ReFeathering with Comfort Food

The temperature began to drop yesterday. It wasn’t COLD, but definitely got cooler as the day went on and the wind was blustery. And Hubby was working outside all day, between two buildings that created a wind tunnel. He’s still been wearing “short pants” to work (as the men folk around here have dubbed them) and was pretty chilled by the time he got home. Comfort food was in order.

Comfort food is different for every family, I think. Usually something filling and something that will warm your bones. Probably high-carb in most cases. Food you’d find at your local family restaurant or at Cracker Barrel. Something Grandma would have cooked. I think that’s the key… Comfort Food is food that has memories attached to it.

Comfort Food is difficult to prepare for just two, and I failed at downsizing dinner last night. But that’s okay, because Mom & I will eat the leftovers today. And Hubby and I might still eat them tonight. I pretty much made enough for a small army. We had…

Herbed Potato Vegetable Soup
and Bisquick Biscuits
and Real Butter and Jam
and Fruit Salad

This is a generational soup… Nana Anne could make potato soup in no time flat. If we were just hanging out around her kitchen table, and somebody said “Nana, make some potato soup,” there would be steaming hot soup sitting before you blinked twice. And usually a batch of sweet muffins to go along with it. Her recipe involved just a few ingredients… potatoes and onions, cut up and boiled ’til soft, whole milk, and salt & pepper. Hubby and the girls didn’t crave potato soup like I did, so I started doctoring it up a bit. I found that adding some extra veggies, such as carrots, celery, peas, and/or corn did the trick. (Veggie additions vary as to what is on hand!) Plus herbs… a small handful of dried parsley and a generous sprinkle of Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb blend.

Last night we even added a few memories to our Comfort Food dinner by using some special dishes… Nana Anne had a place setting for two of these cute dishes. We girls thought they were adorable, so she gave them to us. And impromptu tea parties were the result. Not long after that, our extra-extended family-sort of adopted-MomMom Pearl passed away, and our dear friends gave us her berry bowls… which matched the plates from Nana! So now we have two plates, two bread plates, and eight berry bowls of handed-down memory dishes. In the midst of down-sizing, maybe gathering up some matching pieces would be a good-for-our-heart Empty Nest project.

Something else that came to mind while writing this post… Nana Anne’s house was an Empty Nest my whole life. Her girls were both grown and married. But it was never empty. Somebody was always there, people were always stopping by, and there was always a bed if someone needed to spend the night… or a week… or a month. And nobody ever went hungry. If you sat still for more than 5 minutes, she’d try to feed you. I’d like our Empty Nest to be like that.

Quick note… I am still schnipping away! Had some sudden inspiration while in the mini-van with the women the other day, and turned some scraps into tiny papercuts! Last winter I was able to make some pendants from tiny cuttings like these, so hopefully that’s where they’re bound. That’s a dime next to them, to give a bit of perspective!

No wonder I’m always needing new glasses.


Day 20 – ReFeathering with Ideas?

Thinking about decorating, I asked Hubby what he would like to be in our new room. His initial answer was “a bed and a pillow.” So, I’m pretty sure I can decorate it any way I like as long as it’s comfortable and there’s a place to put everything away.

Other than paint colors and fabric and curtains, I really haven’t thought about WHAT to put in the bedroom. Our current furniture, of course, but there’s more space in that room. We could just spread everything out, or we could possibly have a little seating area on one end. A reading nook? Or a desk? Exercise bike? My sewing machine? TV for watching  movies?

After a bit of discussion, we immediately ruled out a TV. Too much noise. And the sewing machine and exercise bike seemed too much like work. Hubby liked the idea of a chair and I like the idea of a reading or studying spot. It’s funny… a lot of folks seem to want a master bedroom where they can “get away,” but with an empty nest, what is there to “get away from?” We’re not looking to create a get-away haven, but I would like our room to be a soft spot in the nest, though!

Emilie Barnes suggests adding soft and feminine touches to the master bedroom. I have to agree that the sleek modern bedroom ideas don’t appeal to either of us, but we’re also not exactly frills and lace folks either. I’m looking for a Martha simplicity/Mary Jane farmhouse/Vintage Cottage/Slightly Shabby/Slightly Romantic/Light and Airy sort of mix. I started a Pinterest Board with ideas… and am definitely open for more!

Our Nest Ideas

Day 19 – More prep work… and Girl Time!

Re-Doing the bedroom is really becoming a “bits and pieces” sort of project! Every time I try to get started, it seems I find little details that need re-doing, or some more prep work that needs to be done. And I’m looking ahead for a whole day that I can devote to painting the walls… right now it’s looking like Monday or Tuesday. We have something going on every day from now ’til then! (Kate called and teased me yesterday… “You and Dad are just busy beavers since I’ve left home!”)


I had to give some of the holes in the wall extra applications of nail filler. The mirror was held on with small molly bolts, which left quite a few pencil-sized holes in the wall. When the filler dried, it was sunken in in perfect circles, which looked funny even on our lumpy-textured walls. And, since the holes were deep, it took longer for the DryDex to dry. Finally they look like they blend in with the texture…

And they had to be sanded several times,
which can make a bit of a mess…

And now there are lots of things to tape around…

That blue tape is Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape. I LOVE the stuff. And highly recommend it. It helps mask off areas that you don’t want to get paint on, and it really works. Do not buy the cheap stuff. Get the real thing. I’m not a brand-name person when it comes to sneakers or blue jeans, but with painter’s tape,  crayons, glue, and post-it notes, my advice is to go with the brand you know. The cheap painter’s tape is either too sticky and will leave a residue, or not sticky enough and will come loose when you need it to stay put.

(I also use the blue tape in the Art Room…
it holds down patterns and finished artwork
on my lightbox without messing them up!)

Perhaps I could have accomplished more yesterday, but on the spur of the moment I decided to head out for some Girl Time. Being a homebody, and also trying to catch up on Things, it’s hard for me to stop and take a day off to play. But yesterday, I headed out with Mom and Char and DonnaLea and Carol and spoofed around in a few antique shops. I saw a lot of things I liked, but amazingly enough didn’t buy a thing. But I know where those things are if we decide that we need them. Got a few decorating ideas too. I hadn’t thought of Girl Time being important during the ReFeathering process, but I think it might be. Especially if you had girls, and a big part of your life together was Girl Time. We’ve had many, many years of multi-generational-plus adopted family-Girl Time-antique and country store-shopping days, and it’s still fun, even if my own girls aren’t in the back seat. And I hope we have many more!

Day 18 – Getting ready…

Yesterday I ran to the hardware store to get supplies…
…painter’s tape and a new fuzzy paint roller…

There are lots of choices in the fuzzy paint roller section.
Hope I got the right kind!

And the new paint is Satin, not Semi-Gloss.

Hopefully Hubby and I will be careful with
the crayons and not write on the walls.

The floor below is what the “un-sanded” part of
the bedroom looks like. The carpet was put down
before we cleaned up the drywall mud glops!

The wood has a really interesting patina…
never stained, but you can tell it’s not brand new.

We may just sand it and leave it as is.

But this icy cool creamy color is for the walls.


Day 17 – ReFeathering with A Lick and a Promise

The Little House books were a favorite around here. We read them aloud several times, and even used them as curriculum. One thing I remember Ma Ingalls teaching her girls was to give their home a “lick and a promise.” If you don’t have time to do a thorough housecleaning… the kind where you get the cobwebs in every corner and the dust off the chandelier… you can still give the house a quick “lick” to spruce things up a bit, and “promise” that you will deep clean later!

When life gets busy around here, or when we’re working on a big project, I tend to concentrate on the Big Thing and let little things go. Clutter piles up, as well as dishes and laundry. The floor gets crunchy and furniture gets fuzzy. However, several homemaking/housecleaning/get-your-act-together experts endorse the idea of a “lick and a promise.” In so many words. They may call it a Hot Spot Fire Drill , a Ten Minute Tidy, or 15 Minute Managing, but the basic idea is to stop for 5, 10, or 15 minutes and do something to bless your home. I’ve been trying to do that the past few days. Just a few minutes here and there to do a few things that I would have walked past and thought “I’ll get to that later.” It’s been slow going, but it’s starting to look a bit better around here. I’ve found that…

In just 5 minutes it’s possible to…

Start a load of laundry

Clear my kitchen counter

Wipe down a toilet and sink

Put away a load of laundry

Straighten up an entry area

Fill a few nail holes with DryDex

Wash eggs
(We have chickens.)

And in just 10 or 15 minutes there’s time to…

 Fold a load of laundry

Clean an entire bathroom

Vacuum one room
(Okay, just the middle of said room)

Scrub and shine a sink

Run a quick errand

Remove electrical outlet covers
to prepare for painting

Do the dishes

So, if I work for an hour or so,
and then set my timer for 15 minutes,
it’s possible to keep plugging away at ReFeathering the nest!

Photo by Kate

They say you can eat an elephant
if you do it one bite at a time!

Day 16 – ReFeather by ReCharging!

 There have been a lot of little white churches in our lives
since we were married in 1986.

Here’s where it all started… just around the corner,
… where we said “I do.”

We spent our first few years in this one
in upstate New York…

There have been a few more since then…
… I think we’re drawn to the old-fashioned white ones…
but the color, shape, or size doesn’t matter.

It’s what inside that counts.

Worshipping together has been a big part of “us”
over the past twenty-five years.
There have been many, many times that we’ve felt
too weary on Sunday morning to go to church,
but we always feel lifted up when we do.

Ready to hang in there and make it through another week.


I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go into the house of the Lord.
~Psalm 122:1~

Day 15 – Yummy Easy Meal for Two

Late today… I can blame that rascally Spanish test.


I haven’t done much in the way of ReFeathering the past couple of days, but we did have a yummy dinner last night! It was a total experiment, but it turned out pretty good, used up leftover spaghetti sauce, and took minimal effort…

Spaghetti Sauce Chicken

Place two boneless skinless chicken breasts in a casserole. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian Blend Seasoning. (That’s the official name of what I used… just a mix of Italian Herbs. You can get a lifetime supply here for around 5 bucks. I usually share it with my girls when I buy a pound of it!) Top the spices with a tablespoon of minced garlic… the wet kind you buy in a jar. And then top that with spaghetti sauce… I used about a cup or so… and a handful of grated parmesan. Cover the casserole and bake about an hour at 375 degrees. Serve with brown rice and something green. The chicken will be very tender and pretty savory too!

I forgot to take a picture, but it was a colorful dinner!

Something that I’ve been thinking about is us dining together. Just us two. I think we’ve defaulted to the sofa because the dining room table is too big for two. Or it seems so. We have a farm table that easily seats six, and can seat eight if folks don’t mind being cozy. We upsized a few years ago as teenage friends visited often and courtin’ fellows joined the family dinners. Now we’re not sure if we should sit beside each other or across from each other, but either way it seems a bit lop-sided. I’m pondering an answer for this.

One thought is to swap the long farm table for a round or oval table, which seems a bit more cozier for two. Maybe a little on the cottage-style side, like this sweet table from Crate & Barrel which actually can extend to seat 6…

I think that style would still look good with the colonial chandelier and black Windsor chairs, and I sort of lean more toward “farmhouse cottage” myself. I could move the farm table down into the Art Room, which would give me better seating for art class kiddos. But I’d have to protect that pretty top somehow from stray paintbrushes. And purchasing a new table wasn’t exactly in our immediate plans or current budget. Maybe we should find a little spot in the family room where we could stick a small table for two?


Food for thought.

Day 13 – More Deconstructing.

Mirror Removal & Wall Repair

Decided to go for some Man Help on this one. I wasn’t sure how the mirrors were attached. Hubby warned me they would be heavy, so I just waited for him to help take them down…

Oh my. We discovered a bit of mildew behind the mirrors, and also under the wallpaper border. Hubby needs to investigate up in the attic and outside near the chimney to make sure there’s not a leak somewhere, but he’s pretty sure it’s just from the wall not being able to breathe when moisture from hot showers got behind them. (Some folks in this family have been known to set off the smoke alarm by taking very long, very hot, steamy showers!) We’ll attack it with bleach and let it dry a few days to make sure it’s good and dead before painting!

Nails and screws need to be removed also. It’s amazing how many nail holes we gals can put in walls over the years!

I think we’ll leave the large molly bolt in the dead center of the big wall. It would make a large hole if we removed it, and I’m 95% sure I can find something to hang there! Filled in the smaller nail holes with DryDex! Love that stuff.

It goes on like pink toothpaste, and dries white.
Sand a tiny bit and the holes are gone!

I do need to add the disclaimer that we’re working with textured walls here… no need to worry about perfectly smooth repairs, because the lumps and bumps hide a multitude of drywall inconsistencies! Also, the walls of our entire house were painted with interior semi-gloss. The guys at the paint store thought we were crazy when we did it twenty years ago, but it sure kept the walls looking good through the “growing up” years. Fingerprints and smudges wipe away easily. And when combined with the “Old World” wall texture, it looks like old plaster.

Hmmm… I have an idea for the old mirrors!


Day 12 – ReFeathering with Routine

Some of us humans cringe at the word “routine,” and some of us feel very comforted by it. I belong to the latter group. I don’t like a minute-by-minute schedule, because I usually blow it by 9 a.m. and then wonder if I should start over or skip something. However, I do like some semblance of order to my day, even if it’s just a general sort of order.

For many years, we operated on the “chore card” system. With little kids helping, it was helpful to have a pile of chore cards that we lined up on the end of the kitchen table. (I actually think it helped me remember what needed to be done as much as it did them!) We each had favorite chores, and we would often race to see how fast we could get them done. With three girls in the house, those cards disappeared quickly!

Then one day, there were only two girls in the house, and it took a bit longer to get everything done. And now there’s only one. Oh my. That pile of chores suddenly looks a little daunting.

In reality, we put the chore cards away around the time that Jordan graduated high school, and I think it was all down hill from there. I did bring them out from time to time accompanied with a frenzy of fluff and nonsense about everyone doing their part and some version of The Little Red Hen story. But, having several adults in the house all wanting to establish their own routine messed up mine just a bit.

So, here I am again thinking about routine. And order. First things first. A place for everything and everything in its place. And I’m realizing my thoughts on order in the Empty Nest are rather random. So here they are, in no particular order…

The laundry pile has definitely changed.
Loads are smaller, and I actually have to wait
for a load to be large enough to wash.
(Except Hubby’s work clothes.)
I can actually keep ahead with the
“one load per day” that Nana Anne
told me to do when I first got married.

The dishes pile up a bit more quickly because
The Person Who Loved to Wash Dishes
just got married and moved out.

The dishes that are piling up are
mostly coffee cups and glasses
because I haven’t cooked many
real dinners yet for just us two.

Plants have been suffering miserably
for quite a while because
The Person Who Loved to Water Plants
moved out five years ago.

Piles of Things Out of Place are getting smaller
because when I put them away they stay there!

Boot Hill has finally been conquered.
(I hear that I’m supposed to be sad about
that, but haven’t gotten there yet.)

The stairs are clear of debris that
needs to go upstairs or downstairs.

The table still catches lots of Incoming Stuff.

If things are messy around here,
most likely I’m the culprit.


So out comes my old books on creating routine… FlyLady, Emilie Barnes, and Pam & Peggy. Hopefully I’ll soon have a shiny sink, more hours in my day, and have my act together! More on this later.

And before I head off to other chores… I did manage to get the border down yesterday! It was QUITE messy, and took longer then 10 minutes. More like three hours, off and on. Here’s the pile of wallpaper border bits…

And if you look closely…

… you’ll see a Crayola Marker under the heater!

THAT’s been there a while!

Day 11 – Demolition Begins!

We’re all about Demolition here. The girls always loved to help when it came to deconstruction… they’ve even helped Dad and Pop-Pop tear things out on actual construction sites. Kate says it’s a good way to get out one’s frustrations! So, the process of demolition has begun. Which is why I’m late posting.

First task in The Great Bedroom Swap
…remove the wallpaper border.

I don’t even like wallpaper borders. I like them in other people’s houses, but I’d really rather have stenciling or bare walls in our home. We had stenciling EVERYWHERE in the house when we first built it. It was my contribution to the building process… our two Dads and Hubby worked on building all day long, and when it got dark, I left the girls with a very tired Hubby and came and stenciled with the help of work lights until late at night. We had been renting for six years, and I suddenly had a clean palette of my very own… and boy, did I stencil those walls!

And that was 1992, and my choice of stencil patterns were quickly outdated. So somewhere around 1998, we began a really fast “makeover.” Up went wallpaper borders everywhere to cover the stenciling. The girls’ room was one of the only rooms that actually got painted before the border went up, because it had one green sponge-painted wall to which an actual picket fence was attached. Yup. The influence of the 90’s and a few too many decorating shows.

A few years ago we began taking off the borders and went back to plain-colored walls. The plan was to re-stencil, but it felt so good to see blank walls that they just stayed that way. Found an old photo to prove just how busy those walls were… and that child labor laws were often ignored in this house…

At first I was afraid to remove the wallpaper borders because the task looked so daunting, but it’s really not that difficult! It takes a few supplies… most of which are on hand in the average house…

Vinegar, which you dilute about half & half with water, and put in a spray bottle. Old rags or washcloths to wipe the drips. A wooden spoon or spatula for scraping off the border. (Forgot to get that in the picture!) And a wallpaper scratchy do-ma-jiggy. You’ll have to visit the hardware store for that. I have no idea what they are called, but this is what it looks like from above…

This is what it looks like from below…

And this is what it does…

It makes little holes all over the wallpaper. When you spray on the vinegar & water solution, it is able to soak through the little holes and dissolve the wallpaper paste. Give it a minute or so and look for loose edges to peel. The wallpaper borders from the 90’s had a plastic sort of coating on them, and may peel off in layers. Spray the under-layer with more vinegar and scrape with with something that won’t damage the wall…

Expect it to be a bit messy…

But it only took about 10 minutes to get this far…

After it’s all off, I’ll wipe the walls with a damp sponge to remove the wallpaper paste residue.And then I’m going to light a candle… It smells like a “Boardwalk Fries” stand upstairs!