Monday, September 27, 2010

How To: Using Old Book Pages As Drawer Liners

I fell in love with old book leaves (as wallpaper) at Notes From A Cottage Industry. Then they appeared on furniture a la Miss Mustard Seed. I was itching to give this look a try; fortuitously a neglected sewing cabinet and a sheaf of vintage hymnals came my way. The yellowed music would disguise the ugly drawer bottoms quickly and easily. I know it's not exactly brain surgery--but as I finished up the little cabinet I noticed that each drawer looked just a little better than the previous one I lined. Trial and error is a pretty good teacher, but I thought I'd write a little tutorial to save you some of the "error".

You'll need a blank canvas.
And some old books: dictionaries, music books, textbooks, whatever.
** No books were harmed in the making of this tutorial. I couldn't bring myself to tear pages from a good book--you can see mine are beyond redemption.

I chose a variety of tones--from pale ivory pages to peanut brittle-color paper (and oh, was it ever brittle!).

Of course you'll need some glue (Modge Podge is great, so is plain old white glue, and then there's that old standby, liquid starch). Start by papering the corners first.

I overlaid the corners with the leaves, then I scored the paper with a straight pin and peeled off the extra.
Work from the outside edges inwards.
I precut this piece for the front edge.
Hmmm, now that you mention it that does look like a silhouette of Nevada!

Here it is in place.
I had so many choices I was able to pick and choose my favorite pieces.
This corner has a song that reminds me of my Aunt Bonnie as well as a Keats poem (I just loved the movie Bright Star and have been a Keats fan ever since). I've also used some seasonal or romantic song titles.

The very last pieces should be whole pages. Um, whole page fail here. Oh, how I wish I could go back and make sure the entire page of A Song of Autumn was front and center!
Like I said, it's trial and error and sometimes taking a photo really shows what can be improved.

I still have the inside lid to foofify--I'm looking for a sewing-related page to feature there.
Then I'll slap a coat or two of water-based polycrylic over the music so it'll wear well.

Sometime soon I'll have a before-and-after on this sewing cabinet. It was pathetically ugly, grimy and unloved to start with.  Meanwhile, I'm mulling over the pros and cons of hitting the edges with the sander and shabbying it up--what do you think?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Guideposts - Week36

When the power of love
overcomes the love of power,
the world will know peace.
~Jimi Hendrix

My Peace rose blossomed just as I found the Jimi Hendrix quote--and both are whispering quietly to my heart and changing my outlook as I ponder and reflect.

Joining the quote party at Notes From A Cottage Industry

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dogs Rock (and Roll)

Just a quick post with a link to Kharma's new favorite video--a link because I can't figure out how to get the entire YouTube screen onto our blog. Anyone else having that difficulty? Anyone solved it yet????

I think it's her favorite because of the border collies. It's mine because I love anything that show how smart dogs are.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bonjour, L'Automne

Because it sounds so much nicer en Francais. Heck, anything sounds better in French, doesn't it?!

And it's officially turning from summer into fall right NOW as I type.  I'm thinking of pumpkins, fresh crisp apples from the orchard, hay bales, scarecrows, purple mini lights, pom-pom bats.  And being happy to use the oven and heat up the kitchen.

I'm trying not to think of shorter days, storms, and waking up to darkness instead of sunshine. Instead I'll think about the cottonwoods hereabouts.
And walking through crunchy fallen leaves.  And hiking while a gale blows the leaves tumbling around me while my hair dances around my face.  And I'll look forward to watching Kharma happily give some exercise to the lazy Canada geese that refuse to migrate south.

Oh, there's lots to enjoy this season!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Cottage Potager--Beginning/Ending/Beginning

I'm ecstatic to report that we will begin harvesting French filet beans this week.
Our very first beans of the season. Uh, this is one crop I can't blame on our late frosts; this mixup is all my fault. I planted beans seeds three times before they germinated; twice with seeds that were ten years old (yikes!) before I realized my mistake and planted fresh beans that promptly sprouted and grew.  Lesson learned:  either share my seeds with family and friends, check the "packed for" season date before decanting, or throw out old seed packets pronto instead of hoarding them like they'll appreciate in value.

I woke up early on Sunday and decided to dig potatoes so that I could plant a winter crop in their place.  Let's see, here are the seed potatoes being chitted (sprouted) last spring.
I planted half whole and half I cut up and callused before planting.

My harvest.
Sad. I think I had more last year when I planted in containers. I amended my soil with sand and peat and planted in ground this spring.  I'm not giving up, I'm just learning.  I plan to profit from some local success stories before I plant next spring.  For the record, the whole potatoes produced more than the cut-ups did.

Let's move on and check out the butternut squash.
My lone baby is growing daily and I'm hoping for late frosts. The Queen Mother's isn't doing a whole lot better--maybe this just wasn't a good year for them. I plan to start seeds inside next spring for an earlier start. Yep, time to plan ahead for Harvest 2011!

In the former potato hills, I have snap peas started (from nice fresh seed, thank you very much).  In between the bean rows, I've sown leaf lettuce and I'm trying to figure out if there's enough light coming through the golden zucchini to start some beets and carrots.

Come join other gardeners as they blog their successes and failures here at the

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tickled By A Fiesta Ware Memory

What do you think of when you remember "Fiesta Ware?" Most of us immediately begin contemplating the gorgeous colors--indigo, butter yellow, turquoise, red--every color of the rainbow and then some. 

If you don't own some, I'd guess that your grandma or mom did or your best friend chose some for her bridal registry recently. Fiesta Ware is just one of those great ideas that never really go out of style. Maybe it's because there's a color for everyone or maybe it's because who could hate a dish named after a party?

My associations with Fiesta Ware are linked with cousinly expeditions underneath our grandma's ranch house.  (Turn a group of kids loose on a ranch without supervision while their moms visit and you don't have to worry about them until it's time to leave for home.)  Our great-grandparents built the ranch house, but our grandparents moved in a couple of years later and raised seven hellions of both sexes there.  Which may explain the interesting things we'd find on those occasions when the almost-inaudible meows of newborn kittens would lure us into the cool and spooky depths of a foundation carved into the California hillside.

Crawling past ancient spider webs, we'd eventually find a mommy barn cat smart enough to know that our grandma dished out cold leftover oatmeal conveniently near the icehouse and a nest of spitfire feral kittens who never appreciated our best intentions.

Along with new kittens, we'd also unearth old silverware and discarded Fiesta Ware.  Us girl cousins would start dragging out staples for a tea party in the apple orchard, but would get distracted by the boys, chickens, dogs, kittens, calves, flowers, lunch, uncles and/or peacocks.  Over time, the forks, spoons and dishes got closer and closer to our crawl hole entrance.

I treasure the things kept from that ranch house: 
one piece of indigo Fiesta Ware and a daisy-encrusted sugar spoon...along with a thousand sweet memories.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Guideposts - Week35

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary? 
~James Matthew Barrie

Off to get my Weekly Words of Wisdom fix,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Giving in to Autumn Gracefully

September must be the most gracious of months. Not only does she provide perfect weather, but she also eases me out of summer and into fall effortlessly. You probably thought autumn would have to physically drag me away from summer whilst my wails of protest echoed from the mountaintops. Instead I looked around yesterday while I harvested my lavender crop and could only revel in the peace and quiet of an almost-autumn evening.

Really...I did.

The daylight is softer, the shadows gentler, the breezes more playful, the crickets less hurried with their chirping. Meanwhile the fall bloomers are beginning to color my garden in soft hazy hues.
I can't resist Michaelmas daisies flowering next to purple mums. Or the tinge of cherry-red that's peeking through the green of my burning bush.

Yes. I've been clipping off the hollyhocks and old tiger lilies with a bit of regret. And the waterlilies have more yellow leaves than flowers.
I'll console myself with a trip to buy some purple-striped crocus bulbs for the pond border very soon. I've also had the fun of digging potatoes and checking how much longer till our peaches ripen. The taste of a ripe peach swimming in milk is enough all by itelf to resign me to a change of seasons!

Today my summer pastels are being replaced by my September wallhangings. Their harvest colors are so homey. Rusts and sunflower golds and olive greens and deep ivories--ahh, they make me want to come inside and feather my nest. I want to rearrange my furniture and plump up some pillows for cozy evenings with Netflix and an embroidery hoop.

Today is going to be a perfect day, I can tell.
I have this rather large desktop slathered with stripper (the nice citrusy kind) waiting for me to begin scraping off the tired old finish. And I discovered that Large Old Desk Number Two is much closer to being done than I'd expected.  (Now you know how I can store four executive-style desks and still park the Forester in our garage--I'm an out-of-the-box thinker.)
Do you realize that if I can make both desks entrancingly, irresistibly spiffy, I'd not only reclaim a major portion of our garage, but I stand to earn a few dollars when I sell them on Craigslist. They're large, yes, but they're solid wood, hold office supplies and computer equipment efficiently and hide all the cords--whoo-hoo!  I couldn't live without the one in my workroom.  With a little luck and the right buyers, these two desks could magically turn into shutters for The Big Guys bedroom and/or bedroom drapes.

While I wait for the varnish and stain to dissolve on the desks, my iron bed is going to provide instant gratification via my palm sander.
(This photo should be titled "Truth in Advertising"--I make large messes as I work and they stay messy until everything comes together at the last minute. This may be the real reason I've "saved" these projects until the Mister is gone.)

When the last bit of paint is sanded off, I'm ready for the next step. I spent last night "shopping" at this website for a new finish.  (I like Blacksmyth, Ralph Lauren Waxed and White Chipped.)  The trick seems to be the combination of a primer, colors, and judicious sanding.

Then I started browsing colors.

I was leaning towards ivory white...
but I love the red finish (focus on the color not the comforter that shouldn't be inflicted on any child no matter how bad they've been.
I truly love this black. 
Ahhh, turquoise.
I want to know why no one's done a bed in apple-green?

I can't go wrong whatever finish I choose because if there's anything easier than removing paint from metal, I've never encountered it.

 Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work I go!

p.s. Can't I get ONE person who wants me to scrape popcorn?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Time On My Hands

I'm in one of those "while the cat's away, the mice will play" moods. My sweetie is the cat who's away and I get to be a mischievous mousie. It's what happens when he's in the field and I get bored. He's used to coming home to rearranged furniture, new pets, new wall colors, new landscaping...staying busy helps me cope with his absences.  Hey, who'm I trying to fool, it keeps me out of the fridge, the kitchen cupboards and trouble.

So I'm mulling over my choices--

Shall I remove the popcorn ceiling in our closet? Pretty easy to dump all the clothes on his unused half of the bed while I make a mess in the closet. That ceiling is so low that I inevitably knock popcorn off when I grab sweaters off the shelf, grrr. And there would be no one but me to suffer the smell of fresh paint. On the other hand, I'd have to borrow a compressor and texture sprayer.  It's not a small job.

Or I could finish painting the very large vintage desk (one of four (!) that's been taking up room in our garage for years). I can just picture it espresso black sporting brushed nickel pulls and a stained wood top. Yummy! Indian summer--not too hot, not too cold--is ideal weather for painting and refinishing. I bought the paint last year and have the drawers done, but haven't tackled the desk itself yet. Of course, stripping the finish of the top isn't going to be easy and I hate the smell and mess of stripper. And I can't find the drawer pulls of my dreams in the right size. Or at least, I haven't found them yet.

Or I could spray paint my grandma's iron bedstead ivory. I painted it sunflower gold in college--now it's chippy (and not in the good vintage way). It's an odd size, but would still fit in our guest room and has lots more storage space underneath than the beautiful maple bed in there now. I just need a creative way to replace the creaky metal springs with something to support the boxspring.

Our bedroom drapes need replacing and I've found some nice fabric possibilities. I bought new rods already although I haven't acquired any rings yet. Even at a thrifty five bucks a yard, drapes take so much fabric that it adds up quickly. And I'm reluctant to deprive my sweetie of a vote on the material choice.

If I sewed new curtains for our family room though, I'd be re-creating the current color scheme of natural linen with red trim, a combination that suits us. I really want the new curtains to have simpler lines--that is if I can bring myself to part with the old-fashioned cottage-y ruffles. Uh-oh, I can feel indecision creeping up behind me, ready to pounce, even as I'm typing about ruffles versus clean lines.

I could just complete a few projects lying around or clean the house from top to bottom, but there's just not enough scope for mischief in that.

Decisions, decisions.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you'd do first (because I think I might have time to accomplish more than one thing on my list of possibilities if I get properly motivated.)

I need to get started so my "fun" has the proper degree of impact when he returns.  I love to surprise him!

Not at all lonely,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The pond motto:  Outswim...outlive...outhide.

We restocked Lilypad Pond with three goldfish for way back on Mother's Day.  Beauty combined with a taste for mosquito larvae--what could be a better present?
I chose them with some care.  I figured the white and red pinto would look really flashy as he swam around.  I loved the black picotee edges against the gold.

And the red one with the spot was lively and healthy. We released them and (as small but wise comets will) they disappeared, hopefully to grow and prosper.
I'm glad I took pix, but naming them might have been a mistake.

Because a month later came the regrettable episode of the garter snake with a taste for goldfish and peeper frogs who took up residence in our pond.   Said snake was re-homed as soon as I convinced my sweetie that life would be much quieter without my shrieks of snake-horror.

When we were satisfied that the garter snake had moved on permanently, we snuck another five feeder comets (both unphotographed and unnamed) into the pond where they promptly disappeared amidst the rocks. I knew they'd show up eventually, predators and the good Lord willing...
Success!  Warm summery water, familiarity with the pond and a lack of snakes finally brought the three survivors out from the midst of the lilies into the shallows where they browse on algae and other fishy delights.  To my delight, that little guy in front is actually one of my Mother's Day comets who somehow outwitted the garter snake. To say he's skittish is an understatement, poor traumatized fish. Maybe they're bolder because they're not so little anymore. They've never received one flake of fishfood, but our pond is apparently rich in algae and larvae and other fishly favorites. Mr. Skittish has easily quadrupled in size since May and the others are three times bigger than they were.

The sounds of the creek and waterfall are tranquil, the lilies enrich each day, but the flash of a golden fin just might be my favorite part of Lilypad Pond.

Joining the others at My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Friday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rita's First, and other Joys

Rita's very first, very tiny egg was such a treasure that I had to preserve it for posterity somehow. How better than a photo! They're both hers--but what a dramatic change in size over the course of a week. I snapped lots of pix, then I retreated into the kitchen and forced myself to sacrifice such cuteness for a meal.  How mundane though incredibly delicious.
Only later as I was adding the eggshells to the compost pile did I realize that if I'd blown out the contents, I could have had my egg and eaten it too! Ack!  I'll be kicking myself for quite some time over that mistake.  Can you imagine how sweet it would have been to have a little Spring nest with four miniature hens' eggs as a centerpiece?

No bird is more intent than a hen waiting for a treat.  She's not eagle-eyed..more like chicken-eyed? or hen-eyed?  Definitely not cock-eyed (chicken humor, I couldn't resist, sorry).
There are few things more satisfying being greeted by four eager beaks on a gorgeous summer morning.

Unless it's opening up the nest box to find four rich brown eggs.
Their coop is actually that lovely blue (an intense robins-egg blue called Cape May) inside. And that would be a vintage pillowcase with pink roses softening their nest box. And I can usually tell you which hen laid which egg, which is pretty amazing considering that most people can't tell Norma Jean from Rita from Carole from Sophia.  Us chicken mamas  know how to keep our girls happy.

Maybe I'm keeping them too happy--jumbo doesn't even begin to describe the size of this latest egg.  It's ginormous!  (I took more photos later that showed how truly large this egg was but my camera "ate" the photos.  Who says an old camera can't learn a new trick?  I hope it unlearns quickly or I'll be in the market for a replacement.)
Could you hear us oohing and aahing?  The Queen Mother suggested that it might have a double yolk too.  That would be another first--but I'm in no hurry to find out.  I want to enjoy opening the fridge and being astonished at the talent of my Bombshells for awhile longer.