Thursday, August 31, 2006

good news

Finalized everything yesterday (thus the lawn sign.)

Starting the week after next.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

the recipe

Who out there remembers sisters Emily and Mamie Baldwin and their concoction of "the Recipe" from The Waltons?

As explained by Earl Hamner (creator and writer of the show), when talking about his inspiration for the Baldwin sisters: "Down on Route 6 between Esmont and Scottsville lived two ladies who made an elixir they referred to as their Papa's Recipe. They were proud of their product, and whenever anyone would sample it, they would lean over, watch them and wait anxiously for a reaction: Was it smooth enough?, Had it been a good batch? And was the recipe machine working? I wasn't old enough to sample the Recipe but my father and uncles stopped there quite often and they seemed to find the Recipe much to their satisfaction."

In my family, we drink the Recipe, too...only it is much different from what was created by the sisters. Basically it's our morning coffee drink, made from General Foods International Coffees. We just like the name 'the Recipe' because it gives it some personality. I personally like Viennese Chocolate Cafe and Suisse Mocha, but all the flavors are good. Directions are simple. Boil water in your teapot. Get out your favorite mug. Two scoops of the coffee, a packet of Sweet-N-Low, and two large marshmallows on top complete the drink. This is heaven in the morning. This drink is also good on a rainy or cold afternoon when you need something to ward off a chill or the blues. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

before/after: new room!

With the back room still languishing in a not-quite-complete coat of primer, it's time again to visit a room that has successfully gone from 'before' to 'after'. This is the master bedroom. Not too much had to be done to it, actually. It's amazing what paint can do...especially painting the trim white. The dimensions of the room are a little funny so that you have to squeeze around the bed to get to the closet and the other half of the room, but we tried it every which way and this is what works best. You can't see it, but I found a Shabby Chic rug at Target that nicely complements what's going on in the bedding and valances. So, this is done...hooray! Onward and upward, and time to get back to work.

Monday, August 28, 2006

still pretty

I had a group of women over on Friday night for wine, treats, and conversation. These are ladies who I've met through my oldest son and I don't see them often, just every other month or so, and we take turns gathering at one another's homes. For the occasion I bought lots of flowers and had them grouped together in little vases and containers like this throughout the downstairs. The flowers actually came home with me on Thursday evening, and look at how good they still look...! I wish I could write that I am one of those people who makes it a priority to always have fresh flowers around, but sadly, that is not the case. For one, I don't have a lot of table space, or counter space, or extra display space, really. Because I'm already committed to my nicknacks, extras (even flowers) can be difficult to place when they come home with me. Also, my youngest is still at the grab and destroy stage, and so everything that I do keep out must be kept out of reach from him. Still, I love seeing them in the house when I do buy them. And every time they're here I think, 'I really should get flowers more often!'

Saturday, August 26, 2006

clock update

No news to report about the clock and the panelled wall dilemma. As you can see, the bowing comes from a particular point in the wall. As for why this is happening now, when we haven't seen anything like it yet, well, it's a mystery. Even my father in-law, who is pretty knowledgeable about house things in general, is stumped. It doesn't look like the wall's going to fall in on us or anything, and we're hoping that as outside temperatures decline, the wall will straighten up. In the meantime, my chime clock is still airborne, and now it can't tell time because it's tilted so much. We miss the ticking.

Friday, August 25, 2006

on the street where you live

This is my neighborhood. Is it yours? We live in an area that is being completely overhauled. Old, small homes are being knocked down and replaced by big, new ones. There are pros and cons to this, of course. The main con is that they're not building cute little cottages (!) - but I don't know if anyone really wants those anymore. The main pro is that we're getting lots of new, friendly families who are eager to jump in and be a part of neighborhood activities like an Easter egg hunt, 4th of July parade, and end-of-the-summer block party, which happens to be tomorrow. Tomorrow's party is the 'second annual', and if it's half as good as last year, it will be a real bash. So even though it's a little nuts around here right now, it will be worth it in the end.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


For the door going down to our basement, which is partially finished as a playroom for the kids. This came from a shop in Michigan that I stopped in while visiting a friend recently. The old fashioned picture sure works here, where as you can see by the doorknob, we're authentically vintage! This door would do well with a new knob. Hmmm...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

the gift of baking

It was my turn to thank a friend who had done a nice favor for me recently, so I made her this apple pie from a Paula Deen recipe. Thank you, Homedaisy, for your post about your cookies the other day, it inspired me to turn to my recipe box! I must confess that my cooking and baking has been almost nonexistant this summer. Most of the year I love to keep busy in the kitchen, but when it's warm out I tend to lose interest. The extent of my summertime cooking has been boiling water for my vegetable steamer and heating up the grill. But, that's why we love summer, right?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

in honor of handpainting

Last week I had a guy out to my house to give me an estimate on what it would cost to paint my buffet, china cabinet, and also my kitchen table and chairs (they are oak, and because of that it's never been a question of whether it should be done, but rather when.) The price is reasonable if I take it one piece at a time. I know I could do these myself, but I don't ever want to be in a position of regretting that I just didn't have it done professionally. These are pieces that I will only want to have done once. I won't have them done right away, but when I do I will of course (!) be posting pictures here.

Anyway, a word about painting. More specifically, hand painting. Furniture, art, tableware, glassware, murals. It's a wonderful thing when you see it in a home. Usually there is a special story behind the particular piece. You know, 'this was painted for me by a friend', or, 'this was a gift from a neighbor before I moved away', or even, 'I don't know the artist but I love her things'. I love that there is a connection to these items, that they are not just things or even just beautiful things. They are little pieces of a living scrapbook that you keep around you to remind you of the people and places you love.

That said, I have a few handpainted pieces that I want to share with you over time, starting with this rocking chair. It belonged to my great-grandmother. I had it in my room growing up and brought it with me when I moved into my first apartment. When we bought our house I had the seat re-caned, and then found an artist through my mother in-law to paint it (the wood was once dark.) Once I had seen in a magazine a woman who painted the closing date of her house on the back of a bench she had in her foyer. I thought this would be a wonderful way to commemorate our new home and also honor this chair that has been such a consistent part of my life.

Monday, August 21, 2006

and so it begins

Friday night I started painting our back room, which is attached to the kitchen and connects to the garage. It's a large space and has been way under used since we moved in 3 years ago. It's not an easy room to work with because because it has 3 entrys and we use it for both living and storage space. Right now my glass table and chairs compete with the kids' riding toys and gear. But I think we can make a successful go at creating a multi-purpose room that is functional as well as attractive - something this room is definitely not right now!

Anyway, plans for the room: paint, paint, paint. Trim, windows, doors - white; paneling- yes, more paneling!- Navajo white by b. moore, which is actually more of an off-white; floor (gulp) something in the blue/gray family. There is a picture in the most recent issue of Cottage Living that features a white walled/blue floor cottage in Maine and that's giving me ideas. After I'm done with the room I will then paint the glass table and chairs and the baker's rack white. When I'm done with the painting those, I would like to add into the space 2 white wicker chairs and a wicker table that belonged to my grandmother. I'll look for some new seat cushions and an outdoor 8x10 or so sisal rug.

The trick to all of this, of course, is time! I mentioned before that my husband travels, and also that my boys are very young. We'll see how long it will take me to get there, hopefully it won't be too bad. But you can see why I like posting those 'after' motivates me to keep going and working on all of my 'to do' rooms.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

out and about

...and came across this lovely scene that I thought you'd appreciate.

This cottage is actually in my neighborhood. I don't know the couple who lives here, but I do see them out in their garden quite often when I am taking walks with my young boys.

Talk about a labor of love! Their gardening talent and creativity is inspiring. Notice the cute little house that they have on their doorstep...that stays out all year long. The whole picture is so welcoming.

And I guess that's what I like about it the most. My litmus test for whether I could live in a house is always this: if I was a Girl Scout going door-to-door selling cookies, would I feel comfortable knocking on the door (because the house looks inviting), or intimidated (because of its formality or lack of character)? This one obviously passes with flying colors. If only there were more of these little gems around.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

lookin' good

They're not producing much yet, but boy, don't my tomato plants look healthy! I see lots of little green tomatoes coming along, purposefully marching towards a red, ripe conclusion.

There's nothing like eating garden tomatoes to convince you that that the common grocery store tomato just doesn't cut it. This is my second summer planting tomatoes, but growing up my parents always planted them, so I know what I'm talking about. No offense to those common tomatoes, but this is the real deal.

And, what can top a tomato sandwich? Really good bread, real mayo, a few tomato slices with a dash of salt on top....perfectly delicious!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

knob upgrade

Oh, the little details can mean so much in the overall picture. Isn't that true? Not always, but more often than not. Witness this little table (that, incidentally, was once dark and I painted white last fall - I guess that means I can do it on bigger pieces.) The eye doesn't necessarily notice the little drawer in the 'before' photo, but it certainly stands out in the 'after' shot with it's new face. Ever since I painted the table I've thought about changing the knob, but now that I've done it, it seems silly that I waited so long. I love it!

Monday, August 14, 2006

welcome to the neighborhood

Someone's moved into the birdhouse that I hung up out front at the beginning of the summer. Good! I'm glad it's not just a tree ornament anymore. Whoever's in there is keeping a low profile. I first noticed signs of life about 3 weeks ago and have yet to see the little guy, despite a couple of peeks inside. I'd love to know what's going on. Looks like he is getting along just fine. Since we had our big front bushes removed, we no longer have a safe haven for the neighborhood cats who hide out and wait to pounce on little birds, like this one must be. Another great reason they're gone!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

just as it should be

What a change we've had in the weather this weekend. From hot & humid to cool, crisp, & dry. Love it! *Perfect* weather like this just makes everything seem better, brighter, and more manageable. After a month cooped up, I was finally able to open up my windows again. And my front door. Listening to the crickets at night is much more preferable to listening to the air whistling through my wall vents. Small coincidence, but we all sleep better, too. It may not last, but it's enough that it's here now.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

one of those weeks

It's been a week where everything that I had planned to do just didn't work out, including coming up with a couple of interesting posts here. The rain and humidity continue to torture my wall clock, which is now just sitting on my kitchen table until I can decide what to do with it. In the meantime, my paneled wall is totally bowing in (is this something I should be worried about? My husband, who has been traveling all week, will give me good advice on this when he sees it tonight.) The batteries in my digital camera died yesterday, so instead of posting any of my own, I leave you with another beautiful photo from the Cottage Chic website (don't you just love that front door?)

Monday, August 07, 2006

now here's something new

Look at's my wall clock hanging on for dear life as it struggles to keep the time on a wood paneled wall that is swollen from the heat. In case the picture isn't obvious, the lower half of the clock is protruding about 4 inches out from the wall, and you know it usually hangs flat against it. We've noticed temperature changes on this wall before (close inspection of the paneling reveals where the paint has been stressed by hot/cold changes throughout the year) but nothing like this. I guess that's what several days of 100+ degree temps can an old house with inefficient heating & cooling....oh, I can only imagine this month's electricity bill. I wonder how long it will take before things right themselves again and my clock can come down for a safe landing. Life in a cottage, indeed!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


oh, dear. This is my second year planting tomato plants, and this is the first batch that's ripe. I didn't plant 'cherry tomato' plants, either. Hope the little guys get bigger and plumper in the following weeks.

P.S. They're small but delish!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Love this. Love this. Love this. It's a photo from the Cottage Chic website. I love the whole feel of the room - the soft colors of the furniture, the beautiful softness on the walls, the chandelier, the piece of art resting against the wall. It's so casual and elegant all at the same time.

Ok, this is how I want my furniture to look when I paint it!! But what are the chances that I could make it turn out like this!!! Dare to dream...!

more before and after

Isn't it funny how so many older homes have beautiful wood floors hidden beneath carpet? This was the case in our house. We have wood floors throughout our upstairs and in most of the downstairs (minus the kitchen and bath). When we moved in, my husband ripped up the carpet and we had the floors refinished.

To make this room come to life, we painted the walls a soft yellow color and painted all the woodwork white. I heard some objections at the time from a couple of people (one was the floor refinisher) about painting the woodwork, but we've never had any regrets. It was starting to get that orange look to it, and the fresh white is so much more cheerful and fitting for the space.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

kate libby

Do you like it when it's time to change the calendar? Maybe you've never thought about it before. I do, because I'm a huge fan of Kate Libby. I've been buying her calendars for several years. First it was the little desk calendar, then I graduated to the wall calendar. It's a delight to see the new picture that comes out of the box each month.

About a year ago I logged onto the Art for Every Day (Kate Libby) site to look at calendars for 2006 and saw a note from her publisher that Kate had died during the summer, leaving behind a devoted husband and son. What a tragedy. She was so young and obviously very talented. Through her art it was apparent how devoted she was to her family and the life they had in Maine. It's a small consolation that Kate's prints will continue to be sold in calendar form for the foreseeable future. But it's sad to think that she's not still painting away up there, in her little cottage.