Monday, March 19, 2018

Nature, and other things.

These cute little crates came from my dear pal Jean.
I start today with a thrift store find.  One that I absolutely did not need, but it called to me.  You know, the siren song of the thrift. I visited my favorite haunt during the week, without my financier, or as you know him, my better half.   The car was already full with a hatch full of groceries.  I saw this table as soon as I came in the door.  Was it the barley legs, the interesting oak top or the handy shelf?  I don't know.  I just loved it.  We usually visit the thrift together on the weekend, so I thought if it's still here, and my honey likes it, it was meant to be.
 As you can see, it came home with us.  My dearest likes it too. It fits in perfectly with my quirky
thrift store vintage decorating scheme.
 I have all my springtime pillows on display.
 These were all found at rummage sales or at a thrift store.
 I love my clip boards.  I change the art through the seasons. As simple as a page from a magazine.
 Sometimes a calendar page. It makes me happy.

"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."
-William Wordsworth  

We've had a couple of beautiful days here in Chicagoland. 
The temp was about 40 on Saturday and got up to 50+ on Sunday.

 We walked the Chicago Botanic Garden bundled up.  It's always cooler near the Lake, and the wind over the open areas makes for a brisk walk.
The clear blue sky is reflected in the water.
 Here some tulips are poking through the earth.

  So peaceful.  It's a great way to let the stress leave your body.

 It was late on St. Patrick's Day, we saw only six other couples walking.

 All we heard was the Red-winged blackbirds song, and the faint sound of distant traffic.

 At five o'clock the carillon's bells sounded as crisp as the air felt.
 Oh my Cottonwoods, even without leaves they are beautiful.

We did a little cleaning in the yard.  Picked up our tower of wine bottles that fell over, and cleaned a few pots that I let go last fall.  It felt so good to be out in garden.  Finding a few green daffodil and tulip leaves poking through the earth.  Our little shed made it though another winter, go figure.  All the the kitschy do-dads I have hanging up make it sturdy, I guess.  I love this sweet 1/4 acre.  It seems to get bigger the older I get. ;-) 
 As I sat in the living room this evening, I glanced out to see the sky at sunset.
 I wonder what the neighbors think as I run outside with my camera.
I wonder why everyone is not out looking at this glorious sky!

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness and friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, March 12, 2018

First Signs of Spring

 Spring is taking it's sweet time here in Chicagoland.  You have to look hard to see signs of life.
This is my mossy front yard, greening up a bit.  We have a large Maple that makes the perfect environment for moss.
 We had to walk the neighborhood to find other bits of green.
 Pachysandra which is an evergreen but really perks up in early Spring.
Every tiny green sprig was noticed and appreciated.

Even a branch of buds fallen from a tree.

On the inside Spring is happening too.
This is the island in my kitchen.  It holds my mixer, food processor and all my baking supplies.
I painted it at Thanksgiving, just because it needed to be freshened up.  I used some paint that I had on hand.  I never really liked it, but then came the holidays and I let it go.

This is it with a new coat of Annie Sloan, before waxing.

I thought I was finished, but when the sun came out the last door on the left was not waxed.
Waxing protects the finish and tones down the color and the added paint ages the finish a little.
Also makes cleanup of the finish easier when I spill and drip.
I use regular furniture wax with a bit of burnt umber oil paint.
The house reeks for a while but with a couple of windows open, it's 
tolerable.  The pain in the neck of having to open that darn can of wax after I thought I was finished.
I mixed a small quantity and had at it
This is still before.  Imagine the last door is waxed. ;-)
 I owe you a finished project photo. 
 I found this beautiful tablecloth for less than $4 at he thrift. 
 It looks machine made but so pretty.

I have heirloom crochet tablecloths that I would never use outdoors or in my wheelbarrow or other   decorative uses.  This one will serve me well, and lovely too.

 We traveled on Saturday with our son Jon and Charlotte.  They are looking to buy a home.  Things are still up in the air, but the excitement is rising.  More about that as things get settled.

This is our local Reservoir, where we walk in season.  The last time we walked there was late last Autumn. (They do not maintain the path in Winter.)

 It's such a wonderful resource for our neighborhood.

 The track circles the playing fields.

 Our view across the fields.
 Last summer we were thrilled to see a newly installed bench.  Such a pleasant place to rest.
Such a sweet guy to rest with.
 The sky was so beautifully blue.
 So many trees and shrubs.  Pine cones galore!
 That skinny pine tree won my heart.

 Peeking to see the neighborhood beyond,  our first walk of many to come. 

This used to be a steep gravel path that was treacherous for us older folks with bad knees and
reconstructed hips.  Now it's gentle winding paved path, gradually going down to street level.  We love when our tax dollars are well spent.
Home again.

Where the bunnies have taken over.

Just 20 days till Easter, and some warm days predicted for this week.  That I'll believe when I feel it.  It's been cold for March.  I need to start making my grocery list for our brunch.  A few more small home improvement type projects and we'll be ready to go.

This is my 8th year of blogging.  Having all these years of experience has NOT made me a better blogger, but I am so glad that I have kept up the habit of posting, even if it's only once a week.
Maybe one day Penny will want to know about what Grandma was up to...
For me, it's my life...At Home in English Valley.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gifts of Spring

This amazing book came from my brother Greg and Elizabeth.
He heard about it on NPR and knew I would love it.  I do!
 Not much happened this weekend.  I had a bug, probably from my babygrand.  Penny was really sick with a 103 fever and home for most of the week.  Happily she is feeling much better and getting back to her self.  I started to feel better Saturday, so we used a couple of gift cards we received for Christmas and went shopping.

 Bunnies, bunnies everywhere!  A rhyme my Kristen used to say when she was little.  These are both thrift store finds.  The puzzle we did with Penny last piece was missing.  The chance we take when we buy a second hand puzzle.  The teapot bunnie is so cute.  He will make an appearance later this summer, but that for now is a secret.
 I have been making some big paper flowers.  I bought dies that cut the petals, but the art is making flat paper look like natural petals.
Daisy or Dahlia


 It's fun to play and curl and glue.  I am not sure how I am going to use these yet, but we have a special birthday and a shower and then the big day for Mike and Amanda coming up.  They are all the rage on wedding sites and such. I need more practice, but with music in the background and all my supplies close, it's very therapeutic.  Good for the soul. Just paper and patience.

 On Sunday my dearest pulled a muscle and was incapacitated.  Instead of a perfectly good Sunday
going to waste, he relaxed while I puttered.  I was in the basement organizing some boxes and the tree bag that got shoved into the crawl space when our sump pump broke down.  I was so happy to have a crawl space to store my "junk" when we first moved in.  That was 24 years ago.  I was a young woman back then and could scoot around on one of the kids skateboards. ( It's not high enough to stand up in.) Now I prefer to keep my boxes out of the crawlspace where I can easily reach them.

 I am loving the miniature lamb mold.

 Sidewalk chalk eggs.

Having a love affair with Muscari, 
otherwise known as grape hyacinths

So many pretty silk flowers out there I use over and over, year after year.

We got this cool vintage looking light from the Cracker Barrel.  Mike and Amanda gave us a gift card.  As we were walking around the store, my hubby saw a woman he thought he recognized.  She started to help us with the light.  My honey said, "Do we know each other, you look so familiar..." She said the same thing.  Then she mentioned a place where they both had worked.  Bingo!  Old home week. This happens pretty often.  After a long IT career, it's a small world.  He always knows someone at every event, every customer meeting, even the Jewel or Home Depo.  Mr. Popularity, that's my guy. ;-)
Things are getting gussied up for spring.

Sometimes it's just changing up something in the cloches.

Here is a pretty new vase from Jon and Charlotte.  A Crate and Barrel gift card.
I am really surprised that it took me till March to use these gifts.

This cloche is from my nephew Greg. Pottery Barn gift card.  The handmade bunny from a local thrift many years ago.

Once again reusing some flowers .

All faux plants in this crate.  The shuttered mirror was a birthday gift from Elizabeth.
She wasn't sure I would like it.  If Elizabeth likes it, I will like it and vice versa.
More paper flowers.  These from a kit from Paper Source the last time the 
Midwest Bloggers met in Naperville. 

My mantle in the family room.

A gloomy day today, but it's colorful and has the Penny seal of approval.
She said, and I quote, 'It's so cute!"

Everyone of these bunnies is thrifted or a gift.

I did buy the topiary bunny maybe 20 years ago.

A bunny cake mold.  I have no luck actually making cakes in a mold like this.

That banner was a gift from our friend Audrey.  She came to brunch one Easter and said she thought of me when she saw it in the store.  I love when things have a sweet memory attached, 
and so many of mine do.
You might have noticed the fence.  I saw someone use it on a facebook post.  It's from the dollar store and she sprayed it white.
So I did too.  
It looked like this before.

 Now for the complete picture.  What we have here is a seasonal MESS!
I have a few weeks till our annual Easter brunch.

 Stuff on every table. 

 Bags of flowers, storage boxes.

Yes a strand of Christmas lights.  In my defense, I used them for Valentines Day.
I do have several bags for donations and a basket full of stuff for Kris and Penny.  I might add a clean cabinet with all my candle holders and battery operated candles put away.  A better organized crawl space.  I moved things with a golf club!  The most important thing, a rested hubby, feeling better and he enjoyed watching the seasons change from his comfy chair.

...And the laundry waits!

Thanks so much for visiting and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny