Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Spooky Old Tree (or the Power in Pictures)...

The little one, learning to read. She has discovered the power of the exclamation point!!
Sharing an old post today, because it came back to mind while teaching the little one to read before bedtime last night ....

Several months ago, while shopping in the Black Rose, I picked up this old book, the images on the cover recalled from my childhood.

The memory of the book I had in my mind was some really great story about the little Berenstain Bears embarking from home on a journey to a mythic old tree, a veritable fun-house chock full of knights in armor, trick stairs, and a great sleeping bear that you most definitely don't want to wake up.

Here, instead, is a sample of how this Bright and Early reader reads: "Three little bears. / One with a light. One with a stick. One with a rope. / A spooky old tree. / Do they dare go into the spooky old tree? / Yes. They dare." How exciting.

The power of this book lies in its pictures, which are at once frightening and invigorating. My memory of the fun of this book is deeply rooted in the bears' visual journey.

There's a good lesson here for us busy parents. We shouldn't speed through the book so fast that the enjoyment of it is lost on our children. Let your kids get lost in the images on the page. Let them run with the bears. Let them climb into the portal of that spooky old tree. Let them run their little fingers over the paper, dig their nose into the book's spine. Those who love books love them because they developed, early on, a sensory relationship with them. Tactile.  Go on. Let them get their hands dirty. ~Alice

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Scored a Poison Bottle (and Other Country Living Fair Finds)

You know you are a slightly messed-up individual when you get excited about scoring a Strychnine bottle for your poison-bottle collection. Oh, well. I own my oddities. On that note, here's a little photoessay of our day at the fair from start to finish (some of our new things have already made themselves at home;)). We had such a blast, for the third year in a row. Can't wait until year 4! A/J

We made it!! #clfair 2014 in full effect:).

I actually use one of these to comb my hair out after I shower. It makes an amazing hair pick (I picked this up from my mother; blame her). But, in actuality, it's an angel food cake cutter. I promise I do not use the one I possess to cut cakes, for anyone who may be eating at my house in the near future.

We had to eat early. We were STARVING!!! Sweet Carrot is the best. Amazeballs. Seriously. That, my friends, is beef brisket topped with coleslaw and corn salsa on a bed of mac and cheese and corn cake. Decadence at its best.

She picked out the perfect shirt for the day. Let's be adventurers!! Gap Kids

Owl Skull Magnets. I couldn't resist.

We brought some horseshoes home to hang over the door. Open side up, of course. To read all about the feng shui of doing so, read here.

She loved the cameos, especially the skull ones.  Also check out her yarn bracelet:).

Once again, Jeni's did not disappoint. Although I really wish they had the blueberry lemon again this year:(((. It was so good. I'm just not a huge almond brittle or biscuit fan.

If I had $1500, I would buy the top piece by Jeri Landers (the black scherenschnitte that reads "In the Hollow"). I look at it every year. And covet it severely.

We love book crafts, like this Reader's Digest jewelry box. You can bet Miss Mags brought this one home. #freckles

Love these bookmarks. Especially the creepy "You are the key to my heart" one.

This purse. Oh my goodness. I wish I was rich. It was $329. And well worth it.

This year's poison bottle. #strychnine #skullandcrossbones #danger #forthevintagebathroomalongsidethewhiskeybottles
This pillow from Olive Grace Studios. I saw it at the end of the day and had no more money left:(((. I love the saying "Red Skies at Night, Sailors' Delight." It reminds me of my family sitting around, the kids snuggled up on the aluminum glider, the adults drinking beer, and everyone staring into the darkening sky as the world grew quiet.

Yet another perfect pillow, from one of my favorite songs ("Love the One You're With"). I see this pillow pair in my future. Now where to put them???
These fabrics. Did they specifically put them together for me? I mean, seriously. Olive Grace, can I have a quilt made out of these prints?

Yet again, I had no money left. I hate money. Can I just make a mint and get it over with so I can buy ALL THE THINGS?

Great chalkboard signs in this store. I just bought a chalkboard marker. I think it will be getting put to use soon.

These people at Stash Style are the coolest. The whole team. Coolness. Think hipster hippie cowgirl, tough bitch, no-holds-barred, whiskey-slinging Martha Stewart.

Some things are NOT important. You are so right, sign.

Maggie wanted to dig this up and take it home. She thought someone dropped it. I had to explain why that that was probably not a good idea. #boots #brownbootjeggingtwins

This band, Thomas Wesley Stern. Like them. They were very good (great harmonies, picking - loved the original songs). Maggie had a giant crush on the cello player (that is a cello right?? The gigantic instrument on the left??). Also, the banjo player had the bluest eyes I have ever seen.

We've decided to be glampers. Not #clampers (certain family members will get this). #Glampers

I want to sit and eat and read here. Just for a few days. With no cell phone. In complete quiet. With crickets. PS I think we had this exact camper when I was a kid. I ate many a breakfast at a set-up like this:).  Sisters on the Fly

The "Love You to the Moon and Back" sign fits perfectly in the vignette over the bed.

My favorite purchase of the whole day. I don't really drink whiskey (my mom does), but no one needs to know that. Stash Style

My new favorite pillow. At home in the rocker that has soothed many a broken heart. Otherwise known as "the Rocker with the Perfect Creak."

This pillow. So comfy and I love it. From French Laundry

This metal Arhaus feather tray. Now I'm just waiting on my Arhaus chair to go with it. ... Our house is a very very very fine house.  

Maggie's favorite purchase (also from Stash Style).

My favorite pic of the whole day. My little girl on the border between being a little girl and someone much more aware of the world.

Me. In the Looking Glass. I have to take a pic like this every year:).
We did score some mums on the way out:). Here's one keeping our owl company. And look at those fallen leaves. Autumn is here for sure.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Thrill of the Hunt: Country Living Fair Finds

The Country Living Fair is tomorrow. I am beyond excited!! (Dear God, please do not let my sister-in-law go into labor tomorrow so that I can still go;)). In anticipation of the event, I am sharing again my post after my first year's visit. If you are there and see me out and about, say Hello:)!!!


There is nothing quite like the thrill of the find. After hunting and hunting ... and hunting through booth after booth, pile after pile, you see it. No, not Stephen King's clown, but that thing you just can't live without.

This past weekend, I attended the Country Living Fair with my mom, aunt, and future sister-in-law. Held in Columbus, Ohio every fall (there are also fairs in Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA), the fair is filled to the brim with kitschy crafts, decently priced antiques, architectural salvage, hand-made jewelry, camel saddles turned into shelving units - if you want it, it's probably there, tucked away in some corner underneath feedbag pillows and vintage photos.

What became quickly apparent as we wandered through the vendors' wares was that each of us had a different it. Just like in King's novel, where the monster turns into whatever the person fears most, the objects we desired emerged from our subconscious, the pattern of our collections revealing the patterns of our personalities.  My mom was on the hunt for unique jewelry, eventually buying a bracelet made of typewriter keys. My aunt's sole purchase was a tiny basket (I take that back, she also bought a $5.00 loaf of bread, which we teased her about mercilessly). Some of my earliest memories are of my aunt's basket collection; she had them hanging from her walls, her ceilings - everywhere. Funny enough, she is kind of like a basket herself; she likes to hold everyone together, keeping us all in one place as much as possible.

As for me, my it items speak to me. Quite literally. I usually buy things with words or images that capture my imagination. One of my favorite purchases ever is a sign that says, simply, "Simplify," which I have hung over the front door of each of the houses we have lived in to remind me to live my life as simply as possible. Unfortunately, I tend to "complicate." Here's what I bought.

We tell the story of ourselves through our possessions, the objects possessed by our spirits. In a way, this is a sad thing, because material things are so ephemeral, and no one can fully grasp the meaning of your possessions to you, not really. Oh well. I will continue to surround myself with the things I love. Looking at them makes me happy.

Oh, and if you go to the fair this year or next, eat some Jeni's salty caramel ice cream. The stuff is unbelievable. A/J


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life is Short: The Sage Advice of My Yoga Mat

This is your life. Do what you love.
My yoga mat is falling apart. I bought it on sale at a T.J. Maxx about three years ago, and it leaves little flakes of itself wherever I take it, but I just can't bring myself to throw it out.


Because it has really good advice. Every time I roll it out, it reminds me of certain idealisms (some perhaps unrealistic; I prefer to live as an optimist). Here they are:

This is your life. 
Do what you love, and do it often. 
If you don't like your job, quit. 
If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love. *Disclaimer: Hey. I didn't say it was grammatically correct.
Stop over-analyzing. Live is simple. 
All emotions are beautiful. 
When you eat, appreciate every bite. 
Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. 
Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your passion with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once. Seize them. 
Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating. 
Live your dream, and wear your passion. 
Life is short. 

We could all stand to open our minds to much of this advice. Here's to wearing your passion! And to yoga;). A/J


Monday, September 8, 2014

Green Tomato Turkey Chili

Green Tomato Turkey Chili. Yum.
The green tomatoes are back. If you're a reader who has been around for a while, you will know that I went completely nutso over green tomatoes last year (see the "fried" green tomatoes here and my monster spaghetti here). My mother's garden always teems with these unripened gems this time of year, and it seems a tragedy to let them go to waste.

Tonight, I made a Green Tomato Turkey Chili that every member of my family scarfed down (and declared was delicious - this, if you know my daughter, Sophie, is an absolute victory, because the kid rarely wants to eat anything but mac and cheese and quesadillas). Green Tomato Turkey Chili for the win!

Here's what I started with. I love shopping in my mother's garden.  
Here's how to make it.  

1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil has reached temperature, add 1/2 a medium-sized onion, diced. Season with salt and pepper. Once the onion has started to become translucent and brown around the edges, add two cloves of garlic, minced. Cook for about one minute.
2. Add and brown one pound of ground turkey. Season again with salt and pepper. While the turkey is cooking, chop one large red pepper and two cubanelle or banana peppers (you choose, based on the level of heat you like).
3. Once the turkey is cooked through, add two tablespoons of pepperoncini juice and scrape any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the peppers to the mixture.

It will look something like this at this point.
5. Cook for about two minutes, and then dice three green tomatoes and 5-6 ripe roma tomatoes directly into the pot. Add one tablespoon of smoked Hungarian paprika, one tablespoon of Ancho chile pepper, and one tablespoon of Adobo (leave out the Adobo if you are trying to eat really clean).
6. Add one can of diced tomatoes (I used these Mexican Fiesta with Lime Juice ones from Aldi, and they add just the right amount of zing). Again, if you're worried about eating really clean, leave out the canned tomatoes and add more fresh red tomatoes, the juice of one lime, and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

7. Reduce and let the mixture cook on medium-low heat until it has reached the consistency you like - i.e. longer for a thicker, richer soup; shorter for a soup that has more of a broth.

I served this chili with my absolutely favorite summer salad, something that I ate almost every night when I was a kid. Slice up two cucumbers and four green onions (tops too), and mince one handful of dill. Throw all of that into a bowl. Add a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper to taste, a large dollop of sour cream (or greek yogurt for the health conscious), and the juice of one lemon. Mix it up. Eat. It's really that simple.

Sour Cream and Dill Cucumber Salad
 Enjoy! See you tomorrow:). A/J