#28 Dinner at my house...

I cleaned out the fridge and made a yummy vegetable curry that I served in bowls atop tri-colored couscous. A dollop of chutney on top of each serving was the perfect touch. Can't wait for leftovers tomorrow when the flavors have had even more time to mingle and blossom.  Here's how it looked as I was cooking:

Believe me when I say that I haven't found a downside to being vegetarian; meals are always colorful! Do I miss the brown of cooked meat or the pale chicken breast on my plate? No!!! The bright, fresh colors that fill my plate now are much more satisfying to my eye and to my body. And, in addition, the knowledge that I'm being kind to my fellow animals, and to our island home, brings me satisfaction and joy. It truly is a lovely way to eat.

Want to come to dinner? I'd love to have you at our table!


#27 Lazy Days...

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." -Gene Fowler

That appeared on my FaceBook page today and it describes my blogging process pretty well. I'm in a bit of a lull - an interlude, if you will. Interlude - the space "between play" - is a lovely word, isn't it? It feels good on the tongue...
Anyway, it seems to be where I find myself sitting when the first cool days hit and I'm swept away with yearning for Fall. 
Where are you today? Are you experiencing an interlude, too?


#26 Remembering my Inner Landscaper...

A few posts back I wrote about my angst about the Landscaper Dude coming to check out my (disheveled) garden. Remember?

Well, he appeared right on time and we spent about an hour touring my garden and discussing the things I would like to change/improve/add/subtract. Quite a nice guy who was clearly intrigued by the opportunities...making money not the least of them. But I was enthusiastic and told him I'd discuss his proposal to draw up a plan for about $1000. (He charges $50 an hour which seems totally fair since I charge $60 for my design time.) I told him I'd get back to him this week. Which I did.

I called him today and left a message (thank heavens for answering machines!) thanking him for his time, and explaining that, after discussing everything with my husband, we felt some of our other projects would have to take priority and that we wouldn't be able to take advantage of his Masters degree in Plant Science at this time. (Or, probably, ever.)

The truth of the matter is, as my dear husband reminded me, I have already drawn up a plan for my Dream Garden, and I know better than anyone the "look" that I want it to have. The plan isn't to scale, but Dean said he'd be happy to help me take all the measurements I need. And most are already on the copy of the plat we have for our property. But it sure was fun to talk to someone who understand my ideas and had even more of his own! Oh well...

It was really touching to hear Dean express pride and confidence in my abilities. I had totally discounted them in the presence of a Professional and ended up feeling lacking. Again. I need to stop doing that to myself, ya' know? Sheesh.

Next week I'll start taking the measurements and make an accurate drawing of what is here and then make an overlay noting all the things I would like to change. All we need to have done this year are two hardscaped paths so we can get the snow blower from the back of the house past the porch and to the sidewalk out front.  Easy peasy. I'll make copies of the plan showing where and how big the paths should be, decide on what materials I want, and give all that to at least three installers, and have them give me an estimates. Before winter, we'll have the paths we need! And someday we'll have the patio relaid (it wasn't done correctly by the previous owners) and incorporate some of the path materials to make things coherent and lovely. Just the way it should be. Bit by bit, over years and years, we'll get the hardscaping done.

Over the winter I'll refine planting schemes and be all set, when Spring arrives, to tranplant and plant as needed, and as time and money allow.

I'm taking a deep breathe.

My confidence is building.

I can do this!

(And I can count it as another Quotidian Pleasure, right?)


#25 The Gift of Quotidian Pleasures

Sometimes you have a day when the world is swirling madly outside your door.

You wonder if there's any hope for a world that humans seem intent on spoiling both physically and spiritually.You're afraid that it might be too late.

It's been one of those days for me, so I retreated behind closed doors and found solace in the simple, ordinary pleasure of tending my home. I topped it all by polishing the beautiful silver tea service that had been my grandmother's. Memories of the special times I spent with her filled me as I rubbed soft cream into the patina'd surfaces. I felt her love around me. I was soothed as I transformed tarnish into gleam.

Maybe that's where we need to begin, we humans.

Maybe we just need to tend our homes and our spirits will heal in the process. And as we heal, maybe we will find the will, and the way, to heal our relationships with each other and with Mother Earth.

Maybe we can still transform the tarnish into gleam.

Maybe it's not too late.


#24 My cool idea (if I do say so myself!)

A few posts back I showed you a picture of my lovely little Italian chandelier and said that I planned on doing the electrical work to change it from needing to be hardwired, to being a plugged in swag-type fixture. I also mentioned that I'm afraid of things involving electricity- especially if they might result in burning my house down if done incorrectly.

I had the directions and the materials all set to go, but just couldn't work up the courage. So my cool idea is to make it into a real candle chandelier! True, to use it that way involves actual fire, not just the possibility of fire, but somehow, by using real candles, I feel more in control. At any rate, with my decision made, I trekked over to the plumbing store and found the perfect copper fittings that 1. fit down over the electrical part meant to hold a light bulb and 2. hold a candle perfectly. Take a look:

I need to paint the fittings white, but wanted to show it before since it's easier to see the copper fittings this way. What do you think?

I like that it preserves the electrical work in case I decide somewhere down the road I want to use it that way, and I'm excited by the prospect of romantic candlelight in my charming little room. The light in there is so wonderful during the day - and now it will have equally wonderful light at night!

The picture has the drawer to the sideboard open and you can sneak a peak at the wallpaper I used to line the drawers. I used it in the washstand drawers, too:

I think wallpaper is much better for lining drawers than paper that's intended for the purpose. It's thicker and has a nicer finish and, if you pick up a roll from a clearance rack, it's much more economical as well! This is a roll with beautiful creamy colors and large flowers and I love the surprise of something pretty when I open drawers, don't you?

This last picture is a detail of a crewel worked pillow I found at an antique shop recently:

Isn't it lovely? The colors match the palette in the room and the pillow adds just the right touch to the sage green wing chair it sits on.

I'm hoping I'll get a call soon to let me know the new window for the room is in and ready to be installed. When that's in, I'll take pictures of the completed redecoration.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


#23 Pockets of Dischord and the Landscaper Dude...

Tomorrow afternoon I have a Landscaper Dude coming over to survey my plot of land and tell me it will probably cost more than I can possibly imagine (let alone have handy in my coin purse) to have him help me turn my dream of curving paths and a level patio into reality.

So. I'm absolutely freaking out. Really. This is worse than having someone come clean my house, for heaven's sake!

I mean there's no way in hell I can make the garden look better in less than 24 hours. Inside I'd have a fair chance of scooping up the clutter and dust bunnies if I was told (it will never happen) that some Good Fairy was going to appear in Tutu and Wings to tidy up and spit and polish everything that needs, well, spitting and polishing in my abode. But the garden? Ain't gonna happen. Especially when it's been in the 90's. For days. As in Forever. (At least!)

I soooo wish Mind Melding would become a reality soon. Or a variant of same that I think would work. I like to call it: Shared Magical Visualization. It would allow someone to see the perfection that YOU see whenever you look at what, in reality, are Pockets of Dischord*. How useful would that be??? Pretty darn useful I'd say! (PhotoShop is as close as I've come to what I have in mind for SMV, but, let's agree, it's cumbersome and time consuming. I'm thinking immediate results with SMV. No computer or WiFi needed.)

Alas. There's no way in hell (yes, I said "that" word again!) the kinks in SMV are gonna be unkinked in time for me to use it at the appointment.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll luck out and he'll have a really, really, REALLY good imagination. And maybe, just maybe, he'll be independently wealthy so that, instead of charging me an arm and a leg, he'd want to pay me for the sheer joy of transforming my garden into a beautifully hardscaped Paradise.

A girl can dream, can't she?

*Pockets of Dischord: what my friend Barbara's mom called the untidy places in her home. I have lots of them!


#22 And the answer to #20 is...

 My very own version of a Scandinavian country Gustavian sideboard for the summer kitchen:

I dry brushed a soft turquoise over the beat up, unattractive pine - the same turquoise paint I had used for the kitchen before I realized, with the help of my sister, that it was the totally wrong color for my kitchen. I sprayed the drawers with gold then sanded them a bit and did the same to the rope molding and appliques I added as trim. I painted the wooden knobs with turquoise first and then added a light spray of gold. Here's a closeup:

This is what the piece looked like before - when I was about ready to put it on Craig's List and just get rid of it:

It was in the kitchen being used as an island when we bought the house. It had a butcher block top that I've removed and am going to turn into a bench for the porch. For several years after we remodeled the kitchen, it sat outside under the balcony. The project will be completed with a perfectly sized piece of marble that has been languishing in the garden since we bought the house. It must have been in the original kitchen, but I don't know for sure. It's been propped up beside the original shed outside, and it's companion - a six inch back splash piece - has been used in the back garden as an edging. Both were green with moss but we managed to roll them on a dolly and put them on the picnic table where we power washed the crud off. They are super porous right now, so I need to do some research on how to treat them. But, more importantly, I have to find someone willing and strong enough to help Dean bring the pieces inside and place them on the sideboard. The big piece is incredibly heavy. Till then, here's what they look like:

While I was on a roll, I painted a washstand that had seen better days. Here's the before:

And the after:

I took the beat up pressed brass pulls from the washstand and used them on the sideboard, replacing them with glass pulls that I had used in the kitchen before the remodel. Everything gets used and reused in this house! The mirror over the sideboard is another example of creative re-use:

The rectangular mirror was one my grandmother used in her bedroom. Its meant to hang horizontally, but I hate mirrors hung that way, so I just turned it. Anyway, I thought the sideboard needed a mirror over it that had the same kind of Gustavian feel, so I lined parts of the mirror with a gold leafing pen and then topped it with a gold pediment I had gotten at TJ Maxx years ago for $9...it's resin, but it fits perfectly and I love how it all came together! Don't know if my grandmother would approve, but it was either do something with the mirror or get rid of it, so I hope she'd be happy that I've kept it - with just a bit of alteration!

I plan to hang the mirror a bit off center so I can hang a painted metal chandelier I purchased in Italy when I was stationed there in my 20's. I loved it the moment I laid eyes on it! I had lent it to my mother-in-law to use in her home, but since her passing, it has come back to live with me again. Here's a shot of it on the sideboard:

Its made to have a direct ceiling connection, so I've gotten a kit to turn it into a fixture that will plug into the wall, and some extra chain to swag it from the wall and down from the ceiling. Wish me luck with that project since I'm a bit timid when it comes to working on anything that has electricity involved!

So...that's what I've been up to! I think the pieces kind of have the feel of the Carl Larsson painting I posted here, don't you? Sort of light and airy and a bit grand - perfect for my summer kitchen!


#21 Something else I know for sure...

I'm really happy with the way the porch turned out!

Bear in mind that there's still painting to be done; Sherwin William's Tidewater blue on the ceiling, white on the posts and railings, and the brick will be painted in a color similar to the color of the decking. And we still need to put the coffee table together for the conversation group and get two black porch rockers. BUT: other than all that, it's finished!

What do you think??? Does it make you want to come "set a spell"? Hope so!

I'm not afraid to go out on the balcony now that the porch roof is on! (next life I vow not to be afraid of heights...)

Yup - we need to change some things around on the patio - extend it to the width of the stairs and make new paths from the front gate to the patio and porch and then from the patio to the back part of the garden. We'll need to move some rose bushes and shrubs of course. And add some new plantings. The sign to the right of the door is an old hand-painted sign for the Holiness Church of God. I especially love it because the pastor is a woman!

I love the new conversation group! It's from Better Homes and Garden at Walmart - and was on sale! It's actually made by the Brown Jordan company that makes some really high end outdoor furniture. The director's chairs are from Lowe's; a great find on sale, too, for less then $12 each - including the covers! (And, yes, I'm planning on making a bit of a screen from old shutters to put in front of the unsightly air conditioner in the window.)

I'm glad we had the two ceiling fans installed - they make a nice breeze and help keep bugs away. Note the nice job that was done to make the Bilco door to the basement flush with the rest of the deck. It's fully supported underneath so walking on it is safe. The sign resting against the railing reads "After Hours" and is actually the name piece from the aft end of a sailboat. I bought it at some antique store years ago and have been carrying it around never finding the right place for it - until now! It will hang from a chain over the stairs you see here - forming an arch and designating our new porch as the 
After Hours Veranda!


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