Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Lazy Susan

I have one of those cupboards in the peninsula that has the two tier lazy susan.
Do you have one?
Now-a-days there are alternatives to these things, that seemed at one time to be the answer to a corner cabinet. But, they have a serious drawback....the plastic one, such as I have, have a tendency to collapse or fail in some way.
I was putting things away and realized with horror, that the lazy susan was about to fall over....
So, I removed everything on both levels...
As you can see, it is listing to the left in this picture. With everything off that shelf it was a bit better....
You see, I am a quilter, a gardener and a canner and I do have a knack for collecting canning rings, lids, grabbers, funnels, measuring cups etc...
So, I got down (no picture here...) with my Hubby's baseball cap with a light on it and a screwdriver determined to fix the problem.
The center rod slips up and into a hole at the top. That is held in place by another ring that with set screws locks it into place. Sounds easy, right? Well, it's not too easy....as you have to get down and in and then crane your neck up to tweak the two set screws...
Once those are tight, you are ready to organize....
Well, it is stormy today...and I don't feel like going out...so why not? Besides there are things I don't use that can help organize the miscellaneous rings, lids etc...

This is why the shelf failed...I kept putting everything on it...I am admittedly a "slob"....No, I'm creative and therefore things get organized when there is time....such as today....
 So, I found a container that I had used years ago to store the large rings....
And then a smaller one for the "regular mouth" rings...
I then found something for those white plastic rings you see....Those are fantastic for storing dried goods such as beans, rice etc....

See?? It's better...The rest of the canning supplies went back to the garage where they are kept and now measuring spoons are in this cute little pot that I never use...I just like the pot...now it has a job.
Do you have a corner cabinet like this?? How do you use it?? Mine is the "baking" cupboard .....
And imagine...it only took about 30 mins total!!
Have a great weekend!
Nancy

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pieces to the Party Puzzle

So, today, I thought I'd share some of the pieces to the party....
My daughter wants "elegant" but simple...HA
I've decided there is no true simple....every dinner for guests whether it is for two or 12 takes planning. The more people, the more planning...especially when "elegant" is involved.
So, this is what I have so far.....
I ended up renting a tablecloth, the one I ordered from Amazon was oblong and it had a stain! Seriously, a stain...small...but still a brand new tablecloth with a stain...
The linen napkins came....they are a thin linen, but the color is a lovely sophisticated grey that will look wonderful....
I found at two thrift stores, white Crate & Barrel plates! From the two stores....12! They were in decent shape too.....all I had to do was buff them with Bar Keepers Friend and wash them in the dishwasher.....

I also found Bread & Butter plates! Not quite enough, I may have to fill in with something else....
Know what those plates are for??? Amuse Bouche!
(In French, Amuse the Mouth)....They are basically a little tiny appetizer that gets the palate ready for dinner....
Our daughter had seen it on a TV show, and was quite intrigued....
Honestly, I hadn't heard of them, but recognized that restaurants do this....often with Won Ton spoons...BUT, Libbey, the company we know for glassware actually makes a Amuse Bouche spoon??Yeah, so from Amazon I ordered those too.
Then, we decided that the Hydrangeas, in 6" pots, needed something to cover the pots....
So, off to JoAnns I went and found an elegant burlap! We didn't want "rustic"...so, I found this....
The grey in the burlap, and the off white color will be just stunning I think, and the hydrangeas, are acting as our table runner.... Unless I make it, there are no table runners for a table this big.....
You know the table I showed you?? Yeah, 120" is hard to cover...
Anyway, on to pieces....
I also found chargers!! I had wanted them, as a white tablecloth and white dishes kinda just disappear....
BUT, they are not staying gold...sorry readers...I dislike gold on the table....so, I'm going to spray them.....with
....this....It is designed for plastic, which these chargers are....and is supposed to be a better coverage and stay on....
It is a silvery color...called "aluminum", but will go with the decor more.....
I got all 12 chargers for $10! Normally, they sell for $3.99-$5.99 a piece....
So, that is some of the pieces to the puzzle....
I am busy....
Today, I'm just gonna see if I can find some more white bread and butter plates...(been needing them)...
Spray the plates...I hope before rain comes....
Clean the silverware....
Tomorrow, I'm planning out the dishes for putting food in and writing out the shopping list....
I will keep you posted as the pieces come together in the puzzle for what I hope is a beautiful night....
Nancy

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to seat 12 (or more) at the same table

You've heard me talk about it. The need for a new table. However, after searching high and low for months (actually years), I came to the same conclusion every time. I use our present dining table as a "farm table" and a new table given its expense would do away with that ability....
I mean I put down drop cloths and paint on this table, I quilt on this table, it is a staging area and everything else as well as a dining table.
Yet, our family has grown and Thanksgiving with 10 around the table was, well, cozy.
I lusted after many tables on every website you can look at for tables....and came back to what we have.
Then, I talked to our neighbor if he had ideas....I needed a table that could go to 120" to seat 12....he said he could get me a 4'x10' beautiful piece of 3/4" plywood to go on top.
Really??
That is something I had thought of, but at Home Depot you can only get up to 8', so I wrote it off.
Cool!!
So, here is what we have. A well used dining table that when it is fully extended is 40" x 95". That really only seats 8. 10 is a push.
With the top, at 48"x 120" we can seat 12 and even push to 16!! Really.
For our "event" we need seating for 12. So we rented chairs which we will pick up the day before....
And so we have this HUGE table in our dining room until the "event"....
Where is Carson??? Darn, we gave him the time off.....



Yup, in all its glory.....
The question after the "event" will be storage.....but we will use this I'm sure at least three times a year....if not more....
If not, the neighbor who took his truck, picked it up, sanded it to make the edges and corners smooth, said he'd take it.....paying us back.
So, there you go. An option when planning a party.
The rental company that we are using is local....they also rent real tables....like you'd buy in stores...but they are almost the cost of buying...gorgeous, but not an option here. Besides, what would we do with the table we have??
Anyway, I'll keep you updated...
Nancy

Monday, January 25, 2016

Being Creative

Sometimes, when we look for something, it just isn't there, or.....it's so expensive it's stupid.
I literally have looked everywhere for gravy boats with a platter. Most are too expensive and most do not have the plate or platter that goes with it.
You know, there you are at Thanksgiving, passing the gravy around the table and the drips that go with it...onto the tablecloth. It's just plain messy, and its actually kinda hard to pass.
Or there is the gravy boat with a plate, but the plate doesn't have the indentation, so the gravy boat slides around almost falling (or does) to the table.
Clearly men designed them.
So, I spent days looking in stores and online looking for just the right white gravy boat. I saw gravy boats I'd look to have that were $110!! But really??
So, I went to Surfas.
Surfas is a restaurant supply open to the public that has wonderful goodies (LA area and Orange County). Literally. Cheese that is restaurant worthy and meats (frozen) and wine, cooking supplies beyond belief and plates etc.
So....I found a white gravy boat...not too cheap looking for $7.58 and a dish for $3.58. Yeah.
And the dish, not designed originally for the gravy boat works perfectly!
It will catch the drips, doesn't slide too much, can be used for other things and its cute....very French looking I might add....
In fact, I bought two!
Why you ask??
Well, picture it.
You have a table, 120" long...12 people...you have to wait all the way to the end of the table for the gravy or sauce???
Yeah....at the price, why not have two?? Just like salt and peppers, I have two sets on the table...

They are modern, but not too much....They are the perfect white...dishwasher safe...and porcelain...what's not to like??
So...as the days go by I will show you more goodies for the party....
Nancy

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Planning a dinner party

Our Daughter is having a milestone birthday....I won't tell how old, but it's big enough that she wanted to do something special.
So, we're giving her a Birthday dinner celebration!
Big enough that we are getting a large table-topper to seat 12, renting a few extra chairs and I even ordered some gray linen napkins online (Amazon people)....
I have been planning, and shopping and organizing...
Isn't amazing what goes into a dinner party??
I've been looking at pictures from Pinterest, blogs and magazines (yup I still use them)....(and because I am not a techie I can't figure how to share some of those with you, but I have also heard one shouldn't because it's copyright issues...)
So, follow along over the next week to see what I have collected and how it comes together.....
Should be fun....
Nancy

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The New Rain Barrel

Well, for Christmas, Hubby got a new Rain Barrel.  He wanted another for the side yard, and may actually get yet another, to total 4 rain barrels.
Our rain total is still terribly low, and with water restrictions still in place, we want to be sure we can water plants....I refuse to go "desert".
This is the true sideyard such as it is....but it also our "orchard" and where my lovely potting bench is.  See the gutter?? It is only a 10' section to collect water....our house has never had gutters in its 54 years of life....so they are not necessary, except here to catch water....
This is the rain barrel I (we) bought...in "oak" from Amazon. We also purchased the matching stand, as we have with the other two rain barrels....
I totally recommend buying the stand, it is angled just right to make getting to the water easier. We raised the whole stand and therefore the barrel is a bit higher, about three inches...so he can attach another and have it just low enough to go into the next....with a bit of gravity. Makes sense.
The corrugated piping that goes from the gutter to the rain barrel was from Home Depot as is the gutter is. Very affordable people.....
Is the rain barrel affordable?? Yes, because SoCalWatersmart.com pays you $75 per rain barrel (max of 4). So the rain barrel then becomes about $22. The stand was $35. If you didn't want to pay for the stand, you could make one....
Each rain barrel holds 50 gallons of water. These rain barrels have flat backs, so they easily will fit into a smallish space like our side yard...(of course you need to measure your space and check the rain barrel dimensions).....
Hopefully, we get some more rain to fill that rain barrel and the other two, which are getting low....
Wishing you a grand weekend.
Nancy

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

He's not just a dog....

Today, I'll let you in on a secret....Tucker isn't just a dog....
You see our oldest dog, Tucker, is ten, and is having trouble. He's been on anti-inflammatories
 for a couple of years to due arthritis and elbow dysplasia that he had as a puppy...
Now, the pain of carrying his weight in the hind quarters has caught up with him and the medication has torn up his stomach and intestines.
The vet has taken blood to check and see if anything else is wrong, and Tucker has a dizzying array of medication I have to give everyday twice a day.
And no he isn't just a dog.
He was sold to us by a "breeder" who said he was 8 weeks old, but when we got him home we counted the weeks, he was only 5 1/2 (she clearly can't count) and had been weaned way too early and was just a tiny baby.
I became his mom as he woke me up for supplemental feedings and he sucked on a toy we had for him.
He has been a constant companion and his sole job in life has been to cuddle with you on the couch to make sure your feet never get cold.
He loves to cuddle under a blanket and play a game of ball.
Play for him makes everything better....except now. He doesn't want to.
His enthusiasm for eating is reduced.
He can't walk as far.
His "sister" Belle, only has known him the last 8 years, she doesn't understand what is going on...but she knows something isn't quite right.
She helped him around the block the other day when he slowed down.
So, my days are kind of oddly busy, nursing my Labrador....and knowing that his clock is ticking.....
 Tucker is the one on the right...the "taller" one....

 Hope you have a great day....
Nancy

As of today, Jan 20, yesterday went better than anticipated with Tucker....the meds are healing his stomach and intestines....and he feels so much better....the blood test came back and the vet said he has a bladder infection, so I have to pick up yet another med. But Tucker's attitude is better. The new pain med is helping with the deterioration of his spine which will ultimately make it so he won't be able to get up. But today, we feel he will be with us a bit longer, thankfully....thank you for your concern....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Less Is More

Well, I've been putting things back...and having fun too weeding the collections. I have too much stuff.
So, here is what I've done so far.....
I raised the height of the drapes in the dining room, to give the illusion that the ceiling and window is higher....(course I didn't realize that my drapes shrank a bit when I washed them...)

I figured that it was better to have the drapes almost two inches off the ground, especially with the dogs as one lies there and tends to pull the drapes when he does...
However I do like the look....just a bit cleaner.....and taller.......
 I streamlined the coffee/bar area....not as many knick knacks....just a few for a comfortable feel...
The wine glasses did go back after as they hang underneath this shelf....
Did you know I made this shelf?? I made it from a shipping crate about 25 years ago...added a shelf in the middle and molding...
It has been many colors over the years...first it was white, then sponge painted, then beige, and the interior of it has changed too. It is just the right size....for knick knacks...
Want to see what it looked like 2 years ago??


Basically its the same....but much more clutter. And, the back of the shelf is yellowy...ick...
I'm thinking that maybe I will paint the doors on the bar black, instead of the flour de lis,all black now...it just seems time....what do you think??

Then I rearranged the hutch....


I'm definitely going for a streamlined look...it will be easier to clean and its more restful....
I then went to the guest bathroom too, and redid the shelf in there....
It is basically the same actually...I love these little cottages...they were my Mom's but somehow they touch my heart. They are good for now, and I feel like the little print is the their backdrop.....
Another place I "attacked" was the shelf above the sink in the kitchen...
I had chickens there. Somehow, I am over them....too many, maybe, but it is time to be done with that collection. The chickens are on Craigslist (orange county) and I put my pitcher collection up there. Maybe someday they will leave...but for now they'll stay...

A Friend's Giveaway

Oh, I am excited, this is better than the lottery!
Sharon Santoni, of My French Country Home, is giving away a week in her guest cottage!! Can you imagine how exciting that could be?? A week in Normandy?? You could slip off to Paris too!!
Be sure to check it out....

http://sharonsantoni.com/2016/01/amazing-a-sale-and-a-giveaway.html


Enjoy her blog....I do, everyday....and now she will be producing videos as well on everything French!!

Cheers...
Nancy

For Those Who Ask

I love to get comments and questions about my posts. And, I love to help readers.
However, please leave an email, or when you set up as a reader please be sure to have an email....

I had questions about the linen I used in my dust ruffle, drapes and sofa slipcover.
It was all the same linen, so yes, I love it.
It washes quite well, and irons beautifully...be sure to use the linen setting on the iron with steam. I often have a spray bottle of water as well so I can "spritz" as I go.
The linen responds beautifully, and stays smooth after ironing...
If you prefer a wrinkled look (some people do) remove immediately just as it has dried and smooth it out.

The site is Fabrics-store.com

No, I am not paid for this information nor for any comments, these are entirely my own. I have used them for many different uses.
I have used the "19" weight linen for general use...for clothes, pillowcases etc.

The couch, dust ruffle and drapes were done with the "22"...

The color was Mixed Natural....it has natural color, white, and grey all mixed in there.
The company will send samples....just ask...I believe if you really think you want it, buy a yard ....
And as always, regardless of what you want to use it for.....
WASH it and dry it....
All linen gets softer with each washing....if you aren't hooked on linen yet, you will be....

Also, always clean your lint screen with each load of laundry, linen does give off lots of lint....so be careful to clean your lint screen!!!

I hope this helps...

I have to go hang my drapes back up and give you the final look of the dining room....
Nancy

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Paint, New Chairs....

Remember how I said we were doing some projects??
Yup, we had planned on later calling the Painter, as there was a serious need for touch-up and total paint....but, the Painter was available day before yesterday to give us a quote and then start the next day! Yikes!
Yup, at 8 AM he arrives with his crew....and they were off....
What did they paint you ask???
Well, the Livingroom window wall....there were a couple of cracks that occurred in our plaster walls due to the sudden dryness caused by drought....just a fix and repaint.....
The Master Bath, had had a flat paint....which didn't wear well, and it needed repainting...all but the ceiling...
The guest bath, complete paint, ceiling everything....
In the 90's, it was a thing to paint the ceiling the same as the walls, to "make it cozy"...well, it served its time, but this is 2016 and a white ceiling would make the ceiling seem taller....and I didn't like the color and semi-gloss shine anymore.....
And then the kitchen/dining area...the paint after 12 years had scuffs, crunches and life....it was time. But, the color was no longer available....so we went with what we painted in the living room...."stone" which is a taupey grey...it changes throughout the day...and looks beautiful with the grey tone quartz counters....now they look almost new!
I tried to take pictures, but it just didn't do it justice.....
But, what I want to show you even more...is the two new chairs!
You see, ever since Thanksgiving, when we crushed 10 around our table with mixed up chairs, I realized that our chairs were good, but we needed at least 8 chairs...
You see...Royce our Grandson won't be in highchair for ever.....
So, knowing that the chairs we had were no longer made...I went looking. I wanted a French look and since I had decided a new table wasn't going to happen (long, long story)...Hubby said we could spend quite a bit more for two chairs....
Ready???
Here they are....
 This is one of two chairs....they were 45% off, still not cheap by any means...but it was the going price...and close to home. The caveat was they were on sale, no returns...know how scary that is?? my stomach went into knots...what if they didn't look ok with the old chairs??
 Here one is...looks like it was always here...
 Here are both...see the table is still covered with stuff from clearing the decks to paint...
And here the old chairs meet their new friends....I think it works! They are very comfy chairs too I might add....(better be after what we paid)....You can see the paint color in the background...a bit of beige, a bit of tan, a a happy touch of grey....
Tomorrow, I get to decorate and rehang the drapes...I removed the rods and brackets because I wanted to raise the level...up higher by the molding...I'll show you when I'm there...
So, the paint is dry, the house feels a good bit cleaner and cohesive.
The new chairs give more French country flavor...and we'll bring it all together tomorrow.
A great deal will go right back where it was and some will not....
What have you been doing??
Nancy

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Year....Many projects

Well, let's see....
I've done several things in the last couple of days....
One, I kinda "redecorated" the guest bath...you know little "tweaks"....
 One of the things I did, really small...was get this cute basket out and fill it with towels...there isn't a linen closet in this room, and one has to go out and around...so a basket with some hand towels and washcloths is handy...I added the number tag which just makes it cute....
 I've had this basket of lavender in the bathroom for quite a while actually...I just wanted it show you...

This is the wooden sign I made a few years ago to guide guests to the bathroom.....

So, beyond those tweaks...I have been sewing...of course.
A dear friend almost family is having a baby so I of course have been busy. Yesterday, I made "burp" cloths...just a few...to add to her gifts.
I used the triple pre-folded diapers...they are so absorbent and cozy. I just make them "cuter"....
 What made this project different from other times I've made these, is, using a larger piece of material, I realized that I could quilt the piece....oh yeah!!

 I had leftover quilt squares and then I quilted....so much fun....

I didn't use any adhesive on these, not really needed, just zig-zagged them on and then quilted..
See?? I've been busy....
Then, while I've been sewing...the dehydrator has been running....
I have a huge parsley plant that I can't ignore...so I harvested quite a few and put those in the dehydrator....
In addition, we had gone to Costco, and one of the things we bought was an industrial size garlic bag...one of the kind that the garlic is all peeled?? yeah, I couldn't resist....but it is a ton of garlic, the bag is 4 lbs....
Realizing that I couldn't possibly use the garlic all up before it would go bad, I put some in the dehydrator....
Here is a pointer if you decide to do the same....
Cut the garlic up.
I just put all the cloves on the screen with the parsley and let it go for two days.....
yeah...it doesn't dry the same....
Cutting it up will allow the cloves to get air inside and dry much better....
So, I brought it in, put the cloves that did dry in a jar and cut the rest up and put it back in the dehydrator.
The parsley is a no brainer....just cut and dry....
It dries beautifully in a day or two. Just be sure to remove the bigger stalks....
 Here is the parsley...It is so dry it breaks easily from the smaller stems....In this jar it will keep over a year....I will be adding more dried parsley to this jar.....
 Here is the garlic as I am cutting it ....very sticky...

Hope this gives you some good ideas....
Have a great day...
Nancy

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year....New Slipcover

Well, I have mentioned that I bought several (17) yards of linen fabric to make a slipcover for the sofa in the living room.  The sofa has gotten a bit, well, gross from the labs rubbing up against it. After all the years that it has been a blue color it was time to A) cover the grime that I couldn't get off and B) have a new look.
So, before Christmas, I ordered the fabric and washed it, then ironed it. And then, in my mind I went through the steps I'd use to make a slipcover.
If you look through the internet, there are many tutorials....
Having done many slipcovers over the years, the ones that are the most accomplished have been done in the cut and pin method...which ends up being truest to the item being covered. What do I mean by that?
Well, you cut pieces, somewhat close to what you need and pin with the wrong side up (right sides together ....
This sofa is one of the easiest I've had to cover...simple, straight lines....
This sofa was my Mom's.....and I love it because it is low, so when I sit in the chair across from it, it doesn't block the view. Friends that visit, well, they tolerate it, it is low...
In fact, when I inherited it 14 years ago, I had it recovered in the beautiful blue and it was done perfectly. The fabric is still in great shape, just the skirt and part of the arms at dog level had developed a grime that couldn't be cleaned off....
So, when I started making the slipcover, the main goal was to make it washable....
That takes planning......
Here you can see the blue fabric a bit, but what I wanted to show you is a basic idea of what I did. I was going for simple...no tailoring here, or piping. I counted on the piping of the sofa to come through from the blue cover underneath....
This picture shows the first step...I measured out the back piece and then used T pins to hold it in place...this was like having someone help me with the project! Love the T pins!


Then, I cut a piece to be the front of the back, and pinned that together.....

Then, I continued onto the arms ....

This picture shows the front of the back, which drops down and meets about halfway onto the seat...this, the back, front back and arms became all one piece, which can be removed and washed....if need be.
What I did for the skirt, is make that an entire separate piece that can be easily removed for washing...so that piece got reinforced with a picot stitch on all the raw edges.
Speaking of raw edges, simplicity in mind, I used the selvedge that was on this fabric as it is easiest, I didn't want to have to hem....and there was no marking on the selvedge so it works for me. If you do this, you might want a more "polished" look and hem.....
This picture shows the sections put together...The "skirt" is T pinned into place to hold it, it is all under the cushions, so why not??
 The cushions are simply "wrapped" like a pillow, and whipped stitched....I didn't want to deal with zippers...and whip stitching is easy to remove and replace when needed. The detail on the previous upholstery kind of shows making piping unnecessary. The trick is to get it tight! Linen is a forgiving and marvelous fabric to work with in this type of application....
 Here it is, done! This took me one day....you can see that the skirt is separate...but that was the plan, just lift the cushions, remove T pins, and take that piece off to be washed. If the lower part of the arms need washing the whole main section will have to come off....

Ta Da!! Finished! Isn't Hubby kind to let me do this?? Buying the fabric, about $120...for 17 yards. I only used 12...so oh darn I have leftover!
The fabric I used is the same that used on the slipcover and drapes in the master bedroom, it is the "mixed natural" by Fabrics-store.com. I love this site....they deliver almost as fast as Amazon...the price is very reasonable and I love to work with it. I would recommend it to anyone (and have) as it is so reasonable.
Now,  I have an entirely new look without the cost of buying new or paying for someone else to make the slipcover. I had a wing chair slipcovered several years ago and paid a fortune for it. Why, because they had to wash and iron the linen and doing a slipcover can be harder than just upholstering it. But this method is easy, well sort of, it takes the same washing and ironing, but because I didn't do piping I saved on the fabric amount and time!
Well, hope you have a great day!! I'm off to get back to doing household things like...laundry!
Nancy