Monday, June 29, 2009

Greek Potato Salad

I readily admit to not being very talented in the kitchen. When I try, I really really try, and the results are usually tasty, but not always pretty. When I don't try, it's frozen ravioli baked in the oven with some shredded cheese melted on top. However, I do like good food, and my mother-in-law made this salad when she was here last month. I thought it was a fantastic alternative to the mayo-heavy traditional fare we usually eat in the Midwest. She called this "potato salad" (only she said it in Greek, of course) and it was especially refreshing on a hot day.


Some boiled potatoes, peeled and quartered
Olive oil
White vinegar
Chopped raw onions (fresh tomato is nice, too)

Start with the potatoes and onions (or tomatoes) in a bowl. Add olive oil and vinegar to coat, toss in a little salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

(extra)Ordinary Summer Days

It helps, when I am missing my former life and career, to remember that on an ordinary Thursday at 2:00, I would be glaring at the little clock on my computer and wishing it were 6:00 already. I would not, for example, be lying on a beach chair next to my son's pool, sipping sweet tea and reading a book, while my boy, laughing and naked, chases our dog on the lawn.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sandbox Driver

My husband built our son a sandbox that's designed to look like a car. He used scrap wood he found in our barn and a couple of new boards from the local lumber store. He added a few coats of orange opaque stain, and I painted some headlights, taillights, and tires to finish the look. It reminds me a bit of a vintage Land Cruiser. We parked it off to the side of the garage in the shade of a gigantic spruce. The kid is so happy with it that he woke up this morning asking for the sandbox, so I'm either going to have a big problem or a wonderful diversion on my hands. Knowing my boy, it'll be a healthy dose of both.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weekend in June

Over the weekend, we traveled north for my cousin's Open House. My aunt and uncle's home is a picturesque farmhouse with a pond, cute animals, and lots of room to play. My son had his first real horse ride, and he was ecstatic! He has this loud, delighted laugh that sounds like one of David Bowie's goblins from the Labyrinth, and I find it adorable (or annoying if he's laughing at me trying to get him dressed). Someone even brought along a baby raccoon that had been abandoned, and my niece was allowed to feed it from a dropper. I wish I'd thought to take a photo of it; its little hands were so sweet.

During the drive home, my husband and I talked about how the day reminded us why we'd moved to Michigan: to be near family and to give my son the kind of day when the smile never leaves his face, even after his sleepy eyes droop closed before we've even left the driveway.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June in Michigan has been unseasonably cold and it's not really felt much like summer. Also, we've had too much rain and now most of the peonies are lying on the grass like drunken debutantes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Needle Felted Bracelet

I'm currently working on painting a ufo, an alien, and a robot on the walls of my son's new bedroom, so I don't yet have photos to share of that room. The best time to work on it is when the kid is napping, but since he sleeps in his bedroom, that doesn't really work out....

In the meantime, I'm posting pics of a few needle felted objects I've done. This was my first attempt at a bracelet. I'm working on another one that's supposed to be a gift for my girlfriend, but it looks like a big cupcake right now (too many candy colors), so I'm not sure if I should just start over or keep working at it. It has coral wool yarn, aqua dyed wool, and coral glass beads on it, which may be why it's looking more like a confection than jewelry. For the one pictured, I kept it simple by adding strands of dyed wool to the band.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Play Room Before and After

This is actually the third room that I restyled, but the bathroom is not fit to be photographed, so I'm skipping it for now. This room is an upstairs bedroom that was originally part of the second-level attic (there is also a third level attic) and was converted in the 70's to create a fourth bedroom to accommodate the previous owners' four children. Since it wasn't part of the original living space, there was no plank flooring under the pea-soup carpet, just plywood subfloor. I wanted to lay hardwood, but carpet was less expensive and easier to install, and as my husband pointed out, cozier for on-the-floor playing (for the kids, not us).

This wasn't a high-priority room, so I did my best to use furnishings we already owned. The old slate chalkboard was in the upstairs landing, along with the vintage desk, and a schoolhouse light fixture that I convinced my crabby electrician brother to move into the play room. There's also a huge bookcase that was in the room we use as a master bedroom, which we screwed into the wall and filled with toys and books.

The curtains were made from fabric that a friend bought for me
years ago from the Ikea in New York when I was living in Miami and had never heard of Ikea. For wall art, I opened boxes that we'd never unpacked and found prints and a vintage linen childrens book and put them in inexpensive frames. I also used some self-adhesive racing stripes that I found at Lowes for a few bucks. Add jalepeno paint, one excited kid, and his Plan City, and we now have a Play Room.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Peony from Our Garden

This is a peony that my son picked. When I told him that he hurt the flower, he asked it, "Are you alright?" Then said to me, "He's alright, Mama." Then when I put it in water, he said again, "See, he's alright." Can't argue with that logic.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Nursery Before and After

We bought our 1870's farmhouse two years ago, loving all of the details: the beautiful crown molding in the living room, the carved oak leaves on the fireplace in the library (a library!), and the fountains in the yard. So much so that I was able to delude myself into thinking it would be no problem to deal with the acres of wallpaper that cover every wall surface, including the insides of the closets, or the circa 1973 carpeting that hid the pine plank flooring upstairs.

The first room I tackled was the nursery. The wallpaper was extremely difficult to remove, and I spent weeks soaking the walls and scraping off the paper, piece by piece. I left the carpet on the floor while I worked, and after I had painted the room pear green, my husband and I tore out the carpeting, he sanded the floors lightly with a rented orbital sander, and I applied several layers of glossy polyurethane.

Gloss because it's easy to clean, wears longer than satin, and because I like the brightness of the light reflecting off the floor. Light dies in matte surfaces, which is one of the (many) reasons I dislike wall-to-wall carpet. That, and the chocolate-milky water you get after you shampoo it, even if it looks clean.

I'm happy with the room now, which is bright and cheerful. Also, the color is easy enough to work with when we decide to change the room for another use.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Needle Felted Cheeseburger

My son has a great love for cheeseburgers and ketchup (also fruit, cheese, yoghurt, and most foods in general). He has a wooden toy kitchen with a slippery wood burger that would always slide out of his hands and hit the floor. I needle felted a burger for him, and since the wool is "sticky", he can cook, reassemble, and pretend to eat it without howling in frustration. My husband calls it "The McRoyal".