Archive for February, 2011

New Kitchen Reveal….finally!
February 28, 2011

Note the vintage 1965 circa wallpaper underneath....

I know I’ve shown little bits of it in other posts, but never everything at once. SO for those of you who are interested, here’s how the kitchen turned out….in just a little under four weeks, which is pretty speedy really. In fact, the one reason I picked my contractor David Tobash was that he has a track record of finishing the job in the time allotted. I talked to one neighbor whose kitchen(whose job was bigger than ours, admittedly, but still) took 6 MONTHS. That person I didn’t even call for an estimate. Four weeks was long enough.

This wall between the dining room and kitchen came down

You have seen some of the destructo scenes…here’s a recap….

All cabinets came out....

We still had use of the frig during the process, and the microwave was in the family room and stuff was EVERYWHERE.

David Tobash...he was always calm...

Here’s a picture of David,my contractor(-yes I know he’s cute, but I have nothing against attractive contractors), and one of his guys…this was about halfway through…you could see what things were gonna look like. And David never got upset about anything(me-“Oh my God, the appliances won’t be in until the end of the week“….him-“That’s fine, we’ll work it out.“) And it was fine.

This was how one wall used to look....lots of wasted space...

This side wall had a bar and a tall cabinet, which all came down. But as we were losing cabinet storage over the stove…here was my solution.

Open shelving above cabinets below....I love open shelving...

Silver Supreme....love it...

This is the granite we picked, called Silver Supreme….but we never saw the actual slab. As the cabinet designer said, “That was brave“…..not really, just an oversight. So when I walked in and saw the huge espresso brown/black streaks through it, I said something that I won’t repeat here. But once I got over the shock of it being a different than what I was expecting…I fell in love, totally. A surprise but a happy surprise. It’s very dramatic.

A big ole wall....

This was the view from the dining room…and now it’s this….

So open...we love it...

And the bar area I love and use so much….the chairs came from The Foundry(the wood was reclaimed) and the pendants from Wisteria.

I watch tv and do computer work from here in the am...

 Some of my fave things about the kitchen….note the cabinets now go to the ceiling, no wasted space(but you need a little ladder), and under counter lighting.

Love the Samsung French door frig...

Oh Jennaire.....

I was honestly a little nervous about downdraft oven, but it has performed like a champ….it vents through the floor to the outside. 

White subway tile blacksplash....and recycled knobs...

Room with a view....

And where once I stared a wall of cabinets while I cooked, now I look out two windows…..such a huge difference. Oh, and I almost forgot….these drawers are fabulous.

Pull out drawers for pots and pans....

So I got what I wanted….a more open kitchen with all new cabinets and appliances, without breaking the bank. Keeping the kitchen footprint the same makes a big difference in the end cost(I had a small kitchen and I still have a small kitchen)…and I shopped for many of the things(lighting, granite, appliances) myself. As one reader who had redone her kitchen said, “You’ll wonder why you waited so long to do it.” No, I know why….we had kids to get through college….but every day when I walk in, I am amazed by how much I enjoy it !

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All those receipts…can cream puffs be far away?
February 25, 2011

Oh, the papers, papers, papers, papers!

I’m not talking about tax receipts…those are still patiently awaiting my attention….but my health insurance company has $500 that belongs to be and I want it back. Oh, the FSA account. You know, your company cuts the money pre-tax from your check, and they reimburse you(from your own money) to pay for co-pays, deductibles, glasses, etc…things that aren’t covered. This is my weekend project…yawn.

But I must say…a lot of people here don’t do the FSA because it is, a hassle. I need to add up all the expenses(for which I must have receipts)…and hope it totals 500 bucks…if it adds up to $400…I lose the $100. Which doesn’t seem fair, because it is my money, but “them’s the rules’“. Just got off the phone with my dentist to get a receipt I don’t seem to have from last year…that’s being emailed. Oh enough with this.  Boring.

Green tea and thinking thin....better than nothing

This is lunch today..some decaf green tea and a Think Thin bar….because I don’t feel like schlogging around in the rain…oh wait…the sun’s out!

Puffs and Pastries on the Avenue....

Maybe I will get out for a bit, because I have a Groupon to redeem at Puffs and Pastries(hollah) in Hampden for a dozen assorted cream puffs(which makes the Think Thin bar kind of a giggle)….but still…. 100 calories saved is 100 calories earned, oui? Good for one cream puff.

Oh, you luscious little devil...

Have a wonderful weekend….do something fun, eat a cream puff(but only one), play nice and don’t throw rocks. Oh, and come home safe….’cause we miss you!

My bowl’s better than your bowl….
February 24, 2011

Round? Square? Which one to paint?

Today was a day many of us here at WBAL looked forward to….it was almost like going back to kindegarten…craft time…a moment to stop thinking tv and start bringing out our inner artist…..painting bowls.

Black and white check....too ambitious?

 

Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore-here….where you can eat lots of delicious soup from various vendors at the College of Notre Dame on March 12th….AND take home a beautiful hand crafted bowl….many crafted by talented people and some by people like me.  But it’s amazing, after the bowls are painted and fired, even the clumsiest effort looks like art.

Here’s the deal…you buy a ticket for $15(preferably in advance-no guarantee of tickets at the door)…come inside, try all the soups you like, and before you leave, pick out whichever bowl suits you to take home. The ones I chose last year, Muffy and Baby Girl eat fromevery day( they won’t take food from any other container)…that’s how partial they are to their  bowls. Here’s how my artiste co-workers did with their bowls…

Tony Pann's bowl....weather motif...

Here is Tony Pann’s effort. Very…nice. Very …weather related.

Sky blue and yellow from Mindy Basara...

And this is from Mindy Basara….and while there were decals available which made things easier and quicker….Mindy did this free hand. Lovely.

Hands around the bowl by Stan Stovall....

Here’s is Stan Stovall’s effort….very pretty, though I must add(for veracity’s sake and full disclosure) that he used decals. Still…very nice.

Black and white...always chic, right? Right?

And here’s mine….it didn’t turn out quite the way I had pictured it, but I think when it’s glazed and shiny, it will be nice( Jackson Pollock has nothing to worry about)…and black and white fits in anywhere. Though I may still go up today and add one single drop of red in the interior. Thoughts?

Hope to see you on the 12th….remember..”As our bowls are filled, let us remember those that remain empty“…..

Snowver…..I’m so over snow…..
February 22, 2011

The woodpile, from my window....sigh...

Yeah,  the snow was pretty falling last night, and lovely and pristine white when I woke up…then I thought about all my compatriots at WBAL who had to be in to work at 3:30 am…or earlier…to go on the air at 4:30. Youza. That must have been some interesting driving, made better only by the fact that there’s almost no one else on the roads at that time.

I started to go outside to bring in another load of wood….this is our secondary woodpile, the first cord of wood(and the closer to the house cord)having been used up maybe a month ago. But the secondary pile is further…and you have to trek through more snow to get there and back….so I just shrugged and made a cup of tea.

One of the producers here who has an early morning call, and lives on Charles Street, said he has never seen Charles(a major thoroughfare) as bad as it was this morning….even in the blizzards last year. I couldn’t figure that out….is the city saving some money by not putting out the plows? Dunno. Luckily the sun is out doing its job….and with warmer temps on the way this week, the meltoff should be rapid. But I’m “snowver“….so over snow. Done. Kaput. Ready for spring. Ready for this….

Smith Lake living....

or this…..

Iced tea on the porch...

or this….

Donna on the beach....

Yeah, that’s the one…

Dreamin’ of spring…Pay a visit to my dream porch!
February 18, 2011

Where is my white wine?????

I was looking out over my back porch this morning, which to be honest, looks a little skanky. Yes, that’s word, because I just used it in a sentence. By skanky, I mean kinda bad. Patches of snow here and there(still), a dead tree in a pot that is actually turned over on its side, lawn chairs all akimbo, because we were using them to keep an ugly sheet of plastic over the fountain so it wouldn’t freeze, flotsam and jetsam all around….just skanky. The picture above is what my dream porch would look like(thanks Frontgate)…and here are some more….enjoy.

Also from Frontgate...very moderne....

This one is probably too sleek for me, but it has a look….

Love, love love the Provence-Restoration Hardware

This one I adore. No skank here at all. Restoration Hardware…..

Leagrave from Restoration Hardware....mmmmmmmm

All I want to know is…who’s gonna clip the hedges? I’ll light the candles.

Catalina Deep Seating.....you could sink right in...

How fabulous is this look? It’s from Great Gatherings in Annapolis! They have some great stuff(thus the name fits.)

time to read a book....

And this look is a little more formal, but soooo lovely…and solid. From Bazensky’s Furniture in Middle River…note the LIVE tree in the background, and it’s pot is not overturned. Skank-free zone.

Wow...just wow...

From Brown Jordan…just so clean and sleek, but inviting too…It’s called Canyon.The Palmetto. I could hang out here for a while....

And as usual, Pottery Barn  has it goin’ on…they just get it. Always have.

The Faraday, also from PB....

Another one from Pottery Barn…love the carved look…and while it looks like a living room piece, it’s from Eucalyptus wood, that is meant for outdoors. Love it.  In the meantime, I will try to clean up my scene outdoors…neaten it up…and think about getting something new for outside this spring. Keep dreaming of spring, get a little bouquet of flowers for yourself, and be extra nice to someone this weekend…and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

Three new finds….covering a lot, a little or not at all…
February 16, 2011

Ok, I just realized I should pass a few items along to you that I think some of you might dig….and they are all in the “makeup” category…but one of them is so not makeup really, that I think even guys might like it. Yes…guys. Ok, here we go!

I love this stuff....

First up,  the one that I think is really unisex is new to me…dermalogica’s Sheer Tint Moisture-here. I’ve never tried it,  but I got some sample packets in an order for something else from Dermstore, I think.

My sample packets.....great for travel...

And since I don’t like to walk around with foundation on all day, but I need a little color, and some sunscreen(15 spf)….and sheer tint moisture does all that. It evens out the blotchy skin tones we all have, but no coverage. I really, really like it. ($42 for 1.3 oz)

Color, sunscreen, and a touch of coverage...

Close to that but with a touch of  coverage, is Perricone’s No Foundation Foundation-hereI’ve been using this for a while in the mornings before I go to work or on the weekends….it has the added benefit of a 30 spf, added dmae and alpha lipoic acid, adds color and just a slight bit of coverage. I feel like I have a really nice glow when I wear it. It’s $50 for 1 oz., but a couple of pumps are all I need…it lasts a pretty long time.

great little coverup compact....

And something I also got as an extra in an order(might have been the same order from Dermstore-love freebie samples) is by red.point….the Noc-Out Cover-up Compact-here . The yellow is great for shadows under the eyes, and the other shades work for lighter or darker parts of the face. I see on their website, it’s usually $38, right now half price, which ain’t bad. Enjoy!

An amusing “end” to to a bad week….
February 14, 2011

Ok, it's the right size....

You know that last week I was in Birmingham, after the death of my sweet Poppa-in-law Dick…the funeral was Friday, and the week was… as you might expect….bittersweet. Catching up with family members not seen often enough, laughing, some crying, plenty of eating(as you know, in the south…with death comes food).

Golf, anyone??

But yesterday we were packing up to leave…the lovely Jennifer tried out a set of Dick’s golf clubs at our urging(he had four sets in the storage shed). That seems excessive, except that this was a man who might have missed his first grandchild’s christening(our son) for a golf game, but for threats from his wife, and a man who scored four holes in one in his lifetime, and shot his age at 72. So four sets, for him, was just right. But I digress….Jen loved his  Cobra clubs, and a golf pro had recently suggested she check out some senior men’s clubs…as they might be just right for her. And they were.

I'm sorry, but this is just brilliant....

But packing them to fly them home? Hmmm…..a huge Fed Ex box, could hold them but so much room left for them to rattle around, and we didn’t want to make it too heavy(over weight bag fees anyone?). So we killed two birds with one green recycled store, filling the open spaces with all the recycling we had accumulated…empty soda, cream, and milk plastic bottles, plastic  trays from a deli, newspaper….oh, a container of  croissants…in they went.

But earlier that morning, coming down Dick’s stairs(think nightmare steep staircase with tiny treads), my foot slipped off the edge, and I rode down four or five stairs on my butt. So yes, the old tailbone is sore and I have a big bruise and scrape on one elbow…but otherwise am unscathed.

Why...why?

And to add insult to injury, trying  to wash and dry all our towels before we leave….when I remove them from the washer…there are hundreds and hundreds..maybe millions…of little bits of brown paper all throughout the towels, because I’ve clearly washed a grocery bag  with them, which had fallen from where they were stored right over the machine…..so I shake the bits out on the floor before the dryer. Look around for a broom…of course there isn’t one, so I gather them up by hand. That was fun.

But on the bright side, I toted home all the leftovers from the food delivered by Dick’s Sunday School Class Friday in plastic bags(nothing better than homemade church food)… including some rocking baked chicken and pepperoni with a cream cheese sauce(will effort the recipe)… carrot souffle, Jim and Nick’s barbecued ribs(heavenly)..call me a scavenger if you will but I never leave good food behind.

Oh, and it’s Valentine’s Day! As Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Love is the only gold“….so true. I hope you share the day with love… give it, receive it…it’s all good.

The last parent….
February 8, 2011

Dick and Shirley, in earlier healthier days...

We got the dreaded phone call in the wee hours of the morning(why is it always then?)…that my dear, delicate Father-in law had passed away. He had really struggled with his health in the past few years….copd, colon cancer, heart issues. He had been in the hospital for the past two weeks, and in the ICU since the weekend when he had emergency surgery…and he just wasn’t strong enough to make it in the end.

But we were all hoping that he perhaps had a few good years ahead…and he had found love a second time late in life…what a gift that is. After my wonderful, much missed Mom-in-law passed away years ago, we all worried about him being so lonely without her, and no doubt about it…he was. But the day he asked a tall redhead, just a few years his junior, to lunch(at my urging), his life brightened considerably. I’ll never forget when he told me, “I think I’m in love with her“…like he was 30, not 80. I wrote about that in a previous post-here. And Grace’s name was appropriate…she brought such light and grace to his life that no son or daughter could. They were inseparable. Until now.

And it is decidedly sad..and a moment of passage I suppose…when the last parent, whether biological or by marriage, is gone. All you can do is remember them fondly…my father-in law, who was a man who came to be openly affectionate later in life. I remember some years ago, I would say in leaving, “I love you“…and his response would sometimes be an awkward, “Uh, thank you“….hilarious, and true for many men raised in that era. But that changed as he got older…a man who never went to church as long as I knew him(the golf course was his church) started going to church, gave up drinking because he had to for his health, and started saying “I love you“…somtimes unprompted. He went into the navy at 17, because he didn’t want to miss out on WWII. And when he got out, the man who wanted to become a history teacher, got a job instead in retail, as the demands of family called, and he answered. He managed more than a couple of malls in the south….and I’m sure the people who worked for him loved him, because he was really very funny. Acerbic, with a dry wit…my son always said, “Grampa is the funniest man I know“. So Dick, we will all miss you…more than you know. You have been an important part of our lives…and we wish you well on the journey before you…Godspeed my friend.

All you little red monsters out there…..I’m in a red frame of mind…
February 4, 2011

Put on your red dress, baby....

Ok, here’s the thing…I don’t really have a lot of red. Even though my Mother always  told me(and lamented the fact that I liked neutrals) and Marianne Banister tells me that I look good in it, red is just not a color I gravitate to when shopping for clothes. As a result, when I stared into the dark depths of my closet this morningWear Red Day…I found exactly…. none.

Love it!

So here’s what I would be wearing if I owned it….I love this shot of two women in red strolling the city….I want to go to there.

I would also love be wearing these red shoes....

How about a little red dress gossip????

Red in Givenchy...so very chic...

Or how about red nails?????

Or Paloma Picasso Red lips???

Or take a nap in a red dress????

I love all those  vintage fashion photographs from Vogue and Glamour (the photos are from  HK Photographs)….and for your information they are all available today(for a fee-$399 to be exact) at One King’s Lane(a great home shopping site but you will have to sign up to view things there) and  a portion of the proceeds from this event  will go directly to the Go Red for Women Campaign.

So, while I’m outfitted in red, I’m in a red frame of mind…and the weekend is upon us! Play nice, book a heart assessment screening with your doctor, go for a nice long walk, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Eat chi-chi-chia…turning oatmeal into a super meal!
February 3, 2011

So cute...so tasty???

Yes, that chia…the wonder-pet-turned-1980s-phenomenon….Remember the commercial that we saw over and over and over and over…..for those of you too young to remember…here you go!

This is the new look for Chia....

But what you may not know about chia, which was once a staple for Native Americans in the southwest and the Aztecs long ago,  is that it’s the latest superfood-read more here…chock full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. If you were to put a spoonful of chia seeds in a glass of water, and left it for 15 minutes…you’d find the seeds had become almost a gelatin substance…the reaction is the result of the soluble fiber in chia. Supposedly, that gel creates a barrier in the tummy between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, so it slows the converting of carbs into sugar…all good! How do I use chia? 

I love these oats, and there's a quick cook method...

 On Sunday night I make a big pot of “steel cut” oatmeal( the quick way is throw a cup of oats in 4 cups of boiling water and just let it sit overnight)…put in a good helping of chia seeds, and the next morning…you have a wonderful breakfast that could last all week…depending on how many people are eating it.

Blueberries..always....

You could even put the chia-oatmeal in a loaf pan and then cut slices in the mornings, and heat it in the microwave, add some honey or artificial sweetener, some blueberries and some walnuts(also good for omega 3s)….

Love love love the walnuts...

and you have a super-quick, fiber-filled, antioxidant and omega-3 rich delicious breakfast. Don’t even tell me you don’t have time for that. Oh, and you can add chia seeds to almost anything… a salad, soup, a stew, baked goods, smoothies or soaked in fruit juice(chia fresca in Mexico)..you name it. And as for where to get them, I get mine at Whole Foods, but they’re also available online, usually around $6.99 a pound.