Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kitchen Counter... Sentimentality over practicality...

This is the most visible corner in my very small kitchen, and I'm afraid it's always been a bit neglected.... Several weeks ago I purchased this small candle lamp at The Christmas Tree Shop for my countertop, and that got me to thinking about doing a little arrangement of 'favorite things.' Other than the lamp, nothing is practical or 'kitcheny,' but it makes me feel good when I see it!
(click any photos to enlarge)

Do you see the vintage cat planter that I blogged about 2 days ago? And Pete that I wrote about yesterday? There's also another little "Pete the parakeet" hanging from a cabinet.

I should probably turn the light on so you can see them... There, that's better!! The lamp needed a little bit of height in the back corner, so I sat it on the bottom of a green ceramic planter.

Okay, now I turned the lamp off so you can see the pretty blue flowered shade. Hopefully in the near future I'll be priming & painting my beige backsplash tiles, as well as re-caulking above the countertop. (I picked beige when we bought our house back in 1981. It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Pete is really enjoying this little birdcage from Home Goods (they came in a variety of sizes... I don't have a lot of room so I got the small size... I loved the little legs and the bird finial on the top). Pete told me he feels very safe inside the cage...

... which is a good thing since Sally is constantly gazing at him (and doesn't she look shiny and clean since her bath?)... She assures me the gazing is because she loves how his blue feathers match her blue bow...

Since there's ivy in Pete's cage, and a little potted plant next to Sally, I decided to use Sally as a votive holder rather than a planter. Of course that could change if she ever gets moved to another location (which isn't out of the question since I often move things around!)

This little lamp really gives off a lot of light in an otherwise dark corner, which I now refer to as my little 50's corner since I have the vintage cat planter (that looks like it could have come from my Nana's house in the 50's) and the parakeets (which also remind me of my childhood in the 50's, as I mentioned yesterday)...

I'll be sure to post photos if (when) I get around to painting that backsplash!!


Friday, February 27, 2009

For the love of Pete...

Meet Pete. We owned several parakeets throughout my childhood years and all, but one, were named Pete (why the long succession of Pete's was interrupted by a single "Bambi" escapes me right now...) In any case, it seemed fitting that I name this little guy Pete...

My Nana also loved parakeets, so they were very much a part of my childhood, way back in the 50's. I'm very nostalgic about that era and I love to decorate our little cottage with things that remind me of that innocent time.

So when I found this little Lefton China parakeet for $3 at a vintage shop, he made his way home with me. I have no idea if $3 is a good price or not. I'm not into 'antique' values. Apparently there was a minor 'glue/repair' job on this little guy (although I'll be darned if I can find it) so it lowered his value a bit. In any case, I thought $3 was a more than fair price to bring home this little piece of nostalgia...

This was Pete's former home. These photos were actually taken last September. If you ever find yourself in downtown Clinton, MA, definitely pop into Viviana's Vintage.

You never know what you will find... New things are always coming and going.... these round framed florals...

All kinds of jewelry, including vintage clip-on earrings...

How about this kids' pink kitchen set?

There are lots of vintage clothes to check out...

...and many unique, one-of-a-kind items...
Anyhow, I thought I'd share photos of Pete with you because I worked him into a kitchen counter vignette that incorporates Sally, my vintage cat planter from the Salvation Army (yesterday's post). Hopefully I'll be ready to share pictures of them both tomorrow!
P.S. Sally has had her bath, so the 'grunge' look is gone - she looks mahvelous!!!
P.S. It's 1:54 PM as I'm updating this... I just looked at my little sidebar Weather Widget and we are in the middle of a HEAT WAVE here in New England - it's a balmy 61 degrees (with some pretty fierce winds, I might add!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Salvation Army shopping spree...

(click any photos to enlarge)

Vintage cat planter, wall frame earring holder, and glittery snowflake candle holder - a great shopping day!

Okay, this little girl needs a bath - pronto! But just look at that sweet little face under all the grime! Little pink ears, a little cottage blue bow... Do vintage planters get any cuter than this?

Hmmm... a votive cup fits perfectly into her little planter area... Definitely something to consider...

But when she has flowers and ivy in her planter, she looks like she came straight out of my Nana's house in the 50's... I'll let you all know which look I decide on and where she ends up!

I love this earring holder! I haven't decided what color to paint it yet, but I'll show the finished product when I do decide. (Of course I might even leave it just as it is!) There are two hangers on the back so it can be hung horizontally or vertically.

The frame is so intricate! If you aren't lucky enough to have one of your own, take a look at this post on Tracey's blog... She just made the cutest earring holder out of a picture frame!! If I hadn't found this one, I'd definitely be copying her idea! I still might use ribbon to hang mine, just like she did!!

This little footed candleholder is so sparkly (unfortunately the sparkle doesn't show up in my photo). And each of the four snowflakes has a rhinestone center... It will be perfect for next Christmas!

You know what they say about cats and curiosity... It didn't take long for Flea Market Cat to come over and check out Salvation Army cat. And I'm happy to report that they have already become the best of friends! I may name my planter cat Sally (since she came from the Salvation Army). I got that idea from a post I just read on Jean's blog, where she named her sweet little bunny Sally because it came from the Salvation Army... Hope you don't mind if I borrow your idea, Jean!!!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Brownie in a cup....

A single serving size is perfect...

That way I'm not tempted by a whole pan of brownies calling my name (yes, they really do know my name!) The only ingredients are No Pudge Brownie mix and fat-free yogurt (fat-free Cool Whip optional). I always use the 1-point containers of Weight Watchers yogurt - they taste fantastic and they have a great variety of flavors!

Put 2 tablespoons of No Pudge and 1 tablespon of yogurt into a small serving dish or cup. (The box calls for fat-free vanilla, but I have to tell you that I use whatever flavor I have in the fridge [in this case Boston Cream Pie] and they turn out great no matter what flavor I use!)

Blend the brownie mix and yogurt....

... and microwave for 1 minute...

Top with fat free whipped topping and you have a great 2 point* brownie dessert!!!

* The No Pudge brownie mix is 2 points. The yogurt is 1 point for the whole container, and since this recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon, I don't add any points for it. But if you round up your points, consider it a 3 point dessert!!
The No Pudge website has lots of recipes, so definitely check them out!
And be sure to stop by My Little Cottage in the Making on Wednesday for Joanne's "Better Me" post! I think Joanne's first "Better Me" post was the gentle nudge (kick in the pants) that I needed to get back on track! I was even able to list another weight loss in my weekly sidebar tracker today. So thanks, Joanne!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The end-of-winter blahs....

It's snowing... again... tonight... here in New England (although these photos were taken during the snowstorm 4 nights ago)... I feel like crawling under the covers and hibernating until spring arrives, and it looks like I've got company...

"Ugh.. More snow? Could someone throw another blanket over me?"

"Please... don't wake me till spring..."

Luckily the snow from 4 nights ago was gone by the following afternoon... Hopefully tonight's will be, too.

That's the only upside to late spring snows... they melt away so quickly. Okay, the other upside is that they are beautiful...

But boy, oh boy, I can't wait to look out over the backyard and see green grass and flowers blooming! The kitties and I are getting anxious for some warm spring weather!!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Did you know that heroes come in pink?

"Once Upon A Time...
there was a little girl who believed in the magic of her own imagination. Her parents were wise and caring adults who encouraged the little girl to follow her pixie-dusted dreams."

I've had the absolute pleasure of corresponding with Terry Grahl over the course of this past week. Terry is the founder of Enchanted Makeovers (formerly Terry's Enchanted Cottage), and she's a hero in my book. An incredibly gifted decorator, she is using her talents to enhance the surroundings of women and children who could really use some beauty in their lives.

Terry turns barren, dismal, and sometimes run-down shelter rooms into welcoming, peaceful havens, such as the one above (notice the PINK walls and the incredible painted PINK headboard!!)

(Before photo)
''When I realized I had a purpose that extended beyond clients homes, I was excited and scared. I had a vision of what I really wanted to do with my life, but I didn't know how, let alone believe 100% that the dream I'm living today could be accomplished by a once shy insecure girl."

(After photo)

I know Terry would love it if other bloggers spread the word about her fantastic organization and their mission. She wrote to me, "I woke up this morning and realized how your followers or readers could make a HUGE difference. Lets keep the ripple effect of giving going across the world by women or men featuring a story on their web site or blog about my organization. Every blogger or web site I will post on my web site to help promote there own dream. If we all work together I know we help so many women and children living in shelters.Thank you so much ''many blessings''Terry Grahl

Terry's e-mail is and I know she'd love to hear from you...

This beautifully painted pink desk was originally a vintage sewing machine! What a cozy corner...

Terry gives much credit for her philosophy and design talent to her mother...

So many 'new beginnings' are being realized by the women and children who find comfort in the beautiful surroundings that Terry, and those in her her organization, have created for them...

One particular project that Terry is very excited about is the Traveling Sanctuary Bag* National Campaign. (*'The Traveling Sanctuary B*A*G is fueled by the healing love of another. It is a home made pillow case that is cradled with love, laughter, tears, fears and dreams. It carries with it, the energy of a knowing heart, a knowing that sometimes can only be found during a state of rest)

Terry is looking for sanctuary bag team leaders for each state. Every donor/volunteer is featured on her web site along with the sewing group photos/events. She is also looking to build partnerships.

For those of you who sew, Terry would love to hear from you! For those who don't sew, donations of pillowcases or fabric is greatly appreciated.

Click here for ten ways you can help Terry make the lives of even more women and children brighter!

You can also see many more before & after photos on Terry's site, Enchanted Makeovers . You will be inspired by her creativity. And by all means, give Terry a shout out on your blogs! There's so much depressing news nowadays; it's wonderful to be able to share such an uplifting story as hers!

Thanks, Terry... The work you do has such a positive impact on countless women and children. I'm so glad you contacted me this week so I could share your story!

Now, be sure to hop over to Beverly's How Sweet the Sound to see her Pink Saturday post and to find a list of all the other pink-loving bloggers participating today!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guilt free cake! Use diet soda in place of oil and eggs....

Doesn't this look good??? And it's only 3 Weight Watchers points!

I joined Weight Watchers several weeks ago. What I love about WW is that nothing is restricted as long as you count it (and you still need to follow healthy eating guidelines!)

(Ingredients... I used a Reduced Sugar mix this time, but any boxed cake mix will do)
About seven years ago I had great success with Weight Watchers. And then I got lazy - lazy about going to meetings, lazy about tracking points, lazy about exercising... just plain lazy! Needless to say, when you stop being accountable for what goes into your mouth and you stop moving, the weight comes right back on, and I was no exception...

Pour 1 can diet soda of your choice into cake mix (no eggs or oil - JUST the diet soda!). I use dark soda for chocolate cake mixes, light soda for yellow/white cake mixes.
So when Joanne at My Little Cottage in the Making blogged about starting an on-line support group called "A Better Me," I was thrilled! I really look forward to her Wednesday "Better Me" posts... (Of course I look forward to all of Joanne's blogposts!!

(Mix according to directions on box)
I'd encourage any of you who are interested in the topic of diet and/or exercise to visit Joanne's blog and tell her you'd like to join in. It's a very relaxed atmosphere. You can e-mail Joanne your weight loss (or gain) for each week (but that's optional, not mandatory), and sometimes she posts the group loss for that week.

Pour into a pan that has been sprayed with Pam (or something similar)
I hope this is the last time I have to fight the battle of the bulge. I was pretty disgusted with myself when I gained back all the weight that I'd originally lost on Weight Watchers, but I reminded myself that I didn't quit smoking the first time(s) I tried either (although in July of 1994 I finally did quit for good!)

(Bake according to instructions on box . From personal experience, I've found I usually have to put the cake in for an additional 5 minutes, as my toothpicks don't come out clean when I first test the cake)... Let cool before cutting.
To keep myself on track, I have become very aware of what I put into my mouth.. not just the types of food, but also the portion sizes. I've also started listing my weekly weight change (hopefully mostly losses) in my sidebar as a bit of an incentive to keep myself going. Since I see it every time I open my blog, it's a good reminder.

Cut cake into 12 serving sized pieces (3 points per piece). Add a dollop of Cool Whip Free (0 points, although I must admit that looks like an awfully LARGE dollop in the photo!!)...
And good luck to everyone on their own quest to become "A Better Me"...
Comment Response: MC, you bring up a very valid point. MC pointed out that it is unhealthy to be putting all these artificial ingredients into one's body, and she is right. My intent in sharing this recipe definitely was not to encourage anyone to start drinking/using diet soda (I am assuming that is the artificial ingredient that she is referring to)... Unfortunately, I do drink diet soda, and although it's something I'd like to cut back on, the fact is I still do drink them. Therefore, putting it into the cake mix (for me) is no different than opening up a can of soda to drink. This was a recipe I had from years ago when I originally joined Weight Watchers (this is not an official Weight Watchers recipe - it's just a recipe that someone in the group shared) and I'm afraid I didn't give much thought to how "healthy" it was before I posted it (which I will do in the future!). And MC, please don't feel you had to post anonymously. I have no problem with the concern you raised. It's a valid point.