Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cookie Tree

We celebrate the Professor's Swedish heritage every year at Christmastime by having a Santa Lucia dinner. This year we celebrated the feast on Christmas Eve. Our menu always includes Swedish meatballs, a seafood dish, lingonberries, and flatbread. The other many dishes vary from year to year. This year, I set out trays of assorted cookies for dessert, and the showpiece was a towering cookie tree.
Sometime during this past summer in my garage sale ramblings I had found a set of graduated cookie cutters for making the tree, and I thought Santa Lucia was a great time to try it out. It worked beautifully: the recipes for the sugar cookie dough and the glaze used for icing the layers were very tasty.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morn

Emmanuel, God is with us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Decor: Finished

The last bit of Christmas decorating is on the dining room buffet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Altered Window

A friend gave me two of her old windows when they had their old ones replaced with new, energy-efficient windows.

After removing the hardware, I primed and then painted one window black. I couldn't decide on white or black, but ultimately I went with black because I like the contrast with the soft yellow walls in my family room.

Once propped up on the mantel, I decorated around it with our Swedish Christmas items. I love how it turned out!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yule Log Cake

I have wanted to make one of these Yule Log Cakes for many years and finally, last night, I had the event to make it for. We were invited to a dinner party with a group of friends and I was asked to bring a dessert. What better time than this to try my hand at making the cake? It turned out well; I just forgot to take a photo after it was decorated. I simply poked silk poinsettias into the cake across the top.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Brilliant Idea

I had an "Ah-Ha!" moment today as I was making lunch. I wanted to grind up some chicken meat for a sandwich, but it's always such a chore to clean out the blender after doing a little blending job. I don't like digging the tiny bit out of the bottom. Then I noticed that the screw-on blender base looked very similar in size to the top of a canning jar. I wondered....

I grabbed an empty canning jar and set the blade unit on the mouth. It fit perfectly. Then I tried the base piece of the blender (the part that screws into the machine), and it screwed on smoothly. Perfect!
Next I set the jar into the blender and turned it on. It whirled away!

So I was in business. First I ground up that chicken meat in a quart size jar. That's the jar I grabbed in the beginning so I just went with it.

Then I moved on to nuts in a pint size jar. I like to store ground nuts in the freezer, and a pint size jar is just perfect. Now I can chop them up and stick them in the freezer, all in one container.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Last of the Turkey

Using up the last scraps of turkey, and assorted veggies, I made this turkey pot pie for supper tonight. Very comforting for a cold autumn night.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It Is Finished

Finally, 6 months after I started, our house is painted. Complete. Done. (I'm not doing the laundry closet or the pantry. They can stay their existing color.)

I finished painting the kitchen this afternoon in the same soft yellow as the family room, living room, and dining room. The rooms all flow one into another so a cohesive color makes sense. And I like the cheery yellow, soft enough to be a neutral.

That's not to say that the kitchen is finished yet. It is not. We currently have no ceiling lights in the kitchen or over the table, and the ceiling has a large crack in it that needs repair. Oh, and then there's painting the cabinets, replacing the laminate counter tops, hanging some artwork, installing a towel rod or hooks, repairing the wood floor, and many other details I can't think of at the moment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Tablecloth That Goes Forever

Today at the thrift I found a very l-o-n-g tablecloth in a cheery yellow daisy print. It's a nice weight with a nubby feel and it looks new. Even the label looks like it's never been washed. I snagged it for $3.88.

The thing is, it's incredibly long: it measures 57"x135". That's over eleven feet long! I have never seen a tablecloth for sale that's this long. It will easily cover my longest table with both leaves in, with room to spare. Here, it is folded in half to cover my five foot table.

We'll have to have a party soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perhaps the Last of the Garage Sales

On a recent Friday morning Heather and I met up for one of our favorite activities: hitting a few garage sales! Using Heather's handy I-Phone app that finds garage sales in our area, we found a neighborhood sale that turned out to be really good.

The best thing I found all day was a set of silverplate flatware, in a case, for $25. The 12 place settings had not only knives, forks, and spoons, but iced drink spoons, soup spoons, and dessert forks too. It also included about five serving spoons, a ladle, a meat fork, a pie server, and several other pieces. It doesn't match the set I bought earlier this summer, but it blends with it remarkably well. So now I have 20 nice place settings that I can use together.
Another good find was a pretty gold and white china teacup for $1. And nothing is wrong with it.

I admired an antique thread cabinet in one garage, but didn't buy because I can't just drop $150 without planning ahead. A few blocks away, her neighbor was selling an antique thread cabinet too, but this one was smaller, only two drawers instead of four drawers. It was only $50 - more affordable, but the trim around the bottom was splitting apart and I wasn't confident in my ability to fix it. So I sadly passed on both of them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

It's been almost a month since I last posted; I guess I haven't been "making" or "doing" all that much recently. But today I broke that lazy streak - I made 6 pints of applesauce with the rest of our fall apples. They were getting rather mushy and not all that enjoyable to eat whole. I'm sure we will enjoy them now that they are sauced!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Garage Sales

Heather and I, along with Heather's mom-in-law, chose a beautiful day to go garage saling. We really raked it in! I bought the least, but I still found a lot of goodies.

Here's my haul, with some photos:
11" tall aqua green tin pitcher, $2. This reminds me of the one Ikea sells, which is based on an antique design.
A green vintage apron with Ruth Ellen embroidered on the pocket, 50c (Ruth Ellen was The Professor's grandmother's name)
5-pc ceramic mixing bowl set, $212-speed Oster blender with glass jar, $6
Black and Decker iron, $1
10 white hangers, $1 (I like the type without the reinforcement piece on the bottom bar; it gives more space for my folded tablecloths)
Very Hungry Caterpillar, 50c
16 stainless steel napkin rings, $22 Pyrex refrigerator dishes with lids, $1
Fiskars 12" paper trimmer with travel case, $8
2 clear stamping blocks, 50c
50"x64" embroidered white tablecloth, 50c
57"x79" vintage barkcloth tablecloth, 50c
The mixing bowls, blender, and iron are for David. He asked me to look for things he'll need in his future apartment, once he graduates. Very slowly, I've found some useful things for him.

The kids' book is for church; the rest of the stuff is for me.

The embroidered tablecloth is stained and will need a long soak in an Oxi-clean bath. After that, I'm sure it will be white.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On a Rainy Day

An afternoon spent making 48 heart pop-up cards for the Sunday School children to decorate and send as encouragement. A peaceful activity for a gloomy, rainy day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Decor

I'm not much of a fan of fall, and especially, of Halloween. I don't like the scary, gory, ugly decor I see happily strewn across blogland. I just don't understand the desire to celebrate evil. I also am not a fan of orange. I guess that makes me a real Scrooge about Halloween!

Nevertheless, I did do a little decorating for fall, while trying to minimize the bright orange in my choices. Here is my mantle:
Very simple: books and pumpkins, browns, greens and just a touch of orange.
And from the opposite end. I used a few glass pieces to keep it light, and a few books for height and balance. The books also bring in the browns and greens.

And a few close-ups:A shabby iron pedestal topping two books, topped by a beaded pumpkin and glass cloche.

Another beaded pumpkin under glass, and a white ceramic one.

My tall apothecary jar with thrifted excelsior. I like the soft color the excelsior gives to the arrangement. I could have filled it with pumpkins or leaves, but I prefer the softness this gives.

I love these ceramic pumpkins in subtle colors. I found them at one local Dollar Tree this year. Our other stores didn't have them.

I also did a quick arrangement for the family room coffee table. It's almost pointless to put anything on this coffee table because the grandsons love to dig the marbles out of this glass hurricane. And we don't even have the proper furniture for this coffee table to sit in front of! But that's life. And we can decorate life the way it really is.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thrifty Find

Last week's Thrifty Find was on my "To Find" list for over 30 years!

I have wanted a pressure canner since I began canning early in our marriage, but they have always been too expensive. Off and on, I have looked on Craig's List and similar publications, but I was always too late the few times I saw one listed.

On Friday, while garage saling, there this was:Only $8.

It is quite heavy, and all the parts are accounted for.

It looks 1950's to me, but it may be earlier. I could almost write its biography from the pieces of information I have about it. The young man at the garage sale said it was his grandmother's, and then his mom got it. He remembers helping her can with it some years ago. Inside, the loose parts were wrapped in sections of newspaper, dated Oct 5, 1994, from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. That might be the last time the canner was used.

I have no idea if it's all in good working order, so I'll be taking it for a test drive very soon.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Harvest

The Professor and I shared a light lunch during apple harvest. We experimented with new cheeses: an unusual Brie, a German cheese, and Rosy Goat. (One of my favorites!)

At the front is pizza bread with thinly sliced cheese and olive tapanade. Yum.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Master Bedroom Update

I've had several requests for updated photos "when the master bedroom is finished". Well, it's not finished yet, but it's close, so I thought I would post these pictures.What is new? The mahogany bed (mattress too!), bedspread, pillow shams and decorative pillow, aqua walls, ceiling fan, curtains and rods, and dresser. We still need new night stands, table lamps, and pleated shades. Oh, and carpet too, but that won't be for some years.

Here is the BEFORE, taken several years ago in roughly the same spot. What a difference!

Another view, showing the trey ceiling and fan. We're sooo glad the popcorn texture is gone!

Opposite the bed is our mahogany dresser I bid on at an estate sale this summer.

And lastly, here is my drop-leaf desk and curio shelf between the closet door and bathroom door. I've had this antique desk for some years; it is a perfect match to our other mahogany furniture.
I'm linking to Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We're the "Church Ladies"

When there's an urgent need for some kind of help at church, a group of ladies steps up to get done what needs to be done. Yesterday, a group of us prepared food for a reception following a memorial service. There's usually not much warning for something like that, but all these sweet ladies gave their Sunday afternoon to helping at a moment's notice.

I really enjoy working on projects like this; it was a joy to work with all of you, even though the circumstances weren't wonderful.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Desk Reveal

This is a little desk I bought from my one-street-over neighbor when she had a garage sale. That was about four years ago. Here it has its shiny black glaze over the original orangey-brown factory finish; not much to recommend it. I bought it because it was only $10 and I figured I could refinish it someday. And we always seem to need another desk in this house, with so many computers and other electronic gadgets scattered about.

After redecorating the girls' old bedroom into a guest room, I decided to put the desk in there for both suitcase space and as a writing spot. And so the time had come to do the refinishing.

First I sanded it to bare wood using our new orbital sander. That only took eight hours or so.
Then I stained just the top with dark walnut stain, with two layers of urethane brushed on afterward.

Primer to the base came next.
Then beadboard wallpaper applied to the recessed panels on the sides. That includes the side panels in the knee hole area too.
That had to be caulked before I could proceed.

And finally, two coats of Behr's paint and primer in one.So here we go, awaiting new handles that I haven't begun looking for yet.

I'm joining the Met Monday party at Between Naps on the Porch.