I'm here, and I think about you and the blog everyday! Soon I'll be back to updating more often. I really will. I have so many blog posts in mind to write about, so more to come. :)
These days we've been having fun and enjoying summer and getting to work on projects here and there. And you know what I suddenly feel now? That......Summer is the best!
I have no idea what has turned my Grinch heart around regarding summer. It used to be that I'd gladly tell you how much I loved fall and winter, and loathed the hot and humid summer. This year though, for whatever reason, (perhaps the longest most POLAR VORTEX winter ever!) I am enjoying every minute of summer so far. Even the humid ones.
This is not to say that fall is not my most favorite season anymore. It is. But summer is now ok in my book.
Noah is two weeks into yet another camp year. It is his world. This will be his sixth year at this day camp, and his plans are to continue on until one day he can become a CIT - counselor in training and then a counselor! I love that.
It's funny to watch as Noah grows each year, how more and more important his "social life" at camp becomes. He now goes to science or photography or pool with this friend or that friend, and his biggest stories are out all about the social goings ons, drama and all. Usually regarding pool toys or the intricate rules of the ball game, "Ga-ga."
Part of me misses him, and feels badly that he's at camp for most of the summer, but on the other hand, it was his choice and great desire to go all four sessions. Noah looks forward to camp more than most anything in life, so I'm happy for him.
When we're home though, I try to make things relaxed and as easy-going as possible. There is nothing better than a sand and water toy that one has not seen for a year. Especially outside on the patio table on a perfect summer day. :)
Summer is also a great time for cooking and cooking with fresh ingredients! The most amazing, wonderful LIFE CHANGING this happen in the past two weeks.... Jon began going into work an hour earlier, and coming home an hour sooner! Now we've been cooking dinner together! It is really nice and takes half the time for prepping and cooking and cleaning up. I just love it so much. Here are four new recipes that we've tried that we both found to be simply delicious, fast and easy. I loved them so much, that I want to share.
I learned about this first recipe for a kind of "Greek Salad Quinoa" from the wonderful Alexandra of "Life on a Canadian Island." Please visit her blog if you have not already. I'm always fascinated by the fun adventures that she and her family have on Prince Edward Island. What a beautiful place to be! Truly, everything from trying a 30-day vegan workshop, to adventures in nature and homeschooling, and even growing out her gray hair. Alexandra does it all!
So, when she posted her take on this recipe on Instagram, I immediately knew that I had to try it! If I am remembering correctly........
First you make some quinoa. Then cut up and add a little red onion, scallions, cucumber and mint. After that, make a simple dressing of olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Salt and pepper as needed. Vegan and gluten free! Also, the versatility of this dish was great. I was able to use up some of our left over chickpeas and tomatoes. I just chopped them up and threw them in. Delicious!
The next recipe is for Curried Chickpeas by Sarah Carey over at Martha Stewart's Everyday Food's Youtube page. If you like Indian food, you will love this quick and easy "pantry curry." Really, there are so few ingredients, you're likely to have them all in your pantry!
I served mine with a little white rice and the new Trader Joe's Uttapam with Coconut Chutney. Oh my gosh, AMAZING! This meal was great. (Serve with some sliced mango too!)
Since I could not find a non-video, recipe version of this dish, (Although Martha Stewart had one with slightly different ingredients and amounts.) here is the Youtube video that I made this dish from. It's great.
Also enjoyed this week, but sadly without photos:
For the Huevos Rancheros - think the easiest, warm, comforting and delicious dinner possible. You just layer everything in one pan. Crisped tortillas layers with red enchilada sauce, black bean and shredded cheese. Then, you top everything with eggs and bake in the oven to warm the dish and poach the eggs. Next time, I decided to add some black olives to the mix. It was really a quick and great meal that can be made in minutes and has little clean up.
The Ginger- Scallion Noodles just might be Jon's favorite. We used healthy cooked buckwheat a.k.a. "Soba noodles" and tossed them in a light homemade ginger sauce. We also added some toasted sesame seeds and some garlic bean past to the sauce the second time around. This was truly "umami" with it's savory flavors. Amazing! Oh, and the crisp zucchini strips brought in just the right crunch. We all loved it.
The other thing that went on this week, was that we finally got around to giving our living room a little makeover. Our living room was the last room in the house to be decorated and brought up to speed with the feeling of the rest of the house. This is a small, 1860's American Vernacular house. Basically, a little, simple, old home that was built in town. So, it's not exactly farmhouse, but picture the same, simple style.
Originally, we just put the furniture from our old home into this room, but it was dark and slightly contemporary looking, and it wasn't enough to really fill up the space. And because the room naturally didn't have a ton of light, added to the slightly cold and unfriendly furniture, we just never used the space!
So, as a slightly belated birthday gift, I got the chance to makeover our living room. I can't tell you how excited I was. The thought of a welcoming, warm, USABLE room was such a great thing! And beyond that, I've been itching to make this space match the playful and soft and casual feel of the rest of the house.
I was motivated to get going when our friend whom we refer to as "The Colonel" for some reason, surprised me with this most sweet birthday gift! It's a tiny, antique secretary desk. Isn't it cute? Seeing how nice the warm wood looked in this room made me realize that something had to be done.
So, I sat in our living room and thought and thought and thought. I moved furniture around, made lists, looked through Pinterest and other magazines. I spent time on ebay and online at furniture stores, trying to come up with a plan. Willow even helped.
At first, I was determined to make this my first "historically accurate" reproduction room. I really really wanted some kind of late 1800's look. Quickly though, I realized that formal, small tufted couches and the like, they just wouldn't convey the welcoming, homey, comfortable feeling that we wanted and needed. Also, finding an antique couch and tables and chairs, it was kind of a wild goose chase. You have to find pieces that are in good condition that you can afford AND that are offered with delivery, or are within a certain distance of your home for local pick-up. Which, as you can guess, really narrows the field.
I also considered furniture from our local, big furniture stores, and even a neat place called "Calico Corners", where you select your sofa or chair style and they will upholster it in an array of fabrics.
But....... I don't know, the high cost of furniture, it's just......just.....it's a lot! I feel like I can't commit and take the leap and invest just yet. Especially because I'm not 100% set on one, single look or style for what I want in this room.
So, I just did what I usually do, head to my old stand-by, Ikea! I know that for most people, Ikea is either a love or a hate. I understand that for some, it's cheap furniture that is frustrating to put together and easily breaks. I think though, that in many ways, Ikea is brilliant and serves a purpose! Our couch might not be the comfiest on the block, but considering that we paid $549 for it twelve years ago in San Francisco, and that now it's in it's third slipcover evolution and is still in as good shape after a decade+, I'd say that's a deal! We have a second Ikea sofa in the family room, and whenever there's been a stain from a kid spilling, we simply wash the slipcover. If the cat tears the chair up, eventually we purchase a new cover. It works well for our type of home. Plus, for all the cheaply made, weird Ikea products, we've had some great ones too. Our bed and coffee table in the family room are both ten years old and holding strong. The little make-up table and stool in my room has been perfect as well!
One day when I really know what I want, I'll save up and search out some more serious furniture, but for now, I'm so thankful and thrilled to have my new, Ikea re-do of this room. I felt really grateful and excited.
I came up with this rough concept after looking online. The plan was to keep our current rug, only because a new one in such a large size would cost an arm and a leg. We decided if the rug looks terrible with makeover, then we'll figure out some new floor covering. (So far, it looks ok enough. Not the best, but ok for now. I'd love something like a sisal rug in the future.)
The second part of my plan was to find lighter color slipcovers for the sofa and oversized chair. The old covers were a much too dark green. I also needed to find a second armchair, two end tables and a coffee table to fill the space.
My biggest design aim though, was incorporate TEXTURE! Because the furniture was in neutral tones, as are most of the room's accessories, I wanted to bring in interest by using different textures.
This is why I chose a woven wicker storage basket for the coffee table! A white plant stand in an unexpected shape holding plants in differently textured pots for an end table. I threw a plaid, wool blanket over a check chair and was sure to combine glass, ceramic and silver accessories that each bring a different reflective quality to the room.
I feel like the end product was a success! This room is far far from trendy or designer, but it reached my design goals to simply feel casual, cozy and light.
(The red in our rug is really not this bright. It's the camera.)
I can't wait to have friends over to visit for coffee and cookies.
A little coffee table vignette......
I found freshly cut lavender at Trader Joe's today! It makes the whole room smell WONDERFUL! (And it chills out the cats.)
This is my new plant stand turned end table. I need to play around with it a little more, but it's great for flowers, books, whatever you'd like! There is a shelf on the bottom too. That's the thing about Ikea, you can virtually turn anything into anything.
All in all, Willow gives this room a two un-opposable thumbs up.
Hector does too. (They took turns trying out the new chair.)
Last weekend we took a short break from working around the house and headed downtown for a quick adventure. That's the great thing about Detroit, there's always something new to see or do or be amazed about. It's really that great, and I don't think too many people know that!
See the tall building to the left? That's Broderick Tower. It was constructed from 1926 to 1928 and has 35 floors. Whenever I'm in Detroit and it comes into view, I'm filled with pride for my long time pal, codename: "Regor" and his group for all that they've done. Regor and twelve other people purchased this building in 2010. It was vacant and crumbling. They managed to plan for and renovate the entire building, and it now it stands as yet another Detroit victory story! Today Broderick Tower has floor after floor of beautiful, new apartments, office space and retail. This weekend I even saw another restaurant set to open on the first floor. Can you imagine a city where a 30-year-old could purchase part of a skyscraper? Detroit is such a one-of-a-kind place right now. So many places I look I see hope and young vitality. Creative, driven people in their 20's. 30's and beyond, trying to bring up this once mythic city. I love you Detroit!
One thing that we did this day was visit the area known as Campus Martius Park . Campus Martius is French for "Military Ground" and was named in 1788 when it was a drilling ground for the French Militia. We went to visit "the beach." They turned part of Campus Martius into a beach. Yeah, a BEACH! It's awesome! The beach is part of The Beach Bar and Grille. (Click on the link for more pictures.) Think different combinations of Asian sticky buns and beer. Actually, the buns bring back fond memories of my time in New York when our friend George got us into the fabulous and famed Momofuku Noodle Bar for sticky buns. I had the Shiitake bun and oh my gosh, it was the best thing I've EVER tasted! Thanks George!!!
But the real reason that we visited the market that day was for handcrafted gourmet ice pops from The Detroit Pop Shop!!!! Oh my goodness, can I just TRY to convey the deliciousness? I am such a fool to have only taken a taste that day. I felt at the time, although I wanted a Popsicle, that I had ingested too many sweets that afternoon already and really needed a coffee instead at the moment. I took a taste of Jon's Cantaloupe Mint pop......WOW! I had to pretend like I didn't want more tastes to keep myself from ruining his treat. It was SO GOOD. The crazy thing is, I knew that I was eating fresh cantaloupe, only it tasted BETTER than fresh cantaloupe. I need to go back ASAP! Noah tried an amazing looking, creamy Oreo pop that had a whole Oreo in the center! What other delicious flavors do they whip up you might ask? To name just a few.....Strawberry Balsamic, Watermelon Basil and Grapefruit Habanera. Awesome!
And to top off the happiness that is gourmet ice pops on a hot summer day, I met a new friend and the FIRST BLOG READER TO RECOGNIZE ME ON THE STREET! Hilde!
Hilde, you just made my day. My week! Thank you so much for saying "hello." As funny as it sounds, I'll never ever forget that moment of meeting my first reader in real life! And also, a big "HELLLLLO!!!!" to my reader friends (if I'm getting the story correct), from City Bird in Detroit. I love you guys City Bird, and Nest too! If I could, I'd stand all day in your shops eating ice pops, looking at your items and then buying them ALL! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
And now, this wouldn't be How Bourgeois without another completely dorky wild bird interlude. Guess what new species I have spied in my yard recently? Ready? A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD! WOOT! Yep. You heard me right! Try to contain your amazement!
Oddly, female brown-headed cowbirds can lay up to THREE DOZEN eggs per summer. Whaaaaaat? And, even more strange, they do not build nests, rather they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and leave them to be raised by foster bird parents. Pretty interesting, huh? I have seen both male and female Brown-Headed Cowbirds in my yard by the way.
I don't know what I think about their reproduction tactics, but the one thing that really has me thinking these days is WHY are they called COWbirds???
And last, but CERTAINLY not least! A hair note, for my gray-haired readers. (I know you love your hair updates.) Sooooo...... it has been about three months since my last hair trim and visit to the salon to see Lydia for a glaze.
My hair had been driving me nuts lately, mainly because of the scraggly ends, so I decided to go in for a little more blunt cut this time. Lydia put on my usual clear glaze on with just a touch of (don't laugh) purple to cut any brassy tones or yellowing. And, as always, I was left with 100 times softer, more shiny, less frizzy, less brassy hair.
Here is a picture of me a tad wild-eyed one morning, a few days after my salon visit. Noah had woken us up at 5:20am this morning because of a thunderstorm. He woke us up to suggest that we turn the house alarm off, just in case the thunder accidentally sets off the alarm. That kid, so responsible I tell you! At any rate, this is me doing my early morning "No! Really! I'm awake!" impression. I guess Lydia cut off about 3". I want to continue to grow my hair, but it's nice to sometimes have cleaned up ends.
Thank you so much as always for your amazingly kind and supportive comments to the blog, especially about my hair. Even though I might seem pretty comfortable in my own skin with having gray hair, once in a while, it can be really difficult too. I get stares sometimes, and I begin to feel self conscious and odd-ball looking and longing to have my brown hair back. But what I am trying to say, is that from my heart, thank you for your encouragement and thoughtfulness in reaching out to me in your comments and email. Because of YOU GUYS, I've been able to keep going and hold my head up high! Rather than constantly feeling embarrassed and hiding my face away. So thanks!
Love you so much friends!
Until next time............