Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gadzukes!

Well, our heat came early this year! Usually our summer heat arrives mid July or August. You know when it is really hot when the tomatoes ripen all at once and zucchini grows into baseball bats overnight!
When I was out with the dogs this morning, I saw these peeking out of the box!

So, I decided we need relish! Afterall, the 4th of July is around the corner and we need relish, right??
Zucchini relish? you say. Yup, in fact you cannot tell the difference at all once it is all done, and in taste tests around here, it was preferred. There are many different recipes online, but actually use your cuke relish recipe and just substitute the cukes with zucchini...really!
Just sayin......
Nancy

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Artichokes as art

I grow artichokes, though not completely successfully here in Southern California. It is often too hot and dry, so to get any, is a thing of beauty by itself.
This one plant tends to give too many artichokes at one time, thus they are small and not completely tasty. So, just this time, I let them do their thing by letting them go to bloom.
Have you ever seen them bloom? You know the "choke" you take out when you eat the heart? That is the future bloom. And it is spectacular!
In fact, I had to cut some to bring them in, they are so beautiful.
It is no wonder that the color draws bees....


This arrangement will last for several days and once I had it for weeks....It depends on heat and humidity.
Nancy

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A convert.....

I love books. Always have, always will.....
That is one of the reasons I became a Librarian....but, that aside, there is simplicity in opening the laptop and googling a recipe...for say, blueberry muffins.....
Yup, I still have all the cookbooks, and occasionally I find another good one. However, this morning I found myself opening the computer to find a recipe. Huh oh, I have converted!
It is just so easy to find them all, in one little space to compared, instead of say, 5 books.....
So, yeah, it has happened, fully. I am a convert.....well, mostly....
I still do a great deal the old fashioned way....but this is becoming more common to find the computer on the kitchen counter while I cook....
Have a great weekend.
Nancy

A Cautionary Tale

My Father-in-Law has been in the hospital for 10 days (so far) after a serious fall. He developed a severe bacterial infection while there. So, for those 10 days my husband has been going and staying to watch, advocate and visit.
Since it was an isolation set up, he had to "garb" up every time he was in the room...no mask, just the gown and the gloves.
But, because there was dangerous bacteria, we treated it carefully at home too. Hubby took off shoes in the front entry, which he later swapped with alcohol.....clothes went immediately into the washer and were washed and he showered with two different soaps.
Yesterday, I felt that surfaces had not been addressed correctly...so out came the Lysol......
Hummmm
We had been touching doorknobs......
So, I sprayed....

This is an inside picture of our lovely (and expensive) Baldwin lockset. Oil rubbed bronze of course.....
Then I sprayed outside too.....
 This was a very fast (seconds) reaction to the Lysol spray! It removed the finish instantly!
Ugly, ugly!! I tried everything I could think of to fix my stupid deed....but to no avail.
The can should say, "...Do NOT spray on fixtures such as doorknobs....".Yikes.
Now, if anyone knows what I can do to fix this, I would soooo appreciate it!
And, CAUTION: do not use Lysol spray on doorknobs, especially if they are oil rubbed bronze!
(I once sprayed it on a wood toilet seat.....it did a similar thing....)

Nancy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Growing a pumpkin

Once upon a time....there was a Halloween pumpkin that did not get carved. It was a sad pumpkin, until one day a nice lady placed it in the vegetable garden.....
Over time its seeds spilled all over the vegetable garden and in the spring they grew.....



True story! And it is taking over the vegetable garden and climbing the arbor......We will see if this little pumpkin here gets bigger and bigger and if it is joined by any other pumpkins or if this will be the only one.....
Nancy

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!!

A deep and warm Happy Father's Day to all the readers out there! I wish all the Dads a delightful day!




Nancy

Friday, June 14, 2013

A walk in the garden

Today, my friend, Sally, shared her garden with me. I have seen the before which was always lovely, but this is so wonderful a transformation, she is letting me share it with you.
The first thing she did was faux paint her wall to make it look like an old stone wall. She is a remarkable artist! She did just that! Then she created from her own collection of treasures a mirror.

See the fountain? She made it! 
The only thing she had to buy was the plastic tubing for the water!
She cleared all the area and spread gravel and created a sitting area....So, comfy!
 She found this iron Christmas tree stand and created a planted umbrella stand! How cool is that??
Then she used this clay tubes to hold solar lights. Before I knew it the entire garden has been totally transformed!! So, here are some more pictures!

 She created these planters from pavers that she bought from Home depot and cement glue!

This is a tree stump that wouldn't come out, so she created it into a gorgeous planter!


 This is another fountain she created from items she had found from thrift stores and garage sales!
 A bird house hangs in her fig tree, which almost always has a little wren living in it....
Sally's garden is full of interesting surprises and vignettes. There are completely wonderful areas that just beg to be enjoyed. Come and sit a spell......
Thank you Sally for a lovely day in your wonderful garden!
Nancy

Reinforcing our Pottery Barn chairs.....

Our new kitchen is ten years old. The doors sag a bit (I don't know how to adjust European hinges). The thermofoil "skin" has turned a bit yellow and less white and the Pottery Barn chairs we bought are showing lots of wear.
The undersides are a simple wire "spring" and the fabric they put on, basically a muslin, has disintegrated to show that they used thin, cheap foam. Sigh. They were not cheap chairs and we hoped they would last longer....

On a couple of chairs the muslin was completely gone....sigh....what is a lady to do?
Well, the wire is in good shape and the foam has a bit of life left. So, in an attempt to prolong the life of our chairs....I bought jute webbing....
I tried a couple of techniques for weaving and gave up on it being "perfect". Instead went for stability. After all, who really looks at the underside of a chair?
 This is what most of them turned out to be. I used the juste to weave in under the wire and staple them.
There were a couple that got a few extra strands of webbing, though I am sure they won't last much longer. Gravity will take effect and all.
However, the overall time wasn't too bad in weaving the webbing in.(My arthritic fingers aren't too happy with me. 6 chairs and pushing the webbing under the wire....)
It will protect the foam longer and the chairs feel just a bit firmer than they did before.
I think it is a good temporary fix that I hope lasts at least a couple of years....
The webbing I purchased at JoAnn's. It was 79 cents a yard. I then had a coupon for 50% off. Sweet! 21 3/4 yds for $9. That is a significant savings to any on the web (no pun intended). Most wanted me to buy 72 yds for an average of $35 plus shipping.
I cut the webbing in generous strips and still have some leftover.....
Humm, now what do I do with leftover webbing????
Have a great day.
Nancy

Friday, June 7, 2013

Enjoying the season of harvest

The task at this time of year, is to keep up with the harvest.
There are raspberries, blueberries and boysenberries....
There are zucchini, scallop squash, apricots, peaches, beets, and onions.
Unfortunately, there are enough at one time to make jams, jellies, or relishes...it is sporadic. No matter, we just enjoy the harvest, knowing it is one less trip to the market and that these are organic...
I see squash with dinner and a boysenberry crisp for dessert....yummmm
What's for dinner at your house??
Nancy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Celebrate!

We invited some of our neighbors over, so they could see what has been happening....I mean, they were all curious and said so.....
So, we invited them and brought out a great wine and cheese, crackers, bread and veggies....






See this cute little old wooden bucket?? Here to the right?? It is really old, but when I found it at a garage sale it was falling apart. The rings were falling off and the wood pieces were really bad. So, I bought it for $2 and took it home and soaked it for about 2 days. Now, it is almost all better, and I have it here with a pot of sedums in it. It is so cute and old.



And the lavender was a little tin bucket all planted at Trader Joe's....perfect.
Yup, nice little open house. And yes, they all loved what we did. Imagine. It only took us 23 years......
Nancy

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did, although I am still tired.
The floors were done on Saturday and I spent Sunday, cleaning up the dust that got everywhere from the guys cutting into the brick of the fireplace for the floor and then bringing the books in.
We decided that the new baseboards behind the bookcases, with just a couple of thin coats of paint will not get the formal painter's touch. I just had to get the bookcases back and books too, as they were sitting on dropcloths in the garage for about three weeks...
So, everything else is on felt pads and can be moved, so that the painter can finish off baseboards and paint the newly patched wall.
In general, we are so happy with our floors. Kinda like living in a model home, and I have become a bit OCD about cleaning. That is what the Bona swiffer and Miele vacuum is for!
Here are some views that I took this gloomy morning.
This is the view this morning into the family room from where I sit everyday...
This is the view of the kitchen from where I sit, without extra light...
Here is a view from the kitchen doorway to the table. I recently took the shades off of the chandelier and put on soft white bulbs...it feels good.....
Here is the view from the kitchen doorway to the livingroom....I am loving this open feeling that taking out the pony walls afforded us!
Our living room, not at all finished, there is still a bunch to do, but we need to paint baseboards and that wall that was patched before filling things back up...Don't you think the wood floors are great? Much better than 20 yr old blue carpet.
And here is the family room, with the books....
The bookcases feel so much better being painted the same wall color and then the backs of the bookcases are painted French Linen (ASCP). It is cozy and comfortable.
All in all, a great choice of floor covering for us...It is a medium dark color with lots of variation to go with variety of dark furniture (and some light) that we have inherited and collected. Every piece of furniture, even the Lazy Boy chairs, has a story to tell. That is very cool.
Hope you have a great day.
Nancy
I had a question from a reader....the floor is Garrison's Southern Carolina Classics, a 5"w with random length planks, and it is hickory...hope that helps.....

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And done!

Well, minus a couple of T molding we hoped we wouldn't need, but do....
Our floor was finished today, by 3:15. All of it. The guys stayed a bit and helped move the bookcases in and they put felt footings on all the furniture, which required a couple of trips to the hardware store.
All the fear, all the worry, gone...it looks simply more than amazing. We have moved to a different house, without moving...sweet! Already, our daugther and husband came to see the amazing transformation and our great friends down the street, as well as a neighbor who wanted to know what was going on...
So, here my dear readers is the end result, minus the T molding I mentioned and a really good paint job that needs to be arranged.
The Picture from our front hallway into the kitchen.
Our new livingroom, with my husband's family's persian rugs that we had cleaned. It is so nice to have our rooms back in place.....
Here is a picture from the other end of the hall looking toward the front entry hall....
Here is the family room. The bookcases are back, minus their shelves that will come back tomorrow...I wanted you to see the paint job, the main body of the bookcases is the same as the wall, and the backs are ASCP French Linen....and then there is the new rug. It is a rug from IKEA, a nylon rug, so it can be cleaned, and the colors are perfect. See the door?? I showed that to you a few days ago, it blends perfectly into the wall....and of course, our new floor....
It is done. No more sleepless nights over right or wrong, or how long it would take etc. It is just a matter of doing the last little things with Darrell and paying him for the most fantastic job.
Now, for interest. I was told by his right hand guy, oh yeah, they did Mariah Carey's house about a year ago....yeah, see, he is the best custom floor guy in Southern California! We shopped and shopped and shopped. Darrell Pheasant custom floors is the best and he doesn't need a store or to advertise. He operates by word of mouth and happy customers....If you need great floors, let me know I will pass his name and number along! He got us a fantastic deal on the floors, and even better gave us the best service ever!!!
What did we learn??
Lots.
Basically, don't be in a hurry. Go ahead and go to lots of stores and talk to lots of people. Talk to neighbors and pick their brains. Learn from what they learn.
I found Darrell because I talked with Bob from Dunnwell carpet & rug cleaning. Darrell had done his sister's house. It is truly who you know.
Second, trust your gut. If you don't like the guy you are talking to about floors, don't use him, even if the price seems really good. Keep looking.
We went to 27 stores, and had 6 quotes.
Don't take the cheapest, and don't take the most expensive. Trust your instincts. These people will be in your home for a good deal of time. In our case, 1200 sq ft took 5 days.
Ask questions, lots. If the people you ask questions don't like that, move on. Feel free to ask, it is your floor and your home, so ask. There truly is no such thing as a dumb question.
In our case, we are anti T moldings, and these guys don't either, so they do custom things to avoid them. T moldings sometimes can't be avoided, but often they are used because the floor people are being lazy.
Our floors in the livingroom, they cut into the brick fireplace hearth to make the floors seamless and no T moldings. Ask. If they can't imagine other ways to do it, keep looking and gather as much information as possible.
Finally, think about what suits your family. Don't let someone tell you what you should have. We wanted wood. Engineered wood, certainly, we are on a slab and needed the floors to 1/2 " or less. Many were insistant that we needed laminate. But, with proper care our new hardwood engineered floors will last well past their warranty. And well, we have Darrell to help us when there is a problem.
If you have more questions I would be happy to help.
Choosing floors and having them put in is not an easy task. It is a major job.And you will have it for a very long time.
We have made good choices and bad choices in flooring. The best choice was when we bought the carpet 20 years ago, we bought the very best we could afford. We still have it in the bedrooms. With a really good deep cleaning it should last a while longer, a year or two. Maybe more.
If you choose carpet, get the best you can and learn everything you can about it.
If you choose wood, study every floor you can. Learn as much as you can and don't be afraid to ask. Then think really hard about the way you live and what you have in your home now. Pinterest is a fabulous source that I found helpful to gather a feeling of what we liked and what would work for our lifestyle. Look at the pictures, what makes your heart go "pitter patter".  After a while, a clue as to what you really want will start to show.
I hope our adventure helps you on your adventures....
Nancy