The St. Patrick’s Day Tradition Continues…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While our family is not Irish, it’s always been a fun day for my kids and me, mainly because of the “green” and the idea of a Leprechaun.

When my three boys were younger, the Leprechaun would come into our house at night and hide gold coins filled with chocolate around the house for the boys to discover. They had green milk with their breakfast, shamrock shaped green sandwiches for lunch, and a special green punch would be served at dinner.

The special bucket of all green LEGO bricks was taken out and we’d build shamrocks out of them. The bucket also contained a few gold LEGO bricks, and if you were lucky enough to find one of them, there was a green iced shamrock shaped sugar cookie waiting for you.

While every St. Patrick’s Day was filled with fun adventures and plenty o’green throughout the day, the highlight of the day was going to McDonald’s for the green Shamrock Shake! Come on! Who can resist green ice cream?!?! Getting that green Shamrock Shake on St. Patrick’s Day became a family tradition, and a tradition that my, now teenage, boys still enjoy. When my boys first woke up this morning, the first thing they asked is if we were going to drive to town for our annual Shamrock Shake – you can guess what we will be doing later this afternoon! I’m glad they still like this tradition – maybe it’s one we can continue for many more years to come.

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way –
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

Do you have a special St. Patrick’s Day tradition that you and your family enjoy? Share in a comment below!

Dance By The Light of… a Planet

Since a very young age, I have always loved looking at the night sky. Watching the stars, moon, planets, and comets is something I will never tire of.

On February 16 through 17, Venus will light up the night sky. It will be so bright, in fact, you might be able to see your shadow by it’s light – how cool is that – your shadow, cast from a distant planet?!  I’m looking forward to spotting my shadow, and if I see it, I’ll definitely be dancing! I challenge you to test this out with me, and then report back here to let me know if it worked for you.

To see Venus at the brightest it’s been in 5 years (at least as observed from Earth), look toward the western sky just after sunset. You won’t be able to miss Venus – it shines at magnitude -4.8, making it ten times brighter than the evening sky’s second-brightest object, Jupiter. At this magnitude, you’ll be able to see Venus even when surrounded by city lights.

To see your shadow by the light of this planet, you’ll need to be in a rural area, far away from city lights. If you stand with your back toward Venus, look on the ground for your shadow. If the ground is covered with snow where you are, it will be much easier to see your shadow. If you have no snow, hold a sheet of white paper with one hand and position your other hand between the paper and Venus to see if you can see a shadow on the paper. 

Venus via GIPHY

If the skies are clear where you are this Friday night, make sure to look up and to the west… and don’t forget your dancing shoes!

BONUS TIP: Look to the southwest sky during the night of the 17th and you might be able to spot an iridium flare! Check Heavens Above to pinpoint exactly where to look in your neck of the woods.

 

For more details about spotting Venus in February, check out the EarthSky website.

 

When It’s Winter In Minnesota…

Yesterday here in Minnesota, we enjoyed 8 fresh inches of snow on the ground. The trees are covered in the white powder and the stark contrast of the black of the branches against the white of the snow is quite beautiful. And this snow is the STICKY kind! The kind we love! Perfect for making snowmen. 

While I do love the snow, when it’s winter in Minnesota, you can’t help but dream of warmer days ahead.

Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. I’m hoping he doesn’t see his shadow. Time to put my huge vintage golf umbrella to work…

Stick-On Bows? Or No Bows? What is your preference?

Stick-on bows? Or no bows?
What is your preference? Share in a comment below…

I was going through some of the Christmas decorations that my Mom had, and I found several (vintage) bags of foil bows (like in the photo above) that had the “push pins” on the back. Remember those? You would push the bow into the box and the plastic “push pin” held the bow on. Of course, that was before the “peel and stick” bows.

Mom (aka. Santa) used bows on every package, every year. She always had us save all the bows so she could reuse them the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that…

We always took turns opening gifts, and as we began opening a gift, Mom would always say “Save the bow!”. We would carefully remove the bow from our package, then toss it across the room and hope it landed into the bag that Mom held up. Score! Over the years, it actually became somewhat of a “sport” for us to see who could get all their bows tossed into the bag without missing. Ah, those simple pleasures…

Since Mom reused the bows over and over again, we actually got pretty good at recognizing our favorites. Each year they were a little more battered and maybe a little bit flatter, but that didn’t matter – it was still fun to see them again. The bows that were beyond saving (after their 10th or 11th year of being reused), were officially declared “retired” and they made their way into a different bag – the trash bag. In a way, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend. 

When our kids were very young, we started our own tradition of “save the bow”. But even our kids liked Grandma’s bows better.

While Mom now watches us celebrate Christmas from Heaven, Dad still has bags and bags of her saved bows. I really love the nostalgic feeling I get when I see those old foil bows. Hmmm… Maybe I need to use Mom’s bows on our gifts this year (thanks for saving them, Mom).

Christmas at Mom and Dad’s 

 

Halloween Party Ideas

My family and I really enjoy Halloween – everything from coming up with clever and unique costumes, decorating our yard and home, to coming up with fun Halloween party ideas.

I’ve been writing articles for Halloween on my own blog, as well as here on Vintage Unscripted, and thought I’d share them here.

 

“100 Years of Halloween Costumes”halloweencostumes1 – Over the past 100 years, Halloween costumes have changed quite a bit. They started out as ghosts and ghouls and other scary creatures, then movie characters and characters from favorite radio and television shows became popular. The costumes of today are very creative and include all of these kinds of costumes, and more!

This article includes some ideas for Halloween costumes, as well as a video of how costumes have changed over the years.

 

“Halloween Costumes – With a DIY Thrifty Twist”Untitled design (9) – Those pre-made purchased costumes are fun, but homemade costumes are my favorite! They are so much fun to put together and allow you to express your creativity!

This article includes ideas for putting together several Halloween costumes using items found at a thrift store.

 

 

“DIY Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Glasses (with Beverage Recipes)”pumpkinglasses – Thrift stores are filled with mismatched beverage glasses, they’re inexpensive, and they are the perfect piece for this project. Just mix and match a set of six or more rounded stemware glasses to get started.

This article includes a quick-and-easy idea for making your own pumpkin glasses, and includes a hot and a cold orange beverage recipe. Yum!

 

“Gruesome Halloween Storytelling Activity For All Your Senses!”untitled-design-4 – Storytelling games at Halloween are made creepy, gooey, and gross when you add “remains” to the game! These props allow your guests to touch and feel the story as you read it. Classic Halloween fun for all ages!

This article includes all the props you’ll need, as well as two stories you can download and print. Spooky ooky fun!

 

halloweenkids

3 Thrift Ways to Decorate Your Home for Halloween” – With Halloween creeping up on us so quickly, now is the time to start decorating your home! Sure, you could go to your local superstore or craft store and purchase ready-made Halloween decorations, but it’s so much more fun to use vintage pieces (and more economical, too).

This article includes three fun ideas, as well as links to some clever websites to help you age your photos.

 

I have a few more Halloween articles coming soon! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all our latest news.

What is your favorite thing about Halloween? Share in a comment below!

And so, it’s Fall (my least favorite season of all)

Fall is absolutely the WORST season for me. It’s the end of Summer that kills me. The days are shorter, and everything dies. The tree leaves look pretty for all of two or three days, but then the trees are bare. All the annuals die so there is nothing pretty in my gardens to look at. The grass stops growing and feels too cold beneath bare feet. You can’t just leave the house in a t-shirt, capris and flipflops (my favorite wardrobe) – you have to find a sweater or sweatshirt (ICK) and shoes that cover your toes (double-ICK).

Fall Swimming
Fall Swimming (and a warm pool house).

No. More. Swimming.
No more laying out at the pool.
No more tans.
No more working in the gardens.
No more outdoor movie nights.
No more picnics at the lake.
No more patio parties.
No more Summer palm trees potted around the yard (at least not here in Minnesota).
No more windsurfing or wake boarding.
No more county fairs.
No more flea markets.
No more concerts in the park.
No more weekends at the cabin.
No more crickets or frog sounds at night.
No more mosquitoes (okay, this is a good thing!)

Summer birds leave, butterflies leave, dragonflies leave, frogs leave (underground)… so many creatures leave.

We look out our windows and the major color is brown. I dislike brown. I like green. And yellow, and red, and orange, and pink, and purple…. I like morning glories that open every morning and moon flowers that open every evening. I like the smell of jasmine and beebalm while reading a book in the Butterfly Garden, while the bees fly from flower to flower. I love going barefoot in the grass and in the puddles. I even like picking weeds. The pool furniture gets stored for the winter. The trampoline gets decommissioned. It’s just so sad.

The older I get, the harder it is for me to let go of Summer. Summer is WAY too short here in Minnesota! Yet, I love Minnesota and don’t want to move from here. I just wish we could import warmer weather from places like Arizona, Florida, and California so that our Summer’s lasted longer. Even just a little longer!

1-img_5794
Annuals in their last bits of glory.

September is the worst month. Our annuals tease us by looking brilliant again after a hot and humid stretch, and I want to save every one of them – so we bring them ALL inside on the cool evenings to protect them from the threat of frost, hoping they last a little longer. Stretching out their lives just a little bit more. By October, Fall is in full-swing, and you just know that Winter is right around the corner.

When Winter comes, there isn’t much we can do to preserve our outdoor Summer fun, so we just have to accept it. Winter is WAAY TOO LONG in Minnesota (for me). But, there is always the promise of Spring. And flowers, and green grass, and bare feet….

Think Spring!

Summer Memories – We Were Just Having Fun

summerfunRemember when you were a kid and you thought there was nothing in the world you couldn’t do? No worries, no stress (unless you count wondering if that cute boy in your 7th grade class liked you). When your only agenda for the Summer day was to head to all your friends’ houses and roust them outside to play. It didn’t matter what you did, what mattered was that you were with your friends. From sun up, to sun down. That’s what Summers were for.

You might have started out in the morning walking to the nearest creek (pronounced crick – not creek) to find frogs, turtles and minnows. Then maybe you progressed to playing “kill the guy with the football” all afternoon in the neighbors’ yards that were next to each other – without a chain link fence separating anyone’s yards.  Of course after everyone went home for dinner, we reconvened outside for “let’s go see the fairy ghost tonight” – a sophisticated game of hide-n-seek, but covering all the yards of the neighbors that you hung out with. Back then, no one worried about their safety while we played. We just played. We were free-range kids. We were safe and we were having the times of our lives. When it got really dark outside, we would gather in a fort in someones yard and tell ghost stories. Stories told in a quiet voice with lots of drama. And if you had a flashlight to up-light your face, well, all the better!

My childhood Summers could’t have been better. I had fun with friends and we were never bored. We found stuff to do, games to play, and stories to tell. We hung out together and made memories. A LOT of memories!

When my boys were small, I wanted them to create their own memories and make their own fun. We moved to the country when they were very young, so they didn’t grow up in a neighborhood like I did. But they still had their friends and their adventures in the woods, at the creek (aka – crick), at the lake and ponds, in the tall grass fields, in their fort, and in the pool. They’ve enjoyed star gazing, outdoor movie nights (our homage to the now defunct drive-in movies), swimming at night with deer, raccoons, owls and bats watching over them. All the things Summer was made for!

Of course, we enjoy playing outside every season of the year, but Summer’s are the BEST!

As of today, there are only Four. More. Days. Of. Summer.
And we are going to make them count!!!

What are some of your most favorite Summer memories?

Our Gracious Neighbors, Their Tomatoes, and a Pinch of Flavored Salt

tomatoWe don’t have a vegetable garden at home – only flower gardens. But… we have very gracious neighbors who share extras from their huge garden with us, which is such a nice treat! I especially love their most delicious tomatoes. Plump, and juicy, and… oh! I’m getting sidetracked.

Last year, I made a batch of my flavored sea salt as a return gift to them – it tastes so good on fresh tomatoes! I make a lot of flavored salts, and wouldn’t you know… I can’t find my notes of the things I blended last year for the batch of salt our neighbors loved so much. So I just mixed up a new batch – and now I can’t wait to get the salt to my neighbors! It turned out really good. …And I made notes this time.

I buy fumme de sel sea salt from France. The salt is dried and smoked in vintage chardonnay oak barrels, so it already has a delicious, rich flavor. The fumme de sel is sort of a moist salt and it mixes so well with other spices.

In this latest batch, I mixed in:

  • my secret spice (sorry, it really is a secret!)
  • dried shallots
  • dried onion
  • dried garlic
  • dried lemon peel
  • dried orange peel
  • dried chives
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (for a bit of a kick)

I usually start with around 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of fumme de sel for each container, and then add the other flavorings to taste. While I don’t measure exactly, I would say I use about 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of flavorings to each container. But it’s always best to go by taste.

I used dried flavorings to mix with the sea salt. It’s very easy to dry fresh ingredients, and fresh always tastes best. You can dry fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables in the oven or in a dehydrator (I use the oven). You can dry a lot of herbs, fruit, and vegetables at the same time and then store them to be used later. Just place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, spread your herbs, fruits, or vegetables on the sheet and place in a 150-degree oven until dry (usually around 1 to 5 hours, depending on the volume you are drying, and exactly what you are drying). If you prop open the oven door a little, it will help speed up the drying process. Your house will smell amazing during this time! You’ll know when everything is dry when it starts to crumble.

There are several different ways you can turn these dried ingredients into a powder or small flakes – mortar and pestle, food processor, etc. – but I just crumble them with my fingers. When everything is powdered or in small flakes, you can add the flavorings to the sea salt. Make sure to stir everything together gently so you don’t break up the nice flakes of sea salt.

It’s best to store flavored sea salt in an air-tight container. If you let the flavored salt sit for a day or two before using, the flavors will blend so nicely and will really enhance the flavor of the salt.

Flavored salt can be used as a replacement for regular salt in any recipe! And it’s especially good on sliced tomatoes that you get from your friendly neighbors! You may have to decrease the quantity though, as flavored salt packs a lot more flavor than regular salt.

There are so many flavors you can play around with when making flavored salt! Your imagination, and taste buds, are your only limitation. Give it a try!

Time for me to get back to eating my sliced and salted tomatoes….

 

A Vintage Nights Sleep

antiquebedThere is something to be said about vintage beds. At the cabin, we have an old Simmons bed that is from the 1920s. It has an iron headboard and footboard, and the spring frame that holds the mattress. You know the kind – the ones that squeak (very loudly) every time you roll over, no matter HOW slow or careful you roll, or every time you crawl in or out of the bed. The squeaking wakes up everyone in the cabin!

The mattress on this bed is also quite old. Now, I know what you are thinking – ‘a mattress that is 50+ years old?’ – but let me tell you, it has been a well cared for mattress, and has only been in my family. That mattress is a spring mattress, and while it does have a few “sprung” springs (mostly on my husbands side of the bed – sorry dear), it is a very comfortable mattress. It seems to conform comfortably to the curves of my body – like it ‘fits’. Most people, like me, always sleep better at the cabin, but this bed is definitely a plus – it’s soft, comfortable and is a cozy mattress that leads to a good night sleep. Well, except for those “sprung” springs that my husband has to sleep around.

At home, we have a modern air bed. You know the kind – you dial in a “number” that you like, a wireless controller runs a high-tech pump that puts air into each separate mattress, and you’re supposed to sleep like a baby. We’ve had this mattress now for over 10 years. I can honestly say in the past 10 years, I have not had a single comfortable night’s sleep in this bed. There is just seriously no “number” that I find comfortable with this mattress! Of course, my husband loves it (it’s pay-back for having to sleep around those springs at the cabin, I just know it!). We can each control our own “numbers” of firmness for the air bed, and he has definitely found his “number”. And I am happy for him. Me? I will take that old vintage bed at the cabin any day over this modern, scientifically designed and ergonomically tested air bed!

Sometimes you just can’t beat simple and old. Vintage is best.

Maybe tonight, if I do sleep, I’ll dream of the mattress at the cabin… sleep tight!

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