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Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching Up!

It's been more than a month since my last blog post.

I know!!!

Crazy, huh?   So what have you all been up to? 
We had a great Thanksgiving; 15 at table this year, which is probably about half what we usually have, but it made for a peaceful holiday, and a quicker cleanup!  As always, Howard wore his turkey shirt.  And for the first time ever, I forgot to get a picture of him in it.
Oh well.
At least I got this fellow, wandering the edge of a nearby road on the Sunday
before Thanksgiving.  Making his great escape, I guess.

We've had too much of this:
Anne, clearing ice off my van.

In the spirit of the season, Anne tried decking the dog with antlers.

Dylan decided to eat them instead.

But bigger brains prevailed.
Get that off, Mr. Smartypants.

After more than a year, the local birds discovered our window-hung
bird feeder.  They are not quick studies, our local birds.
Especially since the local squirrels discovered it at about the same time.

Our fresh tree, in the sunroom.
It's a winner this year -- and a species we have never heard of!
Canaan Fir.  It's wonderful.  If you can find one, grab it.
Do you like all the storage boxes and the white plastic around it?  Hahaha . . . we run a classy joint.
 This is me, singing at church.
OK.  That's a fib.

But what isn't a fib is that it has taken me all these weeks to get into 
the spirit of the season . . . and it's coming none too soon,
as our annual Christmas Grab Bag party is tomorrow.

Yikes.  I've got lots to do.  See you on the other side of Saturday!
-- Cass

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Craigslist Love, And When Ferns Invade!

It has gotten ugly cold around here.
Last night, past freezing.  Well past freezing.
So I (if by "I" we mean "Howard") brought
in the porch ferns and baskets, to shelter in our hall.

Our front hall looks like a set for Little Shop of Horrors.

On flattened garbage bags, we have three e-nor-mous Boston ferns,
and one rather deflated hanging geranium.  She's getting a haircut, and a warm cozy spot to recover.

I'm going to try and hang these ferns.  Somewhere.
I need hanging pots for them, without drainage holes!
I'll sit their "hole-y" pots inside the solid ones.

 The big asparagus ferns, which started the summer
as little asparagus ferns, will stay on their pedestals,
probably in the dining room.

Oy.  That's a lot of ferns.
Wish me luck. 

Craigslist has come up trumps for me again.  :-)

Last year, I bought 8 dinner plates at the Christmas Tree Shops.
Pfaltzgraff.   White basketweave pattern.  Love 'em.
Read about my love for all basketweave china, here.

But 8 dinner plates isn't enough.  I needed new everyday white dishes.
Really.  I did.  Just ask my husband.  
Or maybe don't ask him, come to think of it.

Craigslist to the rescue.
Complete service for 14, in Oneida's Basketweave pattern.
Tomorrow I brave the jungles of Bergen County to meet a lovely woman
who is the current custodian of my basketweave china,
and hopefully will haul it all home in the trusty minivan.

Stay warm, my friends!  -- Cass

Susan at A Southern Daydreamer sponsors 
Outdoor Wednesday ...  Click here!

Friday, November 8, 2013

NOvember Roses, NO-stir Risotto, and NO Clue What To Do With an Auction Washstand

Bringing home a vintage furniture bargain can
be a lot like bringing home your first baby.

You're all excited. . . until you get home, put the baby in the
middle of your bed, step back, look at your husband and say,
"Holy (censored)!  What have we done?"

And so it is with something I got at auction last year. 
Last summer, with bags and boxes of other auction and thrift finds scattered around the sunroom.  I make messes.

In the summer of 2012, I snagged a Sheraton-style
washstand at an auction in Pennsylvania.

It has been imprisoned in a storage unit.
Till now.
I've had this piece standing in my kitchen for days - kind of 
the equivalent of plopping it into the middle of our bed - while I
decide what to do with it.  Time for it to move on.  I think I will paint it.

It's such a pretty piece, and graceful: a classic Sheraton style washstand.
That hole in the top?  I have no idea what it is for.  Do you?
As for painting it . . .  I've got Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey, 
Ralph Lauren's Bone Black paint (just about my favorite), 
and a gorgeous soft aqua - although that one will require a primer.
I'm kind of lazy.

What would you do?
I'm open to suggestions.  It's headed for the booth, as I have
no room for it here, so I'd love to hear what would catch your eye.
(BTW refinishing is not a practical option; the finish is shot in too many places.)

Have you got one of these?
 It's a cast iron enameled stock pot, or Dutch oven.
I'm sure you've seen the beautiful Le Creuset ones in stores.
This is not one of those.  It's from Sur la Table, and I love it.

Plus, using it helps tone my arms, as it weighs a freaking ton.

 I've made stews, chowders, soups, chicken, roasts, pork loin,
chili, and baked beans in this 8-quart baby, since Santa brought it last year.

 But my new favorite recipe for this pot is Baked Risotto.
'Cause who doesn't like a hot pile of creamy rice?
Especially when you don't have to stand at the stove stirring it.
Although that also is a good way to tone your arms.

Oven Risotto - Ingredients to serve 4 (main course) or 6 (side dish).
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice (short grain) - I like Trader Joe's brand.
5 cups (about) of HOT broth or other seasoned liquid, or water if you prefer.
1/2 cup of wine - your choice.  I use a dry white.
A lump of butter, or some oil, for the pan.
Plus - whatever you want to add.  Cheese, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peas, 
asparagus, spinach, squash . . . whatever strikes your fancy.

 Step One:  Put your Arborio rice in the pot with some butter, or oil.
Get 'em all hot and bothered.  The ricey bits will get a little transparent looking.

Step Two: Add 4 cups of the liquid and stir.
Don't worry.  Just stir to smush it all together.

Step Three:  Put the pot in a preheated 350-degree oven.
I set a timer for about 40 minutes, so I can check the risotto.
Yes, I give it a stir then, and if it's dryish I add more liquid, usually the rest of the broth and the wine.

Step Four:  When you check it, add in any extra stuff.  I had some leftover spinach, so in it went,
along with some finely chopped sauteed onion and garlic.  You never go wrong with garlic.

Then it's back into the oven for Step Five: the final cooking.  It should take about 15 minutes
and the risotto will be all done - nicely creamy and delicious, all the ricey bits tender.  
I sauteed some cherry tomatoes, and put them and the grated Parmesan into the risotto to complete it.
We had it for dinner that night, with some mashed butternut squash
on the side, and it was delicious.  Now it's probably clear from this
alleged recipe that I was using what I had on hand;
it was an impromptu meal, the kind I always think of as "free,"
because I don't have to go and buy anything new.

Around That Old House, most of the summer
flowers are spent.  Kaput.  All done.

Someone forgot to tell the little rose bushes in the border
behind our house, along the old stone wall, that it's time to fold their tents.

 In a walk 'round the yard with the dogs today, I snapped some pics.
And there's Gilda, our Ruby Cavalier, on the far left of this picture, snuffling in the leaves.
And yes, those are the old shutters off our house; we still can't figure out what to do with them!

These aren't great pics.  I had a dog lead in each hand.
Dogs don't stand still and wait while Mom snaps a picture.   They yank.

 Dogs explore.  And sniff.  And pull against their leashes.
There are just so many great smells. you know?

Yellow roses are still in bud, and blooming.
They've got guts, these little guys.
We've already had several below freezing overnights.  Brrrr . . . .

Time to go inside, kids.
There's cookies and a soft sofa waiting for you.
Haha . . . Dylan is giving me a Bronx Cheer!  Can you see his little tongue sticking out?  Cheeky monkey!
Have a great weekend, friends.
I have absolutely no idea what we'll be doing, but I hope
it involves at least something on my TBDBT List! -- Cass

Link Parties for Friday!
At Rattlebridge Farm, it is Foodie Friday.  Rice counts!  Click here!
It's Feathered Nest Friday at the French Country Cottage.  Click here!
Miss Mustard Seed is gathering Furniture Friday posts.  Click here!
My Romantic Home is home to Show And Tell Friday.  Click here!
At The Charm of Home, it's Home Sweet Home Friday.  Click here!
And it's Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time.  See what's still blooming, or not!  Click here!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall, Finally, at That Old House

My last published blog post was October 17.
Wow, I am really lazy.

No reason, no excuses.  I guess I've just been sort of floating along,
watching the last bits of summer fade away, and adjusting to Fall.

Do you know in exactly 3 weeks it will be Thanksgiving?
You do?  Nevermind . . . .

On our front porch, the hanging ferns are hanging in there.  Barely.
But they do look cold, don't they?

The asparagus ferns on either side of the front door are still growing.
They're bucking to come indoors for the winter.

The hanging geranium is a bit beat up from our couple of freezing nights,
but I think with a good hair cut and some TLC, 
she might ride out the winter in the sunroom.

Today's wet winds brought down more leaves in the side yard.

I finally got around to Autumn-izing the front door wreath.
Gone are the white summer flowers (almost); it's Hello, Fall.
I just poke fake flowers from Michael's in 
the big twig wreath.  That way, I can use it for all seasons.
Lazy, and cheap.  Or, thrifty.  Yeah, thrifty.

So did I tell you that it will be Thanksgiving in 3 short weeks?
I did?  Nevermind . . . .

Soon I'll be pulling out the Thanksgiving china, and giving the 
old silverplate flatware a quick shine.

The turkey salt-and-peppers will be freed
from their china closet prison and put into service.

Ah, Thanksgiving.  Bring it on!

Each year, I make up a "To Be Done By Thanksgiving" List,
known as my TBDBT List.
I never complete everything on it; this year's list is several pages long.

Do you have one?   What's on it, and will you get it all done?

Did you hear?  It's just 3 weeks until Thanksgiving!
You already knew that?  Oh.  Nevermind . . . .

I took these pictures late this afternoon, and I meant to go to the
back of the house and get shots of our roses, still happily blooming away.
Don't they know it's Fall?

But my camera battery pooped out.
So, no roses - but plenty of dead oak and maple leaves.

Mother Nature sure knows how to snazz up a place.

Here's to Fall, and family gatherings! -- Cass

Linky Parties!
It's Open House Blog Party at No Minimalist Here.  Click to go!
At Between Naps On The Porch, it's Tablescape Thursday.  Give it a click!

No Minimalist HereTablescape Thursday