Thursday, June 30, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Off to the movies last night!  Saw Midnight in Paris -- a Woody Allen comedy/romance set in Paris.  I recommend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tool Time

Work on the entryway floor continues.

Here is Pip and my new best friend (Craftsman Cordless Multi-Tool).  As the directions say "Stay alert, watch what you are doing, and use common sense . . ."  Good advice.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mount Rushmore

1957.  Five great men.  One of them with his four kids!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

One of the interesting things about living in an old house is that you are never quite done.  We have pretty much covered every square inch of this house, but after 24 years the front entry floor had remained untouched.  The ceiling, the trim and doors, the walls--yes--but not the floor.  And not because it was too beautiful to touch--it was covered with some fairly ugly brown indoor/outdoor carpet.

Enter our little dog who (how do I say this?) decides it's kind of like being outside and anything goes!  So . . . the carpet had to go.  Not too bad--Ben gave it a good tug or two and pulled it up.  Then he tackled the linoleum layer which took a little more muscle.  He used the same tool that he uses to chip ice in the winter.  That left a layer of hardened glue and green fuzzy stuff that after all these years has bonded with the floor boards.

I've stripped a lot of wallpaper, but this was more stubborn than any of that.  We tried vinegar and water--nothing.  Then the same stripper I use on furniture--nothing.  So now we are using the heat gun and scrapper--and it is coming off.  Inch by inch, but it's coming.

The plan (following the scraping and sanding) is to paint and stencil it, then cover it with a heavy duty finish.  Now to start looking for stenciling ideas . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Off the Shelf

Two of the (many) unexpected pleasures of retirement:

1) Dawdling through the stacks in the library and

2) Reading during the daytime.

So off to the library I went last week.

I returned Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers, The Story of Success.  He looks at highly successful people and concludes that they are the product of their times, their culture, their family and community, and even luck--rather than simply in-born intelligence or ambition.  Another words, it's a group effort.  The examples he shares are really fascinating!  I suppose we can all look at our life stories and our families and see the influences on our lives.

While I was looking through the new arrivals, I found Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter.  It looks like a wonderful cookbook and has me wanting to try so many of the recipes ("homemade root beer floats", "kale chips", "balsamic & lime vinaigrette").

Okay, enough--back to my books . . .

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Uncle Jerry Box

Our hearts are a little heavy after losing my uncle to cancer last night.  He loved his family, worked hard, and had a really kind heart that touched us all.

So I had a neat little thing happen today . . .  I was digging through some things in the basement, looking for small cardboard boxes to ship some Ebay items in, and back on a shelf that I haven't touched in a long time was the wooden box that Uncle Jerry made for me when I was about 10!  It is a beautifully made box with hinges and a place for a lock.  That Christmas he and my aunt made one for each of their "older" nieces (Barbie cases for the younger ones).  I had forgotten all about it, but there it was!  I dusted it off and found so many little treasures that had stayed in that box all these years--my girl scout sash, tassel from HS graduation, ticket from my first airplane trip as a 14 year old, a note written to my daughter from my grandmother, an old LBJ election badge, a handkerchief that my great-aunt tatted, and there on the bottom among some seashells and special rocks was a napkin from Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sondra's wedding in 1962!  What a neat coincidence that I happened upon this box today when he and his family are in my thoughts and prayers!

More fodder for the "I-wanna-live-in-France" fantasy

J shared this great little blog with me the other day.  It's written by US designer Gabrielle Blair who along with her husband and six children (yes, six!) is living in France for a year.  They are renting this very old house, pictures of which will leave you sighing and wondering why we don't all live there . . .

Photo from Design Mom

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Chair--"During"

With our garage sale behind us, I pulled out the chair that I bought at a garage sale recently.  I've refinished a lot of pieces and sewn slipcovers, but re-upholstering is new for me.  So undaunted by my ignorance and armed with minimal youtube instruction,  I forged ahead!

Here's the "before" (with a little of the finish stripped off one of the legs and a little dog on the seat):

With the aid of pliers, rubber mallet, and new tack remover I took off the black under-the-seat stuff and ugly red and white bumpy floral fabric (Note to self:  Get tetanus shot):

Underneath that, was a thick layer of cotton stuffing and burlap and a daddy-long-legs:

In the middle of the stuffing was some straw (money would have been nice).  Ben thought it looked like cedar shavings:

While I'm guessing that the "guts" are original, I don't think the outer fabric is because the pretty wood on the top part of the chair was covered up.  It was a fun reveal:

I left the burlap and the webbing on for now, but they may come off yet.

Here's how things are looking now.  I need to do more steel wooling (new verb) and sanding:

Pip is bored with the whole thing and wondering where the soft chair went:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Steel Cut Oats

My favorite breakfast cereal ever--Steel Cut Oats.  And super good for you, too.

My recipe is simple.  It goes something like this:

Shuffle to the kitchen.
Say a prayer of thanks for good husband who has coffee waiting.
Stand and sip silently for a few minutes or until eyes are beginning to focus.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water in saucepan and bring to boil.
Dump in 1/4 cup of steel cut oats and turn heat down to medium low, no need to cover pan.
Take second cup of coffee to the couch and drink while watching morning show.  Pay particular attention to weather forecast realizing immediately after hearing it that you can't remember any of it.
After about 30 minutes, return to the kitchen where oats should be ready.
Dump in bowl.  Add a little brown sugar, walnuts, and splash of milk.
Enjoy your oats.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green Buttons

Like a lot of people, I love going to garage sales.  It's the thrill of the hunt.  Here's my purchase from a recent garage sale.  I spent six whole cents on these pretty buttons!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Ben planted cabbage in the raised beds this year.  We are amazed how quickly they are growing and how pretty they are!

He is looking forward to making sauerkraut.  Meanwhile, I found this Asian Cabbage Slaw recipe on Martha's web site.  With its combination of cabbage, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro, it sounds delicious--and healthy, too!

Everyday Food

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garage Sale

Yay!  Our garage sale was a success!  This means we got rid of a LOT of stuff, made a little extra money, and had fun doing it (and had perfect weather)!  With Ben and J & J here (and this being a small town), we knew many of the folks who stopped by--and it was nice to visit and then see some of our favorite things (a lovely old set of china) headed to good homes (kind of like giving away kitties)!

Friday, June 10, 2011

On the line

There are so many good reasons for using a clothesline.  I've always enjoyed the process and feel of  things after they dry outside--and appreciate the environmental benefits, too.

Ben fixed up this portable "system" for us a few years ago.  We stretch the clothesline rope between hooks attached to the fence and the backporch (with a wooden support in the middle)--simple and works great!  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Before Photo"--chair

I picked up this chair at a garage sale last weekend and consider it a learning project (learning how to upholster). Curious about the wood, I applied a little stripper to one of the legs when I got home.  The old finish came off easily and the wood looks good.  Now I'm thinking it might be fun to do a slightly greyed or pickled finish--and make a slipcover with a little pleated skirt.  We'll see!

By Jarlath Mellett 

Just found this on a Desire to Inspire post.  Good inspiration for my humble little chair!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birds in the Garden

There is a lot of growing and chirping in the backyard these days.  The vegetables in the raised beds look bigger by the hour and we've had robin, crackle, and mourning dove babies yelling to be fed!  

Monday, June 6, 2011


We celebrated my mom and dad's 62nd anniversary yesterday . . .

They've always been a great model for us of what marriage and parenthood should be.

Here's a little Anniversary Waltz for you.  I know you'll get up and have a spin around the living room.

Friday, June 3, 2011


First full week of retirement--full of good things, including book club at lunch yesterday and time with J to do a little shopping and go see the documentary "Bill Cunningham New York".  Our outing included a stop at a great antique architectural shop, a wonderful place to admire the incredible details that houses used to have and browse for treasures.  I found one--this oil painting, artist unknown, a little worse for wear, but immediately it spoke to me (I think it said, "Buy me, buy me!").

(Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A garden bonus

With all the rain we've had this spring, our container garden is flourishing.  No more bagged salads from the store--we have a regular salad bar just outside the door.

The mesclun (a mix of lettuce varieties, arugula, cress, endive, and radicchio) went to seed pretty quickly, and we let it go just for these pretty flowers . . .

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Ah, it's peony time . . .

Opening yesterday, these came from plants that have grown in our garden for about 25 years.  Before that they grew in my mom and dad's garden--and before that, my grandparents' garden in town--and before that, my grandparents' farm.  That says a lot about a plant when it gets moved right along with the family.  It takes it a while to take root, but once it does nothing compares.