Friday, December 27, 2013

Now it is Christmas past....

As I put away the china and silver, wash the tablecloth and napkins, put away the platters, I wanted to show you what the table looked like on Christmas day.....

I used a red linen tablecloth with a grainsack tablerunner. The centerpiece was a silver tray with mercury glass gathered on it....
We then found some red goblets, but not enough so we balanced it with clear glass goblets. We wanted a dressed down version of a table this year, kind of a rustic elegance thing going on....
For dinner we had a roast beef, which is the usual Christmas dinner here. But we had a twist on the usual, finding a recipe for a "stuffed" roast. Modifying the recipe for dietary issues, it was fabulous!

The only change would be to tie it a little better, as the flap rolled back a bit while cooking. It lent a flavor that was divine....
What was it? Well, the recipe from Bon Appetit used eggs and dairy in their recipe, we left that out, creating more of a pesto version with fresh chopped spinach and apple wood smoked bacon. When it was cooked (sorry no picture there my camera died), the smell was fragrant throughout the house!
The rest of dinner was mashed potatoes and creamed spinach (made with almond milk and gluten free flour).
The whole day was wonderful! Starting at 9 am and going all day...but the best part as always wasn't the gifts or the food, but spending time with family!
How was your Christmas?
Nancy

Monday, December 23, 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

As the season gets more hectic....we paused to have a couple of friends over.
We got out ideas from Pinterest just for fun.....and I found this little display for olives, mozzarella balls, and small tomatoes. I thought it was a cool presentation.
You create a "wreath" of rosemary and then tuck olives and the cheese balls and tomatoes in. It is very cute and I love have a different presentation! The only problem, is you might need to tuck a few more in as they disappear!
In any case, we had a great time sharing cheese, crackers, the wreath and dinner with our friends....
Here is wishing you, my readers a very Merry Christmas season!! Hope you stay warm and cozy and healthy!
Nancy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Dishwasher

Ah, did you think I was going to wash dishes?
Nah, just wanted to share my experience.....
(this is not a paid advertisement either.....just fact sharing)
Years ago, when we re-did the kitchen, roughly 10 years ago, we bought all KitchenAid appliances. At the time, we believed they were top of the line. Found out that about the time we bought them, they changed/ taken over/ revamped....so they were really not top of the line, especially their dishwashers. Well, that diswasher lasted less than two years.
So, when the appliance guy said it was shot, we were not going to buy another KitchenAid.
We went to the internet and studied. Bosch has been top of the line for years. Consistently quiet, running and pleasing to most consumers. So, that is what we chose. It was the cost of three KitchenAids.....but we did it anyway.
We are so glad we did.

We have had to have the appliance guy out twice, and both times it was our fault.
The only problem this machine has, well, it's filter and impeller doesn't like the little brads that knives have, they come off (eventually) and they have killed the impeller twice. Rule of thumb....do NOT put knives in the dishwasher!
What makes this machine so great? Well, the list can be long, but on the short list....
It is quiet.
It is efficient.
It cleans, beautifully.
It doesn't have a heater, so you can wash plastic in it, even bowls on the lower level.
Our water bill dropped. The electricity bill dropped.
It still works.....after roughly 7+ years.....
The repair man said, it is consistently the best machine, and if he has to repair it, it is a knife that was put in and the impeller is broken.....people broke it.....
Years ago, after the second knife thing I asked him about the fact that our glasses were getting cloudy.
He told us it isn't the machine (no surprise) it is the dishwashing detergent.
We use Cascade Complete (though recently Hubby bought this huge Cascade Advanced from Costco.....
But even with all their cleaning power, there is still a chemical missing. Our repair guy told us about Lemi-shine......
This helps take that cloudy stuff out, so your glasses continue to look new, even when they are old. Even the cheap ones from Ikea......
So, I just wanted to share that bit of info.
Regardless of your dishwasher, add a little Lemi-shine to your load.....it will really help...
I have found Lemi-Shine at Target, Vons and Stater Bros. Also, online.....
It is worth that little extra cost, it doesn't take much and it helps keep the inside of your machine clean too!
Again, this is not a paid commercial or in any way am I being rewarded....I just wanted to share info with my blog readers....

Nancy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Christmas Tree

Today, with on and off rain, we went out with one of our daughters, and picked out a tree. We chose a Noble Fir with great hopes that perhaps it will last longer than the Douglas Firs we have had in the past. We shall see. After all, we just got our heater fixed...so now our house is warm.....
The colors chosen this year are silver, white and touches of red.....



There is a secret here, under the tree skirt. You see, with the new wood floors, we were worried about water finding its way out of the tree stand. Hey, it has been known to happen! So, we measured the stand and found a galvanized bucket that was bigger than the stand....
Then, we placed the bucket on two water resistant materials, set the bucket on that, and then even placed large plastic bags inside the bucket. If, by chance water finds its way out...well, Hubby agrees, a fake tree will be in line. 
But, I have to say, the tree smells divine!
Our daughter is also fabulous at setting up the village we have collected over the years. There are small village houses that the girls painted when they were little, and then we found along the way some Department 56 pieces, so the village has grown....

So, now our living room is feeling quite Christmasy, and smells wonderful!
So, How is your weekend shaping up??
Nancy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas in the House

After Thanksgiving, out come the decorations. In years past, the front hallway would be awash in boxes of Christmas decorations, as we dug through what would be used.
But this year, Hubby and I are going a much simpler route. Simplify. That is the mantra. almost impossible in most ways, but for Christmas, we can do that. So, we pulled down a couple of boxes in the garage, looked through what we wanted and put the box back!
Then, we took down another, and put that back. Why, even when we put the lights on the outside of the house we finished, and put the boxes back! Trust me, that is not the usual way we do it and it is wonderful to pull out what you need and put it back.....
So, so far, this is what we did....

First up was the mantel. Down went the Fall decor and out came the candles and mercury glass. I haven't quite finished here, as I want to get out more holly and berries....
I wanted a touch of the "rustic" here so I used the webbing. Once it is all done, I think it will be quite nice.
 Next to the fireplace, a poinsettia in a crock with books and a French wine jug....
On the coffee table, I filled the trifle bowl with an orchid in a crock and then with moss and under the moss is Paper whites...and my silver pears that are candles, but I have never burned them....

In the hall, I have this print that I love, I put a little "whimsy" on top with a dash of color....

The dining room window got a fresh wreath in the window, and my chicken feeder, now has paper whites under the moss, just starting to peek through....
And in the family room, just a touch...a poinsettia in one of my crocks...
I am going to put the Christmas village up in the Living room and the tree, when we do, I will show you...
In the mean time, tell me what decorating you are doing... Are you doing a great deal? or going simple this year?
Nancy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The chicken feeder

We have been gone a while, and I apologize. There have been no projects, except organizing and re-organizing the stuff from my Father-in-law's home. But, I digress.....
The other day we discovered, thanks to a word from a new friend, a delightful import shop that has quite a warehouse that mostly sells to the trade, but will happily sell to the public at the same cost!
The first day, I went with Hubby, who actually enjoyed himself (really) and found a table he would love to have; but alas, it was too long.... On that day, I bought two grainsacks at a fantastic price. And although they are not from France, are the real used deal. So, I took them home and washed them. Beautiful!
Then, my other friend and I went (I had to share this "toy store" with her). She had as much fun as I did! She bought a grainsack (just one!) and I found an old, old chicken feeder!
After our long day of treasure hunting, she went home to wash her grainsack and I washed the chicken feeder. Hubby, looked at my "score" a bit skeptically, but knew I would do something.....
Yup, I did. I had a vision in my head when I bought it....and well, here it is......
Shown on one of the grainsacks from my first trip to this little warehouse, is my 3 foot long chicken feeder. I filled it with "mood" moss and votives. I added a few little acorn and vine mini wreaths, and voila! A touch of country centerpiece!




Isn't that moss delightful? Calms the spirit and lets it rest...
Anyway, have a great day!
Nancy

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lost in the garage....

The last few months have been busy, let alone frustrating.
You see, when my Father-in-Law passed away, we had to bring home a great deal of "stuff" to our garage to go through it and organize. It is traumatic. It is exciting. It is frustrating.
We finally got two cars in, but honestly, the second car didn't really fit, it was too tight.
So, the process has been "weeding".
Now, I am a librarian, "weeding" should be easy. Well, sort of.
It can be obvious what needs to be "tossed" and what needs to be kept. It isn't always so simple when it comes to "historical". Afterall, Hubby's Dad had all the movies from Hubby's Grandfather as well as Hubby's Dad's movies, and slides and photos. Lots and lots and lots of those.
How do you weed those and how?
We discussed it at length...both of us. The conclusion is put all the slides and movies we want to keep on DVD. They will be in a smaller format, less space to store and since the movies are degrading with vinegar syndrome (see Kodak site on that), then no time like the present.
So, we started with the slides. Boxes and boxes and boxes of them. We were "hardcore" on them. If there were three pictures of the same thing, we picked the best of the three. If we didn't know who it was, we "discarded" it. We have spent two months now going through slides!
So do you remember slides? Do you remember carousels? Luckily Hubby had our old projector, so we have been able to go down memory lane most every night, "weeding" the collection. Soon, we hope to have it organized so we can take carousels labeled and ready for turning into DVD!
We also got out the old, old projector for movies that his Dad had and started going through those. Finding that most were important enough for family history, we have taken the smallest down to Costco to be converted....


So, right now our living room looks like this! A projection room! Hopefully soon, we can have it back as it is the first room you walk into and Christmas is just around the corner....yikes!
So, I have to say, if you have those family history in media as we seem to have.....consider Costco...much more affordable than the other companies....
Have a great week...
Nancy

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Many projects

Our internet has been somewhat on the fritz. It would be come and go like a breeze and was unreliable. It actually still is, but seems to be working for now. So, finally I can show you some of the things we've been up to.
First, I wanted to show you my Ebay coup!
I found oil rubbed bronze lever handlesets for a very affordable price! Even with the shipping I finally could afford to order the six privacy sets I needed, so all the doors match. Not only that but my hands have been so sore lately, it isn't a moment too soon. But, wonder of wonders, I was able to put them all on myself! YUp, even the two that had to be reversed. These handlesets were reversible and adjustable. Meaning, that I didn't have to know what size the door was, or anything ! I just followed directions for installation. The reversing of one was super easy, the other wasn't quite as easy, however, I was on the last door and my hands were quite sore!
So, we went from brass knobs to bronze levers. You can use your elbow to open a door!
Before.......
After......
We love them. We have wanted them for about ten years. Yes, ten years. But they have been so expensive! And you had to order right handed or left handed and know the size of the door and all that. It didn't make sense to spend so much. So, I watched Ebay. Finally, the same as the bathroom door that we did over a year ago! They came at $7.99 each. Yup. Gotta love Ebay! And shipping was nominal....
We also have been busy "winterizing". Well, our version in So. Calif. We put in a new furnace filter and hung the winter drapes everywhere but the Master. I want to get the carpet cleaned first.
We had our first rain and with that we have our French Onion Soup in the living room. It is a tradition we started way back when the girls were so little. It stuck, even now when they are gone.
This year, when I made it I used Cognac instead of wine. And not a huge amount either, only about 1/8 of a cup. It was the best by far that I have made! It adds a richness and nutty flavor that is amazing. Thanks Ina, great suggestion!
Here it is in the pot....
I also used a really good Gruyere cheese, that is better than Swiss really.
And served with a fresh toasted  baguette...
So, that kind of catches you up on what we have been up to since the internet has been....well, frustrating. Hopefully, we will continue to have it work....
Hope you have a good day...
Nancy

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dresser #2

Here it is, all done, dresser #2.
It is also painted Duck Egg blue and drawers are lined with the same wonderful paper that I put in the first dresser.



I posted it on Craigslist, so we will see. I got three interested people on the first dresser, then they haven't gotten back to me on when they want to see it. I guess that happens.
In either case, Hubby said he will sell them at the neighborhood garage sale if they are sold by then. Our neighborhood garage sale, for those in the Orange County, Ca area, is October 12th. Neighbors put out all kinds of stuff...and yes, I have other things to sell, such as some chairs I have redone, pillows, trays and linens....so come on by to the Mesa Verde Neighborhood garage sale!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Sweet dresser

Well, I finished the first little dresser!
I couldn't wait, I think it is much cuter than the first view...
This is what it looked like this morning. Not bad.  It had potential, needed cleaning and dusting and color!
Here it is now, about 5 hours later....
And then I added some sweet shelf paper....
Not bad I'd say! No more dirt or spiders, just sweet detail. Lovely vintage little dresser, ready for a new lease on life......
Take care.
Nancy

Score!

We try to walk the dogs everyday....but usually, we get out later, around 4. Today, Hubby wanted to take the dogs out early. Good thing! It is Thursday, and that is trash day. No telling what people will throw out!


They are vintage and a little rough. They have seen other shades of paint, they just need a little TLC. And to make things better, there is a garage sale in the neighborhood in a week!
I am thinking Duck Egg blue!!
See ya, gonna go paint!
Nancy

How to know when your hot water heater needs replacing....

Yesterday, we got a new hot water heater. No simple feat, even for plumbers.....
Our hot water heater is in a cupboard, inside the house, in the hall, where those lovely new wood floors are. I am very careful and check it at least quarterly.

Day before yesterday, I noticed it took a longer time than usual to get hot water.
Symptom #1: delay in hot water
Pay attention to the rhythm of your home. If it takes longer than usual to get the hot water, then check it. Perhaps the pilot light is out, but check it.
Symptom #2: dried water streaks....


Symptom #3 evidence of water that has come from pipes, green tinge on pipes and dried water on top from that water....

Symptom #4: water, in any amount...it's time!
Now, we had no active water coming out. We wouldn't want that, not with wood floors below. We are grateful that we checked the heater when it was slow getting warm. What apparently sped up its demise
was the fact that the water main had been shutoff several times in the last couple of weeks to fix sprinkler issues. However, the result is the same. The hot water heater was a little over 10 years old, and the dried water that wasn't there a month ago, (yes, I really do check it), made a quick decision to call the plumber. The plumber agreed...it was just a short matter of time before it would flood everything.
The plumber was very careful about draining the tank to outside and removing it. I had a plan in place to drain out the bathroom door to outside into a drain we have. My recommendation, have a plan in place before you need it. Old hot water heaters need to be drained before removal ( unless of course they drain all over your house). Also, know which path they should take it out of the house.
Now, I realize some of you will wonder why we haven't ever moved the hot water heater out of the house.
First, it is very expensive to move it. Pipes have to be moved.
Second, there isn't a good place to put it other than here.
Third, we considered a tankless, but again cost, cost, cost. That is a different bird altogether in pipes and they have a shorter life span than tanks.
Moral: pay attention, regardless of where your hot water heater is, for changes. Know where shutoff is both for gas, and water.
Our story ended happily. No flood  and nice hot water.
Just thought I would share with you what we have learned.
Nancy