April 30, 2010

Seasonal Switch

I apologize for the horrible flash in this photo, tried many times to capture the tree through the window without the flash, just wasn't working

This won't be a post about that nagging list of spring cleaning to dos. We all have those items to attend to, i.e. cleaning windows, blinds, baseboards, etc. I have a seemingly strange springtime ritual dependant on the blossoming of a backyard tree.

Just outside our upstairs bedroom window is a gorgeous hawthorn tree. In late April/early May, the tree produces clusters of white flowers. At first the flowers look like tiny white balls, they then open to a delicate 5 petals. Covering the tree profusely, the flowers weigh down the branches. The effect is incredibly lively and bright, and for me, indicative of the change in seasons, summer well on its way.

Once I see those white flowers filling our bedroom window view, the winter duvet and thick blankets are replaced with crisp white sheets and a white matelasse coverlet. With the walls now painted a greenish gray, the clean white stands out even more. Every spring I look forward to the dramatic change of my view and the change in my room.

Aside from the usual spring cleaning, what changes are prompted in your home/lifestyle once spring arrives?

April 28, 2010

Lime & Cilantro

I am over winter soups, roasts and casseroles. As we near the warmer months, our dinner menu evolves into simpler and fresher, summer inspired meals. Lime and cilantro are summer flavor musts. A bag of limes and a couple of bunches of cilantro may last a week in our house. You may have already heard of my abundant use of limes for tart and tasty cosmos. Here is one of my favorite dinner recipes using lime and cilantro:

Thai Chicken/Vegetable Noodle Dinner:
1 package cooked spaghetti (cook al dente and then chill)
2 chicken breasts (cooked, chopped and chilled)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 chopped green onions
a ton of chopped cilantro
fresh squeezed lime to taste
dash of salt and pepper to taste
2 T natural chunky peanut butter
Trader Joes Spicy Thai Peanut Vinaigrette

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together. Whisk peanut butter and vinaigrette in a separate bowl, pour over noodles, chicken and vegetables to coat.

When serving, I add a sprinkling of chopped peanuts and chopped green onions.

Carbs, protein and vegetables all in one dish. Lime and cilantro perfect this dish.

April 22, 2010

Salvage Yard Finds

In a previous post: Salvage Scavenger, I discussed my favorite salvage yard. As a follow up on that post, I decided to share some of the many items I have found and used throughout my home, all salvage yard items from 2nd Use in Seattle.

Additional front door that has a screen or storm insert to change with the seasons. This was my husbands pick. While the storm door option doesn't offer much draft protection the look and sound of a good old screen door nods to his Kentucky upbringing.

This purple locker isn't pretty but it sure is useful. Housed in the garage it holds lots of running shoes. I remember buying this 14 years ago for $30! They currently charge up to $150 for lockers as they have become a popular item.

I love this cute little mailbox. I spray painted it and hung it in the entry way. There isn't anything in it and I don't use it at all, but couldn't resist the scalloped edges!

The yellow magazine rack was found just when the kids were going to elementary school. It has always been the perfect spot to place all of those school forms and projects for safekeeping. I didn't even paint the rack, just cleaned it and added the metal hardware.

For $10, metal gym baskets are endlessly useful and usually available. I keep gym supplies, cleaning supplies, towels or reusable grocery bags in some of my baskets.

Hope you enjoyed viewing some items I have saved from the salvage yard. I hope to have more to post about 2nd use soon.

Thanks again for taking a look!

April 20, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

Photo Courtesy of Seattle Farmers Market Examiner

Today, my sister-in-law, Wendy, blogged about volunteering: SimplyBrookes.blogspot.com. Her post had me thinking about the volunteer time I spend each summer at Root Connection in Redmond.

Root Connection is a 14 acre CSA farm located near the Sammamish river, just a few miles from my home. CSA members purchase "shares" in the farm's bounty from June to October, and get the satisfaction of reconnecting to the land by eating local, chemical-free food. Members are also able to harvest herbs, greens and flowers on their pick up days.

On my first visit to Root Connection, I was drawn to volunteer. Beautiful produce growing in a river valley so close to home with flowers, herbs and greens (swiss chard, mustard and collard greens) to harvest, meshed with my homesteading nature.

Field work at Root Connection isn't easy, you are harvesting, hauling, weeding, and cleaning, all while trying to keep up with experienced employees. My goals in volunteering were to learn about organic farming, be introduced to different seasonal produce and of course, meet new people.

Look for the opportunity to volunteer or become a member of a CSA in your area. You will be helping to protect farmlands from development, supporting small farms and providing your family with delicious fresh produce. And, as I have, you will come away with a bounty of knowledge, discovery and new found appreciation for real food.

April 19, 2010

Fil's New Home

One of my favorite plants in the garden is a purple leaf Filbert. Fil also goes by Corylus, Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Hazelnut. This purple leaf variety is gorgeous due to the dark plum colored leaves on contorted stems. It is slow grower allowing for less of a contorted mess among its stems.

It has moved many times in the yard, never seeming to find the right spot. If you enjoy the structure, whimsy and year round interest of this plant, it's imperative to find a place where the background can accentuate its' ornamental beauty.

In the large garden bed out back, Fil was lost amongst the giant evergreens and open space of the backyard. In this beautiful pot at the front entry, the background enhances the plant. It will need pruning to keep its shape within boundaries for the space but I think the effect of structure and shadow are as beautiful as having ornamental iron work hanging on the wall.

April 15, 2010

Favorite Kitchen Tool

I would emphatically state that a great cup of coffee is the only way to start your day.

A few years ago, I had breakfast at a friends and she served a beautiful, frothy cup of coffee. The milk was frothed and foamed with the aerolatte milk frother. At that time my husband and I were trying to wean ourselves off the hydrogenated oil laden french vanilla creamer that we added to our coffee each morning. The aerolatte milk frother did the trick.

The steam free frother works on cold lowfat or non-fat milk by quickly whisking the milk to a perfect foamy top. Add a little raw sugar and coffee and you have a perfect cafe style cup of coffee at home. I love this frother so much, I travel with it.

I have tried less expensive frothers and the aerolatte brand is the best. The motor is stronger and outlasts other brands. You can purchase on Amazon.com for $19.99. Wouldn't they make a great hostess gift too?

April 13, 2010

Guestroom Redo - Color Story

A few weeks ago, my lovely kids decided to play musical rooms. My daughter moved into her brothers room, he moved into the guest room and all of the guest room ended up in my daughters room. I wasn't thrilled with this arrangement but was assured that I wouldn't have to do anything, the kids were going to take care of all of it. They did a great job of moving everything and settling themselves, quite happily, into their new rooms. And I was left with one messy guest room that needs a ton of work to make it presentable. However, the room really did need a touch up and I am up for the challenge on these rainy spring days.

My husband and I have patched and primed the walls (literally 240 tack and nail holes to be patched and primed). Next, the easiest way for me to settle on a paint color is to figure out bedding, pillows and fabric that will be in the room. I feel very happy about the color story I have put together below. I think it will marry nicely with the beautiful Benjamin Moore Hawthorne colored walls (sorbet yellow).

A couple of these throw pillows will be the centerpiece for the color scheme:

Pottery Barn Pillow

Fresh Patterned Sheets:

West Elm

Quilted Bedcover:


Varying shades of blue throw pillows:

Pottery Barn

Textured Gray Throw Pillow:


What do you think of this color story so far? Let me know.

April 9, 2010

The Pursuit

I had a great time at the salvage yard yesterday and will have photos to post early next week. But hey it's Friday, after a long week I am ready to embrace the weekend. My weekend plans will start this evening with a new CD: The Pursuit by Jamie Cullum and a cosmo.

If you have heard any of Jamie Cullum in the past and even slightly liked him, you will love this new CD. Critics say he is unconventional and spontaneous as his songs span jazz, pop and hip hop genres. I am not a music critic, but this album is smouldering and through his musical and vocal talents, his magnetism pervades. Even more so with a perfect limey martini!

Cosmo Recipe:
1/2 oz real cranberry juice (no fruit cocktail version please)
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (no need to measure, just keep squeezing)
1/2 oz triple sec
1 oz vodka

shake with ice and pour into super fine sugar garnished martini glass

April 8, 2010

Salvage Scavenger

Today the kids have a track meet way over in West Seattle. I am happy to head out on that long journey because we will drive right by one of my favorite salvage yards along the way: Second Use.

I have been scavenging my way through 2nd Use for close to 15 years now, we are so lucky to have this salvage yard in Seattle. They salvage materials from construction sites throughout the area and place them for sale in their giant warehouse. In the past, it was necessary to show up and hunt through their thousands of items to find a gem. A couple of years ago some genius employed by Second Use, has revamped their website and you can now search for items prior to leaving your home. It's so useful to view items online as photos and measurements are included in the description. Also the warehouse is cold, damp and filled to the rafters with materials...overwhelming. Entering with a list in mind makes the experience more enjoyable.

I am redoing a guest/office bedroom and thought the finds in the photos might make great additions to the room:
  • A giant chalkboard above the computer desk - I would probably repaint with magnetic chalkboard paint for multi-use. It is only $55!
  • As a closet cubby, the $10 yellow shelf might be a steal (I am pondering a gray, yellow, white color theme).
  • There are a lot of useful looking school cabinets inventoried, this one stood out because of the perfectly sized drawers for storing photos, paper, kids art, etc.
  • And finally, the bamboo cafe table looks promising, a small side table is always in need in any room. It may need a fresh coat of stain, but I love the proportions. ($45)

Off to the salvage yard and then the races, I will bring my camera and let you know what I find!