Saturday, November 21, 2015

Autumn Images

On a gorgeous day this past week I took a stroll around the yard.
I never realized how neat these tall (taller than me) decorative grasses are!
We had 2 lonely sunflowers this year.
Here is what's left of the Boston ivy.
A azalea with its Fall color.

Vines on the wall.
One of my favorite subjects is the hosta leaves against the weathered wood.


Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chinese Cabbage Soup

Jim loves cabbage soup so I tried this recipe from my trusty cookbook 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. It is delicious!

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup sliced onions
1 clove garlic, minced (I left both the onions and garlic out and it was still quite tasty)
5 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry (I used red wine vinegar instead)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 cups shredded Chinese cabbage or bok choy
1/2 julienned carrots (mine were chopped)
1/2 cup straw mushrooms
1/4 peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup scallions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add cabbage, onions and garlic stirring until softened (about 3 minutes).

Add broth, sherry (or red wine vinegar) and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Add Chinese cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and peas. Returned to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 7 minutes.

Lastly stir in scallions. Then enjoy!

Other options to add include 1/2 cup of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and snow peas when you add the mushrooms. I will try this next time!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, November 7, 2015

House Update

Thank you all for your good luck wishes last week! Our offer was accepted on the rehab house, however when we had the house inspected on Wednesday we decided to back down since we felt it was more than we could handle. Oh well. It was fun to have that rehab fantasy for a short period of time! 

The house had multiple back up offers so the seller will have no problem getting another buyer. Unfortunately it will likely go to a contractor who will use poor quality materials and hide problems that need to be addressed. Then they will sell the home at a large profit and the next buyers will have to deal with issues in the future! Jim and I avoid looking at flipped houses for this reason. We really wanted to bring this house back to life the right way!

I did take more photos. We wanted to accent the home with more black to give her curb appeal.
I ate a bunch of concord grapes that are on the property while there. They taste just like Welch's grape juice!
The vintage wall paper is fabulous!

 So aren't the light fixtures!
This one is an original gas light fixture. Rare to still see today!
I love the original moulding which is in amazing shape!
This vintage stove comes with the house!
Well we are back to the drawing board with house hunting. We'll see how this coming week goes! We plan on viewing a few more homes.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, October 31, 2015

House Hunting

As I mentioned before, Jim and I started house hunting. Here is a fun rehab property that peaked our interest. 

She was built in 1920. We learned the reason there is no fireplace is because at that time it was in vogue to not have one and show that you were chic by using a modern heating system!
I forgot to snap a photo when we got there and it was still light up. It is starting to get dark way too early!
The home is filled with original details!
I was in love!
Must have lace curtains in an old home like this!
The cellar has what appears to have been a room for canned and jarred goods.
Interesting basement.
A door that looks like it hasn't been opened in years.
A gorgeous radiator.
I just love an old skeleton key!
We visited here the day it went on the market. It was like an open house! There were people coming and going and the listing agent was there. It was nuts. 

Being at the price it was, we could afford it and be able to hire contractors to get the work done. It needs updated electrical, blown in insulation, all new windows, refinishing on the wood floors throughout, new ceilings and the walls needed to stripped of old paper and painted, a new kitchen and 1.5 bathrooms. 

We do have an offer out on this property as I publish this, but this sort of property gets priced to generate interest so a contractor will come in and pay cash. Cash buyers always win! The lucky winner will give her new life and resell her! However it is exciting to dream about and know there is a slight possibility of us getting it.

House hunting has been stressful. We have put offers in on 5 properties so far with no luck! We keep trying.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Sunday, October 25, 2015


West African Peanut Soup
I don't really know much about African food but if this recipe is any indication I think I will be happy if I ever go on my dream vacation of a safari! This soup may look like baby food but if you like the ingredients, it is delicious.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
1 medium carrot chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger
dash of cayenne pepper
1 sweet potato chopped (I kept the skin on for added nutrition)
2.5 cups water
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 green onions chopped

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Stir in yellow onions and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add ginger and cayenne, cook 1 minute.

Add sweet potato, 2 cups of water, tomato juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Ladle soup into bowl of a food processor. Add peanut butter. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into a clean pan.

Heat soup over low heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup water to thin if desired. Ladle into soup bowls and top each serving with green onions. Serves 3.

I left out the yellow onions of this recipe and it was still scrumptious!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Autumn Around the Yard

Just sharing some Fall photos at home.
Coneflower Remains
Hostas on their way out

weeping cherry tree
wall of ivy
butterfly bush still hanging on
acorns that cover our driveway
dogwood foliage
ivy on the weeping cherry
the garage where we clearly don't park our cars!

I hope you enjoyed our Fall foliage! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gloucester Massachusetts

So Jim and I have decided to start house hunting in Massachusetts. I know, we are all over the place with our plans! 
We have been living in a family house and are by ourselves 9 months out of the year, but we are now craving a space that is just ours. Jim just got a big work promotion so we feel we may stay here longer than we thought before. This can open up cool transfer options down the road for him (even internationally which we dream about)! So we may not end up where we initially planned. Exciting times!

So this brought us to the affordable seaside fishing town of Gloucester! We love the idea of living in walking distance to the water, restaurants, festivals and all the other goodies this town has to offer. 

However when checking out homes in this area, we found the streets to be very narrow and crowded. Just not for us. Then in the summer, this town is filled with tourists going on whale watches, eating local lobster, etc. We would probably lose our minds with the traffic!

We had a fun day anyway since it was gorgeous out! Full of happy birds. This little guy was way off in the distance and I had my cheap camera on me but you can still see him drying his wings in the sunshine!
This seagull scored himself a crab!
Fishing boats are everywhere.
Old anchors are decorations in the tourist parts.
We walked by artist John Singer Sargent's home (one of my classic favorites!).
We saw the remaining cannons of Stage Fort.
Of course we had a great lunch too!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of a MA fishing town. Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recycling to Create a Votive Holder

Votive Holder

We had used up a couple of salsa jars that screamed votive holders to me! So far I have played with one.
This gold clay is odd to work with since it streaks darker tones. However I thought it would be perfect for decorating the jar.
Rolling out strips is very relaxing.
After baking the clay I went through my stash and decided to cut several pieces of this ribbon yarn to hide the top where the lids screws on. It complements the color of the clay perfectly.
I was going for something that would give off a lot of light and also create cool patterns on the wall and ceiling. It really only creates neat lighting on the table but I love how much light it gives off with a candle flickering!

A little tip I learned for removing the labels was a 50/50 combo of vegetable oil and baking soda stirred into a paste. The labels peeled off easily but the residue left behind would not scrub off! I also tried rubbing alcohol. The paste was the one thing that worked. I let it sit on the jars for about 5 minutes and the residue scrubbed right off!

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