Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new 'un

This will be a short post to wish all of you the best in '09.

I still have to mop the kitchen floor and swab out toilets--remember, Maria won't be back 'til next Tuesday and my SIL's coming for dinner tonight. Our tradition is to have lentil soup on New Year's Eve, so Tom put it on to cook before he went to play poker. I know, it's a bummer that he's playing poker and I have to clean. :P I usually play while he's away, but aside from the housecleaning chores I've set myself I also need to make lemonade for tonight. Lemons are inexpensive right now and Tom loves my homemade lemonade (we sweeten just about everything with Splenda--me being a Type 1 diabetic and he a Type 2). Yunno, squeezing lemons can make a mess. Better to do all that early.

Before I go though, I'll leave you with a couple of old pics. The first is the view of the golf course from our back yard.

The next is the outside of my studio. (Won't show the inside. Absolutely will not until that distant someday when it's all red up.)

This last is inside the studio, taken on one of those far distant past days when one little corner was clean. This is a chest/dresser Tom and I bought when we were kids, back in the dark ages. It was an unfinished piece, which we painted and painted and painted yet again. Finally, Tom sanded it down well and gave it its current white coat. I hand painted the bottom drawer pulls; the top are some vintage bakelite pulls I found on ebay ages ago.

I'll leave you with my New Years Resolution, which is, in short, to do all I do in moderation. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I thought I'd share pics of the kitchen makeover we did last summer. I wouldn't call it a major redo; we just changed countertops, backsplash, sink and faucets. But I think it looks terrifical.

The first two are pics of as it was. I never realized it looked so messy! Everything was clean and neat; I just had a lot of tchotchkes around. Cute, but messy.

And here are the new:

(Oh, and notice how uncluttered it looks now. Tchotchkes gone, well, most of 'em anyway.)

I took this pic this morning of my lovely--but not that clean!--sink. Maria took a Christmas vaca, so I'm doin' my cleanin' myself. I wipe the sink every evening after I clean the dishes, but it needs a good scrub. So, forgive me y'all. The Nester's sayin' is it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Does that go the same for clean? Maybe not. Today, I give the kitchen a good scrub, and Maria'll be back next week. Yay

Monday, December 29, 2008

And now it's over

I've pretty much taken down Christmas. I still have a few things to pack away, but I'll finish that today. What's fun for me is redoing my displays. I never can remember exactly where I had what, but even if I could this is a perfect time to redo.

When I took out my Christmas decorations, I pulled out some boxes that haven't seen the light of day for several years. In those were several things I'd packed away at the beginning of Christmas about four years ago, so I rescued them from their exile: a couple of small paintings, a bronze dog, a vase and candle holder I'd completely forgotten.

I haven't been happy with the display on my barrister bookcase for some time. I know I've seen displays of a number of pottery vases clustered together but can't remember where or exactly how they were used. Here's what I came up with:

As you can tell, I'm not much of a stylist and never know if what I've done works. I'll probably fiddle with this until I come up with something I can live with. And Lord knows, whatever that is, my cleaning lady will change it from week to week. Repeat after me: Maria is a great cleaner! And I'm lucky to have her.

I piddled for a while on my new boxmaker tools. It's wonderful! Of course the one I made today isn't of a size I can use for anything. It was a test, just a test.

I also worked on tassels. I'm thinking I'll list this next one on Etsy, though I'm not sure I'm completely satisfied with it yet.

And this is one I made a long time ago, before I started adding embellishments. I may redo and list it as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Have a happy!

To my family and whoever else might have found me on the 'net, I wish a happy holiday season! Best to all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cats and diets

The vet put my cat Max on a diet! Bless his heart, he doesn't eat that much, though the vet doesn't believe me when I say so. Max refuses anything but his own kibbles and eats less than the cup the package says he should.

He's been on a reduced calorie food since he was maybe three--he's seven now--and he steadily gains. He was at 21.1 when the vet saw him a month or so ago. So he switched him to something they call the Atkins diet for cats and reduced his intake to 5/8 of a cup. Okay, I didn't give him just 5/8; since I was giving him half in the morning and half in the afternoon, I gave him 2/3 total, 2 T. more than the vet prescribed. But he always had food left. And he gained a half pound next time we took him in.

So--they have him back on his reduced calorie diet, back on his 1 c. per day, but I was supposed to count the kibbles I gave him and the kibbles he didn't eat. Did you ever try counting kibbles?!! I did it only once--485 kibbles in a half cup, and Max ate all but 108 of them. Tom kept saying I should be able to weigh how many ounces I put in the bowl and how many Max didn't eat, but I think the vet wants a more exact account than that. Still, it takes a bit o' time to count kibbles, all the while I got a hungry cat rubbing against my calves. So I weighed by grams. It's more exact than ounces, but still may not be what the vet wants. If he's not satisfied when I talk to him Monday, I think I'll count out 485 kibbles in multiples and package them in plastic bags, then only count what Max left after I give him the new. Sheesh!

But isn't he cute! I've lost cats to diseases caused by overweight before. Don't intend to do it again. So very likely, come Monday you can just call me the kibble counter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

As I'm sure...

You can tell, I'm a new blogger. Today I thought I'd upload my favorite banana bread recipe. I may well have overdone it on the pics; if so, please comment. I can only learn as I go.

This recipe came from a friend/co-worker who was (likely still is) a fantabulous cook. I make it every year for my Christmas gift baskets, but not that often otherwise. It is so not low-fat or low-calorie. I call it Becky V's Best-Ever Banana Bread.

Start with the ingredients: all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, eggs, vanilla, vegetable oil, buttermilk, chopped nuts, ripe bananas.

Mix 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (I sift into the bowl, after measuring).

Add 1 1/2 c. sugar (I sometimes drop it to 1 cup and have in the past done half sugar, half Splenda).

Add 1 tsp. baking soda.

1/2 tsp salt

Mix all dry ingredients together.

Add 2 eggs

1/2 c. vegetable oil (This too I've cut, but never go below 1/4 c.)

1/3 c. plus 1 T. buttermilk (I often use regular milk soured with a touch of white vinegar).

1 tsp. vanilla and a cup of chopped nuts (the original recipe calls for walnuts but I generally use whatever I have on hand--today that's pecans).

And 2 crushed ripe bananas.


Spray 9x5 loaf pan (today I decided to use these new muffin dealies) with spray vegetable oil. Fill with batter.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour 20 minutes, or these took only 45 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick in the center. Remove from oven and let set for 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn out on rack.

I'm not sure I'll make these individual muffins again. Firstly I filled them too high. I knew I had but didn't want to squeeze in another muffin. Usually for Christmas I make several mini loaf pans. That's what I'll do the next time I make it, which will probably be tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Do you have...

A favorite find? I have a number, but this one's way at the top.

I found it at a junk store in Mesquite, a small town outside of/attached to Dallas. Back then, I had a number of customers in Mesquite, whom I visited quite often, and this junk store was right on the way. I think she visited garage sales on the weekend, marked them up and put them in her shop. This was $3.98. It wasn't in this shape though; I wasn't even sure at first what it was. It looked like a bookend with a thing-a-ma-doodie on top of her head. I'm not sure how long it took to dawn on me that it was the base for a lamp! (Okay, that's admitting I'm stoopid. So now you know.)

There was a store just outside of downtown Dallas something or other. Not sure if it's still there but it was a super cool place. They were just a small house full of neat stuff, but they had a warehouse full across the back alley, and they'd let you go in and rummage. The top floor was all lighting parts and pieces. That's where I found the connections that made her into a lamp. The shade, I know, is not really right, but I've never found the really right one. This one came from eBay a number of years ago. I'd love to find something white and thin and tall--
yunno, kinda like me? Not!
So that's mine. Show me yours!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Decor on the cheap

My husband is not cheap! He's merely...frugal. He doesn't mind spending money in some areas, but when it comes to home accessories he thinks cheaper's better. Luckily he doesn't buy that many, but when he needed a lamp for his reading corner he came home with something that looked sorta like this:
It was the cheapest he could find at Walmart, and I instantly hated it. Granted it's in our BR so it's not as if visitors have to look at it, but I do. So, again from Walmart, I got these rub-on thingies to put on the shades, which are cheap plastic. I think it looks scads better.
Here's the whole corner, his little refuge from the rest of the family (me and my cat Max). He reads well into the night sometimes and the lamp works perfectly for him. I can even tolerate it now, but barely.

The drapes are my own mistreatment--two twin-size matelasse coverlets hung by curtain rings--as is the chair pillow--a linen dresser scarf I picked up from a garage sale. I handstitched it together--the needlework on the original was so beautiful I couldn't pluck it out--and stitched on some tassel fringe. As Nester says, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Candy cane reindeer tutorial

I love tutorials! I've never done one but thought I'd share this, even though it's a bit late in the year for Christmas tutorial. So here's a pic of what we'll be making. (The reindeer, understand, not the others he's surrounded by. They're there for color.)

First, our cast of characters (okay, I swiped--no, borrowed!--that description from Betasseled's tassel tutorial, which you can find here: It's really informative.)

Now, my cast of characters: We start with the candy cane, which we leave wrapped. Children like to eat 'em, with no respect for our creativity. Next comes a 1" pom pom and small craft eyes (both can be found at a craft store). Last up is a red pipe cleaner. For tools we'll use our trusty glue gun, tweezers, and a hair dryer (not shown).
First, bend the pipe cleaner onto the top of the candy cane so that each end is even. Add a dab of glue between the two pipe cleaner stems, and fold the pipe cleaner over, squishing the fold into the glue. (Don't worry about errant strands of hot glue. We'll use the blow dryer to clean those up when we're all done.)
Now bend the tips of the pipe cleaner up on each side, about an inch.

Next glue on the two eyes, just below the bend of the candy cane. (For this, I use tweezers, picking up the eyes in the direction I'll be afixing them, turning over to apply the glue, then fastening 'em on.)

Now glue the pom-pom onto the tip of the curved part of the cane. (Sorry for the fuzziness of this pic.)
And voila'! You've got yourself a reindeer.
They're great attached to packages, handed out to the kiddies, or just clumped in a bunch inside a holiday mug. Have fun!

Oh, my gosh!

I said I'd show pics of my entryway today. I just realized how very, very uber-paltry they are, so instead of showing the entire thing, I'll show bits and pieces. First, my front door--not horrible, just not special:

After that, no more entryway! This is my current centerpiece. Understand, our house is smallish--we love it that way--and our DR is more a BreakfastR attached to the kitchen. (Even when I did have a formal DR, I never dressed it up as people do now--or rather as decorators show it done now.)

And that's the end of my Christmas decoration display. Maybe next year I'll put on a real show; maybe not. But if I decide not, I'll spare y'all my meager decorations.
Thanks to the ones who found this blog through Etsy. Glad to have you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An afterthought

My sister Billie sent me this exchange between her daughter Amanda and grandson Jadon (from Amanda's POV).

Jadon - "Hey Mom, did you know every tablespoon of butter has like 100 calories?"

Me - "No, I didn't. Interesting... So why are you telling me that?"

Jadon - "I don't know, you know, like 'Hey watch out for that car!'"

Funny kid :-)

First of all...

It's good to be back. I hadn't intended to go so long between posts but life got in the way. Life and feeling pukie! I'm better now, though not completely up to par. I did manage to get my inside decorated--Tom did the outside with much more verve and panache than I managed to muster.

I never go overboard in decorations. I have far less energy than would be required to dismantle--much less mantle--some of the decorations people put up. So here is mine, in all its shame.

This first I particularly like, even though it doesn't show that well. I found these reindeer at my fave thrift store in Ft. Worth--Thrift Town--or as my sis Billie calls it, Trash Town. The sleigh I found at an after Christmas sale. Fitz and Floyd, I think. And the penguin inside was part of a Christmas gift.
This is my entertainment center. (I never decorate higher than I can reach on a small step stool--and I'm only 5'2", well almost anyway.) Some of what you can't see, and that's a lot, I'll describe. On the top right shelf is a blown glass tree topper displayed in a candleholder. I got the tree topper at Neiman's after Christmas sale, maybe fifteen years. The year after I got this one, their tree toppers were priced so high I couldn't even afford the 50% off! The lighted ceramic tree was a gift from my husband's aunt about '73. We put it out every year (there've been years when that was the only Christmas tree we had!)

In the next arrangement, something my sister Billie suggested, I displayed an array of glass/crystal candleholders, a few candles wound with beaded wire. (I know; it looks pretty paltry all by its lonesome self. So sue me.)
And here's my tree. It's lit but you can hardly tell. Nor can you tell that the light bounces off the bulbs on the inside--something I saw on a Martha Stewart special. But it really does; it's such a cool way to decorate a tree!
(They all look better in person than in pics. )
Tomorrow I'll photograph my entryway. Again, don't expect much! I bought the garlands to try to imitate the Nester's but...blame it on feeling pukie. I just didn't wanna! There's always next year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I feel busier'n...

A bartender on pay day! I'm up to my ears in Christmas decorations and have few large blocks of time to distribute 'em. Today's coffee with friends got me home at lunch time, and I managed to get a load of clothes in the wash--though they're not folded yet--and some stew on the stove for dinner tonight. And I unpacked a few more boxes of Christmas stuff. Am I the only one that has gobs of stuff, none of which really goes with anything else? I started putting it on the kitchen table, then moved over to the counter, then distributed some to the living room. The hard thing is finding a place to store things where I'll be able to find them after Christmas is over. I packed away a couple of paintings and a bronze dog three Christmases ago and only just found one of the paintings today. All that because I refused to bring over all the boxes the last couple of years. (I forgot to get the front door wreath out of the storage unit. Not sure yet if I'll go back for it or make do with what I have.)

Just to add some pics to this post, I've got some old ones of pillows I've made. They're not digital, nor were they taken with a tripod, but here they are. The first is one of my faves. I saw something like it at an upscale retail store and they were asking $125 for theirs!

This next one is simply a pillow from fabric I used at my old house. I'd read about flat french welting. Don' know what that is, so I improvised.

And this final one is something I did from a vintage tea towel. I put the zipper in the bottom, cuz I didn't want to cut into the towel, though I doubt anyone will want to unstitch it and actually use it as a towel! Still for the integrity of the piece, if one wanted to, one could.