Wednesday, April 9, 2014

look what's cookin' at Zoup to Nuts - November, December, January, February....

Oh, yeah, I'm very, very far behind.  Here's a little rundown of some of the goodies we've been whipping up over the last several months.  How I missed all these, I have no idea.  Click on the links for the full recipe at Zoup to Nuts!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

unfinished projects finished

Last year I spent some time mulling a grass cloth accent wall in my dining room.  Last year!

Well, it's finally done.  A year later.  Granted, there were other projects, and the wall itself was part of a bigger picture.  But it's finally finished and I love it.

I ended up not doing grass cloth, after all, but went with a patterned linen paper that has a mid-century modern vibe about it.  The pattern looks like hundreds of strings of beads.  Very pretty with a little bit of movement, but not enough to make your eyes dance.  It's another layer of geometric interest in the room and as part of the grand scheme.

I'm loving it.  And my wallpaper installer was happy I just did one wall.  Working with sheets 54 inches wide and with such an intricate pattern to match was nerve-wracking.  I was happy to have left this job to the pros!  So was G!!

The dining room chairs are finished, too.  I'll save those for the next post, though, since I haven't had time to photograph them, yet.  




With love from The Valley of the Sun.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

a place of our own

For many years I've vacationed on the Leelanau Peninsula - going back to my single days when I rented a little cottage on Lake Leelanau and whiled away my days biking into town, touring the local wineries, or relaxing lakeside with a stack of books or magazines and a bucket o' margaritas. 

And then came marriage and a child and my heart continued to lead me to Leelanau County.  Then it led him, too, and we both felt a kinship with this place and it's rolling hills, vineyards, fruit orchards, and blue water. 

Someday, we said. 

Someday we'd have a little place of our own. 

Little did we know someday would come sooner than we imagined.  A good house.  A good price.  A good village.

I flew in to see it.  The inspector said she had good bones (as it was being sold "as is," having been the home to an elderly gentleman who passed away in 2011).  We would either take her as we found her or not at all. 

She is 104 years old.  She is a charming old lady who could use a little love.

The next day, after much thought and consideration, we finalized an offer.  I dropped it off at the realtor's office and went for a glass of Fishtown White at the VI Grill.

By 4:30 p.m., I knew she was ours.  I boarded a plane several hours later sure in the knowledge we had a little place of our own in Northport. 

A little town on a lovely peninsula.

Summer can't come soon enough.






With love from The Valley of the Sun.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

don't go all cindy brady

So, I found some interesting artifacts recently while going through one of the boxes I brought from my mom's.  They're a couple of small paintings; hand-painted, oil on wood panel, with markings from an artist or artists in Florence, Italy.  They're not dated (although early 19th century seems about right) and I have no idea their origin other than that they belonged to my paternal grandma.  How they came to be in her possession, I have no idea.  She could have purchased them while traveling in Europe with my grandpa, or possibly my great uncle, William, a Royal Engineer in the British Army, brought them home for her while deployed in Europe during WWI.  It's all a guess.

Anyway, our local PBS station is beginning a new series called Arizona Collectibles.  It's sort of Antique Roadshow lite, I think, and will feature appraisals of antiques and collectibles owned by Arizonans.

Hey, I'm an Arizonan.

And I have these items which I find fascinating, but know nothing about their value or lack thereof.

So, I submitted my pictures and gave them the little bit of information I had, never expecting the paintings would be selected.  But, what the heck, right?  You never know until you try.

Then today I get an email saying????  Yes, you guessed it: my items were selected for appraisal.  We received two free ticket to attend filming of the show on Saturday, April 5, and have the paintings evaluated by an expert.  Holy crap!

All I can think of now is this terrifying moment in front of the television camera:


Let's all pray this doesn't happen!

With love from The Valley of the Sun.

Monday, March 24, 2014

a short jaunt

Beginning:  PHX

Middle:  ORD

End:  TVC

A quick in-and-out.  Cottage shopping.

With love from The Valley of the Sun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

spring challenge - get real

Oh, my...it's spring, isn't it?  I had a few other posts ready but things around here have been a bit on the frenetic side.  But I did  have one thought on my mind about spring - it being a time of renewal and change.

Challenge yourself to get real this spring.  Huh??

This thought began rolling around in my head after one of my in-laws (the one who apparently is quoted as telling her sisters, "I deserve to be rich"), prattled on in a post recently about how family, faith, and love are most important to her, and how home remodeling projects done in an attempt to have the perfect home can only lead to despair. 

Despair.  I quote: 
The hole we are trying to fill with beauty and perfection can’t be filled and when we discover this truth, it can lead many to a state of despair.
This after the her poor husband just shelled out more than $100,000 on a dream bathroom/closet remodel.  One. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. And then some!

Ummm....what was that about family, faith, and love, and the despair of worldly things?

I wouldn't be alone in suggesting that's a tough lesson to learn AFTER you spend six figures on worldly stuff like heated toilet seats, and a steam shower, and your 4th or 5th flat screen television.

I'd go so far as to suggest that's a lesson most of us learned long ago.  And it didn't take that kind of coin to convince us.  Because you don't really need heated toilets, a steam shower, a fireplace, and a big screen t.v., in your john.  You want heated toilet seats, a steam shower, a fireplace, and a big screen t.v., in your john because it's part of the image.  The "I deserve" part.  The worldly stuff that creates, I quote, again:
...the belief that once we have a beautiful home, like we see on HGTV, in shelter magazines and online, that our lives will be perfect.
Wants are frivolous.  They are the "stuff" of life.  Sometimes it's little stuff...like that cute pair of ballet flats on sale at your favorite store at the mall.  Or, a new tube of lip gloss in this season's freshest color.  And sometimes it's big stuff...like $100,000+ 
bathrooms and "dream" closets.  Alas, she heaves a sigh over her "first-world problem."

Don't get me wrong.  I like nice things, too.  But I know the difference between what I need and what I want.  Between feeding my human nature and feeding my ego.  Between remodeling a bathroom to make it clean and functional and pretty, and remodeling a bathroom to make it "perfect."

Needs?  Needs are real.  And they're very "first-world."  (I hate that term).  Needs are coats when the weather turns cold in cities all around the United States...like Austin, TX.



Needs are shoes and boots to wear to school, through the rain and snow, to keep your feet warm and dry in West Virginia.



Needs are meals for your family so you feel safe and secure, and you know your child will be well nourished in Saginaw, Michigan.

Needs are a roof over your head to protect you from heat and rain and cold, and the security of sleeping somewhere other than the hard ground...beneath a freeway overpass outside of Ann Arbor.  I suspect anyone living under there maybe has, more than once, relieved him or herself without the aid of any toilet seat, much less a heated one.



Get real.

Lack of basic shelter, food, and clothing are "first-world problems."  The belief you need heated toilet seats, steam showers, fireplaces, and big screen televisions in your bathroom is a personal issue.

With love from the Valley of the Sun.

Friday, March 14, 2014

spring baking - sweet shamrock pretzels

The spring before my mom passed away, she sent me this recipe she'd clipped from The Detroit News.  For whatever reason, I didn't get around to making them that year and, honestly, every time I take it from the recipe box, it just makes me sad.  Not to start off on a low note, but I miss her dreadfully, and something as small as her handwritten note across the top of the clipping brings tears to my eyes.

This year was no exception, but we put on our big girl panties and baked!  The recipe calls for a package of refrigerated bread stick dough, i.e. Pillsbury, so there's really nothing to it.  All you need is a little patience in forming the shamrock shapes...which was harder than I expected.

This is a totally kid-friendly baking project: sugar, cinnamon, butter.  What's not to love? And perfect timing for St. Patrick's Day.  Enjoy!

Sweet Shamrock Pretzels

Ingredients:
  • 1 11 oz package refrigerated bread stick dough
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Few drops green food coloring
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
Directions:
  • Line cookie sheet with foil; coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.  Unroll dough and separate into 12 strips.
  • To create clover shape, mold 3 sections of bread stick into hearts and press together to make clover leaves.
  • Attach a small stem out of dough.
  • Bake for 10 to 13 minutes until golden brown.
  • While shamrocks are baking, shake sugar in a sealed bag with a few drops of green food coloring.
  • Melt butter and brush on each shamrock.
  • Sprinkle with colored sugar and cinnamon.
With love from The Valley of the Sun.
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