What I'm reading now.

It's snowing -  a big event here in NC.  It is really piling up and the perfect opportunity to pull out a book.  Today I'm reading "Theft By Finding" by David Sedaris.  As is usually the case with Sedaris, it's a laugh out loud book, with plenty of serious stuff tucked in

You can buy it here, or by clicking on the book photo.

 

I love David Sedaris and his kind of humor.  It's dry, sad, honest and hilarious--a quirky combination that's very human.  I can't take his books to waiting rooms because they make me laugh too hard.

The link is because I'm an Amazon affiliate.  That means if you buy something through the link, I get a small payment that doesn't affect your price at all.  I appreciate your use of links I post.

As soon as you have the chance, grab a book that makes you laugh.

Ciao,

Anne

 

Blogging, pretty pictures and an awesome recipe for a winter meal

Today's post is just a bit of a ramble.  Don't you think we should all sit down with a cup of coffee, put up our feet and ramble every now and then?  Today's my day.

sunday_morning.jpeg

I wish I was one of those designers with endless energy who can seemingly run a business AND write interesting blog posts featuring pretty pictures of world travels, incredible rooms and adorable children in riding habits.  However:

A) I am not

B) I strongly suspect they're not either, but it's not my job to call out the huge amount of smoke and mirrors it must take to pull that off.

I'm a working woman with an average amount of energy. Smoke and mirrors are nowhere to be found.  My house is charming and we love it, but it's not Pinterest worthy, if you know what I mean.  Housework and I don't pal around a whole lot, but most rooms have some semblance of order going on.  The usual exception is the kitchen island.  It's always covered with mail, lists and stuff that appears out of nowhere.  And recently our sweet dog, Raven, has decided that the couch is quite comfy, so that's a new place to find large amounts of dog hair.  But we're working on the island and shooing Raven off the couch. 

brave_dog.jpeg

About the blog: I like writing, but it takes way more time than I usually have.   If you're reading this, you should follow my Instagram account--I LOVE taking pictures with my iPhone and it's fun to put them on Instagram because it's super easy.  I generally take photos of things or moments that give me a quick dose of joy and of course I want to share that joy, hence the current love of the Insta.  

red_tulips

About the pretty pictures: as I know I've mentioned before, my darling hub and I are raising our grandson.   Grandboy is 12, almost 13.  He's a super kid and we love him madly, but it's a tough age, reeking with hormones.  Our days are filled with activities and eye rolls, snarky comments, deep sighs and being told that we are annoying or embarrassing him.  Sigh.  Yeah, the deep sighs are coming from me.  Moments of joy sustain me.  They sustain every mom--and every grandmother.  Those pretty pictures are reminders of the beauty that's all around us.

fairy_lights_china_closet.jpeg

Slow mornings, flowers, pets and fairy lights on timers in my china cabinet give me long moments of joy.  I hope you have special things in your home that do the same for you.

Here's the promised easy recipe for a wonderful winter meal.  We'll call it "Mom's Lamb Recipe" because my mom made it and I have no idea what she called it. 

The ingredients are as follows:

Lamb - bone in.  Mom used to make this with lamb neck pieces, I think.  They were usually a cheap cut in the grocery store. I happened upon a sale price for lamb chops, so used those. Lamb is an easy meat to cook with.

Carrots (a regular size bag, cleaned)

Potatoes (I used 4 medium ones, peeled)

Green peppers (1 1/2 or 2, cleaned and seeded)

Onions ( 1 1/2 or 2, peeled)

1  14-16 oz. can Hunts tomato sauce

Garlic (I use up to a tablespoon of the prechopped garlic)

Salt and pepper (you decide how much you like)

Bay leaf if you want  (my mom always used bay leaves, what they add is a mystery to me)

 

roasted lamb recipe step 1.jpeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut everything up, including the lamb, into big chunks and spread out in a large pan.  I'm not sure if a cookie sheet would work.  I always use a broiler pan or a big roasting pan.  Sprinkle some garlic (not a lot),  salt and pepper.  

roasted lamb recipe step 2.jpeg

Pour that can of tomato sauce over all.  Give it a big stir.  Put in preheated oven.  Cook for 2 hours, stirring one more time after an hour.  Your house is going to smell SO good!  Yes, it cooks for 2 hours.  You can throw this together any day if you work from home.  Otherwise it's a weekend dish.  Would make a fabulous, old fashioned Sunday dinner and takes MUCH less effort than roasting a chicken with all the accoutrements.  Everything is in this pan.

roasted lamb recipe done.jpeg

Two hours later, take it out and serve.  You can add a salad or bread if you want.  It's so so  good.  The tomato sauce cooks into everything.   

Thanks for letting me ramble.  Enjoy your day!

Ciao,

Anne

3 Tips For Fireplace Updates

fireplace_mantel_before.jpg

Are you ready to update your fireplace?  If so, I've got 3 tips to share with you, along with a couple of photos from a recent project.  Above is the "before" fireplace photo.  My clients wanted to put the flat screen tv above the mantel and bring a more transitional style in the room. 

Here's what we did:

stacked_stone_fireplace_holly_springs_nc.jpg

It's like someone turned on the lights!

Tip #1 - create more visual space on the fireplace wall.  We did it by pulling the new custom window treatments over to the side.  This gives a more open feeling.

Tip #2 - use a new material.  In this case, we tore the whole sheetrock, brick and wood face down and rebuilt it with stacked travertine.  The stone wraps to the wall, creating 3" sides so it doesn't look flat.  The mason had to replace the old sheetrock with Durock cement board, but that's standard when working with heavy tile.  The hearth floor got a sturdy porcelain tile.  Looks fabulous!

stone_fireplace_wood_mantel.jpg

Tip #3 - Consider using a nice chunky board from the lumberyard as your mantel.  This piece of poplar, stained a walnut color by our crackerjack carpenter,  is less rustic, more refined than a reclaimed beam.  He also created what I'll call a backsplash with the poplar because we made the whole shebang a little lower than the old fireplace.  With 9' ceilings, we needed more breathing space for the TV.  I think the sound bar (sitting in the center of the mantel) looks better in front of wood rather than a painted sheetrock wall.  

fireplace_update_artwork_onecoast.jpg

Tip #4 - this isn't really a tip, it's a thought.  I understand the desire to get rid of entertainment centers, so the TV has to go somewhere--often it's above the fireplace.  But look how pretty the room is with a piece of artwork on the wall!  This is "Misty No. 1" by the talented Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design.  I photoshopped it in, with her permission.  I love the frameless style.

Take a look at where the TV used to reside in the room:

entertainment center.jpeg

This was a perfectly nice custom built entertainment center, about 16 years old.  Isn't it amazing how things have changed over those years?  It's hard to keep up with everything about TV's, including how to install them!

To recap - visually lighten the space, change out your hearth material and use a chunky piece of wood as a mantel.  Then light that fire and enjoy!

Ciao,

Anne