Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our Yard

We have more pretty plantings than initially thought.
There are 2 huge pretty rhododendrons. 
1 small patch of purple irises.
A huge blackberry bush. This sweet white flower becomes a berry later in the summer. However we are now just seeing little green berries and aren't sure if they will turn or not.
Above is salvia which we have 2 of.
There are 2 of these shrubs above. I think they may be another form of salvia. If anyone knows what this sweet shrub of pastel purple flowers is, please let me know!
There are lots of ferns about that I would love to dig up in the Fall and group together to enjoy.

Hostas line our front walkway. Not one of my favorite plants however I LOVE variegated leaves on anything! We intend on moving these in the Fall to our backyard. Then next year put in a new walkway.
We would like to plant some bulbs this Fall so we will have more pretties to enjoy next year!

My parents just gave us four Knock Out Rose bushes.  2 dark pink, 2 light pink.

We have been working on a new garden area from scratch to accommodate them. I have been completely lax about our yard but receiving new shrubs is giving me the kick in the butt I needed to start working on it!

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the yard. Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougere

This was my first time making a Gougere and it won't be my last. This is not the prettiest looking dish but boy is it delicious!
cauliflower and mushroom gougere
For the gougere the ingredients are:
8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick)
1.25 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
4 ounces gruyere or cheddar cheese, finely diced (I actually used gouda which I had on hand)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and black pepper 

For the filling:
1 small head of cauliflower
7 ounce can of tomatoes
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped (I used leeks instead which I had handy)
4 ounces of mushrooms, halved if large
1 teaspoon thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter a large ovenproof dish. Place 1.25 cups of water in a large saucepan with the 8 tablespoons of butter on high until melted. Remove from heat and add the flour. Beat until smooth. 

2. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. continue beating until thick and glossy. Stir in the cheese and mustard along with salt and pepper to your liking. Lastly spread this mixture in the dish including the sides. This was a messy job and I don't know how professionals make it smooth!

pastry dough
3. Next work on the filling. Cut the cauliflower into florets. 

4. Puree the tomatoes in a blender if large. I actually used a can of finely diced and left as is.

5. Heat oil and butter in a large non stick skillet. Saute onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cauliflower and stir fry for 1 minute. Add tomato and thyme. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

6. Spoon into the center  of the dish. Bake for 40 minutes until the pastry has risen.

Before Baking
Then enjoy! The dough is delicious due to all the fattening butter and cheese. Yum!

Mine did not look quite like the photo in my cookbook:
The pastry of this reminds us of Pizzeria Uno's deep dish pizza crust so their secret must be lots of butter. Next time I will be changing up the filling to something very Italian which I think will be amazing!

I hope this inspired you to try something new in the kitchen!

Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, August 6, 2016

World War 1 Memorial

This park is about a 5 minute walk from our house. 

This World War I memorial was built in 1956 to honor those from our city who were lost in this war.
Each of their names is beautifully displayed.

The center is inscribed with:
In the days of triumph and peace it is wise to remember the cost of victory. Let us resolve that the sacrifices made by these men shall not be in vain. Let us, the living, pledge ourselves to preserve and protect for their children and ours the freedom and liberties for which they gave their lives.

This is The Hiker created by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson to commemorate the American soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War. 

Over 50 copies of this sculpture can be seen across the United States.

The park has wonderfully kept grounds that change through the season. These photos were taken at the beginning of the summer.
 Decorated with lots of flags.
Of course it also boasts pretty flowers. I love these below with purple fuzzies.
Well I hoped you enjoyed this bit of green space in our city.

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! ~Val


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Second Hand Bargains

A Savers thrift store is nearby and we have scored multiple times here. 

Our favorite is this solid wood table that appears to be handcrafted.
It has unique details including two tone finish and hand carved designs. It has some wear but is in such great enough shape that we did not need to touch it. We guess an artisan made it for fun since there are no markings on it. The bonus was it only costs $22! 

Another solid wood find could be an antique that barely had any wear. We know its old because there is a lot of work that is clearly done by hand, particularly when looking inside the drawer.
It sits in our entry way and only cost us $15! I feel like we are stealing from the store or something.

Another find is nothing exciting but it is large, also solid wood and has a good brand label on it.
It needs work. Jim intends on refinishing it with a dark mahogany stain. However I kind of like the weathered look of the wood after some sanding.
It has that look that is so in right now which I love! I am trying to talk him into sanding it all down and we can keep it like this. This one was only $20. Another amazing bargain!

We have a house of furniture that does not match but at least each item has a story with it!

 Thank you for stopping by! Wishing you a fabulous week ahead. ~Val

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Crystal Gorge Conservation Area

The Crystal Gorge Conservation Area is in our city bordering New Hampshire. It is perfect living in a place that is as much city as it is country!
Consisting of 65 acres, there are plenty of woodsy trails to enjoy for a peaceful nature walk.
I would not recommend this walk in the summertime like we did due to all the bug action! This is a mistake I seem to make every summer craving a nature walk.
So our walk became partly a jog to keep from the pests.
It is very hilly and rocky making for a great workout!
An uprooted tree. I love how woodsy it is.
Part of these trails are on ledges overlooking the gorge. I attempted to photograph the gorge for effect but the photos just don't do the land formations justice!

I would love to come back in the Fall or explore another area of this conservation land. 
This is part of Crystal Lake where some of the city's drinking water comes from.
The part near us was covered in darling lily pads and water lilies!

 I hope you enjoyed this little bit of New England. Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, July 16, 2016

House Update

We haven't done anything major recently to the house. Just little things.

This was our ugly brass front door plate before:
We replaced the old brass lockset with this one. 
Here is the plate after painted with Rustoleum Painter's Touch oil rubbed bronze.
As you can see, close up in the light you can tell its painted but the reality is I am probably the only one who would notice! Unfortunately it wasn't something that could be spray painted so it took a bit of tediousness.  2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint were used.

Overall it looks great compared to the old beat up brass. Since this is a custom plate on the 116 year old door, painting was the most logical choice. I plan on keeping the door as is where you can see that there was on old decorative plate at one time. It just adds more historical character!

This same paint comes in a spray version so I plan on painting 3 old brass ceiling light fixtures with it for a better flow.

This was a little thing that annoyed me. The old door stoppers in various conditions of yuck! This one didn't even have its stopper anymore.
Now we have new ones for only $2 a piece.
At some point I need to touch up the paint around them.

I painted some of the cool twigs left by the tree service the electric company sent to our property.
I also made over an old lamp that looked like this before:
Now it looks like this:
While I liked the original look of this vintage piece, it never went with anything.

I went a little crazy with the crystals upcycled from our old chandelier. It is a bit tacky so I may remove them or just have less embellishment.

I also made pull chains for our new ceiling fans with some of the large chandelier crystals.
I hope you enjoyed seeing these tweaks! Next will likely be the replacement of our basement windows and 2 of the exterior doors (not the front door of course). We are in the estimating process right now so hopefully soon!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, July 9, 2016

An Antique Chair

I am really enjoying my latest inheritance, this antique chair.
It had belonged to my great aunt and then to my grandparents.
Grandpa just passed at age 101 after a long happy, healthy life.
The chair has wonderful details and is in amazing condition.
Even the bottom of the legs have a cutout.
It would be great to have the wood refinished but I also love the look of wear showing its age.
This would be a fun piece to bring to Antique Roadshow!

I hope you have enjoyed viewing this relic of the past. Thank you for stopping by! ~Val