Sunday, May 31, 2009


It's Sunday again, so you know what that means. That's right, the flea market! I got some great goodies today. Wanna see?

Yes, it's another candle holder. Yes, I already have dozens and dozens of them, you don't have a problem with that, do you? I didn't think so! This guy caught my attention right away. He was at the second booth from the entrance along with a lot of other great stuff. He's rustic and rusty and I absolutely love him. I didn't even negotiate the price because he was only $3. Doesn't he make a fantastic guard for the hydrangea? I can't wait to put a candle in him tonight!

If you're a reader, you know expensive hard cover books can be. The original price of this book was $28.95. I got it for $2 and it's in perfect condition. Score!

My daughter got the cutest kids' baking set for $3. It has a cookie sheet, spatula, whisk, tart pans and some other stuff. The whole set was brand new and unused, still shrink wrapped inside the box. I'm not sure who loves it more, her or me!

She also got two Beanie Babies for $1 each and a Gameboy game for $5. She scored big!

The produce was fantastic today, too. These blueberries were just calling my name. The bowl they're in is a flea market bargain from last year. It was 25 cents and I love it.

After we got home, I was sitting in the back yard enjoying the sun when I spotted a special visitor on the lilacs.

Isn't she beautiful? I hope she comes back to visit again soon.
Happy Sunday, everyone, I hope you're enjoying your day as much as I'm enjoying mine!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Night Light

We celebrated my Dad's birthday tonight with dinner, drinks and dessert on the back porch. It was a beautiful evening to be outdoors. When it got dark, we lit all the candles and the lanterns on the porch. The light looked so pretty that I wanted to get some pictures. This is just a few of them.

Candle lantern hanging from a porch post.

Another candle lantern. This one is sitting on an antique chair.

We have a pub table with a gas heater in the base. I love the colors of the flame.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Bar Is Open

We were going to have Mexican food for dinner tonight, so we decided to make margaritas. Our plans have since changed and we're having grilled chicken, instead. No need to make different drinks, though. These margaritas will be fantastic with any grilled food. They're a little sweet and a little sour, perfect for summertime get togethers! Alla vostra buona salute!

Italian Margaritas

  • 1 oz. amaretto

  • 2 oz. sweet and sour mix

  • 1/2 oz. tequila

  • 1/2 oz. triple sec

Mix all ingredients together and pour over ice into a salt rimmed glass. This recipe yields one drink. Our margarita glasses are quite large so we had to double the recipe for each glass.

Enjoy responsibly, please. Happy Friday, everyone!

Planes And Automobiles, Willoughby Style

We had to cancel our ten day vacation to North Carolina at the last minute last year. It was disappointing for all of us because we love to travel. Truth is, we'll go just about anywhere at anytime if we can. Whether we travel by plane or by car, there's always an opportunity to create lasting memories. Some are warm and fuzzy, others you just can't help but laugh at. Here are a few of my favorites:

~My husband had to go Texas for a few weeks on business, so we made plans for my son and I to visit him there for a weekend. I knew we were in for an interesting trip when we got to the airport to find that they were having a power outage. They had emergency generators keeping the computer system going, but there was no air conditioning and it was a sweltering day. Our flight was delayed by an hour and a half, and once we boarded the plane, there was trouble getting clearance to enter the runway. We were seated next to a man who smelled terrible and got angry when he had to let us pass so my son, who was six at the time, could use the restroom. We flew through thunderstorms, were served stale sandwiches and warm bottled water (they called it a "bistro meal"), and were reprimanded for opening the curtain between coach and first class when we couldn't get past the beverage cart to get to the coach restroom (they were drinking wine and eating steak in first class, by the way). When we finally landed, the runway was overcrowded and we had to sit and wait for another hour before we could pull into our gate (during which time we were not allowed to get out of our seats, and my son needed to use the bathroom again). Instead of the lovely reunion scene I had pictured, I ended up running into the terminal, dragging my son behind me and shouting to my husband "He has to go to the bathroom!".

~On our honeymoon, we spent a few days in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, also known as Amish Country. When our son was four, we decided to take another trip there. We wanted to stay at the same quaint hotel where we had stayed on our honeymoon, but they didn't have any vacancies. It was Memorial weekend and none of the other hotels had available rooms, either (who knew that Amish country was a popular Memorial weekend getaway?). We drove around for an hour or more before finding a motel with an empty parking lot (that should have been our first sign of trouble). The manager, seeing we had a small child with us, offered us "the best room in the whole place", which was attached to her living quarters and behind the actual motel. She had to stop and grab clean towels for us out of the dryer, first. She came out with an armful of wadded up, mismatched beach towels and then opened the door to our room. It was filthy and she had to jiggle the cord on the lamp to get the light to stay on. The bed had lumps the size of softballs under the bedspread and the one chair in the room was covered with stains. There was a door on one wall that opened to her apartment, which she said was sometimes unlocked because her son liked to play in our room. She dumped the beach towels on the bed and walked out. Mr. Willoughby said to me right away, "We're not staying here." I told him we could go, but I wanted to use the bathroom first. He turned on the bathroom light and found silverfish scurrying in the tub. "We'll find a nice clean gas station", he said. We got our money back and found a slightly (just slightly) better motel with a vacancy down the road.

~When we go to North Carolina, we fly out of Detroit Metro Airport and fly into Myrtle Beach Airport in South Carolina. There are staggering differences in the two, especially in the baggage claim area. In Myrtle Beach, other passengers tend to be helpful and courteous. They will step aside so you can reach your luggage, or sometimes hand it to you. At Metro, you're lucky to get your bags without losing an eye or being trampled to death. My son has had to literally lay down on the baggage carousel to reach our bags. It's a complete madhouse. When my parents travel with us, we try to get them seated somewhere out of the way while the kids and I get the bags and my husband gets the car. One year, my dad was getting impatient waiting to get out of the airport, so he and my mom went outside. She found a bench where they could sit and wait for us, but he didn't want to sit there. By the time the kids and I came out, he was complaining, so I said "Shut up and sit down old man!". My daughter thought this was so funny that she skipped around him in circles, laughing and singing "Shut up and sit down old man, shut up and sit down old man!". He did.

~On our last trip to the Carolinas, we let our son bring a friend along. Another friend flew down a few days later (his dad was in the area for work), but flew back with us. When we got back to the airport in Detroit, we had to jam all eight of us and the luggage into my mom and dad's mini van. We were packed in like sardines. As soon as we hit the expressway, my daughter dropped her ring. It was dark and no one could find it so she started crying really loud. About the same time, the door ajar signal started dinging and wouldn't stop. My husband popped in a CD and turned up the volume to drown it out. The CD, which we had made for my parents, was all easy listening music. So for the hour it took us to get home, it was crying, dinging, Barry Manilow singing "Mandy" and Chicago performing "You're The Inspiration" (repeatedly, because it's my mom's favorite). That was the longest hour of my life!

I'll be back later to open the bar!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Moving Experience

For the first two years we were married, Mr. Willoughby and I lived in an apartment in the city where I grew up. It was a nice place, but a little outdated. Our refrigerator was the kind with the tiny freezer that you have to defrost every few weeks and there was no dishwasher. It had a huge living room, though, and a decent sized bedroom. We were happy there except for the fact that we had no balcony and there was no common area outside where we could barbecue or enjoy sitting outdoors. We finally made the decision to move when our air conditioner (a wall unit) froze up and started pumping hot air into the living room on a 90+ degree evening.

Our search for a new apartment didn't take long. We found a great place in Bloomfield Hills. If you're not familiar with Bloomfield Hills, it's a wealthy area with a mixture of high end homes and mansions, for the most part. We couldn't believe that we found an affordable apartment there, but we did. It was a little smaller than our previous one, but it was much nicer with an updated kitchen and a big balcony that overlooked a grassy area bordered by trees. It also had a pretty duck pond on the grounds. There were walking trails adjacent to the property that lead to a lake community. It was everything we wanted.

During the time we were living in Bloomfield Hills, my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her grasp on reality was slipping to the point that it was becoming dangerous. She had begun to do things like unplug the refrigerator, causing all the food to spoil, without having any memory of doing it. When it became apparent that she could no longer live alone, she moved in with my parents. Not long after, her condition worsened and she needed constant medical care. She moved from my parents' house into a nursing home.

My family got together and spent weekends cleaning all of the things she would no longer need out of her house. It was clear that she would never again live there and my parents were at a loss over what to do with the house. It was a big, beautiful brick Tudor in Detroit's east side.

In the mid 1940's when my grandparents bought the house, the neighborhood had been upper middle class. All of the homes were in the English Tudor style with ornate woodwork and plasterwork inside. Manicured lawns and old elm trees lined the streets. Many of the households, including my grandparents', had cleaning ladies. It had been a prestigious place to live.

Over the years, urban decay found it's way to the neighborhood and it started to look a little shabby. The beautiful trees that had once formed a canopy over the street were overtaken with Dutch Elm disease and had to be removed. There absence revealed broken windows, unkempt lawns and security doors. It was sad to see such a rapid decline, but my grandparents still loved the area and refused to move. Even after my grandpa's death, my grandma couldn't imagine calling anyplace else home.

One weekend, while we were finishing up the cleaning, Mr. Willoughby and I started talking hypothetically about living there. We walked from room to room, admiring the craftsmanship and the details of the house. We talked about what colors we would paint the rooms and where we would put our furniture. Even as we drove back home to Bloomfield Hills, we couldn't stop talking about it. We knew it was crazy to move from our safe environment to crime ridden Detroit, but we wanted to do it anyway.

Over the next few months, we spent all of our free time updating the Detroit house. We pulled up the old carpet and refinished the hardwood floors, painted and wallpapered the rooms and replaced the kitchen countertops. It was everything we had hoped it would be. We were ready to move in just before the first snow of the season.

Our commute to work was longer than it had been in Bloomfield Hills, but for the first year, we loved everything else about living in Detroit. There were some great restaurants nearby, we had no problems with crime, and we got along well with the neighbors. In May of that year, we found out we were expecting our first child and turned the bedroom next to ours into a nursery. Things couldn't have been better.

After our son was born, we started to notice some changes on the street. The wonderful next door neighbors sold their house to a family that immediately stopped caring for the property. The grass was no longer cut, old car batteries and trash littered the back yard and there were loud gatherings going on all hours of the day and night. The oldest daughter's boyfriend carried a handgun with him and would shoot it into the air for fun. We started to worry about having a bullet come through the walls or windows. It got to the point that I wouldn't take our son outside to play or for a walk in the stroller unless Mr. Willoughby was home. I was afraid all the time.

The last straw came one Saturday morning when the mother from the house next door came pounding on our front door. She demanded to see my husband, who wasn't home at the time. She claimed he had made a rude remark to her youngest son and said if he did it again she was going to shoot him. I knew he hadn't said anything to the little boy, but I was terrified. I called Mr. Willoughby, who was helping my brother move to his new house, and told him to come and get us. I wanted out and I didn't want to go back.

We spent the next few months living with my parents until we found the house we live in now. We never spent another night in the Detroit house. Before we had a chance to get all of our things out, someone broke in and stole our microwave, our answering machine and some other things. They had gotten in by forcing open a locked window on the back of the house. When I saw how easily it had been jimmied, my blood ran cold. What if we had been home at the time?

I had nightmares about being forced to move back to that house for a long time afterward. I still do once in a while. In them, we're home when the house is broken into and we're all shot and killed. I'm always so glad to wake up and find myself in this house. It makes me appreciate living in a small town in the middle of nowhere that much more. The first spring after we moved here, my son and I were planting seeds in the backyard when I realized that, for the first time in a long time, I wasn't looking over my shoulder worried about being shot or mugged.

Mr. Willoughby and I still talk about that house and how beautiful it was. We drove by it last year on our way home from a concert in the city. It looked empty and neglected, as did most of the neighborhood. We don't regret our decision to move there when we did, though, because we would never have considered having a baby when we were living in a one bedroom apartment so we wouldn't have had our son for a few more years. I'm still glad we got out of there when we did. We probably should have done it sooner.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It's not quite summer yet, but it sure feels like it. The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and the salesmen/women are back to knocking on doors. I don't care if I'm in the middle of cooking dinner or just sitting around doing nothing, it irritates me to go to the door to find a salesperson.

We live in a small town where most of the homes are older, so home improvement companies are always in the area knocking on doors and handing out fliers. I can't tell you how many times we have been offered a free estimate on replacing our siding (which is old) or our windows (which are new).

In 1996, a few months after we moved into our house, a pair of vacuum cleaner salespeople knocked on the door. They wanted to come in and give me a demonstration of their product. They also had a free gift for me to keep just for agreeing to the demo. The free gift was steak knives. Call me overly cautious, but the idea of letting strangers with sharp knives into my house didn't seem like a good idea. Does anyone actually buy vacuum cleaners this way anymore? I told them it was 1996, not 1946 and sent them on their way.

I answered the door one day to find a man on my porch holding a clip board, obviously selling something. He grabbed my hand and shook it, but wouldn't let go. He insisted on holding my hand while he gave me his pitch. I was very uncomfortable with it and told him to let go of me and get off my porch. He finally did, but I was pretty shaken by it. I told my husband about it when he came home and he was furious. A little while later the man walked past the house again and Mr. Willoughby confronted him. He told the man he was going to call the police. The guy apologized and claimed that was his aggressive selling style.

Since then we've been visited by solicitors selling cleaning products, lawn care services, wireless fencing, tree trimming, magazines and books, to name a few. I finally put a "No Soliciting" sign on the door, but that doesn't deter all of them. I'm amazed at how many salesmen think that doesn't apply to them and what they're selling. Sometimes I just don't answer the door.

I saw a door mat in a catalog once that said "Go Away". I'm thinking about getting one. Better yet, I'll get a few dozen and sell them door to door!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Before we had kids, Mr. Willoughby and I used to love to take day trips. Not just in summer, but year round. We would get out a map and then one of us would close our eyes and point to a spot. As long as it was within a distance we could travel to and from in a day's time, that would be our destination. The less we knew about the city we picked, the more exciting it was because we never knew what we might find to see and do. We once drove to a small town on the Michigan/Ohio border to find that all the businesses had anti-gang signs on their doors. Who knew that small towns had gang problems? We didn't stay there long.

One of our favorite places to visit was Iargo Springs in Oscoda, Michigan. It's a beautiful area on the edge of the Huron National Forest. There is a staircase of 294 wooden steps that take you down to where the underground springs come together to form coldwater streams. The Au Sable river, popular for canoeing and kayaking, is nearby as well. On our last visit there, 17 plus years ago, we decided to be adventurous and hike back up the embankment instead of taking the wooden steps. It's very steep and difficult terrain, almost impossible at times to keep your footing. We had to grab onto trees and plants to pull ourselves up the grade. By the time we got to the top, we were exhausted. It was then that we noticed the signs that said "Do Not Climb Embankment - Toxic Weeds". We never had any health problems as a result, but strangely, none of the pictures we took turned out.

The strangest thing we ever saw on a day trip, though, is almost impossible for me to describe. We were driving through a rural area in the northern part of Michigan when we spotted a number of large glass front boxes along the side of the road. Boxes probably isn't the best way to describe them, they were more like free standing rooms, with the sides, top and bottom being made of wood and the front being plate glass. We must have seen at least six or seven of them in less than a mile. They were set back from the road so it was difficult to see inside. We finally got the nerve to pull over and look in one and it had a lectern and several seats, like a small chapel or, maybe, a mausoleum. They weren't on cemetery grounds, so we were only speculating. We didn't make note of the town we were in, though I wish we had. It was really creepy.

We still take day trips every once in a while, we just keep them shorter so the kids don't get bored. Even when we're on vacation we like to drive around and do a little exploring. We had a strange experience in the Carolinas a few years ago. We were driving through a small town and turned down a side road just to see where it would take us when we came into an area we didn't feel comfortable in. It wasn't a military base or state land, but there were "Restricted" signs all over the place and we were followed until we left the area. It was so disturbing that I don't want to mention the name of the town or go into any more detail. I explained what happened to a friend of mine who is familiar with the town and she said she had heard a lot of strange things happen there. We'll have to take her word for it because we won't be going back.

More often than not, though, we find something fun to do or interesting to see. We've stumbled across monuments (Oscoda, Michigan), beautiful parks (Independence Dam Park, Defiance, Ohio), waterfalls (Rock Glen Falls, Ontario, Canada) and talked to interesting people (almost everywhere). Even if the destination turns out to be less than spectacular, the trip is always an adventure.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Want My Babyback, Babyback, Babyback....

We had babyback ribs last night, and my husband kept singing that jingle from the "Chili's" commercial. Do remember it? Is it stuck in your head now, too? It's stuck in mine!

There are so many ways to make babyback ribs, and we've probably tried a few dozen of them. This is our favorite. It involves boiling them first and then cooking them in the oven, although you could put them on the grill instead (they are falling apart tender, you might want to use foil or a grill pan). It was threatening rain around here last night, so the oven was best for us. I used to think that boiling the ribs before cooking them would make them tough or tasteless, but neither is true. These cook up tender and delicious every time. And the sauce? It's really, really thick and sticks to the ribs making them absolutely gooey, you must try it. You can find the entire recipe here. It calls for spareribs, which I've made with great success, but we subbed babybacks last night because they were on sale.
We served them with baked red skin potatoes and roasted broccoli. Finger lickin' good! I want my babyback, babyback, babyback......

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Bar Is Open

We went to Sam's Club today, and while we were there we picked up a bottle of Pomegranate Acai smoothie mix. It's supposed to be pretty healthy for you because it's full of antioxidants, so of course we thought, "Why not add rum?". We tried both light rum and lemon flavored rum. I like the lemon flavored the best. So that is how today's Pomegranate Acai daiquiri came to be!

Pomegranate Acai Daiquiri

  • 4 oz. Pomegranate Acai Smoothie Mix (or any other flavor)

  • 4 oz. ice

  • 1 oz. rum or lemon rum

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a serving glass.

Enjoy responsibly, please. Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coooooool, Baby!

My son and I have been talking about the 70's a lot, lately. He's doing a project on that era in school, so I've been telling him about fashion, music, television, pop culture and everything else I personally remember from that time. For him it's research, for me, it's a chance to look back at all of the things I thought were cool when I was a kid, though not all of them were in the 70's. My teen years were in 80's and I've included some of them, too. Here's a few of the highlights:
  • I thought corduroy pants were really cool when I was in kindergarten. On the days that I wore my favorite corduroy pants to school, I would enhance my coolness by drinking my chocolate milk with a straw and tipping my chair on the back two legs during snack time. I have no idea why I thought this was cool, I was only five years old.

  • I wasn't really into current music when I was in elementary school. My brother had a band that practiced at our house, so I heard plenty of Foghat, Boston, Led Zeppelin and The Doobie Brothers, but I was still listening to my Shaun Cassidy albums. One day during lunch, the other kids were talking about this new band, The Village People. Each kid at the table would take a turn saying who his or her favorite member of the band was. I didn't have a clue who The Village People were or what they looked like so I just repeated what someone else said (the construction worker, I think). As soon as I got home from school I asked my mom to take me to the store so I could buy their album. I felt so cool listening to that album on the big console stereo in the living room.

  • When I was 14, the mall was cool. So was looking like a rocker chick and listening to what we thought was hardcore music. Every Saturday we would walk to the mall in our skin tight Jordache jeans and my friend Chris would bring her boombox for us to listen to on the way there. Our hardcore music of choice (on cassettes, of course) was Adam and the Ants, The B52's and Joan Jett. We were soooooo cool!

  • Jumpsuits were really cool when I was about 15. I had a lavender jumpsuit with a matching belt and puffed sleeves. I put it on to go somewhere one day (probably the mall), and my brother asked me if I worked in an all girl gas station. I didn't care, he wasn't cool, but I was.
So what's cool now? I still think I am, and if you're reading this, you must be, too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Regrets, I've Had A Few...

If you're a Sinatra aficionado, you know how the rest of that line goes.

I mentioned the idea of living life without regret in a post a while back. It's something I'm pretty passionate about. I truly believe that you can't take one second of life for granted. That's not to say that I don't forget to do things that I want to do, or that I don't waste time engaged in pointless activities. It's more about letting the little things go and concentrating on what's really important in your life, like the people you care about.

I was considering this today after reading an article in our local newspaper. It was about a little girl who died of cancer several years ago. Make A Wish Foundation had sent her to Disney World shortly before her death. After she died, her father started a non-profit foundation called Rebels For A Cause to raise funds for Make A Wish.

I've been donating to Make A Wish Foundation since I was in high school. I had friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease when we were sophomores and they sent she and her family to Disney World as well. Not long afterward, my friend Mary lost her battle. She was 17 years old.

That is what brings me to the subject of regret today. I knew that Mary was ill before she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's. We were in a few classes together and taking driver's ed. at the same time, so I saw her every day. She told me she had a doctor's appointment one day and would be missing driver's ed, which was after school. She was hoping she would miss classwork, and not actual driving, because she was so excited to drive. Thinking back, I'm not sure she ever returned to school. Her illness was advanced and she started chemotherapy right away.

Another friend of mine, Jen, lived a few houses down from Mary and saw her once in a while during that time. She would tell me that Mary said to tell me "Hi" and I'd tell her to say "Hi" back for me. I wanted to stop by or call her, but I just didn't know what to say. I even started a few letters, but I couldn't get past "Dear Mary". I didn't have the words back then.

One Friday night, some friends and I went to the varsity football game at school. We were hanging around and joking and laughing when I spotted Mary standing with Jen and some other kids near the concession stand. She was nearly unrecognizable as she had lost so much weight. She had been thin to begin with, but she was shockingly thin at that point. She hadn't been looking in my direction so I was fairly certain she hadn't seen me. Part of me wanted to go talk to her, but part of me wanted to avoid her altogether. I couldn't think of a thing to say to her because, in a way, I felt guilty that she was so sick and I was healthy. It was like survivors guilt, I suppose. I also felt that if I didn't see her so ill, it wouldn't be true. I avoided her for a while, telling myself that I would come up with something to say if I thought about it long enough. Before that happened, she left. The next time I saw Mary was the following spring at her funeral.

Jen stopped me in the parking lot at the funeral home the night some classmates and I came to pay our respects. She warned me that I would be shocked by Mary's appearance. She told me that she was going to look thinner than the last time I saw her and that she had lost all her hair. She was laid out with a hat on, Jen said, at Mary's own request.

I told Jen about the night at the football game, and how I had seen them there but had been unable to talk to Mary. "She knew," Jen said. "And she understood."

That happened in 1985. I think of Mary often, especially when I make a donation to Make A Wish Foundation and I will forever regret that I didn't talk to her when I had the chance. It's a lesson I learned the hard way at a friend's expense as well as my own.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Evil Toilet Paper And One Hundred

If you haven't noticed it, you will soon. It's happening all around you. What am I talking about? Getting less for your money, of course.

I noticed it a while back when I was putting a new roll of toilet paper in the holder. I took the empty tube off and set it on the vanity next to the new roll. There was a height difference of about 1/4 inch between the two rolls. The new roll had come from a just-opened package, so some time between purchasing the two packages, the company started making the rolls shorter (or narrower, depending on your perspective) and charging the same amount. I always buy one specific brand of toilet paper, but I'd be willing to bet that all brands are making their rolls smaller. In fact, stop reading this right now and go look at the toilet paper in your bathroom. Even if you don't have an old roll to compare it to, you'll notice that there is more room to slide the roll back and forth on the holder than there used to be. Seriously, go look. Am I right or am I right?

Whether we need wider toilet paper or not isn't the issue (and really, I don't want to know about the scientific testing they do to determine how wide toilet paper should be, I'm still dealing with the bathroom habits of the cartoon bears in those commercials), it's all about getting what you pay for.

Toilet paper isn't the only product getting smaller. I noticed that the pretzels I buy now come in a 15 oz. bag instead of a 16 oz. bag for the same price. Ditto with tortilla chips. Ice cream is smaller now, too. What used to be a full quart is now labeled as .75 quart. We don't eat a lot of ice cream so I have no idea how long ago that happened. I'm sure most of the products I buy are shrinking even though I haven't noticed.

What's funny/evil about it is that they don't seem to make the packaging any smaller, just the product inside. I don't think they want us to notice we're getting less. When was the last time you saw "Now 25% Less" promoted on any package? If you feel like you're going through groceries faster than you used to, you probably are because you're buying less but spending the same amount.

One Hundred

This post is sort of a milestone for me. It's my 100th post. When I realized that I was coming up on 100, I thought I should chose a topic that was special in some way; a really funny story, perhaps or something deep and moving. Then I considered a favorite recipe or cocktail. In the end, I chose toilet paper. Go figure! It's what was on my mind today and that tends to be how I chose what to blog about.

I would have thought that I'd be out of ideas for blog topics by now, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I find myself mentally composing blogs all the time. Some of them get posted, others never make it past editing when I decide they aren't as interesting as I thought they would be.

I appreciate all of you who read my blog and take the time to comment. I'm happy to have followers as well as those who stumble into my "Willoughby World" by some other means. If no one was reading it, I probably wouldn't take the time to write it and I do enjoy writing it.

Of all the different things I've wanted to do in my life, one thing has never changed. I've always liked to write. Truth being told, my husband gave me this laptop for my birthday a few years ago so that I could write the book I've always wanted to write. It's a story that's been kicking around in my head for years, gnawing at me to put it on paper. Every now and then I take a stab at it, but I'm my own worst critic and end up editing it into oblivion. Writing this blog keeps my creative juices going and gives me some hope that someday I might just be able to finish that story.

Thanks, again, for stopping by. I hope you'll keep coming back!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flea Market And Fondue

It was another lovely day for flea market browsing. Sadly, I didn't find any treasures (or candle holders) that caught my eye this morning. The produce however, was amazing. I couldn't resist picking up some strawberries.

They're almost too pretty to eat. Almost, but not quite. We'll be enjoying them dipped in chocolate fondue for dessert tonight. Remember that recipe I promised to share with you? Actually, I have two recipes. One is easy, the other is incredibly easy. Before I give you both recipes, I want to give you a little bit of an explanation.

We love fondue. Not only because it tastes great, but because it's versatile and fun. We've even served it in place of cake at birthday parties. That being said, I'm not a fan of the typical chocolate fondue recipe which consists of dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate and heavy cream. Even if you follow the instructions carefully, you can end up with grainy, lumpy fondue. And even if it's perfectly smooth, it tastes like Hershey's syrup to me. I wanted something thicker that would cling to the dipped items better and have a richer taste.

The solution? Hot fudge sauce. The first recipe is for a delicious, though slightly caramely, easy hot fudge sauce. The second recipe is for incredibly easy hot fudge sauce.

Easy Hot Fudge Sauce Fondue

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • milk (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, chocolate and butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. If sauce becomes too thick, add milk, a few tablespoons full at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Transfer to prewarmed fondue pot and serve with a variety of bite sized dippers.

Incredibly Easy Hot Fudge Sauce Fondue

  • 2 (11.5 ounce) jars hot fudge ice cream topping

  • milk

Heat hot fudge ice cream topping in a heavy saucepan over low heat until warm. Add milk, a few tablespoons full at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Transfer to prewarmed fondue pot and serve with a variety of bite sized dippers.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, premade hot fudge sauce? I'll give you a few good reasons to consider it. First, it's fast and easy if you need a last minute dessert. Second, you can find sugar free (and fat free) varieties which is perfect for anyone who is diabetic or has dietary restrictions.

But what about a fondue pot? Ours has a reservoir for gel fuel, which I like because we can use it anywhere, but electric ones are great, too. If you don't have one at all, you can still have fondue. Preheat a heavy, heat safe bowl by filling it with boiling water. Once the bowl has absorbed the heat, dump the water out, quickly dry the bowl and fill with your fondue sauce. We also like to use custard cups or ramekins for individual sized fondue.

Fondue forks? If you don't have any, wooden skewers are an easy substitute.

Fondue etiquette? Our set came with long forks and short forks. According to what the booklet says, you dip your items with the long fork and place them on your plate, but you eat them with the short fork. That way no one is putting a fork in their mouth and then back in the sauce.

Dipper ideas? We like to try all sorts of things, but some of our favorites are fruit, pound cake, pretzels, oreos, sugar wafers, cookies, and mini ice cream balls (pre-make the balls by scooping ice cream with a melon baller and then freezing on a cookie sheet).


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Bar Is Open.....Finally!

Sorry, I never got around to opening the bar last night. Instead, I'm opening it tonight. This is a great summer drink, it's very refreshing and would be great with grilled or spicy food.

San Juan Tea

  • 1 1/2 ounces Barcardi Limon

  • 1/2 ounce light rum

  • 3 ounces whiskey sour mix

  • 8 ounces cola

In a cocktail shaker, mix Bacardi Limon, light rum and whiskey sour mix. Divide evenly between two ice filled glasses and top each with 4 ounces cola.

Please enjoy your San Juan Tea responsibly! Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, May 15, 2009

More Asian Cooking

Yesterday I posted a recipe for one of our favorite Asian dishes; Sesame Chicken and Noodle Bowls. Today, I thought I would talk a little bit more about Asian cooking and share some of my personal tips. I'm not an expert, nor am I Asian myself, but we love all sorts of Asian foods and I've been making Asian recipes almost as long as I've been cooking. Take-out is great, but it's nice to be able to make your favorite dishes at home.
  • Asian market - If you've got one nearby, stop by and take a look around. We don't have access to one now that we live in a rural area, but we did when we lived in the suburbs. I used to love going there and looking at all of the exotic ingredients. It was a great place to get high quality soy sauce and other Asian staples inexpensively. You may need some help, though, as many of the packages have no English writing on them.
  • Wok - I had one for years, but I rarely used it and finally got rid of it because it was taking up too much space. I know lots of people use their woks regularly, but I don't think you have to have one to make great Asian dishes. A large skillet, dutch oven or stock pot works well. I usually use my dutch oven because it reduces splatters on the cook top and is big enough to easily double most recipes.
  • Soy Sauce - I always go for the reduced sodium variety. Regular soy sauce is fine as a condiment, but may make your dishes too salty, especially sauces that need to be reduced. Also, make sure to read the ingredients on the bottle. Some don't actually contain soy and are made with a bunch of chemicals that taste like soy. You don't want those.
  • Vegetables - This goes against traditional Asian cooking, but I usually steam my vegetables and then add them to the dish along with the sauce before simmering. I know, it's blasphemy, but it saves time because you can steam your vegetables in one pot while you cook your meat in another. It also makes them a little softer than stir frying them. We're not big fans of crunchy vegetables in cooked dishes.
  • Rice - Again, I'm going to break from tradition. I don't cook rice in a pan on the stove. I either bake it in the oven (350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes in a covered casserole) or use the "Rice" setting on my microwave. Both methods produce perfect fluffy rice and free up an extra burner on my cook top.
  • Meat - I always cut meat into thin strips or slices instead of cubes. It cooks faster and looks more authentic to me. I've never had Asian food in a restaurant where the meat was cut into cubes. A super sharp knife and keeping your meat extremely cold or even partially frozen makes it much easier to achieve very thin cuts. Also, don't forget to cut all meat (including poultry) against the grain, so it is tender and not stringy.
Most of you are foodies and probably knew all of this information, but if you didn't, I hope you'll find some of these tips useful. I'll probably share some more of my favorite Asian recipes in the future.

I'll be back later to open the bar!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Morning Chaos, Sesame Chicken And Noodle Bowls

I have a wonderful recipe to share today, but first I need to vent! I've had such a chaotic morning that I want to scream. Our morning routine is pretty tight around here, so I like it carried out with military-like precision and efficiency. I haven't built in any extra time for last minute mishaps and this morning was full of them.

I got the ball rolling by thinking I could take an extra minute to sip my coffee and read a page or two of my book before I dried my hair. Big mistake! I got engrossed in my book and lost track of time. That put me behind schedule to begin with, and because it is very humid today, my hair took twice as long to dry.

The kids got up on time, but my son couldn't find a shirt to wear and the jeans I thought I washed for my daughter were still in the dirty clothes basket along with her only hooded waterproof jacket (it was raining this morning). Lunch took longer to pack than usual and my daughter had a problem with her shoes when it was time to leave for school.

In the end, my son found a shirt, my daughter wore a different pair of jeans and a jacket with no hood (the rain stopped so it wasn't a big deal) and the shoe problem was fixed. Everyone got to school on time. I'm back home with my second cup of coffee and all is well. Still, I can't wait until school is out for the summer.

Now, let's get cooking!

Sesame Chicken and Noodle Bowls

I have quite a large collection of recipes for different stir-frys and Asian foods, but this is one of our favorites. It's quick and easy to put together, so it's perfect for a week night meal. It's a little spicy, but you can adjust the heat to your liking by adding more or less chile paste. I made it without vegetables last night, but I like to add bell peppers and banana peppers when I have them on hand. Broccoli, sugar snap peas, or baby corn are delicious in this dish, too. This recipe makes a large amount of sauce because it is meant to be served over noodles.

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into thin slices

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 1 cup soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

  • 4 tablespoons (plus a drizzle) sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon hot chile paste

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • cornstarch and water* (for thickening)

  • 10 oz. package Chinese noodles** prepared according to package directions

  • sesame seeds

Slice chicken into thin slices. Preheat large non-stick skillet and add olive oil and a drizzle of sesame oil. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Mix remaining ingredients except thickeners, noodles and sesame seeds in a medium bowl. Pour over chicken and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and water slurry, stirring constantly, until desired thickness is reached. Serve in bowls over Chinese noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds.

*For thickening, use equal parts cornstarch and cold water and mix to form a slurry. I start with about 3-4 tablespoons of each (okay, I usually just eyeball it, but I've got to give you a starting point!). More may be added if needed.

**The noodles I use are simply called "Chinese Noodles" on the package label. The instructions call for rinsing them under running water after cooking. DO NOT skip this step or you will end up a sticky ball of noodles that are impossible to separate. I speak from experience!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Chuckles

I had all kinds of ideas for my blog today, but I kept coming back to humor. Yesterday I posted a few humorous tabloid stories. Today, I want to share a few true stories. The first one appeared on our local news a few months ago. I don't have a link to the original story, but here it is in a nutshell:

A man robbed a bank in Southfield, Michigan in March, 2009. The police were called and a high speed chase ensued. In his panic to escape capture, the man accidentally pulled into the parking lot of the Southfield police station. Quick thinker that he is, the man disguised himself hoping he could elude police. He did this by drawing a goatee on his face with a permanent Sharpie marker. Don't believe me? Here's a picture.

This happened two months ago and I still laugh every time I think about it! Can you believe the police were still able to recognize him?


The next item happened at my house. My son was looking for a part time job, so I was trying to help by scanning the classified section of the local newspaper. I found a job I thought he might like so I circled it. Our paper offers ads highlighted in yellow, so I used a blue pen to make it stand out.

When my son came home from school, I told him to look at the paper I had left on the counter. He picked it up and gave me a strange look, and then asked me if I was serious. I said I was and he continued to look puzzled. Thinking I may have accidentally circled the wrong ad, I took the paper from him and immediately saw what had him confused. I had folded the paper in half and the ad I had circled was on the underside and not visible. The ad he looked at was the only one highlighted on the upper half of the page. It read something like this: "Financially secure couple unable to have children and looking to adopt. We would like to provide a loving home for your child. All expenses will be paid in cash."

He thought we were putting him up for adoption!


This last item happened last fall while my daughter was recovering from the flu. She had developed some severe side effects, so we took her to the doctor. He wanted her to have some blood work done and sent us to the hospital to have it taken care of.

The technician that was working was young and probably somewhat new to the job. She was extremely friendly and patient and tried hard to put my daughter at ease. It was all for nothing, though, because my daughter freaked out when she saw the needles and tubes. She started crying and screaming "No!" and refused to hold her arm out. In the end, it took myself and two other techs to hold her still and get the blood drawn (she's amazingly strong for her size!).

My daughter's face was a wreck with tears so I said to my husband, "Honey, would you get a tissue out of the outside pocket of my purse?" The young tech was so flustered by the whole ordeal that she said "Okay" and reached for my purse. When she realized that she wasn't "honey" she put my purse back down. Everyone in the room laughed and it was the tension breaker we all needed.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Humor

I thought I would start the week with some humor and share the most ridiculous story I read in a tabloid a few years ago. I don't often read tabloids, but it's a guilty pleasure I enjoy when we're on vacation. If we're in a store that carries them, I will look for the one with the most outrageous stories and buy it. It makes for fun reading on the beach. The problem is, I can't find the story on the internet. I can still tell you about it, of course, but without the accompanying photo, it won't be as funny.

According to this tabloid (I think it may have been The Weekly World News), childless couples were being duped by an adoption agency that was selling them shaved baby monkeys and passing them off as human infants. As I recall, the couples were paying around $60,000 per "baby" and were heartbroken months, or, sometimes years later, when they discovered that their son or daughter wasn't human. There was a photo of a man and his "son", who appeared to be about two years old, along with the article. The "son" was a poorly photoshopped morph of a boy and a monkey. He was wearing overalls, I think. It was the funniest, most ridiculous picture I've ever seen. I did find reference to this story online, but this is not the original picture that was printed with the story.

If the parents hadn't noticed something unusual about this baby, don't you think their pediatrician should have? Imagine someone pushing this baby past your house in a stroller. Do you think you might be fooled? Didn't think so!

The next item has no photos, but never fails to make me laugh. I clipped it out of a tabloid (I don't remember which one) years ago. I read it every once in a while when I need a laugh. Here it is, word for word:

How To Prevent UFO Abductions

The EWAAB says you can't elude a determined alien if he is really intent on getting you, but you can do certain things to make yourself less attractive - and hopefully send him elsewhere for a victim. They offer gals the following pointers on how to avoid UFO abductions and rape:
  • WEAR YELLOW: Aliens don't like yellow - especially mustard yellow - and have never abducted anyone wearing that color.
  • DON'T DRIVE OR GO OUT AT NIGHT: If you must go somewhere, use music as a protection. Switch your car radio or boom box to easy listening, Muzak-type tunes that aliens hate. Harp and zither music also drives them away.
  • USE A PROTECTIVE SCENT: Oddly enough, mosquito repellent will ward off space aliens. So will the odor of bourbon whiskey, which can be splashed on like perfume for alien protection.
  • NEVER, EVER, GO ANYWHERE ALONE: Aliens rarely abduct anyone in front of witnesses.
  • BATHE OFTEN: Spacemen locate most of their victims by body odor. If you're scentless, they will choose someone else.
  • WEAR PLATINUM: Platinum causes space alien appliances to malfunction.

I have no idea what the EWAAB is, but at least you now have a valid reason to smell like bourbon. Imagine explaining that one to a police officer if you get pulled over?

Officer - "Have you been drinking tonight?"

You - "No, sir, I'm trying to ward off alien abduction by wearing bourbon as perfume."

I'll bet they hear that all the time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day At The Flea Market

I hope you're enjoying Mothers Day (whether you're a mom or not) as much as I am. I got some wonderful gifts from the kids. My daughter made me some gifts at school, which are precious. My son and Purple Hoodie Chick got me a digital photo key chain, and put some great pictures on it.

We also went to the flea market. There were some great things there today. Wanna see what we found this week?

This opens up and holds a tea light candle. I'm planning to hang it out of the big maple tree in the back yard. This is a vintage cocktail shaker for the bar. The white spot is just the flash from my camera, the shaker is in perfect condition. I've seen these going for $20 and up, but we got it for $5. It's so retro, I love it! Do you know what this is? It's a straw dispenser like they used to have in diners and ice cream shops. When you pull up on the handle, the straws will fan out so you can choose one. As soon as it's washed, it will be filled with colorful straws.

And these are my Mothers Day gifts from Mr. Willoughby. A gorgeous honeysuckle, a clematis, and a hydrangea (my favorite!) to plant in the yard. We're expecting frost tonight, so they won't be planted for another day or two.

Last but not least is the hanging basket we got for my Mom.

It looks so nice hanging in one of my gardens that I'd like to keep it for myself. I won't do that, but I might have to go back and get a few for our house.

After the flea market, Mr. Willoughby and the kids made brunch. They made biscuits and gravy, which is a favorite that we rarely have at home, but enjoy on vacation in North Carolina. Best of all, I didn't have to do any of the clean up!

Happy Mothers Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Bar Was Open......

Were you wondering why the bar didn't open last night? Actually, it did. We were having Mexican food for dinner so Mr. Willoughby made some margaritas. These were new recipes, one was a coconut margarita and the other was a cranberry/raspberry margarita. They were very pretty, see?

So why didn't I post the recipes? Because they were awful!! The coconut margarita was way too heavy on the lime, it was all you could taste. The cranberry/raspberry margarita was weak and watery.

We dumped them down the drain. Mr. Willoughby had a Mexican beer and I had a Coke (no recipes necessary). It was still a beautiful night, though. Look what we spotted in the sky, just over the trees:

It was spectacular. Just above it was another rainbow, but it was too faint to capture in a picture.
I was planning to post a bonus Saturday Night Drink to make up for last night, but I've been too busy working on a project to decide on a recipe. I'll share some pictures of the project in an upcoming post. For now, I need to go wash out my paint tray!
Happy Saturday, everyone!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Reality And A Request

Recently, my dad and I had a discussion about the TV show MASH. We both really like the show, but my dad doesn't think it very accurately represents what it was like to serve in the army during the Korean War. My dad served in Korea just after the war ended, so he speaks from personal experience. Of course, he isn't a doctor and wasn't assigned to a MASH unit, so you have to take that into account. I asked him what a typical day was like while he was in the army and he told me. In many ways, it was a lot like a normal work day for most people. Get up, eat, do your job, eat, go to bed. Okay, there was occasional artillery involved, but other than that......If they had based the show on those things it probably wouldn't have done very well in the ratings.

How many people can say that their life is interesting enough (without fabrication) to be a movie or television show? Not many, I'd say. Everyone has some funny stories that would make for a good sitcom episode, or took a vacation that would be worthy of a segment on the travel channel. But who could pull in viewers week after week with their daily routine? Not me or anyone in my family!

Okay, then, if you could spend a day as a part of the cast of your favorite movie or television show (as if it were your reality), what would you choose? It can be a comedy or a drama, action/adventure or horror. Even reality shows qualify for this silly question. Myself, I think I would be tempted to hang out with the gang on Scrubs or travel with Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations (as long as I didn't have to eat what he eats!). Leave your choice in my comments, if you'd like. I can't wait to see what others choose!


Most of you are foodies like me, so I have a request from all of you! I'm in search of a spectacular brownie recipe. I've searched Allrecipes and other food sites and blogs, but haven't found quite what I want. I have a great recipe that I normally make, but it produces brownies that are thinner than what I'm looking for. That seems to be the problem with most of the recipes I've tried. It's not a matter of using outdated baking powder/baking soda, since most brownies don't rise much to begin with.

We used to have an ice cream shop/cafe in town that made the worlds best brownies and I'd love to replicate them. They were about an inch to an inch and a half thick and very fudgy and dense, but still moist and chewy. They were not at all cakey. I guess you would call them gourmet brownies. I'd like to be able to make them for summer cook outs. If you've got a recipe that you think fits the bill, please let me know! I don't have a prize to offer you, but I'd be forever grateful!

I'll be back this evening to open the bar. See you then!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keeping Your Sanity

One of the first things I do after I take the kids to school is sit down with my coffee and read my favorite blogs. This morning, I was inspired by the blog that Purple Flowers posted. It was about the importance of balancing serious and silly. I agree with her, balance is important. During the most difficult challenges in life, laughter can make all the difference.

As most of you already know, my daughter was born severely premature at 23 weeks gestation. I'll save you the math, that means she came into this world 17 weeks before she was due. There was no reason for it, it just happened. She was 11 inches long and weighed 14 ounces. I can't tell you how scared we were for her survival.

The hospital where she was born was not equipped to handle such a premature baby, so, hours after her birth, she was transported via ambulance to another hospital 30 miles away with a state of the art NICU. I was released the next day.

Over the following six months, our lives revolved around taking shifts at the hospital and trying to maintain some kind of normal home life for our son, who was six at the time. We lived in a constant state of tension, jumping every time the phone rang. The hospital was nearly an hour away, so that only added to the anxiety. Could we get there fast enough if there was an emergency?

The simplest things became monumentally difficult, as well. Doing the grocery shopping or the laundry were just plain exhausting. On top of that, we felt guilty a lot of the time. If we were at the hospital, we felt guilty that we weren't spending time with our son. If we were home, we felt guilty that we weren't at the hospital with our daughter. It was a never ending vicious cycle.

On the days that my husband and I were lucky enough to be at the hospital together, we would take breaks and go outside. There were grassy areas with benches around the entrances where we would sit and people watch. One day we found something funny about someone walking into the hospital and it got us laughing. We turned it into sort of a game and sat laughing our fool heads off for better than 30 minutes. To an outside observer, I suppose it would have looked like we weren't very caring parents to sit laughing and joking while our daughter was so desperately ill, but it made the situation bearable for us. In time, we did the same thing inside by joking about the doctors with the nurses and respiratory team. It helped us maintain our sanity and feel like we still had a glimpse of normal life for a few minutes of each day.

I'm happy to say that, today, my daughter is a normal, healthy nine year old. She knows how she started life and how much time she spent in the hospital, but of course she'll never remember any of it or know what we went through.

All that being said, I want to share a few things to make you laugh today. I haven't done that in a while. The first story is another example of humor during a difficult time, and the second one is just a short, funny incident.

The day of my brother in law's memorial service was, of course, sad for all of us. I don't think anyone said much all morning while we were getting ready to leave. I had given my son his dress pants and shirt and told him to find dress socks to wear. He found a pair in a color that went well with what he was wearing and never said any more about it.

On the way home, he was complaining about how uncomfortable the dress socks were and took his shoes off. He said he didn't think the socks had stretched like they were supposed to. I asked him what he meant by that and he said he thought all dress socks looked small but were supposed to stretch to fit your foot. Then he took off a sock and showed it to me. It was a toddler size. I don't know why it was still in his drawer, but it was. He's 16 and wears a size 11 shoe, but he managed to stretch these teeny tiny socks over his big feet. We laughed until we were in tears. I took a picture of the sock next to one of his tennis shoes when we got home.

Can you imagine how uncomfortable that was? It gave us a good laugh when we needed it.

This was just a comment a friend of ours made. He had stopped by one day just as Mr. Willoughby was getting home from work. It was in the summer time and he was used to seeing Mr. W in shorts and a t-shirt, not the clothes he normally wears to work. So while all of our neighbors were out in their yards enjoying a sunny day (and well within earshot) Mark yelled, "I can't remember the last time I saw you with pants on." I'm not sure what the neighbors thought he meant, but it was pretty funny.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Flowers And My Addiction Plus An Update

Yesterday, my daughter asked me why people hate dandelions. I told her it was because they are weeds and very hard to get rid of. She said she doesn't care if they're weeds, they're still pretty to her. She feels bad for the dandelions because no one likes them. While I'm not likely to agree, I can't argue with her logic. She wanted to pick them all out of the yard before my husband cut the grass. I gave her a plastic pitcher and let her go to town on the back lawn.

She spent about an hour picking as many as she could. When she finally realized she would never get all of them she gave up.

And then she gave them to me. All three pitchers full! Anyone in need of some dandelions?

My Addiction

I got so many nice comments about my iron fish, yesterday, that I thought I would share a picture of my other fish candle holder. This one is made of resin, so he's quite a bit lighter and much smaller.

When I went out back to take a picture of him, I suddenly realized that I have a serious addiction to candles, candle holders, candlesticks, lanterns and oil lamps. I don't know why I never thought about it before, but I have dozens and dozens of them in every shape, size and material known to man. I don't know exactly why I'm so drawn to them, but I can't resist buying them everywhere I go. I like them indoors and outdoors.

On the wall in the dining room.

I moved them to the living room to take a picture, but these are usually in the dining room, too.

These are in the living room. They are actually vintage jello molds, but I put tea lights in them. I also use them for molds to make wax tarts for my tart burner (below).

In the front hallway.

In the living room. Ignore the soot on the glass, it was lit last night and I haven't cleaned it yet.

Here are just a few from the back porch.

That's not all. I also have candle lanterns hanging from the porch posts. There are four total.

And two more from a post in the back yard.

I told you it was an addiction! With flea market season just beginning, I'm sure I'll be adding more to the collection. Do you have this addiction, too, or is it just me?


The CDC revised their guidelines for closing schools to control the spread of the swine flu. Our schools have reopened after being closed for two days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy, Happy, Happy

Why am I so happy? Because my daughter and I just came back from shopping. We didn't go anywhere exciting, just the supermarket, but we had fun. Also, we got flowers! Wanna see?

Here's one of the topiary gardenias. I bought two of these. The plastic pots they came in will soon be history because Mr. Willoughby and I will be making planter boxes for them this weekend (I'll be blogging each step of the process in case you want to make some, too). My plan is to have them flanking the back porch steps. It was a challenge driving home with these beauties. I drive an SUV and they were too tall to put in the back without laying them down. Instead I put them behind the driver's seat. They started to tip over onto my daughter (she couldn't reach far enough to hold them up with her seat belt on) so I had to drive all the way home from the store with one hand behind my back holding them upright.

And I couldn't pass up this sweet deal. Ten tulips for $1.33! I bought a pink bunch and a purple bunch and put them in the new pitcher I got at the flea market on Sunday.

The stems are a little limp, but they still look pretty sitting on a glass top table next to my fish votive holder. He's from the flea market, too. I got him last year. He's made of iron and weighs about 5 pounds. Here's a closer look.

He has an opening on his underside where you can insert a candle. The wind blows it out pretty easily, but on calm nights he looks really cool. We spend most of our time on the back porch when the weather is nice and I love having flowers and candles all over the place. I'll give you a tour in an upcoming blog.
Happy, happy, happy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday Morning Tradition

From mid April through the end of October is flea market season around here. It's a Sunday morning tradition. The gates open around 6:00 am and stay open until the last vendor has closed up, usually about 1:00 pm. It's a big outdoor market spread over several acres and draws shoppers from all over our local area and the neighboring counties. You can find all the typical flea market merchandise there as well as garden plants, fresh produce and bakery items. Because we're in the middle of farm country, small livestock is pretty common, too.

How cute is the old ride on horse?! And no, that's not what I meant by small livestock! I just didn't get any pictures of the live animals.

The weather was perfect for lots of leisurely browsing. I'm sure you're wondering if we came home with any great finds. Yep, we did!

Mr. Willougby spotted this one. It's a six bottle liquor dispenser for our bar. When the bottles are inserted, they are held in place upside down. Press a glass upward on a nozzle and a perfect shot will be dispensed directly into the glass. Now if we could only figure out how to take it apart to clean it!

This was my find of the day. It's an old glass pitcher, about 8 inches tall. The bottom is pressed with "Made in Italy". Mr. Willoughby said his grandma had a pitcher just like it for milk. I'm not sure if I'll use it for serving drinks or put flowers in it and use it as a vase. At $2, I couldn't pass it up.

I can hardly wait to see what's there next Sunday!