The Strange Exchange

Ok, this fun-ness was back at the end of March, but I’m just getting to my post about it now!  And since I’m  working from my phone, I will have to go back and add in some links for the very cool,  very friendly vendors we met. Creative stuff.  Super fun day. I will definitely be back!

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The Weird NJ guys were there!

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And it was a beautiful day...

The Strange Exchange is part freak-show, part flea market and all authentic Jersey, my much maligned but beloved home state.

Before we even walked in, I knew it would be good,  silly fun… like a classic issue of Weird NJ

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Oh, hai!

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Oh... hai!!

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I love this guy...

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The greeter scary clown scared my cute mom!

The theatre was all vendors, selling items that ranged from hand-knit scarves to lovingly taxidermied mice. And, of course… pork roll.

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A view of the space

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These two are AWESOME!

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They make stuff like this...

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And this!

It was really hard to not purchase the snake in a jar. But it did inspire me to get the apothecary bathroom started!!

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My fabulous husband bought me this fabulous necklace. I love it! I’m going to put it together with my Parkway Token necklace from my sister’s wedding and knock the socks off the rockin’ Jersey charms.

Embroidered Pillowcases

It takes me a while,  but I usually get my projects done! My sister may have gotten married in early October,  but she got her wedding present for Easter.  So hey,  friends and family I owe gifts to… they are on their way…promise!

My sister loves strawberries  (who doesn’t?!), and we both have happy memories of our grandmother’s (on our dad’s side) love of strawberries,  so I stitched up these pillowcases for her and my much-loved brother-in-law. Now on to the backlog!

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The Never Ending Story (of the dining room)

We took a few days off back in mid- February to get started on the dining room.  Which I thought would be done three years ago!  We got started on stripping trim,  but then we had to go back to life,  so the room is currently in a state of “kind of a disaster mess” but I swear we will get it done before the summer!

One of the best parts was when Chris found the original bathroom door (there’s a small bathroom off the dining room that needs a full gutting. That’s on the Getting Budgeted, Demo’d and Done Soon List,  too! Oy, there are a lot of things on that list!!). I started stripping it,  which is oddly slow going for an easy, flat piece of wood,  but I’m super duper excited about the doorknob! This is my life now!  I get really excited about doorknobs!

Stay tuned for what I promise will be very dramatic “after” pictures. Someday!

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The exciting doorknob! We're going to shine it up. Someday...

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Beautiful trim...

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Messy Before Photo

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The door!

Introducing…

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Bebe La Strange, our new teeny female betta.

I love bettas and have had several over the past ten years.  Our latest little guy,  who was with us fo
r almost two years,  went to the great flusher in the sky earlier today after a brief illness.

Here’s to a long and healthy life to little Bebe!

Happy First Day of Spring!

So what if it’s currently snowing a little?  The calendar says it’s the first day of spring!

We’re determined to have a bountiful garden this year, and for the first time since I was a kid,  I’m trying to start some things from seed…

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We’ve been saving egg cartons for months, and I finally got them all going today!  The seeds are from the fantastic  Hudson Valley Seed Library http://http://www.seedlibrary.org/, which has the prettiest packaging ever…

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(they have an open calls for artists every year,  so hey, artists… send in your art!) I think all of these seeds were either gifts or purchased at the fab Country Living Craft Fair, so they also remind me of summer funtimes with friends and family.  Yay!

I’ve planted 2 kinds of lettuce and the Ragged Jack kale, some sage that I plan to repot and give as gifts if it goes well,  and a whole lotta Morning Glories — which I’m really, really hoping take off because a) I’ve got a trellis that is just waiting for something good to climb it and b) when I was little, we grew some Morning Glories that climbed the railings of our front steps and I have very fond memories of how pretty they were and how much fun they were to grow. 

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Now,  I’m going to be honest and say that I’m truly confused by the growing instructions on each and every one of these packets. But I figure that humans have been growing plants from seeds for quite some time now,  and some of these humans must have been dumber or less garden-ally inclined than I am.  So I’m giving it an earnest go and hoping for the best. My track record might be spotty, but it’s a whole new season, right? 

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Another reason to love weekends  (as if we needed more reasons)… time to cook!  With the chill in the air it seemed like a good day to pull out the slow cooker and make a big ol’ pot of pot roast.  Along with Chris’ amazing home made bread…

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…it was, a terrific Sunday night supper.

The bread is Mark Bittman’s classic no-knead/Sullivan St. Bakery recipe,  which you can find on the NY Times website, but I also found this lovely post about it,  which I recommend checking out: http://www.astackofdishes.com/the-famous-ny-times-no-knead-bread/

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Final version, ready to serve!

All this productivity aside,  my favorite part of the first day of spring might have been this morning’s delicious rainbow bagel. Carb-tacular!

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So cheers to carbs and slow cookers and seedlings and the last of the snow. Happy Spring!

Bedroom Curtain Project

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This is a project I have been super excited about,  and it’s now officially halfway done, so I think that’s an ok time to share.  It will also force me to finish it.  (Here is where you are all,  “Waitaminute… wasn’t  there some kind of jewelry station…” and I’m pretending not to hear that bc it’s basically done, but also not. But I will take photos of it soon! Photos make me finish things).

I recently acquired a lot of acrylic paint, which actually worked better than fabric paint, but I have no idea if I can wash it. That’s the only major oops part of the project. I have 7 or 8 different blues, and I’m using them all.

We painted the bedroom a dark, bright blue, and I’m working on making everything in the room a different shade of blue. There are a lot of different blues out there! (Note: That would be a good blues song).

I have 4 white tab-top curtain panels, purchased at Ikea over a year ago. I think they were $9.99 for a two-pack. They are well made and crisp, and they are very boring. Enter into my life so many shades of blue, an old stencil, some new stencil brushes and so I thought I’d give it a go.

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I’m really pleased with how they’re going so far! I will finish the other two, get them hung and post a photo. Motivation!

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Gathered my supplies

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Ironed this twice more after this photo and before paint

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With one row done, I knew I liked the way this was going!

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I'm going with "a little crooked is part of the charm"

Green Thumb Dreams

We cleaned out the yard this past  weekend… continuing to learn as we go.

The final haul of our poor little vegetable garden:

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Poor little eggplants! A few straggler tomatoes, not even enough jalapeños for a decent salsa!  The summer was dry,  and we didn’t water enough. We also had some critters steal all the good stuff…

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(Hi, there,  Promising Little Baby Cucumber That Got Totally Eaten By a Nasty Raccoon )

…so  we resolved to fence things in next year and be better at the whole “tending” thing.

But on to things we’re actually growing..

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When we had a tree fall in the yard a couple summers ago, I thought this poor little guy was a goner (a laurel? I will look it up,  I swear! ). You can see the middle part that was crushed, and the right side has always been ok.  But that little bit on the left is what’s exciting to me… New growth! It’s a theme I’m embracing around here these days.  My brother-in-law helped dig it out last weekend,  and we re-planted it along the border of the yard (by “we”  I mean “my brother-in-law”). Per his wise advice,  we watered it hard for two days and I’m hopeful for its full recovery. Its removal was part of the weekend side yard clean out, and with all the green leaves sprouting out the side, I think we’re in for a good spring with this one.  Stay tuned.

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Now here we have a photo I like —  I’m trying to work on my photography skills (in addition to trying to keep track of the work we’re doing), using all the modes and filters available to a modem gal with a fairly new phone.  On the left,  we have an excellent example of the weedy wildflowers I have encouraged to grow all season.  Along the borders of the yard,  I decided to completely let things do what they want —  it’s going to be a while before we can afford the fencing we’d like to put in, so I’m letting go and letting nature take its course in these places. This has worked out for the most part (wildflowers), but has also spectacularly backfired in a few places, as well.  For example, I’m pretty certain the plant on the right is poison ivy. And there is PLENTY of it along said border. So it’s a fun challenge to prune things back while trying not to touch a large percentage of what’s in there. The first summer we were here,  I unknowingly embraced the poison ivy,  and that did not turn out well. Lesson learned.

And finally…

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The Thorny Berry I-Haye-Ums!

That may not be their scientific name,  but without resorting to a few choice Jersey Girl  words not fit for print,  that’s what I call them.

This is another plant I’ve let grow where it pleases, and these thorny bushes are all over the yard. They seem to spread in direct proportion to how much I dislike  them.

Nonetheless, I was excited to see them all sprout way more berries than they did last year.

Until my boss told me that was a sure sign that it’s going to be a terrible winter.

So… yay?