i've been thinking a lot about leisure

Leisure, by definition, is time free from work or duties, or time available for ease and relaxation. 

... allow me to ramble on for a while before getting back to this ...

Perhaps it is the lack of sunlight combined with this annoying funk I have been in for too long, but I find myself looking at others' pastimes and glamorizing them to the max.  Just as easily as photos and stories that friends share on their blogs can inspire me, they can turn the magnifying glass on my own life for close observation.  Would you agree that Blogland can very easily do that to you?  I'm not complaining, and I know things aren't always what they seem, but my overactive imagination can get the best of me at times. 

For example, I won't name names {or blog titles}, but in the past couple of months I have discovered a beautiful blogger with incredible style, who is super crafty, and has the most picturesque family; another adorable blogger full of spunk and humor, and who has a stellar relationship with her husband; and another {younger} blogger who seems to never stray from her style and knows exactly her aesthetic.  I can't help but feel a tinge of jealousy as I follow these people, but I am trying to take a positive approach.  I think:  What about their photos or their stories or posts makes me feel jealous?  Do they have something I don't have?  Am I missing out on the fun?  Am I wasting my time and talents when I could be doing similar things that would bring me joy and that I could share with others?  ... Am I a total brat for thinking this way when I have so much in my life for which to be thankful?  I remind myself I am not alone, and I know if these people heard me asking these questions, they would assure me their lives aren't perfect. 

... this post has turned in to a rambling on 'vulnerability' apparently, rather than 'leisure' ...
Getting back to discussing leisureA year ago I canceled our television service, and we have proudly been a TV-free household.  I thought this would encourage us to make our leisure time more beneficial, and I think in some ways it has.  When I'm not feeling completely mentally drained {Virgos exhaust themselves without even trying by incessantly overthinking everything}, I leisurely take the dogs for a walk, reorganize a room in my house, spend time with friends, grab my new fancycam and take some shots, scout new recipes, or sketch room layouts.  But when I just want to turn my brain off, I pop in a DVD, read a book, shop online {dangerous!}, or blog-hop.  The bad weather lately is partially to blame for my spending most of my leisure time doing these brain-off activities, so I am desperately anxious for consistent sunny weather so I can improve upon that.  I look forward to riding my bike downtown to Ginger Elizabeth {Abby's fav} for delicious macarons--exercise + a treat!--and cranking happy-summertime-folk-tunes while sun-basking in my backyard.  Maybe that's it!  My creativity has been washed away by all this rain and crappy weather, that I need sunlight and warmth to recharge!  I hear the next few days are going to be sunny here, so QUICK, gimme some ideas to make the most of it!  I will take any/all suggestions to heart. 

I started this post with the intention of lightly joking about clich├ęs, after watching a super cute video I saw on Isabelle's blog, but it somehow morphed.  Maybe I got caught in my own joke: the French make you jealous! hahahahaa...  So I leave you with said video with the hopes that it makes you smile.  And should you feel a little jealous of this cute Frenchie, just know, you are not alone. ;)


homemade cake + soup make this bleak weather bearable

Make your own soup from scratch!  Please.  :)

No canned or tubbed store-bought soup can match the taste and enjoyment of preparing your own.  And if you're in the mood to whip up your own soup this weekend, I recommend smitten kitchen's mushroom and farro soup!  I made it at the beginning of this week, with a few substitutions depending on the goods I had on hand, and it lasted us all week, up until just a few minutes ago when I polished off the last bowl. mmmmm... 

Here are her ingredients, with my changes in green:

Mushroom and Farro Orzo Soup
1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini 1 1/4 cups dried wild mushroom mix {Costco!}
2 tablespoons safflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium parsnip, grated and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound 5 fresh button mushrooms* (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
1/2 cup farro, pearled barley, or spelt, rinsed orzo
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry Marsala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar ume plum vinegar

So, as you can see, I made almost an entirely different soup, but it came out amazing!  The first night, Gabe made little garlic potato bread toasts to go with it.  *Quick note about the lack of fresh mushrooms in my recipe:  that's all I had!  lol.  I would like to have used a whole pound of fresh and fewer dried, but it worked out fine.  

Aaaaaaand for dessert, I baked two cakes--one for the office {lucky guys!} and one for home--using another intriguing recipe from smitten kitchen.  She calls it Clementine Cake because--you guessed it--it calls for clementines!  Or cuties, or mini tangerines, or whatever you call them in your 'hood.  I don't know if they are popular everywhere, but around here folks buy these by the bushel all winter long, sometimes paying up to $10 for a small box. No joke!  In our home, we are always stocked up so I was thrilled to find this recipe and try my hand at it.  I love that it is a flourless, dairy-less cake that is super simple to make.  Oh, and it is especially delicious...for dessert, snack, or even breakfast as it turns out.

I opted to dust the tops of the cakes with powder sugar rather than make a glaze to drizzle, admittedly because I was feeling pretty lazy at this point and wanted to be done in the kitchen.  And don't worry about the cake being too tart or sweet, it isn't too anything.  It has a fun texture and a balanced flavor that will satisfy even this non-orange-flavor-liker {??}. 


spring is here. officially.

Gabe and I spent all day Saturday 'Spring cleaning,' and oh man what a difference it made!  We're not completely finished, but already our home feels lighter, happier, refreshed, and it begged to be redecorated.  Seeking inspiration yesterday, I grabbed my bible and started absorbing.  I can always count on domino to pull through for me. Always!

One piece in particular I was hoping to learn how to liven up was my IKEA Docksta table {ya know, the Eero Saarinen tulip table lookalike}, because where I had it placed was not working.  While reading the chapter on entry rooms, it hit me.  I decided to swap my beloved vintage heavy green chest {an old craigslist find from Iceland!} that was next to my front door with the Docksta table I had in the dining room.

Voila!  The chest--which stores all of our games, wine corks, and candles--works fabulously as a buffet, and looks pretty sophisticated with the extra dining chairs flanking it.  And the green next to the red hutch is so gorgeous. 
The Docksta in the front room works beautifully.  Although it is wider than the chest, it feels like it takes up less space.  Most of the pieces in this room are rectangular and boxy--including our new chaise from IKEA {a major score last weekend in the As-is section!!}--and the round table breaks up and lightens the overall room.  I just love it.  Now all I need is a few bulbs of fragrant paperwhites in the tall cylinder vase on the green chest, and a short and full bouquet of fresh spring blooms in the entry way.  Hubby, are you reading this? ;)  Oh, and I can't wait to find better lampshades for both the lamp on the chest and on the entry table because I don't love the current ones. 

I have been coveting this bed since its debut, so yesterday I finally sprung for it.  After brunch, Gabe + I braved the weekend crowds at IKEA and picked it up, along with an adorable outdoor patio set {but that's another post}.  To my surprise and excitement, the bed only cost $99!  For some reason I had thought it was twice that, but no.  Only a bill.  Sweet! 
We didn't buy the slats that support the mattress, so we used the boxspring from our guest bedroom, which made our bed super tall and hotel-like.  I am not sure I love it being so high, although I always said I wanted a high bed, so I am living with it for a week before I decide whether or not to go back, get the slats, and ditch the boxspring.  And one of these days I will have matching, or at least coordinating, bed linens like a grown-up.  lol

Still haven't unveiled our master bath renovation, because the decorating is taking longer than expected...soon, I'll post some before + afterish photos. In other big reno-news, we ordered all new dual pane energy efficient windows and sliders for our whole house!  This is our next big project that will definitely produce major results.

What's the last thing you did to make your home happy?


happy st. patrick's day!

The four-leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the common three-leaved clover.  According to tradition, the four-leaf clover is said to bring good luck to whomever finds it, especially if s/he finds it accidentally.  Each leaf represents something:

Have any one of you ever found a four-leaf clover?  I'd love to hear the story!

...and lucky me, I've already found a leprechaun!

{photo/info sources: wikipedia; me & Gabe on our honeymoon}


"everyone wanted to be judged"

Abby just e-mailed me this fantastic article on The Bumbys and I had to share it with all of you!  Have you heard of them?  I hadn't before reading this article, but I absolutely love what they are doing.  I'll direct you here to the full article, so you can go read it now...then come back. ;) 

I'm the type that loves to read and collect fortunes from my cookies--keeping only the really good ones--and to have my fortune told.  I have always been interested in astrology, Pagan practices, etc., but what The Bumbys are doing is more literal.  In short, they assess individuals as they stand before them, and give what they call A Fair and Honest Appraisal of Your Appearance.  Along with a detailed, typed {yes, like on a typewriter-typed} appraisal, individuals are given a rating on a scale of 1 to 10.  What I love most is Mr. Bumby's outlook:

“I don’t ever want this to be a mean, hurtful thing. I’m not interested in tearing someone down. Where’s the art in that?”

The Bumbys are available for hire, and I can't help but think of how awesome it would be to have them at an event like a Bridal Shower!  Think of it, all these women dressed up and celebrating together, receiving compliments so they are feeling just as special as the bride-to-be.  I think it would be super-fun...unless you have a Bridezilla situation where she can be the only one getting attention, in which case The Bumbys shouldn't waste their time at such an event.  But I digress. 

They know fashion, they know the industry, and while you may need to Google "Isabella Blow" after reading their typed assessment, it would still be a terrific experience for the memory books. 
I'd hire them for a house party, where guys + girls are told beforehand to come dressed in their favorite get-up...an outfit that tells their story.  What would your outfit be? 

{photo source: The Bumbys facebook page}


Cassi, step away from the keyboard--and go do!

Blogland hasn't seen much of me this past month; I've been out exploring the beautiful places that are within only a couple hours drive from my home...all part of 'me' time that I have very much been in need of as of late.  Here are some photos I am happy to share with you:

...last-minute trip to Mendocino for Presidents' Day weekend...filled with family, sunshine, the friggin' sweetest bruise caused by shotgun recoil, dark-chocolate-dipped-apricots, beer, and target practice...a splendidly redneck weekend, indeed...

...a few faves, shot with my new fancy cam around the property...
...and this past weekend was spent in Lake Tahoe {North Shore} with Abby...R&R, Tainted Love show, special memories and hilarious new trip quotes for the books...

...my fav photo from the trip is this one of Abby holding a crawdad on the beach...

 I wish I was back in Tahoe right now, devouring an authentic Belgian waffle with my pal.  
The waffles = so yummy.  The weekend getaway = so rejuvenating.  :)

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