The long and winding road

This was a sad week as we had to say good-bye to my cousin-in-law Martin – a fun and friendly family man who played bass guitar in a number of area bands over the years, and was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. He passed away on Monday the 17th, about six days shy of his 60th birthday.

My favorite story about Mart illustrates his goofy sense of humor. The first time I met him, I hadn’t been married to Steve very long. We were at an anniversary party for Steve’s parents. Steve introduced me to his cousin Mart, and before long we got to joking that yes, I was in fact Steve’s fourth wife. It was several months before I met Mart again, but when I did he said, “I can’t remember your name but I know you’re good ol’ Number Four.” So forever after, long after he had memorized my name, Mart called me Number Four.

Needless to say, it has been a low-key week of reflection, as these types of things tend to remind us of how tenuous life really is. And how important it is to try your hardest to live a life you love.

We attended Mart’s funeral on Saturday; it was truly a heart-breaker – a lovely man gone much too soon, who will be missed by his family, many friends, and devoted fans. And by Good Old Number Four.

More soon,

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Junky picture frame project update

One project I really loved working on was my junky picture frame: a little cupboard door I scrounged and re-assembled, and adorned with a couple of my daughter’s senior pictures. I shared the project in its unfinished state about a year ago because it was a). done enough and b). really cute!

Well recently, I finally found the elements I needed to finish it up. I would love it if you would take a moment to check out the updated post – here it is!

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Thanks for checking it out!

More soon,

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A Valentine table vignette

Last year I did a sweet little vignette for Valentine’s Day on “Grandma’s Table,” an antique piece I’m so pleased to have inherited from my Grandmother Verdie. This year, I decided to try something a little different by making a love-themed display on the low coffee table instead. (I know – daring, right?)

It’s funny how the pictures don’t show you exactly what I see when I look at this. The objects are there, of course, but somehow I am able in my mind’s eye to blot out the background – the television, the electronics cords, the TV trays… I see that they are almost overwhelmingly distracting in my photos, but to me – well I hardly notice them when I am enjoying this little collection.

Anyway, here’s the table with some fun little bits and pieces on display:

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The table is a contemporary style, a dark-wood base with an oval glass top. I started by simply arranging a leftover sheer curtain panel.

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And added some love-themed items like my large silverplated bowl filled with pinecones and adorned with a layered rose-and-ribbon accent.

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A sweet framed photo of hubby and myself, from a very long time ago ;) …

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And this thrift-store-found Valentine-themed tic-tac-toe board:

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A little later, I snapped a couple photos of the whole display in candlelight – I love the floating candle with red and pink filler…

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It all looks lovely… if you can see past the TV trays and the television set! LOL

I’m linking my little table to the “What’s It Wednesday” party at Patti & Paula’s lovely blog,  Ivy and Elephants.

More soon,

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Spring is SURELY coming… right?

potsaThis year I’ve really been struggling with keeping a positive attitude throughout the Winter – we’ve had quite a fair share of snow, but that isn’t really the issue. It’s the bitter cold that has affected me more than anything. While I enjoy the beauty of snow throughout the season, I have absolutely no patience for temperatures below 20 degrees (or God-forbid, below zero). And we’ve had quite a fair share of those days, too, so I’ve found myself irritated and grumpy a lot of the time.

Fortunately, the end of all this is on the horizon. In my concurrent life as a “biker chick,” this weekend annually marks a bit of a turning point in suffering through Winter, a.k.a. The Season In Which We Cannot Ride. That’s because it is the weekend  of the motorcycle swap meet at our state fairgrounds, and Motorcycle Swap Meet Weekend is always the “turn 4” in the racetrack of Winter because it means March is only a couple weeks away – and March 1 is the Finish Line, as far as I’m concerned.

March 1 is the start of the month in which Spring begins. It is the start of yard clean-up, the beginning of gently poking leaves and mulch aside looking for perennial plants peeking through the soil, and the beginning of “high gear” in terms of gardening inspiration, ideas, and plans.

If you think this sounds like a lot of forced “happy self-talk,” well, I freely admit that’s exactly what it is! LOL But a gardening, motorcycle-riding girl does what she has to do get through Winter, right?

So while today it is gently snowing (again) and leaving us with a fluffy white blanket over everything, and while we might get above 20 degrees, I’m trying real hard to enjoy the beauty and just be content in the knowledge that Winter is almost over, and that Spring, riding, and gardening are not too far away.

Here are a few scenes from around our snowy yard today. And, there are several more over in the album I shared on Facebook.

 

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I am linking to Home & Garden Thursday at Kathy’s beautiful blog, A Delightsome LifeMy heart goes out to Kathy and all the home-and-garden bloggers I follow who live in the South – and all their neighbors! – who have been hit hard the last couple days by an ice storm. Ice storms are hard enough to deal with when you’re used to them – but for an entire region that’s mostly unprepared for that type of thing, it must be just a bit terrifying on top of being inconvenient and dangerous. I’m thinking of you all!

Update: I’m also linking to Susan’s Outdoor Wednesday Party at A Southern Daydreamer. Be sure to click through to see her stunning flowering plum tree and lots of other links full of natural beauty!

More soon!

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Removing tarnish from silverplate

I don’t know anything about silver. I mean, I know what it is – but as far as how that translates into how beautiful items for the home are made, how to identify them (and, more importantly, how to spot the imposters), and how to care for them? I don’t know anything.

So it was with some trepidation that I purchased this huge bowl at the Goodwill recently. It had two things going for it: the price, $4.99. And its shape – I was looking for a console bowl. It’s also quite large – about 10 inches across, and about 6 inches high. I used it as the vessel for our Christmas Day centerpiece, tarnish and all.

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Right this second, my local Goodwill seems to have hit the motherlode on items apparently made of silver – there are creamers, trays, chafing dishes, tidbit trays, and more, and all tarnished – some worse than others – just like this bowl. After doing some research online, I think that my bowl – an example of holloware – is the Georgian pattern by Sheffield Silver Co. and is likely silverplated copper with a tin-clad bottom.

Anyway, I know tarnish generally equals “patina,” and patina is good… but I wanted to at least see what the bowl would look like without the patina. While shopping for actual silver polish, I came upon a product called Tarn-X, which claimed to be a wipe on/wipe off product for removing tarnish from several kinds of metal. Worth a shot, I thought.

I decided to try the product on a smaller item first – this letter opener started out in life as a dinner knife in the “Queen Bess” pattern by Oneida.

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I opened the bottle of Tarn-X, poured a little into the cap, and used a Q-tip to rub it gently over the surface of the knife handle. I was surprised by two things: first, Tarn-X STINKS.

TO HIGH HEAVEN!

Seriously, rotten eggs mixed with hair perm chemicals or something – I am not kidding, it’s truly God-Awful.

And second, it worked! WOW, it really cleaned the tarnish right off! With virtually no effort on my part!

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So, stench aside, I decided to move on to my Sheffield bowl. I would pour some Tarn-X onto my cloth and wipe it onto the surface, but it seemed to take some effort to remove the tarnish on the larger piece. That was okay – I wouldn’t call it strenuous work by any means. Then inside the bowl, I poured a little of the product directly in and swirled it around, and it was truly an immediate result – the tarnish disappeared before my very eyes. When swirling started to get too close to the outer edge of the bowl (I didn’t want to slosh this nasty-smelling stuff ANYWHERE), I simply wiped the whole thing out with my cloth – and used a Q-tip to get into the crevices of the design. Here’s the result, after maybe 10 minutes of very minimal effort:

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I still need to apply a polish or glaze to slow future re-tarnishing, but I think both pieces look fantastic.

I’m not necessarily one to endorse a product, but I can tell you for sure that Tarn-X worked as promised on the items I was cleaning.

It stank, really really bad… but it worked, really really fast. I’ll definitely use it again, but I might plug my nose.

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I’m linking my bit of silverplate victory to the “What’s It Wednesday” party over at Patti & Paula’s lovely blog, Ivy & Elephants. Please click through for more fabulous ideas!

 

More soon,

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An after-Christmas treat

I recently decided to purchase a new sewing machine. Now make no mistake, I love the vintage machine I’ve been using that belonged to my grandmother – a Singer Featherweight 221  – but that machine was a gift from my dad to my daughter, and she intends to take it with her when she gets her apartment this Fall… so, while I had the funds, I decided to buy a simple machine for myself. Here it is, appropriately called the Singer Simple:

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Not much in the way of bells and whistles (okay by me – I would never use them) but it does have some built-in stitches which makes doing a zig-zag pretty effortless. It also came with an automatic buttonholer.

One of the things it did not come with was a decent cover. The cover that was included was made out of that weird “fibrous” material that recyclable grocery bags are made of, only about 80 percent thinner. And gray. Super-ugly.

So for my first project on the new machine, I decided to make a sweet little cozy-cover, and here’s the result:

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This is the same fabric I used to re-do my address book a couple years ago, plus a couple other interesting bits: the side panels are actually the front panels of a thrifted ladies’ blazer in a deep coral-colored damask material.

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The jacket did not fit me, but the details were so cute and I love re-purposing old clothing in unexpected ways so I simply cut it apart, leaving the faux pocket intact.

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It really is too bad that’s not a real pocket – I think it would be pretty handy!

And, the bottom trim is more of the deconstructed pillow sham I used for my office chair makeover. (Please ignore the little pink blob of wadded-up thread – it’s not part of the project – LOL – but I didn’t notice it when I took the picture!)

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I do like the new machine… but it doesn’t make that neat old “shuggity-shuggity-shuggity” sound that the vintage one makes. I kinda miss that!

More soon,

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Valentine Tree

This year in the after-Christmas-buy-it-cheap-for-next-year rush, I purchased a four-foot white artificial tree. I’ll be using it in December in the Mom-cave for my “vintage” tree.

Now maybe it’s because the “Christmas season” was a little short this year, but for some reason by January I wasn’t really ready to put away ALL the holiday decorations. I WAS ready for the house to have that uncluttered “New Year” feel to it. So I kept out some red, pink, white and gold vintage ornaments, and put up a Valentine’s Day tree, using just the top section from the white tree.

I’m not sure how many people do this, but I really like it!

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In fact, I think pink and gold might be my new favorite color combination!

 

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I also included these beautiful heart-shaped ornaments. I have a few in each of deep red, and gold.

 

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And more hearts, made of spun glass. These would be easier to see (and more dramatic) if I had put lights on the tree. I might still do that.

 

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The colors in the picture may not be quite right… the two smaller bulbs are a rose-red color.

 

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The only ornaments that aren’t pink, red, gold, or crystal are these satin-finish balls with pretty violets. I just think they are so romancey!

 

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The tree sat for a couple weeks without any kind of topper, and I finally made this out of some Dollar Store decoration kits. Too much? LOL I’m not sure it fits… it might be a little too “blingy”.

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My little tabletop Valentine tree needs a skirt… and, maybe a less obnoxious topper. LOL

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I’m sharing my sweet little tree over at Show and Tell Friday on Cindy’s blog, My Romantic Home. Be sure to pay her a visit!

More soon,

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Quiet on the homefront again

Are you enjoying the post-Christmas “return to normal” at your house? I am – my poor office had became a bit over-whelmed and unusable because it’s the room where I stashed a lot of the accumulated clutter so that Christmas decorations could be showcased. I haven’t been able to use the room for its true purposes… officing or crafting… since right after Thanksgiving.

But last weekend I finished putting away the decorations, so this weekend it was finally time to reclaim the Mom-cave! I did take the opportunity to purge and organize some of that clutter, but mostly I was just trying to get this space back to its normal “pretty and calm.”

I didn’t take any “before” pictures, but you can safely assume that except for a path to the closet door, every flat surface in here was stacked with stuff that didn’t belong. By Saturday night, however, the work area looked refreshed and restored – and you could once again see the floor!

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And the sitting area looked warm and cozy once again.

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Sunday morning I was fussing with some of the items on my desk, and was captivated by how sweet it has begun to look with all the pretty containers, most of which are hand-me-downs or thrift-store finds.

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The bunny watercolor is an image I found on Pinterest – I simply printed it out onto nice heavy photo paper, and slipped it into a dollar-store frame.

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The tin on the left is part of a nested set of 3, acquired from Walgreens at an end-of-season clearance last year. I used free graphics from The Graphics Fairy (and a bit of lace trim from my stash) to adorn the Mason jars. The lamp base, shade, and urn are all thrift-store treasures. The doily peeking out under the urn was made by my great-grandmother.

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Thrifted pitcher and vase… jewelry on-hand, and another of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

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This is probably the most expensive item on the table – I purchased this large bunch of big rose blooms from Hobby Lobby a couple years ago. They weren’t on sale and I think were $7.99, but I had my trusty 40%-off coupon so they cost me around $4.

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I painted & embellished this thrift-store clock a couple years ago too – it works great!

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And this little Norcrest “French Bouquet” thrifted dish is a new-to-me favorite.

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The part you can’t see here are the items under the desk – I purchased a couple additional storage tubs and re-organized my craft supplies into categories. I had been shoving everything into three containers and it was a complete (and frustrating) mess. Now I have tubs labeled for categories like fabric/trim/ribbon, beads & bling, paint & glue, etc. It’s so much easier to pull something out if I don’t have to dig through three large containers, and it’s a lot easier to put a new item away according to its classification.

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I enjoyed my weekend playing with my toys – and I did a little bargain-hunting too. More about that soon! How about you – how is your January going?

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Thrifty fabric finds

My recent thrifting trips have been most successful in the “linens” department – I’ve found some wonderful bargains there of late! I don’t necessarily buy a fabric item for its intended purpose. Tablecloths, curtains, and sheets, especially, are great sources of fabric because they typically come in such large pieces. I don’t pay particular attention to what the item is – I simply look at the color, pattern, and condition. Here are some recent finds that most likely will find their way into some other project:

This beautiful hunk measures about 5 x 7 feet in size. It’s a heavy drapery, and it’s lined with a similar amount of good heavy cotton. Its companion piece is a valance some 18 feet long. The valance is cut in an arch shape, but it’s trimmed in 18 feet of sweet tassle fringe. I picked these up for just $2.50 per piece.

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Here are two pretty pieces from Two’s Company, just 25 cents each. I think these are either placemats, or napkins, although they are slightly off in size for either of those purposes. In any case, they may end up as something entirely different. I sure like the patterns and colors.

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Found this rectangular tablecloth (about 50 x 70) in blue check with a fine light green stripe for just $1.50.

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And finally, this pretty piece is a full-size flat sheet; it’s almost sheer when looking at a single layer, and the color is much paler than the picture is portraying. I love the white piping detail – very sweet and just $1.50.

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Where else but a thrift store can one buy so much fabric for so little money! I hope you are likewise finding some wonderful treasures!

More soon,

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I am loving pink this winter!

Okay I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves for a long time has been the “paint it pink” syndrome. This is where a manufacturer takes a product, paints it pink, and slaps a “for the ladies” label on it. Without any further thought as to what might actually make women want or need the product – they think, “If we paint it pink, we can sell to the ladies.”

But despite my loathing of “paint it pink” as a marketing strategy, I do love the color! And this winter I seem to be surrounding myself with a lot of it! So I thought it would be fun to round up a few things I am currently loving that are PINK and participate in Pink Saturday over at the lovely blog, How Sweet the Sound.

Here are some of the pinks in my home right now: the leather cover on my new Kindle Fire HDX:

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Some of my favorite ornaments on my Valentine’s Tree:

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… and the pretty silk carnations sitting next to them!

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These sweet, cottagey socks:

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And the color scheme of this beautiful cooking magazine from – of all places – the local grocery store! This is their own in-house publication and it’s VERY nice. I am REALLY loving the raspberry-and-white combination!

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Be sure to head over to Pink Saturday and look for more pink-themed posts! It’s like a breath of Spring in the middle of winter – and with something called the Polar Vortex having just passed through here, we can use it!

More soon,

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