Sunday, May 31, 2015

From Shabby to Country Chic

I love old tool boxes.  In fact, I love anything with a tool box shape and have been picking them up whenever I see them at garage sales or thrift stores.  So I was delighted to find this one at Goodwill...and it was color tagged to be half off too!  I paid a whopping $1.99 for it.

Guess folks couldn't see past the poor bunnies.

It didn't take long to change it from bunny to country.

I'm doing a 21 day "farmhouse style decor" challenge (more about that Tuesday) and in it we learned to make our own chalk paint.  I used a 'mistint' from Lowes to make my paint.  I like the color.

Then to give it some personality I wrapped some jute rope around the handle.  For the front I used an antique hinge I picked up in Winona, MN at the ReStore.

I think it came out really cute.  Now I just need to figure out where I'm going to use it.  I have several ideas to work through.

How would you use it?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Morning's First Tool

Time to change out the dining room table vignette.  I was inspired by a challenge to use vintage kitchen tools.

I can't think of a 'tool' that is more used in any morning time kitchen than coffee!

I believe that somehow it must have been a more peaceful ritual when the ladies ground beans for the morning coffee with this hand grinder.  Electric grinders are SO obnoxiously loud.

A fun chippy tin cup from my enamelware stash.

This lovely sugar spoon was given to me by Himself's uncle H.  Daffodils are my favorite flower.

Oops... gotta run!  Himself just called me in for a cuppa!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Flying Up The Ladder

Since we've gotten the front porch and courtyard done, I'm now working on the other side of the sidewalk... the 'bird garden'.  It's a big area that is basically the backfill from the building of the house.  Just a bunch of clay and rock that weeds barely grow in.

So we've mulched it over and are slowly putting in planting beds and different focal points.

My birdhouse ladder is one of those focal points.

I have all sorts of eye candy on it.

This is the ONLY kind of rooster I want around here!

You have to have a bit of bling to catch the sun.

This house has an occupant!

My favorite bird houses are the ones that look like a church.

So this is my first finished Bird Garden project for this year.  I have several more lined up to get done before the summer heat sets in. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Salt-Encrusted Pork Loin (Recipe)

At a recent event there was a demonstration of a few recipes.  One really caught my attention... it was for 'salt crusted' pork tenderloin.

I'd heard of this cooking method but had never had a chance to sample anything cooked this way.  I wasn't sure if it would be too salty for my tastes.  So I was very excited to be able to observe how it is done.

This is the loin just out of the oven.  The crust has cracked open a bit.

The empty crust 'shell'.

The finished pork loin was plated for us to sample.  The sear kept the salt from getting down into the meat, so it was not too salty.  And it was very moist; which is the point of the salt crust.  If you wish, you can wrap the meat in culinary cheese cloth or layer something like herbs or cabbage over it.  The herb idea would really tasty too.

So, it ended up that I did like the loin cooked in the salt crust.  I'm going to try it at home with other meats such as chicken and fish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Love The Home You Have: A Welcoming Courtyard and Porch

Welcome to our home!

We've been working all spring to fix up our entryway into a warm and welcoming area.

A place where you can be comfortable.

I made-over these inexpensive chairs I found at Lowes.  When I started out they were bleh tan.  You know the color  LOL!  I sprayed the entire chair with the robin egg blue.  Then I masked off the frame.  The birds are masks that I made by tracing onto contact paper and sticking them on the chair backs.  SO easy to do.  Then I sprayed the seats and back with cocoa brown paint.  The rusty chippy table was done in the cocoa brown also.

That's all there was to it!

I love my angel sitting in front of the Leeland cypress.  In a few years when they get some size to them, we will transplant them into the yard and get a new pair for the courtyard.

One of our five birdbaths.

A little accent area we put together.  The 'wall' was made with a couple pieces of slab board given to us by a neighbor with a portable sawmill.   The bench was left here by the previous owners.

I think geraniums are so cheerful.

The primitive angel was a gift from my Mom.  There are different decorations for her to hold for each season.

Down on the bench are a variety of planters and lanterns.

I use a lot of sedum and succulents since they are so easy to care for.  This area gets some pretty intense late morning sun so these plants are what can tolerate it when I forget to water.

This lily is thriving here too.  I think since the pot is on the ground it doesn't get as hot.  I can't wait for it to bloom!  It has big white flowers.

Here's a glimpse of our rare rattlesnake ... Crotalus cerastes concretus.

But don't worry!  The roadrunner has his eye on him.

The hen on the front porch is watching too!  LOL

I used more planters and lanterns up on the porch.

More of my hen and chicks.

One of Himself's favorite plants.  It's an annual called "Persian Shield".  The leaves glow so pretty.  When it gets to about 2 1/2 feet tall I'll start pinching it back so it will get bushy.

The only hanging plant that stands up to the heat... Purslane.  How about that cob web?  There are SO many spiders this year.

Welcome!  Glad you're here!

In case you're curious, here are the "Before" photos from just a few weeks ago.

Much better... yes?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Middle of the month Himself and I were out to one of the ‘big box’ home stores to pick up some bags of ‘egg rock’ for our yard work.  As I strolled along looking at what was available, I noticed an employee with a flatbed wagon stacked high with some pitiful looking herbs and vegetables...

...that she was tossing in the dumpster!

I made a few circles watching what was going on (a maneuver Dad and Himself call “vulturing”). 

Yep, she was definitely throwing them away!  Oh the horror!!

A short conversation later and I am bouncing off with 6 flats of free plants.  My Scots blood was singing!

We brought them home in our very overstuffed little car.  Since the trunk was full of bags of egg rock, we had to stack them in the back seat.

They quickly went to the “plant hospital”, a table under our deck where I nurse pitiful plants back to health...if possible.

Now to see what and how much I had...

There were 15 parsley plants.

Two big German thyme plants.

Five spearmint plants.

And ...

Six rhubarb plants! 

A lot of water and a week later everyone is perked up beautifully.

A few more days in the ‘hospital’ and they are looking great.  It’s time to plant.  I know exactly what to do with the herbs.

However rhubarb wasn’t on my dance card for this year’s garden.  So... now what I am going to do with them?  

I only knew three things about them...

1 They are a perennial.
2. The leaves are poisonous.
3. The stalks make a really tasty pie!

Obviously I hadn’t done any research on them and I needed to get them planted soon.

What to do...what to do...

Himself’s cousins in Minnesota (the ones we visit every year) have rhubarb in their yard!  This I know because I’ve swiped a stalk or two.

So I quickly dialed up “Queen C” (so named because she was voted Queen of a local festival in her youth and she is still lovely to this day) and “Music Man” (he has one of the most extensive music collections I’ve seen of the GOOD stuff).

I explained my issue and asked for “HELP”!

And help I got.  For a good half hour we discussed the in and outs of growing rhubarb.  Then a couple hours later I get a call back to remind me just how big these pretty little plants are going to grow.

Hmmmm... change of plans on where I’m planting them.  A quick recalculation of my planting beds, and they go in at the end of my herb bed. 

Isn’t it pretty?

This one was the worst of the pitiful.  Look at all those new leaves!

Here they are in their new home.  They are a bit closer than I was advised to plant them but I think they will be alright.

Now I have to wait til next year to harvest.

That will give me time to find a great rhubarb pie recipe!  (That’s a hint folks...)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Gathering of Plants

This is my 'year of the plant'.  I'm working on developing a 'green thumb' for both outdoor and indoor plants.  To be sure, I'll be starting off with the toughest plants I can find!

Here's the start of my indoor gang!  The cedar chest is a great place to keep them.  Even tho it is a west exposure, the matchstick blind makes it bright yet indirect light.  (On days it is really intense we pull the curtains during the peak of hotness).

My hen and chicks planting.  As you can see from the first photo, several have bolted and are getting ready to bloom.

The two leftover 'chicks' from my give-away.  The pineapple is a second generation... the baby of a recycle pineapple plant.

Inside my little greenhouse (a gift from Himself that he found at TJ Maxx) are a couple of plants (fern and ivy) that are going to end up in a terrarium.  The orchid is a tough guy from Trader Joe's.

I'm looking forward to having plants again.  I have several areas picked out to start more groupings, plus my porch, deck, and courtyard.