Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hooked On Curtains & Guestrooms, And a Foodie Friday Trainwreck!

It is Friday, and it is the first day of Spring! Mother Nature sprinkled our world with a light dusting of snow early this morning; she is such a card, that Mother Nature.

Meanwhile. . .

Over at Julia's wonderful Hooked On Houses site, there's a "Hooked on...." party going on. Check it out here.

Hostess Gollum has declared this a Foodie Friday Trainwreck Day. Visit a vast array of them right here.

My Foodie Trainwreck could qualify for a Wordless Wednesday post.
I am among friends, so I invite you to take a look:

Now that is a train wreck!
Click and enlarge that picture at your peril. You have been warned.

It's one end of our kitchen, in the early cleanup phase after Saturday's House Blessing party.
As my mother-in-law (just visible walking near the fridge) would say ... "Oy!"
As my sister would say, "You couldn't fit a booger on that counter!"

(At the end of this post, for Foodie Friday involving actual food, there's a recipe for chili from The Silver Palate in New York. It's good and complex, with some surprising ingredients. It is not a blazing hot chili, so if you want a scorcher you'll have to tinker with it.)

Since I am Hooked On Curtains this Friday -- I am going to just detour a bit from my guest room and steer you into the butler's pantry.
It is one of the most "BEFORE" spots in That Old House. . . witness this:

See what I mean?

But with no time or budget to do an overhaul before Saturday's gathering,
I resorted to the creative use of a hastily sewn curtain on a tension rod. . .

It became our coffee station, with urns of regular and de-caf, and guests could help themselves.

Speaking of guests, my Florida-dwelling in-laws stayed in the Yellow Bedroom for this long weekend,
and I did indeed get curtains hung in that room in time for their Friday arrival.

But -- I am not happy with them. (The curtains, not the in-laws!)

Take a look:

Notice the poofy-ness. Don't they look stiff? The drapes don't drape! It's the lining.
I wanted a heavy curtain that would block out light in this room, so I ordered "black out lining." Big mistake. Big, big mistake.

This lining fabric is cotton, but it's solidly bonded to a rubbery material
that is stiff, wrinkles and even makes noise.
Although that may be my imagination. It even looks stiff on the bolt:

You can't iron it with a hot iron ("I'm melting, I'm melting!"),
so there is a network of wrinkles like a road map all over the curtains.

I should have used normal cotton lining and interlined with flannel, but I am a thrifty soul, and I had already paid for this bolt of rubbery and somewhat creepy stuff, and by gum... I was going to use it!

And now I'm going to remove it, and replace it with real lining.
Ah well, everyone needs a hobby.

But meanwhile ... if you have time, take a tour of the Yellow Bedroom, our official guestroom.
It's where you would stay if you knocked on our door and needed a refuge.

Come in. . .

This is a small room, so we maximize guest storage (does that seem as if we are storing our guests?).

Near the door, there's a vintage bombe chest, one of my Craigslist cheaper-than-cheap buys.
The top and middle drawers are empty for guests to use.
The bottom drawer holds extra sets of linens for the bed.

The lamp is a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. I like to buy old lamps and my Dad rewires them, but this one is new, bought at JC Penney
at their huge after-Christmas sale; I think it cost 34 dollars, shade and all.

A little peachy-pink tole basket ($9 at Home Goods) holds practical plastic glasses, bottled water,
and wrapped chocolate covered mints and hard candies when guests are in residence.

We have an old hotel luggage rack, bought for a few bucks when the Carlton House closed in Pittsburgh in the early '80s. It's near the window, holding back the *&%$#* curtains!

On built-in shelves, we keep books, a plastic carry basket for bath items, and two sets of towels.
Plenty more towels are stored on the shelves underneath, behind the doors.

I use yellow towels for guests in this room; they always know which are theirs.
Guests in the Pink Bedroom get ... yeah, you guessed it.
A pair of Teddy Bears perches on the shelves;
you never know when you might need a Teddy.

In the closet, kept empty, there are wooden and padded hangers (no wire!), and extra pillows.
(Now how often do you see the inside of a closet? It's the only one of mine you will ever see!)

On an old quilt rack ($5 at a yard sale): extra blankets and a sweet little quilt.

For bare toes, a small rug, hooked by a gentleman who was my father's best friend.
His wife was French, and the little rug has "Bonne nuit" and "Bon jour" worked into it.

And on one of the bedside tables, a little lamp I recently bought on Ebay.
($24 with free shipping.) Can you see what it is? Look closely. . . .

It is a miniature replica of an old wicker suitcase!
There's a small brass handle at the top.
I just get such a kick out of a suitcase lamp in a guest room.

Simple things amuse me. Just ask my husband. He amuses me no end.

The low-post cherry and poplar bed is one we bought 30 years ago at The Whale's Tail antiques shop in Mars, Pennsylvania.
I love it, but there is the creakiness factor.
180-year old beds have a tendency to audibly protest when used. Can't say I blame them.

The nightstands are from my in-laws' block-front Newport-style mahogany bedroom furniture,
handmade in Boston in the 1940s. Most of this set is in our master bedroom,
but these little guys just fit in so well in this small room; they struck out on their own.

The needlepoint chair I wrote about in another post, here; another Craigslist bargain!

Well, this is long enough!
Tomorrow: More curtains! Remember the powder room?
Those black and cream toile curtains were just what it needed.
You ladies who suggested it were absolutely right.

The Powder Room curtains post is up!
What's Black & White & Red all over? Click here.

Then there's the dining room, the parlor, the master bedroom, the Pink Bedroom. . . .

And maybe, just maybe, the retro-fitted guest room curtains. I hope to get them re-sewn,
and re-hung, today. Yeah, we'll see how that works out.

And remember... as it says in the pillow on the bed in the Yellow Bedroom:

Anyone interested in a partial bolt of rubbery insulated blackout lining?
I know where you can get it, CHEAP! Very cheap.

And.... now for the Silver Palate Chili for a Crowd Recipe, on this Foodie Friday:

Silver Palate Chili For a Crowd

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
4 pounds beef chuck, ground
1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup ground cumin
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons salt,
or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (Use fresh if available, but dried will work in a pinch; just use less -- Cass)
1/4 cup chopped parsley (Dried parsley flakes can be used if you can't get fresh; use less -- Cass)
2 cans (16 ounces each) dark-red kidney beans, drained
2 cans (5 1/2 ounces each) pitted black olives, drained (I use sliced black olives -- Cass)

1. Heat the olive oil in a very large pot. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 15 minutes. Add the sausage meat and ground chuck; cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the meats are well browned. Spoon off any excess fat and discard.
2. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, wine, lemon juice, dill, parsley and kidney beans. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.
3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add olives; simmer for 5 minutes more to heat through. Serve immediately.

Serves 20. (Easily doubled!) Per serving: 260 calories, 19g carbohydrate, 26g protein,
10g fat, 55mg cholesterol.


  1. Now this is a SERIOUS guest room!!! I have NEVER seen a luggage rack in a private home before - - - great idea I might add.

    I love the room - - - I'm planning to visit soon. ;-)

  2. Oh wow, I have seen my kitchen look like that so many times after a huge gathering. I really looks daunting at first, then it slowly cleans up. lol Your guest room is just fabulous. Hugs, Marty

  3. Your guest room is so welcoming. You have thought of everything. Love the suitcase lamp. How do you find such lovely things????

  4. Very pretty guest room...I would love to find a luggage rack for my little guest room.
    Loved your trainwreck photo...been there...done that!!

  5. Your guest room is gorgeous, does anyone ever leave lol? And the chili recipe sounds delicious - we are chili fanatics here, so we'll try this out. Kathy

  6. I've seen that kitchen somewhere before ;)

    Beautiful guest room - I'm sure your in-laws loved it.

    I adore the Bon Nuit hooked rug and Somebunny Loves You pillow!

  7. Your guest room is gorgeous, you have thought of everything.
    I love the suitcase lamp, how adorable.
    I have made the same mistake with blockout curtains, they just won't hang right!! I tried adding more curtain rings and it helped a little but when I have the money to replace them, their outta here!!!

  8. I knew I liked you the minute I saw your blog. Child, I am living in a trainwreck, and when I finish this book, the only cure is to MOVE. My aunt used to do that. As a child, I heard the grown ups whispering about her trainwrecks and relocations; now I understand. I must've gottenALL her genes.
    The chili looks fabulous!

  9. Cass,
    I really love that yellow guest room. What did you type in e-bay to find that lamp? I know your a bargain searcher just like me. That lamp is just the neatest thing and everything about the room is wonderful. Cindy

  10. I'm sure your guest feel very cozy and enjoy their stay. I wouldn't want to leave such a lovely room.

    Have a happy day


  11. My kitchen looks like that every night after I cook dinner!! Thanks for stopping by my blog.


  12. Oh my Cass!! Your guests will never leave! Mine are just lucky if I move the "display only" towels to make way for the real guest towels!! You are an amazing hostess! Incredible! Now I have to rethink mine!!!! Have a great weekend...Debbie

  13. Loved that post! The lamp is precious! My guest room is being changed into a room for my 3 little gsons for when they visit..I bought the stuff, now I have to sew. Their sister gets the other room all to herself..
    I haven't figured out how to get 3 little ones in one room...youngest will be in a crib for another year, so I have time!

    You have very pretty things! I use white sheets to line...easier for me!

  14. Cass,
    Loved the guest room. It is too bad that the drapes don't drape because I love the floral pattern. As for the kitchen, mine looks like that every six weeks, two nights in a row when I have missionaries arrive and leave. It can mean anywhere from 10-25 for dinner each night. It's so nice when the mess is all cleaned up

  15. Loved it all and so glad you finally are showing more pictures of your wonderful home..And girl I have had my kitchen like that and you just want to get a match and set it afire ha ha!!! glad it all went well and loved how you used the laundry room for coffee..spills easy to clean that way...your drape fabric is beautiful...good luck today...hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  16. I love your yellow guest room!I sit ready for me? I am on my way!;D

  17. The guest room is so welcoming - any guest would love to stay there. BTW, a cube of butter is the same thing as a stick (or 1/4 pound) of butter. I always forget to change my recipes for the blog - a 'cube' of butter is either a local or family thing, I guess. Thanks for the reminder. Sally

  18. Came for Foodie Friday and got so much more. I love your writing style and your decorating is fabulous! The Chili looks good too! Nancy

  19. Now, do you know why I come to your blog? Decorating ideas? No... Sewing ideas? No... Party ideas? No... You are just so darn funny!!! ;-)

    I found so many decorating and guest~friendly ideas for my guestrooms at the lake, you have it all covered. Your ideas so inspire me and I truly appreciate it!


  20. Gorgeous guest room - and reassuring kitchen!
    You ARE good for considering doing the curtains over. I'd be saying that they are good enough.
    I went south to Washington State on the weekend and visited Calico Corners where I bought a bolt of lovely yellow toile for the new room. I don't think I'll tackle them!

  21. I am running late to Foodie Friday....Have a great first weekend of Spring ~ Susan

  22. and does your husband know that he made your blog?

  23. When I make curtains in addition to a cotton lining I add an interlining of flannel between the layers. This creates a nice weight and the curtains will fall softly in folds. The flannel is a light blocker too. If you have any questions I'd be glad to answer them.

  24. What a great post. I just popped over and am enjoying looking at your pretty house....AND enjoying your humor. Happy Spring!


Thank you for visiting That Old House; it's always exciting to find new comments -- they are treasured! Because of increasing spam, I have reluctantly eliminated "Anonymous" commenting. Legitimate anonymous commenters, please forgive me! You might try using "Open ID" instead. Blogger's spam software worked for a good long time, but, sadly, no longer.