December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Kitchen Reno: Big Bad Blank Wall and What I Did (Am Doing) About It

Hola everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate. This year Christmas, Hannukah and Kwaanzi all seemed to converge around the same time.  There are always the Winter Solstice celebrations, too, which are probably the most ancient of all.  I always look forward to the day on the calendar when I can mark off that daylight STARTS EARLIER AND LASTS LONGER once again!

That big blank wall staring me in the face every time I walk into my kitchen/dinette area (constantly, it seems) and have tried to avoid looking at --


it didn't exist in quite this form (and was covered up by the fridge) before I had the wall work done, but now POW, there it IS.

I'm not one to decorate every bare wall in my house, but this walls cried out to me for - something.

I dug through my stash of old picture frames and "art" in the basement - several times - and thought I had a plan.  But I ditched it.  The 24 x 36 framed print of a 17th century Dutch still life of flowers against a black background just didn't seem "right" for the space, somehow.  The scale was off, the mood was off, veering too much toward the traditional.

After more pondering and looking around online for abstract art posters (when did posters get so expensive?), I window-shopped online for "marble/mineral" look wrapping paper or wallpaper in tones of gold/grey/white/black.  I found beautiful hand-made papers at Mulberry Paper.  But I didn't want to order and have to wait, then get frames or figure out what I was going to do for frames or not, etc.

So, I continued to poke around my house and online looking for ideas. WHAT can I use?  I ended up using an idea I had used in the living room, just on the other side of that bare kitchen wall.  I used mirrors I had on hand, and borrowed three mirrors from the mirror arrangement from the living room.  That was taken down in preparation for the wall work done.  After I finish painting the patched drywall in the living room, I will make a new arrangement with the remaining living room mirrors.

This is what I ended up with (the borrowed mirrors are the two end mirrors in the top row and the large mirror in the center):



After looking at it for awhile, I lowered the two square mirrors in the bottom row to better even out the spacing so that it matches that in the top row. Turns out the square mirrors are 9" square and the small round mirrors are all about 10" in diameter.  The adjustment made all the difference in how the arrangement looks but I haven't taken a new picture of it yet.

The bookcase I ordered (with two doors on the bottom) arrived on December 22nd and has been hanging out against a wall in my rarely used front entrance, waiting for the living room to be put back to its normal arrangement.  That will clear floor space for me to unpack the box and wrestle with putting the unit together.

The bookcase will eventually have its back against the side of the fridge, and will "just fit" the width and height of the fridge.  It's white, which will be the color of the cabinets when they've been painted.  The two bottom shelves will provide covered storage for my squirrels' nuts and birdseed and the upper shelves will provide space for my cookbooks, my wood canister set, and display of some of my favorite glass and china pieces.

It's coming along!

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