Category Archives: dishes

A get well kit and a painted hutch

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Dorothy and Worth are not feeling well today, both down with the kind of passing tummy ailments that seem to accompany childhood. Thankfully neither child tends to get too pathetic; instead they seem rather glad to be allowed the rare chance to zone out in front of some DVD entertainment on our dusty television while Mama washes icky sheets and, in this case, blogs. Even though the stomach bug has hit all members of our family on a semi-regular basis since our little germ-magnet Dorothy was born, the first symptoms still seem to find us scurrying to collect the supplies we need to recover appropriately. Of course every family has it’s own version of comfort or soothing foods when they are sick, but we gravitate towards the old school Gatorade, chicken soup, soda crackers and those preternaturally bright popsicles that come as liquid in plastic sleeves. Last winter it occurred to me that it might be handy to actually just keep all those items on hand so that when one of us gets sick we can skip the harried trip to Kroger. The problem was that such infrequently-used items kept getting shoved to the deep, dark recesses of the pantry where no one can find them, especially if Mama is the one sick and the person looking for the Gatorade is biologically incapable of moving other food items to see if it might be behind them. So after my last bought with the stomach flu, when I suffered through a recovery without the comfort of technicolor popsicles, only to find them the next day right where I had said they were, I got the idea for our Get Well Kit. The kit is just an old kitty litter bucket which I scrubbed clean, decorated, and stocked with our sick foods of choice. I closed it up and placed it in an obvious (I hope!) place, and then today when I needed bland, salty noodles for my ailing angels I knew right where to look. Now they’ll go on our regular grocery list and the bucket will be replenished with no extra gas money involved.

I was having some trouble with my old china cabinet. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a photo specifically of it, but I’m sure it’s appeared incidentally in other photos, like here.  It was a very pretty, traditional, glass-doored and glass-shelved oak cabinet. I lucked into it by deserving some good karma after my arm was broken when Dorothy was a baby–a friend who was downsizing gave it to me and my brother delivered it to me in his truck. I stuck in my dishes with my one good arm loved the thing to death in our old house.  In this house it never looked quite right. The very small dining room needed an anchor point, and so much furniture of the same color all crammed in just didn’t work. I’d have probably kept it anyway just because I was fond of it, if it hadn’t been for the unnerving combination of teetering glass shelves + all the dishes we got for our wedding + my son zooming through the house in a plasma car. It was an accident waiting to happen. New furniture wasn’t in my budget, however, and buying something to hold dishes on Craig’s List would require the use of a bigger vehicle than I possess. Then I saw a photo on Pinterest one day of a painted hutch with open shelving, where the owner’s white dishes stood out beautifully and didn’t appear to be on the verge of plasma car disaster. I found a similar hutch on Craig’s List at a secondhand furniture store not far from my house. I printed out a photo of my china cabinet and decided it couldn’t hurt to ask the owner for a trade. I was a little surprised when the owner accepted at once! My china cabinet good karma continued. Since my cabinet was worth more than the outdated (but very sturdy–I checked) hutch in her store she was happily willing to send a truck to pick mine up and deliver hers. We’d exchange no money. Perfect!

I had the men stick my new/old hutch in my garage for its transformation. The top, above, had two glass doors. I took one to a glass place to price replacing them with clear glass, because just a wee bit of glass up so high didn’t feel too dangerous, but the price was high so I decided to wait on them.

The bottom was a little beat up but sturdy and very roomy, to accommodate lots of extra dishes (I’m a dish hoarder; I’ve disclosed this before) and linens.

I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the garage with the radio and my electric sander. I knocked off the decorative railing on the middle shelf (kapow!) and decided as the paint went on that I actually really liked the look of the thing without the doors. I used a satin finish black paint and all new black hardware.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out. My white dishes look awesome against the black, and I can access them more easily as well as change out a few accent pieces seasonally. (My Louisville Stoneware out now is in honor of the local upcoming “holiday” of Kentucky Derby Day.) Although this hutch may not have the trade value of the cabinet I had before it is infinitely more valuable to me to have a piece of furniture that can withstand a plasma car crash without reducing my dish collection to dust, and I really like the way having something big and black in the room helped it look better overall. The room even seems bigger now without so many brown things in it. This could be dangerously habit-forming, though. I can totally see how furniture barter could become a slippery slope! Good thing the kids cannot be offered in trade…

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St. Patrick’s Day and some organization

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The first year that Rob and I were married I collected holiday decorations a little obsessively. It was some combination of nesting in our first home, having two incomes and no kids, and a love affair with eBay that made me do it. Now some years I have not had the time or energy to put out useless tchotchkes for minor holidays. This year, with two kids big enough to avoid catastrophe while I bring a box up from downstairs and a house that is no longer such a project on its own, I have really enjoyed putting out all manner of holiday decorations. The kids take total delight in “decorating” and making a celebration out of days big and small.  These green and gold fishing floats were my newlywed eBay purchases–a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day. My mother bought the Leprechaun when Dorothy was a baby and this year the girl loved seeing him keep watch over his treasure on our entryway table.

Green candles in my candelabra, more fishing floats, vintage glass goblets that belonged to Rob’s grandfather, and some felt clover from the dollar store made us feel lucky and maybe even a bit Irish in the dining room.

And my very favorite, a set of vintage-inspired plates from that newlywed eBay spree. I didn’t know then how much our children would enjoy them in 2012! We ate off of them for a couple weeks prior to March 17. We rounded out our celebration of the Irish within us (Dad assures me it’s there, and my current red hair situation would lead you to believe it if you weren’t aware that all hints of the hue came from a bottle) by eating this delicious apple and cabbage soup and fried patties of mashed potato, garlic and cheese–probably not authentic, but reminiscent of a favorite Irish pub food in my college town.

On another topic, I’ve been prettying up the insides of closets and things that don’t always show. I spent the first year at this house taking care of big-impact things, but in this second year I get to move on to some crafty projects that might not be noticed when you walk in the front door but definitely improve my quality of life. I was so pleased with the new rag bag of a few weeks ago that I made a similar bag with an inserted hanger to hold plastic bags. While I do use cloth bags frequently at the grocery, I also like to hang on to those good, sturdy Target bags and the bags the newspaper comes in to reuse. I’ve seen patterns for small bag-holders, but we also save paper shopping bags so I felt like I needed something larger. This one is working out very nicely and looks pretty good too. The tote bag in the stairwell holds old batteries until I can drop them off at the recycling center.

This little bag turns an unused bar on the inside of my kitchen under-sink cabinet into a sweet little spot for reusable mop heads and dusters. I don’t think the buttons show very well in the picture but they are very pert make the bag look a little sassy–just what I need to make me feel better about some chores that are not my favorites.

Valentine Projects

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Did you know I’m Cupid’s mother? If any of my readers need some help with the love this February 14 you just let me know and I’ll let my son get in some target practice. (Wink.) A friend gifted me some cast-off fabric last year, including some very sturdy red cotton with black designs and hearts all over it. I decided to use it to make Dorothy a dress for Valentine’s Day. I used Simplicity 5704, a new pattern for me, and it turned out great. Her usual size fit her perfectly and the sturdiness of the fabric gives good fullness to the skirt and the sleeves. If I make this pattern for her again I might lengthen it a bit, as she likes longer skirts and this one hits just below the knee, but that’s the only change I’d make. It’s a good pattern and made a sweet dress that I suspect will get worn all summer.

I’ve also been dressing my home up a bit for Valentine’s Day. I used scraps from past February projects and some pink and white shirting from my stash to make cute place mats and a short table runner. Each mat is different. I sewed pockets to the front of each one for the flatware because I thought Dorothy (who sets the table) would think that was cute. I found the melamine conversation heart plates unexpectedly at Kroger for just $.99 each. The woman at the checkout who rang them up got so excited about them she decided to go purchase a set for herself when her shift ended! They are pretty cute, and were available with six different phrases. Now we’ll enjoy ten more days of very pink and loving dinners!

The living room

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More house progress!  Removing the living room wallpaper was a serious pain in the ass. My mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, daughter and husband all worked with me (and in the case of my mother, much more than me) to get the wallpaper off this wall.  There was a thin liner underneath the regular wallpaper that had to be steamed and scraped away shreds at a time.  Ouch.  But now it’s off!  Mom and I primed the newly-bare walls, which had never been painted in their 71 years, then painted them a perky green called spring cactus. I made the curtains from fabric I found online and posted about previously, from Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden collection. This is a room we needed some furniture for when we moved into this house.  I fell in love with the Eames-inspired tulip chair from an online discount store, and we bought the light fixture and white sofa (below) from IKEA. This room is meant to house my collection of hobnail milk glass, and the bumpy white lamp and chair are really just accessories to my beloved dishes.  I have a less-is-more attitude toward some things, but dishes are just not one of them. I love dishes.  I have way too many.  But hey, better dishes than drugs and booze, right?

After I hung the new curtains this weekend  Dorothy came into the room.  She immediately noticed the curtains and rushed over to the windows to admire.  “Wow!  These new curtains are so pretty!  They are going to look beautiful at my birthday party.”  My husband came home an hour or so later and his reaction was not as satisfying.  I had to drag him into the room to see the curtains, which I doubt he’d have noticed on his own.  He glanced and said, “oh, those look nice.”  He might have said the same thing if I’d hung paper bags in the window.  If I hadn’t prompted him he might never have noticed they were there. This is why I’m so grateful to have a daughter.  🙂

My over-the-sofa art is going to be supplied by my children.  I purchased artists canvases at a craft store and covered them with more of the Pop Garden fabric using a staple gun. I have a can of low-tack spray adhesive that I’m going to use to adhere a rotating collection of the kids’ art to the screens.  This felt like a formal but fun way to honor their artwork. I have admired framed child art in other people’s homes, but I’m thinking this will be easier to peel off or stick up art as their talents and interests change.

Now all I have to do to finish this room is patch and paint the ceiling, paint all the trim, mop off the bits of wallpaper that seem to have stuck to the floor, buy a coffee table, sew throw-pillows, buy a coordinating shade for the milk glass lamp (not shown), sew a Pop Garden scarf for the piano, find or make an entry-way rug, paint or replace the plant stand that doesn’t seem to match, and find the rest of my milk glass in a box downstairs.  It’s a good thing my baby sleeps through the night and I have nothing else to do all day, right?  Oh wait…

And today is my daughter’s actual birthday.  She gets to bring a treat to school to share with her classmates, so we made cupcakes with lavender icing at her request. I love this recipe for vanilla cupcakes and have made it several times, even though the method of adding the butter to the batter seems rather unorthodox. The cupcakes don’t turn golden-brown until they are over baked–you have to do the toothpick test to get them out in time–but they come out really moist and they hold their shape nicely so you can eat them without having most of your cupcake dissolve into crumbs all over your lap.  According to Dorothy’s birthday wish the cupcakes needed to have her classmates names on them, so we did that too.  I printed the names onto a sheet of card stock and we just cut, glued and folded the little tags onto toothpicks. Hopefully the birthday girl will feel like she got all her birthday wishes granted today. She woke up pretty excited!

A star-spangled birthday

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Friday I made a fun excursion with my dad and the kids. We drove to a local lake with a beach, where some friends of mine have been going regularly. It was really fun, we’ll definitely do it again. We were almost surprised by how beachy and relaxing it was, even though the drive was so pleasantly short. It was weird to come home and shake off sand all over my own home, instead of a hotel room! I recently unearthed a little Playmate cooler of just the right picnic size in our garden shed–I think it must have been Rob’s before we married, and it just never found its way into a spot where I’d use it until now. But somehow it seems to have fueled a spate of picnicking for us lately. I keep three plastic water bottles in the freezer, then pop them in when we’re ready to go–no loose ice, no mess (and the bottles found a second useful life). And I have to confess…my favorite way to picnic lately has been to grab the cooler and the ice bottles, then stop on the way to our destination and fill the cooler with takeout! We’ll have to head to the beach with it again soon.

Today is my mother-in-law’s birthday, and since she and my father-in-law are now living close by we were able to celebrate with dinner at my house. It feels much more satisfying to be able to cook someone a birthday dinner than to make a phone call. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t have to decide whether or not to use patriotic dishes on our dinner table for this 3rd of July meal, but rather which set of patriotic dishes I would pull out. Hey, some people like cars, some people like gadgets, I happen to like dishes. A lot. Anyway, I chose these fun tin plates, where each one is a bit different and reflects a different American pastime, and Dorothy decorated some place cards (folded index cards) and we set a cute little red, white and blue party table.