Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I discovered some really nice feather pillow inserts (the inside stuffing part) at Ikea recently. They are 16"x24", a very nice size for decorating the sofa. I bought one cover at Ikea, and the other one I made. Can you guess which is which?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bathroom Repairs

Last week we had a contractor do a few repairs in the master bath. We thought it would be a quick install of new lights and a little patch up to some damaged drywall. But the project grew into a two-day affair. Here's what his crew did.

First, he recommended that the drywall damaged from shower water would best be solved by adding a layer of tile between the top of the fiberglass shower and the ceiling. Sounded good to us. It will be somewhat temporary because we hope to someday (when we're old and rich) remodel the shower and tub area of our bathroom. But that won't be for some time, so the tile works for now.

Next, he recommended that we take out the existing ball shape ceiling light fixture, as well as the broken fixture over the sinks. We had already bought two matching lights for over the sinks. He suggested that we add two recessed fixtures in place of the one globe light. Sounds good to us too.
The old ball shape ceiling light

Recessed fixture after (see second light in shower photo)

Sink fixture before

Sink fixtures after

In the after photo of the sink fixtures, you can see a huge patch area needing a paint job. Once the old fixture was down, we were amazed at the number of huge holes underneath that ugly old gold tone light bar. It was more hole than wall under there. It made us wonder about the skill? sanity? drugged state? of that electrician.

Next, I showed the contractor the two deep cracks in our kitchen ceiling. Do we repair or replace the drywall? He said it's an easy repair, and by the way, what did we plan to do for lighting in our kitchen? (A table lamp was our make-do solution). We hadn't yet found a ceiling fixture for the kitchen, so he suggested five recessed fixtures strategically placed over the three work surfaces.

Kitchen ceiling before

Kitchen ceiling after

We are very happy with all the new lighting. The kitchen is a dream to work in now. No more shadows or dark spots!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine Dinner

I always try to make a heart-themed dinner for Valentine's Day, but the day almost escaped me this year. Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 this afternoon I realized what day it was, and that I needed to get busy.

My usual approach is to make a heart-shaped meatloaf, but we were all out of raw ground beef. So I thought a bit and came up with this menu:
Shepherd's Pie
Tossed Salad
Berry Cobbler a la Mode

The Shepherd's Pie is made with leftover beef roast, leftover potatoes (turned into mashed potatoes for the top "crust"), carrots, peas, and gravy from leftover stock. At the last minute I sprinkled paprika through a heart cookie cutter to garnish the top.

For the tossed salad, I added artichoke hearts and sliced beets cut into hearts with a tiny cookie cutter.

The berry cobbler was made with raspberries, the only fruit I had in the freezer. I baked it in my heart pan, and then we used up the last few tablespoons of vanilla ice cream in the freezer.
I also dropped a few drops of red food coloring into our water pitcher to make every bit of our meal festive.

I decorated the other family members' place settings with a red heart topped with a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup (their favorite).

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Made My Own Pot Scrubber

The last of my stash of pot scrubbers fell apart last week and I really needed a new one. Before I worked in a shopping trip into my schedule, I hit upon another idea when I emptied a sack of potatoes: I had the needed materials for a pot scrubber!

Here is how I made it:

I cut the brown plastic-like mesh bag along the sides, cutting off the thick seam areas. I also cut off the thick area at the top. My sack had a label applied to the mesh, but bonded so tightly that I couldn't peel it off. So I cut that part out too.

Next, I cut the remaining areas of the sack into squares approximately 4"x6".
I stacked these squares into a pile (I had about 10 pieces), then I hand pleated the stack through the center and pinched it tightly.

Then, still pinching, I wound a thick thread around and around, very tightly, and then tied it off in a double knot. Don't use anything with wire in it because it could scratch your cookware.

Now it looked like a tissue paper flower. And, just like I was making a flower, I pulled each "petal" out from the center to fluff it all up.
It scrubs pots clean in a moments' work!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine Hearts

I often arrive at the party late, or rather, I arrive at the home decor ideas "party" late. Case in point: I decided just this week that I would like to have a few mercury glass hearts to tuck into the faux snow inside a cloche. But I don't have any mercury glass hearts, so I had to go shopping. That's where my idea-lateness becomes a problem: there are no hearts out there in shoppingville, let alone mercury glass hearts.
I looked and looked in vain, and then I happened to glance in a bin of very out of season miscellaneous leftovers at Ikea. There I saw a box of six bronzy-goldy plastic hearts! I snatched them up even though they had nothing to do with mercury or with glass. At least they were heart shapes.
At home, I got out five cans of spray paint: bright shiny silver; duller silver; shiny gold; white; and black. First I sprayed several coats of the two silvers at once, with a can in each hand (try it, it takes some coordination to do it). Then I misted on the black by holding the can at shoulder height and spraying downward to the hearts laying on the floor. I followed that with a light dusting of white done the same way, and finally, a mist of gold. (Click on above photo to see detail.)

Now they are at home in the big cloche on my sideboard. I think I may add small bows to those loops at the top of each heart.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Goals

Here is what I hope to accomplish during February:
1. Do a birthday party for the three February birthdays in our family.
2. Create winter decor for the mantel and the dining room sideboard.
3. Restain and urethane family room coffee table.
4. Celebrate our wedding anniversary with a trip to a cute coastal town.
5. Have contractor do repairs to our bathroom.
6. Clean up the garage.