Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So What About The Bowl?

We found this lamp in one of the (now burned to ashes) sheds after we bought our old farm place. I know nothing about milk glass other than it comes in other colors besides white and sometimes has hobnails. Our lamp is wired for electric so I'm not going to go out on a limb and call it a rare, very old piece other than the previous owners of our farmhouse seemed to have been pack-rats collectors of American Stuff and I'm sure it's old. Just not Valuable Old- maybe 1950's.  I did find one exactly like it on ebay with an asking prices of $30.

Image via ebay

There is a tiny row of hobnail at the top of the shade but the lamp has the feel of a mass-produced item. There are no maker's marks on the lamp. There are no chips or cracks but I did- gasp- spray paint the brass because, well, it was rusty and ugly and I wanted to spray it. The lamp casts a nice soft light when turned on, especially with a 15-watt bulb. My husband is not a read in bed kind of guy (too bad for him) so we rarely turn it on.

I've never been particularly drawn to milk glass other than to know that it's different and sort of nice and seems like all of my older friends and family had it in their homes when I was growing up. So I thought it was for old people. Isn't that funny, because now my professional field is Gerontology....   But like I say, it was never anything special to me. Take or leave it. There is this photo, however....

Image via iNetGiant

Now that's a pretty lamp.

So the thing with our bowl lamp is, what about the bowl? It has been receptacle to the baseball that my husband caught off an Andy Van Slyke homer at a Pirates game years ago but other than that.... what? Does anyone know what is supposed to go in the bowl? I did see a photo once of one with plastic flowers in the bowl but plastic flowers aren't really my go-to decor choice. Our bedroom is currently decorated in Late Hodge-Podge: both of our childhood dressers (painted a matching field green), a treadle sewing machine that belonged to my husband's grandmother, complete with drawers of sewing notions and all the accessories, and the bed but no head board just a Chinese worker shirt hanging on the wall that my folks brought back for Big Un. It never fit him- the Chinese seamstress who was suppose to custom make the shirt for my husband refused to believe that any human actually had those measurements. Guess there aren't that many 6'6" Chinese folks with the wingspan of a Condor.

Any ideas or suggestions- seashells, ribbons, pine cones, Hershey's Kisses? Because since we think we have decided to stay here maybe two more years, I will soon be putting The Master Bedroom Master Plan into action.

Please, because Zippy is the only one who has come up with anything so far.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Summer So It's Slaw

I'm not so much a fan of most mayo-based cole slaws because it's so easy to go way overboard with the mayo. I like just enough mayo to hold things together a bit. I don't like my cabbage doin' the backstroke in mayonnaise while I'm trying to eat it.

With all due respect and acknowledging that we all have our own foodie quirks, no, I wouldn't eat this- I just can't get past all that mayo.
Image via Kitchen Scrapbook

Not a big mayo gal. Potato salad rarely- just the way my mom makes it (the kind with the vinegar, not mayo- I'll share it with you some time). Chicken salad only if the cook is extremely judicious with the mayo. Egg salad and macaroni salad- under no circumstances. Cole slaw- again, gotta go with mom's on this. Except that I have been trying out some new cole slaw recipes this summer. Red cabbage slaw- excellent. And this nice little recipe I tried recently from Taste of the South Magazine. I picked up a copy of their special edition for the summer, Southern Favorites, and that's where I got this recipe for Bell Pepper Slaw.

The magazine has a nice photo of the slaw in a jar and the directions actually say to mix it in a big glass jar. Well, my big glass jar is a plastic juice jug so I did this in a bowl.

Before we start, let me make a comment about the photos in today's post. I decided to blog this after I started making the slaw and since one camera was on the third floor and the other had a dead battery, I went with Hipstamatic on the iPhone. It was an experiment. Y'all are into that, right?

So, let's get this slaw under way. You need:

1 (10-ounce) bag angel-hair slaw mix
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large purple bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano

The magazine instructions say to put the slaw, peppers, and tomatoes in a glass lidded jar and shake to mix. OK- well. I put them in my old faithful big white mixing bowl.

I could not find purple bell pepper so I used a quarter head of red cabbage.

Don't forget the tomatoes, though if I made this again, maybe I would. Depends on my mood.

Lots of colors for your plate with this slaw!

I did use a quart canning jar to mix up the dressing. Shake it up good and hard, then pour it over the veggies.

There you go- one colorful slaw.

What would I do differently? Well, this recipe makes up a great big batch of slaw- just so you know. Maybe leave one of the peppers out (I know, I know) or use half of each kind if you don't need to feed the entire army. The three of us ate slaw for a couple of days. I tried to slice the bells as thinly as possible and sometimes that turned out better than others but I think I would chop them up a bit. The long slices were somewhat cumbersome to get on the fork and into my mouth- maybe that's just me. And I'm sort of on the fence about the grape tomatoes- they are nice but this slaw would be fine without. Finally, the dressing seemed to need ..... something. Definitely use fresh basil and if not, add some good ol' slaw stand by- celery seed.

Oh don't get me wrong, it's a nice recipe and it made it onto the Keeper list.

Just look how colorful and visually pleasing it is on the plate, even with some of that garish Hipstomatic filter knocked back.

And my husband's grilled chicken ain't nothin' to sniff at either. So try this recipe- let me know what you think.

Gosh- can you believe we're winding down the to the end of our summer? Pretty soon I will start to see little groups of Monarch butterflies gathering in the yard slurping greedily at the feeder, stocking up, or short little trains of them flittering past on their way to Mexico. I wanna go too!

Thanks for alighting here beside me today- y'all know I appreciate each visitor to the jungle. See next time for a glass of milk. Oh, no wait, for milk glass.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sinister Things Going On At Our House

We live in this really old beat up antique house. It's an old farmhouse, soon 200 years old. We've done a tremendous amount of work on this house- nothing fancy or elaborate mind you, just trying to get it up to date. Have you wired a 200 year old house for modern living, which includes Internet and more than one outlet per room? Shesh! One thing, however, (OK, not the only thing) that we have not been able to change about this house since we became the current caretakers...

Photo by Augusta Serno via Flickr

... are the mice. That's just the way it is in an old house out in the country in the middle of a horse field. They love the Internet, by the way.

We did get the Sexy Psycho Serial Killer of a cat that first spring in the house and she truly was a prolific hunter in her younger days. Now she's a casual hunter. But she lives outside, which doesn't help us too much inside, and the Chihuahua, well...

... great as he was he had issues.

We used to set out traps and every morning we would "run the trap line" collecting carcases. Sorry if that offends any of you but please don't suggest we use no-kill traps or send mean emails. Trust me, the world will not run out of mice. I'm not even going to tell you the record for most mice in one day, set soon after we moved in, because it would make us look like Ben and Willard. It's just a farmhouse thing. Once, before the third floor was finished and we used the bedroom closet up there strictly as a closet but hadn't moved into that bedroom yet, I discovered one of my boots half full of dog food. Dog food is on the first floor, not the third. And that fringe on the rug in the computer room?

Oh well, who needs fringe? We trapped mostly in the fall and winter, spring and summers weren't so bad. And since we have acquired Remy the Rat Terrier...

(Seen here listening for the mouse to squeak again)

... the vermin haven't been around so much. We hear them scrambling in the walls in mid-winter but rarely see them any more. So you can imagine my surprise to find signs of mouse activity.

My husband and I each have a basket under our respective bedside tables for our Books-To-Read collections.

OK, I have two baskets but that's not the point. As I was cleaning up around there the other day, I discovered signs of nefarious activity.

Mmm huh-- chewing activity. And then something got stuck in the vacuum cleaner nozzle.

And then I found her, lurking under the bedskirt.

I don't play with Legos and Zippy is not allowed to haul her Legos up to our room. I mean, have you stepped on one of those things in the middle of the night in bare feet? So how did she get there? What would a sweet damsel, usually in such fun distress on the Lego Pirate ship, be doing in my bedroom?

You don't suppose there's something besides mice scurrying about in the night, do you? You don't suppose there's something much more sinister going on...

... like maybe they're nibbling away at my book basket in revenge for vacuuming up all their friends.

Oh that would hurt me deep. Maybe I should lay off the jokes about needing more vacuum cleaner bags every time Zippy gets more Legos.

And now- true confessions time. Half way through shooting the pictures for this post, I totally got it. I totally got why my Zippy loves Legos. They are really fun to play with. Yes, that makes me some kind of Lego Geek and the Nerd Quotient is already pretty high in our house. So be it. But honestly, you should give Legos a crack one afternoon when no one is home. Just be sure to get them all put away in the right place or Somebody is going to want to know, like the proverbial Goldilocks, "Who's been playing with my Legos?"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Starfish Suncatchers

Sorry about the wonky colors and photos in this post. I just couldn't get them right.

Every now and then I get on a Shrinky Dinks kick and I must be entering one of those phases now because I keep thinking of ways to fool around with Shrinky Dinks. I came up with this Star Fish Sun Catcher after seeing a post about star fish. This project was originally made for The Creativity Greenhouse, my other blog (because I like make myself insane by trying to keep up with two blogs) and you can click on over there to get the tutorial and all the discussion. Y'all know I get chatty so there are a good many hints and suggestions for working with the Shrinky Dinks. There are also some templates you can download for free to use with this project.

The only difference between this sun catcher and the one made by the tutorial on The Creativity Greenhouse is that the pieces of this one are joined together by jump rings instead of simply strung together with dental floss. Yes, I said dental floss. It's way easier to use dental floss for kids or folks who may not be able to work with the tiny little jumps rings and the tools. But do use beads that have some sparkle or an AB coating on them to get a bit of twinkle going. So go over to The Creativity Greenhouse and take a peek at the tutorial, grab the free templates if you would like, and fire up the oven.

I worked on this project during the height of our heat wave with all that terrible humidity. And as we live in an antique farmhouse, we don't have air conditioning. I was up at 2:00am a couple of times so I could fire up the oven without giving myself heat stroke. My family thought I was nuts but like I said, I'm entering a Shrinky Dink manic phase. Expect more.

Thanks for fluttering past today-- I'm always so grateful for each visitor to the jungle. This is a short post today and mainly re-directs you elsewhere but it's been a busy back-to-school week around here. Trying to get into the routine again, which means 4:30am. I could just stay up and craft!!!

See ya next time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dala Delights

I do hope that you've had a chance to visit the Flickr Group for the Dala Horse Craftalong. So many equine beauties! Look for the Dala Horse Craftalong button in the sidebar to the right, give it a click, and prepare for a feast of crafty delights. The Craftlong ends on August 21st but you can continue to add photos to the group after that.

I love Dala Horses. They have such great history and a centuries long tradition of fine craftsmanship. Visit Hannah, one of the co-sponsors of the Craftalong, at her blog iHannah for some great info on Dala Horses. But even if I didn't know about all of that, I would be hooked by their colors.

So did I finish my first attempt at embroidery in ages? Yes, as a matter of fact, I took most of one glorious day of my week off work to sit on the couch and stitch. Here it is...

(Special thanks to my lovely assistant Zippy for modeling the apron.)

OK, I didn't plan on making an apron. I started rummaging around through my stash to work on this project and the only sturdy fabric I could find was this child's apron leftover from a previous project. My original intent was to cut it away from the apron and I may end up doing that, just as soon as I figure out what I want to do with my horsey gal.

As I mentioned, I ran the dogs off the couch one day this past week and spread out my playthings to work on my horse. How does one incorporate dog hair into an embriodery project? I was trying to remember the last time I did any embroidery and honestly can't recall. Cross-stitch has always been my thing and after looking at the beautiful work on Carina's Craftblog I started thinking it would be fun to try some embroidery again. Then along came the Craftalong- perfect opportunity! I dusted off my embroidery hoops and went to town.

Due to time constraints (only one week off work, school starting soon, a long To Do list) I didn't add any decorative elements around the horse. It's heavy on the stem stitch but visiting all of the beautiful stitch possibilities in the books was great fun. If this were cross-stitch I would show off the back but since it's a beginner's effort at embroidery I think some of you more accomplished needleworkers would faint dead away if I did that. So let's just look at the front. I am aware of things that did not turn out so well or that I simply did wrong. I would also love to hear your constructive criticisms so that I can take advantage of your knowledge and skill in order to improve. That sounds hokey but I'm sincere about it. Go ahead, say it. I can take it.

This being The Butterfly Jungle, I knew immediately that there had to be butterflies. So I studied the horses in my little collection, noted the consistencies in design, and then threw them out the window. Well, not totally. I tried to keep the general design the same. But not. So here you can see that the saddle is a butterfly. The three floss colors on the left were for the mane because I just made this up as I went along. Makes you want to faint, I know, but that's how I was rolling because it was my vacation week and that's what I wanted to do.

I tried a satin stitch for the butterfly's body but because this was worked on a heavy canvas I don't feel that I could get the stitches close enough. Is there a secret? Do you split the canvas threads? Anyway, the other satin stitch areas that I had thought about doing got nixed.

Little Lazy Daisy butterflies in the mane and bridle.

I am very cognizant of the fact that this is humble beginner's level work. The easy part was fooling around tracing the horses and coming up with designs. When it came time to actually start embroidering I thought, "Uh oh, how am I going to do that?" Thank goodness for the needlework section at Barnes & Noble. Oh who am I kidding- thank goodness for Barnes & Noble. When I still had not started for several days it was time to step back and see what was going on. I realized that the problem was my fear. Who did I think I was adding my intro level embroidery to the Craftalong Flickr group with all of the beautifully worked items by wonderfully talented women? And then I decided, to paraphrase Bette Midler, "To heck with 'em if they can't take a joke." All in all, and completely aware of my amateur standing in embroidery circles ('cause I do know you can embroider a circle), I'm pleased with my modest little horse. Ya gotta start somewhere, right?

My heritage is actually Norwegian and I sometimes feel a twinge of guilt for liking Dalas so much. Same with those gorgeous Moro floor clocks. I'm Norwegian, not Swedish. Thank goodness for the Fjord horses of Norway and the two little fellas in my collection that I can't for the life of me remember where I got. First I trace the outline ...

It's been great to have you stop in today. Thank you. I'll see ya next time.