Blessed by Blooms & Happy Easter
Hello, my lovelies!
April brought flowers to our little cottage home -- indoors and out! But here's our secret: they are all faux. Yep, after years of planting real flowers and succulents in other places that we lived, in Arizona it's easier to "grow" faux flowers! They look so real but we don't have to water or weed them or change out the soil or fertilize or ... :) I still love real flowers, of course, but as a "seasoned 60s senior" now, I know my limits of time and abilities and gardening and all it entails is no longer a priority so this is a nice alternative to still get the beauty without the labor.
Our new wreath makes me smile! (As I write this it's 35% off if you want one!) It's perfect for the front of the trellis Steve installed for me a few months ago and I love the bright colors of the flowers.
When people walk in our neighborhood the many brightly colored doors and outdoor decor make people smile as they walk by. I've noticed people seem to be painting their doors a pretty color more. One row of cottages on a street next to us has many new pretty front doors in various colors of the same style door which makes me wonder if they all got together and negotiated a bulk door sale! :) In any event, it looks charming!
These new faux blooms make me so happy too -- so full and colorful that they look real and the color is a nice distraction from our utilitarian shoe and mask basket on our step. They are also UV resistant so in our hot AZ sun that's a good thing!
Steve just hung this new blooming beauty on the side of our house where I can see it outside our kitchen window when it's open. Similar. We considered whether to put up a hummingbird feeder, but with the intense Arizona heat in the summer Steve was worried the nectar could be not good for the birds if it got too hot/rancid so we hung this faux bloom instead. And I like the bird hanger. Similar. We get a lot of wind here some days, so Steve put a few rocks in the bottom to help the possibly wildly-swinging-plant cause along and that worked!
It's a big drought in the Southwest currently, so the palm trees and cactus are looking a little worse for wear right now. Some of the cactus are actually tipping over. That is sad because it takes a very very long time for them to grow large.
I also like to use flowers inside our home, and these new flocked floral blankets even make me feel like I'm napping in a garden! They are SO nice, especially for the price. They washed up like a dream and the floral design is raised and "furry" -- not just printed, so that makes them extra cozy.
Also, these silk zippered pillowcases are my absolute favorite and the floral patterns are beautiful, no matter which ones I have bought over the years. Great gift too for Mother's Day so your special Mom feels like a Queen! You'll sleep like a dream on these I'd bet -- I do!
Steve and I are enjoying our "flowered bed" for our movie nights in front of our TV. BTW, if you missed our free "scientific experiment" of how to measure to buy the right size new TV for your room, go here.
Some of our favorite shows we have watched lately on our new TV and really enjoyed are:
Kirsten & Joerg -- An adorable German couple who moved to England and they share wonderful videos of both countries as well as recipes and their beautiful DIY home decor renovations. We smile at their interactions as a longtime married couple with distinct personalities -- fun and funny! Steve and I are both of German descent and we are also both longtime Anglophiles as American Episcopalians since the early 80s too so we love watching their videos. We also share their love of inns, however our inn travels have been across the U.S. vs. Europe.
Escape to the Country -- Tours of English homes with interesting pix and tidbits about English country life thrown in. Beautiful scenery. Bliss!
Dietmar & Nellia -- Oh my, can this senior German couple dance!! So fun to watch them and the looks on the young people's faces watching them is priceless - they love them!
Here is the girl in the garden painting hanging above my desk. Steve says it reminds him of me when he met me at age 18. The garden scene in the pix is really pretty in person -- very realistic. I love Glover's floral paintings and have another one that is a total favorite.
BTW, if you have a window in a room you can still hang a picture over it. Read on below to find out my little trick!
And yes, I love my organizing trolleys. They are not fine furniture, but you just can't beat them for sorting things so it's all SO functional.
Just attach some cording or ribbon to the back of the picture and tie a bow at the top. Then hang it on a C-hook that you have installed in the wall behind the curtain. Presto! You can raise or lower the picture by varying the length of the cording.
Here's an easy way to make your living room, (or any room), look more spacious and open ...
Remove some things. There, I said it.
And move the remaining things around.
We took out two chairs and a rug that was more old-fashioned in design and we removed some small wall items. Steve carted them all off to Goodwill as we didn't want to mess with trying to resell them and it makes us feel good to donate things that no longer feel right for us in our home because someone else will use and like them most likely.
We angled our loveseat in the corner. Doing all that opened up our small living room a lot. Our coffee table we already had and it is purposely glass since the room is small and glass tables help a room feel less cramped.
We also added a simple foyer table and fireproof storage carriers. After surviving the CA wildfires in 2007, I learned to have fireproof carriers and keep them as close to the front door as you can. And I wanted a table that sort of floated and was more modern. I like mixing old styles and new. (To a point.) We also added colorful and more modern feeling floral style rugs, (similar), and just one simple succulent arrangement on top the table in our living room.
Everything is streamlined really well now in our home and it feels so much more open and "flowy" and yes, "gardeny" too in our living room which is what we were going for.
I might repaint the white cube cabinet in our living room one day. Who knows?! It holds Steve's tools and some paint. Steve cut the legs off of it a couple years ago so it would fit next to our coffee bar with a hamper on top for the right height. Oh well, then we moved it again but It's fine!
Soon we are going to put the ice maker machine we just bought on top of the cube cabinet. We do not have an ice maker in our freezer and in Arizona in the summer, you need ice! We are looking forward to making iced tea and iced coffee soon and sitting outside in our cabana.
New pillow covers added some more flowers!
BTW, new pillow covers are one of my favorite dollarwise ways to change out your decor, along with colorful throws and new rugs.
How are your pillows and rugs looking lately? Do you need to spruce them up?! Nobody would blame you for spending a little money on new ones since you have been in lock down staring at your same decor for 2+ years now and can probably use a change-out!
Our living room is not perfectly balanced due to the gray file holders, but that's okay. It needed function first and the rest just has to be okay and not magazine-worthy and that's fine by us.
Things are also blooming again in our at-home Bechen Bistro. (bistro sign) We streamlined all our fave recipes into one binder. But for most dishes we cook we just make it up as we go. Hearty comfort foods are our favorite cook-at-home fare, made from whole fresh ingredients.
As Steve says: "Let's save the pretty foo-foo food for when we go back to eating out." I agree.
Simple is best when you make 352 days a year worth of your own meals at home which we have done for the past two years. We have had all our groceries delivered, but no take-out, no take-in, no restaurant deliveries. No ready-made deli beans and coleslaw and potato salad. Nada. We have made it all! And NO, we do not have any desire to open a restaurant in the future on the off-chance you might be wondering. :) And thank goodness for Amazon Fresh grocery delivery! They have done a wonderful job with our deliveries. I tried others but it's worth it to me for their efficiency which saves me time and all the produce etc. has been wonderful.
Steve is helping lots with our cooking these days since he retired from his full-time career last year. We team it depending on the day. He has really enjoyed learning to expand on his once-small-cooking-repertoire of "college guys cuisine" --- a.k.a. tuna noodle casserole! :) When I complimented him recently on how much he has improved on his "clean up as you go" method, he replied good-naturedly: "Well with a small kitchen you HAVE to do it that way!" I laughed because at one point I suddenly realized he had never learned to clean up as you cook so it was time for this teacher to teach him that skill! And now, he tells me that's how it has to be in a small kitchen, God love him. (Kind of like a reformed smoker who preaches "stop smoking!" to all, right?!) He's laughing as I read this to him and said: "It's all in good fun!"
For Steve's recent special occasion dinner, I brought out his favorite color tablecloth: green! He is half Irish so he loves green. I put some little faux succulents on the table for a little garden-y zing. They usually sit on my kitchen window ledge so I just grabbed them for the table.
And these are the "copycat" Runza recipe I made in memory of our many years living in Omaha, Nebraska where Runzas are a big deal. Think cold snowy days and nights made easier with a warm homecooked yummy!
I just wrapped bread dough I made from scratch (any recipe you like) around sautéed plant sausages, onion, and peppers. I added a bit of shredded plant cheese on top of the "meat" mixture and baked them for about 30 minutes or so. Delish! To go with the Runzas I made potato salad which was a good combo.
For Easter, I made two loaves of what I am calling "tea bread." I doubled this vegan muffin recipe, which is wonderfully tasty, and I put lemon and lemon zest in one and topped it with crushed pecans. (Lemons from our own tree!) The other loaf I added vanilla, blueberries, and peaches. Both turned out really nice and I sliced them and Steve wrapped each slice in foil for the freezer. Now when we have coffee or tea as a break in the afternoon we can just pop a slice in the microwave and slice in two again and share. YUM!
Thanks to those of you who have emailed me Easter greetings, and blessings to you this Easter.
A beautiful song about the true meaning of Easter; this one makes me cry every single time.
My favorite book about Christianity that I first read when I was just 21 years old is Mere Christianity and C.S. Lewis is by far still my favorite Christian author.
The cross above is from my personal collection. The butterfly was a gift sent to me when I was very ill from author Alexandra Stoddard and her late husband author Peter Brown.
The vase under the cross and butterfly says: BLOOM. This is my wish for all of us!
Blessings, blooms, and Happy Easter and springtime to you and yours,
P.S. If you need easy DIY home helps, here you go ...