Well that didn’t last long.

Dear friends,

lovepillow

Remember how I told you I tackled a couple of big projects to keep me busy during my first summer of empty nesting?

Well, yeah. It’s already over.

I don’t know what I was thinking because everybody knows I go crazy when I start something. (Honestly, I can start and finish a project faster than most people can think one up.)

I finished the guest room makeover earlier this week and it’s left me scratching my head. So what’s an idle girl to do but enroll in an online class on foundation paper piecing (a rather complicated quilting technique) in an effort to stay busy.

Anyway Parker’s room, er the guest room, looks so much better.

Before I show it to you, though, I want to show you my inspiration photo. I was browsing through Pinterest and admired it. About a day later my brain clicked and I decided “Hey, I think I’ll make over the spare bedroom like that photo I saw.”

inspiration

Source: Pinterest

I love the combination of spa blue walls, black drapes, natural blinds, navy and red accents and the green chevron pillow. The room I’m working with is small so I wouldn’t have nearly as much space for furniture and accessories, but I knew I could make my own version work.

Here’s my interpretation:

bedroom

For such a small room with so few accessories, there was a lot to do. I painted the golden oak bed and dresser black, and painted the antique oak mirror white. I painted the walls. I bought new bedding, added curtains, a rug, and a nightstand. Changed out the lampshade and wall art. And added dresser-top accessories.  This, after cleaning out the closet and all the dresser drawers.

Since my room is small and I don’t have a wide angle lens, I couldn’t get a good shot of the dresser, but here’s my best try:

dressertop

Parker ribbed me about the mirrored tray. But when he inhabited this room full time, he had a bad habit of leaving his contact lens solution and case on the dresser. The solution he spilled daily on the dresser ruined the finish in several spots, so I instructed him that now, as a guest in this room, he needed to use the tray. I think he rolled his eyes while I was busy making the bed.

Mr. Mom ribbed me about the “goofy-dog-in-a-sweater plate.” I reminded him that at age 7, his son practically memorized our encyclopedia of dog breeds and can still recite chapter and verse of every breed known to man. “It’s an homage to Parker,” I countered. I think he and Parker both rolled their eyes as I carefully arranged the items on the dresser top. By the way — the glass vase replaces the pickle jar Parker throws his change in. Sometimes this crew I live with just needs a little classin’ up.

Here’s a better shot of the mirror:

mirror

Mr. Mom was aghast that I painted the hand-carved oak frame. But you know what? It didn’t bother me in the least. My mother gave this treasure to me  more than 30 years ago after literally pulling it out of a trash dumpster and replacing the broken mirror. It has hung in my home all of my adult life and I like to think she’d like the new look. After all, I get my urge to redecorate often from her. Every few months she was painting something, or refurbishing something, or moving things around. She had the itch just like me and I know she’d understand.

Here’s a shot of the bedside table and lamp:

bedsidetable

Parker’s girlfriend gave the guest room two thumbs up when she visited. Parker’s dirt-bike riding buddy dropped by and said “Dude. Your room turned girly.”

All I know is I’ve got two different groups of overnight guests coming later this summer and I think they’ll appreciate my efforts.

After all — look at this before photo:

before

I know. It was fine for my teenage boy — not so much for an idle empty nester.

You won’t be surprised to learn Mr. Mom encouraged me to “learn to sit on the porch” after hearing me wonder aloud “Now what?”

I tried it. For about 5 minutes before enrolling in my quilting class.

I’ve run out of rooms to make over, but I can sure spruce up a few beds.

With gratitude {for inspiration, energy, and an indulgent partner who patiently helped with moving furniture and all chores involving power tools},

Joan, who learned long ago from her friend Carolyn you ALWAYS paint the wall with select samples and study them in changing light for a few days before making a decision because NOBODY can make a good choice based on a paint chip

PS: I didn’t plan it this way, but the guest bedroom perfectly coordinates with the guest bathroom I redecorated a couple of years ago and featured in this post. Guess I’m more drawn to the black-blue-red combo than I realized.

PSS: In case you’re curious, the wall paint is Benjamin Moore’s Aura in Harbor Fog. It is one of this month’s House Beautiful featured colors, though I didn’t know that when I chose it. I never use anything but Benjamin Moore and their Aura line is pricy but smooth as silk and durable.

The best cake you’ll never bake.

Dear friends,

iceboxcake

I made a cake on Saturday that was not only a showstopper, it was surprisingly easy to put together. Combine showy with simple — and throw in amazingly good flavor — and you’ve got yourself a winner.

My friend Gina was hosting a pool party to celebrate the birthday of a mutual friend, Mary. We’re a group of ladies who have bonded around food so Gina wisely planned a potluck to take advantage of diverse culinary talents. I was tagged for the cake because . . . well you’ve read my blog before, right? Some would say I kind of have a thing for cakes.

But on this day of this week, I just couldn’t get myself revved up. Many of my favorite cakes require specialty ingredients and six or more hours from start to finish. After a week of working double shifts on my home improvement projects, I didn’t have it in me. Honestly, my friends were lucky I showered before I showed up.

Fortunately, I tripped across this Lemon & Thyme Icebox Cake on the blog She Wears Many Hats.

I won’t repeat all the ingredients and directions here because you can and should simply click on my link to her beautiful blog. But I will say a few things about this cake that the author doesn’t.

First, if you don’t have access to fancy-pants cookies, don’t sweat it. I live in a small town and all I could get my hands on was good ol’ vanilla wafers. They worked perfectly. You’ll need two boxes, and you’ll use about 20 cookies per layer.

Second, don’t be tempted (like I was) to use something other than honey to sweeten the cream. The combination of thyme, lemon and honey is both brilliant and sublimely simple. It’s why this recipe works, so don’t mess with it.

Third, make your candied lemons a day in advance. You don’t have to of course, but it’s a time saver you’ll appreciate. By the way, if you’ve never had candied lemons, don’t be tempted to skip this step. They are not only beautiful, they are addictive. Between Mr. Mom, Parker, and me, it’s a wonder we had any left to top the cake.

Fourth, when I first started whipping together the cream cheese, honey and lemon juice, it looked like a watery, curdled mess and I panicked. Don’t. Just keep whipping it with the electric beater and it will eventually come together. More whipping is good in this instance. Fear not!

Fifth, the first layer of this cake is a real challenge. Basically, you’re being asked to put a ring of cookies on a plate and smear them with a sticky mixture of honey and cream. The cookies simply won’t stay put and “spreading” the mixture on top of them is laughable. I ended up dropping mounds of the cream mixture on top and doing my best to smash it around in anything resembling a layer. But from then on, you’re home free because the cookies stick to the cream beneath them (kind of like tiles on grout) and it all works. Next time I make this, I might try putting a little cream mixture on the bottom of each cookie to see if I can get the first layer of cookies to stick to the plate.

Don’t worry about slicing the cake when you’re ready to serve it. (But do refrigerate it first for 2-3 hours. Despite the fact that the entire time I was assembling this cake, Mr. Mom and I were dunking Vanilla Wafers in the cream mixture and eating them, I think it tastes better chilled and you need time for the cookies to absorb the moisture of the cream.) Slice it like you would any cake and transport the slices from the cake stand to a plate with a cake server. You won’t have any trouble.

In case you’re curious, the cookies and the cream melt into a lovely texture that is — to me — reminiscent of Tiramisu. The combination of a light, lemony flavor with a light texture is perfect.

The next time you need an easy but elegant dessert, I hope you’ll give this one a try. After all, it’s Magpie tested and approved!

With gratitude {for other, more qualified bloggers with fantastic ideas just when I need them},

Joan, who came home from the party and took a two-hour nap, which alcohol aside, is in her book the sign of a really fabulous shin-dig

Home remedy.

Dear friends,

I took a few days off over Spring Break with ambitious plans, most of which didn’t come to fruition.

I spent my first day cleaning house and my second day re-organizing my dish pantry. Over the course of several months, the pantry had become a junk closet — one you  could no longer walk into because the floor was covered with piles of objects I was too lazy to put away. But by day’s end, it was clean, tidy and organized.

pantry

Despite my early productivity, additional plans to clean out my quilting cabinet, wash windows, take care of some nagging paperwork, and finish a quilt-in-progress never materialized.

Instead I watched television, took more naps than I can count, and abandoned my dreams of vacation productivity in favor of a very slow pace — so much so that by Friday evening, I was feeling pretty let down.

Whenever I’m feeling lethargic, there’s nothing like a day in the kitchen to re-charge my batteries. Cooking has long been my fail-safe home remedy to cure what ails me. Cooking and baking are both my motivation and my therapy.

I started early with a tried-and-true cake recipe. By the time Mr. Mom woke up and joined me for coffee, he wondered if someone had lent me a hand in the kitchen.

rear

Note to self: Black yoga pants aren’t the best baking attire. No wonder pastry chefs wear white.

After the cake, I set my mind to three new recipes culled from a cookbook by Food and Wine and one from a food blog. By 5:00 pm dinner was on the table, and oh what a table it was!

tabletop2

There was Maple Glazed Chicken with Mustard Jus; Brown Rice and Barley Tabbouleh with Apricot and Mint; Roast Zucchini with Ricotta; Romaine and Avocado Salad with Garlic-Anchovy Dressing; and Vanilla Layer Cake with Raspberry-Cointreau Filling and Chocolate Buttercream Icing.

When food is this good, it’s a treat.

When it’s beautiful too . . .

cake

It’s almost too good to be true.

And it totally makes up for a few undone projects.

With gratitude {for a happy Saturday to end my vacation and the best Spring Break meal in a million years},

Joan, who urges you to try every single one of these recipes because aren’t you hungry now? And PS: Is there anything that perks up a table more than a cheery vintage tablecloth?

Day 23: Gone to bed.

Dear friends,

cozy

On the 23rd day of this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the coziest place in my home, my bed.

It says a lot about me that the place I most enjoy being is in bed. In our household, the most common answer to “Where’s Mom?” is “She’s in bed.”

If I had my druthers, I’d put a bed in the living room. I have a daydream about living in a Manhatten studio where the bed and sofa compete for precious space and the bed wins out. After all, there’s nothing you can do on a sofa that you can’t do better and more comfortably in a great bed. Read, watch television, work, snack, nap, sleep — I do it all in our king-sized bed.

There’s nothing particularly luxe about my bed. My linens are standard fare from Macy’s and my pillows and comforter are from Ikea, But like the princess who hated the pea, I’ve stacked three foam pads on my department store mattress to create an improvised pillow-top surface worthy of the most delicate royalty.

That’s why our bed appears lopsided. Mr. Mom prefers firm mattresses, where firm equals a slab of stone. He chose an extra-firm Sealy while I chose an extra soft Sealy — and our marriage has been all the happier since we put two twin size mattresses together on our king sized bed frame some five years ago.

We also differ on blanket preferences, so this time of year his side of the bed is covered with a Pendleton wool blanket featuring a Native American motif I gave him as a birthday gift many years ago. My side of the bed is covered with a Vera Bradley floral fleece blanket that satisfies my feminine aesthetic and tactile sensibilities.  As a woman who’s known to have a very discerning sense of decor, I find it strange that the clash of the two very different blankets vying for space on top of our comforter doesn’t unnerve me.  But when I look at our bed, all I see is an idyllic Island of Comfort piled high with linens and pillows and blankets just waiting to envelop me.

Friday morning, it was 33 degrees with a stiff wind and  a light rain. To say I got a little chilled during my pre-dawn run is a bit of an understatement. I was so cold I came home and — instead of answering email and getting a head-start on the day’s work as I usually do — I crawled back under the covers and invited Mr. Mom to share some warmth with his frozen wife. The view outside our bedroom window was like a pen and ink drawing of a winter day, gray sky framing a stand of black, sculptural trees. As I savored the coziness and stillness and beauty of the moment, I thanked my lucky stars for the comfort of a good bed and a generous man.

With gratitude {for every moment spent in my favorite place},

Joan, who takes after her father who often said “There’s few pleasures in life more enjoyable than sleeping”

Day 7: Friends and beans.

Dear friends,

beans

I’ve long been a fan of Martha Stewart, even after she went to jail for insider trading. I’ve watched her show, purchased many of her books, and plopped down more than a few bills at Macy’s for her signature home goods. But when she recently criticized food bloggers — well, that’s more than I can stomach.

Practically all the new recipes I cook come from food bloggers. Some of my favorites are Rebecca at Foodie with Family, Lisa at the Cutting Edge of Ordinary, Ree at Pioneer Woman, Krysta at Evil Chef Mom and Annie at Phoo-D.

Krysta and Annie fall squarely into the “not professional” category that Martha dared to snark about — meaning they do it for the love of food and aren’t professional chefs, stylists or writers. Both have been on long hiatuses (they have real life to attend to), but I continue to go back to their archives regularly for favorite recipes. And I can only imagine how much Martha must look down her nose at Pioneer Woman. A home cook who landed on the NY Times Bestseller List and scored her own cooking show? Sacre bleu!

Every single one of women I’ve mentioned on my short list are individuals I’ve gotten to know outside their blogdom and whom I consider friends, even if our relationships are purely virtual. And who wouldn’t rather turn to a friend first for a great recipe?

So suck it, Martha. You’re talking out of your you-know-what on this one.

Case in point: Krysta reappeared on her blog this week with a new recipe that Mr. Mom made for me last night. It’s pure heaven and I want you — no I IMPLORE you — to try it.

Frijoles con todo, otherwise known as bean magic.

Click here for Krysta’s recipe. I won’t bother to say anything more than you deserve to cry in your beans in you never try these beans.

Mr. Mom wants you to know he doubled the recipe and thought it was just right for our family of three. That probably says more about our lumberjack appetites than Krysta’s recipe. I will simply say we ate 2-3 bowls each, because they’re that good, so you really might want to cook more.

With gratitude {for friends with great recipes and frijoles con todo, the perfect comfort food for a chilly fall night},

Joan, who’s also offering a shout-out for her home cook who takes requests, aka Mr. Mom

Space Jam.

Dear friends,

I’m seriously in need of help.

Organizational . . . financial . . . spatial/dimensional . . . psychological. Yep, maybe all four.

fabric

This is my dining room table. My dining room table is not supposed to look this way.

It’s supposed to look this way:

prettytable

We haven’t eaten a meal at the dining room table in more than a month — ever since I permanently camped out with my sewing machine and fabric. Right now I’ve got several projects going. A gift quilt for a friend. A mini-quilt for an online swap meet. Four new quilts for Magpie Quilts.

I desperately need a studio. A light and bright studio. One with a cutting station, a sewing station, a comfortable spot to bind, a design wall, fabric storage. I swear if Kate were one year farther along in college, I would evict her things from her bedroom and set up shop. Or if I could just sell that ratcha-fratching Oklahoma house, I’d demand to build a studio out back, college funds be damned.

I’m one of those women whose tidiness is well-documented. I can walk into a room and tell instantly if a book or a vase or a candle has been moved. We make our beds every day. Our car keys are hung on a hook by the back door. My throw pillows are plumped and positioned just so. My bathroom counters are pleasingly clear and my kitchen island causes me frustration if so much as the day’s mail clutters it. Heck, even our laundry is put away on a regular basis.

I do not leave piles on the dining room table.

Until now.

All I can say is I must really love quilting to tolerate this mess.

Quilting has even usurped Gunsmoke. I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to concentrate on my nightly television/cocktail ritual with Mr. Mom. Fortunately, he’s tolerant of both the disruption and the mess. (I know because I apologized to him. Yes, I’m the kind of nut who apologizes for leaving a mess on the dining room table because if the tables were turned — no pun intended, I promise — it would really annoy me. Just ask him about his laundry room desk.)

I don’t have a solution to my problem. I guess I’m just venting, which goes against my gratitude grain AND my problem-solver grain. I suppose I’m going to have to embrace the situation or risk rubbing my Buddhist-acceptance grain the wrong way, too.

With gratitude {for grains that mostly keep me in line},

Joan, who won’t be quilting OR watching Gunsmoke this weekend because she’s meeting some Okie friends for an overnight excursion to see the Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville, AR, and — for once — might have something nice to say about the Walton family fortune

My new favorite salad. Plus a perfect summer supper.

Dear friends,

This is one post where the food takes center stage.

Or in which I was more interested in eating my supper than taking photographs for my blog.

You decide, but either way you’ll have to trust me when I say this is a supper you’ll want to make . . . even without the obligatory photographs of mouth-watering food on a beautiful table to tempt you.

Here’s my token shot of beautiful food — then we’ll move on to the recipes:

salad

Interested now?

I thought so.

Here’s the line up:

  • Grilled flank steak
  • Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing
  • Turkish Potatoes

First — the steak. It couldn’t be simpler and here’s the recipe. I’ve made it several times with a tri-tip, but I tried it last night with a flank steak and achieved similarly spectacular results.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. I predict you’ll think it’s a go-to recipe that will significantly improve your life at the grill, but I’d like to hear it from you.

Second — the salad. Mr. Mom and I had dinner at a friend’s house Saturday night and she served this salad. It’s one of those dishes that the first time you eat it, you immediately begin planning the next time you’ll eat it. In our case, that meant the very next evening. I might have it two or three more times this week because it’s that good.

The salad is my friend’s concoction. The dressing is a recipe she modified from one in Southern Living. In total, it’s simply a plate layered with slices of yellow and red tomato, cucumber, shelled edamame, and white onion rings, then drizzled with fresh yogurt dressing. You can easily use less or more of each salad ingredient depending on your own taste and the number of people to be served.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • 1 large yellow tomato, sliced thinly
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, split in half lengthwise, then sliced
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into rings
  • Half of a 1-lb bag of shelled edamame, thawed

Arrange all ingredients on a platter in a layered fashion. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for two hours. Serves 4.

Yogurt Dressing

  • 1 4-oz container of plain nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Optional: 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours so flavors can meld. Optional: Serve the dressing with blue cheese crumbles on the side. Makes about 1.5 cups of dressing.

Now for the potatoes. They are also a gift from a friend. Because Dilek and her family are from Turkey, I call them simply “Dilek’s Turkish Potatoes.” When I make them, they taste fabulous but never look as good as hers. I can’t figure out why, but since taste rules, I’m okay with it.

Turkish Potatoes

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (I used Idaho)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or a little less, depending on your taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: lemon juice

Scrub and boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and let cool to the touch. When cool, the peelings should easily come off the cooked potatoes with your fingers. After peeling the potatoes, shred them with a box grater. Add the chopped herbs to the potatoes, along with salt and pepper to taste, then toss. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil — and, if desired, the juice of half a lemon — then gently stir to combine. Serves 6.

I love these potatoes because of their simple, fresh flavor. I also love these potatoes because they taste just as good warm, room temperature, or chilled. I often make them early in the day and let them sit on the kitchen counter until dinner. (They’re great for getting a jump-start on meal time.) Sometimes I re-heat them in the microwave, but trust me when I tell you they are just as good served at room temperature. For some reason, my potatoes never hold their shredded shape and look a bit crumbled. My friend’s potatoes were perfect and I can’t help but wonder if I have managed to overcook them every time. I’ve also wondered if it would improve the texture if I cooked them several hours in advance and chilled them before shredding. I have no idea, but I do know that even if you overcook your potatoes and they crumble instead of shred, they’ll still taste fabulous.

Here’s one final shot that I managed to snap with my iPhone before our family devoured the entire meal.

plate

With gratitude {for a perfect summer supper thanks to friends},

Joan, who wishes she could claim she eats this fresh and healthy every day, but has a pantry full of snacks that tell the real truth

Feeling blue.

Dear friends,

There inevitably comes a time in every vacation when the “Sunday night blues” set in. For me and my recent long stretch of time off, it started yesterday. I had four days left and I made the mistake of reading a few work-related emails. All of a sudden, my free-and-easy mindset evaporated and I started feeling edgy and glum.

I figured there was no better solution than to a tackle a project. Checking a box on my to-do list usually lifts my mood so I went blue-on-blue in an effort to shake my doldrums.

Here’s what I started with:

chair

I have eight of these chairs surrounding my dining room table. I recovered the seats in a silk fabric featuring red, gold, and camel stripes not long after I purchased them from an antiques dealer seven years ago.  They’ve seen plenty of wear as you can tell from the stains. I should have recovered them as soon as we moved, but you know how that goes. Plus, I could never make up my mind on a fabric choice.

Earlier this week, I received a shipment of fabric intended for a quilt. Turns out, I didn’t like a couple of my choices for a quilt project, but one was perfect for my chairs. Now they look like this:

chairs

How’s that for perked up?

I’m loving how well they (unintentionally) coordinate with my drapes and my new rug.

When we purchased this house two years ago, I spent a fair amount of time deriding the former owner’s proclivity for shades of blue. (I’d always been a green girl.) I immediately banished her blue Formica counter-tops but decided to live for a while with her high-end, blue shades in two rooms. Over time, I realized my green and her blue are awfully close together on the color wheel and can peacefully cohabitate.

bluehouse Collage

So I’m still feeling blue, but I’m no longer gloomy.

With gratitude {for pick-me-up projects done fast and cheap},

Joan, who welcomed a renter this week to her favorite house still for sale back home and is thrilled there’s a family living in the big white house in Mayberry

nowatahouseatnight2

A kitchen-counter supper.

Dear friends,

Despite my well-known evangelism regarding family suppers, especially those served on “properly set” tables, I thought you ought to know our household regularly shares informal meals around the kitchen island.

To wit, here’s a spread from earlier this week:

counter

There’s marinated, grilled chicken legs; deviled egg pasta salad; sauteed medley of mushrooms, spinach and yellow bell peppers; chocolate-banana cake; and a new dish of my own imagination I’m calling cauliflower panzanella.

Our kitchen island seats four — a bit of kismet since we are a family of the same number — so on nights where we don’t bother to set the table, we plop down around the island, sans linens and flowers, and dig in.

You know I’m unusually devoted to the rituals surrounding family meals. For me, the act of setting the table reflects the value I place on thoughtfully preparing and arranging our sustenance, which is also our best opportunity to connect and share with each other. Still, there’s usually no more than a couple of occasions each week where we gather around a dressed table, no matter how simple, so I also try to be thoughtful about our casual meals.

For me, that includes things like keeping the island clear (just because we’re eating in the kitchen doesn’t mean we have to do so amidst the prep mess); turning off the television (which I tend to watch while cooking) in order to nurture conversation; and maintaining a commitment to culinary variety.

Mr. Mom tends to believe 1 protein + 1 starch = a meal. Me? I like to see no fewer than three dishes, preferably four or five, on our menu. Some might see this as a conflict. I view it as a perfect example of the yin-yang alchemy of our marriage. When he cooks, he gets his way. When I cook, I get mine. As a result, we all get a little variety of both approaches and preparations.

In the end, there are no rules for family meals. But I like to think there are a few standards worth upholding. (Rules are imposed from an outside authority, whereas standards are embraced by choice. I think life could be made a whole lot better by fewer rules and more standards.) My standards include:

  1. Cooking a meal at home, no matter your definition of cooking. Don’t spend an ounce of energy on the argument between “from scratch” cooking and the “meals in a box” variety. Do what you enjoy and have time for, otherwise the whole point is lost in aggravation — and family meals are supposed to ease irritation.
  2. Sitting around a table or a counter together. Don’t be tempted to sit in the living room/den/television viewing area as it kills the opportunity for conversation and decompression. And by all means, don’t watch the news!
  3. Expressing interest in and gratitude for the food on your table and the person who prepared it. It’s just good manners and you might learn something along the way, as well as cultivate a greater understanding of nutrition.

Everything else — dishes and linens and flowers and special menus — is just gravy. And as much as I love me a good gravy, we all know it’s a condiment not an entree.

With gratitude {for the grace of family meals and all they bring},

Joan, who shouted hallelujah when she discovered panzanella because bread salad? Heck yes!

PS: For the curious among you, my cauliflower panzanella was nothing more than cauliflower florets toasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hearty helping of minced garlic, then roasted in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, then tossed with day-old Italian bread cubes, sauteed in plenty of butter in a cast-iron skillet until brown and slightly crunchy. You can eat it warm, room temperature, or cold. I’ll eat buttery bread cubes and roasted cauliflower nearly any ol’ way you can serve it, including with my fingers out of a bowl while watching late-night television (not that I did that or anything).

Home by phone.

Dear friends,

Of late, I’ve been fascinated with the quality and variety of photos that people I know have shot and edited with their phones. A couple of the very ordinary friends I follow on Instagram have posted photos that are anything but. Some of the photos that have regularly appeared in my feed are mini works of art, captured images of objects and moments that surprise and delight me.  It’s a trend that has made me lazy with my expensive DSLR and profligate with cheap and easy phone apps.

In our former home, which I affectionately referred to as Magpie Manor, I spent hours and hours photographing every room of our house.  Despite trying really hard to learn as much as I could about lighting and metering and photo staging, I never got very good at it. Still, I enjoyed the pursuit, especially all the photos I took of our meals and tables, and I treasure the photo archive I’ve amassed (and that I hope my children and grand-childen will someday appreciate and enjoy).

I haven’t really photographed much beyond the food in our new house — mostly because I’ve been lazy. So yesterday, with time on my hands thanks to a rainy afternoon, I grabbed my phone and started snapping. In less than 30 minutes, I had photographed nearly every corner of our house. The photos are heavily edited because I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to app features.  Less may be more in style, but more is more in cheap phone apps.

Thus, I present, my home by phone.

living

The living room.

U

A vignette in the entry.

(Longtime reader and friend Maridel will recognize the vintage sign letter. I purchased it in her company. It’s one of my all-time favorite flea-market finds.)

buddha

The mantle.

fern

One of a matched pair of ferns by my front door.

dine

The dining room.

koran

An ottoman, a tray, a book.

library

The den.

counter

A vignette in the kitchen.

jadite

My beloved Jadite.

cart

A favorite — the vintage wood cart in the kitchen.

keeping

The keeping room.

hall

The back hall.

mud

The mud room.

bar

The bar, aka the pre-Gunsmoke cocktail station.

bedroom

The master.

vanity

My vanity in the bathroom.

(Yeah, it’s cluttered. I like all my most important stuff within reach.)

angel

The angel in my bathroom.

(I know. It’s kinda weird to have an angel in your bathroom. But I find her to be a calming presence during long, hot soaks in the bathtub.)

turtle

The turtle in my driveway.

(It’s not weird at all to have a turtle in your driveway. It is, however, unusual to find one undisturbed with two rowdy dogs in the yard.)

patiodoor

The view from my patio door.

plant

Flowers by the patio door.

(Because I can see them from my living room and they make me happy.)

With gratitude {for homey things from Angels to Zigzag rugs that make me happy},

Joan, the photographer formerly known as the Mayberry Magpie, now the Missouri Magpie, with credit to the iPhone 5, Instagram, and Snapseed

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