September 26, 2009

it's too late now......

What do you do when you completely change the decor of a room, and then when it's finished, you think it might have been a mistake?

A year ago, in April '08, I blogged about the simple makeover I did to the living space that's mine in the home I share with Son & Family (see here). I'm really not very good with change at all. I don't usually even like re-arranging furniture! But two things have happened since then to make me decide to change things up once again.....

1.) I was given a newer sofa, a brown sofa, that didn't match the rest of my decor and I have been unable to find anywhere, online or anywhere else, the right color and style slipcover!

2.) I travelled to Martha's Vineyard (see here) and fell in love with the East Coast/Cape Cod/ Hamptons/beachy-style look, with lots of white and aqua, sea grass and stones and driftwood.

I was working with a very limited budget so I mostly re-purposed, re-covered, and re-painted what I already had....This is how I transformed jewel-toned watercolors and black wrought iron bed frame and room accents into my version of the Martha's Vineyard beach cottage look:

Colors: Aqua, brown, white

decor: beach stones, bamboo, sea grass, shells, etc.

Walls were already the right color, "Spaqua", from the last makeover

I spent a lot of time looking for exactly the right king-size flat sheets so I could sew a duvet for my existing comforter. I was so excited to find EXACTLY what I was looking for: these are Martha Stewart sheets, regular $70.00 each!.....and I got them on clearance for...(drumroll, please)....$11.99!!! ...SCORE!! talk about a bargain!

I whipped up the duvet and covered all my existing pillows with new fabrics:



Bed frame and lamp were painted white



All the frames on my picture wall went from black to white
(not really sure I like this as much....the black seemed to show off the photos better. Ideally I'd like to have all the frames be light wood, sort of drift-woodish....maybe when I win the lottery?)



Took down the white lace curtains and white blinds; sewed new white gauze curtains and put up bamboo roll-up blinds. (The lighting in my room is difficult to work with this time of year. Everything, especially the colors, look much better than these photos would suggest)



Accent pillows for the sofa and "seagrass" on the nightstand

It feels very cool and calm and peaceful in here. It's exactly the look I was going for, but I sort of miss all my watercolors....I'm sure I'll adjust to it....but what if I don't? What do I do then? Has anyone out there ever experienced anything like this? Decorators remorse? If I had unlimited funds it would be no problem, of course, but now what?

September 15, 2009

Kid Food

Some of the Grandkids came over on Saturday for a sleepover. Instead of the usual Tostadas, I thought I'd try out some new food ideas on them.

I saw this idea somewhere on the internet and it sounded very kid-friendly, but I had no idea how BIG these would go over!!
To your favorite cornbread recipe, add about 1 cup shredded cheese (we used cheddar) and 2-3 finely chopped hot dogs. Bake in a mini muffin tin and serve with your favorite Corn Dog toppings for dipping.

OH MY GOSH! I cannot tell you how much they LOVED these silly little things! Everyone had their own favorite dipping sauce or created their own......equal parts yellow mustard and honey seemed to be the favorite.

...served with cold glasses of milk and watermelon wedges........."Mimi! This is the best dinner ever!!"
For dessert we had homemade Root Beer Float Popsicles made in my new freezer pop molds:
I gently stirred some melted vanilla ice cream into a can of root beer and it sort of separated itself into yummy layers

Another big hit! Everyone voted for keeping these recipes and having them again very soon.

For breakfast the next morning they happily finished off the rest of the muffins and watermelon.

You know, as miserable as dinnertime can be when serving kids something they don't want to eat, the opposite is so true when you discover a new favorite! Such enthusiasm!

Ok, so it wasn't the healthiest of dinners, but I say let their parents feed them healthy at home....


September 10, 2009

Project Runway, Junior Edition

I took each Grandchild school shopping again this year, one on one, except for #3 & #4 who like to go together. Because they like to have matching outfits I call them the "twin cousins". This year the girls couldn't find any matching outfits that they could agree on so they decided to design their own! They were thinking skirts and tops so we headed for the fabric department. They both instantly agreed on sparkly pink stars and butterflies and pink tank tops to match! Then it was up to seamstress MiMi to follow their instructions EXACTLY:
Skirts with sparkly stars on top and bottom and butterflies in the middle
They each chose a butterfly to be appliqued on their tank top
VOILA!! Twin Cousins once again....
and now that #4 is starting Kindergarten, they will be at the same school and are hoping to run into each other during the day, especially if they are both wearing their new Twin Cousin outfits!!

While we were looking at fabric, #3 spotted some fabric she absolutely had to have (I think she inherited that Fabri-holic gene that her Mother and I have!) so she designed herself another outfit.....
Stripes on the top and bottom and peace signs in the middle
Appliqued peace signs on a black t-shirt

She was VERY pleased with how it turned out

Look out Project Runway! It looks like we may have a budding designer in our family......

September 5, 2009

cheese and "crackers": OR another desperate attempt to keep eating the things I love

I've mentioned here before my struggle to lose weight and the fact that I have such a terrible salty/fat tooth. Not a good combination when I live in a house full of snacks! When you live with other adults that don't feel the need to watch their weight, you either give in to the snacks calling to you from the pantry (I know those voices well!) or you get creative.

Oldest son is, I'm sorry to say, a cheese-a-holic and will often on the weekends make a meal out of an assortment of cheeses, crackers, and meats with a variety of mustards: ham, braunschweiger, salami, etc. Unfortunately for me, I could live on this kind of food! And I'm not talking ordinary cheese here either, people. At any given time in our refrigerator there are at least 8-10 different kinds of, let me show you what's in the fridge right this minute:

Danish Blue Cheese.....Bruschetta Jack....Applewood-Smoked White Cheddar.....Feta....Tillamook Cheddar.....Tillamook Jack......Habanero Colby-Jack....Mozzarella....Parmesan Wedge......Pecorino Romano Wedge.....American (for the kids)

And don't even get me started on the crackers!! I have a serious cracker addiction....actually our inventory is pretty low right now. This is all we have today. Rather ordinary for this house!

And when we end up with a lot of odds and ends of cheese, Oldest Son whips up a batch of his fantastic macaroni and cheese to use it all up, usually 4-5 different kinds of cheese, and tops it off with some sort of salty, snacky crumbs....crushed crackers or chips or whatever needs using's absolute torture, it's so good! I can gain weight just looking at it!

Anyway, since I'm trying to avoid all that snacky goodness I came up with this idea...

Try it, it's really good:

Get some Mission Multi-Grain tortillas. I keep them in the freezer and just take out one at a time.

Cut into "cracker" size pieces with kitchen shears. Lay on a paper towel and micro for one minute.

Turn them over onto a fresh paper towel, (the first one will be very damp from the moisture in the tortilla) and micro about 30 more seconds until starting to brown.

Let cool for a few minutes and VOILA! ...multigrain crackers!
Now get some yummy Lite Laughing Cow cheese wedges

Spread on your "crackers", sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper, and you have a delicious, low fat snack!

It's not Gorgonzola spread with ham or Bruschetta Jack on Wheat Thins, but it's really good and satisfying!

Now if I could just figure out a decent alternative to chocolate chip cookies!

September 3, 2009

Wiener Dog Memories

I used to have a Dachshund. His name was Howie. He's been on my mind a lot lately.
This is my story of Howie the wiener dog........

I am not a dog person.

I am not a PET person, period, and yet I spent 18 years married to a man who was the proverbial "little-boy-who-had-animals-follow-him-home". Our life was a constantly revolving door of dogs, cats, racing pigeons, chickens, pheasants, tarantulas, mice, snakes, lizards, fish....well, you get the general idea. (see: chicken story and snake story)

While I tolerated all this (what else could I do?), I was never really an active participant in much of it. Oddly enough, my 3 kids weren't much interested, either. I guess they didn't inherit whatever gene that was that Husband seemed to get an extra helping of.

In 1992, our family went from 5 people in the house down to 2 in the short span of 6 months. Daughter got married and moved away. Oldest son went off to college, and Husband left in search of greener pastures. 12 yr.old Son and I, like deer caught in the headlights, were left to figure out a new kind of life together, just the two of us.

Somewhere during all of that adjustment, Youngest Son caught me in a weak, shell-shocked moment and asked if we could get not one, but TWO dachshund puppies and for some reason that still puzzles me, I said yes. That is how Howie and Oscar came into our lives.

We accidentally stumbled across a group of Dachshund owners that met twice a year in Balboa Park in San Diego for a 'Wiener Dog Picnic" and we attended several times. Each time the group seemed to have doubled! Trust me, you haven't lived until you've seen over 100 wiener dogs all in one place, especially at Halloween when most of them are in costumes! That was really a lot of fun, even for a non-dog person like me!

Sadly, when the wieners were about a year and a half old, we lost Oscar to the busy street in front of our house. That clever dog had figured out how to climb a low, twisted tree in the backyard and jump over the 4 ft. fence! (I know what you're thinking, but really, I saw it with my own eyes!)

A few years later the three of us, Youngest Son, Howie, and I, moved out of our house and into an apartment. I became one of those people that I never thought I'd be in million years....someone who has to get home to "walk the dog". Someone who stands on the sidewalk holding one end of a leash with a pooping dog on the other end. Someone who has to carry a bag of poop while making a mad dash to the nearest trash can.

And then, horror of horrors, it happened!! Youngest Son, at 19, went off to start his own life and left me with the dog! Howie and I lived in that small apt.complex (20 units) for 7 years. Many new neighbors would come and go and often before I got the chance to meet them they somehow already knew Howie (neighbor kids would occasionally walk him for me ). One friendly little 6 year old neighbor never could remember my name but always cheerfully greeted me with "Hi, Howie's Owner!" GREAT!! Not only did I have to carry the wiener dog's poop, but he was more well know than me, too! The ultimate indignity!!!

My kids thought the whole thing was quite funny! Just me and The Dog. Daughter was living 400 miles away and Howie would ride shotgun on all of our trips back and forth to Modesto. Ha! Ha! Mom actually travels with a dog! Ha! Ha! Mom is actually really attached to a DOG!

Ok! Ok! So I'll admit it.....Howie helped get me through my empty nest trauma and he was a good dog.....we had some good times together.....

Then, 5 years ago, I bought this house with Son, Daughter-in-Law,and (then) 3 month Granddaughter. Howie was 12 and feeling his age. He had some aches and pains in his hips and was somewhat cranky. By the time Granddaughter started crawling, it was obvious that we had a problem. She was a very aggressive baby and just wanted to "play" with Howie and he did his best to stay out of her way. Then came the day when she managed to sneak up on him and "pat" him on his aging sore back. He of course instinctively nipped at her, his tooth hit her face and there was a little of them had to go and it seemed best to keep the baby since her parents were rather attached to her, and after all, I'm not really a dog person.....but where would I find a suitable home for a cranky, aching 12 yr.old Dachshund? I didn't know what to do....

The following week, while leaving Howie at a doggie hotel for the weekend, I mentioned that I was looking for a new home for him. When I returned to pick him up a few days later, an 18 yr. old employee was waiting to tell me that her family had 2 wiener dogs and would love to give Howie a new home! HALLELUJAH!! I packed up all of his things and took him to his new home the next day. They were such great people and loved Howie right from the start. Much to my surprise, I cried all the way home. Yes, me, the non-dog person who never wanted a dog in the first place, cried all the way home.

Two months later when Daughter and family came to visit, I had to break the news to (then) 6 yr.old Granddaughter, who was especially attached to him. She was so crushed that she hadn't gotten to say good-bye that I called the new family and asked to visit. When Granddaughter and I walked in the door Howie was overjoyed to see us!! We had a nice visit and heard all about how everyone in the family loved him, a Vet in the family was helping with his hip problem, and how he would come running when he heard the freezer door open because he knew he would get an ice cream sandwich! Granddaughter looked at me and said "Wow Mimi! You never gave him ice cream sandwiches! They must really love him here!" We left there with a clear conscience, knowing he was in the best place for him.....but I had to choke back tears once again as he ran to the front door expectantly when he heard my keys jingling.......

Earlier this year, Daughter's family got a Dachshund of their own, which is quite amazing since Daughter is even less of a dog-person than I am!

This is Dennis

Except for his color, Dennis looks very much like Howie. The same face, the same expressions, the same bark. I'm always startled when I think I hear Howie barking...Deja-vu

Dennis has made me think of Howie a lot lately. My family has suggested that I call his family and ask about him, but I know it's highly unlikely that he is still around at age 17, crankier and more achy than ever. I just prefer to remember him being carried around everywhere and being fed ice cream sandwiches.....

Wherever you are Howie, know that I think of you often and thank you for making me a little more of a dog-person than I ever thought possible