Saturday Potpourri

Early in the morning I started a pot of potpourri on the back of the stove.

Oranges, rosemary, and vanilla bean.
Oranges, rosemary, and vanilla bean.

This time I substituted oranges for lemons.

We met a nice young sales representative at our local Lumber Liquidators.
We met a nice young sales representative at our local Lumber Liquidators.

Then Charlie and I rode out to Lumber Liquidators to look at the unfinished red oak flooring.

The middle sample matches our floors.
The middle sample matches our floors.

It was much like the flooring we had installed in the new sections of the house except the finish was a little rougher. We got a quote for the conservatory floor but intend to look at a few more places before we make a decision.

Party supplies in 3 shades of green.
Party supplies in 3 shades of green.

Just next door to Lumber Liquidators was a Party City where we stopped to buy plates, napkins, and cups for next week’s party.

My new denim blue chukkas.
My new denim blue chukkas.

Finally we went to the Timberland outlet to buy shoes for Charlie and me that we could hike and ride mules when we get to the Grand Canyon this fall.

Have you had experience with discount flooring stores?

Just in Time for Cinco de Mayo

One of my favorite chips, something I like better than crackers or corn chips, is flour tortilla chips.

Flour tortillas, olive oil, salt, pepper
Flour tortillas, olive oil, salt, pepper

I usually make them myself from flour tortillas, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spread triangles of tortilla on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread triangles of tortilla on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the tortillas in triangles and place on a baking tin. Drizzle with olive oil and shake on salt and pepper.

Keep an eye on the tray so they don't burn.
Keep an eye on the tray so they don’t burn.

Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy.

A plate of tortilla chips will be popular with family and guests.
A plate of tortilla chips will be popular with family and guests.

These are delicious served alone or with salsa, queso, nacho-style with melted cheese and salsa on top.

Chips on the buffet were served with salsa.
Chips on the buffet were served with salsa.

A sweet version of these chips can be made by substituting cinnamon sugar for the salt and pepper.

Do you have a simple recipe with less than 5 ingredients that you enjoy?

Gathering the Chairs

I’ve started gathering together my outside chairs.

We "stored" the chairs out in the yard over the winter.
We “stored” the chairs out in the yard over the winter.

We stored the lawn chairs behind the garden because the shed was full of shutters.

Last winter we failed to put our lawn furniture away so it's very dingy.
Last winter we failed to put our lawn furniture away so it’s very dingy.

The lawn furniture definitely needs to be scrubbed which Charlie has offered to do.

The French garden chairs hang on the back wall of the shed.
The French garden chairs hang on the back wall of the shed.

I also have about 10 French garden chairs which I did store in the shed over the winter.

Our blue metal garden table flanked by French folding chairs.
Our blue metal garden table flanked by French folding chairs.

They need repair because they are about 25 years old.

French garden chairs and lawn chairs
French garden chairs and lawn chairs

Until they are fixed I will use seat cushions on them.

Heavy folding chairs from the attic can be used inside or out.
Heavy folding chairs from the attic can be used inside or out.

And I also found 2 folding chairs in the attic

Old fashioned folding chair.
Old fashioned folding chair.

along with a chair I recovered to match the card tables.

Bistro Chair - Metallic Charcoal
Bistro Chair – Metallic Charcoal

That should be enough to start.

Any idea how to fix the slats on the French garden chairs?

Summer Book Club 2016

As I related here I have a goal of hosting a Book Club.

I look forward to lively discussions.
I look forward to lively discussions.

I guess my mind is on books because:

  1. I’m having a book swap.
  2. I don’t read as much as I used to.
  3. I love to read.

My first plan of action was to choose a book.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I’ve decided to go with a Pulitzer Prize winning classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird.  I’ve seen the movie but I don’t ever remember reading the novel so I’m excited to get started.

I created a syllabus/invitation which can be hand delivered, emailed, or mailed.
I created a syllabus/invitation which can be hand delivered, emailed, or mailed.

I mapped out a plan for reading and discussing the book which I put into a letter that would serve both as an invitation and syllabus for the study. The group will be limited to 8 people. 

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird

I wanted to make the expectations clear from the beginning so the people who commit to the group can presume that others will do the assignments and be on hand for our weekly discussions.

Mockingbird
Mockingbird

To start with I sent the invitation to about 20 people via email, U.S. postal service, and hand delivery.  The first person I cleared the invitation with was Charlie.  He informed me he can’t promise to do the reading so he’s opting out. Perhaps he’ll take over the chore of providing hot and cold beverages for the group. It would be quite extraordinary to have our own barista.

Hoping to use the conservatory as out discussion venue.
Hoping to use the conservatory as our discussion venue.

If enough people opt in — 4 minimum — we’ll give it a go.  I plan to supply the books so that we’ll all be working from the same edition when citing pages and paragraphs.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch

After we read the book I would plan for the group to watch the movie starring Gregory Peck in the conservatory.

What is your favorite classic novel?

Attacking My 101 in 1001

In order to finish my challenge of executing 101 tasks in 1001 days, I decided to focus on a few tasks at a time.

Not on the list -- Hoping the sinks will be installed this week.
Not on the list — Hoping the sinks will be installed this week.

In the past week I have completed:

#23  Do an anonymous favor.

I enlisted an unknowing accomplice to give a thank you card with cash enclosed to a person who is struggling to finance a children’s ministry.

#28  Put a note somewhere (like in a book) for a stranger to find.

Here’s a task I will probably never know the outcome of.  The note was encouraging and tucked in a hymnal.  

#87  Send anonymous flowers to someone.

The urns at work are filled with cheery flowers.
The urns at work are filled with cheery flowers.

I decided to get a hanging basket instead of cut flowers. When I couldn’t find one as pretty as the flowers filling the urns at work, our farm manager offered to provide one.  I left it on the steps of an unsuspecting friend.

#94  Organize cookbooks.

My cookbooks are in a shambles.
My cookbooks are in a shambles.
Neater and easier to access.
Neater and easier to access.

The cookbooks are still old and torn but no longer in disarray.

Now that these are accomplished, I’m attacking 4 more tasks.

#15 Host a Book Club.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I’m not sure I know 8 people who would like to read a book together and discuss it.  At first I thought I’d choose a short book but now I’ve decided to go with a classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird.  After we read the 384 page book I would plan to watch the movie starring Gregory Peck.

#43 Treat a friend to lunch.

Salad and Duck in Paris was a nice lunch.
Salad and Duck in Paris was a nice lunch.

This should be so easy and so done by now.  Problem is I work during the week where lunch is provided which leaves only Saturdays and Sundays to complete this item.  The person I was planning to take to lunch just told me she prefers not to eat in restaurants so maybe I’ll have to think in another direction.  But actually the wording allows for me to prepare lunch and offer it.  I think I’m the one who would actually like to go out to a restaurant. I’m shooting for finishing this on Saturday.

#50 Read the Bible in a year.

I'll be reading the books in chronological order.
I’ll be reading the books in chronological order.

Since my 101 Tasks in 1001 Days ends a little more than a year from now, I realized I’d better get started.  There are a number of methods to reading the Bible:

Beginning to End: Read the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.

Chronological: Read the Bible as its events occurred in real time. For example, Job lived sometime after the beginning of creation (Genesis 1) but before Abraham was born (Genesis 12). As a result, the Book of Job is integrated into the Book of Genesis.

Historical: Read the books of the Bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.

New then Old: Read through the New Testament first, then read through the Old Testament.

Old and New: Each day includes a passage from both the Old Testament and New Testament.

I’m choosing “Chronological” and using this website. I’ll be starting May 1st. 

#83 Visit a botanical garden.

Baltimore's Victorian Botanical Garden structure.
Baltimore’s Victorian Botanical Garden structure.

Spring should be a grand time to visit a botanical garden.  The most convenient one for me to visit is the Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.  Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10-4. Shooting for May 1st.

This is a more challenging list than the former. I started with the easiest items first.  But I’m encouraged to get keep going.

Do you have something special planned for this week?

Book Swap Menu

The Book Swap is planned for a Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. I have invited quite a few people.

Tables and chairs set up in the back yard.
Tables and chairs set up in the back yard.

I know I’ve missed someone but I was hoping for at least 20 and maybe more like 40 people.

So many books.
So many books.

Each person is supposed to bring 10 books. Four hundred is better than 200 in terms of selection.  Also, the festival spirit rises with more people chatting and mingling.

We had an old Dutch oven in the Cottage attic that I'm planning to cook the pulled pork in.
We had an old Dutch oven in the Cottage attic that I’m planning to cook the pulled pork in.

Between 2 p.m. and 4 or 5 I don’t believe people will expect a meal.  I wanted an easy menu that would leave me free to mingle also.

Charlie will barbecue the chicken.
Charlie will barbecue the chicken.

Charlie, on the other hand, likes to have a task so I’ve incorporated that, too, into the menu.

Book Swap Menu

  • Grilled chicken thighs (Charlie’s chore)
  • Pulled pork sliders
  • Tortellini salad
  • Fruit
  • Bread and butter pickles
  • Ice Cream sandwiches
  • Iced tea

One departure from my usual presentation will be paper plates and napkins and plastic utensils and cups.  That is not my usual M.O. but with the main focus being “the books,” disposable products should simplify our serving and cleaning up process.

We have a fairly new trash can that can be used outside.
We have a fairly new trash can that can be used outside.

I don’t want to forget easily accessible trash bins.

What have I missed?

A Clearing in the Attic

As we’ve been bringing books down from the attic for the Book Swap we saw other things that could also be removed.

Top of the attic steps -- Before.
Top of the attic steps — Before.

Usually looking left at the top of the attic steps the view was totally packed with boxes and baskets.

The same view after a little clearing.
The same view after a little clearing.

After removing a couple of boxes of books, a bookshelf, and 2 leaves for the dining room table I can actually see attic floor.

I have a pair of these old Ikea bookshelves.
I have a pair of these old Ikea bookshelves.

The bookshelf is going out on the porch.

Usually the dining room table is 72 inches long.
Usually the dining room table is 72 inches long.
The table now takes up the entire dining room and has lots of rooms for books.
The table now takes up the entire dining room and has lots of rooms for books.

Charlie and I turned the dining room table 90 degrees and added 2 leaves which  creates a 120-inch long table.

I'll have to sort my books.
I’ll have to sort my books.

Next item is to make labels for the various categories of books:

  • Fiction: Adventure, Romance, Mystery
  • Self help and Health
  • Children
  • Religion, Spirituality, Prayer
  • Science, Math, Computers
  • Anthologies, Poetry
  • Cookbooks
  • Biographies, Autobiographies
  • DIY, Décor, Art
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy

Have I omitted your favorite genre?