Friday, September 26, 2014

Like Peas and Carrots

As soon as I earned my first paycheck, I started to buy clothes in green and purple. In hindsight, I think it was a reaction to wearing a school uniform that consisted of brown, cream, mustard and red; it literally took me about 20 years before I would wear any of my school colors again.
So, green and purple became my automatic favorites; in fact, I think I spent most of the late 80's wearing purple and green sweater's over leggings (well, that, and an over-sized graphic t-shirt inspired by Frankie Goes to Hollywood).

Now, I've forgiven my school, and I love it when I see unusual color pairings that just work (even though we sometimes think they shouldn't). The color trend is more about showing your personality, instead of following design rules, because really, rules are like words in the Dictionary; they are a wonderful base of knowledge, but they still need to be updated every now and again.

Like peas and carrots, these color combinations may not be your first choice, but they will always  have a certain unexpected charm....

Thank you to:
 A Sweet Pea Chef (Carrots), The Smithsonian (Peas), Chictopia (Dress) Acute Designs(Flowers) Pixi Wishes  Forehead Kisses (Cake), Pinterest (Door and Sea Glass)
 House Beautiful (Living Room).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Easy Organizing

Did you know that my birthday is almost the same day as Martha Stewart's? Hmmm....maybe that is why I label everything in my freezer, and have a cracked flowerpot in my fridge to hold the garlic.

To me, being organized sounds like a lot of work, and it gives off an expectation of being perfect, so, I prefer to call it something else. Not sure what, but I will let you know when I think of it. Anyway, the more I can do ahead of time, the better I feel, and the more time I have to spend doing the most important (and fun) things that I actually want to do.

If you come to my house unexpectedly, it is never super clean, but it is tidy. Perhaps that is a bit backwards, but it just has to please me and my daughter, not the dust and vacuum inspector. And, I always have fresh flowers, and a geranium or herb growing in the front window, which hopefully will distract you from the dog hair twirling in the corners, and the sofa that the cat has scratched.

But, late at night, or early in the morning, I will multitask like a crazy woman; doing things in my pajamas that will ease the monotony of every day chores. Maybe this is where the Martha in me comes out; I will label things, sort them into categories, and find all sorts of containers for all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Not because I want to impress someone who opens my cupboard, but because I want to be able to bake a cake at 6am, or write a letter without searching through a pile of debris on my kitchen table.    

Everyone seems very busy right now, and work is overwhelming for so many, that I think we shouldn't be afraid to use the shortcuts that make life easier. Here are just a few of mine....

- Run as many hot-water things together as you can. I will often take a shower while I run the washing machine and the dishwasher. (This saves so much time and money).
- If you see something that needs doing, and you have a few moments, do it without perfection. (A five minute vacuum is better than waiting for the stars to align, and the "right" time to present itself).
- Transfer pantry food (rice, pasta, flour etc) to see-through container's when you can. (It makes it easy to see how much you have left, and the contents will keep much longer).  
-  Clean as you go. (Whether it's Thanksgiving Dinner dishes, or a pile of Take Out containers, they don't get better with age; no matter how tired you are, get it done, and you'll be so grateful in the morning).
-  Ask your children to help you with something, and set the timer for a ridiculously short amount of time (eg. ten minutes). Do this often, and they might still complain, but they will get used to helping out.
-  Take food for the entire week out of the freezer on Sunday - it will take a day or so to defrost, and will be fine in the fridge for several days.

Well, I still can't think of a better word for organized, but I do know that whatever it is, it is worth doing...

Photograph from www.whydidyouwearthat.com

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Spider Webs and Fading Sunlight

I was wiping the spider web off the front door again today, when I thought about how much that first impression counts. I'm not talking about grand gestures of statues and manicured lawns, but those few minutes when you're standing, waiting for the door to open. The moments where you notice the cobweb, and the pink geranium that needs some water.

Those are the parts of a home that I find most interesting. The tiniest of details that go unnoticed, but are seen by people every single day. No-one knows that I wipe off the spider web every morning, and that my geranium doesn't like a lot of water, all they see is what is there.

Don't worry, I am going somewhere with this. I promise. What I mean is, that taking a few minutes to stand at your front door may be a good idea now and again. It says a lot about who we are, and even in the worst of times, it should feel cared for.

Like I said, it isn't about fancy, or even decorating, but it is a little about making an effort. Even if your paint is chipped (me), and the walkway has seen better days (also me), you can still put a cheery plant on the step, or a welcome sign out front.

This time of year, I always think the front door needs a little extra help; the flowers are on their last legs, and with daylight fading early, nothing seems to look as bright as it did last month. Sometimes, I start to panic a bit, worrying more about the upcoming snow than what is happening right in front of me.
When this happens, I take an hour or so to hurry around and keep up appearances. I'll prune the plants, wipe off the cobweb (again), grab a pile of empty terracotta flower pots (one of my favorite things in the entire world) and hang an old chandelier or birdcage from my trusty cup hook.

It doesn't take much, and it won't win any design competitions, but it will look cared for, and my friends will always feel welcome...

Photograph from: www.wyevalleyholidaycottages.co.uk.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Egg Cup

I never had Egg Cups in my house until I had my daughter. To me, soft boiled eggs were a memory from childhood, and definitely not part of my grown up life. Trying to coax the perfect egg yolk from a pan of scalding water was far too complicated for my decaffeinated, morning brain; I considered breakfast a success if the coffee was hot, and I could catch my toast before it jumped onto the less-than-clean kitchen floor. But, when my daughter came along, food became more important, and I knew it was time to tackle the nostalgic, runny egg.

Growing up in England, soft boiled eggs with toast soldiers were often on the table; lots of butter, a knife to crack it open yourself, and the smallest of spoons to fit inside. Sometimes, as we got older, we were allowed a sprinkling of salt.
I think it was the ritual that we loved, and perhaps the excitement of opening it up. Not sure why, because we always knew what would be inside, but cracking an egg felt like the beginning of an adventure (just the other day, I got a double yolk when I was baking, and I was so excited that I didn't want to squish them with the whisk. So, I admired them for a while, made a wish, then made my cake).

Anyway, determined to be the perfect Mom, I decided to get a couple of Egg Cups and make the perfect soft boiled eggs. Unfortunately, like most things, the experience wasn't the same as I had remembered; I would make them too hard, or too runny, and what seemed like hours of preparation would end up being thrown into the woods, eaten by some lucky squirrel who didn't care who had made it, or how it had arrived in his home. 

Disappointed, I put the Egg Cups on a shelf, and frowned at them for several months. Eventually, my stubbornness gave way to logic, and I realized it wasn't their fault; they were really just miniature containers, and they didn't care if they ever held an egg again or not.
Now, I use them for all sorts of things; from serving small amounts of ketchup and dip, to mixing a few highlights for my hair (not the same one, of course).
And, lately they have been holding tea lights, which reminds me of a midnight vigil from a Tim Burton movie...

(p.s. I still can't cook the perfect soft-boiled egg).