The Flexibility of Design Choices

Or, One Size, Color, Genre Does Not Fit All

I’ve often been intrigued by the array of colors, designs, patterns and genres that are available for pretty much everything.

If you are into Art Deco, there is a wide array of color choices that include metallics like gold and brass.

Prefer a bit of Americana? Red, white, and blue are obvious choices, but the variety of fabrics is astounding. Consider: You can go with the standard, but why not up the game with Civil War fabric reproductions? The color pallet is broader with more interesting combinations. Or, you can choose 1930’s fabric reproductions for a softer approach. One of my favorite collections is called “Lately From London” and is a collection of deep, rich colors and patterns that were prevalent around the end of the 1790’s. Not your ordinary run of the mill collection, for sure.

Want to aim for a French Country look? Are you interested in attempting to recreate a Downton Abbey look? Not sure where to start?

I suggest you head over to your local, or online, fabric shop and see what is available. Before you panic and tell me you don’t sew, don’t worry. My thought is that you can look at the fabrics and get an idea of colors, patterns and how they work together.

For example, when Downton Abbey was in its heyday, there were several fabric lines based on the time period of the series. Actually, they covered the various time periods in the series. Each represented the variety of colors and intensities along with patterns of the various time periods.

Contemplating a bit of Early American or French Country? You’ll no doubt find a variety of possibilities in the fabric lines carried by the stores.

Perusing the collections on display, you will get an opportunity to see all kinds of colors, patterns and collections to see what strikes your fancy – and what doesn’t. The flip side of this is that you will be able to get a sample of your favorite and be able to match paint colors.

Feeling adventurous? If you find fabrics you like, you can make your own pillow covers, window coverings, place mats, napkins, etc. Most of these projects are simple to do and a good starting point if you are a beginning sewer.

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest frustrations shopping for home decor in the stores is that the store wants to tell me what I should have in my home. Most of the time, we don’t agree. Yes, it might be a bit more expensive (or not) to go my own way, at the end of the day, however, my home will be My Home.

Helpful? Giving you ideas? Don’t forget to hit the “Like” button!

Comfort Food Follow Up

Remember the meat loaf and jacket potatoes I indulged in a couple of weeks ago? In light of the conversation about meal planning and such, I thought I’d share the evolution of that lovely meal.

aka: Left overs can be magic!

Okay, the meat loaf made at least 2 meals along with the jacket potatoes. I had a bit in some soft tacos, too. The remainder made its way into a baked ziti casserole that, in itself, made 3 meals.

By my reckoning, that’s a total of six meals. And there’s still more ground beef in the freezer waiting to be used.

I know we sometimes get caught up in the “I hate left overs” rut along with the “I’m tired of cooking” rut. But if you take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at what you’ve got in your pantry, you can often come up with ideas for meals that you’ve already started preparing. 🙂

This is the power of having the building blocks of a variety of meals in your pantry, fridge and freezer waiting for your inspiration.

What’s next? Well, I have some carrots that will be added to some broccoli for soup and I’m contemplating biscuits to go along with it.

What’s on your idea list?

As always, if this has been helpful or given you some ideas, please click the “like” button and don’t be shy about leaving a comment or question.

A Different Take On Color

I’ve been watching DIY Danie on YouTube and enjoying her work tremendously. She is a long term DIYer who always brings interesting projects to her videos.

Recently she posted about a project that she worked on with BEHR paints. I have to admit, I love the color she was given to use (see more about this in the video) but the projects themselves were also interesting and thought-provoking.

If you are a renter who can’t put color on the walls, why not look at other surfaces. Bookcases. Small tables. Large tables. <G> Planters. Frames. Pretty much any surface can be painted.

Color may be subjective, but by stretching your comfort zone, even just a little bit, can freshen up a space and make it more comfortable.

Update: Pluto TV

I’ve had the Pluto TV channel loaded on my Roku box for ages. I got it because my over the air antenna, while good, occasionally has issues with low-frequency signals that float. Many of the ‘additional’ channels are low frequency and often evaporate when the weather changes.

Additional Channels – Those digital extras that are add-ons to regular network or independent channels. They are usually noted as ‘##.3’.

I initially added Pluto TV because it carried BUZZR which is a 24/7 collection of old game shows. I love many of the old game shows and was frustrated when I couldn’t access the over the air version. This was a win for me. Occasionally, I’d browse through the offerings to see what was new.

For those who don’t know, PlutoTV is a free channel/network that you can access on a variety of platforms. It carries no fees, no passwords, no access codes, no extra costs. It also carries hundreds of TV shows and movies in an easy to access and peruse format that includes sports, house and home, comedy, dramas, kids programming, and pretty much everything in between.

I have found myself using the channel/network more and more because they are carrying more of my favorite shows. Some even have their own channel.

I hope this will help give you some ideas on alternatives to cable or other pay-TV options. If it has, please click on the “like” button below. Questions or comments? Let me know!

Odd Thoughts And Ponderings

Came across Wil Wheaton’s Instagram post about the anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the impact that show had on his life. (His story is quite a tale, BTW.) I remember when TNG was announced and the most prevalent thing I heard was the complaint that it wasn’t the same as the original series. <Sigh>

TNG was the first real foray into other areas of the Star Trek Universe and it opened up a lot of doors for additional shows and movies. Personally, having lived for decades between any Star Trek show, I welcomed it back with joy. There are many aspects to the franchise that I enjoy – much to the frustration of the group who seem to have to have something to complain about.

One thing that has slowly (very slowly) become clearer and a bit more understood in my corner of the universe is the world of cosplay. Truthfully, I had no understanding of the whys and hows of this phenomenon. Thanks to some gifted folks who share their love of history, fiction, and vintage (all in various combinations), I’m starting to get an understanding and appreciation of the effort to create a character or re-create a version of a character in homage to the original work.

In its own way, it is Time Travel on a vastly different stage.

Diana Gabaldon posted a <cough> ‘snippet’ on her Facebook page that (as is usually the case with her gifts) brought out the wistful, will-you-just-hurry-up-and-finish-the-thing! in me. It is bad enough her books take at least 2 years to complete, but when there are additional delays and not much else to fill in the gaps, the wait becomes interminable.

Speaking of books, Audible has expanded the membership extras to include unlimited free works in addition to the monthly credits. I’ve been indulging in some vintage Ellery Queen. Part of the free listings include podcasts. Something I’ve been tempted to try out, but so far haven’t quite gotten organized enough to indulge in.

Heading into October has brought a reminder that the year is actually slowly coming to a close. Imagine that!

As I worked on my new calendar today, I thought about all the things that we used to do without thinking. Things used to be so much less complicated. A few years back, for example, giving food gifts was a no brainer. Now, with food allergies and health issues lots of options are (forgive me) taken off the table.

Allergies have created havoc across the spectrum. I had one friend who was deathly allergic to perfumes. For her, a short elevator ride could be hazardous – this was back in the day when some folks apparently either poured the scent bottle over their heads or filled a tub with it. Thankfully, I haven’t encountered that phenomenon much in the past few years.

I think back to the year 1999 and the trepidation as we headed off to January 1, 2000. Would the world come to and end? How would things be once the clock/calendar flipped?

Who would have thought that 2020 would be the year that we literally started looking back (hindsight) at what we used to do and begin the process of rethinking what we thought we knew?

I think this has been especially difficult for folks who tend to live their lives on automatic pilot.

One thing seems to be certain, as we move forward in our lives, we find ourselves encountering change, growth, experience, understanding along with a host of other issues. How we maneuver through them and if we choose to embrace them or not is an indicator as to how well we will survive life’s journey.

Like Wil’s Star Trek journey with his ST Family and the Time Travelers that look at cosplay, history and such, the journeys are complicated, simple, profound and interesting.

Comfort Food

The weather is slowly shifting to cooler days and nights. Hooray!

For those of us who are getting tired of their own cooking (hand in the air), it can be a bit of a battle between easy and boring in the kitchen.

I’ll be honest; I’ve had a bit too much chicken lately. Which is saying a lot for me.

Thanks to a market that had a better stock in the meat department, I snagged a family pack of pork shoulder steaks. I added some baking potatoes and some ground beef and we are in for some seriously non-chicken good food!

For those who don’t know, one of my Top Five Favorites is a simple, easy and fabulous roast.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take out your broiler pan – or if you don’t have one, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil – spray with non-stick cooking spray. Put the steaks on the pan, season with salt, pepper, garlic and dried sage.

Roast for 45 minutes, turn over and season. Roast for at least another 30 minutes. You are looking for a rich caramel color on the meat.

Add some baking potatoes at the beginning of the roast and they will all be done at the same time.

I roasted 2 of the 4 steaks in the pack and put the other 2 in the freezer.

As for the ground beef, I’ve got my eye on a meatloaf recipe and am debating between mashed potatoes or more baked potatoes. I bought enough spuds I could do both.

Easy. Flavorful. Wonderful comfort food. Yum!

Meal Planning: The Nightmare

AKA: One Size Does Not Fit All

This is a topic that I’ve struggled with for longer than I care to admit. Not the actual ‘doing’, because I do have my method. The problem is, my method is not what you see posted all over the place and touted by <cough> experts.

Now, I do want to give a shout out to those <cough> experts who actually provide thoughtful, useful ideas and methodologies that people can use. But I want to give a Huge Shout Out to those who understand that works for Person A might not be a workable solution to Person B and poor Person C is left hanging.

Here’s the thing: No two households are the same. They may look the same on the surface, but when you look deeper, you start to see the little realities that make the One Size Fits All Solution unusable.

For Example: How often you grocery shop usually depends upon how often you have money in your bank account. Weekly. Biweekly. Monthly.

What you shop for is dependent upon how much you have to spend AND how you are able to prepare it. If you know how to prepare it.

What you shop for also depends on what you eat. Some folks have serious allergies or health issues. Some folks, hard as I hate to admit it, really don’t particularly care about food. They eat to survive. Others have had some seriously bad experiences in the kitchen and are not too inclined to repeat the disasters. Some just never learned how to feed themselves.

Then, there’s that component that relies on – you guessed it – Time.

How much time you have to spend on the preparation of meals. How much time you have aside from functions like work, school, and the host of other out of the house activities that eat up time. No pun intended.

Knowledge Is Power

Here’s the thing, you know all the answers to the major questions. You also know if you need to learn new things to help you make more of the knowledge you already have.

If you need to learn to cook. Do it! Even if you don’t particularly like to cook, learning will help you work better, more efficiently in the kitchen so you don’t have to spend so much time and money in the kitchen.

Learn how to shop for food. Better choices lead to better meals which lead to better health and a healthier bank balance. You aren’t wasting money on food you end up tossing in the trash.

Better choices come from knowing what works best for certain recipes. Slow cooker recipes, for example, make the most of cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. (Translate: Save money.) They are usually easy to prepare and don’t require you standing over a hot pot. They are pretty much hands off. (Translate: Great for novice cooks.)

Time is an issue: If you can set aside one day a week to prep your meals, you save a lot of time during the week actually cooking the meals. If you want to kick it up a notch, set aside a day or two per month to actually cook those meals or do the heavy cooking required for what I call – and use – the Building Block Method.

By having the majority of the prep work done in advance, you take the stress out of deciding and cooking at the last minute.

The Building Block Method

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you probably know I prefer to shop in bulk and prep a lot of things in advance. I buy large flats of chicken to cook for casseroles, or large quantities of ground beef to pre-cook for casseroles or prepare as patties that go directly into the freezer. I make use of my oven and my slow cooker to make the process easier and maximize the time and space I have available.

The “Building Blocks” are parts of potential meals that are ready to go when I’m ready to eat.

The cooked meat or poultry becomes

  • Taco or burrito filling
  • Soup
  • Casseroles
  • Added to salads
  • Pasta dishes

If I am in the mood for taco salad, I have the meat ready to go. All I have to do is defrost and set up the salad. Pasta bake? I pull out my favorite pasta sauce and I have a quick and easy main dish.

I make sure to have all the building blocks I need at hand.

  • Cheese
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Eggs and milk
  • Soup or soup base
  • Herbs and spices
  • Ketchup, mustard, and other base sauces

By having these items on hand, I have the freedom to create a wonderful meal without stressing over what is in the pantry and if I need to get groceries. I can do as much, or as little, cooking as I want. Added bonus, I can try new recipes if I choose without a major trip to the market.

You can use meal planning to help you in many ways and you can make it as easy or complicated as you like. Do what works for you!

If this has been helpful, please click the “Like” button below. If you’d like to learn more, add a comment.

Taking A Breather

Or, A Change is as good as a Rest.

Hard to believe that it is almost October. I caught Rachel Maksey’s video about her version of the Strawberry Dress and her contemplating a list of Halloween videos and it got me to thinking. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day.

I don’t think I’m ready!

Not to mention really in the mood.

The dress, by the way, turned out with Rachel’s usual flare. An interesting take on an Internet Phenomenon.

Came across a video channel called “What’s For Tea?” that is produced by a lady who lives in Scotland. She and her husband have 2 kids and live in a lovely corner of a lovely country. She, Cheryl, shares the recipes and weekly shopping she does for her family. I have to admit that as much as I enjoy just hearing her talk, she has lit a flame to try out hot water pastry. She did a version of Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle cake that made my mouth water, too. Yum!

Mr. C scored what we think is an original Louis Vuitton bag recently and I have to admit that as much as I’m not enticed by designer bags, this one is a bit thrilling. <shrug> What can I say?

Thanks to an upgrade that Audible did to their service recently, I’ve been enjoying some original Ellery Queen books in addition to my usual monthly haul. The series originated back in the late 1920’s when two cousins worked together to write a story for a contest. I’ve enjoyed the books off and on over the years and the magazine was a favorite find at second hand stores.

Audible has worked hard to make the service more accessible and appealing to a wide variety of ages and preferences. If you are like me, and love being read to, I strongly urge you to check it out.

I’m currently working my way through the latest entry in the “St. Mary’s Chronicles” series. Who knows where I’ll go next?

Jeopardy! returns with new shows on 9/14!

Think I’m in the mood for a bit of Hanna Barbera this afternoon. Ciao!

Revisiting Literary Friends

I’ve been a reader for as long as I could read. That would be somewhere in excess of 6 decades. I tend to prefer historical novels and detective stories with some science fiction and fantasy thrown into the mix.

As such, I’ve covered a reasonably decent swath of material at local libraries. One, in particular, I pretty much cleared out. 🙂

Recently I’ve mentioned that I have been listening to a lot (a LOT) of Sherlock Holmes. For some reason, Holmes, who was a favorite when I was much younger, has become a reliable literary companion when I want something to read, but not have to dig too deep in to keep up with the story.

After quite a few <cough> rereads of Holmes, I recently switched back to the Amelia Peabody series. I have several of the books on audio and enjoy the reader immensely. The books are well written, click a lot of the boxes on my “types of books I want to read” list and, overall, are quite an enjoyable experience. You can learn more about them by reading the Amelia Peabody Series Wiki.

Over on my Reading Table, I have the latest Jim Butcher work along with several shorter pieces that may take a while to get to. I keep hoping that the latest installment of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” work will be published soon – and I know she is at that point in the process where she is closer to the finish line – but…

The one constant of this time is the need for distraction and engagement. I’m grateful to have some old friends to rely on and be able to find new ones to add to the mix.

So, what’s on your reading table?

Footnote: For those who might be confused, I listen to a lot of audio books. As such, I use the terms ‘listen’ and ‘read’ interchangeably.