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Friday, April 28, 2017

A Trip Worth Taking

I'll admit I didn't want to go. When I planned this trip to North Carolina to visit a friend with my mom back in September, I planned a side trip to Washington DC. My mom really wanted to see the nation's capital and I thought what a great time to go to DC with my mom when there was a woman president!

Then November happened and darkness descended on the earth...

My mom was firm though (even when I dangled the New York carrot instead); she wanted to see the nation's capital regardless, so we went and I'm glad we did!

Washington DC felt a lot like Portland, OR in that it's a city of neighborhoods. The neighborhood we stayed in was called Bloomingdale. I found this wonderful airbnb which was within walking distance of restaurants, pubs, a bar, and a yoga studio, all of which I visited! A quick Uber ride and we were at the National Mall.

It was inspiring to actually see all the monuments that I've viewed on TV or in books, it was even better to see the less publicized ones.

The FDR Memorial was fabulous! It was hard to not be deeply moved by it.

The monument was comprised of outdoor rooms that covered all four terms of Roosevelt's presidency as it moved through the Great Depression and World War II.

Each room had a man made waterfall symbolizing the times. A large drop of water depicted the Great Depression and a serene expanse of water symbolized Roosevelt's death.

Along the concrete walls of the rooms were quotes from Roosevelt. These were especially hard to read with a dry eye as they are in such stark contrast to what we hear from our nation's leader today.

The Korean War Memorial, however, was my favorite. Again, it was hard not to be moved by it. As you walked through the memorial you had the feeling you were there, in battle, with those soldiers.

Nineteen stainless steel larger than life statues showed a platoon on patrol. You could feel how young, scared and cold they were as they navigated through the land, rifles in hand.

Additionally, to pay homage to America's Forgotten War, a nearby plaque is inscribed with: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." 

After our visit down the National Mall, we sprang for tickets on one of those Hop On/Hop Off buses and went for a ride around the city to see the other great public artwork, neighborhoods, and even the zoo.

On our third day in DC we were lucky enough to get into the new African American Smithsonian Museum. With out getting advanced tickets, it's virtually impossible to get in. Nevertheless, we showed up right when they opened and a tour group had extra tickets and gave us three!

A person could spend multiple days in the museum and still not see and read everything. You start with an elevator ride down three floors, depicting the movement back in time to slave days.

Each level up from there and to the ground floor, takes you through the civil rights movements and finally the Obama Presidency.

Additionally, there are two upper level floors that exhibit African American contributions to art, entertainment, and sports.

Aside from our bus tour, food and Uber trips, we spent very little money as the monuments and the museums were all free!

We stayed three nights and four days in DC. We went by Amtrak train from and to Durham NC so two of our days were travel days. Two days in Washington DC is not enough time to see everything, but it was enough time for me to know I want to return.


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Beauty In Everyday Things

Several years ago I decided I was going to upgrade the items I use everyday. The things where if you don't pay attention, get taken for granted. I'm referring to items such as bath towels, brooms, dish towels, rugs, silverware, dishes, cookware, sheets, et cetera.

My plan wasn't to just go out and buy a bunch of new stuff; that would be expensive and honestly, I didn't want to replace stuff bought at a big box store with more stuff bought at a big box store. No, I wanted to upgrade with nice stuff I either found used or handmade locally.

This endeavor started out small. I picked up a vintage linen dishtowel at a sale in someone's home or at an antique store.

Over the years, I started missing several pieces of silverware, so I'd pick up a pretty spoon or a couple silver forks at a garage sale. Matching wasn't and isn't a high priority. An item doesn't need to match to be beautiful.

I upgraded my hand towels to pretty handwoven ones I found in a studio and then promptly signed up for a weaving class at the same studio to make a new rug.

I've always been drawn to handmade rugs. I love the feel of them beneath your feet and appreciate the time and skill needed to make one. I'm always on the lookout for new or used handmade rugs.

Even items like my plastic measuring spoons I upgraded to pretty pottery ones.

And my metal measuring cups I've had for 30 years will be sold at my sale as I replaced them with some colorful stoneware ones.

A while back, I found some pretty vintage restaurant ware plates at an antique store and bought eight then moved my old ones to the basement to sell in my sale.

While I was at it, I took my bowls to the basement as well. We're still a little light on bowls as I've been replacing them with handmade pottery ones I find at craft fairs.

I bought a couple bowls at a craft fair at work one day and it was then that I discovered one of my co-workers was a potter! I commissioned him to make me a few dessert plates as they were an item I wanted to replace.

Little did I know he did BEAUTIFUL work! He made me 8 plates and I'm going to swap soap and help him set up a website for payment. He's in the process of purchasing his own wheel and setting up a home studio. I'll be sure to let you know when his site is up and running!

A couple years ago we went to a little independent store in SE Portland and I picked up a handmade broom made in Eugene, Oregon. I love it and when we saw one at an estate sale this past winter, I talked Jeff into getting it for his place. Check out their website to see the beauty that is a broom!

I still have plenty of everyday items I wanted to replace (10 year old bath towels as an example) but I'm in no hurry. I've found that I enjoy the search of hunting down something beautiful, useful and made with love.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Several Free Finds

Things are heating up around here. No, not the temperature (*sigh*), I'm referring to the number of free items on the sidewalk in my neighborhood! Last weekend made for a particularly good haul.

It started Friday evening as we walked to get some dinner. I found this wonderful little plant stand sitting next to a garbage can. I'm going to paint it chrome and have already ordered this spray paint.

Wouldn't it look sweet in a bathroom with toilet paper and towels rolled up on it?

Then Saturday afternoon I found this little table on the side of the road. It needs a few screws tightened and I'll paint the legs but I'm not sure yet what color.

I love the look of the top so for now, I'm thinking I'll just seal it.

I also picked up this little tray at the same location as the table. I'll probably paint and stencil it. I'll add some handles and it would make a nice tray to carry food and drinks outside (yes, I'm dreaming of warm, summer evenings).

Finally, on Sunday as I walked up to yoga, this window was tossed to the curb. I figured if it was still there on my way home then it was meant to be mine! Old windows sold really well at my last sale. They're very versatile and can be used outside, hanging from an eave, for some privacy, or inside.

I'll be sure to post the after photos of these items once I have a chance to finish them!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pressure Cooker Love

About a month ago I finally purchased the pressure cooker that was on my Amazon wishlist for years.

I've already made pulled pork, Chicken Masala, lentil bacon soup, pork fajitas, macaroni and cheese, and black beans with chorizo! Needless to say, I love it!

I especially think it's going to come in handy this summer when (if?) we get hot weather as it's electric and doesn't heat up the kitchen when it cooks.

Right after it arrived, I picked up an 8 lb pork shoulder roast and cooked it for an hour in the pressure cooker using this recipe. We had pulled pork sandwiches that night for dinner and ended up freezing enough leftover meat that we ate 3 more dinners with it!

I purchased it mainly because I loved the idea of having bean soup in less than an hour! Usually it takes hours to make as it simmers on the stove. I've found though, that I use it a lot to cook meat as well.

This Chicken Masala recipe I made a couple weeks ago. I love Indian food and this had all the obligatory spices in it. It was great as a leftover lunch the next day as well.

Naturally, I've made a few pots of beans with it. This black bean soup with chorizo was especially tasty.

I added a little cilantro and sour cream when serving.

With a nice crusty piece of rustic bread, this makes an easy, quick, and healthy dinner.

Most recipes can be converted to pressure cooker recipes by reducing the liquid and time needed to cook. This site offers some great tips on how to convert recipes to cook in a pressure cooker.

My pressure cooker will also work as a rice cooker and slow cooker although I have yet to use it that way.

If you're like me and like good homemade food but don't always have the time to make it, I highly recommend getting a pressure cooker!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Few Furniture Repurposes

Welcome to Spring! I hope you're lucky enough to be enjoying some warm(ish) weather.  Because of the cold and wet winter we had in Portland, flowers have been slow to bloom. We do have the die-hard daffodils blooming, and of course the daphne is in full scent but other than that it's pretty bare.

Since I'm not in the yard working on the weekends I had some time last weekend to do a few, quick furniture re-purposes.

I shared this table last year. I always thought it was beautiful but for some reason (maybe too formal?) it never sold.

So, reluctantly, I painted the legs and lip white but it still didn't sell.

Last weekend, I finally painted the top and added this stencil to it.
I'll put it in my Home and Patio Sale this July and see if it will sell this time.

Meanwhile, a couple weeks ago I picked up these shelves for free (sorry about the bad phone photo).

These are nice pine shelves with a plate groove cut into them.  I painted them with Layla's Mint milk paint. I think they would look nice in a kitchen holding spices.

I also had an old frame that I had lost the glass to so I converted it to a jewelry (or note or coupon) holder with a little chicken wire that I stapled on.

I painted it and added some burlap to the back over the cut chicken wire so it would be more finished and less likely to cut someone.

All these items will be in the Home and Patio Sale the last weekend in July!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kitchen Painting Finished

Yes the painters finished up this week and I'm very pleased with the result!

Before we get to the "reveal", I wanted to share the flowers I put together for spring.

Even though it's been raining and grey here forEVER, the calendar does show March and that means spring is around the corner!

This box was originally a bottle box that I repurposed and planted herbs in for Mother's Day last year.

Now it takes on another life as it provides a little color and a hope for spring-like weather.

Ok, on with the reveal!

Every good reveal starts with a before picture, so here it is.

We added crown molding  to the soffits.

Then painted the kitchen and hallway from the original *ALL* yellow...

...to the new greige-ish and white!

There was one snag in painting and I'm glad I hired it out. All the woodwork in the hallway (seven doors!) had latex paint over oil paint. Who would have done that!??? (probably me).

Anyway, it had to be scraped off so the new paint would stick.

I tried to pick a color that blended well with the cabinets, counter top, and floor. This picture shows the true color best.

I'm pleased with how it turned out.
I'm especially glad we opted to put the crown molding up.

To provide more light in the kitchen and because we didn't need it, I removed the blind from the window. Since the blind was original to the house and pretty nice, it got a new life in the bathroom.


I even splurged for a couple new rugs to go with the new paint color. The red rug under the cabinet I got at a Pop-Up-Shop before Christmas. Their rugs are all handmade and beautiful! Check out their website here.

That's it! Several years of searching Pinterest, a year of thinking about it, five months of talking about it and I'm finally finished with the kitchen.

What do you think? Do the colors match Ed and Olive?