Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cabin in the Woods

Merry Merry Christmas!!! I am hoping each of you enjoyed a warm and lovely and peaceful Christmas.

Our joyous holiday was spent at a cottage in Cumberland Falls State Park for what we have referred to as "The Christmas Cabin in the Woods". Oh, it was lovely ~~ kind of idyllic, like camping, except with heat and electric, running water and a kitchen. And a fireplace.

We had such a nice time -- my son, daughter-in-law, grandson, boyfriend and me. The weather could not have been nicer. It was a little cloudy, but warm enough. We enjoyed a lovely outdoor lunch on the deck of our cabin...

This was such a nice relaxing way to spend Christmas together ~ we went hiking -- or rather, the way we do it it might more accurately be called "tramping" through the woods.

My daughter-in-law, practically perfect in every way, is a pastry chef and a dazzling cook. I'm a fair cook myself. We much appreciated having the kitchen. Of course we brought way more food than we could ever consume... just in case. (Adrian has been trained from the cradle to help and he's very artful at it.)

And because we are the sort of people we are, there was crafting. The plan was to craft ornaments for the tree, but the only good craft project was designed and brought by my boyfriend, Gordon. And it was so simple -- play-doh rolled out and cut with cookie cutters. We blended colors, embedded gems and stamped the clay with pine branches for texture.

With all that cooking and eating and hiking and crafting, we just about wore ourselves out. Baby Kai looked after things while we napped. (He looks like he is telling a bedtime story... and maybe he is.)

But I think it is just a clever ploy to get the grown-ups to fall asleep so he can peek into all those presents.
Merry Christmas Everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Will Work for China

Does everyone know I have a china fetish? Not of the very large, faraway Peoples Republic of, with billions of bicycling citizens and pandas that romp in the wild. Not that China. But rather china. Dishes, porcelain, ceramic, pottery, crockery, if you will. Have I mentioned it here before? If I haven't, well, there it is -- I'm now outta the closet. "My name is Jenny and I am a china addict."

I didn't even know I had china leanings till I was on my fourth... or fifth set. This is because they are not full sets. I've been a dabbler, a social addict. A few plates here, a service for four there, add on a serving piece or two. If you are a china addict then you know how it is -- you see a few pieces, half a set... Or an event crops up that warrants all new plates. It happens.

And as it happens, I like to mix and blend pieces -- all of mine have a pink, green, blue, yellow "theme". In fact I have Fiestaware in each of those colors. I have a set from Pier One Imports that are white with with pink, green, yellow and blue stripes around the rim. A set of Pfalzgraf I once stalked and snatched up on sale have pink and green and yellow and blue featured in fruit and flowers. Chintzware, bless it, goes with everything. So when I put all these pieces on my table, a few plates here, a few serving pieces there, they absolutely are fitting with one another.

But every china addict has their "Holy Grail" -- a certain pattern... Staffordshire's Welcome Home or Pfalzgraf's Grandma's Kitchen... the pattern that one desires above all others. For me that pattern is Franciscanware. The old stuff. the real stuff.

And yesterday... a client bartered my service of cleaning and organizing for the thing I want more than... a new car, diamond earrings, a bigger table saw or grass mowing for a year.

The thing I want, the pattern I most covet, is Franciscanware ~ Desert Rose:

Need I say more?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dying to Play

If you've been reading along a bit then you know I am finally rehabbing-updating-decorating the living room/dining room portion of my abode. Rather than continuing with the disheveled hovel look, I am reaching for something more ... cleaned up.

So now that I have ripped out the radiator (not me personally, but I cheered heartily), replaced the carpet (again more cheering), painted (me) and upholstered (me too), I am moving on to the drapery aspect of the new decor...

This was a hard step for me ... because I am funny about fabrics. By "funny" what I mean is I LOVE them. ALL. My heart races, my breath comes in short bursts. I could grab any fabric, sew it up, stretch it on the window... and even if it is the "wrong" fabric for the room, what I would see is a beautiful fabric for which the room is wrong -- don't change the drapes, change the room. WAIT.

This time I decided to go slow, hold my breath, put blinders on if need be, but choose drapery fabric very carefully, very cautiously. Whew -- it was hard... it's a mine field out there. There are florals and checks and stripes and toiles and sheers and wools and, oh my, a girl could get dizzy.

But here is how it worked out:

Yards and yards and yards of tone on tone white floral jaquard. Now, white will work... but it won't be what I want. With three windows, 6 feet tall, in a small room, the draperies will loom large. And what I want is for the draperies to be a feature... but not too much, I sure don't want the drapes to be the biggest freakin' thing in the room. I want them to blend in with the walls... I want to dye.

I LOVE to play with dye. Can you tell? Have you ever dyed anything? Do you mix and blend dye colors? A little wine with a little tangerine and brown and you get burgandy. A bit of orange and a smidge of fuschia and you get peachy-shrimpy-melon. Hip-hip-hooray for dye. I even dyed the fabric for the dress I wore to my son's wedding. Any excuse to play with dye. Any excuse at all.

And here it is -- from yards and yards of white to yards and yards of medium green:

Doesn't it look like the paint is leaking off the walls and flowing onto the sofa. That is it -- my singular skill -- I can match any color, be it in paint, dye or clay. And now, the only task left here is to get the fabric up from lounging all over the sofa and make it stand straight and tall at the windows.... I'll get back to you on that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keeping Busy

Because I haven't enough to do, what with chasing fishes and cabinetmaking class and working a bazillion and a half hours a week, I needed a little something to fill the empty hours of my quiet little life. Sooooo, after having the hideous behemoth radiator ripped out (wasn't THAT fun?)and painting walls, and then having carpet laid, I selected new colors for upholstery...

And then I ripped into the sofa like nobody's business! Can I just mention here how very much I HATED that old upholstery? I love the shape and size and scope of this sofa... but the medium blue that went with nothing and always looked dirty. Blech.

I'm liking this black and white check. The idea for black and white check came from a ribbon poppy pin I made once. The ribbon poppy, pretty enough, needed something... a background...

See, the black and white just goes...

And it goes with everything... and green, the color of leaves, goes with everything too ... hmmmm, a Decor Is Born, almost.

And there it is, awaiting drapes and pillows and pictures, behold, the sofa, because I just didn't quite have enough to do (but truly because I could not stand that dirty medium blue that didn't go with anything another minute.) Up next... something purple. Who doesn't like purple?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Got 'im

It was a fight to the finish -- could'a been anybody's game, but I was brave and determined, with single-minded focus, and only one wet shoe -- I am the winner. And so's the fishy!

Isn't he pretty? You can see that this gold fish isn't so much gold... he's rather bronze. Against the black liner of the pond he disapears entirely and is known as The Great Invisible Fishy. (We're given to hyperbole here.)

Whatever his color, I am much relieved to have them all together. For a while there I was worried.

And look, Bailey like's him too.

She likes them all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Fugitives... or How I Spent a Long Cold Weekend

This is the continuing saga of the pond, which I love.... however. When I dug the pond in June I did not think ahead, as is my wont, to autumn, when it turns cold and the leaves will fall and fall and fall. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) A dear neighbor gave me fishies for my pond -- how sweet, but a frightful mishap of construction killed them. So I got more. I got three little fresh fishies to replace the three little dead fishies. They were feeder fish. If I had not bought them they'd have been somebody's dinner.

Over the summer they had the loveliest time, flitting and frolicking in my dear little pond. But then summer ended and it did turn cold, and I worried about my three sweet fishies. They would shiver. They would freeze. The dirty dish fountain had to come in for the season as it is too delicate for the weight of frozen water -- so there would be no airation (did I spell that right?).

Oh... my fishies... But I checked with fish people at fish stores and I checked with fish people at pet stores and I checked with fish people at pond stores. Everybody told me the same thing, "The fishies will be fine. They will swim to the bottom where it is warmer. They will winter over beautifully." Finally I believed them... exept no one said beans about leaves in the pond. I am in the middle of Freakin' Sherwood Forest here. Much as I tried to keep ahead of the leaves.... the leaves got ahead of me. They floated onto the pond while I was at work and then when I wasn't looking the leaves sunk to the bottom of the pond where I could not see them... and every school child knows that rotting leaves emit carbon dioxide. Not good for fishies. Not good at all.

When the fishies paddled to the surface, gasping for air I was horrified. Fishies gasping for air at the surface can not swim to the bottom where it is warmer, where4 they will winter over beautifully.... if I did not do something soon I would be an accessory to fishicide (is that ichthyicide? just guessing).

So I spent $50 on an aquarium and $13 on gravel and $7 on food... to save $4 in fish... but of saving the fish is not about $$$$... it's about my heart breaking if I do not save the fish. (But still $70 to save $4 in fish seems unbalanced to me.)

And this is how I spent the weekend... fishing, as it were. And they didn't want to be caught, I tell ya. They weren't coming out alive... It's a fairly big pond. I was risking life and limb, or at least wet sneakers and soggy pants... so I emptied most of the water, all the easier to catch elusive fish.

It isn't pretty saving lives... down right ugly... but then... Oh, they ARE lovely. I have managed to catch two of them.

I also managed to get one sneaker very wet and very cold, but I caught these two. It's hard to tell from the photos, but they are very big -- 4" long and at least 2" top to bottom. I am breathing easier having caught these two... and yet one fishy remains in that shallow brackish water. I am going back in. Cross everything for him -- he doesn't know how nice it is getting caught and all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just a Little Housekeeping

I have these cabinets, see. It seemed like a good idea at the time -- "Install cabinets in the dining room, to store fabric, because who uses a dining room? If there's fabric in there then it's a sewing room."

Molly thought it was a swell idea.

All those cabinets were packed full of fabric. (We won't discuss the closet across the way.) And it was a fine idea as far as it went, but frankly I took it too far. My dining room was always a mess... and so the only solution was to clean it up.

I emptied the cabinets

And took them out...

And I emptied and removed the shelves...
And painted the wall. The carpet people will be here Wednesday. At this point it may not look like much.... but I'm pooped.

I don't dare turn the camera in the other direction -- all that mess had to go somewhere. It is now a toss up between Trash Day or a Goodwill run. (But if you've wondered at all where I have been, what I have been doing... wonder no more -- I've been buried under piles of my own debris.)

UPDATE: The cabinets will not be returning -- I sold them on CraigsList -- God LOVE CraigsList. My sewing/art room has moved upstairs. My plan is to make this space into a proper dining room -- an odd idea, but I am going to try it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Blankets and Sweaters and PotPie, Oh My

Finally, autumn is upon us -- frost is on the pumpkin and it's about time. Toward the end of August... and this year it was all through September and then all through October, I was so looking forward to selecting sweaters...

"Hmmm, the peach, no the green, the yellow... oh, purple, where's purple?"

snuggling into blankets...

(I have kind of a blanket thing... can you tell? I see them at auctions and flea markets and think.... "I will cut that up into pillows," or "I will upholster a chair," but then I never do, so here they are for the snuggling. )

...and dishing up PotPie. (The recipe for this, in as much as I can follow a recipe, I got from MaryAnne .) Gotta say, it was delish.

Ahhhhhh, Autumn... it almost makes wilting through the doggiest days of summer worth it... almost.

What's your favorite part of Autumn?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

C'mon a My House

Looky what we have!!!! Up here. C'mon and see. But cha gotta be quiet.

Are ya comin'?


It's Jenny's grandson -- Sweet Baby Kai. He's the dearest thing.

Did that Little White Dog mention that if you tattle, we'll deny everything? And if he awakens, it's on you. Kapeesh?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sometimes it's the Big Things

Let me explain... See that great big thing there...

Yes, that, it's a great big radiator cover trying, unsuccessfully to hide a great big radiator. I don't know who installed it in front of the window like that... but I would lay even odds his wife wasn't home at the time. I can readily hear the conversation when she first laid eyes on this monster in the window... "Excuse me ... what were you thinking? Were you thinking that a radiator is a fine accompaniment to drapieries? Or were you simply thinking I would not notice? And I suppose you are now going to tell me it cannot be moved or removed? Is that what you are going to tell me?"

I want to go find her -- I want to look her up at the local cemetery and whisper into her grave, "Looky, here, Sweetie, That big ol' boat of a thing is GONE. " (Cause you know she went from this life to the next ticked as all get out over that hideous big monster radiator.)

She'd heave a sigh so deep the earth would rumble.

That radiator has been under my skin since the day I bought this house... but it's gone, gone, gone now.

Next, paint, new drapes (real drapes -- ones that can actually hang right) new carpet, new upholstery... I might even spring for a new lamp.... Those oil lamps might have to find someplace else to live.

What I did, in terms of heat, was have baseboard radiators installed. It's no taller than the baseboard and unless you are looking for it you don;t even know it's there.

Oh, I am now the happiest woman alive -- sometimes it isn't just the little things -- sometimes it is the Big Things too.

I'm going to go pirouette in glee now. Twirling, leaping... yep, I am the happiest woman alive.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What with the rain and all...

See what happens when the skies open up and the rains come crashing down, endlessly.
First you start fooling with ribbons... then buttons... a little filigree here, a bead there.

The background ribbons for these bracelets started out life as vinatge seam binding. Well, it didn't start as vinatge. Once upon a time it was new and pedestrian as chicken soup. But now it is old and wonderful. Who binds seams anymore? As it turns out it makes very nice bracelets. I inherited this from my boyfriend's late mother. Actually it was bestowed upon me, by reason of my being the only "girl in the family". Silly boys assumed I would use it to sew.

No... I'm just using it to fool around. Then, as often happens, one thing leads to another... first it's seam binding bracelets, then it is button and bell brooches. Aren't they cute? I likes to jingle.

Clearly, I am way too easily amused.

Oh, and before I forget -- I was tagged. Betty at She'sSewPretty hit me up for 7 random things about me... (I thought everything about me was fairly random...

1. As an infant I used to regularly escape from my playpen. It was one of those wooden jobs -- I would pull back the pad, stick my find in the hole, lift up and crawl under. I'm sure I had no place particular to go -- I did it simply because I could.

2. I am not remotely competitive. I don't care who wins or loses, so long as we have a good time playing the game. Once I came in first place in a diving contest over a girl who was previously known to always win. She was devastated and I did not feel much better -- for me winning is not what it is all about.

3. I hate 3/4 length sleeves -- when I wear one, and I don't, all I can think about is how these sleeves are cheesy and too short or not short enough and they need more material.... or material needs to be cut off and if the meeting has gathered do start without me because I'll be over here in the corner fussing over my sleeves, ya see.

4. I built my first bench when I was four.

5. One of these days I want to just up and buy an airline ticket, fly to New York City for the day, see WICKED and fly back home. Ok, once I'm there I'll want to stay several days, a month even, but I can't get more than a day off to save my life, so one day and WICKED will do me.

6. Speaking of New York, when I was in 8 grade I had a brave junior high history teacher who took 70 7th and 8th graders on a long Easter weekend trip to Washington D.C. Baltimore, Philly and New York City. I still remember parts of this trip vividly.

7. I'm so dyslexic that it is not funny... actually it is, frequently.

As for who to tag who has not already been tagged... I don;t know anybody who has not already been tagged... twice... so I am going to start a new one... The New Jenny Tag is to name your favorite dish to prepare and write out it's recipe (give us a little history about why you like it or where you got it) And I am tagging: Francie of Cottage Scents, Vallen of Queenly Things and Sharon of C'est Chouette.

Tis the season -- it's all about the food.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

From Little Acorns...

Oops... that should be, "From Little Peach Pits"...

This little tree is planted in the Children's Garden, pretty much all alone. The drought this summer was so horrific that rather than nurse half dead things along endlessly, I opted to wait till next spring, when this dry spell will be a distant memory and all the nursery plants are fresh and hopeful.

But this little guy was at Home Depot , on clearance, where he'd soldiered on despite a plastic pot and drought conditions and substandard care. His leaves are limp but clinging. If he had that much life in him the least I could do is give him a place to be and a hope in hell of making something of himself. That's all any of us want anyway, really.

It's a very small area, not large enough for a huge tree and my intention is for everything planted here in the Children's Garden to be very child enticing: good things to eat, smell, touch and see. My plan for this little peach tree, the reason I wanted a small one to begin with, is to train him to the wall, so he stands straight and strong. It's called "espalier". He'll require some discipline and some training, but I think he's up to it. And I think I am up to the extra care required, the good things to eat he'll need.

Maybe it's just me, a mother's puffed up pride, but I'm thinking he's going to Do Great Things. Don't you think?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hot Stuff... Comin' Through!

Looky here -- two posts in a day!!!! Most unusual, but today is not just any ordinary day -- there's a Queenly Potluck going on. I'm bringing my specialty, Jenny Tetrazzini.

I can't call it Turkey Tetrezzini because.... here's the facts, I next to never follow a recipe -- but I promise you this is delicious. The basics are whole wheat spaghetti, chicken breast, thin veggie gravy and shredded swiss cheese -- to this add whatever it is you like most. In mine this would be bacon, onions, apple, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. And I like to spice things up; a little sage, some ground ginger, a wee pinch of nutmeg and a caution of salt.

It's a full on potluck -- Francie has already brought out jugs of moonsh... um, adult beverages . I'm sure later there will be a bon fire and line dancing. Grab a plate and join us.