Friday, April 27, 2012

The Urge to Purge

Last weekend I read about a nearby  Buddhist monastery in Mississippi  (some things are always surprising, aren't they?) then opened the Parade magazine to find that Anna Quindlen had an article called, Is Your Stuff Weighing You Down?

The answer, of course, is yes and I'll be honest, it bothers me.

I'm a notorious purger;  yard sale season always makes me want to sell it all, pocket the money, and embark on some nomadic adventure with a backpack and hiking boots.

Maybe one pair of leopard print heels. And lipstick. And that one pair of jeans my butt looks good in. You have to have standards, after all.

Twenty-nine years of marriage, four people, multiple closets, a big attic and two storage buildings equal a LOT of stuff.  If I'm the notorious purger, he is the sentimental pack rat. He has his giant velvet Bozo size bow tie from senior pictures, media guides about the hometown college football team going back over a decade, every sports jersey our kids have ever worn, and t-shirts that are 40 years old.

 We have had a lot of, discussions about stuff at our house over the years. If I don't use it or like it I will throw it in my car and head straight to the Goodwill. I purge my closet twice a year and my kitchen cabinets at least once.

 Honestly if anyone brings ONE MORE souvenir plastic cup into this house...

Yesterday I attended a seminar on organization taught by a chipper woman who invited us to come to her house and "open any cabinet, any drawer."  Frankly, the only new piece of information I got was that we really don't need linen closets anymore. "You only need two sets of sheets. One on, one off."
I even have that beat. I strip the bed, wash the sheets, and replace them within an hour or two. I own one set of sheets for each bed. This may be a bit extreme. A case of food poisoning, for instance could make me realize the precariousness of the sheet situation. 

I'm not living a life of deprivation by any means but breaking down and buying those leopard print pumps, simply means that another pair of shoes that haven't been worn in a year will make their way to the Goodwill shortly.  My husband has had a revelation over the past few years while dealing with elderly relatives and the vast amount of things accumulated by a generation who remembered The Depression and were prone to keep everything. We both learned a lesson: You are doing someone else a disservice and imposing hours if not days of back breaking work by not dealing with your own stuff. Is that the legacy you want to leave? Your children would far more appreciate you selling your unwanted items and giving them a check for Christmas or to the grand kids for college as a graduation surprise.

 You can't have it all. Where would you put it? ~ Stephen Wright 

How are you dealing with the clutter at your house?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back Porch Southern Revival

Bringing back cottage charm...
Southerners love a good revival and we believe nothing is beyond the point of redemption. Even prodigal porches.

The sad story of a back porch in winter is that things tend to collect there. We have evening fires, nearly every night and firewood and our rush to get back inside conspire to make a mess of it. Items not needed in the house end up there as a rest stop on their way to garage sales and charities.

Spring brings the end of fire season and for the first time in months I notice how unfriendly it looks.

Time to reclaim it!

After a thorough sweeping, hosing, and cleaning as well as discarding all the unused items that accumulate there during cold short days, I'm happy to cheer it up again and infuse it with cottage charm. Freshly scrubbed everything and vintage fabrics create a welcoming place to sit and tell you about it!

It once was lost, but now it's found. 

Do you have an overlooked space that could use some attention? The reward is definitely worth the effort! I didn't spend any money on this redo. It was all a matter of cleaning and relocating things from other parts of the house or bringing out things that had been stored away.

 If you have lovely things, you might as well use them. What are you waiting for?

Try rearranging things or putting things together in a way you haven't thought of before. Pinterest is always a good source of inspiration!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Spring Salad

 What's a gardener to do once the tomato plants are in the ground but it will be weeks before they produce?

You are just going to have to make due with the local farmers market or grocery produce section. To me, the only tomatoes worth buying from the grocery are grape tomatoes, which almost, kind of, maybe, if you don't pay too much attention, though not entirely,  taste like the real thing.

The truth? Any tomato not picked off the vine, eaten while it's warm from the sun and smelling like summer is a sacrilege. But this recipe can get you through while you wait on Mother Nature.

  •  2-3 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup black eyed peas (I used canned and drained them then heated them in the microwave for a minute.
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • a bunch of chives and basil, chopped
  • 1/2 shallot diced
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TB pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste
Toss all ingredients together, cover, and let sit on your counter for an hour or two before serving.

 In the 99%  kitchen I'm covering the bowl with a salad plate instead of plastic wrap, which I try to use as little as possible.

More about green food storage, coming up soon!

You can make this before church and it will be perfect by the time you get home. A couple of times this week I mixed it up and then headed to the garden to do some work. It was the perfect famished gardener's lunch!

Black eyed peas are a great source of protein for those of us who eat very little meat, or for the die hard vegetarian. Here's the nutrient analysis from the University of Illinois.

You already know tomatoes are good for you. Just how good?

Here's an article from Huffpost Healthy Living: The Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Happy, healthy eating, y'all!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Literal Bee in My Actual Bonnet

I got up early on a recent Saturday for a field trip to the bee yard run by my local beekeepers association. I put my beekeeper's hat and veil on and it fell down over my eyes. Maybe I had it on backwards. I turned it around and looked in the mirror. That didn't look right either. I was glad my family wasn't awake to enjoy this awkward moment with me. I contemplated what to wear since I hadn't ordered my nifty bee suit yet. I put on a white shirt with long sleeves and tucked it into jeans. I dusted off my L.L. Bean hikers and tucked my jeans into my socks. I skipped my daily routine of orange coconut body cream and lavender moisturizer. I didn't want to seem too much like something a swarm of bees would be interested in. I skipped make-up too. Just to be safe. Besides who was going to see my face in the contraption I was wearing on my head? I did put lipstick on.

A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I arrived at the designated meeting spot and met up with some other women new to beekeeping. We carpooled to the bee yard and donned our gear. An experienced beekeeper who tends the yard gave us a demonstration of how a smoker works. His was black and grimy. I pictured my shiny new one and wondered how many years he'd been doing this. We headed to the hives amid nervous chatter. He began to remove the covers from the hives and pull out the frames.

"Now, y'all see if you can find the queen in there."

He passed off that frame, then another, pointing out interesting things he saw. He handed off frame after frame.

"Now y'all don't drop it whatever you do!"

Someone carefully handed a frame to me. I gripped it tightly. I did not want to be the klutz who dropped the man's bee covered frame after his stern warning. It vibrated and hummed with action in my hands. I could feel it even through my thick gloves. Now up until this moment the beekeeping idea had been something I  wanted to do, but was also worried about. I'll confess to yelling for my husband to kill any bug that mistakenly finds its way into the house. I wondered how I would react to thousands of swarming bees. After several hives were opened up the bees were everywhere. In the air, swarming around us, they landed on us in clusters. One made its way inside my veil. I tried not to think of it crawling in my ear or stinging me in the eye. I calmly asked someone if they could see it, and they helped it find its way out.

Oddly, there was nothing unnerving about being surrounded by the bees, or having them crawl on me. The most upsetting thing about the entire experience was that I hadn't thought more about what hairstyle would be most practical..(.and no, it wouldn't bee a beehive).  It kept falling into my face and once you get the veil on, you tie it around your torso, which makes it impossible to mess with your hair.

Not having direct access to your own face is disconcerting. Suddenly your nose itches and you have something in your eye. Oh, it's your hair. Attempts to adjust hat, veil, and hair with thick gloves on only made matters worse.

Next time I will know to employ all manner of pins, headbands, and scarves to prevent Hair Collapse Syndrome. A little known beekeeping malady.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Glass Cutting Revisited: Vases and Funnels

 I have a hard time just tossing any glass these days. If I'm not trying to save the container for a home made lotion or cream, I'm looking at it thinking whether or not it would make a nice set of juice glasses or a funky vase. Here's how a recent afternoon went...

  I started off with a LOT of bottles. Please feel free to supply your own jokes...

If you are ever in a bar fight, I'm your stand behind you and say "Not THAT one!"

I thought these little pomegranate sparkler bottles would have made an adorable set of juice glasses.  You can see the line where I scored the bottle.

 The process works by alternating hot and cold water to (hopefully) get the glass to break where you want it, along that line.

 When you get this effect, just stop and put the bottle in the recycling bin. It cracked away from the line I scored so there is no saving it. I had 4 of these bottle and NONE of them had an acceptable break.

 I was just about to decide that it was the clear glass that didn't want to make a clean break, when this vodka bottle broke perfectly. I think it makes a great vase. I love the clean bold graphic!

The tops of wine and olive oil bottles can be made into elegant funnels.

I use these all the time in the 99%  kitchen!

Don't remove the little plastic stopper on your olive oil bottles. It's very useful in filling tiny jars.

 A group of even imperfect cuts, can make a lovely centerpiece.

Some of the losers...feel free to use THESE in your next saloon brawl.

I have such high hopes for every bottle...

This kind kills close and yet....

This is what you want. Clean, easy to sand. Comes out very smooth.

Here's the link to the previous glass cutting post with all the how to details:

Recycling Glass: Bottle Cutting 101