4/18/2014

STILL DREAMING


Click the video for background music while reading this post.



This song pretty much describes how I feel when I start thinking about finding my perfect sofa. I know it's going to happen someday. I just know it. Until then I wait and dream about it. Drool over pretty sofa pictures. Imagine what it will be like. My only fear is that when we finally meet I'll turn into a jealous mate and won't allow anyone to get within ten feet, let alone sit on it.

Here's my latest prospect:


Kind of ugly, yeah? But wait, I have rose... errr, blue colored glasses. I can see Mr. Stripey turning into something like...


I know the picture is a little fuzzy. Or maybe it's just the tears of happiness in my eyes thinking of what could be. I'm sure a talented upholsterer could totally make this happen. My only concern is whether or not I'd be able to get up from the sofa without calling for help. Low slung sofa + bad knees = 911. I'm sure there is a code for that in law enforcement, right? Would that be a 10-53 - Woman Down? or a 586 - Illegal Parking? Hmm, something to take into consideration anyway. 

I'm going to run it by the Mr. and see what he thinks. Will keep you updated. 

Have a great holiday weekend. I'm off to see a man about a horse chocolate bunny. 



2/07/2014

WINTERING



Where has the time gone and is it already February 2014? Gulp. I didn't mean to take such a long break from posting but that's how it goes sometimes. First there was the holiday busyness that kept me sidetracked. In the middle of it all we were also dealing with an unexpected family emergency, followed by a string of houseguests as a result. Things have finally quieted down and knock on wood that it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. 



Many projects have also fallen by the wayside, partly due to the fact that it's winter. And what a winter it's been! Can it please be over now? I deliberately titled this post "Wintering" because it seems like it should be a verb. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to get through a tough winter like this. Since December 6th we've had 38 days in which the temperatures have dipped below zero...that's fahrenheit! We saw temperatures as low as -26 and that didn't factor in the windchill which made it feel much, much colder. Props to my husband who has not let the cold or snow deter him from making his 4-mile roundtrip daily walking commute for work! He says it's easier to get himself going on cold mornings than the car, which is probably true. So, because of the less than ideal weather and roads, I haven't made as many trips out to scour new items for my Etsy shop. Projects that involve spray painting are on hold until warm weather returns. Likewise, other indoor projects that might require ventilation, aren't happening when the storm windows are on. 

What I did manage to get accomplished before Christmas was a bit of sewing, and fun sewing at that. I knew my niece, who just turned five yesterday (happy birthday, Grace), was going to be receiving an American Girl doll for Christmas. Of course every doll needs a wardrobe, right? It's been at least fifteen years since I last made doll clothes and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. I sewed skinny jeans, a tweed coat, One Direction t-shirt (her fav boy band), and pajamas. Then I ran across a Star Trek dress pattern for an 18" doll. My daughter, now 24, is a self-confessed Trekkie. She wore an Uhura costume for Halloween a couple years ago, so when I saw the pattern I knew I had to make it for her. She certainly wasn't expecting a doll outfit for Christmas, but was thrilled with it anyway! I wrapped it up and gave it to her on Christmas morning, doll and all. (The doll model isn't an AG doll, but a different brand 18" doll.) Crappy phone pictures below...



I hope to get back on track with regular posts again. The weather will soon...had better... give us some signs of spring on the way. I've already heard a pileated woodpecker hammering in the morning and the days are getting longer. I'm counting on you to just do your part and  THINK SPRING!

11/15/2013

Do You Know What You're Wearing?

I've written some posts on occasion about matters that concern the environment and health, from doing a green sweep of household cleaning products to trying to add more healthful organic foods into meals. I've talked about recycling, upcycling and buying secondhand. Today I want to talk about becoming more conscious about the clothing we wear.


We're all aware, or should be, that our clothing and textiles are largely manufactured outside the U.S. Cheap labor and less stringent environmental and safety regulations all factor into the decision for companies to keep costs at a minimum, although that doesn't necessarily mean lower prices for us. It just means bigger profits for the corporations. But beyond the dollars that go out of our wallets when we make a purchase there are other costs you may not have considered.

Recently I was browsing through some clearance racks at a local store and found a nice half-zip top in the sportswear department. It was made of a performance type fabric that I thought would be a nice layering item for the cold winter. I wasn't focusing on much other than style, size, color and the great clearance price. That's probably what most of us look at. It wasn't until I got home and was about to remove the hang tags that I noticed two I had missed seeing in the store. I immediately knew this was one clothing item that would be getting returned.

As you can see, this piece of clothing has been chemically treated with built-in sun screen protection and built-in insect protection! I don't know about you but chemicals that are added to my clothing, that are already made out of chemicals to begin with, is just too much. Any protection I would be gaining from the harmful UV radiation or possible insect borne disease would only be mitigated by the chemicals I would no doubt be absorbing into my skin. And what those chemicals are I have no way of knowing. They may be carcinogenic or hormone disrupting chemicals. Do I want to hold a small child while wearing these chemical riddled clothes? What about when they are laundered? How much is leaching out into the sewers and contaminating our water and soil? The label on the top I bought says the insect protection is "proven". What exactly is proven? It doesn't say. It also says it "lasts through 70 launderings".  In other words, the chemicals eventually wash out and are rinsed down the drain and into the environment, as do dyes and other chemicals used in the manufacture of our clothing.

Just a few days later I saw an article about the Greenpeace Detox Campaign, and with it a video that left me sick to my stomach. Watch it and I think you'll be alarmed too.


The next time you go shopping for clothes I hope you will remember this. The next time you turn on a faucet and see nice clean water coming out I hope you will remember. Our choices do make a difference, not only for ourselves but for countless others around the world. We only have one world and we all have to share it.
————————————————————————————————————————
UPDATE:
I did a little further research into insect repellent treated clothing and discovered that the only repellent approved for use in clothing is permethrin, which has been approved and deemed safe by the EPA. According to Wikipedia permethrin "has low mammalian toxicity, is poorly absorbed through the skin and is rapidly inactivated by the body. Skin reactions have been uncommon." There are no known risks to using this to treat clothing including for toddlers, who may have oral contact with their clothing, or for pregnant and lactating women. It has also been tested to be safe for daily wear and all military clothing is now treated with permethrin.

It is, however, recommended that treated clothing be washed separately from other laundry. And although safe for humans the following points were made:

  • Permethrin is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic life in general, so extreme care must be taken when using products containing permethrin near water sources.
  • Permethrin is also highly toxic to cats, and flea and tick-repellent formulas intended and labeled for (the more resistant) dogs may contain permethrin and cause feline permethrin toxicosis in cats.[9]
  • Very high doses will have tangible neurotoxic effects on mammals and birds, including human beings.

You can read more at the EPA website and Wikipedia. As always, it is up to each of us to make our own choices and to be knowledgeable consumers.
 

11/12/2013

Painted Cabinets Reveal

As promised, finally, a few photos of my repainted kitchen cabinets. They're not easy to photograph. Poor lighting, reflections and a tight spot to try to get in...not to mention trying to avoid letting you see the dirty dishes all piled up just out of the picture...ha ha.








In the end I'm fairly happy with how they turned out. Although in a few photos they may look streaky, especially when you click and enlarge the pictures, it's mostly reflections you're seeing. I'm on the fence about having kept the apron front white. I'll live with it for awhile before deciding if I want to paint it gray like the rest. Any opinions? Unlike the gray oil based paint I used a latex waterborne version for the white. It isn't supposed to yellow over time as the oil paint would. Although the same finish, satin, it doesn't seem to have as much sheen as the gray. I'd prefer it to be a bit shinier and smoother feeling. I'll see how it holds up over the next few months before making a final decision on what to use for the top cabinets. 

I kept all the original hardware. I thought about replacing the drawer pulls but in the end decided to keep what I had. Someday down the line when I might want to sell these they will be all original...except for the paint of course. I still need to put the "Geneva" logo tag back on the apron front too. You can see the holes where that will go. 

I am so anxious to get going on the walls! I'd be peeling that paper now but I know it will take longer than I think and with the holidays fast approaching we've decided to wait until afterwards. I can't imagine trying to cook holiday meals in a torn apart mess and the bright yellow walls that are under that paper. But one small item is ticked off my list at least. It's a start. Here's that list again:

  • Refinish the metal cabinets. (bottom cabinets done anyway...)
  • Tile backsplash over sink. 
  • Strip wallpaper, prep walls and paint.
  • Repair cracked ceiling and paint.
  • New lighting: Pendants over the island, sink lighting.
  • Properly vented range hood installed at correct height.
  • Paint the woodwork white?
  • New doors made for built-in cabinets.
  • Insulate built-ins.
  • New flooring.
  • New energy efficient back door.
  • Cabinets to make use of empty space above and around appliances.
  • Bifold doors for utility nook.

From now until Christmas I will be concentrating on food, gift making, decorating, entertaining and fun! Today I'm dusting off my sewing machine to get started on the gift making. I wish I could show pictures but it will have to wait...it's a secret for now. Have you started gearing up for the holidays? Are you going to be spending it in the midst of a remodeling project? How do you cope with that if you are? 



11/06/2013

A Day in November

With November comes indoor time. Gone are the revolving back door rambles in and out of the house to the compost pile, to pluck something from the garden, to hang laundry on the line or just sit in the sun on the back steps with a cup of coffee. Going out is a little more involved. It requires things like shoes and socks and jackets. And pretty soon it will be even more of a ritual with boots, hats, gloves and layers. Trips out are planned. If I'm going out on an errand or walk I'll also take out the garbage, maybe sweep or shovel a bit of snow, or pick up the mail...as along as I'm already bundled up.



We had our first snow this morning. Just a dusting, but it's still lingering in the shady corners of the yard late this afternoon. A gentle reminder from Mother Nature that we shouldn't waste time getting ready for what is surely just around the corner. We still need to get out the snow shovels and equip the cars with their snow scrapers, brushes, and floor mats; find those boots, gloves, hats and scarves; dig out the down jackets from the back of the closet. There are still quite a few leaves on the trees, which is surprising considering all of them that are piled on the ground or that have already been raked! The days are growing considerably shorter too. At 3:45 this afternoon the sun was just grazing the rooftops of the houses to the west. 

It felt like a good day to do some baking. A couple days ago I roasted one of our Halloween pumpkins, envisioning a couple of yummy pumpkin pies in our future. A medium sized pumpkin yielded a grand total of nine ounces of pumpkin puree. Whomp whomp. Oh well, not enough for a pie. But enough for a recipe of pumpkin cheddar scones and some left over to make myself a pumpkin chai protein shake for tomorrow's breakfast. The scones were delish with my mother-in-law's grape jelly. You can see the bits of cheese that don't quite melt. Next time I think I'll add some grated apple to the recipe which would be great with the cheddar.


After that I spent a little time giving my dining room cupboard some fall styling. I like having the window blinds pulled all the way up this time of year so that I can enjoy the view of autumn colors. The oak trees are particularly beautiful in November. I didn't want anything that would compete with the splendor of Mother Nature so I came up with this rather neutral and simple color scheme.


Every item on these shelves is thrifted, with the exception of the teapot which I've had for years. I can't remember when I last bought any dish or decorative item new. Once I discovered the gold mine of stuff that is in thrift stores I never looked back. And with everything I already have I can usually just go "shopping" in my own cupboards and closets to get a new look. 


On the top shelf I have some of my favorite thrift finds ever! The Danish teak candlesticks! The carved bird art (Mexican I think) stays on the shelf pretty much all the time. I recently found the set of four ceramic shell dishes which are great for small plate appetizers. The acorn s&p shakers come out every year at this time to grace the Thanksgiving table. And finally the African gazelles...plural, see the baby?




Another new acquisition is this set of cups and saucers. Their fall colors and sunflower design drew me in. They're not vintage but I fell in love with them. I kept this shelf simple, pairing the cups with a set of antlers that I also found in a thrift shop. 


Finally, the bottom shelf has the inlay bird tray that also is a staple item on this cabinet. The chartreuse teapot and covered dish are the only pops of color here. We use the covered dish to serve our pancakes and french toast for weekend breakfasts . The little silver partridge s&p set adds a bit of shiny bling. 


I've been displaying these little pumpkins and mosaic tray on my coffee table for a couple weeks. I like how the pumpkins sort of mimic my tomato red pouf in the background. I had three but I noticed one was starting to get moldy so off to the compost it went. I might add in a votive or two and some unshelled nuts to fill in the blank spaces.

I have a couple little indoor projects I've started. Fall and winter is always knitting time for me. It's nice to have something to do while watching TV during the long evenings, which we tend to spend more time doing this time of year. Currently that would be watching episodes of Monarch of the Glen and Doc Martin. I have a little secret project on the needles. (I'm picking up my new prescription glasses tomorrow! Goodbye drug store cheaters.)


After the long drawn out cupboard project (pictures still to come...waiting for a good sunny day to get photos) I was in need of a small project that would give me some quick gratification. I have a little antique sewing cabinet that I inherited from my grandmother. For years it has been stashed in the attic collecting dust because I didn't have anywhere to keep it. I came across it again when we were looking for things to add to our thrift sale. It has a veneer finish that had seen better days. It was scuffed up and some of the veneer was loose and chipped off in places. The legs wobbled precariously and one of the feet had actually broken off. My husband glued the foot back on and I marked it for sale. Then at the last minute I changed my mind and pulled it out of the sale. A rehab project was born.

It has some neat hardware detail like the claw feet and lion head drawer pull. The dark wood didn't show them off to their best advantage. In the cabinet's new life it will be painted white with an aqua interior. Here are a couple before and in progress pictures. I can't wait to get this one finished.


What sort of things are you doing at home now that the days are shorter and cooler? Do you like to curl up with a book? Watch movies? Bake and cook? Sew or knit? Fluff your nest? Do indoor remodeling projects? Any or all of the above? Judging by these photos I need to spend some time working on my indoor photography. Drat you lack of natural lighting.

10/22/2013

Latest Thrift Store Finds



SOLD


My family and friends all know that I'm a thrift store junky. I know some people who wouldn't dream of going into a store full of old used stuff. I'll admit I'm not crazy about the smell of thrift stores and some are downright creepy. Others, like the Goodwills and Savers which are set up like big box retail stores, tend to be more acceptable. The draw for me is always the thrill of the hunt. What will I find this time? I'm always on the lookout for items to sell in my Etsy shop or for things that can be upcycled or restored. There's a certain adrenaline rush about it all. And when I find those rare items that turn out to be highly sought after, like a Cathrineholm enamel bowl or some Swedish art pottery, it only fuels my addiction interest. Although it's fun to resell and make a little money it really isn't about that. In hindsight there are always a few things that I wish I hadn't sold. That's the down side to it all. It's so hard to let go sometimes. I sometimes feel like a foster home for tchotchkes.

SOLD

My habit tends to run in streaks. I have been known (rarely) to go weeks without setting foot in a thrift shop. And sometimes I will go to the same store on consecutive days if I happen to be nearby, because the stock is always changing. At times I can drive past a store and not blink an eye; other times it's like a powerful force is drawing me in. More often than not it's the latter.

SOLD

There are just two thrift shops in the town where I live...a Goodwill and an independent consignment thrift store. My usual haunts are in a larger nearby community and I usually have good luck, sometimes great luck, finding stuff. Of course whenever I'm traveling further afield I'm always on the lookout for shops. I've never had much luck with garage sales so I rarely go out of my way to find them. I love estate sales but for some reason they've never caught on in my community. Auctions seem to be the preferred way to deal with a household when someone is downsizing or dispersing an estate. They can be very entertaining to attend and quite a social occasion, but I don't have the patience or stomach for it.

SOLD


By now, if you've followed my blog, you know that I gravitate towards anything mid-century so I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for kitchen and decor items from the 50's to 70's era. I must say that in just the few years I've been doing this I've seen a real change in what's available. It seems a lot of other people have jumped on the same bandwagon so I have to dig a little deeper or hope it's my lucky day. So far I'm still finding enough to keep my shop going. In fact I'm running out of space to store my inventory and am hoping that sales will pick up with the holidays approaching. I'm planning to offer some discounts as it gets nearer. In the meantime, to show my appreciation to my blog readers (who have stuck with this post this far), I'm offering a 10% discount on any item(s) in my shop by entering the coupon code THRIFTLUV at checkout. Good through November 21st.


SOLD




Photos: 1. Lacquered wood rice bowls. 2. See No Evil hand carved figures from Kenya. 3. Fancy copper color gelatin mold. 4. Mirro copper finish aluminum cake carrier. 5. Brass rainy day duckling. 6. Colorful woven trivet. 7. Hazel Atlas chartreuse creamer. 8. Antique flow blue plate. 9. Wool Mexican throw blanket. 10. Souvenir State of Washington tray.

10/17/2013

A Little Blog Zhuzh


via City Pages
So, to channel Carson Kressley, this blog was in need of a little "zhuzhing". I was pretty tired of my plain jane blog header so I finally figured out how to use my own photos to make a new one. For all those who find blog maintenance a piece of cake...pfffft. It wasn't that it was difficult, but it was one more new thing to learn for me. Coupled with a stubborn aging laptop that kept freezing up it was a bit frustrating! Time to start budgeting for a replacement.

Anyway, what do you think of the new header? I still want to add some tabs for easy navigation and tweak a few things on the sidebar. It's all a work in progress. I like to think of it as exercise for the brain too. Keep learning new things...keep making new connections up in the gray matter.

Speaking of Carson, I have to confess I've been making my way through the million or so episodes of Queer Eye on Netflix streaming. We didn't have cable when it originally aired on Bravo. It gets a little formulaic after oh...about the third episode. But those guys are so funny I can't help myself. I've also been watching a lot of Monarch of the Glen and Call the Midwife. I need some anglophile fodder to keep me going until Downton Abbey season 4 returns! Na na na na na (hands over ears)...no spoilers!

I'll be back next week with pictures of my finished kitchen cabinets. It feels like I've been working on this little project forever. When you see it you'll wonder why it took me so long and what the big deal is. In the meantime I hope you enjoy a beautiful fall weekend. I just saw our forecast and the dreaded "snow" word was in it for Saturday! Too soon, too soon!