Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm Easily Amused

I could watch this a thousand times and never get bored.

It's like magic!

Frozen bubbles are almost as cool.

Now I'm eager to have some more chilly winter weather so I can try this. I realize I'm completely crazy to want to trade our faux-Spring warmth for single digits. I'll undoubtedly regret it but not until I've tired of freezing boiling water and soap bubbles to my heart's content!

Warmly (for now),

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Guideposts - Week52

You can never have too many aprons or too many friends.


It took me a bit more than a year but today is my fifty-second bit of weekly wisdom. I'm grateful to Tracey at Notes From A Cottage Industry for the idea and to the others who've also shared their quotes.  My little corner of the world is definitely just a bit happier since I've begun polishing my attitudes!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Family Portrait


The aforementioned storage unit yielded treasures beyond the sewing cabinet--boxes and boxes of family photos.

Cool weather made today an inside day so I amused myself with scanning old black and white photos. And with torturing my sister (Chez Pooh) with frequent emails about middle names, the family home, and decorating potential while she was trying to frost a birthday cake for Tigger (otherwise known as the Offspring)--because scanning photos is repetitious bordering on boring interrupted by spurts of delight.

I'll leave Pooh alone while she makes like Bakerella and invite you along instead!

One of the family gardeners.
I come by my green thumbs honestly.

I love every single thing about this--from the torn calendar page to the little cord to hang it by!
Wouldn't it be sweet in a frame?

Wondering how she kept her skirts free of the sprocket (something that's beyond my abilities).

No clue why a Chico baseball team photo is in the pile.
A familiar face--I can tell you how his whiskers felt.
I love the white lattice and that barn door.

Young love in wartime.
Makes me want to listen to the Andrews Sisters singing Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) even if it did become tempestuous later on.

Wonder which one of my relatives this is?  A cousin?
Looks like an illustration about happiness, doesn't it?

I love using Picasa to transform old photos.  (A little cropping, enhancing the shadows, bringing out the highlights, utilizing the B+W function...)

Wouldn't she make a divine Valentine? (I'm starting to think about hearts and lace and sweet nothings, aren't you?)

Speaking of valentines--come by to see more Show and Tell at My Romantic Home!  Luscious!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vintage Sewing Cabinet

Refinishing this little piece has been a leisurely process. Here it is last July when we rescued it from a storage unit, missing one drawer pull (which never did reappear).
We thought it was a bedside table until we opened it and discovered the top drawer wasn't a drawer at all.
I decided to call it a sewing cabinet.  I can picture the top cubby holding scissors, pincushions, darning knobs, and thread used by a relative in olden times as she mended worn elbows and little boy's socks. 

It had these darling bun feet.
And this curvy detailed little apron.
They spoke to me very quietly of homey charm.  And it wasn't a big or important piece so I felt free to be creative.  Plus I had a suspicion that the wood wasn't exactly fabulous so I wouldn't feel guilty about painting the wood (yeah, I'm one of those people that actually prefer the look of wood over paint).  I couldn't wait to transform that scratched finish into a distant memory.

Out came my hand sander.  The mahogany was nice on the drawer fronts, but the rest was just "white wood".
I don't know what it's really called, but I've run up against it before.  It seems to be used because it stains well.

Alas!  Cheap wood on the side panels too.  That evil red stain screamed (loudly) of bleeding through the white paint I wanted to use.
Indeed, it even bled through three coats of Kilz primer.  
Maybe the oil-based would have blocked it better?  Oh well, on with my favorite white paint and some polycrylic finish on top.

I was thrilled with the newly-painted cabinet.  And relieved that not a trace of red bled through.
Shakespeare was right--all's well that ends well.  (Seriously, that guy is a bit of a know-it-all.)

Then waaaay back in September with winter hovering on the horizon I posted a "How To" about using vintage pages as drawer liners.
I loved the random look and color of the sheet music, but decided later to add some sewing specific images (thank you, Graphics Fairy!) to the drawers--because it is a sewing cabinet after all.
And I loved the spark that images of sewing machines, scissors and old costumes added to the sheet music.  That brings us to November.

Over the holidays I worked on acquiring new drawer pulls.  Currently she's sporting two clear vintage glass knobs on top and two ivory knobs with graphics from Michael's on bottom.
Why?  Because I'm incredibly indecisive sometimes and if one of you has a violent opinion about the right choice I'd be eternally grateful.  (Although if four metal knobs with a bit of detail would drop from the sky into my waiting hands, I wouldn't pay any attention at all to your opinion.  Sorry.)

Once I choose the knobs, I'm calling her doneAck!  She just whispered to me that she'd like a little lift-out tray on top.  Pretty please, with sugar on it?  Sigh.  Sometimes I wish furniture wouldn't communicate their preferences quite so clearly to me.  Dare I hope to be one hundred percent really-and-completely finished with this little charmer before spring summer next year?

Stuff like this doesn't happen to Miss Mustard Seed!  She can pull off a major piece, beginning to end, in five hours not five months--you can read about it here.  Thank heavens she's supportive of those of us who  take a little longer or I'd feel about one inch tall. 

I like to think that I'm letting the sewing cabinet evolve, sort of like the boy's room to home office over at Between Naps on the Porch (love her Metamorphosis Monday)!  Or maybe word has gotten out amongst the vintage furniture that I'm a softie?

Relieved to be in the home stretch,

Getting Mugged: Latte-Style

Meet my new love.

I don't blame you for being jealous. Deal with it. This one's mine!

What's that you say? Being pretty on the outside is nice, but it's the inside that counts?
Got that covered.

I missed our colorful holiday latte mugs when I stored them away.  So I treated myself on my birthday.  I was looking to replace our old sugar bowl at Ross when I ran across my flowered friend.  Sold!

Bear with me--I'm enamoured...

 Still life: Mug with cannisters.

Still life #2: Mug with apron.

Still life #3: Mug with Kindle

Still life #4: Mug with African Violet.

Enough already!
She does play nicely with my other housewifely loves though, doesn't she?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I just wanted to say that I'm reading your blogs. I really am.

My ability to have my comments actually post on your blogs is another thing entirely.

Gee, there's nothing I enjoy more than to compose a comment on how I love your _____ or I think that _____ or to thank you for _____ and then have it inexplicably disappear into The Land of Lost Comments (she growled sarcastically).

It's driving me into frustrated silence.

I'm finding time to write my posts; I'm finding time to read yours; I'm finding time to write comments (or at least try); now I have to find time to troubleshoot!   Is it our firewall? The old hard drive?  The new hard drive? Google or Blogger? Is anybody else out there having this trouble?  Ack!

You ladies are my friends and I love staying in contact with you.

Not quite having a tantrum (yet),

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

eGarden Notes

It's mid-winter in the garden, but there's nary a speck of snow to be seen (at least for the next day or so) and one end of the pond is beginning to melt ever so little in the sunshine. A week of fifty-degrees-plus weather has got me thinking ahead to springtime. Oh, has it ever!

Wednesday is my short day at work so I'll be seed shopping at our local nursery. First, though, I'll look back at the garden notes I made last fall to see what our successes and failures were and what new ideas I had. I used to store my fall lists, old plant labels and plant maps in my Sunset Western Garden Book--easy to store and easy to find each spring. It wasn't very organized though and my WGB (the bible for gardeners west of the Rockies) got plumper and plumper each year--rather like a Nevada gardener who shall remain unnamed.

Not anymore. Now my autumn summary lies dormant on my hard drive until spring fever wakes it up.

I scan my newest plant labels (front and back) when I have a sec
and add the year and name to each.  Now a few stray electrons (don't you love my expert tech nomenclature) sveltely encode my newest coral bell for future reference.  I've been known to scan my receipt in case an expensive purchase doesn't make it.

I stroll around the yard as foliage dies back and photo new plants like the monarda that turned out to be one of 2010's favorites.
(I wouldn't want to forget where I planted this little beauty and tragically try to transplant a hollyhock into this precise location.)

I also photo the location of some underachievers like this pink phlox that hasn't bloomed for three years despite everything I've done for the ungrateful little wretches.
Even though right now this looks like a bare brown spot near the maple I'll know exactly where to dig them up so I can pawn them off share them with my neighbors.

I even scan my scrawled "notes to self".
The spine of my Western Garden Book is ever so grateful. (I just wish I could shed inches so easily. Perhaps I could just scan my food instead of eating it?)

Uh, where were we? 

Ah yes.  Now a look back couldn't be easier--I just bring up the "Garden 2010" folder where everything resides to start my 2011 garden season.  eGarden Notes--highly recommended!

Need a breathe of spring? Come join us here.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I'm a reader.  I love books.  I often read three at a time.  Close one unexpectedly on me and I'll have it back at the right page within seconds.  I'll re-read my favorites until they've lost their covers and spines and have to be replaced. I love the discoloration of old hardcovers and fancy endpapers.  I'm not picky and I'll read anything:  classics, biographies, romance novels, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, suspense.  As a kid, I thought books were the best gifts of all.

But as much as I enjoy books, a Kindle was never on my radar. My family of techie guys thought otherwise and I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.  I'm ashamed to report that my reaction to my birthday present was something less than gracious.  A Kindle was way too expensive. (And if they were going to spend that much why couldn't they have gifted me a compound sliding miter saw?)  It doesn't even come with pre-loaded books.  And I couldn't exactly go to my favorite secondhand book store to buy ebooks.  There are no pages to turn and, worst of all, falling asleep while reading in the tub would be disastrous.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Kindle color scheme is about as exciting as the one Henry Ford thought up for his Model T?  I could get a skin for the Kindle itself,
but the design would mostly be wasted on the back even if my guys hadn't got me a sturdy cover for mine (I think they know how hard I am on books).  My crafy genes are busily figuring out a way to Zha-zha my leather cover with something bright and cheery.

At least they got the size right.  It's just a tad larger than a paperback.
It's easy to figure out how to use and very Green on energy use.
And I like seeing the various screen-savers like this flock of winged wonders.

I'm happy to admit that I was wrong.  I'm loving my Kindle--mostly due to Project Gutenberg.  
It's true the ebooks there are free downloads, but the true attraction is having access to some books that are extremely hard to find.  How can you quarrel with Lucy Maud Montgomery, Charles Dickens, Jack London and Stewart Edward White? It's like being turned loose to roam the stacks in a mammoth library without needing a library card or having to return them on a due date.

And I will be delighted to return the favor to Project Gutenberg by proofreading their in-progress titles for them (and I even have a book or two that aren't in their library yet that I hope to shepherd through their process so that others can enjoy them as much as I have).

I'm still wondering if perhaps someone would issue me bathtub insurance for my Kindle?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Guideposts -- Week51

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

I think Enthusiasm might just be my middle name. Or perhaps it's Foolish? I just can't help myself from seeing possibilities. And the occasional unexpectedly wonderful result just feeds my optimism.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Snowlady Mantel

My Cold Hands/Warm Heart snowlady wall-hanging comes out each January to dress up our mantel.
It might look a little familiar to fans of this month's banner.  (The blog banner, not our vintage New Year's banner.)

It's amazing now to think the original pattern was worked in blacks and tans like some of my other snowmen.

My colors were inspired by the turquoise snowman fabric I used as my border.   I like to think that I couldn't have resisted those colorful snowmen even at quilt store prices, but at fifty percent off--well, I'm not one to quarrel with fate.
I started shopping our cottage for anything that reminded me of snowmen, snowladies, or snowflakes.  Glass candleholders from the dining room, silver vases hidden in the laundry room cupboard, white mini-lights from atop the china cabinet...

A platter usually on the holiday table instead of the mantel, a tall wedding and a short anniversary vase, old christening cups...
eventually a bit of lace as an experiment to disguise the electrical cord and a mental note to find a long enough scrap for future use.

I discovered that an unused spiky vase, turned upside down, made a great pillar candlestand.
I stacked and tweaked and gathered more, then rearranged until I was satisfied.

The Christmas mantel seems like a dream from a distant time now.
My four little elves are enjoying their well-deserved rest in an out-of-the-way corner of the workroom.

Instead our benificent snowladies watch over us while we are cozily tucked up on the sofa. 
Netflix watched by the light of snowflakes are even more magical.

Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home--so many wonderful ideas, so little time!