Friday, June 10, 2016

Johnny and June

I wrote about the Blue Darling two years ago. At that time she was new and unsettled and just the Blue Darling. She lived in the spare bedroom for awhile, smashed in among boxes and tools and tarps as we were still in full construction mode. But shortly after we moved her into the window bay she now calls home, I named her June. Because she just looked like a June.

I found her while shopping for a leather couch. We still wanted that leather couch so after June came home, the search for her Johnny continued. Another Craigslist foray and I found not just Johnny, but a matching love seat and ottoman (named Carter and Cash?) for the price of less than the one Johnny I had been trying to hunt down. So we went for it! The seller even helped my husband carry each piece down the 3 flights of stairs behind his condo! It took 2 trips with my father-in-law's truck to get all 3 pieces, and then our neighbor helped us move them onto our newly finished floors. That was also two years ago, and the living room has undergone incremental changes since then. Just last month she crossed the finish line of baseboards and crown moulding.

This was 6 weeks after we closed. 
Rebuilt wall
Finished wall and ceiling fan added. 

This picture was taken last month. Welcome home. 

There have been setbacks and surprises, like the curtains I made crashing down one day, because the walls weren't built properly when the previous owners converted the porch so there was nothing to support the weight of hardware and fabric. So last winter my husband rebuilt the walls, adding studs where they should have been, and giving the hardware something to hold onto.

Last night my husband and I were scrolling through pictures of how far we've come in this monumental restoration project. It's almost too incredible to comprehend. The living room is truly finished and I call it our sanctuary. We're not good at sitting still, so we honestly don't spend as much time resting in there as we should! For that reason I also call it our Parlor - the fanciest and yet unused room in the house, reserved for clean bodies and "company." But in the quiet of the morning June is one of my favorite places to sit before I jump into the day. We still have a long way to go, but sitting and reflecting and remembering makes the yet to do seem pretty attainable.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ressurection and Time

The clock just struck the hour, with bells inspired by Big Ben, softly marking time with their music. She has sat silent in our entryway for nearly a year, weights detached, and hands still. But this Sunday was her resurrection day. And now she sings.

The soft tick-tock was foreign at first, a stranger in my house. But now I smile when I hear it. It had an uncanny way of making me think I was in my grandmother's house, as that's the last time I was near any such sort of clock. But she's gained her own presence, almost like a third, living party in our home. This grandfather clock was inherited by my husband in high school, when my in-laws wanted to get rid of it, but he wouldn't let them. He took it instead in his bedroom (is it any wonder we fell in love?), and they kept it stored for him in their basement when he left for college. After we purchased our own home, both our parents gently pushed for us to reclaim the remaining worldly possessions they had kept in their care. And so the clock came to a new home.

Inspired by spring, and daylight, and joy of house projects accomplished, my husband decided to put the clock together this weekend. At 11 o'clock on a Sunday night. I was tired, so I sat in a rocking chair and read directions from the manual.  Boiled linseed oil was used to wipe all her blemishes away.

Clock oil 1) is a thing. And 2) Was needed for her springs. So today I stopped by, Around The Clock Repair on my lunch break. And this dear man, and his dear little shop was all I hoped and more. Piles of watches! All kinds. In a tiny space. And in the middle of it all, a man who obviously loves his trade. Cash only please, and no quick turn around promised. But will your lock work again like never before? You bet. He knows clocks, caresses them, studies them, values them. I left his shop with the small vial of oil in hand, and better appreciating a trade I fear nearly forgotten. 

 In the chaos the world so often delivers, there's something comforting about the quiet, steady pendulum. A visual reminder perhaps of the precious value of this thing called Time. And the simple and yet extraordinary technology driving this clock that keeps it so faithfully. Do we need a grandfather clock? No, certainly not. But is it lovely? O my, yes.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Goat Cheese & Apple Tart

I found this recipe when we were invited to a last minute party. We were just returning from out of state and all I had in the fridge was apples and goat cheese. I fell back on my standard, Google (verb) "ingredient 1 and ingredient 2" and the word "recipe" and found these little lovelies at A Cozy Kitchen. I went back to make them again several months later but somehow the recipe had disappeared. My husband came to the rescue and found the cashed page on the Way back machine! Although the short list of ingredients make it fairly easy to remember: 

Goat Cheese & Apple Tart

2 sheets frozen puff pastry

10 oz goat cheese
2 granny smith apples (or similar variety)
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl chopped fresh or dried thyme

Heat the oven to 425 F. Use the puff pastry straight from the freezer, and lay it flat to cut into squares. Place pieces on a lightly greased baking sheet and sprinkle goat cheese in the center of each square. (The original recipe said to thinly slice the apples, but you do not want them paper thin. A little thicker is actually good to hold in moisture and bring out a stronger apple flavor.) Arrange apple slices to cover the cheese completely. Drizzlewith olive oil & sprinkle with thyme. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the is golden brown on the edges.  

These are lovely hot or cold, and an easy, quick dish that make people say, "wow,  you make such amazing food," when in reality you're just good at running to the store for puff pastry. (If you've ever made your own puff pasty I salute you. I googled it one and about fell off my chair when I realized the amount of work involved. I don't think I'll be attempting it any time soon.)

Tonight for dinner I made Chicken and mushroom alfredo topped with with an Arugula pesto because, ARUGULA! (And I had some mushrooms in the fridge that were reaching end of life.) I used milk instead of cream in the Alfredo sauce since cream is a bit more than this gallbladderless girl can handle. It was lovely, peppery, warm Monday night goodness to have, made with love and music blasting. 

My next and/or soon blog post will be on the hydroponics system set up in our basement that supplied our copious amounts of arugula. Year round fresh greens here we come!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Accidents

Quirky birds from
Our dear neighbor across the street holds a stained glass class in her basement on a weekly basis. My other dear neighbor across the street talked me into taking the class last year to make Christmas ornaments. At the end of 6 weeks I left with several ornaments but also with several new friends. So even though stained glass has never really been my "thing," I found myself going back from time to time to say hello just to catch up with my dear neighbors. I haven't landed on my next glass project (however I have considered these, these, and this). But on a recent quick hello night, my neighbor insisted I make something, stating, "You should do something creative every day. You're here, you're making something." She had printed out a page from Pinterest as a proposed assignment of quirky birds for anyone who showed up without a plan.

I carefully sifted through her bin of colorful glass fragments before choosing a piece of swirled glass, and a small red piece for a beak. I drew my pattern and set glass cutter to glass, but as I rounded a corner I applied a bit too much pressure...and chopped off my poor little quirky bird's head. I stared at it a moment, despairing a bit at my headless creation. But then realized I was starting at something that looked very much like a chicken's tail feathers! So I set out to make a chicken instead, since it made so much more sense for me than a quirky bird ever will.

The result was Charlie, a very smart looking rooster who now stands in our bedroom, atop our book case turned dresser (because that's what you do when you live in a half finished house, and it works quite nicely). I took Charlie to work one day but when my husband asked if Charlie had moved or if he was on vacation, I realized we'd need more than one Charlie in our lives. Which gave me a welcome excuse to return to glass class. Now I am working on Charlie's lover, so we can have a pair at home, as well as a rooster for my office. 

Here's to life's happy accidents. 

Charlie, the Lover, and Charlie 2.0 in progress. (And yes, the seam in Charlie 2.0's chest?  That was an accident.)