Such was the case a month or so ago. You might remember this post, where I shared the awesome award I presented to a teammate at work for her efforts in raising the bar on remarkable.
Even prior to that award presentation, I had been looking online at novelty shops, and during my weekly pit stops at the thrift shops in town for a trophy that would be big enough, and grand enough, and cheap enough for us to use as an ongoing recognition trophy for all of us to continue recognizing those who go above and beyond at work. (Truth be told, I keep a mental list of all the off-the-wall stuff I would LOVE to find at yard sales and this topped the list.)
Two Saturdays ago (the Saturday before I scored the crazy-cool football snack server) I discovered the most off-the-wall-perfect-for-what-I-needed-it-for-sent-from-God-amighty-himself item ever.
Let me first say that scoring the loving cup a while back at GoodWill and using it at work was pretty fabulous, but that paled in comparison to what I found on a folding table in a cul-de-sac garage that eventful Saturday morning, and I can honestly say that I had never seen anything like it before. (I would bet my paycheck you haven't either.)
What I saw there on that folding table was a trophy with a small loving cup topped by a business lady up top there. (anyway that is how I would describe her. If you know differently, and it is something else, like a top-producer Encyclopedia Britannica saleswoman from the 60's, or the award for perfect attendance at an all-girl prep school, please do not share it with me, as I am blissfully happy thinking it's a businesswoman.)
Anyway, as I was saying, I spied with my little eyes this glorious meant-for-me trophy and squealed out loud when I spotted her. I pointed her out to my yard sale pal (yes, the Patriot's fan from the story with the football snack server...) but she didn't quite see the awesomeness of the trophy...just yet.
I asked the little middle-aged looking hispanic woman running the garage sale how much it was, and she replied in a thick accent that it was five dollars. (I was appalled, of course. While it was priceless to me, who in their right mind would drop a five dollar bill on this rather unusual trophy? Didn't she realize she was most likely going to still own this oddity at the end of her sale, and she should be thrilled anyone even inquired about it?!)
We got back in the car to leave and I felt compelled to discuss this with my friend before starting the car engine. She is quite wise in matters of bargaining, and incredibly level-headed.Once I explained my vision for the trophy to her, she was inspired as well. I asked her if I should get out and offer the woman two bucks, she said I should go for it.
I opened the car door, stuck my head out, and hollered my new price offer in a casual, nonchalant voice to the woman, and the smart little middle aged lady said sure.
Now, if you are a yard saler, you will understand this. If not, I can't explain what makes a girl go all tighter-than-Ebenezer-Scrooge when wheelin' and dealin' in someone's driveway, but I can tell you, it's the principle of the thing.
People need to understand that they are hosting a yard sale, pushing their unwanted and many times unsanitary items for resale, and not hosting Nordstrom's semi annual event. (in their garage no less...helloooo, what does that tell them?)
Am I right?!
Anyway, I nabbed this Little-Miss-Books-In-Hand for two dollars, and she could not be more perfect. Today we are awarding our second teammate with the "That's What I'm Talkin' About Award",(An award for raising the bar on remarkability) It will reside on his desk until the next person is awarded down the road. The plan is to continue to add names to the trophy, honoring random acts of remarkabilty.
Yes, the clear stickers did print up like I did it on scotch tape, (hey, you cna't win 'em all. I had nothing else to work with.) but the trashy-ness of the stickers seem to add even more of a funkified-charm look-no?
Oh yeah, we're livin' large at my office. Happy Friday-before-a-three-day-weekend, my friends!
Who would have known installing a simple door could take so many tries? Two weeks ago I shared that I was all hoopty-doo'd about getting a charming glass window paned door installed between my kitchen and laundry room, and it turned out that I had ordered the wrong measurements for the door jam.
I handled the nightmare experience of returning that door on a busy Saturday when no one actually knew anything about doors (Not to mention the restocking fees, and while the new size jam was more narrow, but higher priced, of course) and went home to wait for the call that my new door was in.
I was warned up front that it would be between one and eight or nine weeks. (Seriously? That's the smallest time frame they could guestimate for me?) In less than a week, my new door arrived. (Thank you, Jesus!) I called my craigslist guy to schedule a new install.
He wanted to come on Mother's Day afternoon, which I said would be fine, since my girls and my Mom and I would be there. Mother's day afternoon arrived and he then texted to say he ended up bailing on me, saying he would be there Monday at 5:30. This was also time with me.
Monday at 6:30 I texted him and he informed me that he was busy and would not be coming. after all. (The downside of Craigslist is the flake factor.) I called Home Depot to get a referral. They sent me a list of three installers to call.
I then arranged for an install date with one of them. This past Monday was that day. Not only did the installer show up, he was early. (I was so excited that I couldn't stop myself from peeking around the corner of the doorway to see glimpses of his progress...)
The door went in without a hitch, and an hour and a half after he arrived, I had a beautiful new door in my kitchen.
Even in it's unpainted, primer-paint state, without the trim on the itches side, and without a sheer curtain, it created such instant gratification, that I cannot help but continue to stare at it. The sun streaming through, changing the feel of both the kitchen and the laundry room.
It's a thing of beauty, and another step towards making this little old house my perfect-for-me home, sweet, home.
Last Saturday, I was out and about, yard saling with one of my favorite thrifting friends, and one of those serendipitous moments occurred, right there in a driveway in sweet little Camas. (we may have edged over to Vancouver, but I am pretty sure it was Camas.)
I think we spotted it at the exact same moment, and, at first glance, neither of us were overly impressed. It was some sort of football figurine...or maybe a novelty telephone I thought. Wait, it had a sticker on it explaining itself. It was a "snack server" according to the tag. There was a small black button on it.
I pushed the button and it loudly played a bit of the NFL theme Song as the top third of the football swung open and there was a cavity to store treats.
They wanted five dollars for this little gem, which in yard sale dollars seemed ca-razy high to both of us, and I was having an unusually cheap frugal moment, so I thought I would take a pass (heheh, did you catch my little football pun?) on it, and so did my Patriots loving friend. After checking out the rest of the driveway, we meandered our way back to the car, and got in. At that moment I came to my senses, and decided I should maybe offer the kid in the driveway three bucks for it. My partner-in-crime agreed, saying she too was having second thoughts over the musical mechanical football themed treat server.
She waited in the car and watched me as I went back up the driveway to negotiate. The kid said he'd have to ask his Mom, who was in the house. He came back out and said she would take four dollars. Should I do it? I motioned to my thrifting adviser. She nodded her approval, and I said "deal".
Come to Mama.
This little ode-to-Sunday-football was mine.
I scampered back to the car, my treasure in hand. Once inside the car, we opened and closed it a few times to listen to one of the sweetest tune any football fan could hear, and marveled at the quality of the piece.
I knew exactly what i was going to do with this little guy. I stopped for groceries later on my way home, and picked up a few packs of Hot Tamales candy.
Once home, I wrapped them up in a couple of book pages and made the perfect tag to coordinate. (You know those homemade tags are my thing.) and set it on the coffee table for my Rock n' Roll Buddy, who was coming by later. (Oh! The presentation was perfect!)
The magic of this gift was not lost on him, as he listened to the music. Of course we filled the cavity with the hot tamales and enjoyed pushing the button.
This little candy dish will be pulled out each Sunday during football season as part of his weekly ritual, I have no doubt. Cheesey? Maybe to some, but part of what makes a thing a perfect gift is simply knowing your audience, and I can tell you, this little surprise was spot on.
I have the grandest of plans down the road for my outdoor living and entertaining space that is overflowing with charm, and style, and creativity. So fabulous are these plans that I struggled with exactly how to set up and be able to enjoy the small patio behind my cottage garage until my budget permits the actual project to get underway.
In my mind (in Traceyville) I see sweet French doors in the living room (where there are currently windows) leading guests out to the huge side yard of my property. (I am on a corner.) I see a perfect cottage style deck, with a stone pathway leading to the grass. It's spacious, and yet quaint and cozy, with room for the large outdoor dining table I envision, as well as a seating area for conversation. There are oodles and toodles of blooming flowers in pots, and a creamy canvas umbrella for shade, and...well, you get the picture.
(To join me in this Traceyville peek into my outdoor space of the future, feel free to picture me looking about 42, comfortably wearing a size six sundress, setting up a s'mores buffet for dessert, while sipping a mojito, and enjoying some Ed Sheeran on my outdoor speakers...)
(In Traceyville, anything is possible.)
As I said, I have grand plans. In the meantime, I realized that if I want to entertain outdoors this year (and maybe next year too...)I would have to use the narrower-than-I-would-have-liked covered patio located behind my garage. The route to get to this patio is through the kitchen, then the laundry room, and finally, out the back door of the garage.
Once on the patio, my existing outdoor furniture sat, corralled at one end of the patio seemed giant and over-bearing, and there was seemingly nothing charming about any of this.
(Do I sound like I am whining?)
(Shame on me.)
I hate when I get this way, all ungrateful acting. Clearly, I needed an attitude adjustment, and the weather provided it. A week ago we had a little stretch of fantastically warm, sunny days, and I beat a path to the garden section of Home Depot and, for less than twenty bucks, purchased myself some instant inspiration. Then I whipped over to Ikea and scored myself four perfect-for-me outdoor folding bistro chairs.
I hosed off my cozy-sized patio, potted my flowers, and tried about 16 different furniture arrangements before settling on my favorite one. (Quite litterally, I was out there on the patio at midnight, in my robe, rearanging like a crazy woman.) I brought out one of my charming cottage style table cloths and a quilty-throw. I organized my newly potted flowers, hung my sign, and looked at my handiwork.
I didn't like it.
I loved it.
I could (and will!) entertain out here just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Is it perfect? No, but that is part of the charm. It reminds me of all the things I have been reading about in this book. I shared Hw much I am enjoying Love the Home You Have a while back, and I have to say, it has caused me to remember what I love about a project house. Every room, every corner....is an opportunity for inspiration. A spot to be creative, and think outside the box.
This newest entertaining area of my cottage makes me smile, as I feel it says welcome to everyone who comes out to sit a spell.
Recently I spent yesterday afternoon with my daughter, hitting every thrift shop in the area. It had been far to long since I spent an afternoon like this, and it was such fun to search for treasures at each stop.
We began at the GoodWill bins, and it did not disappoint.
Within minutes of arriving, we had the cart teeter-tottering with large finds. It's especially sweet when you have a certain item you wish you could find, and then, you actually find that item.
Best find of the day (in my opinion, away...) was the huge store sign shown in my top picture. Obviously from a local store, it will now hange perfectly on my daughter's back deck.
I myself have done before dawn picnics, as well as late night sofa picnics, as alternatives to the expected picnic fare. Yesterday, I packed up a sweet little picnic breakfast, (Mother's Day!) and headed over to the Sewing Queen's home. (My Mom!)
My favorite portable container these days for caring individual beverage servings, ad well as items I want to pull from the fridge (Like fruit salads.) would have to be mason jars. Affordable, washable, and they can be found at most any grocery or big box store.
I made my easy coffee cake I shared last week, but this time in the form of cinnamon swirl muffins. I added individual servings of orange juice, and then a bigger canning jar of freshly cut mixed fruit.
A perfect light fare. I personalized my breakfast food by loading it all in a metal pan lined with cloth napkins and a couple homemade tags tied with red checkered ribbon. One of my tags was an old baby picture of me with my Mom.
I'm starting to think food-on-the-go is becoming almost as big of a passion as tablescapes are for me.
I was in there a week or so ago, and I spotted the new summer outdoor (to me anyway) entertaining items.
So sunny, and fun, and cheery, and happy!
I love the pretty orange cotton plaid, and the hot pink and orange flower hand-towels (dishtowels? Whatever...) They make fabulous over-sized napkins for messy BBQ meals, and they liven up a table.
But wait! There's more! An entire cheery lime green colorway, and blue as well...
A girl could go crazy with all of the mix-and-match options.Plastic ware, paper goods, and everything from coordinating cupcake liners to straws for your party's signature drink, this place has it.
And all for a buck each.
Oh. My. Ga.
I have to forcibly stop myself from buying them all to share with my friends and family.
No, really, I do.
(I get easily carried away like that.)
When it comes to shower gifts, or prizes for games at a shower, or for entertaining, the Dollar Store is my very first stop. It has never failed me.
People like to say less is more, but I don't think that applies when talking about the Dollar Store.
I keep an arsenal of spur-of-the-moment-ready-to-make-or-bake comfort foods in my pantry. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and bake, but if a mix is aaaah-mazing enough to taste like scratch, I'm gonna keep some in my cupboard for those impromptu too-tire-or-short-on-ingredients-when-you-want-to-wow-your-unexpected-guests.
So, this is one of those kinds of stapes in my cupboard. The Krusteaz brand Coffee cale mix. (They call it a cinnamon swirl coffee cake) I am pretty sure you can find it at every grocery store in America.
People don't believe it's not scratch until I finally show 'em the box.
Best right out of the oven, my home smells like a bake shop, and the presentation is equally grand.
You need to pick up a box or three of this mix to keep handy to wow your friends and family.
(It's up to you if you share with them that's it's from a mix and not from scratch.)
I thought I had sworn off online shopping (I was very nearly needing a twelve step program...) and then I see this on some friend of a friends Facebook post that landed on my wall.
It was love at first sight.(Or site, as the case may be.)
Since the Facebook page site was wholesale only I was not sure what to do...then, a facebook/blog-reader friend told me about The Painted Fox and the rest, as they say, was history.
( What hasn't happened yet is my new, charming fifteen window door that I was going to share with all of you, as it was scheduled to be installed in my kitchen early Sunday morning.)
You see, there is a door between my kitchen and my laundry room, similarly to the layout of my old kitchen in the biggest little city, (Remember, it here and here?) and I want to do the same thing I did there, which is to replace the old, flat boring door, with a pretty windowed door. This lets in much more light (The laundry room has a window, and a window on the door going outside) and will give my kitchen a warm, inviting look as you look in from the dining and living room area.
I ordered my door, and it has been standing in the garage, patiently waiting for me to get time to install it. I was just sure, after learning to frame windows, that my daughter and I could do this ourselves, but after watching a Youtube on the subject, my daughter-turned-handyman...er...woman, vetoed it entirely last Friday.
On to Plan B, where we find a door installer guy on Craigslist. We found one,and he was available on Sunday. Oh! How exciting! My door was going to be a reality, and once that was installed, we would finish the flooring going into the laundry room. Cuteness in my kitchen was only a day away.
Sunday arrived, and so did the door dude. He was friendly, and was chattering on as he came through my front door about how charming everything looked. I thanked him and showed him the door area to be replaced. Out to the garage we strolled, and he removed the cardboard cover off of my new door.
He then informed me that I had ordered the wrong depth door jam.
(I think this is known as Murphy's law.)
Apparently when measuring the door jam, you do not include the outside molding...or trim..or whatever you like to call that.
Shut the door.
(Well, in this case, that won't be happening just yet.)
Back to Home Depot in my little blue truck to return the door with the deep door frame, and begin again. The new door will be here somewhere between one and eight weeks, give or take, (insert Murphy's law in here once again, most likely.) and my door guy will come back out to take a second crack at changing my world with a charming new door with fifteen sweet little windows, and we will take another stab at completing this project.
In the meantime, I will decide on exactly which color I am painting the kitchen walls, and get that fun little project started.
I wrote an entire post last night just before midnight, and when I went to save it...typepad had some sort of hiccup, and ate up my post.
(Trust me, it was a fabulous post, full of hilarious anecdotes, and inspirational ideas.
What I wanted to say in this post was this- I am inching my way through this book, and I am LOVING every chapter. Truly, this book speaks to me.
One of my favorite quotes in the book so far would have to be, "Limitations can spark your creative spirit! Authentic style comes from creative problem solving and addressing needs in your one unique way.What trouble area can become a place of possibility?"
I don't know about you, but my creativity seems to go into over-drive when I am pushed to the wall due to an challenging space or budget to work with. I many times even surprise myself! I felt we were long lost friends. Kindred spirits.
I am loving the home I have, even with a mile and a half long lit of to-do's. Projects are moving along slowly, as I am busy with life. (It's little league baseball season after all.)
My latest project is foofifying up my laundry room. (Fresh paint, stick on floor tiles, and making it a room people actually want to peek into.) More to come.....
(And..ehem..yes, we are still rambling on about the fun-and-fabulous Bake Off at my workplace.)
Seriously, what did we do before slow cookers? (If you're old enough to remember the term "Slow cookers" you might be my age.)
One of my friends at work was surprised to see my white crock pot. I explained that I have a thing for white. White dishes, serving pieces...and ..crock pots make that list as well. (I left out the part about having more than one white crock pot.)
By the time we had everyone's chili and mac n' cheese out, we had a minimum of eight crockpots going all through one surge protector.I topped off the sea of crockpots with a couple of my signs...("coz' that's what I do.)
....and one more, by the chili...
and one for my old typewriter...
And one last sign by the desserts....
I will be adding a Bake Off accessory e-kit to my etsy shop later tonight...why don't you plan a Bake-off at your work-church-school-whatever.
So, I told you that I spearheaded a plan rather last minute-like, to put on a Chili-Mac-n'-Cheese-Dssert Bake Off. I myself planned on entering some sort of cup cakes. (That was a given.)
And then I decided to make and enter a mac n' cheese entry. Now, I hadn't ever made mac n' cheese from scratch, so naturally I went to Pinterest and googled up "best mac n' cheese" and about a gajillion recipes and pictures popped up,
After a bit of research, I selected this recipe. (The secret ingredient is crumbled Ritz crackers on top of the mac n' cheese.) I then decided that I needed a practice run at the recipe, just to be sure it was the best, and I ran to the grocery store and bought my ingredients.(In case you haven't made homemade mac n'cheese yourself, it isn't as inexpensive as the kind you make from the little blue box the people at Kraft put out, that's for sure.)
I followed the recipe to the letter, and served it up for my Rock n' Roll Buddy for supper Saturday evening, and sent the rest over to my daughter's home for a repeat performance for her family on Sunday.
Oh. My. Ga.
There are no words to fully describe the near out-of-body experience that occurred when we took our first bite.
One and a half pounds of Gruyere and cheddar cheeses, with two cups of heavy cream (Please, let's not think about the calories here) create the ultimate comfort food.
Oh yes, this recipe lives up to it's name.
I am not sure I mentioned that my team at work decided we would take turns by month being in charge of adding fun and value to the team, and the other folks we work with. (Did I share that already? Maybe so.)
I volunteered to take the first month.
(This is right up my alley, and the true sweet spot of my existence!)
I collaborated my a couple of teammates to see if there would be any interest, and threw together a Bake Off to be held this coming Monday. We chose Monday so people could do their cooking on the weekend. We will make entries anonymous and have prizes for winners in all three categories.
I sent out an email yesterday to the departments on our floor and upstairs as well, and the response has already been fun. There are email challenges being thrown around as to who will reign as the first King (or Queen) or Chili.
I am entering a dessert of course, but also have decided to enter a mac n' cheese recipe. I haven't ever done mac n' cheese from scratch, and it sounds so yummy, I can hardly wait to make it.
Last night I whipped out these reminder flyers and sign up sheets to post on the doors of the offices.
Pictures to follow the inaugural event...!
(Mmmm hmm. I thought so.)
I got to spend Easter with my sweet grands in the biggest little city, and I have been meaning to share a few pictures.
(Indulge me, please.)
It's hard not being able to see these two cutie-pies as often as I see the ones here in town, and this last visit I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked.
Less than a year and a half apart, they are best friends. She's a little Mama,always wanting to help, and he's a wild man, who isn't afraid of anything. I adore them and they are perfect.
(Just like the rest of my grands.)
(But you know that.)
The wind beneath any company's wings.
It's Administrative Professionals Day. (formerly known as Secretaries Day, if you were born before they had color TV.)
Whether or not you see this as a holiday created by Hallmark, the admin team are the unsung heroes of the office world. They get-er-done fifty two weeks a year, usually without the pomp and circumstance and high fives that coworkers higher on the food chain typically get, and for that reason alone, I think it's important to take one day and let them know how much we value them.
(I started out in the working world as a receptionist.)
I made some spice cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting for the four admin in our company, and together with my team, we all chipped in to get them each a gift card.
If you work in an office, or know someone who is an admin, take five minutes today to make sure you let them know how truly appreciated they are.
And that made me think of toasters.
Because I do not currently own one.
And...you might be surprised to know that coconut isn't the only thing I have trouble oven-toasting. I also struggle with toasting toast in the oven.
(Let us pause for a moment to remember yesterday's post and the incinerated shredded coconut.)
Why do I not own a toaster, you ask? Well, I used to, way back in the day, but I haven't had one since...well, since before I became suddenly single. After that, I figured there was no real need for a toaster, because I like toast too much.
It's the old "If you give a Moose a Muffin" theory again.(This theory applies to so many areas of my life. Are you following me here?)
If I had a toaster, I would want to make some toast. (I like toast.) If I made toast, I would want jam to put on it. If I had jam, I'd eat the entire loaf of bread...er...toast. And then I'd outgrow the few clothes that do still fit my chubby bum, and if...well, hopefully you get it.
Mmmm, I do love me some toast.
Oh, where was I? oh yes, toasters, or my lack of a toaster in this case.
I would like to have a toaster because I like to make toast for my guests. Mr Rock and Roll Buddy's favorite dinner is breakfast, and that has to include toast.
But....have you looked at toasters lately in the stores? Ca-razy insane expensive if you want a cute one. (and I refuse to buy one that is not cute, because I am all about the charm-factor.) I found one a few weeks ago at William Sonoma that has a feature that actually reads. "A bit more".
Imagine that! A friendly toaster. I thought that was adorable. I knew it was a match made in heaven, until I looked more closely and discovered the downside of this cute toaster is that it cost (on sale, no less...) $129 American dollars.
It's a toaster, people. It simply toasts certain things. Flat things like bread and bagels. (And not coconut.)
I will continue my search for the cutest toaster ever made at a realistic price at yard sales and thrift shops (It has got to be chrome colored, and not all plastic, and well...if it had a button that read "A bit more" that wouldn't hurt either.)
In the meantime, I will continue to work with what I've got, which is Miss Daisy, my harvest-gold-works-like-a-charm retro range that came with my cottage, and maybe I'll master toast-making before the batteries in my smoke alarms die.
I had the privilege of baking my daughter's birthday cake this past weekend, and we decided on coconut cream.(I had a craving and she indulged me.)
It was pretty close to perfect, if I do say so myself.
A light and fluffy, yet moist, white cake, with coconut cream filling done the easy way, with a simple package of coconut cream pudding, coconut buttercream frosting covered lightly with shredded coconut, and three variegated sizes of little pearly candy sprinkles for added shimmer.
I had actually planned on doing toasted coconut for the frosting, but I simply cannot seam to master the toasting part to save my life, no matter how many times I try. I always manage to turn away from the oven at just the exact wrong moment. This time, I had a complete brain lapse and put the oven on broil, instead of bake.
(How did I manage to do that?)
(As I said, it was a complete brain lapse....)
I slid the cookie sheet filled with a layer of fluffy white coconut into the oven on the top rack, and waited about thirty seconds. I peeked in...nothing happening yet that I could see...looked again fifteen seconds later (give or take one minute...) and discovered huge flames disco-dancing all over the cookie sheet of blackened-and-charred coconut remains. The flames were literally more than a foot high as I pulled the sheet from the oven, and doused it with water in the kitchen sink. The smoke alarm went off (of course) and it is out for debate as to whether or not my cookie sheet can be salvaged for further baking use.
I then changed my plan to un-toasted coconut out of the package for the frosting, and lit some vanilla candles in hopes of covering the smell of incinerated coconut.
Oh well. you can't be the best at everything.
Onward and upward, I opted for sheet music punched hearts for the cake-top decor, rather than the expected birthday candles. (once you pass a certain age, you are not always as thrilled with seeing that many candles ablaze at one time on top of your dessert, and I for one, had seen quite enough flames for the day, thankyouverymuch.)
I was happy with the finished product, and I think the birthday girl liked it too.