Around the House · Crafting

Upping Your Home Decor Game – The Easy Way

Many of us struggle to find ideas that we want to incorporate into our homes. Some focus on the latest Pinterest ideas, others on what shows up in design magazines or shows. The rest look to friends and family for ideas.

What do you do when all those options come up empty?

I’ve gotten some of my best ideas watching shows on YouTube. Yeah, YouTube.

A few years ago I discovered the Australian version of Better Homes and Garden by watching their weekly show. It has all the usual features; food, home decor, DIY, gardening, and travel, along with some great local color. What caught my eye, however, were the fresh ideas for DIYers and folks looking to upgrade their homes without spending a lot of cash.

You can find the show’s YouTube presence by looking for “Great Home Ideas”. The full hour shows have been broken down into focused episodes and there are curated playlists.

“Alexandra Gater”, “Hermione Chantal” and “Mr. Carrington” each produce shows that focus on home decor and DIY projects for those who are either renting or purchasing their first homes. Money is tight, and folks are looking for affordable, easy to do options.

Hermione has been working on renovating her 1900 circa home for the past couple of years and the evolution of that project is quite interesting.

Alexandra has worked with “DIY Dani” Gater to produce some well thought out and reasonably easy DIY projects that can be done to upgrade any living space – no matter if you rent or own.

Mr. Carrington loves to thrift shop and upgrade things he’s found during his trips around London. I have to tell you that I’ve been inspired by many of his projects – and have fallen in love with his rooftop container garden.

One show that has totally surprised me in the ‘inspiration’ department is “Escape To The Country”. This U.K. based show’s focus is finding new homes from people who want to move to the country. What I’ve found interesting is the different design esthetic that can be found in many homes in the U.K., Scotland and Wales.

While here in the States we tend to use tiles of one color (predominately white), I’ve seen many homes that utilize many different colors when tile is used in kitchens or bathrooms. That simple alteration changes what is a basic tiled wall into a focal point and provides a bit of warmth.

I’ve long been a fan of “This Old House” and similar shows, but one thing that I’ve noticed over time is the tendency to stick with the latest trends. When those seem to be colorless and little or no texture or woodwork, this is pretty dull. Now if you like that sort of look, great. If you don’t it can be very frustrating.

This leads me to another YouTuber, “Farmhouse Vernacular”, where a young couple is sympathetically renovating a 1900 era Kentucky farmhouse. Watching them work on each room and talk about the how and why they are doing what they are doing gives the viewer a lot of information and perspective on the process. It also provides a bit of, shall we say ‘permission’, to not do the latest thing.

If you are looking at your space and wanting to make some changes, but not really sure how or where to start, I suggest you check these folks out and see what they have to offer in the way of ideas and inspiration.

Don’t be afraid to take your time, either. Sometimes time is the one thing you need to create a beautiful space.

Enjoy the journey!

By The Way

If you like this post, please click on the ‘like’ button below. It helps me to know what types of articles you want to read here.

Also, why not sign up for our monthly newsletter? For more information, click on the “Newsletter” tab at the top of the page.

Thank you for spending time with us!

Cooking · Food

Sweet Hot Mustard Chicken

Recently I found this recipe of Chef John’s over on

I love Chef John, but he has a fondness for hot things that I just don’t enjoy. That is why when I pulled out the boneless, skinless chicken thighs and started gathering the rest of the ingredients, I ignored the cayenne and chipotle. I didn’t have red wine vinegar, but I did have apple cider vinegar. I also did not have fresh onion or garlic, but I did have the powders in my spice drawer.

I put the marinade ingredients in a seal-able dish, mixed well, and added the chicken. It resided in the fridge for 24 hours and then the drained – but not cleaned – chicken went into the oven (see NOTES).

It was Fabulous!

Sweet Hot Mustard Chicken Thighs

Courses: Main Dish
Categories: Chicken
Serving size: 8 servings
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins

8 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, or as needed


1. Make 2 slashes crosswise into the skin and meat of each chicken thigh with a sharp knife, cutting to the bone. Cuts should be about 1 inch apart. Transfer thighs into a heavy resealable plastic bag.

2. Whisk Dijon mustard, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, mustard powder, salt, black pepper, ground chipotle pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until smooth. Whisk garlic into marinade.

3. Pour marinade into bag over chicken thighs and massage marinade into chicken, coating each thigh thoroughly and working the marinade into the cuts. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight for best flavor).

4. Move a rack to the center position in oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil the foil.

5. Scatter onion rings onto prepared baking sheet. Place chicken thighs on top of onion rings. Spray or brush thighs with vegetable oil; sprinkle thighs with additional salt and cayenne pepper if desired.

6. Roast chicken in preheated oven until the skin is browned, meat is tender, and the juices run clear, 35 to 45 minutes.

7. Transfer chicken and onions onto a serving platter. Pour pan drippings into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and continue boiling, stirring often, until drippings are reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Skim excess fat from pan sauce.

8. Spoon reduced pan sauce over each chicken thigh and serve.


Used boneless, skinless thighs. Apple Cider Vinegar. NO peppers, etc.

Roasted @ 400 degrees in Convection oven.


Amount per serving
Calories: 351.6
Total Fat: 19g
Saturated Fat: 5.1g
Cholesterol: 105.9mg
Sodium: 764.8mg
Total Carbohydrate: 13.8g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6g
Sugars: 7.9g
Protein: 29.1g

I do think you could substitute pork and get a similar result. Let me know what you think!



In my neck of the woods, Summer means Hot, Humid days that make most of us yearn for the colder days of Winter. Some even wish for snow.

Summer allows us to appreciate Winter.

The irony is that in the midst of Winter, when it is COLD outside, those same people profess a yearning for Summer.

It is a constant with Humans that we always seem to want what we don’t have.

This yearning isn’t a bad thing, overall. We get a chance to dream, to ponder, to plan, to consider. We get the opportunity to remember.

All of these things are important as we maneuver through Life. It is rarely an easy road and sometimes, it seems that the road is more difficult than it needs to be.

It is important to keep looking forward. What is behind us is not always as wonderful as we would like to think. That is not to say that we should forget where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. Growing requires adding knowledge and experience along with the not always preferred, let alone perfect, experience of the past.

As with our weather focused folks, we need to experience both the heat and the cold to know the difference. Same goes for good and bad.

Enjoy the journey.

Cooking · Dining · Food

Berry Farm Treasures

Justin and Ally were at Knott’s Berry Farm recently to sample the offerings at the food festival. While the park isn’t open, there are lots of places to get wonderful foods to try. I admit a whimper or two…

I was pleased to see that Knott’s Berry Farm has a page of recipes on their website. Knott’s Recipes to Try is chock full of great ideas.

Food is often a big part of enjoying a park. I’ve eaten at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant many times – and always enjoyed the meal.

I’m also a huge fan of the boysenberries. I look for ways to add them to my pantry any chance I get. 🙂

Check out the post – and don’t forget to search for more recipes. Bring a touch of the park home.

Around the House · Bella · Books · Musings · TV

Mid Month Mellow

Or, it’s raining, the vet is expected and Bella and I are listening to “happy music”. With the door closed so she doesn’t find a new place to hide like she did when the vet was supposed to come last week, but the yard folks scared her. 🙂

Yeah, I’m on Mom Duty.

I finally (!) got my music collection re-organized and re-shelved. I spent some hours enjoying old favorites and then, much to my surprise reverted back to the tried and true.

This means we had a couple of days of some wonderful New Age music followed by a trip back to Disney Parks with the 50th Anniversary collection and now we have Herb Alpert back on the machine.

I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste but there is something so bright and cheerful in all of that.

I sat down and watched the first episode of “The Other One” on Acorn TV last night. This dramedy about two families who unknowingly shared the same father is interesting. Part funny, part sad, part…interesting.

I also took the time to watch the entire first episode of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek Lower Decks”. I’d seen the trailer and, frankly, was less than captivated. Thankfully the episode is much better, but still has issues. It is more complicated that what shows up on the surface.

Over on the book table, I’ve finally finished all three books in the Mycroft and Sherlock series written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. I admit I started the first back when I was just diving into the original canon. The books are well written, have an enticing POV and provide some great mental food for thought for mystery lovers.

Over on the gaming front, “June’s Journey” continues to capture my attention. The artwork continues to amaze me – it is so beautiful – and the stories are just enough to keep my interest.

For my Pinterest followers, I apologize that I’ve not been updating those boards. Frankly, it got away from me. I’ll do better, but it may take a while. Please be patient!

Thanks for keeping up with me! Please don’t forget to click “Like” if you enjoy a post and comments are welcome!

Follow Up

The vet visit went well. Bella actually seems to like this vet but she puts on quite the hissy fit show. Partially because he is the vet that works at the shelter I adopted her from – and she remembered him – and partly because she had to go Outside. (Egads!) Definitely NOT her favorite place.

As for the weather, well it has stopped raining and the temperature is down about 15 degrees. Win/Win?

Around the House

Home Decorating – Part 3

My overall experience, theory, POV.

I had the thought that is the basis for this article during a comment conversation with Farmhouse Vernacular.

A home, be it an apartment, loft, one room flat, house or mansion, is a space that, in many ways, defines the way you, the occupant, uses it.

In my living room, for example, the two windows are on opposite walls – the east and west walls. This means that in the morning the sun comes in full barrel and flows across the walls for a considerable period of time. That same sun shows up in the late afternoon/evening from the opposite wall and repeats the morning visit. Both visits, however, dictate where the TV is placed, where the chairs are placed. This dictates traffic flow patterns – how do you get to the library? Where do you put a side table? Can you fit a fireplace in the room?

I’ve lived in my home for 20 years. I’ve tried various window treatments that do, to some degree, corral the problem, but never really resolve it. I could board up the windows, but I’m rather fond of them. 🙂

All of this is in addition to determining room color(s), decorations and all the other odds and ends that combine to make a home comfortable and functional.

We all move into a space with an idea of how it will work. Many times, however, things are added to rooms that were never designed to include them, which alters the way the rooms work.

I’m thinking of the mid-century craftsman home that was cozy and comfortable until the 50 inch flat screen arrived. Where do you put it? How do you put it? What do you do about seating? How do you accommodate the sound system?

I’m thinking about the 10 ft square bedroom that barely accommodates the king sized bed and headboard. Translate: A bed with a room around it -vs- a room with a bed in it. And, no, there really was no room for storage pieces.

There is a lot to living in a space and paying attention to what it needs. I know that may sound silly, but if you think about it, it is the natural experience of living in that space. You may not even realize you are doing it.

I’ve been watching a lot of home decor and DIY providers lately and I admit I’m impressed not only with the skills provided, but the way their choices have expanded the esthetic I want in my home.

My “intention” with my home was/is to create an eclectic place that, in my mind at least, was reminiscent of the family lake cottage. That place where the furniture didn’t always match, where it was comfortable and relaxed and easy to live in, not fussy and constantly keep clean.

In my mind, it was the place where the cast offs were taken when they were no longer wanted in the ‘regular’ home.

Considering many of the pieces I brought with me when I moved did not come close to “matchy-matchy”, it was the natural starting point.

The only issue I encountered with this was the decor of the home itself. My home was carefully designed by the builder to work with a woodland/garden theme. This means that each color or wall covering, and even the doors, worked within the theme. They also were along the lines of jewel tones. Everything works together and there are enough neutrals to add bold colors where I want.

I actually like the design, even if my preference for warmer earth tones is sublimated by the cool jewel tones in the home. And the best part? I didn’t have to spend time and money (I did not have) to redecorate.

This was an enormous plus having lived for decades in apartments with plain white walls with brown carpet. Can we say ‘generic’?

While there are tons of decorating ideas all over the place, I find myself reverting to what makes me comfortable and happy; color and comfort.

I encourage you to take the time to figure out what makes you comfortable in the space you inhabit. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It is an essential part of making a house a home. And, possibly most importantly, don’t be afraid of listening to your home. You will find your house telling you what it needs to become the home you want to live in.

Around the House · YouTube

Oh, Wow! What a Reveal!

Like many people, I’ve been following Paige and Brandon as they worked on their wonderful farmhouse kitchen. Today was the reveal of the completed room.

I am so excited and happy to see this room! It is functional, usable, easy on the eye and fits within the intention of the home. It is clear that a lot of thought was put into the design of the space.

I’ve been in a multitude of farmhouse kitchens in my 6+ decades. This room is a reflection of all of those rooms.

I hope you take the time to not only check out the reveal, but to explore the other posts on the channel.