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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where next...

Travel always seemed elusive to me growing up.  We did a little bit, locally, but it wasn't until I got married that I really had opportunities that really seemed out of reach before.  My husband and I talked about traveling, but I think our love and passion for it really kind of grew in us as opportunities arose and we would find ourselves thinking, "Wow, I checked that off the bucket list, ....what next?".

I never really expected to be able to travel like we have.  I feel really blessed to have seen a little of the world, and to have experienced different cultures, food, and places.   The first time we went on a major trip, after our honeymoon that is, we went to Europe.  I was working as a counselor in a parochial school and the principal suggested I organize an adult trip to Europe.  I fully expected Tim to say there was no way.  I really thought it was out of our reach.  But what he did instead was say, "Let's make it happen."

It caught me off guard then, but it soon became clear that he would always approach every appeal that way.  He spoils me.  Not that it is always easy, mind you, but just that if it is at all possible, he looks at the request, figures out what needs to be done to make it a possibility, and then takes one step at a time to make it so. Isn't that cool?  He's a keeper.

Since that time, we've had some amazing opportunities.  As a matter of course, if you are reading this blog, you will occasionally hear about travels.  Most recently, I had the chance go to a conference in Seattle and Tim decided to go with me.  We went a day early so we could sneak over to one of our favorite places, Vancouver Island, and stay at Spinnaker's Guest House and eat at their Brew Pub.

One of Tim's childhood friends and his wife drove 5 HOURS to meet us.  We felt really special.  It was great spending some time with them and reconnecting in Seattle..they live south of Portland.

I was able to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference too, which was a really big deal for someone who hasn't secured a job in library science yet.  What a treat to hear guest speaker Caroline Kennedy speak!

I love turning unexpected opportunities into travel experiences, and what better way than to enjoy it with your best friend, old friends, meeting new friends, and experiencing great scenery, food, music, and taking advantage of opportunities.  Thanking God every day for those blessings! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Linky Party going on over at the Rustic Pig.  Go check out some of the fun crafts, food, and stories!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog Hopping

I Heart Nap Time
This is a fun old fashioned (well maybe not old fashioned) blog hop. Lolly Jane, at was a girl after my own heart...check out her diy inspired house number! And at the Happier Homemaker the jewelry wants to make me get my beads out!
Life on Lakeshore Drive
Check out Life on Lakeshore projects there!

The Kitchen Cabinet Turned Bar

Sentimental is the name of the game.  I am not a hoarder, really I am not.  But I love things with a story.  When my husband and I were engaged, my great uncle was remodeling my mother's kitchen.  At that time, he made her a kitchen cabinet that I admired.  When Tim and I got married, my parents gifted us with a replica of that kitchen cabinet, also made by great uncle Paul Deermer.

He was quite the guy..a story teller, a lover of life.  He laughed easily, smiled quickly, and was a great craftsman.  He didn't ever think he would live a long life due to a family history of heart issues, but he always said he had a lot more to do.  He didn't get the chance to do it all, as he died not long after we were married.  I always felt blessed to be the keeper of such a special piece of furniture, crafted with his hands, chosen for us by my parents.

The problem is, tastes change, trends change, and so do home spaces.  When we moved into our current home, we were carving out a unique space, one that did not depict the country life we lived in (but that's another story).  For the rural Nebraska area that I live in, our home is unique.  It is not a ranch style home.  It is a Spanish inspired home, and when we were remodeling, we were very intentional about trying to create a retreat, a place that felt like all of the places we loved to go, and was home too.  Not only did this cabinet not look right here, but I didn't have a room that it fit in and worked.

Last year, I started doing some rethinking of my front family room, and realized I wanted a big cabinet to go in a corner by the windows.  My husband wanted the cabinet out of the small room it had been in so he could put more storage in it's place.  It occurred to me that with a little effort, this country cabinet could be turned into a beautiful bar cabinet perfect for that front corner.

I started with wanting to paint it black, place a mirror on the back of the upper part, add t-molding to the shelving to hold stemware, and maybe one day even add some doors with wrought iron work in them.  But it would still be the good heavy cabinet my uncle had made, just with new attitude and purpose.

I am in the process now of painting it.  After alot of research, and a couple of tests, I decided on this approach to the cabinet.  Use oil based paint, since I wanted a really smooth, tough black finish.  Use liquid sandpaper so I could skip sanding and priming (I know..for shame, right?).  Let each coat dry completely before adding a new coat.

It is making for a long doubt.  But I LOVE how it is turning out.  The finish is very nice and smooth without brush marks.  I used a satin finish, which is perfect for what I wanted to accomplish.  I haven't decided if I will distress it yet or not.  Tim says no...but I'm not so sure.  I can't wait until I put it all in place and move my stemware into it.

So in the pictures, you see the project in the works.  And the inspiration pictures.  The finished product is yet to come and will look more like the one above, but with a finish similar to the black one.  Either way, in the end it will be completely reinvented..stay tuned..I think you will like it.

Why the Gathering Room?

True to my nature, I was driving into town and saw the sign..a garage sale sign, and of course I pulled right in.  It had just opened, and I went through, bought about 5 items, and checked out.  Among my treasures were some three panel room divider screens with candle holders, a bench, a chair, a frame, and this sign.  The sign is nothing extraordinary, that's for sure, but at that time I was considering starting a blog, and when I saw the sign, I thought "that's it"!

The gathering room conjures in my mind many things, just like it did that day.  Initially it begged the question, "Just where is this gathering room?".  Like my pastor once aptly described, a gathering to honor God is as appropriate in an empty meadow as it is in a European cathedral.  It is the connection that matters, not so much the place where we connect.

But, it isn't ever as simple as that either.  Sometimes, the place is the setting that creates the mood for the connection.  I think back on special moments in my life, most of them involving my family some how, and often times there was something that evoked attention, focus, atmosphere, acceptance,  even "mood".  I remember sitting on the balcony of a castle in Scotland, drinking a glass of champagne with my husband, looking out over a manicured lawn and knowing with all of my heart that there was no better companion in life, not just on that trip, than that man.  You might think it was because I was in a castle, and you might think it was because I was in Scotland.  I doubt you would be altogether wrong.  But the big picture dictated that we were together, doing something we loved to do (travel, eat, learn), enjoying time together in a common space with a common purpose.

Really, the gathering room for me isn't so much about a space, as it is about feelings.  So when I named my blog "the gathering room chic" it really was that simple, inspired by a favorite activity, conjuring favorite people, things, and activities all into one place.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Confessions of a Blog Addict

I confess I am addicted to blogs.  I have this thing about collecting ideas, pictures, recipes, stories, etc.  A couple of years ago, I discovered blogs and I  literally started collecting blogs. It just seemed like one more way to gather my ideas, favorites, inspirations all into one space.  So I started reading blogs and subscribing to them.   So much inspiration, so little time right?

I don't go to every single blog every single day, but I did discover "Google Reader" and that fed my addiction.  The great thing is that nearly every blog I love to read feeds into "Reader" and allows me to be alerted every time something new is posted on any one of my favorite blogs.  I can stay connected when it is convenient, and I get to see all of the latest happenings with all of my favorite blog authors. 

If you are like me and are out browsing blogs for new ideas, check out your favorite blog authors.  They usually post their own favorite blog links on their site and you can quickly network to all kinds of people who have the same interests as you do.  But if you really are like me, be careful.  My lack of ability to focus in terms of interests means for a whole lot of blog reading. Oh darn. :-)

Crustless Quinoa Quiche

Over at Tali's Tomatoes, you will find the original source for this particular recipe. I first liked it on Facebook because it looked interesting and healthy.  One of my friends tried it and gave it rave reviews.  He has an adventurous palate like my own, so I wondered how my family would react.  Then my sister tried it and her husband and kids thought it was delicious.  So I tried it for my meat loving husband, who went back for seconds.  That was enough for me. In terms of healthy eating, I think it gets an A+.   I used 1/2 egg beaters and 1/2 whole eggs to cut back on fat.  I also added more spinach to add more veggie impact.  Try it...and visit Tali's Tomatoes too:

What you need to serve 4 people:
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach or kale cut into thin strips
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, each tomato chopped in half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • butter or oil for cooking (I used coconut oil)
How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and grease a quiche dish with butter or oil. Rinse the quinoa, add to a saucepan and then cover with the stock. Bring the stock to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until all of the stock has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked.

While the quinoa is cooking, add some oil to a frying pan and saute the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the spinach and  mushrooms and stir until the spinach has just wilted. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs with the Greek yoghurt until frothy. Add the spinach mixture, parmesan cheese, cooked quinoa, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into the greased quiche dish.

Carefully place the cherry tomatoes seed side up all over the top of the quiche and place it in the oven. Cook for approximately 45 minutes until golden.

Make it Naughty: add some tasty cheese and bacon pieces.

If you would like to see a video on how to cook quinoa, there is a quirky video available here -

New Year-New Beginnings

With the advent of this new year, 2013, I am looking ahead with hope, excitement, and ambition.  In my humble opinion reflecting on where you have been gives purpose and appreciation for what is ahead. goes nothing...

As stated in my first attempt at this blog, I have this real creative spirit that needs an outlet.  I buy, rethink, recreate, and sell all kinds of home decor items. I LOVE to find bargains, to shop garage sales, to go to thrift shops and sit at auctions all day long. It is the proverbial treasure hunt every single time.  I really never know what will inspire me and really, that is what makes it so much fun.

I take classes. Being a school counselor is my "full time gig" and I have been at it for 19 years.  At this point in my life I'm kind of ready for a change.  Not out of education change.  Just a new perspective. I thought library science could provide that.  After finishing a class this spring and one more over the summer, I'll add an endorsement to my teaching certificate which will hopefully offer some options some day in the future.

I like to keep reinventing myself though.  I guess I get bored with me... maybe.  I have to change it up.  I have a new most important goal I am posting here in my blog so that I hold myself accountable with it and so that you will hold me accountable too.  I am in a "get healthy, and get back to a healthy weight" quest.  I have lost weight successfully before and did really well, but lately, everything I have tried has left me without motivation and inspiration.

I am trying to focus on a couple of new things in terms of getting healthy.  First, I am exercising.  My goal is to get in 5 days a week.  Hopefully there are weeks I hit 7, and very few where I go under 4 days.  I am working out with a friend, I am going to a local gym, and I have joined a boot camp.  If those three things don't give me my 5 days, I am not trying.

Second, I am eating differently.  I have lost 12 pounds since after Thanksgiving, and I plan to keep that momentum going.  I am eating clean.  That means I am eating as close to the source as I can, trying to avoid all kinds of sugars (except those in whole fruit), processed foods, and additives while  eating lots and lots of vegetables.

This is the reinvention of my blog space, and really the true beginning of it.  This is the reinvention of me too I hope.  So I decided, as when I first started this blog, that it would be a personal quest to document where I am and where I am going.  I didn't do it very successfully the first time.  But we all deserve new beginnings right?

Weight loss, good recipes, decorating accomplishments, shopping coups, and just living life in general..that's what you are in for.  So, once again, I invite you to join me in celebrating life, here at the Gathering Room.