Thursday, March 26, 2015

Home Dec -- and Life -- Discoveries

Just finished a post over at Apartment Therapy about living alone...and liking it that way.

And it got me thinking.

The Brick and I are in the throes of planning for the future. Technically, he could retire now, if he really wanted to... but he likes what he's doing (most of the time) and plans to stay for a while.

What is clear to both of us: our time here in the house is going to come to an end, sometime in the next two years or so. We're not sure where we're heading next...but we need to pare down. Big-time.

Ironically, while sorting through books, papers, etc., and making decorating decisions, I've discovered some things. Surprisingly, they apply to life, as well as home dec. 

*Cleaning off a counter or tabletop is like an archeological dig. We (okay, mostly me) stack important mail, coupons, memos, etc. to "put away later." Then the next batch of Important Things goes on top. If I can put things away NOW, and keep doing it that way, the cleared area stays clean.
(I know this, because counters I cleared away for the Brick's birthday have stayed that way. Getting sick keeps you home, and generally away from paperwork.)

*I don't need to 'collect' like I used to. Fifty-plus years of picking up favorite dish styles (like Flow Blue or Blue Willow) has meant a stuffed cupboard. I only buy cups, plates or such if they're really distinctive, really old, and/or at a steal of a price. (Or I feel I can resell them easily. You'd be surprised what this category contains, including, of all things, Starbucks mugs!)

*Larger scale is better. Not only does a larger painting fill a blank space better -- it lets you say goodbye to all those smaller tsochkes that seemed like such a good deal.

*Blank space is okay. (See above about the countertop.)

*Giving myself permission to buy flowers or a higher-end item is also okay. You're talking to a girl who grew up on a farm, in a Hollander household that valued a bargain -- mostly because that was the only way we could afford things. Otherwise, we grew, prepared or made everything we needed, from Sunday breakfast (with bacon from the pigs we butchered) to bathroom shelves.

             Buying flowers? Pick 'em from the 'back forty.'

 Nicer furniture? Check a yardsale -- after all, a chair's a chair.

     It's easy to let this viewpoint rule my life. (And it can be very valuable, at times.)
But I generally win the struggle by:
         *buying the item on sale
         *in the flowers' case, buying a plant or blooms that will last longer. Carnations, for example, look great for up to two or three weeks.)
         *using money that's "extra," like Amazon gift cards earned by using Swagbucks. (A great deal -- I'll tell you more about this later this week.)
         *refusing to buy until it is a quality piece (even if it's marked down at the thrift shop!)
         *getting rid of the lesser stuff, to make room for the better ones
         *donating from the "get-rid-of" pile, to help out our local thrift shop, and get the tax benefit

I still enjoy eclectic clutter, like this girl's (note the blank wallspaces!), but am resolving to admire it more -- and emulate it less.

     The Brick is thrilled with the clean(er) spots, and promises to help keep clearing away things, as well as work on projects we've been planning for years. (Tile the living room, put in a new shower, etc etc.) After all, it will be less stuff to move, fewer DIY jobs to improve the place, and more freedom, once we do decide what we want to do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Most Essential Tools in Your Toolbox

The Brick is an engineer by training. I'm sure he'd agree.

Red Green definitely would! (After all, duct tape is "the handyman's secret weapon...")

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Will This Ever End?

The flu, that is. 

I haven't had a reliable voice for more than a week. It sticks around for a little -- then disappears, or goes into squeakiness at inappropriate moments. 
    The fever does the same thing -- it was back twice today. I am dragging myself around just to get critical things done, like meals, reports and clean underwear. 
    At least the cough is better.

I have no time for this. The house has piles everywhere, I have things to finish...and appraisals to do. It would be fun to do a little digging outside, as well, while the weather's still good. (We're supposed to get snow and low temps again on Thursday.) Meanwhile: 

How to accidentally save money. (From Punch Debt in the Face)

Coke Zero Cherry Slush. I'd prefer regular Coke, but... (from Who Needs A Cape)

17 IKEA hacks to make your homespace work harder. (Some great ideas here. You don't need those specific products, either.) Twelve more IKEA hacks are here, to get you thinking.

Matthew McConaughey's customized Airstream. A movie star's favorite digs are a 28-foot trailer? Wow.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches... a traditional favorite, especially for the Kentucky Derby. Being a nawthunuh by birth, I didn't know about these -- but they sound delicious. The Brick, who was raised in North Carolina, may be more familiar with them...but he's not a horseman. (From Cleverly Inspired, who IS a Kentuck filly.)

 A guy marches out in a crabby mood, fools around with his metal detector...and discovers a 2.7K gold nugget.  Value: more than $130,000.

Someone keeps photocopying their cat -- in the University of Wisconsin's library.
         No, I am not making this up. You do wonder, though, how the cat feels about it...

10 clever uses for chalkboard paint. (From Cleverly Inspired) 

How long can DNA really last? Or, in other words, is this whole Jurassic Park thing really feasible?

A chocolate cake for a birthday feast. (From Pretty/Hungry)

A really unusual crystal -- found in a meteorite.

Have a great, healthy week!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Other Words...

so if you can't please everyone...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Some Very VERY Old Fabric

How often do you get to see an authentic pre-Viking textile?


This greenish-brown woolen tunic (sized for a person about 5' 9") was found in 2011 near a thawing glacier in southern Norway. Carbon dating put its origin about the year 300.

   "It's worrying that glaciers are melting, but exciting for us archaeologists," said Lars Piloe, a Danish archaeologist. More than 1600 artifacts have been found in recent years, including a Viking mitten (year 800), a Bronze Age leather shoe, old wood bows and arrowheads.

I first read about this in a Huffington Post article. Don't miss out on the 'Recently Unearthed' section at the bottom of this post -- lots and lots of archeological and other treasure-related discoveries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

    Not that I feel much like celebrating... flu is back again. (Ergh) Most people, ourselves included, would have corned beef and cabbage for supper, but I  blanched at the price this year. (Three bucks a pound for corned beef?!?)

We'll have some Irish bangers (sausages) and a plate of Colcannon, instead.   


4-6 potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped bacon
4 tablespoons butter

Peel potatoes, gently boil them with cabbage and onion until potatoes are fork-tender. Mash, then add butter. Sprinkle bacon over; serves two hearty appetites.

    (A fancier dish may be made by boiling the potatoes and cabbage/onion mix separately. Arrange mashed potatoes in a ring, then pile the cabbage/onions in the center. Sprinkle all with bacon and butter.)

A lot can be learned from our Irish ancestors.

More Gaelic stuff -- and recipes -- here. 

Erin Go Bragh! God bless Ireland, one of the Bricks' ancestral homes. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Figuring and Schlepping

The weekend's almost over -- and I spent it with a scratchy, gone-and-back voice, and a running nose. Oh joy. Monday, I'm off to do a long appraising job, so thought I'd better get this on the Internet tonight. This week is more of the usual:  appraising, then putting boxes and books away. We just got a huge batch of Crazy books in, at a stunning discount -- and we'll eventually be passing that savings on to you!
     We have little gritty piles of snow left, but mostly dirt, which Charley loves to dig in. (He's currently working on a hole deep enough to communicate with his Chinese brothers very soon.) The daffodil greens are up, and buds are bursting -- but not quite in bloom yet. 

Growing tomatoes from seed -- the easy way. (From  Mike's Backyard Nursery)

An amazing way to expand your closet space, using bifold doors. (From Ana White)

Five ways to have oversized wall art for less. Plus an excellent look at one of the options: oversized engineering prints. (both from Apartment Therapy)

A cowhide-and-chrome beauty, from a throwaway. (From the Heathered Nest) 

"Nope, I just used my personal e-mail for convenience." Hilary Clinton's take on the story. (I'd be quicker to believe her if  there weren't some pretty big gaps in e-mail released for certain critical time periods.)

Tattoed seniors. Whoa. (Daughter #2, are you reading this?)

Classy decorator letters -- the how-to's.  (From That's My Letter)

The cheapest bid isn't always the best one. The real question: is it the best-informed one? (From I Pick Up Pennies)

Financial lessons learned from Destiny's Child. (From Marriage and Money)

Seafood enchiladas. The secret ingredient? A touch of nutmeg! (From Frugal Upstate)

Have a great, blooming week.