January 30, 2011

Kitchen dilemma

Most of you who know me may think I'm referring to my cooking. Or lack of knowledge in cooking. Or my lack of trusting myself in cooking to not measure every little thing other than a pinch. If you are, ha ha, very funny.
My real dilemma lies in painting cupboards.

A couple of years ago, I saw a kitchen pictured in a Good Housekeeping magazine.
It had hardwood floors, green lower cabinets, white upper cabinets and a dark counter top. The point of the two colors was to bridge the color gap between the white cupboards and the dark counter.
I got married in the '90s. Dark colors and jewel tones were all the rage. I painted every surface in my kitchen white, got a dark green counter top, a dark green linoleum floor and painted ceiling trim and baseboards dark green. I started to tire of it, especially the contrast between the white and the dark green.

I began to think this new color combo would work in my kitchen. So we installed bamboo hardwood flooring, and I painted my lower cupboards green.

Of course now I want new lighting and stainless steel appliances, but that's just the beginning and still, this is not my dilemma.

My dilemma is that I'm not sure if it looks okay to have the upper cupboards white. Some people have asked me if I just didn't get to painting them yet. So, I am asking if anyone has an opinion on this matter.

There are some schools of thought on this subject.

I think I should leave them the way they are and it will all look fine when I get the stainless appliances.
My father thinks I should add white paint to the green and paint them a lighter shade of green.
My friend Kelley suggested I paint just the panel of the cupboard doors green.  
Another thought is to paint the area above the cupboards, I believe the soffit, with the green.

It's a very small kitchen and in a perfect world I would have blown out the back wall of my house and added the monster that I want and need and I'll even say deserve.

You see, this is it. No more, no less. I have also toyed with the idea of adding a glass front to some of the doors. That might break it up some. I'm just not sure if it's too small for the different colors.

It's funny to look at how small it is. When I'm in it, I don't think about it. You should see us on holidays, lol. It's hilarious. I need double ovens and tons more space for Easter as I have about 20 people and we all know that Easter in WNY is an inside holiday. So, either I'm bumping into anyone who wants to help or, I'm doing everything myself and none of it is done at the same time.

One good thing that's happening in my kitchen is taking place in the other half.

In July, I posted a pic of this new bench my Dad built. I made the pillows and my sister helped me with the cushion. Now, my good old Pop is just putting the finishing touches on a kitchen table he made for us. He had some old oak flooring from the 60's that he wanted to use for something, so he made a tabletop with it. He said he should be finished this week.

In the meantime, I have some bentwood chairs in the basement with cane seating in them. My Dad and I picked them up at a garage sale about 17 years ago and I have yet to do something with them.

Don't get me wrong, the caning wasn't always bad. We have used them. I don't just hoard stuff and not use it. Mostly.

 Anyhoo, since the cane is all broken, I am going to make new solid seats for them and cover them with the fleur de lis fabric on the bench. However, I want to paint them black first. So I have to get to the hardware store to get some black paint.

My little Daddy also made Big V a new dresser so we have to pick that up too. I'll post pics of it all when it arrives.

OH, an update on my "resolutions".

I have been planning weekday meals for three weeks now. I'm proud of myself and less hurried.
I set up my esty shop and I'm in the middle of getting all the paperwork done for it.
I've stopped eating everything in site and have exercised twice (usually on a Monday).
I have started to "get on with it" esp at work. It seems to be working to keep me from getting upset about things beyond my control.
I'll let you know how any of the rest of my resolutions are going when I do something about them.

Today I am thankful for this new program on the new PC called Microsoft Surface Globe. You can see the satellite view of the entire earth. I've been spending a lot of time on it lately. I've been everywhere!! It's so cool! I went to the Cape, of course, the Grand Canyon, out to Oregon to see my brother, up to the Arctic circle to see the ice, across the pond to England to look for Auntie Margaret's street. Then Ron took me to France to show me all the places he went when he was there. Then to Oman and Turkey to show me those places as well. It's quite amazing. Technology these days. My grandma would be amazed.

See you soon! Have a great week!

January 23, 2011

Lazy Sunday

This was a VERY lazy Sunday. I have had a bit of a cold for the last few days and I took a half dose of Nyquil last night. That stuff knocks me out and I slept til 11:40!!! I hope I'm good tonight because if I take it again, I will not be getting up with kids for school.

Today it was zero degrees here. I did not go out at all. The furthest I went was out into the garage to put recycling in the bins and sweep my back hall.

Yesterday I made some chicken soup. On Friday I roasted a chicken and truth be told I have never made chicken soup before. I called my sister to ask if you make the soup from the chicken carcass. She told me no, but you can use the lefover chicken to put in it.

So then she told me how her granddaughter makes it with boullion, noodles and frozen vegetables. So there I was, on Saturday afternoon, taking cooking advice from my 15 yr old great-niece. I used chicken broth and cooked up some carrots and celery in water. I threw the noodles in the broth while it was heating and then added the veg with some of the water they cooked in. Then I threw in the chicken and voila! Chicken soup. It was quite tasty for the first effort.

Last night my boss had the whole pharmacy over for our holiday party.

We had a lot of snacks, then dinner, then desserts. I was stuffed. Good thing I'm on that diet...

The kids played games...

...and so did the adults.

It was nice to get out of the pharmacy and have a good time with everyone for a change. It's very stressful there and sometimes we forget how well we like each other.

In light of some of my friends and acquaintances being struck with cancer, I have decided that it is time to reconnect with old friends that I haven't seen in a long time. I mainly have two days off during the week and I feel I should be devoting a day to having lunch with each of these people. I have several in mind. I recently had lunch with my friend who lost her 14 yr old daughter to a heart attack about a year and half ago. I need to keep connecting with her as life is not very easy and maybe I can lighten her load. At least to give her an ear to listen.
I know by spending a day week away I will not get much done around here, but am I really anyway? And I've been thinking about stress. I'm always stressed about things and I wonder, if I was inflicted with some grave illness, wouldn't everything just stop for me anyway? How much does all this matter? Any thoughts?

Oh, today I will be thankful for the cold since at least it is killing all the bugs that we have here in the summer so they can't keep growing bigger and bigger and bigger and take over the world.

January 18, 2011

Open Spaces

Sorry I haven't been here in a while. I've been busy working and have had a few migranes over the last week. Hopefully I am better for now.

Since the Christmas tree is on the curb (not where the girls and I want it to be), there is a new space in the living room that I need to fill.

Here's the other angle.

I'm not sure what to do. Big V says to put the couch on an angle into the window and slide the white chair over more. Maybe I've just got a little too much furniture. I'm sure my husband would say yes. You see, for some reason, I have the need to fill every space with something.

Here is the front corner and two pieces of furniture I need to move or place differently. I don't know if I should leave the couch the way it is and put the hope chest in the window, or put the couch in the window and put the hope chest aginast the wall more. I have wanted the couch in the position it's in for a long time. I just never thought about the other furniture. Maybe I should just leave the window empty for now.
Any suggestions???

I was out at an estate sale with Nic and scored this great jar of keys for $2.

Then, because I couldn't find anything else at the estate sale, I went to an antique co-op out in the country with my brother.

I got this wonderful wire basket.

And a flower frog for make up brushes and eye pencils.

This antique co-op had soooo much in it, I couldn't see it all. We looked around for two hours and I know I didn't see it all. This place has everything. Definately a revisit is in order!! The only problem is it is an hour away. :( But, if there is a nice day when the driving is good, I will try to take a ride and it is a beautiful one. Plenty of good photo ops!

Today I have to say that I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. I have been hearing bad news every day about people I know having cancer. Its scaring me. Then I'm reading blogs from these poor people who's children are so sick. I feel like I live in Fairy Tale Land. Everything is so good. When what's really happening out there in the true world is so sad.

Hug your family tight tonight!!

January 10, 2011

Comfort Food and a Surprise

Today was freezing here. Less than freezing, as a matter of fact. I am longing to go out and walk, but even on a sunny day, it's just too cold to bear.

That's why I make meals such as this Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese.

This is an Ina Garten recipe that I found here . Man, oh, man, was it gooooood. It made so much that I was scrambling for enough bakers to put it all in. We had lots of leftovers. Definitely a nice dish to take to someone who needs comforting.

I was grudgingly taking my tree apart when, SURPRISE! I found this precious little nest.

I just think this is the sweetest little thing ever! I can't imagine how tiny a bird lived in here.

I really don't want to take my tree down. It is in the best condition of any live tree we have ever had. We have watered it every day since the first Saturday of December. It is still soft, the needles are barely dropping and it still smells wonderful. So, I took everything off except for the lights and the angel.

I put all my decorations away, but, as sure as eggs, I forgot something. I do it every year.

My ornaments on the kitchen window sill. I swear, I walked through the kitchen and looked around to make sure I got everything. I guess you become so accustomed to looking at something that you don't see it anymore. In fact, my Dad was washing his hands at the sink today when I pointed them out and he said he never even noticed them at all! Lol. I guess I will put them somewhere else next year. Lol.

Today I am thankful that Baby Girl is healthy since she passed out on the altar while serving mass yesterday morning. I didn't even see her go down. I felt so bad. But we took her to the doctor today and he said she is fine. Thank God. I was a little worried. :{ But today she is feeling much better so, back to school tomorrow.

See you soon!

January 5, 2011

Brightening Up Winter

Here in Buffalo, winter lasts FOREVER. As I mentioned before, we had a Lake Effect snowstorm during the first day of December. BUT, winter doesn't start until Dec 21. So we had a lovely three weeks of heavy winter before we should have.

Anyhoo, I always get sick of it as soon as Christmas is over. Sometimes I get that Vitamin D deficiency thing where you are lethargic and sort of depressed without the sun,but it has not started yet. I'm hoping that finding other ways to cure the doldrums will keep me from getting it.

A huge bud grows into...

...a lovely winter flower.

This is my first ever amaryllis. I am so proud of this plant. It's definately brightening up my kitchen. I saved an article from The Buffalo News written by Sally Cunningham, our area gardening expert, telling what to do with these bulbs for the rest of the year. Here is what to do, for those of you who would otherwise throw the bulb away:
1. When the flower dies off, cut the stem off close to the bulb, but not the leaves. Leave it in a window and continue to water it and fertilize according to houseplant fertilizer instructions.
2. When the weather warms up, put the amaryllis oustide and continue to water and fertilize all summer.
3. When the weather begins to cool, slow the watering down. Before a frost, bring it in the house and cut off the leaves to the base. Let it go dormant for 8 weeks, in a cool location, watering with a few drops only when the plant threatens to shrink away from the sides of the pot.
4. In eight weeks or so, put it in a bright location and begin to water and fertilize again.

I would like to see if I can keep it all year long and bring it back next Christmas.

Winter also puts me in a knitting mood. It must be the coziness of yarn that makes me want to curl up with a blanket and knit something.

Last week I went to my sweet friend Valerie's house to knit. First she played the piano for us.

 Valerie is an expert knitter. She puts me to shame. I wish I was good at it, there are so many things I would like to make. My mother tried to teach me, but I was too distracted or something. I kept making mistakes all the time and ended up ripping it all out and starting over. I am still doing that.

Val said she would show me how to knit cables. It is much easier than I would have imagined. So I started a scarf. I bought this yarn last year so I could knit a scarf to go with my long grey coat, but never made anything.

It's a lovely rich color and a soft merino blend. I can't wait til I'm done with it. My neck is cold!

Another bright spot in my winter is a book I got for Christmas that I am reading.

When we were in the Cape last summer, this book was in the cottage when we got there. I read about a third of it, but had to leave it behind when we came home.

Henry Beston stayed in his cottage on the beach for a whole year on his own from 1926-1927. The book is wonderfully written and the author uses the most lovely words to describe what he encounters in nature that year. It really makes you appreciate all of God's creatures. If you have the time, you really should read this book. I doubt you would be disappointed. Espcially if you have been to the Cape, or any ocean beach, for vacation.

So, this post I am thankful for Valerie, for teaching me cables. And for her patience with a sometimes hopeless student!

Hope your winter is cozy and warm and that you find some wonderful ways to beat the doldrums.
See you soon!

January 2, 2011


Every year, when I was younger, I would make a New Year's Resolution. I scarcely remember following through with them.

This year, instead of making resolutions, I'm going to make what I'll call new habits. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit. Now all I have to do is choose which one I want to start with. Lol.

1. I'm going to stop eating everything in sight, like I've been doing for the last 6 weeks. This should probably be my first habit.
2. I'm going to do like my mother used to say and "just get on with it". My life is my life and I can't change much about it so I'm just going to do what I have to and trust that I am exactly where God wants me to be at each and every moment of the day.
3. Exercise. Yes, I know, sounds like a resolution. But, last year I was doing so well that I lost 10 lbs. Unfortunately, I gained it all back. I cannot let myself sit still so much. Besides wanting to fit in my clothes, I want to be healthy.
4. Plan meals weekly. This will save me money, I know. When I don't plan ahead, I stop after work EVERY day to pick up food for dinner. I spend $25-$40 a day. This adds up quickly.
5. Take a photography class, or classes. I need to get more info on this new camera of mine and I also got a great new zoom lens for Christmas. This is so important to me, it has to be done. This should probably be my number one habit to start, but, if I keep eating, I won't fit through the door to go to the class.
6. Give the girls jobs to do. One person cannot take care of this entire house. Maybe Daddy will get some jobs too.
7. Get my craft area set up in the basement. We cleaned out so much junk and old toys from our basement for our Christmas party that we now have plenty of room for a craft area. I plan on having one area for me and one for Little V. She is very creative and has been sitting on the basement floor for about 3 years painting and making Sculpey pieces and such.
8. Get my Etsy store up and running. I really want to see if I can make a go of it. I have so many ideas and things I've already made, it's such a waste to leave it all sitting here.
9. Put a little money away each week for next Christmas. I really need to start shopping earlier and, um, money is the key. I guess.
10. Try to see the good, hold my tongue, be a calmer driver, keep it around 1500 rpms(the price of gas is shocking here), be the best person I can, think before I speak, so I can maybe help my girls to be better people too.

Like I said, I'm not sure what order these will go in. It may change weekly. Or daily. Maybe the attitude changing ones should be first since some of the others will be easier to complete in a day or two.
If I think of any more to add, I will surely post them here.

Happy and safe New Year to everyone out there!

Christmas Past

I can't believe the holidays are over. It just went so fast, it was a blur. I started out doing so well and getting ahead, but wound up out shopping for my last gifts just a few days before Christmas.

Here is the final Christmas card photo. I had it printed in black and white, because, sure as eggs, out of the 300 black and whites I took, the one I liked the most was in color. Typical. I was feeling so good because this was taken in November and I was soooo far ahead of myself...

Then we moved on to a big lake effect snow storm.

We got over 3 feet in our little village. One of the highest totals in the whole area. I love how funny the snow looks on top of my pergola! Just like an egg carton.

Check out that pile-up on the bar...its getting close to the top of the umbrella...

...there's nothing like 38 inches of snow to put you a little behind...

...but, we went out to get the tree just the same.

There were so many to choose from, and it was c-c-coldddd...

...so we decided to look in the barn and see if there were any good trees hanging around...

...we found one.

It was beautiful on this tree farm in the country, so we went for a walk...(Little V stayed in the truck to warm up). 
...then back to pick up our freshly wrapped tree in the barn...

...we took it home and trimmed it.

Then we decked the halls...

...the hutch in the dining room...

...wreaths at the windows...

...with Grandma's old beaded silver wreaths...

...my little kitchen tree...

I made a bunch of beaded snowflakes that I joined together to create a garland. It will take many more of them to make a noticeable length. But, it's a start.

The coffee table had it's show of antique Christmas ornaments...

Even the basement was decorated.

We had a little gathering...

...so the pub was treated to some joy...

...and texture...

...even the villagers trimmed their tree.

Then we stocked up on warm blankets to get ready for the winter...(which, according to the calendar, didn't even start yet).

We decorated cookies...
...many cookies..........I ate some (she says in a Forrest Gump voice).
This tradition started when Big V was a toddler. My parents would come over and we would spread everything out for her to decorate the cookies with us. My mom and I were the ones who spread the icing and my dad and the girls always did the decorating. Many happy memories there...

It has been very hard not to eat them all in one sitting...
...and when they are gone I always debate making more...hmmm...

We even decorated Dad's house...

The trick every year with these little ladies is to see if my dad notices that we didn't spell NOEL with the letters. Last year we spelled LEON, this year Little V came up with LENO. My dad noticed right away.

All done.

After the remaining baking, shopping, wrapping, more baking and our annual Dec 23 friend visit where we drop off jars of jam with fresh baked bread, we were exhausted. Well, I was exhausted.

Big V left a cookie for Santa...

The presents were placed under the tree, I put out the lights and went to bed.

We are so thankful that we can provide this kind of Christmas for our kids. We have memories that some children never get to have with their parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins. From the start of the season, we said we were going to cut back since we bought a new PC, but it seemed we were able to buy more than we thought. My sister told me she was having her granddaughters over to decorate cookies and that one of the girls' friends was coming too. This girl had never decorated cookies before. I was amazed. We always did cookies with my mom growing up, and now we have all carried that tradition on with our own kids and grandkids too. I can't imagine not having that memory.

Hope you all had a wonderful and blessed holiday.