Saturday, December 29, 2012

Time for a New Year!


Remember that I was all inspired to use the board over my fireplace for different decorations for different holidays? 
Good!  You've been paying attention!  (Fake it if you haven't.)
 I saw THIS on Pinterest.


And I had THIS for Christmas.

I had a bunch of clocks and letters around.

So I did THIS for New Years:




I'm definitely liking it.  (Though I wish my pictures were clear -- but they never are so OH WELL!)

Now, back to Pinterest to plan for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I'm not big on Christmas.  I am a summer girl.  Usually, the thing I want most for Christmas is for it to be OVER. 

However, in the true spirit of both Scrooge and the Grinch (a stuffed version of which is wired to the front grill of my car for the month of December every year), I do have a tendency to come around -- usually on Christmas Eve. 

This year, I am still feeling the usual financial and gift-buying stresses and the general overall dread, but a few things have been different for the better!

I put up the Merry Christmas sign by the front door on NOVEMBER 28th!  That's right -- still in the month of November!  This even violates my rule that says:  "Absolutely No Christmas until December 1st (at the earliest)!" 

We got decorations out on the 8th and did most of the decorating.  I'm not sure what got into me.  Oh yeah!  Sara-Grace got on my back about it and marched me up to the attic!

Also on the 8th, Mark and I went on a mission to find a pine tree I could cut a few branches from.  This turned out to be fun and boded well for my living room.  I think the thing I enjoy most about Christmas is the little, simple, old-fashioned, FREE stuff that is what Christmas was about before commercialization -- using the bounty of the seasonal things that are around and are FREE!

I love how the pine branches add just a simple suggestion of the season to my grandparents' 1939 piano with my mother's huge ceramic pot full of branches on it:

Here is my fireplace as I've done it for the past few years:

And here is my fireplace this year (can you tell from the draped fabric that I'm in the process of making slipcovers for my grandmother's armchairs out of burlap and white mattelasse?).  I like this MUCH better!

During the rest of the year, I have a big oil painting that belonged to my grandparents over the mantle.  It is a wonderful sea scape that they bought in the 1980's from a well-known artist in Laguna Beach (where I later lived) and, by a second wonderful coincidence, depicts my very favorite beach: Nuestra Senora del Refugio Beach which is north of Santa Barbara. 

Every year, for Christmas, I have to take down the painting (which is almost 45" square complete with large gilded frame -- you know grandparents!) and store it somewhere (that is hopefully safe) so I can hang up the Twelve Days of Christmas plates and decorate for Christmas.  And sometimes I just get tired of the painting dictating the mantle during the rest of the year too!

This year, an idea evolved.   I wanted something that I could put IN FRONT OF the painting so that I wouldn't have to move it.  I moved the Twelve Days of Christmas plates and hung them over the window which I like a lot.

Here's an older picture of the plates so you can actually see them.  Aren't they pretty?  (BTW you can still get them from Williams Sonoma if you happen to like them as much as I do.):

 I took a 45" square of particle board that was loitering around as a reject from another project and covered it with white cotton duck/canvas that I had on hand.  Then I cut an 84 cent piece of thrift store burlap to size and hot-glued it on.  I hammered in a nail and hung my mother's pine cone wreath (that's been around for my whole life and is VERY "my mother") on it and propped the whole thing up in front of the painting.  I LOVE THIS! 

Now I am entertaining fantasies of how I can decorate this board for other holidays and for the rest of the year:  a flag for the 4th of July, a wreath with eggs on it for Easter, something with a heart for Valentine's Day, something creepy for Halloween, maybe a wreath with pheasant feathers for Thanksgiving?, and it could also hold letters that could spell out things like JOY or SUMMER or HAPPY.  I have a whole basket full of assorted letters I've gathered over the years when I find them for a dollar or less.  Hmmm...

So, for now, Christmas is kind of growing on me.  I will REALLY like it once I have my shopping done -- IF that's before Christmas Eve.

And here are a few more glimpses of Christmas from around the house:

The Invasion of the Santas in the TV room (with another of my grandparents' sea scape paintings).

The Invasion of the Nutcrackers.  Actually, this year there is another shelf of them up above. 
You'll recognize Mother's pine cone wreath in it's previous location! 
Torpedo is not at all sure she likes this particular variety of Christmas humiliation!
This is how I like Christmas best -- CONTAINED! 

Merry, Merry!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Red Shelves for My Kitchen

I'm not even really sure how it happened.

Somehow, despite the fact that I have a MILLION other things I SHOULD be doing, I decided that I needed to build shelves for my kitchen.

Actually, I think it happened at the end of the domino chain that started when the house was built in 1995.  The contractor put a center island right in the middle of the work triangle -- you know, that scared cow of kitchen design that forms an invisible triangle between the stove, sink, and refrigerator.

At some point over the last 17 years, I detached the island from the floor and put it on wheels.  But, most of the time, it stayed in the same place in the middle of the kitchen and in the way.

Recently, I decided to jettison the island unit into the garage and replace it with Mark's vintage Coca-cola cooler which will go in a different, out-of-the-triangle position

I put a board underneath and put old metal freezer baskets under there.  Then I realized that an old red and while enamel tabletop from the 1930's that I had loitering in the garage would fit the top PERFECTLY.  So the cooler now has a top.  I also had a couple of white bar stools loitering around so they are now pulled up to it.  There's still a debate going on around the house about whether or not to paint the Coke cooler.  I think paint is about to win as what you are seeing above is the "good" side.

I think the shelves idea came with the realization that quite a bit of storage was going away with the island to the garage.  It dawned on me that I could put all my baking supply jars out in the open shelves (where I can enjoy looking at them!) and that would free up a whole upper cabinet for other stuff.

Here's the spot where the shelves will go (to the left of the fridge).  You can kind of see the table top on the Coke cooler in this photo too.

I took some careful measurements and made a plan and bought some boards -- $54 worth!  Ugh.  But worth it.  Free boards of the proper widths and sufficient lengths were not likely to come around anytime soon. 

Within two hours, I had this:

FOUR coats of red paint later, I had this:

And now, all decked out in jars, it looks like this:

I plan to put a bead board back on it as soon as I get the bead board painted.  Well, ok, as soon as I decide on a color.  Mark says turquoise.  I love the idea but have to work up the courage and convince myself not to wimp out and used the same yellow that's on the wall.  There are other red and turquoise things in the room, so it's not that far a stretch -- especially with the Coca-Cola thing going on in there since red and "Coke-bottle-blue" are the Coke colors.

The empty shelf/space in the middle is eventually going to hold a flat screen TV.  Until then, I'll make a framed chalkboard to fill the space.

The feedback from the girls has been good.  They all like the color and say it's much easier to get to things and they appreciate not having to climb over the cook to get to the baking supplies like they did when the baking department was in its previous location.  The future flat-screen space is currently being used as the "soda shelf" (since we stocked up on 84 cent 2-liters the other day) so the girls arre pretty happy with that!

I love, love, love having everything in matching, labeled jars!  This just makes my OCD happy!  (which almost but not quite balances out the unhappy from the fuzzy photo).

The bottom section of the shelves, is designed to hold two bins.  These trash cans fit perfectly but are WAY too ugly so I'm still on the hunt for the perfect thing.  Any suggestions?  They will hold either dog and cat food or trash and recycling.  

There's been an unforeseen benefit of the baking shelves:  more baking is going on around our house.  Yum!  A coffee cake appeared.  There are also some chocolate creations in the works.  And I noticed the oatmeal was askew so I'm thinking there are oatmeal cookies around somewhere!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tank Top Score!

It's taken me all week to get a free moment when no one else was in the church to snap this photo.  The curtain rod that holds the name tag organizer was the perfect spot to display Sara-Grace's new tank tops!

Sara-Grace is 11.  She wears a tank top under whatever she is wearing every day so as to be sure to meet the dress code requirements at school.  I also think she just likes them.  

I happened on to the summer clearance sale at the thrift store and they had all the tank tops priced at 50 cents each.  So, this colorful array cost me a whole $3!  And will save me the many headaches I would have had when Sara-Grace couldn't find a tank top to wear.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hot Pink!

I think I can manage brevity on this post (for a change)!

I found this at the thrift store yesterday.  I didn't buy it because it's still $40 but I'm hoping it's ugly factor will keep it there long enough for the price to drop to $20 or less.  

Isn't it UG-LY?  I love it when something is so hideous that other people don't even give it a second thought/look but I have a vision for it and can clearly see what it COULD look like.

Why can't I just be still when I'm taking photos so they won't be blurry?  Argh!

I have had THIS wonderful hot pink cabinet in my mind for months and have been looking for a piece that would go well with this unusual color.  I think the above cabinet might be the piece.

Makes me want to devote a whole room to a new decor inspired by this piece!

This piece is also proof that just the right shade of a color can make even the most outrageous color choice come out looking all gorgeous and delicious!

This particular strange and risky color choice on this cabinet has gotten a gajillion "likes" on the Trash To Treasure Facebook Page so I think that is a good endorsement.  It's a fun page.  Check it out if you have a minute.  The best way to enjoy it is to just scroll through the photos rather than reading the posts.  I also love that some of the projects posted are HIDEOUS.  Which makes me feel like I can do a whole lot better!

Not sure if I'll ever really get to do this project but I am enjoying the thought of it today!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Recently I became enamored with a thought.  All those small kitchen appliances that clutter my cabinets and counters and that keep my kitchen from looking like a magazine spread could be put in one place in neat, tidy cubbies with easy access.  This very much appealed to my OCD.  And to my magazine fantasies.    

At first I wanted to build something like THIS which inspired the idea:

Love the Scrabble tiles for labels!

Then I thought a couple of those laminate tower shelves would work perfectly.  But you can't just go to Walmart and buy those anymore because, apparently, they are a creature of the 80's or 90's.  But I DO love them so -- seven square feet of storage (if you count the top surface) in one square foot of floor space!  I have one in my garage that is the perfect thing to hold many sets of plates.

Not the photo from my garage that I had planned
but isn't this great use of a laminate storage tower (black tower on right)?

During last Saturday's cleaning spree, I would sit down periodically with a magazine (or several) for an inspiration break.  The cubby fantasy was triggered again when I saw THIS:

The homespun nature of this cabinet made me think: maybe I have something around here that I can make work for this use.  So I took a couple of measurements and started walking around first in the garage and then in the house looking for suitable pieces.  Being the hoarder that I am, there was plenty to peruse and, as it turns out, I DID have just the piece for the job!  Which just goes to prove that I should never go shopping again because I have EVERYTHING already!

(A little imperfect use-what-you-have photography!)
I don't know what the original purpose for this piece was but I think of it as a pie cabinet.  I LOVE the thought of having a whole cabinet for pies (and a whole cabinet full of pies)!  So just let me have my fantasy.  

I got this cabinet for free from a dear friend of a dear friend who moved from one state to another to be with a new love and left most of her belongings in the process of her fresh start.  If she ever changes her mind and wants it back, I wouldn't hesitate to return it to her because it is too wonderful to just give away (I really mean that Candyce!).  Though I'm happy that it was given away to ME!

We all love the old-fashioned latch and the girls are always volunteering to close it for me to get to use the latch!  This is a plus.  

The pie cabinet had been in the front hall for just the last few weeks (where it replaced the tower that is now in the garage).  It held hats, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, etc.  But it was put to better use in the kitchen so I again went looking for something to fill the spot in the front hall.  

What I found was this pale blue cabinet that was doing no particular good at the top of the back stairs.  It was my mother's shoe and lingerie cabinet in her closet when I was born (and for the first 11 years of my life).  I will NEVER paint it because the color is so much a part of what it is to me. 

I figured out that the cabinet is blue and the front hall is blue toile so I thought it was close enough.  Often I just let colors decide what goes in what rooms because I have a room of almost every color so, for example, anything green goes in the dining room because it has all the green stuff and anything red goes in the library because it has all the red stuff.  Etc.  Etc.  Makes things a bit simpler I think.  

Though I would LOVE to have one, I have no idea how some people get all their small appliances into one of those roll-top/tamblor-front counter top appliance garages.  

Here is my new multi-story "appliance garage" complex.

The small appliances are now all neatly tucked away -- no stooping or digging required!  I may even dig out some Scrabble letters to label them will (because, I DO, of course, have those around too).

Now I don't have to fight/fix that darned spinning cabinet where I should NOT have been keeping all this heavy stuff all these years!  

Though the periodic fishing expeditions for the stuff that fell off the shelves into the abyss at the back of the cabinet were interesting.  Though not fun.  

Kitchen bliss!  I needed that!

Alphabetized Soup!

I'm stalled out on the blog post I have been working on for today due to photo complications.  Darn!

But, in the course of searching around for replacement photos (unsuccessfully), I came across a favorite old photo/idea.

This is "freezer bliss" to the OCD Annie!  I just happen to LOVE soup!   Now I want size/shape-standardized and alphabetized soups!  I even have the identical blue plastic basket in my possession already just by coincidence!  Time for a soup cooking day, I think!

I hope you enjoy this image/concept as much as I do and that it will tide you over until I get my other post up!

There might be an onslaught of soup recipes posted soon!  Just warning you!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I ran out of dishwasher detergent.  

I HATE buying dishwasher detergent.  

I hate it (and wasting water) enough that I give Mark grief about running the dishwasher when it's not completely full of dishes crammed into every possible space.  

I did not want to go the store having just left $100 there for what I had planned to be 7-10 days worth of meals.  

So I looked up a recipe for dishwasher detergent on the internet and was amazed at how simple and inexpensive it was.



Baking Soda


Dishwasher Detergent

Use equal parts Borax and Baking Soda in whatever quantity you like or have at hand.

This recipe works just fine and I don't feel the least bit deprived at not having a fancy bottle of Cascade.  I love the simplicity of the homemade stuff.

I stored my new dishwasher detergent in an old Good Seasons Italian Dressing (from the mix) bottle that was sitting around in the cabinet but I'm still brainstorming on what a better container would be.  There might be a blog post about that when I figure it out!

Meanwhile, you might give this a try.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Resourcefullness...and Brevity!

Brevity is hard for me.  I remember being assigned a 20 page paper and turning in 35.  I'm just kinda WORDY.

Yesterday's post was just supposed to be a list of the dozen spices I used in my curry dish and a sentence marveling about that.  Then I had to add photos and recipes and comments from all angles.  I can sure complicate things!

Today's experiment in brevity:

Thep Thai before:

Thep Thai after:

The owner (who's name I have never been able to discern) who did  ALL of that himself, gradually, over time.  He even grows vegetables and herbs in the parking lot.  Amazing!I have enjoyed watching the progress over the years and love to marvel at it all when I'm there.  He always inspires me.

Ha!  Just blew my extreme brevity!  As I was cropping the photo above (that I pulled off the internet) I realized that the woman I was cropping out is probably my friend, Karon!  And then I could go on about how Karon was a big part of why and how I got a real estate license which could lead to lots of other topics.

 I love this town!  I almost never meet someone that I don't have someone in common with  -- one or two degrees of separation (I never know how to figure that)!  And now I'm tempted to put in a link to "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" or the whole concept of "Six Degrees of Separation" or the research study that I participated in about it years ago (BTW all connections went through my dad who knows EVERYONE!).  Oops!  Couldn't help myself!

Life is just too interesting to leave fun stuff out!

Bye! (As opposed to "Goodbye".  Which is longer.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Mark and I have a date night tradition that means we go almost exclusively to our favorite Thai restaurant, Thep Thai.

When money is REALLY tight, we go just to share an order of basil rolls (glass noodles, scrambled egg, lettuce, carrots, fresh basil, and one shrimp each, wrapped in a thin rice sheet and served with peanut sauce and spicy shiracha sauce).  They are divine.

Recently we took on the adventure of making our way through the "Curries" section of the menu (after an appetizer of basil rolls, of course).  We liked some, found others too hot for us, and disliked the one that tasted like soap (though I'm sure it's good if that's the variety of curry you like)!

Then it occurred to me that I could make the perfect curry for me at home!  I am very impressed with myself as this is not the sort of ethnic food that one thinks to make at home.  Have you ever made egg rolls at home?  (Shush up if you're the one person who has and let me have my point.)

I searched around on the internet and found a recipe for "Vegetarian Korma" that I modified based on other readers' comments and my own whims.  I think it's a bit unfair to so conspicuously label it "vegetarian" as this could scare off some would probably never miss the meat if they didn't focus on the absence of it!

What amazes my most (beyond how INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS this is!) is how many spices are in it!  How can something NOT be wonderful with the skillful combination of a dozen exotic flavors?

Here's the spice list:
garam masala (which I would have put in if I could find a place to buy it)
(also: does olive oil count too? And coconut milk?)

That comes to AT LEAST 12 spices!

This dish is very easy to make I love that it is also very inexpensive to make (skip the cashews at $5.96+ a can and you can cut the cost in HALF).

tomato paste        .62
coconut milk      1.48
sweet potatoes   2.00
carrots                 .68
cilantro                .98
garbanzo beans   .88
onion                  .30
ginger                 .15
Total                7.09 (+ tax)
(Plus spices that you probably already have in the cabinet and any veggies, protein, or rice you might want to add in though I did not so I can keep it on my "Cheap Recipes" (under $10) list and make it frequently (I don't miss them anyway).  The recipe serves around six which makes it around $1.25 per serving.

I also love that this dish is very healthy!  It contains: carrots, sweet potatoes, tomato paste, garbanzo beans, other assorted/changeable vegetables, ginger and many healthy spices (as listed above).  In fact, other than the salt (which it really does need) there's nothing in it that's not good for you!  It is shown with white rice in the photo but I prefer brown rice for both taste and nutrition.  However, I don't eat it with rice because I don't want the carbs or the bulk (and I'd rather just eat more of the Korma!).

Here's my version:

Annie's Indian Korma
(serves six-ish)

4 carrots (sliced)
2 sweet potatoes (cubed)
1 can garbanzo beans
1 small (8 oz.) can tomato paste
1 can coconut milk ("light" if available)(or you can use evaporated milk,  fat free evaporated milk, or even
        heavy cream depending on dietary preferences and availability)
1/4-1/2 onion (diced)
1-2 cloves garlic
1Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1-2 teaspoons powdered ginger)
2 teaspoons salt (don't skimp on this)
2 teaspoons curry
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
2 jalapenos (diced)
1/2-1 bunch fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
(Optional: add tofu, chicken, other vegetables, and white or brown rice as desired.)

Preboil the carrots and sweet potatoes while you are preparing everything else.  In a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in olive oil.  Add in ginger.  Add remaining ingredients (mix the chopped cilantro in or put it on top before serving -- whichever you prefer).   Stir and cook for about ten minutes or until you think its done!  Enjoy!

I hope you will try this dish!  You will be glad you did and harbor eternal gratitude to me for the recipe!

Next, I need to learn to make basil rolls at home!

Now I am REALLY glad there are leftovers and I am going to go eat LOTS now!  Bye!