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Friday, April 29, 2016

Five Things for Friday

Welcome to the weekend!  Let's start with this week's featured flower, the rose, because what's a garden without one?  Roses are the staple to every garden everywhere.  Just like the rhododendron is a must have for a Northwest garden and a bougainvillea is found in most tropical gardens, the rose is a universal garden flower.  I'm partial to the orange and old-fashion variety of roses.  Unfortunately I can't remember this one's name.

Last weekend found us at the Gathering of Guilds Show.   The show featured the Creative Metal Arts Guild, the Portland Hand Weavers Guild, Oregon Glass Guild, and the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers.  It was an awesome show and akin to going to a museum for free.  The work presented was truly artistic.

I wasn't planning on getting anything.  I certainly didn't need anything, but none the less, I managed to find this sterling silver ring that I loved!  It was simultaneously beautiful and bad-ass!

Sigh. Every year I do the same thing.  As I mentioned in a prior post, I love going to the nursery.  Every Spring I tell myself to just get a few things; you'll want to go again once Summer comes but you won't have anywhere to plant.  And every Spring I don't listen to myself!  Yes, it happened again.  We've been waiting all month, including 3 really nice weekends, for the Edible Plant Sale tomorrow, yet last weekend we went back to the nursery and bought all the vegetables and fruit plants our little planter boxes could hold!  We got cabbage, brussel sprouts, strawberries, carrots, arugula, shallots, peas, and a blueberry plant.  We're still going to the sale as Jeff managed to not plant every pot he had; those were reserved for hot peppers!

As I prepare for my sale in July, I'm also posting some of the furniture for sale on my website, Lora's Furniture. A lot of this furniture I picked up free on the sidewalk and refurbished (although, not the dining room set shown).  I've added a permanent link to the site on the left. If you're in need of anything and you're local to the Portland area, check it out or you can wait for the sale in July, which now has a firm date, July 29th and 30th.  Yes, this is the weekend of the Oregon Brewers Festival.  Come to town for the festival and swing by my sale!

Here's some personal good news...I've lost 20 lbs since last September!  How did I do it?  Well, hot yoga helped, however I also used this free app, iTrackBites.  It works on the same point system that Weight Watchers does where every food is assigned a number of points and you have so many points a day to use.  The nice part, like Weight Watchers, most fruits and vegetables carry no points so you can eat as many of those as you'd like.  The even better part, unlike Weight Watchers, is it doesn't cost anything!  Just the tracking of what I ate worked good for me as I've never really dieted before.

That's it for this week!  Enjoy the weekend.  I hope to get those free patio chairs I picked up painted as well as the lawn mowed, as you can see in the planter box picture it needs it!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mid Century Chair Refurbish

Another great sidewalk find as I was walking up to yoga a couple of weeks ago, was this mid century dining room chair.

I would have loved to have gotten the whole set as well as the table it went with but I'm happy to acquire just the one chair for free.

It was obvious the main issue with this chair was it needed the seat reupholstered.  The wood was fine, however, in my mind I had an image of what I wanted this chair to look like.

This is what my mind told me it should look like.

I had some left over burlap from a bench makeover I did so I used it on the seat.

The wood, although nice, I painted with Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (Shutter Gray) I believe this color of milk paint is my favorite.

I love how the paint chipped naturally.

This spot chipped a little more than any where else.  I think it looks good though.  If a piece of furniture wants to shed paint, I've learned to just let it.

One last shot from the back.  Not bad for another sidewalk find!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Five Things for Friday

Welcome to the weekend!  What a glorious week we've had, weather wise, until yesterday, then the sky opened up and rained purple (rip prince).  Tuesday though, we actually saw (felt) 90 degrees.  Weather like this really accelerates the blooms in the garden.  Lucky you! I've got some photos of what's blooming in my garden now!

First though, last Saturday found us at the Portland Nursery.  I love going to the nursery!  The plants, the atmosphere, the promise of things to come!  Ordinarily, the parking lot is not the best part of the visit.  This visit though, found this adorable truck parked next to our car!  How cute is that!?

As usual, our trip involved the purchase of A LOT of plants!  Enough to plant 5 hanging baskets and 3 large sized pots as well as some vegetables for the hexagon planters.

I planted this hanging basket.  I just love flowers that in real life look like a child would draw them.  If you gave a child a box of crayons and told them to draw a flower, I think they'd draw something like this...
...or this one.  For that matter, that truck looks like a truck a child would draw.  That's probably why it's so cute!

These baskets were welcomed to the garden by the perennial flowers already there, such as the weigela.

This weigela is one of the first plants we planted when we moved in about 19 years ago.

It never disappoints!

This flower is a wild orchid.  It's unbelievable how hardy this plant is especially if you have ever tried to keep an orchid alive in the house.  I transplanted these bulbs when my parents sold their last house.  Come on,  I'm not the only one who raids the yard when a house is going to be sold!  Right?
Here's another flower we picked up when we first moved in.  It's a ground cover called blue star creeper.

To wrap up the garden tour this week, we have a beautiful hanging succulent.  Succulents are kind of in right now but I just want to go on record saying I've always loved them!

Besides our nursery trip last weekend, I came into the ownership of these awesome metal patio chairs my parents found FREE on the sidewalk!

  I'm going to paint these bright cherry red!  Once finished, they should look like this!
I plan on selling them at my sale this July.

Also in the sale this July will be a golden chain tree I've had in a pot for 8 years!  I grew it from a stick so there's sentimental attachment to it.  It needs to go in the ground and I just don't have anyplace for it. Who ever takes it will have to prove their worthiness!  If you're really worthy I may just give it to you along with the terracotta pot!

As you can tell, I still am loving my new camera
 however I discovered something that before I had it I never knew I needed; a photo backup plan.  I download all my photos to my laptop and pick a select few to move to Google Photos or Google Drive depending on whether they will be loaded to my blog or my website.  Those select few photos are backed up on Google so no worries there.  It's the rest of the photos sitting on my laptop which are at risk if my laptop were to ever go belly up.  Which, ironically, just happened with my Mom's laptop and my old (2005?) netbook (*best $150 ever spent on a computer!*).

 I was a little leery of just recycling the broken computers since I couldn't wipe the hard drives or anything.  So upon Jeff's suggestion, I removed both hard drives and ordered two SABRENT 2.5-Inch SATA Aluminum Hard Drive to USB 2.0 Enclosure (EC-US25) for $6.99 each.  Now I can just plug the hard drives I removed from the broken computers into the cases and connect them via USB to my laptop and voila, I now have an external hard drive I can move my photos to!

I hope you have a great weekend.  This weekend it's supposed to rain so I won't feel so bad working in the basement painting furniture for the sale.  Also the Gathering of the Guilds Show is this weekend, another great thing to do on a rainy weekend!

There's still time to order from Lora's Beauty for Mother's Day!  The 15% off sale continues all May!  Place your order soon for the special Mother in your life and a free vintage Mother's Day card will be included!
(How can you pass that up?  Every sentence in that paragraph ended in an exclamation mark!)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

Last week we walk to the County Cork, an Irish pub close to our house. With our food order we were served this awesome Irish soda bread that they make everyday.  Since I ate it, I've been craving it.  Therefore, when I picked up a cookbook at an estate sale we went to a few days later, and it had a recipe in it for Irish soda bread, I knew it was meant to be;  I was going to make the hell out of that bread!  Saturday morning I had my chance.

First off, the The New York Times Bread & Soup Cookbook
 I bought was an old library book and it was well used.   As you can see in the photo, the recipe for the bread had an annotation next to it that someone had handwritten.   They crossed out 3 teaspoons of baking soda and wrote 1.  Then they put "3 t baking powder?" in the margin.  I was planning to ignore that and just follow the recipe, however further down in the instructions it read "Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda..."  That presented a problem.  No where in the list of ingredients, except the handwritten annotation, did it list baking powder.  I was going to have to consult the internet.

The recipe I finally used was a bit of a mashup of my book and the recipe I found here.  Basically I followed the book but only used the 1 teaspoon of baking soda and no baking powder.  All the recipes I found called for buttermilk.  Who keeps buttermilk around these days?  Certainly not me.  I don't think I've ever bought buttermilk.  My Mom told me that you can make buttermilk at home by mixing one cup milk and one tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar.  Perfect!  This is a great hack to remember.

The recipe called for 4 cups flour, however the dough seemed too sticky for my liking so I probably added at least a 1/2 cup more.

This created an easier dough to work with and shape into two medium sized circles.  With a sharp serrated knife I cut an 'X' in the dough.

The best thing about this bread is it takes about an hour to go from start to finish-- in my mouth!  There's no waiting for yeast to rise as the bread doesn't have any yeast.  After mixing it and shaping it, you bake it for about 40 minutes and then...waaaarrrrrrrrm breaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

This bread is a lot more dense than most breads but the flavor is excellent!

And here's the money shot!  Warm bread AND butter!  yummm!

I plan on making this bread again.  I think next time I will make one large size loaf instead of two small ones though.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Things for Friday

It's going to be another beautiful weekend in Portland! Here are a few things I enjoyed this past week.

I was thrilled to see we have nesting chickadees in our birdhouse!  Here's a photo of the mamma bird bringing more nesting material to the house.

If you click on the photo, it will enlarge.  You can see the chickadee sitting on the house in this photo.  We have five birdhouses and these two are the only ones we can see from the backyard.  The others are on the side of the house.

I'm excited at the thought of spending some real quality time on my new deck!  Today I've included photos of the final "reveal"!

But first, remember what I started with?  There was very little room to open the screen door and step onto the porch.  There just wasn't much (more like any) landing space before the drop to the steps.

And now for the reveal!  Much better!  We can comfortably exit the house without falling onto the step!

I've had those two folding chairs for a while but have never had a good place for them until now!  That green plant in the bottom right is my gardenia (**love it**).  It smelled so nice last summer!
The lights have been installed!  You can see one of the deck lights here.  These use led bulbs and are very bright!
One more photo looking down to the patio from the deck where Jeff is enjoying a beer while he relaxes from installing the deck lights. The red concrete slab in the bottom left is the original porch.  It was easier and cheaper to build around it rather than take it out.  I plan on repainting it sometime this summer.

Ok, enough about the deck.  We've picked up some really nice FREE furniture lately!  It seems, with the nice weather, my neighbors start cleaning out their houses and putting unwanted furniture on the sidewalk.  Last weekend we picked up this great dining room table and 4 chairs!

I'm going to repaint the legs and refinish the top.  I haven't yet decided on what color though.

We also picked up this nice mid-century dining chair.  It needs the seat reupholstered but that will be easy to do.  I also plan on painting it but I may change my mind.

Needless to say, I'm getting swamped with nice furniture, so I believe a sale is in my future.  Probably around the middle of July.  Mark your calendars! If you're in Portland you'll want to come!

I'm still browsing around for new sandals.  I really like these on Etsy and they're 40% off!  This shop has quite a few cute sandals 40% off.

Last weekend we went to this awesome estate sale down the street from our house.  The estate was of a 94 year old lady who was a hoarder  collector.  She had some really nice stuff; dishes, baskets, fabrics (tablecloths, bedspreads, etc), and bikes.  Apparently, what was for sale was only about 10% of what was in the house.  It was just the stuff they could reach easily.  There will be at least 3 more sales as they work their way through, or rather into, the house.  Anyway, I picked up this cookbook.

It's got a recipe in it for an Irish Soda Bread that I'm definitely making this weekend!  It's also got a recipe in it for Shark Fin Soup that I'll pass on for obvious reasons.  It was published in 1972 and has a section for "Quick and Easy Soups".  One of those recipes is for a Bean Soup in which the ingredients include opening two cans of bean soup!

Don't forget to checkout Lora's Beauty as we're having a Mother's Day Special now until the end of May.  There's 15% off all purchases!  A vintage Mother's Day card is included with purchases ordered before May 8th!

Have a great weekend.  Besides making Soda Bread, I plan on working on some of that furniture we picked up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mother's Day Special

Here's some exciting news for all those Moms out there!  Lora's Beauty is offering 15% off all purchases now until the end of May!

This is a great chance to pick up your favorite Mom (or yourself!) some all natural, all wonderful artisan soaps and/or moisturizers!

In addition, a beautiful vintage card for your Mom will be included with your purchase until Mother's Day (May 8) while supplies last!

We ship USPS Priority Mail so most packages arrive within 2-3 days, however order quick for best selection.

As always, Lora's Beauty ships free for orders over $30!  Just a few clicks and Mother's Day is in the bag (or mail!).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hexagon Planter Box

We are getting excited about Spring around here!  We've been thinking about the vegetable garden since November but there was one thing missing in our plans, the actual garden.  The only bare piece of land on our small city lot was under an English Walnut tree and nothing grows under an English Walnut tree (seriously, the oil on their leaves, stems and nuts are toxic to most plants).  So we did the next best thing and made some planter boxes.

Let me back up a little,  Last summer we were at our neighborhood nursery and saw these really cool hexagon planter boxes.  They were $55 each!  I really liked the design because they were small enough to be portable and they could link together nicely for a big-ish planting area.  But $55, seriously?  We figured we could make them a lot cheaper.

We decided to try our hand at it and make three.  If there was space and we wanted to plant more later, we could easily knock out another one.  So, off to the hardware store we went.

We picked up untreated 2X8's. It's important to buy untreated wood as you're going to plant food in them and don't want any unnecessary chemicals leaching into the soil from the chemicals on the wood.

Using a circular saw we cut them into 18 inch pieces.  Cutting them first with a circular saw made them easier to handle.

Each box, being a hexagon, would need 6 pieces (yea, I know the picture only shows 5 but trust me, you need six).

Next, and this is where math comes in, we had to cut each end of each piece at a 60 degree angle; 60 X 6 = 360 degrees in a circle.

This is much easier to do if you have a table saw.

Now, armed with 6 18 inch pieces of wood cut on an angle at 60 degrees each, we are ready to screw them together and make the planter box.

See how much fun this is!

We laid our box out to make sure everything lined up good.  Perfect!

Then we grabbed two boards and applied some exterior wood glue for extra bondage.  We used Elmer's E7310 Carpenter's Wood Glue Max, Interior/Exterior.

We then used 2 inch screws and screwed the boards together, putting two screws on each side.  We continued this process with the remaining boards.

There's no need to stain or paint the boxes, in fact you don't want to.  Once again, you don't want any harmful chemicals from the paint or stain leaching into your soil.  Because of this the boxes may not last as long, however, one only costs about $15 to make.  Sure beats that $55 price!

See how nicely the three of them fit together.

Now, what to plant.....?