{charmed earth}

The Lifestyle blog of Katie Storms.: something simple, something sweet, something styled.

31 May 2012

{something herbs} coffee mug herb window

Summertime means herbs. They are simply the best. Each year, I make sure I buy my herb must-haves: basil, sage, cilantro, and mint. One year, I went all out at the farmer's market and had over ten herbs on the deck to water every day. These fabulous four sit inside, so I don't forget to water them.

The mint and basil came in great pots that allow the water to drain without spilling out onto the windowsill. However, the sage and cilantro do not. I didn't have any soil on hand to replant them, but I did have a few coffee mugs {I wish I had some cute vintage ones, but I am still searching!}.
I simply put the herbs in the mug. They've been going  strong for a month now. I just have to remember to dump out the water that collects in the mug once or twice week. My they are beautiful plants in the morning sun.

I might find some time to share some quick summer recipes for ways to use these fab four. My mint goes in my tea. That one is simple. I boil a pot of water at the start of each day. Then I pour it over a few tea bags with a few sprigs of mint. Yum.


30 May 2012

{something vintage} persnickety prints

As soon as I discovered Persnickety Prints, when I was creating our Wedding Albums, I knew I needed to order more everyday moments. But I needed an album first.
My local Value Village held out for me, and it was worth the wait. I found three--and there were even two more, but the binding was weak--vintage Polaroid albums for 80-cents each. Part of me wishes I'd bought the broken ones, too. I am on the search for more albums for the years to come.
I measured the size of the photo sleeve, and decided that the 3-by-3 Instagram print would be the best fit. I adore square photos. I also went with the linen paper finish since these memories will be protected from direct sunlight.

I can't wait to place our next order, which is sure to be full of images of Penelope Belle. My how things change so quickly.

katie scarlett

29 May 2012

{something horses} flea market escape

My first week home, my charming husband said, "Aren't you going to the flea market?" when Saturday rolled around. I replied that I thought I was too exhausted. Then he said something I never thought my dear love would ever say, "You need to get out. Go to the flea market."
What was this? Johnny is encouraging me to buy vintage goods? The opportunity may never come again. So I headed out to the May Flea Market at Kenrick Plaza. It was refreshing. And I found some of my favorite things: girl scout patches, vintage diaper pins, a horse screen print with embroidery {I'm thinking of making a pillow case for Penelope with it}, a sweet flower tin I thought I could save for jewelry I would give to Penelope one day, and some vintage mint lace. It was a horse kind of day.

I even stopped at McDonald's on the way home for a fountain drink. It was blissful. I love my husband.

28 May 2012

{something bunny} finally, a photo shoot with miss belle

I've been snapping baby photos for my friends for a couple of years now. And before Miss Penelope Belle was born, I planned out a number of shoots with all sorts of props and backgrounds.
I am so grateful for the hospital photo shoots that Cheryl and Baby Bella did for us because it took me three weeks to snap these ones. I think the only way I was able to pull it off was that Johnny was at home, and he helped with the backdrop {our beloved Granny blanket}
Penelope was happy, the morning light was perfect, and I think the shots speak for themselves. I was hoping to get a few with her eyes closed. But this baby doesn't pose like that.

mama katie

27 May 2012

{something one hundred miles} the southeast missouri yard sale

Every Memorial Day weekend, southeast Missouri hosts a hundred-mile yard sale along Highway 25. I've missed it the past few years since I was working as a scientist-writer-teacher in Wyoming. But since there was no Wyoming this summer, there was time for the yard sale.  One year, I hope to go the full 100-miles.
Since Johnny's birthday is always right around Memorial Day, we are usually around. I will never forget the first time he took me. I was overwhelmed. I found the best picnic blanket for $3.
This year, I was able to escape for an hour with my friend Maddie. I had a list of items to search for, and though I didn't find much on the list--except some robin's egg blue Pyrex--I did come away with some awesome finds: a beach blanket towel with flowers for picnics at the beach with Penelope {25-cents!}, some floral containers for Penelope's treasures, awesome vintage trim for headband making {it was the score of the day--I got all three bolts for $6!}, a view master for Penelope, a pink comb and brush, two yellow gingham pillowcases, robin's egg blue Pyrex, and vintage office stickers.
I wish we could have had more than an hour, but I think I did enough damage with that mere sixty minutes. It was wonderful.

I hope you found some great vintage treasures on your Memorial Day weekend.


25 May 2012

{something thirty} true love's birthday

Happy Birthday, Johnny. Thirty is a big year. I can't believe we met at 18--it seems like yesterday. You are the most wonderful husband, friend, and daddy. I could survive anything with you for another thirty years and more. I hope today is a day you will always remember,

Love you,
Katie and Penelope

23 May 2012

{something sister} lissa's getting married

My sister Lissa is getting married in July. Her shower is in June. I mailed the invites last week--they were designed and printed before Penelope arrived.

I decided to illustrate them and then paint them with watercolors. Her colors are apple green and pewter gray. I think the mixing and fixing I played with created an almost perfect shade of each color.
She likes them, I like them, and that's what's important.


22 May 2012

{something the best} penelope belle

She arrived on May 4 at 8:50 in the evening. We fell in love at first sight. She is beautiful. Her name is Penelope Belle. And I can't get enough of her.

Miss Penelope Belle and I are going to keep the blog going to keep our sanity. These past two weeks have been remarkable and challenging all at the same time. We're hoping that a little routine--a quick walk, a short blog post, time drawing and journaling--will keep us happy.

mama and penelope belle

21 May 2012

{something may} today is Nonni's birthday

Nonni is Italian for grandmother. Technically, it's nonna, but there's an affectionate or something lost in translation. We call my grandmother Nonni. Penelope is calling her grandfather Nonno, the Italian form of grandfather. We cant' wait for her to shout: "No-No Nonno."

Oh. Did I fail to mention? Baby Jupiter is here! Her name is Penelope Belle. She's the highlight of my life and Instagram {I'm katie_scarlett}, and she'll have a formal post soon.

Today I want to wish happy birthday to my Nonni. We've got a full month of birthdays this month:) May must be special.

Happy Birthday, Nonni. Your love is always so contagious. And your excitement for Penelope always brightens the day.


20 May 2012

{something back to basics} a clean sautee pan

 We pitched our potentially hazardous non-stick pan months ago. And though I found a healthier alternative on Amazon that provides the same non-stick benefits, we still haven't purchased it.

So we're using our stainless steel pots and pans exclusively with olive oil. Olive oil is healthy, and we use it sparingly, 1/4 teaspoon at a time. But no matter how I adjust the heat or amount of olive oil, I always get a really messy pan when I finish cooking.

Johnny does most of the dishes around here, but he doesn't do most of the cooking. So when he throws this dirty pan into the dishwasher, it only makes matters stickier. We've had the conversation: no stainless steel pots and pans go into the dishwasher. This also means, for now, that I scrub them. Because I care about them. So I decided to post this how-to for anyone {including my dear love} to get a stainless steel pan clean.

Here's the Before and After
Supplies: original Dawn soap {the dark blue one}, hot water, and a steel scrub brush.

Step-by-Step: if you aren't in a hurry, squirt a little Dawn into the clean pan with a cup of hot water, and allow it to soak overnight. After it soaks, give it a good scrub with the steel scrub brush. All it takes is some good elbow grease. If you have some extra stubborn spots, add more Dawn and scrub away. Rinse with cool water and dry.

See. That's simple.


18 May 2012

{something breakfast} raisin bread and goat cheese

Trader Joe's has the most delicious raisin bread. And it's really good for you--packed with all kinds of grains and goodness. I always try to have a loaf in our freezer. I freeze it because it can go bad quickly on the counter because of the ingredients. And I always toast mine.

I've recently started spreading goat cheese on it instead of butter, Brummel and Brown, or cream cheese.

It's extra yummy.


17 May 2012

{something back to basics} bar soap

 I was reading my Martha Stewart magazine, the April subscription, and I came across a great guide about healthier cleaning products in the final pages. And it got me thinking back to simplicity.

I ran out of shower gel right before I read the article, and I'd already switched to using a bar of Dove soap that I had in the linen closet. Then I found the perfect soap dish at an estate sale for a dollar, and the bar of soap that my dear friend Nikki gave us for Christmas fit perfectly. Finally, I could use my fancy soap.

So that's that: we're going back to basics with bar soap around here. There's so much less waste when it comes to the bar over the bottle. We always recycled the plastic bottles, but now we only have to recycle the cardboard boxes. Plus, bar soap is less expensive {usually}.

The only con I can see is traveling with bar soap. I have a bit of shower gel in my travel kit, but I don't know what I plan to do when that runs out. Do you have any ideas?

xo. katie

16 May 2012

{something olives and goat cheese} a quick trader joes supper

I always have Olive Tapenade in my refrigerator. Always. I really should make an effort to make my own, but for now, I like the Trader Joe's version.

For supper the other night, I didn't really feel like cooking. And, until we finished our walk, I didn't feel much like eating. But after a quick shower, my appetite was revived. Johnny was heating up the skillet to make an egg sandwich with some leftover bacon. An egg sounded good, but there was only enough bacon for one.

Looking into the fridge, this is what I saw: goat cheese spread and olive tapenade. Yum.

Most people might not think that eggs and olives go together. Most people also might not think that an egg belongs on a burger. Eggs belong in both places. Now, if you don't like olives, the egg isn't going to fix it. But eggs and olives go wonderfully together if you are an olive lover.

I simply spread Brummel and Brown on one side of the bread, then I spread the goat cheese and olive tapenade on the other side. Then I grilled my egg and each slice of bread. I think I could have stacked it all as a sandwich, but I decided to be fancy and eat with a knife and fork. It was yummy.

xo. katie

15 May 2012

{something hidden three ways} eating more spinach and greens

Spinach, as Popeye and the dear Olive Oil remind us, is very good for you. But spinach is also very difficult for me to eat. It's not that I really mind spinach. I'm just not very good at keeping up with eating my veggies. But I need to eat more veggies. We need to eat more veggies.

So I bought two bags of fresh spinach and decided to secretly eat it. Shhh.
Spinach Hiding in My Guacamole.
I realized that I could double, maybe even triple, the amount of guacamole I could eat by adding fresh spinach right to it. I simply mixed my avocados with lemon juice, salt, and a dash of cumin {and wished for some fresh cilantro}. Then I cut my spinach in thin strips with my kitchen scissors. It mixed right it, and I couldn't even tell it was hiding in there. I ate this batch of guacamole with some corn tortillas lightly "fried" in olive oil.

Spinach Hiding in My Fruit Smoothies {Flax is hiding in here, too}
I finally got on the green smoothie wagon after reading some potentially drinkable recipes. The color can be off putting, but I add the bulk of my smoothie to a non-transparent insulated mug. I have to say that you can sort of taste the spinach, but not really.

The key to a good green smoothie is frozen fruit and ice cubes. I add my spinach to the blender first. Then I pile in all sorts of fruit combinations, ice, flax, and water. I blend on the low speed.

Combination One: a handful of spinach, a cup of frozen bananas {just slice them and freeze them yourself}, a cup of frozen pineapple, a tablespoon of flax, eight ice cubes, and about one cup of water. *this recipe, adapted only slightly from Emma is what got me started. Thanks, Emma.
Combination Two: a handful of spinach, half a cup of frozen bananas, half a cup of frozen pineapple, a cup of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of flax, eight ice cubes, and about one cup of water.
Combination Three: a handful of spinach, a cup of frozen bananas, a cup of frozen mango, a half cup of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of flax, eight ice cubes, and about one cup of water.
Combination Four: a handful of spinach, a half cup of frozen bananas, a cup of frozen raspberries, a half cup of frozen blueberries, a half cup of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of flax, eight ice cubes, about a cup of water.
Combination Five: a handful of spinach, a half cup of frozen bananas, a half cup of frozen mango, a half cup of frozen raspberries, a cup of frozen strawberries, a tablespoon of flax, eight ice cubes, about a cup of water.

I found that the key is to add the frozen bananas to the smoothies for the right consistency. You can try them without bananas, but I prefer them with bananas. And I really don't like eating an unfrozen ripe banana. So you could say I'm hiding bananas and spinach in these fruit smoothies.

If you have any great green smoothie recipes, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. I also know that my recipes make enough smoothie for two, and when I started making them, I suppose I had the excuse of eating for two. But with all that aside, it's all really healthy stuff to be eating for two. And if I consider the role that Weight Watchers used to play in my life pre-baby, it's all zero-point food with the exception of the flax. And here is a source I need to read through even more. It appears I should be hiding greens other than spinach to get the full benefits.

Spinach Hiding in My Pizza Ronza Rolls
I know that the Pizza Ronza Roll isn't really that healthy of an option. But all things in moderation, right? I layered my dough with pesto, spinach, mushrooms, pepperoni, and cheese. To go healthier, I could skip the pepperonis {at least on my side of the Ronza} and lighten up the amount of cheese. But I tell you--no one even noticed the real presence of the spinach on this one. I think the key is to add the spinach right on top of the pesto, under all of the other toppings.

I'm sure that as I continue this adventure, I will find more ways and places to hide my spinach. But if you have any great ideas, please let us know! And I promise to share more secret spinach ideas as I find them. I also have some good tips for hiding carrots that I can hopefully pass along, too. And if any of you are more interested, check out this cookbook; I hear it's great. I might check it out...


14 May 2012

{something back to basics} drain cleaning

We have a stubborn drain in our upstairs bathroom. It's one of those old house problems that can't be a quick fix by a plumber. And though the drain never runs perfectly, just slowly, it does speed up a bit when it's regularly cleaned.

I'm not a fan of the drain cleaners they sell in the stores. They scare me.  I see so many cons with them: they cost a lot of money, they are poisonous, they can ruin your old pipes, they don't work miracles, and so on.

This is the inexpensive DIY drain cleaner I am friends with:

Supplies: baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and boiling water. Use a cup of each {perhaps more vinegar and water if you need it}.

Step-by-Step: pour your baking soda down the drain. Pour your vinegar over the baking soda, and allow it to fizz, explode, bubble, until the baking soda dissolves. Add more vinegar if you need it. You can also let this set overnight. Then, clear the drain with boiling hot water. The end.

The key is to clean your drains before they run slowly or back up. And this one is actually really fun--it reminds me of making volcanoes in elementary school. I love watching the explosive reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. I mean, cleaning drains can't be any more exciting. Plus, I think it might be a fun chore for kids when they are older.

Happy Cleaning!

12 May 2012

{something story time} virginia wolf

Our sweet baby girl will always have enough books. I read this bedtime story, Virginia Wolf, to her before she was born. And we can't wait to read it to her again.

What I love about this particular story are the illustrations and the honesty of the story. It's a bit grown up, but I think that any baby willing to sit through the story will be fine reading it. What I like about the story is that poor Virginia is really sad, almost depressed. But her friend never stops trying to cheer her up. And the most delightful part of the story is that Virginia finally starts to feel better once she begins to create. It's the beauty of friendship and the therapeutic power of art that really draw me to the story. And, like I said, the illustrations are beautiful.

katie scarlett

11 May 2012

{something pretty} garden quote

I saw this card collection at Art Mart a few weeks ago. I just think it's beautiful.


10 May 2012

{something stocked} a trader joe's freezer full of suppers

My first week on official maternity leave sent me straight to Trader Joe's. I wanted to stock the freezer. I knew that trips to the grocery store with a newborn wouldn't be on the top of our list of priorities. And though I know we have many thoughtful friends and family that will bring us supper, it just feels nice to know we are prepared.

It was also a great excuse to buy {almost} all of my favorite frozen groceries at Trader Joe's.

I thought I'd share my favorite items that we stocked in the freezer. And some of the meals are in the pantry.
Collage One: Meat Lasagne, Meatless Meatballs {these are great alone, with a little sauce, with pasta, with gnocchi, with some sauce on a bun for a grinder, or on pizza}, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Sauce, and Edamame {the perfect lunch snack}.
Collage Two: The Fruits for Green Smoothies: Pineapple Tidbits, Mango Chunks, Flax Seed {I add a Tablespoon to each smoothie}, Raspberries, and Wild Blueberries {the same blueberries I use for blueberry muffins}. I also froze my own bananas and fresh spinach. We are set for great nutritious breakfasts. Yum. The only berry I should add to the mix is frozen strawberries.
Collage Three: Gnocchi with tomato sauce, Wild Mushroom and Truffle Flatbread, Country Potatoes with Green Beans and Mushrooms {this is good alone or with some added chicken}, Grilled Eggplant Milange {we'll eat this with quinoa and eggplant dip in the pantry}, and Spaghetti, Parmesan, and Sauce.

There are even some other items in the freezer that I made homemade and didn't take the time to photograph like black bean and green chili burritos, more raviolis, and breakfast sandwiches. Yum!

To keep track of what's in the freezer, I even made a print out for what we have. This way, Johnny knows and I know. After we eat an item, we can just check it off the list.

09 May 2012

{something sisters} lissa's visit

When we were kids, I called my sister Lissa, because I couldn't say Melissa. Now we call her Meliss, Mj, Missa, and she wants to be Aunt Lissa. I'm thinking it will work for Baby Jupiter.

A few weekends ago, before the baby arrived, Lissa and her fiance Brandon decided to drive over from Kansas City. And we made quite the busy weekend out of it. It was wonderful to see them.
For supper the night they arrived, we finally decided to try Molly's in Soulard. Lissa and Brandon love oysters, and Molly's has good reviews. Johnny--and Lissa and Brandon--also love cajun. Molly's did not disappoint on either front.

I ordered the shrimp and grits, and I really enjoyed them. Johnny and Brandon both found the jambalaya to be delicious, and Lissa said the etouffee was yummy. They all also loved the oysters. And though the beniets and caramelized bananas with a touch of ice cream at the end of the meal wasn't as great as New Orleans, it was still a nice treat to share.
After Molly's, we headed over to downtown Maplewood near our neighborhood to enjoy a few drinks at Boogaloo. And I couldn't help but snap this photo--it's Baby Jupiter's Due Date:)
The next morning, we headed over to The Hill. We needed to get six gallons of Sicilian olives for Lissa and Brandon's wedding. And there's no better Italian olive than one on The Hill. We stopped at DiGregario's. And they were short on their gallon jars. Instead, they sent us home with a five-gallon bucket. And I picked up a small container of Jordan olives, some San Mazano tomatoes, and some tuna packed in olive oil. I was hoping to get a few containers of truffle butter--but they were, sadly, not stocked for the week.
On the way home from DiGregario's, we stopped at my favorite bakery: The Missouri Baking Company. Lissa and Brandon were in heaven. I ordered a few pudding filled beniets, chocolate chip fig cookies {my all-time favorite}, and some assorted biscotti. Lissa and Brandon had so much trouble deciding. But I think they were happy with their assorted biscotti, pineapple upside down mini cake, and cupcakes.
Since breakfast was such an indulgent treat, we decided to make lunch late enough to count for lunch and supper. We headed out to Fast Eddies Bon-Air. I think Lissa and Brandon were skeptical at first since it took us forever to find a good table {we finally found a great spot on the third try}. But after they tasted the burgers, fries, hot-chick-on-a-stick, and ice cold beer, they were sold. Fast Eddies makes some good bar food. And you can't beat their prices--99-cents for a burger. It was too much yum!
And since we can never really just eat lunch that counts as supper, we headed over to Ted Drewes for an evening snack. It's a typical St. Louis treat, and it's right around the corner from us. Both Lissa and Brandon approved.
After that, we grabbed a RedBox, the Iron Lady, and headed home just to relax.

Thanks for the visit, sister. I hope you enjoyed your stay. I enjoyed our daily walks--they sure helped balance all that food:)


08 May 2012

{something landowne life} guest post by erin

 My friend Erin has an amazing blog. I love her style, her passion, and her drive. She spends her days making her home such a beautiful home, all while taking care of her sweet daughter Elise. I am so happy that Erin decided to do a guest post for me.
Here's her mini outdoor art installation

There's something unexpected about backyard art, especially art you've made yourself. Here's a quick, cheap and easy (trifecta!) way to bring some non-living color into your greenspace. As a bonus, your installation will be a bright spot of color in winter when all the green has faded from the landscape.
Supplies: Wood shims (from the hardware store), craft or latex paints, paint brushes, hammer

Shims are thin, wedge-shaped strips of wood. They are normally used in construction to level things like doors or cabinets during installation, but you can repurpose them for all sorts of uses. I found two sizes at Lowes for just a few dollars a pack. The 8-inch shims came in packs of 14 for about $1.50. The 12-inch shims were about $4 for a pack of 42. 

For an even cheaper (i.e. free) option, think about subsituting small pieces of scrap wood or even twigs.

A word of caution: shims are not sanded smooth! The ones I worked with had plenty of splinters on the edges. Handle with care.
Now's the fun part; paint them however you like! I used a combination of craft paints and latex paint samples. I painted mine very simply, knowing the rainbow of colors would come together when installed. You don't need to be an artist to pull this off, so don't be intimidated.

I chose to let my shims weather naturally, but if you want yours to last longer, make sure to use paints labeled for outdoor use.

After the paint is dry, they're ready to take outside.

I have several huge trees in my yard and nothing much grows near the heavily shaded roots. It's a perfect place for a mini art installation. I used a regular hammer to drive them into the ground (pointed side down). It's really easy to do, especially if the ground is damp.

These look best en masse, so paint a bunch and group them close.
Erin Heaton is a mother, lifelong writer and artist, and a lover of old houses. Visit her at Lansdowne Life, where she blogs about painting, sewing, gluing, decorating, and all sorts of other stuff.

07 May 2012

{somethings created} corner cottage update

I know that I will still find time to create once Baby Jupiter arrives. I always have time to create. But I also know that my time to create will be more limited.

A few weekends ago, I set a goal to get as many items as possible finished and ready to send off to The Corner Cottage in Dexter. I decided to leave my etsy shop on a bit of a hiatus, but if you see something you want, let me know.

These exciting items can be found at The Corner Cottage starting May 7th.

Vintage Button Pendant Necklaces in Cute Map Matchbox Packaging.

Vintage Poker Chip Princess Necklaces.

Vintage Button Rings.

Vintage Button Earrings.

Original Watercolor Art and Prints.

Greeting Cards for Birthdays, Hellos, Mother's Day, Graduation, and Father's Day.

I'm most excited about the greetings cards. Back in 1999, I thought I was going to make a career working for a stationary company. And, look at me now, it just might happen:)

katie scarlett