Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fabric Dish Mat... or Kitty Blankie???

I have used a plastic tray as a dish drainer for years. In the last year or so, I decided I wanted to have a collection of these to change with seasons and holidays. I thought it would be easy. I thought finding a Christmas tray would be easiest of all. I looked everywhere and never found one I liked. I ended up using a fall leaves tray all through December and every time I looked at it, it annoyed me.

I'm glad my collection idea never got very far. I came across an idea I like even better. A fabric dish mat.

I first saw the idea on Berlin's Whimsy while I was looking at her Swiffer cover how-to.

Berlin's Whisey got the idea from the dish mat she saw on Seams of Life.

I wanted to see more. A search led me to this one by Darby on Fly Through Our Window?
She gives complete details on how it's made.

The other photos give you a better idea of just how pretty it must be in person. I love the fabrics.

Now, I can make my own dish mats. Fabric choices are infinite! I won't have to hunt and hunt for trays I like. I could make the quilted. I could make them from a pretty placemat. I could make them from thrifted fabrics or salvageable pieces of vintage linens. They could be simple or detailed - whatever I'm in the mood for. Or... whatever I have time for.

For my first effort, I impatiently purchased (gasp) fabric to match the vintage fabric in my curtains. I won't waste time feeling guilty, but I really prefer to find my fabrics from thrift stores and yard sales. I love turning a discard into something new. I added two other fabrics to the new and sewed strips of them all together.

I added piping from my scraps and sewed the whole thing onto an old towel.

Here it is in place. I don't know. I made it a little big, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Will it be useful? Trays are easier to clean and put right back in place. This will need to be laundered. I love choosing my own fabrics, my own designs. But, I'm not in love with it. It seems a bit tacky. There's a fine line between kitsch and tacky and I may have crossed over to the wrong side. Possibly a smaller one - just large enough for the dish drainer - would be better. On the up side , I do love the fabric combination - it would be delicious on my porch as a pillow. If I decide I don't want to use it as a dish drainer, it would make an excellent kitty blankie.

This is not how I envisioned starting off the new decade. Another less than fabulous effort. I don't seem to know what I want these days. I used to have a good eye for decorating and putting things together. Or maybe I was just deluded and completely believed my kind friends who said I had a good eye. I sure have had a lot of decorating bombs this last decade. Wrong sofa. Wrong carpet. Wrong paint colors. I'm tired of that and I resolve to move forward with a bit more confidence. (Did that sound convincing?)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unexpected Good Things

First of all, I am flabbergasted by something that is missing from my blog. Last year around the first of January, I won a photograph from Little Red House. I remember emailing to thank her and I remember writing about it for my blog. I remember writing to my friends to tell them how excited I was to have won. It was such a wonderful surprise.

I recently framed the photo (which made it seem like winning all over again) and wanted to write Mary to tell her how much I am enjoying it. I looked for mention of it on my blog and it wasn't there! What happened? Did I delete it? Did it never get published? I went back to work around that time so there's no telling. I don't even know what to say.

The photo is so serene and quiet. It's a cold wintry day. At first it appears to be a black and white photo, but on closer inspection you see brown leaves and other slight signs of color. I propped it on my kitchen counter in a spot that draws the eye. It makes me happy every time I look at it. Thank you, Mary!

Another unexpected good thing... a free wreath was delivered to us by LL Bean just before Christmas. It's made from real fir and smells delicious. It's nice and fresh and perky. What a luxury. Better yet, what a pleasant surprise.

It needed to be outside, so I hung it just outside the door we use the most. I tend to spend more effort dressing up this door than our front. It's a reminder that things are good.

The wreath that was there needed to be moved. I had already made another one for the front door. Rudy (who seems to be doing better than me with fresh ideas) suggested hanging the extra one inside on our dining room doors. Loved it! The picture does not do it justice. It's brighter and more red in person.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Decor Report Card

I was dissatisfied with lots of my Christmas decor this year. Last year seemed full of possibilities. We were still in a mess so my expectations were low. I impressed myself just by decorating at all. This year, my expectations were higher, but too many things didn't seem to work. I feel a major Christmas collection clean-out coming on!

First of all, this tree is going to find a new home. It's too wide. It took up more room than I'm willing to give up in the space. Worse than that, it needs to be taken apart to get back in the attic. I want a skinny tree that I can take to the attic all in one piece. I want to be able to leave the lights on from one year to the next (until I change my mind about the style or color). It's a nice tree. Anybody looking for a 7foot tall, full-figured tree?

This is the last year we will use the Maxine draft dodger thingie. Life is crabby enough sometimes. I don't need a crabby character around. How did I ever end up with that stupid thing? Why have I hung onto it for so long? Maxine will go in the donate pile! Someone who enjoys her humor can have her. I feel better (less crabby) already.

And oh my word! The kitchen window ledge. Previously one of my favorite spots to decorate. I recorated that spot several times over. Each time looked worse than the time before.

I finally gave up.

Stay tuned. Next year, "God willing and the creek don't rise", will be better!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grown-Up Drapes for the Family Room

For the last year, we've been living with sheets on our family room windows. It has annoyed me for every one of those days. Like so many other spots in our home, this was an area that I knew would be improved one day. I have so many plans and ideas. I'm just short on money and time.

But finally, I am getting my family room curtains taken care of. I deliberated for ages on the fabric. I thought I would be going with red, but in the end, in went with black and cream toile. O ordered it from using a great coupon. I love toile! Even though it's a pattern, it's also somewhat of a neutral and it's easy to bring other colors and patterns in around it.

Years ago, I heard Christopher Lowell advise his viewers to go neutral on the big items. Then it's easy and inexpensive to change the look of the room by changing paint, pillows and "chotskies". Since I like to change things around often, I decided this was good advice for me.

Right now the room colors are starting to remind me of the coloring in the room pictured below. Don't get me wrong... I love that room. I look at that picture often. It's fabulous.
But, I plan to mix in more color. I want to add some brighter touches, like in this photo from Country Living. Try to imagine a blending of the two pictures. It will be tricky to pull off, but I'm going to try.
I originally thought I was going to make drapes with a top hanging over like the ones in this article by Jennifer Thoden. But if I did it with toile, the fabric scenes on the top part would be upside down, unless I sewed them in two pieces. Plus it would require more fabric. I already needed 36 yards just for plain panels.

Down the road, I could always come back and add a top panel like these pretty ones from Southern Hospitality.
Or add some trim, like The Nester likes to do. She likes to use her glue gun, but I wouldn't be able to do that, because with all our pets, it's important to be able to wash everything.
Stay tuned to see how my drapes turn out!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Something Smells Wonderful!

One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to have a crock pot going with homemade potpourri. In the winter, with the house all closed up, the air just seems to be stale. I think I should have lived closer to the equator so I could have my house open all the time.

The best way to give the air a little lift, is with simmering potpourri. I cut up whatever fruit I have on hand - apples, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, lime... whatever. I throw in a stick of cinnamon, cloves and any other spices I am in the mood for. Then I just make sure that I add a little water from time to time. It sure does smell nice!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blowin' in the Wind

The weather was awful around here last night. Our neighbor's roof blew off.

Luckily, she had an older roof under and it stayed mostly intact. And she's fine, which is the most important thing. The one that blew off was metal. Pieces of it are scattered all over, mostly on our property. There are even large pieces up in trees and I mean large - like 8x12 or so. It was a wild night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Upcycling a Goodwill Shirt

I found this crazy shirt at Goodwill. It looked so Christmas-y that I bought it without knowing exactly what I'd do with it. The fabric is 100 percent cotton and it's sooooo soft.

After laundering, the next step was to cut it apart and iron it.

I turned it into a stuffed shirt pillow. As far as pillows go, it's just OK. The buttons don't show up all that well. I thought about changing them, but that would involve changing the button holes and that's something I avoid at all costs! I put a contrasting green stripe fabric on the sides. That doesn't show up well, either.
I think it would be nice grouped with other Christmas-y pillows. It should probably be moved off this rocker as well. The color just doesn't pop against that cream and tan. On the positive side, I really enjoy making "stuffed shirt pillows"! Did I make up that name or have I heard it somewhere before? I have no idea!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Indoor Tomato Plants

Our indoor tomato plant has a bloom! The plant is in front of large southside windows up in our loft. Apparently, it likes the arrangement.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hurray! Organized Thread

Well organized areas make me happy.

Today, while making my draft stopper, I tried to find a dark red thread in my thread bin.

What a tangled mess! I had a good collection of thread myself and then when my grandmother died, I inherited her thread collection. No one else wanted them. Imagine that. Most of her threads were on the old wooden spools and I just couldn't resist them. She was a wonderful seamstress in her day. I had her thread and mine all mixed together in a big bin. Each time I went there for thread, the tangles grew worse. I had planned to watch for a wall unit for organizing threads, but today decided I could wait no longer.

After about 45 minutes, I have a nice system for my threads and I can easily find any color I need. I should have done this long ago!

I have no idea why this picture has rotated. You'll have to tilt your head in order to see it correctly! I sorted the thread by colors and put them in the drawers of the hutch in my sewing area. The picture is an overhead view of the drawers.

I'll label the drawers as soon as I make up my mind how I want to label them. I don't want a permanent label. Maybe I'll tie a label around the knobs. ???

Fabric Door Stoppers

I have door stoppers all over the house. Only 1 or 2 are nice. The others are those ugly plastic thingies.

We need door stoppers. Rudy and I often get up or go to bed at different times. Whoever is still in bed would prefer the door almost shut. Why not all the way shut? Because cats hate closed doors. No matter which side they are on, they will scratch and scratch to get the door opened so they can have access to the other side.

Another reason we need door stoppers is because we have doors at each end of our house. These doors open up onto screened porches. When weather permits I love to open both doors. It's fabulous. When the breezes blow, it's like being in Hawaii (without the beach). If it gets too breezy, doors start slamming shut all over the house. Hence, nice heavy door stoppers are a must.

Since our floors are actually just painted plywood, our doors are an inch or so up from the floor.

I saw an ad on TV for draft stoppers with foam tubes on both sides of the door. That got me thinking. I could make a double sided draft stopper weighted with rice or beans or popcorn to serve as our door stopper.

I decided to start out by making one for our guest bedroom.

First I looked all over the internet for pictures and tips for draft stoppers. The Paper Pony had a pretty one for a window. Her post also had some good info on making them. The ones on Fabulously French are so pretty, they almost make you wish your house was drafty!

My first attempt at anything almost always leaves me with a list of things to do different next time. In this case, I underestimated how wide to make the tube. I ended up having to cut a second piece.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but the white strip at the bottom is a plastic tube filled with rice. In my internet browsing, I found a good tip about making an inside waterproof tube to put the filler in. If the tube gets damp you don't have to worry about soggy rice.

Spooky was proud to pose with the finished product. He is one of the charter members of the Cats Against Closed Doors club.

I adjusted the measurements several time and decreased the space between the tubes until it fit right. I must say, it works great for our purposes. As soon as I get more rice (or popcorn or beans) I'll make some more.

I suppose these are a little on the tacky side, but they certainly are useful.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Holiday Decorating

Over the past week I've been putting out Christmas kitsch around the house. I have a few favorite places to display things. Several spots are up high so our mischievous kitties won't be able to wreak havoc on them.

First up, is a cabinet in the kitchen. I changed the quote on my chalkboard to the one from The Grinch. I didn't want a serious quote. I am feeling the need to surround myself with all things happy and light these days. Dr. Seuss is a genius at combining happy with profound.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
My most favorite spot to decorate at Christmas is under the glass on our table. Every Christmas we get special cards with Christmas photos of people we love. I used to put them in my photo albums but I now I keep them together to put at our table. It's such fun to look through them each year. I now have so many that editing is a must. Some years I have put out so many photos that the table doesn't even show. I edited like crazy this year. I mixed old and recent photos.

Another favorite spot to decorate is atop the wardrobe in my foyer. I have a box of toys from when I was around 4 or 5. They are all in pretty good shape. I also have a few favorite childhood books and some of my Barbies. I put the toys around the tree and instantly feel like a kid again.
I might even pull down a few books to read again... as if they aren't already memorized from reading them over and over long ago.

I switched out my autumn wreath. This wreath is a yard sale find. I didn't change it a bit. It's simple and the colors are nice and I knew it suited me the minute I laid eyes on it. In this photo, it looks rather small, but it's not. Maybe I've just gotten used to my autumn wreath, which was humongous.
Last, but not least, the spot in my house that I seem to look at more than any other - the window sill by my kitchen sink. I am not satisfied with this area. I remember being more pleased with it last year. I really need to see if I took photos of it then to see what I did then. Maybe last year I didn't keep out things that were useful. I'm afraid I've gotten rather settled about having functional pieces there, too.

There's lots of room for improvement, which is nice. I really enjoy the process of making things better. I especially like finding my improvements at yard sales or thrift stores or making them myself. Buying something new feels like cheating somehow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fancy Soup

I went all Martha Stewart-y today!

I made homemade bread. Don't be too impressed - I have a bread machine. I took out the dough before it began to bake. Then the fun begins. Here's how -

Split the dough into two balls and bake. Once baked, the middle is scooped out. Soup (in this case a broccoli, chicken, cheese & rice soup) is ladled into the dough bowl. The scooped bits of bread are put around the sides. A bit of cheese for garnish was added. Mmmmm. Perfect for a chilly day.
I made more bread soon after and put the dough in the freezer. It will be nice to have bread in a pinch when there's no time to make fresh in the breadmaker.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Truckers Paradise - Toy Trucks, That Is!

My dear hubby collects vintage toy trucks. I have no problem with that. When I was 4 or 5, my grandfather gave me a Tonka and I still have it. At the time, I wondered why I was getting a truck instead of a girlie toy. Still I played with it and loved it. It's worth a pretty penny now. Rudy was into trucks when he was young and has lots of good memories associated with Tonkas. His childhood trucks are long gone, but he's brought back replacements thanks to Ebay.

I've tried to decorate our house not just to suit myself, but also to please hubby. Incorporating the trucks makes us both happy.

This week I put quite a few up on our kitchen cabinets. Rudy seemed shocked that I wanted them there. He knows I can be a bit particular about decorating. I guess he didn't know that I really love his trucks.

One of my favorites is the beat up green one in the picture above. That was also a shocker to Rudy. He thought I'd prefer the ones in really good condition. Not me! Beat up, plus the vintage green that melts my heart... mmmm... I adore that truck!

I chose this one mainly for the color. I'm into red these days and not just for the holiday color.

These cabinets offered lots more room for playing around. One of these days, I'll get back to this area. I know if I think hard enough, I can come up with something else to make it even more special.

Meanwhile, its one more step towards the kitchen reflecting us.


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