Posts Tagged ‘Home and Garden’


La Vien en Rose in early Spring

La Vie en Rose in early Spring

This photo was taken probably in early April before the rose bush’s leaves opened.

OMG what a day! I worked from morning till night doing all kinds of things; AND I’m going to tell you about all of them.  Why? Well, because if you’re fortunate enough to have a family member or friend who has a cottage and you get an invitation to visit sometime this summer, I want you to know that a lot goes into making La Vie en Rose and every other beach house a great place to stay.

Today, Sunday, has been the nicest day so far this Memorial Day Weekend, considered by all to be the unofficial beginning of summer.  Our street was filled with the cars of visitors who parked and went off to the beach.  That’s what we used to do when we would go to the Shore for the weekend.  But those days are long gone…..

I started off the morning shaking out the throw rugs, then I dust-mopped the kitchen and bathroom floor with my Swifter.  Then I washed both floors.  Peter had gone to get me coffee and while he was gone, I cleaned the litter box, put last night’s dishes away and made the bed.

When he returned with my Grandé Americano, I made us a breakfast of bacon, eggs and English muffins.  That was the last time I sat down!

While Peter washed the breakfast dishes, I decided to vacuum the white area rugs which are here and there though out the cottage and are too light weight to be vacuumed with the Hoover, so I use the Dust Buster to pick up all the pesky little specks.  After the third rug, the Dust Buster began to lose power – great!  And the day had just begun.  Downstairs to recharge the vacuum, I decide we must move the kitchen table so I can use the Hoover vacuum on the radiator where dust and cobwebs left over from the winter are probably residing. Moving the table is a two-man job and now that it is halfway out into the working part of the kitchen and the 4 chairs are scattered about, it’s kind of tight in there to maneuver.  My husband agrees he should clean the radiator and I tackle the window. I  took the curtains down and shook them out and noticed how dusty the window sill was and how dirty the window was – a lot of rain and snow this winter!

I’ve been harping about repainting the window sills and frames since last year because they are layered with paint, some of which is cracking, some is chipping and basically they just look bad.  This ginormous task has been carefully avoided by Peter  up to now.  I started cleaning that nasty dirty area between the storm windows and the window sill.  Let me just remind you all that this cottage was built about 1888!  Peter brought out two scrapers and I began trying to smooth out the rough over-painted areas and removing the loose crackled pieces of paint.  I’m just going to skip over the fight we had about scraping versus non-scraping and then sanding because let me assure you, the window frames got scraped and sanded as I knew they would!

The scraping/sanding task also included washing the windows inside and out in the living room. To do so, I went outside on the front porch and  yuk another job to do.  But before I deal with the porch, I vacuumed the living room rug as well as the scrapings and sawdust in each window.  I had to move the BIG TV, God is it heavy, to get to window back there.  By the way, have I ever told you how much I dislike, bordering on hate, triple track storms and screens.  After dripping in WD-40, I finally got one of upper storm windows down so it could be washed inside and out.  Peter went upstairs to do the window frames and while he was up there, I thought he should vacuum the back porch which was covered in debris and leaves.

For 2 days the box of the porch candles has sat in the living room and I was determined to get them out on the glass tables (after I washed the tables naturally).  But first, back to the yukky porch which was really dirty (it was a long winter).  Peter washed the porch which means furniture was all over the place and some of it on the lawn.  Yesterday I filled the porch planter (which is like an outdoor window sill planter) with geraniums and petunias but didn’t attach it to the porch BECASUSE the porch wasn’t clean.  It gets tied in place to the railing spindles BUT they were dirty and spotted with mildew.  So out comes the Tilex and brush and rubber gloves as I tackle spindle after spindle scrubbing the mildew away and discovering that some of them were losing paint and OMG, rotting and will need to be replaced. It’s hard to work on the porch and not notice how black the front of the house is due to the traffic and dirt from the road.  More Tilex and more hosing down.  By this point I’m pretty wet.

I still had a wicker planter to fill with pink petunias, however that piece was in the garage and Peter had to go get it – “Not now”, he said, “Do something else”.  OK, I will transplant the mint.  Yes, I know it grows like a weed and because it does,  some has already sprouted up in areas other than the patch of lawn I gave it last year.  I had bordered that patch of ground with sea shells, some of which did not survive the winter.  So, as most of the other jobs have been going so far today, this one wasn’t going to be any different – Stop, get some sea shells from a stash I have in the shed and replace the broken ones before I start to transplant the errant mint into its rightful home.  Now that I’m on my hands and knees, I can see that the flagstone walkway is overgrown with grass and needs trimming.  I have to do this a couple of times each summer and am always surprised that the damn grass grows on top of the stone but not in the lawn!  At this level, I see a lot of areas that need hand trimming and yes, I did that too!

About this time, I realize that there are about 7 jobs in progress and none completely finished.  The furniture is still all over the kitchen, the porch furniture is scattered and the porch floor is wet and littered with paint chips.  I went back to the front of the house and made the mistake of looking up and saw that the porch ceiling should probably be repainted and certainly it was really dirty, so as I aimed the hose upward, the water came downward and I just got wetter. I asked Peter to go get the wicker planter, PLEASE!

As he filled the bird feeder,  I got the Round-UP out to kill the weeds that were popping up on the patio and between the blocks on the sidewalk.  That done, it was time to put the petunias in the wicker planter.  Uh oh, I don’t have enough dirt!  I dug some up where I plan to plant a basil plant but it really wasn’t enough.  I think there were 12 plants in the flat, however the flat was a plastic molded affair and it was really difficult to get the plants out.  There were a few casualties!  I squished them in together and HOPED that their dirt will blend together and I probably better buy some potting soil soon. I just hope they survive till I return next weekend.

Our neighbors strolled over and she noticed how stick like my hydrangeas were and informed me that I needed to cut back those stems because what I thought were buds were not and I should cut them all back to where there was some green growth near the bottom.  She offered me the use of her new clipper and now even though it was 6:30pm I tackled the two hydrangeas in the front and the one in the back.  Somebody has to tie up all these dead branches for the yard-waste pick-up. 

By the time the kitchen table and chairs were put back, the TV was put back, the porch furniture was put back (only to come off again BECAUSE the porch needs to be repainted) and the two vacuum cleaners emptied and put away, as well as the bottles of Tilex, Windex, Awesome, Simple Green and Fantastik, it was after 7pm.  I was most definitely NOT making dinner tonight.  

After a shower and two Tylenol (for my achey body), we ordered Chinese food!. Tomorrow is another day and after the Parade, I think Peter will repaint the front porch floor….this ole house! 



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It’s 7:30 am and I’m hustling around to get ready for the today’s big yard sale.  I have spent the last couple of weeks scrounging around the apartment, the cottage and through stuff we’ve had left over from doing Flea Markets.  In other words I have WAY TOO much stuff to put out on two tables!!

AND as Peter predicted the ground is wet because for the last two days we have showers….this is NOT an auspicious beginning 😦

I literally spent the entire day yesterday sorting through the boxes of stuff trying to group the junk, er, I mean stuff into plastic bins and price each piece.  This is of course an area where we diverge: I want this stuff GONE and am happy to price it to sell and well, my other half is a bit more attached to his possessions and is not giving anything away!  Oh no?  I’ve already promised myself that 90% of what is going into the sale is going to Goodwill and Habitats if it doesn’t sell.

I’m not immune to the fact that we are probably putting out some items that really don’t belong in  a yard sale, they are much more Flea Market antiques and nostalgic collectibles but right now, this is the only venue.  And, I swear I will do another yard sale in the summer when lots more people are in town.  This particular day was designated by an organizer and promoted as Town Wide.  I hope there was sufficient advertising to entice people to come even though this is one gray, soggy day.  Oh how dismal it all looks now!

This is the morning to be moving quickly and hello Murphy’s Law – we’re up and Peter takes the first shower and drops his lens in the bathroom-15 minutes later we find it.  I need him dressed and outside to set up those big table for me and to lug the crap er, I mean stuff out to the porch.  Just to add to the total aggravation of it all is the fact we broke the door on our shed two weeks ago, it’s not fixed so the wagon which is supposed to be for sale is in there along with big sheets of plastic I wanted with me in case of a shower!  Oh yeah, think it’s going to be a fun, fun day all around!

Friday afternoon my living room looked like this…

And this…

Trying To Sort Through

Trying To Sort Through

By 8pm last night, I had priced, sorted and packed up everything and then listened to the weather report

Way Too Much Stuff

Way Too Much Stuff

Packed and Priced

Packed and Price

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Reczniki papierowe

Paper Towels – I Love Them!

Really, I mean really!  I am now officially joining the thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states who complain about the weather on a daily basis!  There is no where you go that someone doesn’t say something about the ever-lasting, mother-loving winter.  Where oh where is Spring?  We had two days of hot weather, too hot for April of course and now we are back to weather 10 degrees above freezing!

The calendar says it’s April and for me that has always meant it was time to shut down the furnace, take down the heavy drapes in the bedroom and hang the light weight cotton drapes.  I switch the area rug in the foyer, switch the covers on the toss pillows and put a chenille bedspread on the bed.  Switching the closets around with the seasonal clothing is next and oh God, how I hate that job!  All of the above (except the closets) has been done in the apartment, oh and the windows have to be professionally washed.

However, I’m writing this while I’m sitting in the cottage where the heat has been on since last night when we arrived!  Not only did we sleep with the blanket and the coverlet on, we also threw a quilt over us, (and I thought I was going to turn off the furnace!) That and a warm-bodied cat kept us cosy all night.  So even though it’s cold inside and out, this weekend was designated for Spring cleaning and I was determined to get some  deep cleaning done.  

I started this morning before breakfast and in my own frenetic way I was cleaning the bathroom and the stove top and shaking out rugs all at the same time!  I imagine that an observer would think I was haphazardly jumping from task to task but I know what I’m doing and as I circulate, I finish up what I started.  I took a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Simple Green and a bottle of Awesome and proceeded to wash and wipe everything on the kitchen counter and then every blessed thing in the living room.  Anyone who knows us, knows that, that’s a lot of blessed things!

I had help!  Yes, I coerced my husband into helping me mainly because I really wanted to get behind all the furniture and vacuum the baseboards.  This meant moving some heavy pieces as well as picking up more things off the floor to get behind and under them.  Cobwebs!  I found cobwebs!

The bedrooms got vacuumed and tomorrow morning I’ll finish dusting and wiping down things up there especially the guest room as we have a house guest coming.  When Murray arrives tomorrow I promised to make him matzo bri and then I imagine he will head to the beach with his camera.  I love having a guest who amuses himself because since the weatherman promised warm weather for tomorrow, we are planning to do some yard work.  Time to unwrap the patio furniture, rake the sand out of the lawn and I still have to clip some dead heads off one of my hydrangea bushes.  

I really don’t mind cleaning and thankfully when it’s done, I get great pleasure out of looking at the results!  Poor Peter, I must have told him 10 times tonight how clean I thought the living room felt!  I’m looking forward to being thrilled when I clean out the refrigerator and wash the windows inside and out!

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A Matter Of Taste

He loved it, she hated it. Things were going to change around here she thought.  No more college dorm room décor. Perhaps some nice yellow curtains would brighten up the den.  Moving some furniture around wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  Gathering up the piles of discarded newspapers, she hauled them out to the trash barrel.  After polishing the furniture and sweeping up the dust bunnies, things looked better already. But, something was still not quite right

Pulling into the driveway, his heart sank; there was his favorite leather chair!  The honeymoon’s over, he thought.

Goodbye Old Friend

Goodbye Old Friend

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While cooking dinner this evening and thinking about writing today’s Foodie gift blog, it occurred to me this past April I found a wonderful new kitchen tool and I should write about it.  My husband and I and his sister and husband took a trip to Quebec in April.  We thought it would be lovely and spring-like;  Instead, it was cold, windy and rainy.  However, we were undaunted and covered the Lower Town and the Upper Town.  One afternoon while strolling though the Lower Town in Old Quebec City, Stacey and I wandered into a lovely shop filled with kitchen ware and flatware and cookware.  We are both Foodies and love to cook, so we spent considerable time picking up item after item, many of which we had never seen at home.

We came across a pair of strange-looking scissors. Fascinated, we asked the clerk about them and were told that these shears were meant to julienne herb leaves or thinly slice mushrooms, lettuce, and even ham.  Immediately I knew I had to have these scissors to slice my basil leaves over my juicy Jersey tomatoes.  Not only would the little shreds be distributed more evenly over a caprese salad, the slices would release some of the basil oil.

Made of stainless steel and with 5 blades, this is one of the most useful tools in my kitchen.  Available for purchase online from several stores as well as Amazon, you can purchase these MASTRAD shears for under $10.00

Shear Delight

Shear Delight

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I’m going to start with the back story….

Living near the ocean does have a few drawbacks, really very, very few;  in fact the only one I’m talking about is the dampness.  Not the kind that seeps in through the screen door and windows and makes the furniture feel damp and cool  – no, not that kind.  But living near the ocean, things like snails and slugs tend to appear unwelcome on my porch or sidewalk now and again.  I have abhorrent fear and anxiety about slugs in particular.

I mean they are so slimy and icky looking – like some kind of spineless blob from outer space that seems to traverse without legs.  I literally can’t stand the sight of them.  We’ve come home a couple of evenings over the years and found a long slug on the sidewalk and I got the willies whatever they are!!  I make Peter pick up the slug on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and insist that he toss it over the fence into our neighbor’s yard.  They (slugs) are SO GROSS.

Two days ago, my contact lens was bothering me and those of you who know me, know that I have a history of problems with the lens in my eye because I have some scarring on my cornea, but that’s another story.  I’ve been giving the eye a vacation from the lens and trying to use glasses.  However, my glasses are not prescription, just readers and since they are really only good for close up reading or work, I didn’t have them on when I went upstairs to change my clothes.  It was dark and the door to the porch was open and our neighbors across the backyard were home – thank God their doors were shut, they must have had their air conditioners on.  I took off my clothes and put on pajamas and hung up my pants and I was barefoot.   I moved the door to a more open position now that I was dressed and stepped away.  When I looked back and down, this is what I saw…..



 Needless to say I screamed, “Peter, Peter, PETER!”  Still no answer;  The TV was on upstairs and downstairs and he was in the kitchen.  I grabbed the remote, hit mute, went to the top of the stairs and screamed again, Peter! You better come up here NOW”!  He came flying up the stairs, out of breath and said, “What is it? What? Is there a bat”?  I pointed to the floor and said, “LOOK! You better get it out of here, OMG how did it get in the house? OMG I could have stepped on it” 

With wife on the verge of hysteria, my husband runs downstairs and grabs paper towels while noting OUT LOUD that there were no more paper towels!!  He returned and got on his hands and knees while I fretted and fumed and worried sitting on the bed.  He stood up quickly with paper towel crumpled in his fist and I said, “What did you do with it?” He showed me……

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

I laughed so hard I thought I would either cry or pee in my pants!  I mean, “Really, really?”  All in the life and times of living with Lori.

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CANDLES have been associated with Christmas since forever because as we all know before electricity, before gas and kerosene lamps, there were candles.  And candles have always been part of our holiday imagery.  Think back over the years.  I remember Christmas cards featuring candles in lantern posts and pictures of a little kid in a nightshirt holding a candle in the classic candle holder as part of the Christmas culture.

Light the way!

Light the way!

Victorian Christmas trees were adorned with real candles and LIT !  How did they escape burning the house down?  In the 20th Century, we electrified the candles and put them in every window in the house.  I was so obsessed with that concept that when we built a house, I made sure the electrician knew I wanted an outlet under every window on 3 sides of the house.  I’ve used small votive candles in luminaries to light the way to my home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  However, now that we are in the 21st Century, we have technology on our side.  Behold the battery-operated candle and one that is made out of a wax-like material and look SO REAL, it’s hard to believe they’re not.  

These candles have really come of age this past year.  You can purchase all sizes and colors in a great number of stores.  I have found several in The Christmas Tree Shop (not a pun and not really a Christmas shop) and bought a bunch at Costco.  These candles are The ANSWER.  What a terrific way to set a mood.  Scattered around the house during the holidays, they produce just the warm glow you’re looking for.  And as far as luminaries, these candles will surely not blow out in the breeze and catch the bag on fire!  

Think about the myriad ways in which you can utilize these faux but-oh-so-real-looking candles and make your life prettier and softer.  So much of the holiday preparations are time-consuming and costly.  With these candles you get a lot of bang for your buck,

They even come scented!

They even come scented!

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When did it happen? You’re never really sure exactly when sometime between the Fourth of July and mid-August, it’s apparent summer is waning like tonight’s moon.  The signs are all around us and they’re getting harder to ignore.

end of summer, sea grass

Lariope-Uh Oh!

Just like those hopeful crocuses signal that Winter is over and life renewing Spring is on its way, when I see the Lariope in my front yard bloom, I know with a heavy heart that Summer will soon be over!  And then there’s the candles in the window….

I have battery-operated candles in the windows of the cottage; White candles with light bulb flames, flickering or not, are status quo in Ocean Grove along with flying the American flag.  My house is very old and I don’t have the luxury of multiple outlets, so I have these candles which turn themselves on every 16 hours.  You set them when you want them to light and then each day at that time the candles go on.  Well, what’s been happening lately is that it is getting darker and darker and the candles still haven’t gone on.  Apparently we are now losing a full 2 minutes of daylight each day.  Time to adjust the candles to go on earlier…and you know what that means :(.

Of course you also can’t go into any store and NOT be assaulted with signs that the first day of school can’t far off.  File folders with exotic designs, 3-ring notebooks in a rainbow of colors, hundreds of pens, pencils and highlighters are visible everywhere.  

And need a summer dress or a pair of capri’s and you are SOL.  It makes me hot just to go into the store and see all the wool and knits and dark colors.  I feel like disoriented tourist wearing my  orange bermudas and sleeveless tangerine top as I walk around the circular displays of brown, black, gray and loden green outfits!

What signs do you see that tell you summer is over?

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Alright maybe giving candles is NOT so clever BUT think of it this way;  it certainly is a wonderful hostess gift, a Secret Santa gift, an office gift exchange, a sister-in-law, really anyone who entertains will love this idea.

Purchase a bunch of candles (tapers)the number is up to you.  However, I think 4 would be the minimum in either holiday colors or shades that would complement your giftee’s home.  On the other hand, everyone can use a few beautiful white tapers.  Wrap the candles in a linen napkin.  Again the color contrast or combination is up to you.  Tie with a ribbon and you have gift within a gift.

Now I know you are thinking, who wants just one linen napkin?  The answer is the hostess who wants to line her bread or cracker basket with a linen napkin but doesn’t have an extra or odd one.

green tapers, linen napkin gift wrap,
All Tied Up For Christmas

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There’s no way I’m going to sleep tonight so I thought I might try to write the next chapter in the Hurricane Hoopla of how we rode out the storm.  All I can say is “Thank God I was here!”

Normally an accounting of  a day in the life of  starts at the beginning but not this one.  Here’s what’s going on now…. my heart is still racing a little.

I just covered the chest in front of the bow window and everything on it with a sheet of plastic!  Then I put a basin and a pail on the floor to catch the drips that are dropping steadily.  Apparently the wind is pushing the water up under some of the shingles or where there is a seam in the roof of the bow window.   The constant dripping sound is so ominous and is competing for my nerves with CBS and Peter upstairs trying to tune in his radio and get it to work on batteries.  Add to that the sound of the rain pounding on the air conditioner in the kitchen and believe you me as they say, I am so uptight, I’m sure I’ll be writing this blog at 3am.

Earlier this evening we were watching a movie because we just couldn’t listen to any more news and Peter noticed a drip, dropping right in front of us on the coffee table.  Needless to say, I screamed and ran upstairs to see where it was coming in from the roof.  And Juanita, if you’re reading this, sorry but that is why I said I had to go!  Got upstairs, checked both ceilings and saw nothing.  Run back downstairs, move furniture and get the dish basin to catch drips.  OMG, my house is so out of order that I am in battle to the death with my own OCD and the storm and not sure who is winning yet.  Two of the porch chairs are in the living room, all the front porch tables are in the living room, and now that I had to cover the bow window area, the plant stand and books are in the middle of the room. Oh and the porch floor lamp is in the living room and the coffee table is now in the middle of the room.  However all that is a digression because I have to tell you the source of the drip.

I went back upstairs and walked over by the window in the bedroom and realized the carpet was wet! There was a puddle by my nightstand.  I threw books on the bed, grabbed a towel to mop it up and saw that the water was being blown into the room underneath the air conditioner.   Yelling for Peter to bring me towels, I stuffed some under the unit and he went into the guest room to check that unit and sure enough it was leaking water in also but not nearly as much.  More towels.   It only took 5 minutes for the towels in our bedroom to be wet so in the middle of this storm, we took the damn air conditioner out of the window!!!  Right now it’s in a trash bag but of course there’s no place to put it so it’s still in the bedroom and I hope I don’t walk into it in the middle of the night.   Wait, that’s not gonna happen because I’m not going to bed.  As soon as we got the window closed, the leak in the living room stopped

So then we checked the air conditioner in the kitchen and why are all of these goddamn air conditioners in windows facing East!! That one is much more secure, minor water collection around the base and I have stuffed dish towels around it and put plastic on the floor and moved the kitchen table away from the window which puts it sort of in the middle of the room and I had to remove the cafe curtains and where are they? In the living room along with the slickers, the clogs, rain ponchos and more plastic.  Oh yeah, the storm is winning!

By the time we actually got into Frank’s in Asbury Park it was noon so we had lunch instead.

We showered and drove off for coffee and breakfast, thinking a Starbucks and a hot breakfast  would help fortify us for the rest of the day But first I wanted to go the boardwalk and see what the shore looked like and the waves.  Lots of people were on the Fishing Pier taking photos.  I fed the sea gulls a lot of bread tossing bits in the air and marveling at how they are able to grab a piece mid-air.  The tides had already played havoc with the shore line; on the south side of the pier, a dune had formed and on the north side, it looked a like a giant with a shovel, scooped out the sand.

Hurricane Irene, Ocean Grove NJ
Waves Crashing

 And then the Beach Patrol came along and told everyone to get off the pier and they ran police tape across the access.   I had to mail a letter and yes the Post Office was open so we headed to Main Avenue and this is what we saw!

Ocean Grove bakery, Hurrican Irene, Ocean Grove, NJ
Bread and Board
boarded up fo hurricane Irene, Ocean Grove, NJ
Boarded Up

Seeing Main Avenue like this really upset me.  I KNOW they were only boarded up to protect the glass but now that the day was here and evidence of impending doom was everywhere, I felt my eyes well up with tears.  Maybe my nerves were already shot.

So going backwards in this day of days, Peter made several trips to the garage and deposited all the rest of the porch furniture along with some cartons of food designated for New York.   We moved the glass top table closer to the fence and I repositioned trash barrels, lawn chairs and our enamel table and anchored everything with bungee cords. And the phone kept ringing with concerned friends and family asking if we were safe or were we coming home?  Thanks for all the concern shown for us today!!!

Before all this (remember we’re going backwards in time) a sudden extremely strong rainfall woke me up-I had the door to the porch open to get some breeze and the door to the front porch on the second floor open for cross-ventilation so I heard it!  I jumped out of bed and screamed at Peter to get up and out because I had no intention of bringing wet porch furniture into the house.  It was already humid inside and destined to get worse.   In my pajamas I grabbed all of the cushions and brought them in.  Now I was racing against the rain to get stuff in the house and in the car and the water was already over the sidewalk.  Good morning Vietnam!

Go to this link to see photos of some of our worst hurricanes. http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/09/02/15-worst-hurricanes.html?om


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