Craving Spring

First of all, I apologize for the blurry picture. It can be seen in a much better format in Shades of Country by Chippy Irvine. While at work yesterday, I came across this book again. I've checked it out several times--enough that I should probably order it--and the book flipped open to this page...the simple beauty of an old set of stairs propped up against a back door just got to me. I want to do this as soon as weather permits...perhaps I should start looking for discarded wooden stairs somewhere. Not in the next few days though...the weather mavens are predicting the fabulous combo of rain/sleet/ice/snow for our area today and tomorrow. That's forced a cancellation of BUNCO this evening at one of the best cooks in the group's home. I guess it will be a quiet evening at home, looking at seed and garden catalogs, and wishing for Spring.


Nothing like a hot cup of coffee

We had a wild and weird weather day here yesterday; warmish, moderate temperatures until the big fast moving cold front blew through. Very, very windy...and the temperature dropped from 59 to 22 in a matter of minutes following our tornado warning/high wind event. After a little quality time in the stairwell (safe area) with co-workers, we resumed our evening of work at the library. With howling winds all night long, what did I look forward to? A steamy, hot cup of coffee in my favorite trigger handled Bennington mug. Wish I had a Luke's Diner to go to on my way to work this morning---guess I'll just have to settle for a delicious home brew.


Life is just a ...

Bowl of cherries...
or a platter of pomegranates...

I don't know what rock I've been hiding under, but I just realized yesterday that Super Bowl is this Sunday. Like I've said...not a sports person. I'm one of those spectators who watch the game for the commercials. Big creativity.
I'm peeved at our local PBS affiliate...their fundraising interfered with Jane Austen (how dare they?). I knew I wouldn't be able to watch Mansfield Park this week, so I set the VCR to record it --when I sat down to watch it after school last night (avoiding the State of the Union--we know what state it's in) what do I see? Fundraising and Wayne Dyer. Grrr. No offense, Dr. Dyer...I just wanted to see the kinder and gentler Austen series. Not happy...


Getting Ready for the Work/School Week

I spent a little time at the desk today, getting ready for work and school this week. The desktop is a catch-all, as it is located in the entryway to my house. The top is usually piled high with junk mail awaiting the shredder.
I managed to get it cleared off just in time to do a friend's taxes this afternoon. I did mine in my "comfortable" chair, laptop on my lapdesk...but thought I'd look a little more like I knew what I was doing if I moved the laptop to my actual desk.
After the tax filing...and e-file is such a blessing...I wrote out a check (pretty much of a foreign thing to me~~I love e-banking and e-commerce) to Tina at Cherry Hill Cottage to pay for the cheeseball pedestal pictured above. Isn't it cute?
After that I went on-line to purchase Wriskeys; one for me, one for my daughter (her pattern is pictured above). The Wriskey website just went online today...really cute stuff.

School stuff is ready, my purse had been "repacked" for the week...I'm ready (not really).

Sunday Roundup

Time for another collage featuring Romance...pictures from unknown sources, Crabapple Hill Studios, Country Home, and my pictures.

"We all have our best guides within us, if only we would listen."— Fanny Price in Mansfield Park


Saturday--Basketball, Papier Mache', and more Young Henry

Ms. Postalperson just delivered a book order from Amazon...I've looked through Papier-mache' Treasures before, and knew it was one I had to have. Teena Flanner has provided the ultimate guide to making vintagey papier mache' objects...all of the holidays are covered in depth with plain and simple instructions for obtaining the vintage "look". I've moulded papier mache' before, and have done some prep work with it, but the finished product has always seemed out of reach to me--this book solves the problem! It's beautiful and so informative.
My other purchase--Knitting Little Luxuries from Interweave Press. Interweave always puts out a quality product. The designs in this little book are wonderful...a Juliet scarf and brooch with one skein of angora...so beautiful! The pattern is one I'd have to pay particular attention to, but the end product would be well worth the process.

Last night my friend Beth came over for more Tudor "action". More Glogg was served...it's become quite the winter warmer-upper...and we watched three more episodes of The Tudors.

Today brings a double header basketball game--UE Lady Aces, followed by the Men's UE Aces--with proceeds going for breast cancer research. I'll be attending with a friend and her husband--both are die-hard Aces fans. Should be interesting, especially since I'm not a "sports" person. The company will be excellent though, and it's for a great cause.


A gift in the mail, and sewing projects

I received a giveaway from Teresa at French Poppy Greetings yesterday. She included a wall calendar, a beautiful greeting card, and a key tag...her artwork is so beautiful...with a French touch...later today I'm going to cover this corkboard with some toile, glue buttons on my clear tacks, and voila...a new home for the calendar! Thank you so much, Teresa!
The above and following pictures are from Sew Pretty Homestyle, by Tone Finnanger. The colors used in the projects are exceptionally appealing, especially this time of year in the midwest. Anticipating Spring...
I love these pears...so fresh looking.
Cute little wall pockets (don't know about using them as toothbrush holders), and they would be great in a guest room, holding little luxuries for your guests.
Pretty, pretty things...


Sunny and cold-brrrr

The wind is blowing, and it's so cold outside. I went out to move the car~~it was barely "kissing" the yellow curb marker that would garner me a parking ticket~~but it's probably too cold and windy for the parking patrol to do their thing. I've discovered it's just a good day to be inside, wrapped up in a wooly throw, with my trusty ceramic heater blowing warming air on me.
While I was out yesterday~~picking up books I had placed on hold last week~~and unfortunately, taking a long trip through the car wash, I stopped at the market to pick up two more primroses. I moved them to this wire carrier and needed two more to fill it out.
The market had a new shipment of African violets~~take a good look at them while they're in their prime~~and I couldn't resist buying them.

About the long ride through the car wash...the temperature was hovering just above freezing, but when I went out to get into the car, I discovered that birds had been using it for target practice. Yes, I was parked under the trees, but it's been so cold, who knew birds would be roosting in those trees? Grackles~~probably by the hundreds, as witnessed by the massive splats of berry seeded bird droppings all over the street and cars~~were the culprits. The guys at the car wash were quite amused...they'd seen a few cars like mine yesterday. I hate to get my car washed when it's that cold out...hate the thought of frozen locks and doors...but I couldn't drive around with my car looking like that.


Maxine's, Movies and Calligraphy

I met my friend Carol at Maxine's yesterday before our Calligraphy class. Maxine's uses very small luncheon plates...so it really looks like lots of food...not that I'm overly picky, but I'd really prefer a larger plate so my food doesn't "touch". Nevertheless, the food was great...chicken salad, red skinned potato salad, and tomato/artichoke salad. That plate to the right...red velvet cheesecake. It had a brownie crust and was just wonderful.

Calligraphy class was pretty much fun. Good student/teacher ratio...it was just the two of us in the class...we mostly worked on pen strokes and almost made it through one alphabet. I love writing with a fountain pen, but hate the way they just stop writing...I picked up a dip pen set and practiced with it last night. My "writing bump" is now lightly stained with amethyst ink.

While practicing, I watched Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen. Viggo--pretty handsome; the movie--really too ~~action packed ?violent?~~to watch before bedtime.

One of my most favorite books in recent months is Romantic Home Sewing by Christina Strutt. A while back, I requested a catalog from her shop "Cabbages & Roses" and it arrived yesterday par avion. Over half of the catalog is oversized postcards...the catalog is all loose-leaf, postcards and a set of description cards, packaged in a bifold card holder. So very clever and so very beautiful.

To do, today~~bake Paris Puffins (as described on NotQuiteJuneCleaver's blog), organize tools, get a project kit together to take to Craft Night tomorrow evening, and laundry. Exciting, eh?



While I was out registering for my Calligraphy class yesterday, I made a few other stops. Armed with 40% JoAnn coupons, and a 40% Michael's coupon, I thought I'd scout out a few bargains. It's always harder than it sounds. I found a cake pan I "needed" at Michael's. It's a Wilton Crown of Hearts pan. Can't wait to make a cake in it! The cupcakes in the picture above come from the "lots of pop ups" BHG website. I did it, so you don't have to...
Here's the recipe:

Red Velvet Cupcakes

3 eggs
3/4 cup butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1-oz. bottle red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. vinegar
Small chocolate heart-shaped cookies (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
1. Let eggs and butter stand 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 28 2-1/2-inch cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.
2. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, and 3/4 tsp. salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium-high 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until combined. One at a time, add eggs; beat on medium after each. Beat in food coloring on low.
3. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture; beat on low to medium sped after each just until combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar. Add to batter; beat just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 17 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely. Top with small chocolate cookies, if desired. Dust with powdered sugar. Makes 28


Monday, At Home

Cyclamen...so pretty and delicate. Every time I buy indoor plants, I start feeling bad for them. My abilities as an indoor gardener leave much to be desired. It's a rare occurrence when I can keep plants alive long enough to survive the winter season. The little potted plants always look so cheery and hopeful...only to curl up and die. I promise to try harder with the cyclamen and the primroses...I promise!
This is what I will be doing today...browsing through magazines, gleaning ideas from them, drinking coffee, in general--having a lazy day. Later in the afternoon, if it warms up a bit, I may go sign up for a calligraphy class for tomorrow to take with a friend of mine. All of this will be followed by knitting, a little sewing, and sketching out a prototype for my Hip Hop Easter Swap item.


Vacation Eve

After work this afternoon, around 5ish, I will officially be on vacation for the week. While the call of sun and warmth sounds good--it's 8 degrees here, with a "feels like" temperature of 2 below zero--home is where I'll be. The weather is not supposed to dramatically improve this week, but I have everything I'll need to make it a pleasant week away from work.
I'll have to gaze at my basket of primroses and pretend it's Spring...I have a huge list of projects to either start or finish, a stack of books to read, and a pile of magazines to immerse myself in. The pantry is stocked and the house is pretty much in order, so PlumWater Cottage is now my vacation destination.



In anticipation of the "arctic blast" that is supposed to hit us this evening, I have a warming evening planned...kinda chick-flicky, but it will definitely take our minds off the cold outside! I've been raving about The Tudors since I watched it OnDemand early in the fall. While the history of it is a bit skewed, and Henry the VIII is a hottie instead of a bloated, syphilitic old monarch, it is a blast to watch. A friend from work is coming over to watch the first few episodes (again OnDemand...leading up to the new season beginning at the end of March on Showtime). I made another beef burgundy this morning, along with defrosting a loaf of Rhodes bread dough...the beverage for this very cold night...Glogg...from The Ski House Cookbook by Tina Anderson and Sarah Pinneo. Here's the recipe...
1 1/2 cups vodka
10 cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
Zest of 1 orange
1 (750 ml) bottle inexpensive red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1. Combine the vodka, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and orange zest in a small bowl. Set aside for at least 1 hour, or covered for up to one week.
2. Combine the wine and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vodka mixture, return to a simmer.
3. Strain and serve warm.


Ideas for Valentine's Day

Individual images, courtesy of BHG.com

Last night, while watching the snow accumulate outside and catching up on e-mails, I found these beautiful Valentine's projects and ideas. Click here to see more ideas and instructions, click the post photo to enlarge.


Dining Room Hutch

I took a few pictures in the diningroom before I left for work today...the sun was streaming in the windows and it was so bright and cheery.
I picked up the red apothocary jar at JC Penney this weekend at a huge discount. It was in with the Christmas decorations, but red is a pretty universal accent color...Valentine's Day, and the red, white, and blue summer holidays.

Very Random Thoughts

Well, it's 8:30 here, and my mind's buzzing...off to work later in the day, but for now I'd like to maybe accomplish something but I can't quite decide what to work on first...so maybe I'll just keep sitting here drinking coffee (could that have something to do with it??). First thing this morning, I was looking at the calendar...Mardi Gras is just 3 weeks from today. I've never attended the "real deal", but for the past several years a very small group (most times consisting of just 2 of us) have gone to a pretty seedy bar in the not-so-good section of town to hear a really great Zydeco band. There are several performances, and we always hit the early Sunday evening--before Fat Tuesday--"family show." The band is pretty fabulous...we first encountered them at the annual W.C. Handy Blues Fest across the river in Henderson, Kentucky. They play Zydeco Night every year, and 2008 is no exception. They are not playing their usual gig for Mardi Gras in our town this year, so we're just going to have to find something else to do. I tried to post a You-Tube of the band--Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band--but couldn't get it right. Zydeco--happy music. Very random...

After I got over my brief moment of disappointment that I would not be going to hear the band in that shabby, very smoky little venue (one of those places you do not wear your coat into for fear that even the drycleaner won't be able to get that smoky smell out), I moved on to what I was going to do next week...sometimes, especially when a Monday holiday is involved, and my work schedule "co-operates" I can "spend" a minimum amount of vacation days to get an entire week off. That's what I'm doing next week...working this entire weekend, and have the remainder of the week off. No really big plans, but I also don't want to fritter away the time as I often do. I'm thinking this would be a great week to finish lots of works in progress---get them out of the way so I can start on new things that have caught my fancy lately.

Masterpiece Theatre---I just really enjoyed Persuasion Sunday evening. As Junie Moon mentioned in her comments the other day, I too scurried around this past weekend to get the chores finished so I could just sit and relax and watch. Everyone I talked to yesterday just said that they had taped or Tivo'd the program and would watch it later. I find that if I tape something, it's highly likely that I won't end up watching it...Masterpiece was my little treat for the weekend.
Think I'll go accomplish something now...


Porcine Bookends

After reading Penny's blog today, I started thinking about my little pigs...so I took a picture of them. They'd look kinda spiffy mosaiced, don't you think? I use them as bookends and have had them for ages...maybe I can ship them to Lavender Hill for an Extreme Makeover...

Don't forget--Jane on Masterpiece

Sunday routines...it seems like this day, more than any other day of the week is marked by routine. Quiet time, cooking, CBS Sunday Morning, planning for the week ahead, an early supper, reading, and television. I'm looking forward to Masterpiece Theatre this evening and the beginning of the Jane Austen event. A perfect end to an ordinary Sunday.


Saturday Excursion

Gerst Haus Restaurant

Last night I had dinner with my daughter at one of our favorite local restaurants, Gerst Haus. I love it because it is a neighborhood-type eatery. The building's former life was a hardware store. They have great food...predominantly German, but they also have the very best catfish sandwiches, breaded pork tenderloin, and chicken fingers. While we were waiting for our food, we were discussing plans for the weekend. My daughter had a few shopping errands and asked if I wanted to go with her, so we planned our Saturday afternoon. Our plan includes stopping at our favorite cafe for lunch (see logo above), where we will be selecting from this menu. Maxine's used to be the place we'd go on the first day of summer break from school...starting when we moved here and my daughter was in 5th grade. It's definitely a "ladies who lunch" type place and it's oh so good. Their desserts are a so beautiful and tasty.

I picked up a three-tiered black iron plate holder at Target last night...it's calling out for three more black transferware plates from Marshall's. While I'm there, I'll look for Mrs. Pilgrim for Rose at Classic Charm. I found a few more "Paris Flat" items that need to be placed...an Eiffel Tower lamp, for one...I don't in my wildest imaginings think that one who lives in Paris would have an Eiffel Tower lamp, but it sure looks kind of kitschy-cute to me!

Stop over to visit Janet at Housepeeper's...she has a giveaway--50th blog and a pre-birthday giveaway--Vintage Vavoom, one of my most very favorite books of the new year.


Guest Room Update & Dining Room Tablescape

Here are my Sunday "finds" all where they belong and not stacked up in the hallway. While shopping yesterday for a few supplies for swaps I'm involved in, I found some wonderful vintage black and white scrapbooking prints. I never look in the scrapbooking aisles since it's not a "craft" I engage in (I know I'd be hooked once I started). Anyway, I decided to do the PARIS letters for the room. I'm happy with the way they turned out, and they look so much better against the wall than how they show up in this photo.
This wall pocket looks so aged...I love the "faux" greenery...
The blinding glossiness of the black paint...thank God for spray paint...I have no patience for regular painting.
I looked and looked for something for the diningroom for Valentine's Day. I wanted something either pink or red for the mercury glass pedestal to surround a pillar candle. The red glass heart tea light holders fit the bill...2 for a dollar at Target. (Don't know why the flatware appears to be golden...it's silver).
The cherries were "vase fillers"...also from Target. Cherries in the snow...

An Award

Thank you, Kathy--from Shocking Pink Thread--for a You Make My Day Award. I really appreciate it! There are rules that go along with the award and here they are:
The award rules are to “Give the award to up to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel so happy about blogland! Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so that they can pass it on. Beware! You may get the award several times! ”

It seems that my list of "Everyday Reading" blogs grows longer every day; you know how it is...you're reading a blog, you click a link, and find yourself absorbed in yet another good read. I would definitely say that this new diversion (I've only discovered the wonderful world of blogs less than a year ago) has made a difference to me and it has given me a creativity kickstart.


Art and Perception-Yikes!

Okay...so school started last night. My first class this semester is art, my first writing assignment is a research paper on...
Richard Anuszkiewicz. I have always (somewhat secretly) prided myself in knowing a little about a lot...I try to be somewhat current on all things pop culture....music, literature, and yes...art. I can usually carry on a conversation about almost anything. Last night, however, I was stumped. All the other "kids"...non-traditional students just like me...were assigned artists I had heard of...Mary Cassat, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Edward Hopper (one of my favorites), Jackson Pollock...the list goes on and on. Out of the list of 40 artists, my assignment was one I had never heard of. My usual mode of operation is to procrastinate and wait until the last minute to do a paper. I "think" about what I'm going to write, and finally just sit down and write it. Not this time...since I have no knowledge of this assignment, I need to more than just think...I did a mini-web search of "my" artist. Hmmm...Op(tical) Art...again, definitely not one of my favorites. Frankly, when I look at most of the art I found online by my guy, I see...Quilt Patterns.
Wish me luck...


Springtime in Paris?

Today was one of those odd, too weird and warm days. 65 degrees on the 6th of January with warmer weather expected tomorrow. While I love the springlike temperatures, it just makes the next cold snap worse. It was a great day to survey the little back yard area. A little more weather like this and the tulips will be peeking out of the barrel, probably only to be nipped in the bud.
I stopped by Marshall's early in the afternoon to pick up a few plates I saw there before Christmas. I was hoping they would still be available. They were...I got 2 Staffordshire Toile plates and 2 bowls. In addition, I picked up some items for the guest room. It's a very small bedroom with exposed brick on one large wall. Right before Christmas I pulled up an iron daybed frame from the basement to put in there. The bed needs to be painted; the person I bought it from painted only the areas that were visible on the bed, so one side is red, the other side yellow. It needs to be black. Anyway...I thought a little French influence would look great in there. The Black Cat canvas and a framed print of the Eiffel Tower also found their way home with me from Marshall's.
French notecards in this cute little box are for the desk.
My plates...these are actually a picture of the salad plates (courtesy of EBay). My bargain dinner plates, in the same pattern were just $3.99 each. I love them!


A little Valentine's Decorating

I visited one of my favorite stores today. It is The Heart of Newburgh located a block from the Ohio River in Newburgh, Indiana. The last time I was there was in the fall...I took several pictures there and posted them here. The shop was almost free of Christmas decorations, and there were lots of really cute ideas for Valentine's Day and Easter...and lots of new items have arrived for the garden and outdoors.
I only purchased a few items...a wire card holder, and a heart from the Nicol Sayre collection. My other purchase was a Metro bag from Vera Bradley. It's a discontinued style and The Heart of Newburgh has all discontinued styles and patterns 30% off. The bag can hold my laptop, files, and books. In the next few days I need to get the rest of my Valentine decorations out and up, and I also have a few Valentine's crafts to finish.