Friday, January 31, 2020

Paint Pots -

Guess what I'm planning to do this weekend.  
It involves playing with paint. 
I've bought my sample pots and my squares of poster board - so I'm
 all set in my search for the perfect color for the bedroom walls.

Enjoy your weekend. 
We have more warm weather forecast so I hope to get outside
 to walk and celebrate a new month. January certainly flew by fast.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Going dotty!

This post is a mixed bag of odds · and · ends!

After the Apple store visit regarding my MacBook keyboard problems, 
we swanned around the always bright and beautiful mall for a while. . . a 
little indoor exercise, and supposedly window shopping!
Although we're less than 10 minutes drive away we haven't spent time there lately.  
Much had changed, including many new stores and restaurants we'd never heard of.

H&M - love it or hate it?
I actually love looking here as the fashions are current. Yes I know
they're geared perhaps toward the younger generations - with a certain 
'street style' more than pandering to the country club set, which I am not
and never have been by any means! But they do it right, are affordable,
fun. . . . . .and I've never had a problem with their garments falling apart
 or shrinking in the washing machine.

The above window is dressed in what must be the current style
and includes polka dots, lots of different sized black and white ones.
I actually like polka dots, always have, but might have to stay with smaller,
less conspicuous ones at this age!

This is me. Well not really me, it's a mannequin of course!
She's wearing a garment I thought might be fun to wear casually on the cool, 
not really cold, days we are currently having around here. Some sweatshirts
 are too thick and bulky, this one is light and very soft on the inside, perfect
 length and has longer sleeves which I need.
 It's a rich cream, not white, the appliqué is beautiful black. . . . . .and I
 really would love to be back 'in Paris' right now, or any time in the future.
In fact Bob just read my mind as he called out "would you like to go
back to Paris some day" - and he hasn't even read this post yet.
We know each other far too well and often think alike!

So window shopping turned into real shopping. I bought it and am going to
 love it. . . . . . .except for those weird gold-toned faux metal (plastic!) buttons. 
I'm changing them to lovely plain black buttons as I wear mostly silver
 earrings - yellowish 'gold' buttons won't work that close to my ears!

On a recent evening I removed the last of the amaryllis pots from the dining room table. 
They brought so much joy to this room over the holiday season, and longer.
I'll be on the lookout for a new plant soon - meanwhile will keep the amaryllis
bulbs in their pots in the house where it's warm, later moving to the potting shed
 in hopes they'll re-bloom later this year.

Here's an excellent video about amaryllis care and re-bloom
if you have some you would like to try keeping.

Whilst searching for paint colors for the bedroom refresh, I found that
 papering walls seems to be very popular again. Included are amazing
 wallpaper murals, some at extraordinary high prices I must add.

Above is the more classic oil painting look which appears to be in a kitchen -
I love that somewhat unconventional look but have no kitchen wall that big.

Above is a more casual stenciled mural on a printed concrete-look
 background - I like the herringbone old wood floor with this look.


What about this beauty!  This is quite a show stopping wall. One of many 
available, however if you have photos of your own flowers, or anything else
 your camera has caught during your travels. . . . . .or even in your garden,
this company can make it into a mural.
The only wallpapered room I have now is my kitchen.
I do have textured wallpaper below the chair rail in the dining room but
 it's painted over in the same rich cream color as the rest of the walls so 
is subtle and I like it that way.

What are your feelings about wallpaper?
Do you have any papered walls?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January Garden Visitors -

The usual suspects, grey squirrels, are rampant in the garden again. 
Perhaps the mild daytime weather is bringing them out of their nests in the
 back garden treetops. 
They search on the grass for acorns - some they probably buried themselves
 in autumn - and scuffle around under the bird feeders for dropped seed. 
We have stopped throwing out bits of bread and such because we feel if 
 unwanted nighttime visitors, opossums, raccoons, foxes, deer, and the
 neighborhood coyote stop by, we shouldn't encourage them to return.

They are quite cute and, despite their naughty pranks at the feeders, 
we would miss them if they stopped their visits to our garden.

Trees are totally devoid of leaves now other than a glimpse of a green pine here and there. 
Blue skies, even with a few puffy clouds tossed in, bring smiles and thanks in
 January. . . . . . . . . which can be such a dreary month.

Update on the keyboard problems on my 2018 MacBook Air.

The Apple Genius Bar cleaned under the laptop's keys which appears
 to have helped, and I brought it home the same day. 
They tested and completed the work whilst I waited - a total of about 20 minutes. 
If it continues I can return and they will go ahead and replace with another
 keyboard which could take up to three days. Because this is a known problem
due to the 'butterfly' style keyboard installed on all MacBooks since 2015, 
Apple does not charge anything for the cleaning or replacement if necessary.
Life is much better when the computer works!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Off to the Genius Bar -

Starting this week with an appointment at the Apple store in the mall.
This MacBook Air, purchased at the end of 2018, is apparently one of
thousands which has developed a keyboard problem!
Typing and constantly having to correct repeating/missing letters has
 become crazy over the past couple of weeks - I even had my nails cut
shorter thinking it was my fault!  Doing some research I discovered
I'm not alone with this problem. Last night I made a Genius Bar 
appointment for noon. I'm hoping for a quick turn around and that my
computer will come home cleaned, fixed and perfect once again.

Fortunately I still have my old 2011 MacBook Air so can use that if necessary!
More later.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sourdough Bread. . . . . will I, won't I?

Not certain I'll be making a lot of sourdough loaves in the future.
Yes, this first one turned out very well but what a lot of extra work and 
waiting time compared to the No-Knead easy bread (which is awesome).

My journey making the starter was hilarious, a week of feeding, waiting,
stirring. . . . . . and cleaning up when 'Irish" (the name I've given it) discovered 
bubbly freedom on two occasions and flowed out of the large jar and
over the kitchen counter. Actually after the first time I had enough sense to
stand it in a large bowl which helped collect the awesome yeasty mess.  
Quite amazing that just flour and water can be so full of life and, when
contained and divided in half, keeps on growing and bubbling as long
you feed daily to strengthen it. I used just the 1/4 cup required in the
bread recipe, then halved what remained and it's sitting in the refrigerator 
calmly sleeping now - until I bring it out, feed it again and get baking. . . . perhaps!

My bread baked evenly and the crust was so crispy when taken from the oven. 
There were a few larger holes compared to the No-Knead bread, and the crumb
 was a little dryer. Quite honestly I did not get a strong sourdough flavor. It toasts
up well but seems a bit harder and crunchier - great though with good butter
 and my favorite Scottish marmalade.

I'm almost certain I will try another loaf jut to see if I can improve it a bit - perhaps
 I was a bit heavy-handed with my kneading.  
Now that the long week plus of growing the starter is over, readying it again for
another loaf should just take a few hours. This recipe requires 8-10 hours
 overnight for the bulk rising though so altogether making a sourdough loaf is
 really a two day job. Compared to the quick No-Knead bread, I'm not sure I
want to commit to endless days in the kitchen!

Beautiful chilly but sunny Sunday morning here.
I baked southern buttermilk biscuits at 7:30 am, mostly for my 
neighbors who have a special visitor from Florida.
Later today I plan to make a pot of vegetarian black bean chili (really just
frijoles negros) for a fireside evening watching PBS.  
Jane Austen's final (and unfinished) novel Sanditon is lovely and filmed
 in countryside and seaside close to my heart in southern England. 
Just enough, romance, fortune hunters and heartbreakers, along
 with beaches, farmland and grand balls to keep everyone intrigued.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

At the table, and planning a makeover -

I know what you're thinking. . . . . . . she's gone nuts with the bread baking!
I definitely am enjoying my long forgotten joy at actually taking a loaf of
crusty golden bread from my very own oven, however this post is really to
 share my idea about tablecloths, so keep reading please.

These loaves are not sourdough, just the quick and easy no-knead white boules, 
but they are so good. Have sliced and frozen most of these two for morning toast 
or grilled cheese sandwiches later.

Big news is that my sourdough starter is now ready! In fact, during the night it
 bubbled and grew so much it overflowed it's glass container - which luckily I'd
 stood in large bowl just in case - when I noticed it really going to town last
 evening around 11:00 pm.
Just amazing what flour and water can accomplish!

This evening I'll be making my first real sourdough loaf. It will do its bulk rise
over night (8-10 hours). Tomorrow morning I'll coax the dough onto a lightly
 floured board for folding, let it rest about an hour for a second rise, then bake.
Fingers will be crossed.

So, on to the tablecloths as promised.
Notice my indigo blue one here. I've wanted a raw-edged linen cloth to layer
with the French antique linens I often use on the rectangular farm table.
After pricing them and finding them very expensive, I decided to 'make' my own.
I bought a twin sized linen sheet (Garnet Hill), large enough for a good drop
 so that it's visible under the other cloths. . . . .  .and literally ripped off all four
 stitched edges. Dropped it into the washing machine, then pulled off 
all the loose, somewhat tangled threads it ended up with. Dried in dryer,
no ironing required if you're looking for that rustic/country look.

Can work for a round table such as this one also.

I'm excited today as I've also started on a new project which will keep me busy
over the next couple of months. Our master bedroom - which is downstairs and
 will most likely be a godsend in these so-called golden years - needs a total 
makeover from floor to ceiling.  Yesterday I squeezed in a painter visit for an 
estimate, spent several hours looking at paint colors (but still have to make a
 decision and go buy samples to slap on the wall!). . . . and we furniture shopped. 
More on this makeover as it progresses.

Anyone else working on a winter house project?
Good time of year to get started, especially as decluttering can be done
 at the same time and, let's face it, staying indoors requires more creative
moments than just knitting whilst TV binge watching, and eating comfort foods!
It will also mean one less room to 'spring clean' as that part is built into
a room makeover. Yes, there's method in my madness!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Brrrrr! It's a chilly Tuesday -

- and the garden brought life and death this morning!

Let's get the death out of the way first - a rather large rabbit was dead
 on our front lawn, a first for sure. I decided a photo isn't necessary.
It did seem to have a gash on its neck so wondering if a hawk had it and
 then dropped it, or perhaps a fox, or possibly the neighborhood coyote, came
 by in the night. Why they wouldn't have made a meal of it we have no idea.
Whatever happened it was a sad start to the day - to me all 
animals are precious, including the ones who nibble my plants in spring!

Bob filled the feeders and, as always, the cardinals arrived first. 
Sometimes I count as many as ten, males and females, perched on
 the bare branches of the fig tree.

The thawing of the bird baths with tea kettles of hot water followed, first time
 this winter as the weather has been so mild. Many Mourning doves arrived - the
 sweetest, quietest birds.
Today we have errands to run. Though below freezing, the sun is bright now and
 pulling on a sweater and coat should make a few hours outdoors quite pleasant.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

'Rusty' knits - and dogs!

This winter I changed up my wardrobe a bit to include shades of RUST.
Still wear a lot of grey and of course black, however thought the golden browns
 fit in well and brought color and warmth - although still neutral/natural - to what 
was becoming my somewhat dreary 'twenty shades of grey' closet. 
I'd also bought the lovely taupe wrap coat whilst in ZARA in London, and the
 camel coat at H&M, so adding warmer colored sweaters seemed the way to go

This rust color, more dressy cowl neck, I wore to dinner on board the ship as we
 headed to the Western Sahara desert in October - it was a bit more dressy and
 worked well for evenings with a black trouser or silky printed skirt. I pinned on a
 favorite brooch rather than dangling necklaces. . . . . . 

The neutrals - classic naturals.

. . . . . . . and then there's this gorgeous chunky sweater - found this week in the
 clearance sale at Target for just $17!  Of course I didn't go there looking for 
clothes but this was on a mannequin with black pants and caught my eye!  
It ticked all the boxes - rusty gold, loose crew neck and longer length, with
 very long sleeves to roll up or cover the wrists on cold days, and with just a little
 shaping knitted in to make it non-baggy looking. It's extremely light and feels
 awesome on - don't think it will itch - and goes with my reddish hair!  
Anyway it was tossed into the cart along with the items I was really there to buy!

Have you read this book?  If you enjoy classical music as I do, you will find
 this is a wonderful true story written by Korean violinist Min Kym. 
I grabbed this at the Dollar Tree store and must say it's been a great read.

While talking about the color rust I have to share my hairstylist Suzi's
'babies' (she's given me permission to post their picture). 
Roxy the miniature Schnauzer and Lucy the Goldendoodle were at the
 salon on my recent visit - so well behaved and of course adorable.
They posed for me. . . . . . and made me wish I had a doggie of my own!

Hope your weekend is fun, as ours has been so far.

Dogs were also in the spotlight for us last evening when we
 spent a couple of hours at our local theatre watching the 
English play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
It also included a handsome 'rusty' Golden Retriever named 
Sandy - much admired for his acting skills during his brief appearance.  

BTW - I'm actually a cat person, my favorite being rusty colored
'marmalade' kitties, although I've never had one that color of my own!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

January days at home. . . . . . . .

I baked this loaf of 'no-knead bread' this week.
The recipe is known and enjoyed by many - so many versions of it are
 available on the Internet - I use Jenny Jones because she's so much fun to 
watch on her video. It turned out well and gave me that sense of enjoyment
 possible from a simple, basic, homey food made in one's own kitchen
 on a dreary day.

Yesterday I decided to also get going on my 'sourdough starter'
in hopes I can make a loaf of real sourdough bread soon.

The amaryllis tale continues here in the dining room.
The first four blooms on the initial stem are almost over, in fact two have been
nipped off, the remaining two now fading also. However, the second stem is now 
showing three new buds - a total of seven delightful flowers from one bulb.
Meanwhile the second bulb is in full bloom with four perfect flowers. . . . . . . I feel 
like I'm in a garden. 

Winter beauty.