I get daily inspiration from all over the place. Just as I sit down now to write this post...I gather up my photos from the past few days (you do keep your camera tied around your neck all day, don't you?!), and I get compelled to elaborate on the what and whys that lift me up. I love my cookbooks, and you already know that I've given away so many over the past few years simply because I have no room to store them. But I have a few favorites on the shelves in my kitchen, and I choose a few every now and then to take center stage in a basket on my island where I can see them all the time...maybe get inspired to peruse them and choose a few recipes to do. That said, I have a wonderful book written by Sophie Dahl called From Season to Season. If her name sounds familiar, it's because she is the granddaughter of Roald Dahl, that wonderful writer and poet, and the man behind Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. But I digress. I was feeling a little blue the other day and I went through this book as well as a few others. Soon I was marking recipes and making a grocery list. I made a beautiful side dish of grilled asparagus with cherry tomatoes and chopped hard boiled egg, but I forgot the pictures and well, I didn't make much more to write home about. Ha! Let's just call this Love Your Cookbooks Month. Do the seasons play a big part in your food and cooking choices? I'm hoping to share more recipes as we head into the slow awaking of springtime.
On to more important things. I'm a big fan of stores like HomeGoods, Marshall's and TJ Maxx. I know you are all gasping in surprise. I actually think they are all "connected" in ways other than we all love them. I know you hear me drop a few lines here and there about what I've picked up here and there, but it's never my intent to play "Show and Tell", and goodness knows...we are all pinching pennies these days. But I do have to use my little spot here in the Blogosphere to talk about the savings I find here and there (that's a little theme I have going, here and there. lol).
Well, first and foremost, I gravitate to the shelves with the pretty soaps. Why on earth would anyone buy pump dispenser soaps at their grocery or drugstore when they can get beautiful bottles of natural, organic, vegan and pure soaps like these? I simply go nuts and stock up whenever I'm at one of these stores. Beautifully wrapped cake soaps go into a big basket in my bath, and the bottles I have pictured above are in both bathrooms and at the kitchen sink. The big bottle on the left is 28 oz. and I paid $4.99. Incredible. And this is the norm.
I can also see that this is almost as interesting as my cookbook monologue above.
One last thing...I find bathroom rugs for $9.99. Table runners for $12.99. Pillows for $16.99. Just saying. And there is no compensation for my sharing any of this...maybe just a plea for some sympathy for my terrible addiction to these stores, and forgiveness for writing totally inane posts about them.
It's time to hop along the bunny trail. I'm bringing them out a little at a time. This guy just may be a year round keeper, if you know what I mean. Not relegated to that big dark box labeled "Spring" in the basement come June. Shudder. Have I ever mentioned that we had a bunny as a pet for a few years? I was at the mall one day and saw them in a pet store. I got this insane idea that we just needed to have one and brought home this cute little white baby bunny, a sort of gift for Emily, who was about six years old at the time. She named him/her Snowy. Snowy was very cute and sweet, and she hopped all over the house and even our German Shepherd, Shadow, seemed to love her (when he was not hiding). It was weird though...as far as the pets we had been accustomed to, she dropped little "pellets" out of her rear end with just about every "hop" she made. Because of this phenomenon, she came out of her crate a bit less and less and over time. We soon realized she would be happier dropping those little nuggets somewhere other than our home...a place perhaps where she could "hop and drop" to her hearts content. A neat lady up at the lake took her off our hands and let her do her thing with all of her own little bunnies in a pen in her yard...a rightful place for all bunnies, I think. Love ya Snowy. And for the record, Emily never forgave me for giving him/her away.
myself two per year), I went for the whimsical. Isn't his face precious? I have a few more to bring upstairs but I was feeling a bit lazy today. I'm excited that one day Elsie will love all of these bunnies. My own children think I'm certifiable insane.
A few speckled eggs in an old Atlas jar I found in Michigan. I rarely bring home anything from our house in Michigan, I think of everything belonging in their own respective places. I had a very protective feeling for some of these things when we went up there two weeks ago. I wanted to bring home everything and nothing. Leaving my treasures meant the whole place would be resurrected. Taking anything would mean the disintegration. I brought home this one old jar from a great collection I have, found at all sorts of barn sales and antique shops over the years. And I filled it with these little eggs I found at an antique store in the town we visited last weekend. It's a symbol to me...the "here and there" as I wrote earlier, the "then and now", and the inevitable birth of a home better than it was before.
We are going up there tomorrow to do an inventory of all of our personal things. All of the debris has been removed...they've moved a lot around to dry things out and sterilize. I think I'm in for another jolt. We're also meeting with our first contractor to get a bid on the repairs. So many of you mentioned that this will be a time to have a little fun renovating and redecorating and you are all so right! I felt a little guilt in the beginning...this was so tragic. Yet I saw walls being repainted in colors that I would prefer now...window trim being finished, the staircase finally being completed. This is not going to be easy...The Husband and I clash a lot on design/decor ideas. But we did agree...since all of the wood flooring has to be replaced, upstairs and down (we had all the floors done in new hardwood about 8 years ago, it was just carpet before that) maybe we could make some changed there as well. I mentioned to him that I was less than happy with the over-varnished oak look, and could we possibly redo it with wider planks in a different stain..sort of gray-ish? And likewise, he suggested we do the staircase and balcony off the master bedroom (that looks out over the Great Room) with wrought iron instead of the cheapy looking painted wood spindles our last contractor used. Yes and yes. But we are seriously avoiding upgrading a lot of things. Our mantra has always been that this is a second home...a "vacation" home. The overall quality and craftsmanship is very important of course for home value purposes, but we just can't go wild, especially with The Husband looking at retirement in a few years.
That said, I have a few things to pack up for tomorrow; a picnic lunch, a good book, and my forms (20+ pages) for the inventory. I hope to see my neighbor, Susie, and share some wine...maybe sit on the dock for a little bit with the sun on my face. I wish we could bring Milo and Layla but it's just not the place for them right now. Soon I hope.
Okay...now you know why I was a little blue this morning. But tomorrow is another day. It's all about the here and there, isn't it? And where you choose to be.
Love to all,