Merry & Bright

It seems like I've been "on hold" for this book almost forever! The editors have outdone themselves on this one; it's filled with wonderful ideas for Christmas decorating...301 ideas, to be exact. The colors and themes used throughout the book are so appealing...wish I could just twitch my nose and have everything decorated. Wouldn't that be oh-so-cool?

Coming Next Week @ The Inspired Room...

Just a quick little post to start the morning. Be sure to visit Melissa at The Inspired Room beginning Monday. She has quite the week-long party lined up, featuring a kick-off by McMasters & Storm. If you missed her last party, you won't want to miss this one!


Favorite things

Oprah has her list of favorite things and so do I. My listing is not as costly as hers, but all are satisfying on a certain level. Great stocking stuffers and/or a nice treat for yourself.
Clinique Color Surge Shea Butter lipsticks...sheer, soft, and smooth.

Johnson & Johnson Melt Stress Away products...moisture wash, massaging moisture, and body lotion. Soothing, and a nice, clean fragrance.
Stonewall Farms Republic of Tea Hot Apple Cider Tea Jam. So good on cinnamon scones.
Republic of Tea Hot Apple Cider...delicious on these cooler days. The aroma is wonderful.

The fragrant indoor garden...

Photo from Whiteflower Farm

Today is a good day to start forcing bulbs for holiday bloom. Narcissus, or paperwhites are truly the easiest and quickest bulbs to force. They grow so fast and bloom so quickly...if only the scent was a bit better! I have groupings of bulbs in various containers; most of the bulbs are anchored by pea-gravel instead of soil. About every 2 weeks, I start a new container so there are continual blooms throughout the holiday season. I noticed several boxes (now reduced in price) at Sam's Club last week...a huge savings over the kits you can buy at Target from their Smith & Hawkin collection.


Needed: more greenery! My plan this morning is to go out with my cutters and take some cuttings from evergreens (next door...don't tell!!). My entryway needs a bit more green to layer at the base of my Santas and snowmen. Many more Santas need to come out and play...it's just finding the right place for them. It's finally a nice sunny (but cold) day here. Yesterday was just downright nasty with rain, gloom, and wind. The sun makes such a difference!

Just one more class to go for this semester--of course a paper is due on Monday--and there are no more weekly quizzes! A first for this semester. No reading assignment, either. Seems we just have to show up and turn in the paper. I'm really looking forward to the semester break, but even more...looking forward to graduation in May.


More Decorating....

I love using this book as inspiration for holiday decorating. It's filled with vignettes, beautifully decorated trees, and wonderful ideas. Later this week, I want to visit one of the stationery stores...I don't think they're open today...to purchase some fancy cocktail napkins to embellish some smaller ornaments. I think the Caspari brand of papergoods has the toile pattern. A friend is hosting what is to become a monthly crafting get together this Thursday, so that might be my project...even though knitting is easier to drag along!


Toile Ornaments

Photo and Directions from BHG.com
While catching up on blogfriend visits this morning, I came across this easy (sounding, anyway) ornament project. I really like toile...even though I'm going for the pastel look this Christmas, they would be great package tie-ons, and I'm sure I can find a way to incorporate toile into my holiday decorating...the red and white would be great around Valentine's Day, too.

Here are the directions, as found on the Better Homes & Gardens website:

  • A piece of toile pattern trimmed from a dinner napkin and decoupaged onto a basic ball becomes an elegant ornament.

    What You Need
    Round ornaments
    Red and white spray paint
    Medium-size drinking cups with 3-inch-diameter openings
    Toile napkins
    Flat artist's brush
    Decoupage medium

    How to Make It
    1. Remove the ornament tops and spray-paint some with red, others with white.
    2. To steady the ornaments, place them top side down into the cups.
    3. Cut out images from the napkins and lay them right side down into the palm of your hand.
    4. Brush a thin coat of decoupage medium on the image, and carefully press it onto the ornament, smoothing wrinkles.
    5. Allow ornaments to thoroughly dry in the cups.
    6. Replace the painted ornament tops.


Black Friday

This Christmas tree is located in our library lobby. I've pulled out lots of holiday decorations in the past few days when I haven't been cooking...it's definitely going to be a more scaled-down look. If I can force myself, I'd like to visit Target this afternoon...they usually have rosemary topiaries and Christmas trees. I'd like one for one of the mantles, and perhaps a Norfolk Island pine. I have lots of little Christmas trees...various sizes...and I think I'll use them throughout the house instead of putting up one huge artificial tree. I'm still lovin' the idea of turquoise, pink & silver...lighter and airier.
I'm already tired of the holiday ads...big sales if you want to get up and shop at 4AM. I'm feeling more of a handmade Christmas coming on...that way, crowds can be avoided and frustrations can be minimal.


Four Things Tag...

I was tagged by Melissa @ The Inspired Room to play this game...she called it Four Things I'd Rather Do Than Paint My Bathroom Cabinet. I would have to say that I also hate to paint. It makes such a drastic improvement (unless you're really a sloppy painter like me), and it's the most cost-effective way to make a change...especially if you use "Whoops!" paint from Lowes or Home Depot. I've been rather busy the past few days preparing for Thanksgiving guests...cleaning, rearranging, shopping for groceries, planning...the whole deal, so I'm calling my tag Four Things I'd Rather Be Doing Than Being in Extreme Planning Hysteria. Here goes, starting with the basic rules of the game...

Four Jobs I Have Had:

  • Office Co-ordinator for a major commercial food equipment manufacturer

  • Food & Beverage Manager for a hotel

  • Clerk in an old-timey country store

  • Library clerk and college student (current)

Four Places I Have Lived:

  • Ohio
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Pompano Beach, Florida
  • Indiana

    Four Places I Have Been on Holiday:

  • Montreal
  • Virginia Beach
  • Key West
  • Phoenix

Four Favorite Foods:

  • Breaded Tenderloin sandwiches from Gerst Haus
  • Progresso Hearty Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • "All American" pot roast, mashed potatoes & gravy
  • Almost any Mexican food

And finally,

Four Places I'd Rather Be

  • Sitting on the porch, (someplace spring-like or autumn-like) with a stack of magazines beside me, a pitcher of iced tea at hand, relaxing.

  • Key West...in a beach bar with friends watching the sunset

  • Italy...anywhere in Italy

  • Home...there's no place like it!

I would like to tag:

Bristol from Cottage By the River

BJ from Sweet Nothings

Kathy from Shocking Pink Thread

Rosie's Whimsy


Time to "catch" the turkey...

Thank goodness I don't have to chase a turkey (and do unkind things to it...like chopping off his head!!). I just have to fight the usual supermarket crowd and pick out an anonymous looking frozen bird and let it thaw. After the thaw, my turkey will be spending a day soaking in cider brining spices from Williams-Sonoma. This stuff has a wonderful aroma...smells like Thanksgiving!!


Glitter Cottage

The glitter neighborhood has been started on the mantle, courtesy of a birthday gift from my friend Carol. Like all new developments, the landscaping and other amenities are not complete. This inspires me to start a little glitter construction very soon so the neighborhood can grow...I love this cottage!


Beautiful color, nice bouquet...good company

A good friend stopped by this afternoon with a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau...and a wonderful birthday gift. We discovered that there were no wine tastings in town this evening...not a lot of drinkable BN was delivered to the area. We enjoyed our bottle of wine and had a nice chat. It's good to catch up with friends.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day...

So...today's the day the Beaujolais Nouveau arrives. Will it be nasty, or just a kicked-up grape juice? According to Wine Weekly:

How is this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau?
Vignerons in Beaujolais report that the 2007 vintage will offer full ripe fruit and a round body and will be the best Nouveau in several years. Of course, wine producers will always promote a new wine positively, but I think we can trust that 2007 Nouveau will be fresh, ripe, and fruity. We’ll know for sure in just a few days.

A friend and I will be going out sampling this evening...should be fun!



Yesterday was kind of a low-key day...I met friends for lunch, went to work for a while--still counting the hours until my Wednesday through Sunday stretch of time off--and came home to a very quiet house. It was a nice, mellow day to celebrate my birthday. Now it's time to rev up and get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday only a week away. I think I finally have all of my Halloween items put away, but you never know...there could be something tucked away that I won't find until it's time to put out the Santas and snowmen!

I put my desktop computer away several months ago...I stopped using it when I got a laptop so I didn't see the need to have it take up space in the corner of the diningroom. Well...I decided I really needed to get the scanner out. I used to scan magazine articles and the like, and I do miss the functionality of that. It would also be nice to scan a really cute little ornament-studded Christmas tree I want to attempt to make...it's featured in Country Living Handmade Christmas. So cute and it would really look great on the mantle. I'm just having a little problem locating the cords/wires needed to connect it to my laptop. "Treasure Hunting"...here I come!


Rainy Tuesday

It's a rainy day here...wish we could have had some of this last summer. I'm on a countdown today until I have a big stretch of time off...originally I was going to go visit a friend who moved to the Chicago area recently. Due to a few weird circumstances, that isn't happening. The plan now is to do a little redecorating around the nest, make some of those glittery little houses and churches, and start quilting a long-put away quilt top. I'm looking forward to my parents coming here next week for a little stay. It's been a little over a year since they've been here, so there's lots to do in anticipation of the visit.


Veteran's Day

Image from Google images

Even though the actual Veteran's Day was yesterday, today is the "official holiday." No mail, no bank, and in many cases, no school. That means the library will be a hopping place today.

People who serve...they're a good thing.


One Holiday At a Time...

Image from Romantic Homes, December 2006

My heart and my head know that it's not time to start decorating for Christmas, but yesterday while I was out shopping what did I buy? Ornaments...pink, turquoise, and silver for a frou-frou glittery Christmas. I've pulled out my little bottlebrush trees...thinking they need a coat of glitter...

For the longest time (decades) I loved the Primitive look; now I find myself drawn to the light...glitzy, shiny things. It's a welcome change.


It's a day off!!

I have to work all weekend, so today's my day off. I'm going to work on a few ideas for holiday gifts, shop for groceries, and maybe go to a little fabric shop out in the country if today's one of their "open" days. I would like to find some Amy Butler fabric in anticipation of getting my patchwork book from Amazon. I already have Amy Butler In Stitches and there are a few cute, quick ideas for gifts in it.

My big project after work yesterday was programming my thermostat. When I walked into the house after work, it was 55 degrees. I always have the countdown 'til turning on the heat...as I get older, it gets earlier. I usually like to hold out until Thanksgiving (especially if I have company!!), but I had to do it yesterday...so sad...


Do you know about BLACKLE?

Blackle is an energy saving version of Google. Check it out by clicking here.

New Books

Last night I ordered these two books from Amazon. Vintage Christmas Crafts by Sara Toliver has really cute, really easy designs. We have it in our library system, but unfortunately it has been marked "missing." I remember looking at it last year...it has those cute little sparkly houses and churches in it and for some reason, I have the urge to decorate that way this year...sparkly frou-frou. Last-Minute Patchwork Gifts is by the author of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and I really love that knitting book. Both books have projects divided down into the time it takes to create. While I don't really like to be under a time-limit when I create, it's nice to have a basic time-frame. Can't wait to get these books!


Another Recipe...

My daughter loves Buffalo Chicken...not hot wings or anything like that, but if there's a hot 'n spicy chicken sandwich on any menu, that's what she'll go for. I've done my share of trying to "do it myself", but until this recipe came along, I was a failure. A friend pointed it out in a recent magazine...Kentucky Monthly. Here it is...Buffalo Chicken Dip

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 bottle Tabasco sauce (the smallish one)
2 8 oz. pks. cream cheese
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup Ranch (or Bleu Cheese) dressing.

Shred the chicken, pour the Tabasco over it and let it marinate. Mix in the softened cream cheese, the shredded cheese, celery, and the dressing. Mix together and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with Frito Big Dippers or other corn chips.

It seems like every recipe I come across is loaded with fat...but this is so good. Walk extra, do more stretches...anything to compensate for the calories in this dip! It's that good.


A Happy Miscellany

I received my Happy Miscellany Swap package from Kathy yesterday and all I can say is "Wow!" She sent quite an assortment of goodies as you can see... (click on photos to enlarge)

A beautiful vintage quilt square, paper treats, jewelry findings, a rubber stamp, doilies, a beautiful crocheted vintage heart in a silvery dish, candles, a journal, a little book from Tracey Porter...

buttons, ribbons, lace, and vintage rick rack...
and a piece of tapestry fabric that is almost like my blog banner. Truly a happy miscellany.

Thank you, Kathy...I really appreciate everything!

Two weeks and two days...

Once again, I'm amazed at how fast time is flying by. Now that we've "fallen back" to regular old Central Time, it seems that all I do is go to work, go to school, go to bed...it's hard to get motivated to do anything productive when it's dark and dreary (and cold!) when I get home from work. It's so easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing during the week and that's not good. I've made my shopping list for Thanksgiving Dinner (thank you so much, Williams-Sonoma!!), and I have a few recipes pulled for utilizing turkey leftovers (turkey tettrazzini comes to mind), but there are a few more meals to prepare for company over the holidays. I have my pile of magazines and cookbooks by my chair, so I'm combing through them for some new ideas. The planning is always more fun than doing...


Pay It Forward Craft Exchange

Photo from Crabapple Hill Studio

I've been reading about this Pay It Forward exchange on a few blogs, so when I read about it on Mary's Little Red House blog I decided to sign up. Here's the deal:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. If anyone is interested in joining in, I will send a handmade gift to the first three to leave a comment with their promise to pay it forward.

Please, please, please...will three people sign up to play? The first 3 commenters who commit to joining in on the Pay It Forward exchange will receive a handmade gift from me. It won't take 365 days as the rules state, and I'm not sure what the gift will be (I dabble in many crafts).

Garden Remnants

Trimmed Lavender

The Basil Barrel

Sage and Miniature Rose
Until yesterday afternoon, I hadn't visited my little backyard for a few weeks. It just hadn't been a "destination" for several weeks...due to the high temperatures and lack of rain we had, my plantings weren't looking too good...and it was just too hard to fit in watering and plant care. This happens almost every year, but the spring is so full of promise...and I love to plant herbs and flowers. We've had a few very cold mornings this week...frost in some areas...but in this little microclimate near the river, look what survived and thrived...sweet basil! I'm going to cut back this forest in a barrel and make some pesto to freeze. The picture of the sage and rose...I should be ashamed; the rose was a goner, as was the sage. It fried to a crisp in the hot summer sun, so I dumped it in a little compost pile at the side of the house. Looks kinda nice now though!


A Recipe...

Photo from Williams-Sonoma

Perfect for holiday snacking and hostess gift-giving.

Spiced Rosemary Nuts
The combination of rosemary, cumin and cayenne pepper lends an irresistible flavor to toasted nuts. Pack these savory gifts in small decorative tins or in cellophane bags tied with a ribbon.

2 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts such as pecans, walnuts and peanuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. sugar1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat an oven to 300°F. Place the nuts in a bowl. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rosemary and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour the seasoned oil over the nuts. Add the sugar, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne and stir to coat the nuts evenly. Transfer the nuts to a baking pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely. Store the nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

The French-Inspired Satellite Party

Photo taken "at the party" via Southern Accents Design Assistant via Cottage Living online

Visit The Inspired Room this weekend; Melissa is having a blow-out party to celebrate her 100th post, and is teaming up with The Blissful for a wonderful giveaway. Holiday recipes, decorations, and hostess gifting ideas abound. Join in the fun!



Long week, probably short weekend. At least I know for sure we'll get 1 extra hour...even though it will be very dark, very early. The sun is supposed to be shining all weekend, so it will be a good chance to do a little more yard cleanup for fall. I need to dig up the amaryllis bulbs and plant them in pots for forcing, and plant the tulips in pots to overwinter on the back porch...maybe fix a pot of chili and watch Ohio State football. Sounds like a plan...


Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

I've been looking through the Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Entertaining book from a few years ago. It has beautiful table scapes and wonderful looking food. Thought I'd check their website to see if they had a newer holiday book. Click this link to be taken to their downloadable PDF file for Thanksgiving Ideas for 2007. Great recipes...free! Now that's what I like!

A New Book Recommendation...

I have just finished reading this book...a fairly quick read, very reminiscent of Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. After spending the past weekend with the classics for school, this was a pleasant "mind cleanser". I have a few more "must-reads" on my list to tackle before the weekend. It should be a pretty light weekend for schoolwork...we're on Ibsen's A Doll's House, easy to read and understand with (and this is important...NO footnotes!). On the "leisure" list...Patricia Cornwell's latest, Book of the Dead, and Keeping the House, a first novel by Ellen Baker.