Rosewater Anyone?

Rosewater Anyone?

It’s been a long time coming but finally I have the rose bush of my dreams.

I was pretty sure I couldn’t grow roses in my shady back yard.  Roses require a lot of sun, usually about 8 hours.  My yard is bordered by large trees, which I love even though they don’t allow much sun to penetrate their foliage.  There is only one little awkward corner in the back yard where the house and the driveway come together where the sun’s rays are not obscured by structures or by shadows.  There I have had some luck with a few sun loving flowers, such as canna lillies and morning glories.

Finally, I could no longer ignore my desire to have a rosebush and though it wasn’t ideal, that awkward corner was the only spot in my yard where roses had a chance to flourish.  So I would plant my rose there.

I bought the Cecile Brunner rose which does tolerate light shade.   The first two years seemed to bear out my misgivings about growing roses in our yard.  There were only a handful of blooms.  But the stems were lush with leaves.  And then this year, there was a sudden profusion of blooms!  I’m not kidding when I say I did a double take when I looked out the window a few weeks ago.  I beheld a glorious rosebush that seemed to have bloomed overnight.

And the smell!  The bush fills the air with its fragrance. Sometimes I just stand there and inhale.   I’ve been cutting stems daily for bouquets for the house.   Even as cut flowers the scent perfumes the air inside.   It’s hard to describe the pleasure they bring.

After the arrangement wilted, the fragrance lingered in the petals.  I didn’t want to waste those sweet smelling petals and decided to see about making my own rosewater, which I have been hearing so much about.   I looked up “rosewater recipe” and found this one.  It could not be more simple.

After steeping the petals for 10 minutes, I ended up with this golden liquid.  You can’t really tell from the picture but there is a thickness to the water.

I used it on the back of my hands and now they feel supple and soft.  And they give off a subtle rose scent.

Apparently rosewater has been around for a long time, thousands of years, and has many uses.  This article from Elle was quite interesting.  Although, I must admit I can’t see myself using it as mouthwash.

I do not have a spritz bottle, but I do plan to get one so that I can spritz rosewater around on linens and pillows.  I love natural scents.

Of course the best scent of all is to have a big bouquet of beautiful roses in every room.  You could just put bowls of petals around too.

I deferred my dream of growing roses, thinking I was being practical and realistic.  But there was so little at stake to just give it a try.  I’m not sure why it took so long to realize that.

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.

Emma Goldman

 

My Hammam Bath Experience

My doctor, dermatologist, actually, suggested the hammam bath for me due to my dry, scaly, bumpy skin.  I knew my skin, especially on my back, needed attention.  In fact, one reason I was in her office was to check for cancerous spots, but also to diagnose the itchy rash that suddenly appeared all over my back and legs.

For the rash I was prescribed a visit to the spa.  Well, kind of.  In many cultures body scrubs are part of a monthly ritual for deep cleansing.   The hammam treatment is a Moroccan bath which  involves a period of steaming followed by vigorous scrubbing.

I’ve been to many spas over the years, but I have never experienced the hammam.  I googled it to see what to expect.  Experiences vary so I thought I would share mine.

Fortunately a spa providing hammam baths is located within a 15 minute drive of my home. Soon after arriving I was ushered into a comfortable room with a daybed and two chairs.  Maria, who performed my service told me to remove all of my clothes, including underwear and to wrap in the large Turkish towel provided.

Next I followed her into a sizable tiled room that was filled with steam.  A shower was running in the corner and I showered there, basically letting the warm water wash over me.  From there I was helped over to a large tiled slab where I lay down on a mat.  The room is so steamy you can barely see and I felt like my breathing had to adjust a little.  But it also feels good.

Then Maria used black soap to wash my entire body, front and back.  This took about 5 minutes.  You are left to steam for about 15 minutes.  When she came back, she began a vigorous scrub with a brush on my legs, working her way up to my shoulders and arms and then doing the same on my back side.   This scrubbing felt good for the most part.  Only my abdomen felt a little sensitive.  After scrubbing a section Maria would pour really warm water over me and that felt wonderful.  After the scrubbing and the water she applied a thick gel-like substance, like a masque all over my body.  I steamed some more, probably 5 minutes.  She came back and poured more water over me, removing the masque with her hands.

Then she had me sit up and she washed my hair and applied conditioner.  I went back to the shower for a final rinse.  In the dressing room I toweled off and Maria came in and applied Argan oil which my skin just drank up.  The entire process lasted a little over an hour.

My skin feels so smooth now.  I think I will go on a regular basis because I do have exceedingly dry and bumpy skin.  Also my doctored “ordered” it.

Afterwards you  feel a little raw, so if you are going to go anywhere you might want to bring a hairdryer and a little make-up.  Although there was a hairdryer and brush in the room, which I used, I would probably bring mine next time unless I planned to go directly home.

All in all it was a good experience and I see why some make it a regular part of their skin care routine.

What is your favorite spa procedure:  massage, facial, scrub, steam?

Basement Update-Sectional

The sectional for our basement living room was delivered last week.  We are completely pleased with it.  It fits the space well and is very comfortable.  Its the Luxora Bisque from the Ashley Home Store.  (This post is not sponsored)

I’m trying to decide if we need a coffee table.  I’m afraid a table will make it look cluttered.  What do you think?

Just to remind you what this area looked like before:

The blue sofa is the Pottery Barn Basic sleeper sofa.  It is a very comfortable sleeper.  I plan to buy a new slipcover (not from PB, though) and give the sofa to my son.  Anyway, you can tell from this picture that the sofa did not fill up the space very well.  So I added this hodge podge of chairs that had no other home.  The basement was a repository for old forlorn furniture.

I still love my new walls down here..  For more about this renovation go here.  They are so perfect I don’t want to put any nail holes in them.  I’m still figuring out the other side of this room.

I used to say that I didn’t want to spend money on the basement because we never came down here.  But now that it has been updated and painted I do want to spend time here.   Lesson learned:  you will want to use rooms that are fresh and pretty and inviting.

Do you have rooms full of tired old furniture?

Make College Graduation Day Special

Make College Graduation Day Special

Our three children  have long since graduated from college.  But I clearly remember the excitement and pride I felt on each of those occasions. We wanted to celebrate afterwards  to make our graduate feel special and show them how proud we were.

 

 Each institution has its own traditions for those celebrations that take place immediately after the commencement ceremony.  How do you throw a party when you aren’t at home?  Won’t the restaurants be packed?  If you prefer to host a gathering, finding a venue can be challenging.

Perhaps your student has been living in an off-campus apartment and that would be suitable.  Streamers and balloons in the school colors add a festive touch.  Don’t forget napkins and other paper goods in the appropriate colors.   Food and drink could be purchased locally or brought from home if you are driving from nearby.

 If the weather is conducive, a picnic is a great option.    Picnics can be as casual or as elaborate as you like.  You will need to coordinate with your student to find out if the institution allows picnicking on the grounds.  Or perhaps there are public parks  nearby.  Check to see if these spaces require reservations.

Along these same lines, perhaps a tailgate picnic would work.  If you have the capability to bring a grill and some coolers, then your graduate can invite friends to join the celebration. Or some of those public parks may have grills (and restrooms) available.

Some colleges and universities have provided options on campus for families to set up their reception area.  I am surprised that more schools don’t do this, recognizing that families want to take the time to congratulate their student.

Obviously if you want to go to a restaurant you must plan ahead and make reservations.  I would start calling in February for a May graduation.  They may tell you that you have to wait, but then you can find out when reservations open for graduation day.  Put that date on your calendar and call early that day.

For one of our children’s graduations we rented a house for the weekend.  Having a house enabled us to invite our graduate’s friends and their families over to join us.  The school colors were orange and navy blue so I found as much decor in those colors as I could.  We brought food from home since the school is a short  two hour drive.

For another child’s graduation we attended a party at his fraternity house that was coordinated by some parents.  We all contributed to the cost. This provided an opportunity to socialize with the other graduates and their parents.

Any other suggestions for celebrating college graduation?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Carpet Runner Fail

Carpet Runner Fail

Maybe the purpose of this blog is for me to make all the mistakes. Then, from a position of authority, I can warn you away from costly decorating errors. Read on for a cautionary tale of what to do and not do when you decide to carpet your stairs.  Mostly what not to do.

I have been planning to carpet the stairs to the basement for  years, but this project always took a back seat to other more prominent needs.  But, recently  I took down old paneling in the basement and saw the huge improvement there, which motivated me to  keep going.   I found a reliable and competent handyman who could do the job and I had some house guests coming.  The timing seemed fortuitous.  I’m all about timing.

I found this bright and jazzy runner at Wayfair.  Wayfair, as you probably know, has more selection than anyone has time to look at.  But I spent a weekend poring over all the choices. The runners that were predominately red really attracted me so I narrowed my search by color.  I kept going back to this red chevron and I still really like it.

So what’s the problem you ask?  Well, these stairs have a landing at the bottom, a turn to the left.  Landings require some piecing and  maneuvering and matching.  If only I had known that during those hours of looking at carpet runners.

It’s kind of funky isn’t it?  My first reaction was No, I didn’t just see that.  The installer did not consult with me about how this was to be done, not that I would have known.   I have tendency to leave workmen to do their jobs and not hover.  As he was showing me the completed work he explained why he had pieced it in this manner.  It boiled down to “not a lot of options”.

I think it looks better from this angle.  You do too, right?

At first I was thinking “rip it out and start over”.  But, honestly, I’ve gotten used to it.  And I still like this pattern.

Even with that issue, I am glad I finally installed carpet.  The stairs are  transitional space that prepare you for the next room.  Before it felt as if you were descending into a dungeon.   Now, the red color and the pattern give you a sense that you are entering a fun and playful space, one where you might want to spend some time.

I hardly even notice that weird fusion anymore.  Really, I don’t.

  But you might want to think about how your runner pattern will match up if you have a landing on your stairs.

Basement Living Room Update

Basement Living Room Update

Those who have been following me may remember that last fall I noticed a water issue in our basement bedroom.  Yes, water was definitely seeping into the walls and the carpet in this room.  We have had water issues in the basement before and have installed a waterproofing system where a company comes in and installs a french drain and a sump pump.  However, we added on to our home, including a basement bedroom, but we stupidly did not extend the waterproofing to this area.  We thought some of our outdoor landscaping would mitigate but it did not.

Anyway, we had the waterproofing company return and take care of the issue.  In so doing, they remove drywall.  So, when I had the drywall installers come, I had them do some long needed work in another part of my basement, the living room.  Previously I had old dated paneling in this area.

I have wanted to have that old paneling removed for so long.  Once I had the professionals in to take care of the bedroom I got an estimate for removing this paneling, extending the TV wall 4 feet and painting this entire room.  Mr. DB and I agreed the cost was  reasonable and we gave the go-ahead.

This is a picture of the wall that we extended 4 feet, enabling the TV to be centered across from the sofa.

This short wall forced the furniture placement to be crammed into one end of the room.  That just threw everything off and made me give up.  Side note:  This room has looked worse. Our young sons used this room for indoor soccer, baseball, wrestling, etc.  Once they grew up and left I tried to make it somewhat more presentable, albeit with cast-off furniture.  Half-measures never really work, do they?

Finally, with the new drywall and wall extension, I am making progress.

I found this TV stand at HomeGoods.

We also updated the lighting down here with more recessed lights.  Those two updates made it feel like an entirely new room.

I have ordered a sectional sofa for this space.

My decorating process is step by step.  Once the sectional comes in I can decide on a coffee table and art.

This is the last room in our house to be modernized.  Nineteen years ago we bought a ranch home built in 1960.  It had been updated somewhat in the 1970s.  But I am not really sorry that we couldn’t do a whole house renovation in one swoop.  Our sons had their indoor sports room; now we have a grown-up space.  All things in their time.

Getting Ready for Summer

  We finally had a nice warm day this past week,  where it just felt good to be outside getting rid of winter’s debris and cleaning up the dining furniture.  It’s a little like playing house; I clean and rearrange, plan my purchases of annuals for all of the containers.

This year I left my furniture out in the weather.  Cold weather came on suddenly, then left just as quickly.

Never buy a glass-topped table for your garden.  Yes, that is glass.  I will scrub it with a steel brush and water to remove the grime that has adhered over the winter.  I am looking for a replacement but not sure what I want to get so this is it for the meantime.

We bought this “set” of table and chairs at a garage sale years ago.  I still love the chairs’ vintage vibe.  I did have them professionally recoated and that has been a good investment.  It will be pretty easy to clean them off.  And yes, I should put them in storage for the winter.  Now, after a good scrub down, I am not embarrassed for anyone to sit down.

I plan my trip to the plant nursery carefully. I have found that it is a good idea to go  there on a cloudy day. The most popular nursery in our area is so busy on the initial sunny days of spring that they have  people directing traffic in the parking lot.  Having to negotiate crowds and lines makes me too tired to garden when I get home.  If you go on a cloudy day, during the week if possible, you will find a good selection and plenty of help.  I also try to have a color scheme, although it is hard to stick with.  A lot of impulse buying happens at the garden center.  Lately I’ve been buying flowers in flats to save time and money.  If I go before our last frost date the seedlings will keep well in the garage for a week or two.

I also get my pots and potting soil ready for planting.  If I haven’t already, I dump the old potting soil in the compost and start fresh with new potting soil.  That way my plants will have the best nourishment for growth and bloom.

As I mentioned, we need a new outdoor dining table.  We also need more comfortable  lounge chairs for a small deck closer to the back door.   Luckily Emily Henderson just did a round up of good options.  I struggle with  the issue of  spending any money on outdoor furniture since we are not outside that much.  You see, we have a lot of mosquitoes here in northern Virginia.  They love Mr. DB but me, not so much.  I am looking into solutions that work because it’s no fun sitting outside alone.

I added these pillows to our iron furniture to give it a little more comfort and color.  And that has been a good solution .

I am really looking forward to enjoying my favorite season, mosquitoes or not!

 

Best Greenery for Your Home

Best Greenery for Your Home

I think we all know that plants and flowers add a warm and nurturing feeling to a home.  Plants not only add beauty but also make our homes healthier by acting as air filters.

I know, I know.  What if you are not good at keeping plants alive?  House plants can be somewhat tricky.  For the most part I confine myself to the easier variety.  Today I’m going to share what works for me and a few other ways that I bring foliage into my house.

Continue reading “Best Greenery for Your Home”

The Vegetarian at the Dinner Party

How do you handle the vegetarian dinner guest is the question for today.  Hopefully you have been informed ahead of time that one of your guests is a vegetarian.  The next thought is how to accommodate your guest without having to take on a lot of extra work.

Obviously you want all of your guests to feel welcome and accepted. To that end I have tried various options and I’m still not sure which is the best.  Here’s what I’ve done in the past.

Option 1:  Make a special dish for the vegetarian only.  Once I made a bolognese sauce for my non-vegetarian guests and a zucchini pasta for the vegetarians.  The problem was that the vegetarian pasta ended up getting passed around and the meat-lovers tried it as well.  Oops.  I had not made enough for everyone to have the vegetarian option.   But, it would be relatively easy to make pasta with two different toppings, one meat and one vegetarian which is what I would do next time.  My vegetarian topping was super easy:  Roast sliced zucchini drizzled in olive oil and sea salt for 20 minutes in the oven.  Place the roasted zucchini in a bowl and combine with your favorite jarred tomato sauce.  Everyone loved it!

Option 2:  Everyone could be vegetarian for a night.  I have some good vegetarian recipes and we do eat vegetarian a couple of nights a week around here.  Mr. DB isn’t crazy about this idea though, feeling that when you have guests you should roll out your best and fanciest meal.  For him that usually means a meal that includes meat.

 

Option 3:  The focal point of your meal could be meat, such as Prime Rib or Roasted Chicken and you can have a lot of vegetable sides.  Also, it’s always good to have bread.

My vegetarian friends are not fussy and usually say that they will make a meal out of the side dishes or whatever.  But, we have occasionally had a work colleague or someone we don’t know as well who is vegetarian and we want them to feel welcome.  I mean we want everyone to feel welcome and be fed.

What do you do when you have a mixed crowd at dinner?  I’m sure there are some options I haven’t thought of.

Here are a few vegetarian recipes I plan to try:

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Roasted Eggplant Pasta

Zucchini Quiche

Easter Table Ideas

I have been trying out various centerpiece ideas for my Easter table this year and nothing has really said yes, this is it.

I started off using my Christmas garland as grass with eggs and bunnies peeping out.  But it seemed a little tired and too cute.

Some years you just want simplicity.

But maybe not that much simplicity.  I think this is a happy medium.

I have saved eggs from past years.  We blew the eggs out of little holes poked into the end of the eggs.  A baby nose syringe is helpful for getting the egg out if you want to try it.  I just added some grass to my square vases and put a few eggs in each one.

I wanted small bunches of flowers along the table but didn’t have enough containers of the same size.  Somehow I had a few spice jars that had just emptied and a capers jar that had been in the refrigerator too long.  I added a little blue dye to the water so it didn’t look quite so humble.

We are having our extended family this year which will be fun.  There is a newly engaged couple, a baby, a college freshman, a lot of news to catch up on.

How do you decorate for Easter?

PS:  Check out my easy recipe for deviled eggs!