, we made it out of hurricane territory and arrived at my house late at night.

Upon our arrival, we noticed a ton of debris and downed trees allover my neighborhood. Turns out a big storm, completely unrelated to the impending hurricane, had swept through and we didn't have any electricity. We took showers, in the dark, and went to bed. This morning, however, I happened to look out my kitchen window and see one of my backyard trees lying across the yard. Half of it was resting on another tree and half of it had taken out the neighbor's fence. A groundhog sat in front of it blissfully eating the downed foliage. And that's when I started laughing. Laughing in that high-pitched, kind of hysterical way that usually signals a major breakdown is coming. But I didn't completely lose it, because believe it or not there is actually a bright side to all of this. I don't have to clean up that tree or any of the debris in my yard!! You know why? Because that pesky Irene is still headed my way!!! So, she's probably just going to cause more damage and knock more crap down, so why bother cleaning up now, right?

Yeah, it was one bizarre week. The way it began seems like a million years ago, and in someways it feels like it happened to someone else, but it didn't. That one might take some time to get over. As my mom pointed out in the midst of all our issues this week, maybe life is just throwing so many crazy things in our paths right now because we're not ready to focus on the other stuff yet. Maybe she's right. All I know is I need a nap.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yellow Lamp with Bird

I recently deviated from my signature decorating color scheme (i.e. a red accessory is a good accessory) and purchased this brilliant yellow-shaded lamp, which also features a cute little wrought iron bird perched on the base. Its quite adorable and adds a nice pop to my living room (which some may argue did not really need a pop at all - note the green walls and crazy patterned curtains). Many thanks to G for being decisive when I was waffling on the purchase and encouraging me to plunk down the money for it - you were right, G! I know you're feeling a bit sluggish lately, so I hope this little yellow lamp makes you smile!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Coming Out of Retirement

Sammy and I spent considerable time looking out the front window. That kid loves him some trees.

So, its been a while. Just shy of a year, as a matter of fact! Why did I go into blogging-retirement, you ask? I honestly don't know. A personal funk, of sorts, I guess. I just didn't have anything to say there for a while. And once I had something to say, I was out of the habit, and etc. etc. etc. But, things have transpired recently to get me off my butt and back into the blogosphere. My friend L (who has created one of the most enjoyable blogs ever!) is leaving today for a cross-country move with her son and husband to their new home in El Paso. As a bit of a good-bye gift, L created the new header at the top of my blog for me, with the caviate that I had to start blogging again (I guess the poor girl felt she would miss my witty banter on her 6-day drive to Texas!). So, here it is, L! My gift to you! I don't know if you'll notice this for a while, but when you do, just know that I'm thinking about you and Sammy and Sandy and Jim. In the meantime, here's a few pics my day of baby-sitting Sammy during the packing phase.

Sammy did a lot of dancing that day, but every time I turned the camera on he stoppes. This is the best effort - his interpretation of 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. Also, notice my lightening-quick reflexes at the end.