Home Decor: Thinking Outside The Box

Have you looked at my Very Favorite Piece in my home? Go on over to the Gallery and check out my cabinet.

My postage size kitchen was in extreme need of storage when I bought my house. I still need better storage, but thanks to the addition of the cabinet, I have space for my dishes, counter appliances, and extra bits and pieces that aren’t needed every day.

The cabinet itself is a combination of a base cabinet, a wall cabinet, an over the fridge cabinet, and a countertop. It is screwed together, handles were added and it sits in the perfect spot in the kitchen.

There were no special tools required; a drill and a screwdriver were all that were needed.

This project came about thanks to a couple of handy friends who volunteered to do the heavy lifting and other work after I found what I wanted. My intention was to create something like a Hoosier cabinet but without the cost.

When you think about things you want in your home and space is an issue, check the options available at your local hardware or home center. I looked for finished cabinets, but there are unfinished as well as custom options.

I went in this direction rather than order a custom cabinet or buy prefab items because the prefab usually doesn’t come in the size I needed and the custom would have been more expensive than my budget could handle.

Don’t be afraid to look outside the box. You never know what you might discover that will be Perfect For Your Home.

Visiting With Old Friends: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

I was lucky enough to be around when some wonderful classic television shows were on their first run. Watching them gave me a great sense of what quality could be. Shows like

  • Star Trek
  • Perry Mason
  • Bonanza
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • The Carol Burnett Show
  • The Waltons
  • Marcus Welby, M.D.
  • Love, American Style
  • The Odd Couple
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • The Doris Day Show
  • I Love Lucy
  • Hollywood Palace
  • The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

And these are but a few!

Back then there were only three networks: ABC, NBC, and CBS. PBS was a fledgling that showed up on UHF (if you were lucky). The rotations were predictable; what was the highest-rated show and genre? Copy that! And then there were the breakout shows that many thought wouldn’t survive but somehow did. Like Mary. Saturday nights with Mary Tyler Moore were a staple in my home.

A Breath of Fresh Air

When Mary Richards arrived in Minneapolis she was not only the new kid on the block, she was the new idea in the country. A thirty-year-old single woman (never married) who had left behind a bad relationship and was embarking on a new life. For those who thought Marlo Thomas’s “That Girl” was the epitome of single womanhood – who eventually married – Mary Richards was a totally different reality. Different decades will do that, you know.

Mary was a single woman who wasn’t afraid of being single. Not really. She also wasn’t afraid to be alone or try new things or figure out what she wanted for herself and not depend upon someone else to tell her what she wanted or how to live, etc. She was intelligent, well-read, thoughtful and a person who enjoyed her life. Mostly. 🙂

Mary had co-workers and friends who were just as ordinary and she was and they all had their quirks. Lou was the alcoholic newsman with a heart of gold. Murray was the frustrated author who wrote the news copy and needled the anchorman. Speaking of which, Ted Baxter was the nightmare of most professional journalists…who probably knew their fair share of Teds. I have to wonder if Walter Cronkite ever forgave Lou for introducing him to Ted.

Rhoda, who lived upstairs, was the other side of the coin that was Mary, but both were, in their way, very much alike. Phyllis was, well, Phyllis. Sue Ann Nivens was the archetype of the predatory female. Yikes!

For several years we got to spend time with these people. Suffer through bad times. Celebrate good times. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being around good people who are also good friends. We also got a chance to see life in a different way from what was on television and it changed attitudes, provided ideas, planted seeds of possibility and provided a touch of reality that was closer to real than many thought.

The show not only boasted an excellent cast but the behind the scenes folks were high caliber, too. Check out the list of awards the show won HERE.

I often look to find episodes of the show when and where I can. Oddly, I haven’t yet acquired the DVD sets but it is on My List. You can find the entire series on Hulu or purchase them on Amazon Prime. If you need a quick fix, however, go over to YouTube and see what comes up. Like this little gem:

Are you a fan of classic TV? I’d love to learn your favorites.

And, as always, if you like this post, please let me know by clicking the Like button below.

Another Saturday Night

When I was growing up way back in the 1970s there was one particular tradition in our home that was rarely missed: watching “The Lawrence Welk Show”. The show began back in the 1950s and was a network staple for decades.

Every week, no matter what, we all sat down to enjoy an hour of great music, exquisite costumes and sets, familiar faces with beautiful voices and a rather eclectic collection of genres.

My mother, in particular, was adamant about the weekly visit. She worked nights and often caught a late evening nap around the time the show was on. Saturdays, however, came with the explicit reminder that we make sure she was awake to watch and listen from her recliner in the living room. We did. (She often fell into a nap, but Mom being Mom she was also listening closely.)

Now, I get that some folks find the entire idea silly and feel like the music was hokey and way out of date. Accordions? Polkas? Orchestra music? Dancing?

I look back and recognize that for a time, I too, wasn’t aware of the treasure the show was. I have a decidedly eclectic taste in music that I can trace back to those shows.

Thanks to Oklahoma Public Television, the shows are once again available in my area. I may not catch it every week, but I do go out of my way at times to be sure to sit back and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to explore Amazon. I just told Alexa to play “Lawrence Welk Music” and the results are amazing, beautiful, wonderful. Mom would be pleased.

If you are curious about the show itself, here are some things to explore:

One thing I’ve always admired about Mr. Welk was his ability to listen to his audience and give them the music they wanted to hear. His shows were well crafted and beautifully choreographed, too. They were Appointment Television before there was such a thing.

Every week we were thanked for joining the party and reminded of something that Mr. Welk always said:

“Keep a song in your heart.”

Lawrence Welk

I don’t know about you, but I think this is an excellent idea.

Cookbooks In My Collection

Or, I might have gone a bit overboard

You might recall that I embarked on an adventure of cataloging my library last summer. This is a project I do every few years or so when the inspiration hits me. There are a few years when I hit back, but not last year. <shrug>

I discovered quite a few things. One, in particular, was a bit surprising. I own quite a few Bisquick cookbooks. Like, maybe, eight of them. Yeah, it surprised me, too.

The thing is, I love cooking with Bisquick. It is a staple in my pantry alongside flour, sugar and all the rest. The ease and versatility of it is amazing and the biscuits and pancakes it makes is – dare I say it – wonderful.

Now, that is not to say that fully from scratch versions aren’t possibly better, but my scratch biscuits could be used to pave the driveway.

A Lifelong Partnership

I don’t remember when I first used the product, but I would have to say it was in the mid-60s when I was just learning to cook. Over the years I’ve picked up the occasional cookbook and added at least one recipe to my collection from each of them. Their Impossibly Easy Pies are game-changers. I am a huge fan of their French Apple pie; it is easy, tasty, and versatile. And, if you are like me and pie pastry challenged, this is easy!

A recent foray over on Amazon netted me a copy of the Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies book published in 2004. Click HERE for a look.

If you have never tried an Impossibly Easy Pie recipe, I’m including one of my very favorites as this month’s Recipe of the Month.

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie


Courses: Main Dish
Categories: Beef, Bisquick, Casserole
Serving size: 6
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins

Ingredients

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.

2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

3. In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate.

4. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutrition

Amount per serving
Serving size: 1 Serving
Calories: 325
Total Fat: 1g
Saturated Fat: 10g
Cholesterol: 135mg
Sodium: 530mg
Total Carbohydrate: 11g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Protein: 23g

Let me know what you think. Are you a fan of these easy recipes or are you new to the genre?

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Is It Too Early To Look For Spring?

In my corner of the world, we have had Cold weather with bouts of rain and snow competing with the sun for some sort of warmth. While (so far) we’ve been lucky not to have had lots of snow, anyone who has been around here for long knows that there will be at least one more downpour of the white stuff before the end of March. That’s just how it is.

I recently came across an old (!) episode of America’s Test Kitchen which focused on two dishes prepared with fresh tomatoes. (Whimper) On top of that, I found a few recipes using that luscious fruit that I haven’t made in far too long. (Moan)

I look outside and the lawn, the part that is not mud, is not quite green, and there has been precious little sunshine to accommodate growing plants.

Yep, cabin fever coupled with winter boredom and we are at that point in time when contemplating a garden comes to the forefront.

Are you there, too?

Are you contemplating a vegetable garden this year? Are you thinking about flowers? I’d love to hear what you have in mind.

Oh, before I forget it: Happy February!

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Food Freedom – A Few Thoughts

When Alyssia Sheikh over at Mind Over Munch on YouTube announced her Food Freedom course back in December, I was intrigued. I’ve followed her for quite a while as she talked about food prep, grocery hauls, and a variety of diet and food plans.

Note: As of this writing there is less than one week left of the course. Check out Alyssia’s website for more information. The course is free with the additional course materials sent via email.

If you’ve been around here for long, you know I don’t follow ‘diets’ and I avoid fake food as much as Humanly possible. I have several decades of experience trying different food plans and have seen the damage caused by corporations who promote their ‘plans’ to ‘help you get healthy’ only to find that they provide just enough information to get you hooked (i.e. spend $) and make sure you are dependent long enough to make a profit.

There are some plans that are actually sound, but the reality for most people is that nothing will work if the person using the plan isn’t connected, and committed, to actually engaging in the plan.

The problem is, many people have no education on how to actually engage and utilize all the information and options available so they can make the choices that will actually help them toward their goals.

Alyssia has shared her journey to heal her relationship with food and included sound research and experience to help us reconnect with ourselves.

The information is interesting and thought provoking. The tools are helpful and useful. Will they all work for everyone? Probably not, but here’s the thing: One Size Does Not Fit All. Or, take what you need and leave the rest.

Years ago a major health carrier’s advertising was based on the idea that ‘you know your body better than we do’. When you stop and think about that simple statement, it is very profound. And, for some folks, damn scary.

Personally, I’m a stress eater. Things get a bit tense and I head for the chips. Or the bread. Or the chocolate. Or the [ fill in the blank ]. I also enjoy food. I like eating good food and I can go really simple or really complicated. Couple this will a love of cooking and you get the makings of a potential disaster. Except…

I prefer simple meals made with food that I get as close to the farm as possible. I avoid chemicals and long distance hauling of produce.

Understanding that I have triggers that can goad me into putting on the pounds and learning how to deal with those triggers helped me maintain and not over eat.

Learning how to cook helped me control what I ate and more importantly gave me an arsenal to combat the convenience food quicksand that not only threatened my health but my bank account.

I’ve watched all the videos to date and found lots of food for thought that has been helpful not only in learning to handle the Mind-Body Connection, but in developing a life style, not a diet, that I can live with and benefits me.

If you are tired of the diet roller coaster, if you want to find tools that will help you actually achieve your goals rather than feed someone else’s pocket, I suggest you check out the information on the website. The videos are there along with additional information that will help you.

And, best of all, it is free.

Book Review: The Mangle Street Murders

The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I found this book via Audible.com’s Plus Catalog.

I would never classify this as a ‘cozy’ mystery as neither the characters nor the plot fits into that category. Both March & Grice are complicated characters and each has their own collections of secrets that might eventually be revealed during the course of the series. Grice is particularly antagonistic and off-putting.

While I have been through the book several times, it is frustrating to find a through-thread to deal with the mystery(ies). That Grice’s reaction and response to the twists and turns are predominantly negative and potential fodder for red herrings only adds to the frustration. March comes across as both knowledgeable and a twit. Her “I don’t understand!” quickly got old.

As for the comparison to Holmes and Watson, Holmes was rarely mean-spirited and Watson was never both clueless and wise.

All that being said, it is an interesting work if only to find some sort of resolution to the plot. Will I continue with the series? No idea.



View all my reviews

A Change of Pace

Or, a shift in media can make a huge difference.

I’m one of those people who grew up listening to the radio. Which, when you consider where I lived at the time, was a feat in itself. Way back in the mid to late 1970s living in Northwest Arkansas, getting signals for TV or radio was an iffy proposition. And that was before all the build-up that would impede them even more than before, not to mention waaaaaay before that thing called ‘cable’.
I was lucky to be able to get the CBS radio affiliate out of Chicago, which meant that I was able to listen to the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” when it began. Awesome!
It also meant that we had 3 – yes, three – TV stations: CBS, ABC, and NBC. PBS was on the UHF band and not so easily acquired.
Radio was an interesting collection of a variety of music genres, some occasionally off the wall commentary (think ‘Bob and Ray’) and the occasional treasure of Old Time Radio shows. I have a vivid memory of sitting down to a Sunday lunch while listening to an episode of “Fibber McGee and Molly” coupled with an episode of “Jack Benny” that was broadcast from somewhere in Kansas.
I still listen to the radio. Today, however, my tastes seem to run more toward vintage radio shows or quieter easy listening stations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed American OTR, but when I discovered Pumpkin FM from the UK, I found a huge variety of material that I’d never heard of before combined with a few things that had come to our shores via PBS and the Britcoms they carried.
For example, I’ve recently come across the British version of what we know of as “Three’s Company” and “Sanford and Son”. Both series were developed from the UK shows.
I’m also dipping my toe back into the world of Podcasts. A few years back I listened to a great one that focused on quilting. Another favorite was a limited series that focused on the history of food via the spice trade. Fascinating!

What are you listening to?

Finding Treasure

Cleaning Out The Fridge

I’m preparing my shopping list for my next grocery order and found a few things that I could use up to make space.

I had a couple of cups of cooked chicken, a cup or two of cooked rice, some mixed vegetables and a can of cream of whatever soup.

Now, looking at that collection from one direction, it has ‘casserole’ written all over it. Changing perspectives, however, and there is ‘pot pie’ or ‘chicken and dumplings’ or ‘noodles’ or ‘biscuits’.

Treasure!

Combining all the base ingredients along with pepper and seasoned salt resulted in a rich, satisfying soup that is thick and flavorful. Adding anything is really just gilding the lily.

Want the recipe? Sign up for the newsletter. It, and other recipes, will be in February’s Magic Pantry attachment.

A Tale of Two Design Aesthetics

If you’ve been around here for long you know I love beautiful design. I’m also the person an interior designer friend said was a designer’s dream because “You like everything.”

Not exactly, but close. LOL!

I love homes that are comfortable, cozy, and well-loved, and lived in. I have no interest in clean, pristine, dust wouldn’t settle on anything, picture-perfect, no warmth to save your life productions that often appear as the New In Thing.

There are a lot of interior designers around these days. Some are professionals who showcase their talents using the Internet and some are amateurs who strive to make their homes more than they started. A few stand out because they reach beyond the current fad. Here are two of my very favorites.

You can find both of these ladies on YouTube and Instagram. They are well worth the effort.

Hermione Chantal

I’ve been following Hermione Chantal for quite a while. I think I first encountered her when she purchased her very first home; a late 1800’s to early 1900 row house on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. Watching her take what was a disaster and turn it into a lovely home has been quite a journey.

The house has been transformed into a warm, cozy space with soft colors and thoughtful details using thrift finds, DIY projects, and an evolution of style. It is an interesting mixture of old and new and Hermione isn’t afraid to change her mind and try new things. She has stated that her intention with the house was not to keep it long-term which explains and informs some of her choices.

Farmhouse Vernacular

Paige and Brandon over at Farmhouse Vernacular are a young couple who have purchased their second home with an eye to it being their Forever Home. They found an old farmstead that needed work and started in.

Their home was built around 1905 and over the years has withstood a lot of … life. Check out the tour of the home when they bought it and you’ll get a good idea of what they were in for.

The intention of the sympathetic renovation is to make all the rooms as beautiful and multi-functional as possible without changing the footprint of the home, even though there has had to be some adjustment inside to accommodate things like bathrooms and storage.

This home is a working farm home. That it is also beautiful is the icing on the cupcake.

Paige talks a lot about the house speaking to her and I have to say I believe her. The choices made, be it colors, furniture, whatever, make the home so much lovelier than what was there when they moved in.

What I take away from these two aesthetics is the opportunity to get out of the box and create homes you are comfortable living in. Show homes may be beautiful but many lack any real warmth and that sense of the home being loved and well cared for.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a preference?