12.31.2013

year end round up of sorts


I wanted to do a little photo roundup of my year.  I found pictures you've never seen and many you have.  It's long so if you need a nap, now may be the time.




I reunited these 2 pieces of luggage.  It really is a love story and one of patience.  And you can read about it here.




In March I decided to veganize my wardrobe.  We know how that worked out now.  All three pairs of these shoes fell apart.  I was especially sad to lose the Burberry Sandals on the right.







In April my son Alex started his own clothing business based on this striped sweater.  He's still going strong.






The rose garden maintained its high achiever status this year.








Producing blooms like this.  This photo makes me happy and sad.  It reminds me of losing my dear friend Miss Doris this year.   That mirror hung in her home and now in mine and is a daily reminder of her endless style and class.




Of course my trip of a lifetime.  These blooms can only be from the 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show. How on earth I ever got so lucky...I'll never know.  I look through my photos often and think back to all the amazing things I saw and the incredibly wonderful and sweet people I met.  Soooooooososososoooooo lucky.






And then from England over to France.  Paris, Provence and the French Riviera.  Still cannot believe it was me who went for 21 days.




This vegan ceasar salad.  The most popular recipe I've ever put on this blog.





This pretty and affordable Ikea bedding.  Still available here.






This Trina Turk jacket that I got at the Goodwill for $5.99.





Which brings us to today.  Larry bought me this top for my bday and I can't decide if I love it or hate it.  It is silver brocade and has a v back with a bow.  Why I didn't take a pic of the back...I don't know.  Anyway it feels vintagey and at the same time space agey.  This may be its only public outing ever.

Anyway that was a lot of my year.

I want to thank you again for reading along.  This is the luckiest blog on the planet because of its faithful, interesting, loving, kind and smart readers.  I really don't know how we both got so lucky.
I hope the new year brings us all good health, simplicity and a dash of style.









12.30.2013

resolutions


my rose garden.  like me it needs a lot of work.





You either love them or hate them.  I love them and also love this time of year.  There is something about the idea of a fresh start that is so appealing to me.  My resolutions this year seem to revolve mostly around money but hopefully that will ultimately bring me more simplicity and peace.


1.  Mix up my thinking and pay down my mortgage.  What I mean by this is to stop doing things purely out of habit and try and look at different ways I can save time and money.  In order to do this I'll have to...

2.  Stop shopping for things I don't need.  This is something I hope I can share with you about here because oftentimes I go to estate sales out of curiosity and wind up buying things I don't need because the price is so good. This will have to stop if I want to accomplish #1. Being completely honest with you, this is going to be hard for me. I really really enjoy estate sales. They are like walking through museums that you can buy things from.  So I will only allow myself to go to the very best ones and demonstrate great restraint.

3.  Continue to pare down, donate and keep things light around here.  I've worked hard at purging and simplifying and I want to maintain this.

4.  Grow a real vegetable garden.  I haven't had a lot of luck growing vegetables and we are surrounded by organic farms that sell to local markets and 2 farmers markets each week. So even though local veggies are cheap and plentiful, I want to give this a go and see if I can't live up to the name of my blog. We'll see.

5.  Continue on my vegan path.  Veganizing my wardrobe didn't work out for me this year.  I failed miserably at it.  I held onto my old vintage shoes, boots and bags and at this point I'm glad I did.  I really don't want to be spending money this year on poorly made substitutes that don't last.  I really thought I was onto something but for me, it didn't work.  So I suppose I'll just stick with what I've got.

6.  Stop fighting the Universe.  This is also a big one for me.  I really want to learn to go with the flow more.  I'm able to do it in certain areas of my life but there are a couple of relationships I have that I want to quit fighting and learn to accept fully.  In my head I know I cannot change people but I often find myself doing sneaky manipulative things to get things to go my way.    This will be really hard too.

Gosh I almost want to give up right now.  Just kidding, I like my list and I really do want to accomplish everything on it.  So what are you guys hoping to change this year?  Or do you not like resolutions?
Please do share.

Bye








12.27.2013

oh surprise!



Well I finally figured out a way to photograph my house in a new way.  I put people in it.  15 to be exact.  15 doesn't sound like that many but in a small house it is.  It was a last minute surprise party for my dear friend Noelle.


We all pitched in and had a great time.  We ate, drank, listened to records, some people played guitars, we all played this game  (which was so fun) and then we, along with 2 million other people, went to the Mission Inn to see the Festival of Lights 










A few people took photos with their iphones.  Good thing b/c my hands always had *something* in them.














And thankfully a few friends agreed to let me put their photo on my blog.  The others have no idea it exists.  Thank God.

Hope you are all still having a happy holiday season.
My next post will be about my favorite...new years resolutions. :)





12.24.2013

another christmas eve house tour




Ah, here we are, another Christmas eve.  It's hard for me to believe anyone out there would be interested in how I decorated this year but just in case there is...here you go.




I went with a tiny live tree this year.  Stuck it in an antique urn and put some white lights on it.
I got the vintage santa wrapping paper at an estate sale a few weeks back for free.







I put the red chinoiserie pillows with the RL blue and white pattern.  It kinda makes me crazy, but what doesn't this time of year?







I apologize up front because I swear I don't know how to photograph this room differently for you all.  My lack of imagination never ceases to amaze me.




This is new.  We set up a bar for parties. Well bar is being generous.  It's a silver tray that I fished out of the neighbors trash and a few bottles of booze.  There is bitters and vermouth which we have no idea what to do with but maybe someone else will.  A party better happen pretty soon though because that whisky is disappearing fast.

Merry Christmas!

12.19.2013

winter salad - pomegranate





Here is a antioxidant rich winter salad that is as delicious as it is pretty.  Good for holiday parties right?
I love pomegranates!




This is the method I use to de-seed a pomegranate.


Mixed Greens
Orange Sections
Pomegranate seeds
Pumpkin seeds

Holiday Salad Dressing

Larry's grandmothers depression era salad dressing that is delicious but not exactly what I'd call healthy, use sparingly as an occasional treat.  Most of her recipes are delicious and made with what we'd call questionable ingredients today, like lard and sugar.  But his grandparents both lived into their late nineties so go figure.

1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup salad oil
1/2 cup sugar

Mix together in jar with tight fitting lid.  Shake until thoroughly mixed.  This thickens as it stands and keeps well.  You can add season salt or fresh herbs.

Happy Holidays!




12.16.2013

my small wardrobe update








It has been almost 2 months since I took the leap and completely downsized my wardrobe.  You can read about that here if you'd like.  I have not even come close to wearing everything that I have, in fact I even gave away one of my silk blouses.  One of my worries was that I meet with my girlfriends each week for a dinner out and I thought they'd start to notice that I was wearing the same thing over and over.  Guess what?  I wore the same thing over and over before I cleaned out my closet.  Nobody has said a thing and I think it has helped me to be more creative with what I've got.

Yesterday was a warm day and so a white t shirt and jeans were fine.  I can't tell you how amazing it feels to open my drawers and closet, it's such a breath of fresh air.  I hope you don't think I'm too strange but I often do this, just stare into my closet. Okay, I know that does sound strange.:)

Another benefit has been that I seem to take better care of the clothes I have. Not that I abused my clothes before but now I have a new attitude towards them. At the end of the day I used to toss my clothes into the laundry basket without a care.  Now I carefully check to see if anything needs to be pre treated with detergent, repaired or maybe it just needs a brush down and can be re-hung and worn again.  I even fold my pj's instead of just shoving them in the drawer! Everything seems special to me now and I love that.  This is what I was hoping for.

Anyone else out there having similar feelings?  Do share.

12.13.2013

staying warm while saving money





The entire nation is freezing right now. This is what the orange grove looked like yesterday morning on my walk at 10am.  And I do realize that there is a big difference between southern California cold and back east/mountain cold.  But nevertheless, it does get cold here.  So I thought I'd share my nightly ritual for keeping us as warm as possible while saving money.

When I'm ready for bed I turn on our electric blanket to 5.  I have a twin sized blanket that I layer between the sheet and comforter.  Did you know electric blankets are the most energy efficient appliance in our homes, costing on average just 2 to 4 cents per night to run?  You can read more about that here.  So while the bed is heating I take a quick (under 2 minutes) hot shower and then layer on my pj's and warm socks.  I've already set up my bedside table with a glass of water and reading material so I don't have to get back out of bed. When I'm ready to slip in, I turn the blanket back down to 1 and we're set for the night.

We don't run the house heater at all at night.  It gets freezing cold inside but we're toasty under the blankets.  When I get up I turn the heater on to about 62 degrees and turn the kettle on for tea. Then it's back under the covers for the most luxurious cup of tea of the day!

As soon as the sun is high enough and starting to shine in the windows, I open the shades and drapes to let the sun warm up the house.  By noon it will often be warmer outside than inside the house, so I open the doors to let the warm air in.  When the temp starts to drop I close the doors and will start closing the shades and drapes to trap that warm air.  During the day I don't have to raise the heater above 62 degrees.  We will wear a warm knit hat and gloves inside if we have to. Chores like sweeping and raking leaves or even taking a brisk walk also warm us up so if we get really cold we know we have to get moving.

Doing these steps keeps our heating bill around $30 a month during the coldest months.  I Hope you are all staying toasty too, and I look forward to hearing how you stay warm in the cold.




12.11.2013

tea bread





Hello and thank you so much for your kind words and inspiration.  I was so moved by all your stories and ideas.  I'm so looking forward to hearing more from you.

On Sunday I had a couple of friends coming over for a visit and wanted to serve something warm and yummy.  And I wanted to use things I already had.  I went to my pantry and found a can of cranberries that had not been used for thanksgiving. I've never made cranberry bread before so I just followed my banana bread recipe and subbed in the cranberries.  It worked really well and I think you could substitute any canned or fresh mashed fruit that you have. The best part is that I didn't have to go to the market for anything extra. I know my pantry looks bare, but it really is well stocked with basics like flours, sugars, vanilla and boxed non dairy milks.  I was super happy with the way this came out.


1/2 cup soy milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups banana or other mashed fruit
3 Tablespoons oil

1/2 cup chopped nuts

In a large bowl mix the milk and vinegar and let stand a minute or two.

In a medium sized bowl mix the next 5 ingredients.

Then add everything into the milk mixture, folding in the nuts last.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes in a greased loaf pan.  Maybe a little longer as the dough is pretty wet.  I kept checking with a toothpick to see if it was done.

I actually split the dough into 3 small loaf pans instead of just one normal sized pan.
It still took an hour and 15 minutes for it to bake through.  But now I have 2 left that I can give as gifts.

*Also before I put the pans in the oven I sprinkled a little mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on the top of each loaf.

Chatting with my friends over cups of hot tea and cake was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I didn't worry about putting out a big spread, that kind of thinking will actually keep me from having friends over.  This was just right. x


12.08.2013

having a simple christmas and new year




Hello everyone.

As per usual, our Christmas will be simple.  I just can't have it any other way.  Here is what it will look like...

Christmas not to exceed $100

Simple and delicious food

Natural decorations

Little to no tv

Lots of music

Daily walks and yoga

Being calm

In addition to this I'm planning on big changes for the new year and beyond.  We have decided that we are going to do everything humanly possible to get our mortgage paid off asap.  We got off track back in 2009 (story here) and now want to rededicate ourselves.  This will require a great deal of discipline on my part but I feel the time is right.  I'm lucky enough to live in a small home I love and that really needs nothing.  I'm used to having a long list of things I want or think I need but currently I'm quite content. Hopefully, this feeling will become a way of life for me.

Our idea is to save as much as possible each month and apply that to our mortgage.
This means cutting back everywhere.  Because I took my Trip of a Lifetime earlier this year it will be back to camping. That's ok with me though because I still believe there isn't a hotel in the world that can compare to a star filled desert sky with someone you love.  I need no new or used clothing.  As I already mentioned, the house needs nothing.  There will be challenges I am sure and I hope to share them with you all right here.  I will be looking for the most economical and beautiful solutions to daily living.  The comment section of this blog is always full of great information and I'm looking forward to hearing about your tips, as I have much to learn.

So instead of waiting for January 1st to roll around, I'm starting now.  My Christmas gifts are all purchased.  They all came from yard sales and estate sales.  Friends and neighbors will get something fresh from my kitchen.  So really all that is left to do is to cultivate some stillness during this hectic time of year.  Love to hear from you.





12.02.2013

washing cashmere




I've always wondered whether or not I could safely wash cashmere.  I only own 3 cashmere garments but I still really wanted to be able to clean them myself.  I wondered if they'd shrink or just overall be ruined.  I splurged and got a bottle of wool and cashmere shampoo from The Laundress.  If you are anything like me then you can wander around their website for hours finding all kinds of great tips for garment care.  The shampoo is $19 a bottle and washes 32 loads of clothes. With my smaller wardrobe, this bottle should last me many years.



The cedar/sandalwood scent of the shampoo is heavenly and naturally repel moths.





I followed their website instructions and took the plunge with this scarf I've had for many years.
I measured it first to because I wanted to see if there would be any shrinking.  I filled the sink with air temperature water and put two small squirts of shampoo in the bowl.  Then I mixed the water and shampoo to make it sudsy and then put the scarf in and gently agitated it.





I let it soak for about 45 minutes, drained the water and then rinsed it gently.  I did not squeeze or wring it out. Just gently pushed the excess water out.





I then laid it onto a dry white towel and rolled it up.




Again gently squeezing any water out.








Because the temp outside was slightly warm I hung it on the line to dry.  In about 2 hours it was completely dry and smelled so good.  I re-measured the scarf and it did not shrink one bit.
So happy!

I figure it would have cost $6 to $10 to have it dry cleaned and this is way better for the environment.
So good and so worth it.