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Monday, April 22, 2013


Hello dear friends!   Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.  Spring is slow to come in our little corner of the world, but ever so slowly winter is ebbing  away, and even if we don't think it's spring the birds are cheerfully proclaiming otherwise.  Is there anything more comforting than the song from a red-winged blackbird?   Something about it reminds me of strawberry fields and wild roses.  There's is no better tonic for a crazy world than to just close your eyes, turn your face to the sun and just listen to the birds.  God is in His heaven; all is right with the world. Browning knew a thing or two!

This month we traveled to North Carolina to see our new little grandson, Ezekiel.  What a beautiful baby, with his pale hazel eyes and little rosebud mouth!  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so we have no visual recording of our meeting. But it's just as well as I find cameras rarely do any of us justice.  Better the moment lives on  in my mind.  It was so nice to travel to warmer clime and fun to climb up and down the mountainous byways, but at the end of the day the nicest sight was when we turned into our drive and spotted our little gray cottage. 

To say that I am not a traveler, would be an understatement.  I like to see new sights but am a firm believer that there's plenty of new experiences right in our own backyards if we care to look.  And it's a lot easier on the pocketbook!   But one nice thing about traveling is that it reaffirms that here is where I belong.  I just had the thought when I uploaded this picture of our kitchen, that this is the type of kitchen when watching those home renovation shows that the host takes one look at and says "Total gut job!".   But granite counter tops and nickle-plated hardware in this house would be as out of place as putting lipstick on a pig.  It's time like this that I wish I were a better photographer, so that I could capture the wonderful golden glow that comes from the window and just the feeling of serenity that I have we I come down the ships ladder of a stairway and enter it's cozy little space.  My wish for everyone is that they have a place that they feel at perfect peace.  I'm sure it would be the answer to all the violence and hatred that permeates this old planet. 

You can't have peace if there's a lot of chaos going on, so to help alleviate  that problem here, Ran built this little window seat for our upstairs landing.  I store my fabric in it.

 He used an old foot board  from a bed we no longer needed and that beautiful old board for the top was found in the crawl space of a Victorian house we used to own.  It's cork pine, which is now extinct.  It's amazing that the wood hadn't rotted away because it is well over a hundred years old.  That's a testimony to a nice dry house!  We bought the HL hinges at garage sale, eons ago.  Total cost for the project was about $5.    I did some re-purposing of my own and made these tote bags out of some old window valances.
My hope was, that if I had cute shopping bags, I wouldn't forget to use them.  Fat chance!   Some habits are hard to break.   But I am getting better, now they get as far as the backseat of the car.

I found the valances at the thrift store.  Aren't thrift stores wonderful?  I really don't understand why people shun them.  Of course some are better than others.  I've never found anything worthwhile in our local Goodwill and the Salvation Army  rarely has much.  The stores I like are the little ones run by dear sweet ladies for church charities.  They always have the best vintage linens and serving pieces.  The junior league  type stores yield the nicest clothes.   It's funny, but I'm a bit of a clothes snob, in spite of buying my clothes second hand.  I only buy labels from  designers like Ralph Lauren and Ellen Tracy and stores like Nordstroms and Saks Fifth Avenue.  And yes you can find those things, but it takes time and patience.  This past winter I found a brand new with tags  ($246!) on gray cashmere tunic from Lands End  for $3.  And a pretty pale teal handbag from Marshall Fields.  I had to buy that just for the label because alas, poor Marshall Fields is no longer.  Some people think eww!  clothes that others have worn, but I assume someone may have tried on the clothes at the store, so they've been worn before also,  And I've order clothes and found lipstick stains and other tell-tale signs of previous wear on them, so I don't worry about that.  Besides, you are going to wash them before you wear them. New clothes are only new once, then you wear them and they are used anyway.  I'd much rather buy a a used sweater of good quality, than buy new cheaper clothes of shoddy quality. Here's some tips for thrift store shopping:

1.  Go with a plan. Knowing what "holes" you need to fill in your closet, keeps you focused. 

2.  I've found that having a color scheme helps so that you don't end up with a bunch of mismatched items.  My basic color them is gray, cream  and oatmeal with a bit of pale teal and lavender thrown in for good measure.  Other classic color combos are navy-gray-cream,  black-white, brown-tan. If it's not in that color scheme, I don't bother looking at it.

3.  Buy classic pieces.  Edith Head said that anything extreme, eventually become ugly, and just looking at an old high school yearbook will prove that!  Some things never go out of style, like pea coats, pencil skirts, plain white blouses,  simple button down cardigans. 

4.   Know your style.   Over the years I've learned what looks good on my shape and fit's my lifestyle.  There's no purpose of me looking at floaty little skirts and little rosebud sprigged blouses, no matter how cute they are.  They just don't look right on me. 

5.  Don't shop with children and husbands that step on your heels.  Thrifting takes time. 

6.  Look for quality.  Plaids should match at the seams.  No pills on sweater.  Nice finished seams. Lining in woolen skirts, etc. Natural fabrics like linen, wool, etc. You know quality when you see it.

7.  Don't be afraid to alter a garment.  Sometimes all it takes to make dress look nice is new buttons or a skirt shortened.  Or the shoulder pads removed.

8.  Sometime all it takes to make something look nice is a good ironing job.  This goes for new clothes too.  Sometimes I think I need to do a tutorial on ironing, I think it's becoming a lost art!

9.  If something doesn't work out for you, bundle it back up and re-donate it back to charity.  Don't clutter up your closets with stuff you don't wear.  All of my clothes fit on two shelves of a linen press and a couple of dresses hanging in the closet, yet my husband calls me a clothes horse!   By buying classics in my color scheme, I have endless combinations. 

10.  As with everything, it's quality over quantity.  Some days you'll come away without finding anything.  Other days, you'll have a windfall.  It seems it's either feast or famine with thrifting.

I couldn't end without giving you one thrifty recipe.  This is our latest favorite for snack:

Buffalo Cauliflower

4 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 head of cauliflower, broken into flowerets
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and sauce together.  Toss the cauliflower with the mixture.  Place on a large cookie sheet.  Roast at 425 degrees  for 20 minutes.  Give them a good  stir once midway through the roasting process. Cauliflower should start to darken and become soft when done.  Serve with blue cheese  or ranch dressing for dipping.  Or eat them plain.  A nice healthy alternative to french fries, especially if you use one of those heart healthy, olive oil based  margarines  instead of butter.