Thursday, July 28, 2011

The perils of a small house...

I think I've mentioned before, that my house is small. Very, very small. There are certain plus points to this... less to clean, less to heat, and the hubby says it forces us to all get along.  Now, I'm not going to lie... I do idly imagine living in a house with more rooms than I know what to do with. Jeez, I'd be happy to have just one extra bedroom, so the girls don't have to share... but, this is my lot, and so, I have learned to be organized, self controlled, and impartial to what's on the telly!

Every now and then, though, my self-control goes AWOL, takes a little vacation, and I end up purchasing things just because it was a 'too-good-a-deal' to pass up. Any thoughts of where I'm going to put said item evaporate, like the early morning dew on a hot summer's day... and I, my dears, are left with a large (and often) impractical item, with nowhere to put it...

Case in point... my rather large pine dresser... ohhh, how I love this... how it called out to me on craigslist... 'look at my aged patina, and I have an aged key to boot'... 'wouldn't I complete that country kitchen look you covet?'.... 'what? I'm too big? No silly... I'm perfect'... I mean, with a hard sell like that, what was a girl to do? My knees buckled and it came home with me...

As soon, as I positioned it in my doll's house size kitchen, I knew deep down that it was too big, but I pushed this niggling doubt to the far reaches of my mind... then, the hubby came home and gave me a slap round the face to bring me back to my senses (not literally, of course)... He looked at the offending item and declared that it looked like a NBA basketball player in a room filled with 'regular'-sized folk!
He was right... humph! Curse this small house *looking at the sky, clenching fists, and shaking them in a curse-like manner *...

But, what to do? It was here. Paid for, and it gave me storage up the wazoo... so after lots of faffing and titivating, we came to a compromise... the hutch part now resides in our basement (the graveyard for all spontanious, impractical purchases) with the old addage that it will get used one day when we open this place up.  Meanwhile, I still get the benefit of the extra storage from the dresser... so, not a total washout then...

So you ask me, has my lesson been learned?? Have I recognized that there is only so much you can fit into a two bedroom cape? Of course not! Only the other week I picked up a vintage milk crate... a steal... and perfect to store something in... I just need to find somewhere to put it... ahhh, the perils of a small house...
Hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A cool basket...

With all this hot weather, there's only so much indoor time the kids can take. Indoor activities had been exhausted and, although shopping is my favourite past time, the kiddies do not share my enthusiasm... so, what to do?? If only I could combine the joys of air-conditioned shopping with fun kids' activities... wait a minute... doesn't Ikea have a ball room? Light-bulb dazzling above head...  Kids strapped into the car faster than a ice-lolly melting in the mid-day sun, and we're off for a sojourn at Ikea!
Now, I've got to say when it comes to Ikea, I never really go there with a plan ('dangerous shopping,' I hear you say), but as I don't have the finances or room for anything more in this little old place, I go on the Ikea pilgrimage safe in the knowledge that any purchases will fit amply in the yellow bag!

Anyhoo, I popped the eldest in the ball room (thank heavens she's grown those couple of inches... we were shy for quite a few visits) and basked in the loveliness of air conditioning and pared-down Swedish design.
The youngest and I plopped ourselves on the Ektorp couch and both agreed that this would be perfect in our living room. She then critiqued all of the rooms, declaring 'I would live in this room, Mummy'... Bless, my influence is definitely rubbing off on her... We then we hit the marketplace. Definitely the area of Ikea where I lose my senses.
I made it through the kitchen section and that old yellow bag was still empty... bathrooms (nada).... fabric... slightly tempted by a jaunty stripe... bedding... oohhh, rose bedding for the girls... no, no don't impulse shop... Storage... schreeechhh... ahhh... Baskets. My weakness...

...but, where to put yet more baskets... ahhh, yes... above the kitchen cabinets!! That's right, it's wasted space, and I was only reading in a housey mag the other day that, 'the space above kitchen cabinets is often overlooked and should be utilised in a small house'... and if there's one thing my house is, it's small!

So, I promptly put said baskets in the yellow bag (and it held all of them)... except the ones in my hands... oh, and the one in my youngest hands (now being used to hold her Strawberry Shortcake doll)... and the one on top of my eldest's head (she'd rejoined the party and decided that baskets were this years head gear... Lady Gaga, eat your heart out!)..

All in all, this had been a successful trip. My eldest had a blast playing in the ball pit, the youngest had run herself ragged sampling the furniture, and I had come up with yet another storage solution!! The best bit of all, though... all this was achieved cooly!!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering... I don't keep the 'Post' basket up top with the gods... that would be far too impractical!

Take care all.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot, hot, hot...

Phew, it's hot in NJ at the mo'!
And, when I say hot, I mean really hot. I told my mum today during our daily chit chat that it reminded me of when I used to go for my annual fortnight (two weeks) holiday to sunnier climes. I'd leave Blighty dressed in English summer garb (jeans, sweaters, rain coat), land in the Med, descend from the plane, and then, I was hit by the heat. Like stepping into an oven. That's how I feel when I leave the comfort of air conditioning. Can I just say a little thank you prayer for air conditioning!!!

Anyhoo, this is definitely not the weather for a delicate English Rose such as myself (cough, cough). And so, I find myself skulking around my dark house. Dark, because this place has way too many windows... think greenhouse... so, the blinds stay closed and I seek solace in the glory of AC (that would be air conditioning and not Atlantic City).

Nevertheless, every now and then, I feel I should be making the most of the sunshine (a Brit gal never takes a sunny day for granted), and I attempt to leave this little old place only to find myself scuttling towards the nearest cool building... and you know what? Shops have awesome air conditioning (... and I didn't think they could be any more inviting).

So, I find myself mooching around supermarkets for far too long, perusing aisles that I never usually bother dragging myself down... and you know what that equals? Stonking food bill. Oh, and a cupboard full of food that I don't know how to cook. Eek, I hope the kids enjoy curried yak!! Just kidding folks they were all out of Yak today!

So the point of this post? Ah yes, to share these flowers with you. Beautiful, aren't they? I think I might have to shoe horn this variety of Hydrangea into my garden somewhere. I love the cone of flowers. I had to double-take when I saw them, as I thought they were lilacs... In July?? That would be just plain silly!
And, what's more... these lovely flowers are home grown here in NJ. I think I'm starting to get the Jersey Pride now.. Well, for some of it's offerings anyway... I don't think I'll ever warm to  Mike 'The Situation' and ilk!!

Have a great weekend all.
Take care.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pea & feta salad

Hi there,
So, what's new? Things are ticking along nicely here in this little old place. Each day drifting into another, and, before I know it, it's time to flip the calendar to yet another new month... the summer is slipping by and I feel as though it has only just begun.

A good indicator that I am in the thick of Summer is the fact that the farmers' market is brimming with fresh produce. Tomatoes so sweet, they may as well be candy... and don't even get me started on Jersey corn... for those not lucky enough to try it, I can only say that you have never tasted anything so lip-smackingly gorgeous... It's even worth getting it stuck in your teeth (anyone know how to eat corn off the cob elegantly, let me know). I used to think that the only thing to come out of New Jersey was 'The Jersey Shore' and 'The Sopranos,' but this is what Jersey should be remembered for... fresh produce... there's a reason it's called the 'Garden State,' you know... (and I thought that was just irony...)

Anyhoo, as I turned the Sainsbury's calender over into the month of July, I was greeted with this month's recipe of a broad bean salsa. Now,  I'm not sure if broad beans are known under a different name here in the States, but I never come across them in the supermarkets... so, never one to be defeated at the first hurdle, I decided to substitute beans with fresh peas... I was itching to use fresh peas in something and this gave me the perfect excuse. I also have an abundance of mint growing in the garden (no, I didn't plant it in the pot, and so, it's growing pretty rampant at the moment)... and feta just takes me back to summer holidays spent in Greece... happy days! So, with a tweak here and there, I created this pea & feta salad.

Anyhoo, this dish makes the perfect accompaniment to a burger off the barbie or just as a light lunch. So, if you're short on time, whip this little treat up. You can even try it with broad beans!
Take care all!

Recipe for Pea & Feta Salad

1 cup of fresh peas
1/2 red onion finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 handful of mint leaves finely sliced
grated zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup of cubed feta
pepper to taste

Add the peas to a pan of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and refresh in cold water.
Put the peas in a bowl with onion, olive oil, mint, lemon zest and lemon juice. A grind of black pepper.
Stir in the feta.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Loving life...

Hello there-
So, how do you dip back into this blogging malarkey when you've had so long away from it? The old laptop has sat there on the desk, gathering dust, while I have been off, out-and-about... patiently sitting there, not demanding me to pick her up and tap away... letting me enjoy the sun, the beach, the kids, and mindless telly. But, enough is enough. So, today, I picked her up and started to blog again... but what to say?

Yeah, I've made some amazing food over the past few weeks. I am in love with any dish containing fresh peas. The mere act of shelling peas brings a smile to my face... my mum used to say that having babies was like shelling peas... Erm, no, can't see that at all??? I definitely didn't have a smile on my face during labor... Anyhoo, I'll be sharing my pea salad recipe next week... as it's just too good not to!
I've watched fireworks on the beach, but sans camera... Now, that would have been a post. Watching the Manhattan 4th of July fireworks from our little beach. Doesn't get much better... Except watching them from a huge yacht, I guess... Okay, it could get better, but it still was a pretty nice experience...

Then, we had the old "shaving the dog" debacle... I couldn't put a picture up of her... it wouldn't be fair... let's just say she looks like a South American street dog and not the beautiful black spaniel she was.... Not to worry though, the hubby said it will grow back and squared it away by declaring she was much happier with her cool, streamline appearance... Never the less I don't think we can add "dog groomer" to his bow... Lets just say them guys earn every bit of that $80...

There's been a whole lot going on in this little place... most of all, I've just enjoyed spending long days and late nights with the kiddies and hubby... and that is what life is about. Enjoying every last minute of it. From the early dawn chorus, to the hot mid-day sun on a salty beach, to watching the sun set, slipping slowly into the ocean, leaving behind a sky of pink and orange... to the dark nights, lit only by the blue hue of the moon and the occasional glow of a firefly...  and that, my dears, is where I leave you... sharing a little corner of my life. Our little beach... an amazing sunset and a moonlit beach... Life is good and there to be enjoyed!

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