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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Awful Truth Porch Party Entry, and a Beach House Mosaic!

There's good news, and bad news, on this Monday. . . and first, the good news.

Howard and I drove out to eastern Long Island on Saturday to check on our family's beach house. It was a glorious day, we wanted to stay longer (like, forever!), I took scads of pictures, and put just a few of them into this mosaic --- for Mosaic Monday, hosted by the gracious Mary of Little Red House.

Click here for more lovely mosaics, and check back for more on the beach house later this week -- I will be asking for advice on a makeover!

And now for the bad news, which has to do with my post for Rhondi's fun Porch Party today. Visit Rose Colored Glasses here to see what's happening on people's porches!

Meanwhile, here at That Old House, I had big plans for the porch. Read on. . . .

You will need Rhondi’s Rose-Colored Glasses

If you take a close look at my porch.

It will knock you right down on your … ummm… derrieres;

Warn the villagers -- Come with a torch!

For you might want to light a bonfire

When you see what my porch sadly lacks,

Which is anything remotely lovely --

Our poor porch is the Saddest of Sacks!

It needs scraping and sanding and painting,

It needs furniture, flowers, and more.

We’ve a mish-mash of castoffs and orphans

That others might toss out the door.

There’s an old wicker rocker -- too chippy!

And a wood one whose twin bit the dust.

There’s an unfinished IKEA table,

And two chairs, one is covered in rust.

What to do? What to do? I thought deeply

Of ways to transform what we had.

And I dreamed a big dream. “We can do it!”

I said. But my hubby said, “Honey, you’re mad!”

“If we have a few hours,” I told him,

“You can coat the porch floor with fresh paint!

And I, armed with a spray can of Home Depot’s best,

Can make beauties of things that now ain’t!”

So dear Howard picked up a fresh roller

And lay down a smooth coat of new gray,

While I picked up a spray can of glossiest red

And . . . and . . . and . . . . . . .


. . . it began to rain. Not a lot, not a downpour, but just a drizzle, a spritz, a sprinkle.

Enough to scuttle my plans to spray paint the wicker rocker, and the wood rocker,

the IKEA table and the two wire chairs in a bright and glossy red.

We don’t have a garage, and the barn is long gone. I spray paint outside, or I don’t spray paint at all. Today, the wisest course was not to spray paint at all. Every time the sun came out, it ducked away again.

We should have done the spray painting on Saturday, but we were gone all day.

So, my Porch Party Post is markedly Party-Pooping!

I love seeing the gorgeous porches and decks of others. My porch will have to stand on its own – naked. Chipped. Cracked (that crazing isn’t a faux paint effect!). But we will get it in good shape. Yes, we will. I am not completely mad, despite what Howard might say! Some things just take time.

Meanwhile, before it got dark I stuck the camera out the front door and snapped a picture of

the newly painted front porch floor. Well, half of it anyway!

And yes, the edges haven't been cut in yet. Howard's a good sport, but every husband has his limits.

I'm thinking that's a great project for when my girls get home from their travels!

Dion and I kept Howard company on the porch, until the unpainted area got too small for us.

Dion was more interested in watching tiny flies than in the painting. He even caught a few. Yummmm....

Have a lovely Monday. My apologies for the silly rhyme, and to Rhondi for the unfinished porch! Have another party in a few weeks! -- Cass

Sunday Favorites --- A Tippling Tablescape!

We spent a wonderful day on Long Island's East End yesterday, checking up on the beach house. I took loads of pictures, and I'll post about the house and our plans for it, very soon.

The weather was perfect out on the North Fork, and we hated to leave, but here we are back in New Jersey, and it's time for Sunday Favorites, hosted by Chari of Happy To Design.

Click here for more blasts from the past! Mine is from March 2008, and it's rather silly, but I had fun with it! I hope you do, too. . . .


Oh where, Oh where can my single malt be?

Oh where, Oh where can it be?

For a whole big batch of wonderful tablescapes, all of them better than this silly effort, go visit Susan at Between Naps On The Porch.
Click here to go there!

Don't these Tablescape Thursdays zip around awfully fast? I wasn't going to play along this week -- brain freeze -- but I got to thinking last night, as I watched a DVR'd episode of an Agatha Christie mystery, of a fantasy tablescape I could set up, right in our study.

(No, not one of those fantasies, you saucy minx!)

Play along with me. There's the reveal of a hidden secret at the end! I guarantee you will laugh. Or at least grin. Probably.

Here goes. . . .

Howard and I are not the ritual-cocktails-before-dinner types. With us it's more a welcome home, quick kiss, feed the dogs, pop open a Fresca before dinner ritual, but, just for tonight . . . we pretend. . .

I am sitting in our comfy, feet-up study near seven in the evening, flipping through The Economist (this is a fantasy, remember), and waiting for my guy to return from the trenches of Manhattan. I've tossed a cloth over the coffee table. On it, waiting, are a couple of simple sturdy glasses:

an old cobalt blue pottery ice bucket by Pfaltzgraf that I have had for more than 30 years:

a pretty little Italian pottery plate, with a pre-dinner tease of aged cheddar and whole grain crackers:

2 linen napkins, and a small bunch of Peruvian Lilies:

in an anniversary vase my daughter Anne made for us when she was 12:

and ... and ... and ... hey! Hey!

Something's missing!

Where is that wonderful single malt Scotch we bought at the duty free shop at Gatwick airport?
I think DH deserves a little splash of good whisky at the end of a 14-hour day, don't you?

Where oh where can that single malt be?


What is this?

The end of the table is moving!

It's swinging open!

The end of the table swings open to reveal. . . the single malt Scotch, hidden in a secret compartment!

Now the tablescape is complete.


About that unusual coffee table. . . I found it last year on Ebay. I couldn't resist it. (Yes, it was cheap!)

It's got strong Art Deco lines, and I bet it was made during Prohibition in the U.S.
I wonder if it was meant to help clever hostesses hide their liquor?
I'd be more likely to hide M&Ms. (Aged cheddar would get stinky after awhile.)

Each end of the table swings out to reveal hidden compartments for -- what else? -- booze, and also a small ice bucket,
shot glasses, everything the good hostess needs for a clandestine cocktail party. Except the olives.

It's a neat old dear, in good shape for its age, with great curves and a heavy plate glass top -- just right for putting your feet up.

Its style doesn't really "fit" with my other furniture, but I am a believer is using
what you love, and if you love it, it will work.

This piece is on loan to me; I know that someday one of my girls will beg for it, and I will fold. But meanwhile it's got a home in our study. It cracks me up and I love things that make me smile.

I forgot one of the important elements of a cozy pre-dinner drink and chat in the study:
the dogs join us. They are hoping for a bite of cheese.
Poor Dion and Connie -- always hopeful.

(Sorry it is so blurry; they were a bit quivery with excitement as I was holding
their attention with one of those cheese slices. Yes, they got some!)

P.S. I learned something valuable today; I have no decent double old-fashioned glasses. (I think that's the right term.) Can you tell we are not cocktail folks? But this must be remedied. . . .

Update 5/31: there were several sets of old-fashioned glasses at the beach house, so I brought a set home yesterday; they are vintage, and very cute. More on them at another time! -- Cass

Friday, May 29, 2009

True Confessions: Hooked On Dishes and A Food Post-Mortem

Yay, it's Friday! Bring on the weekend.
But first, let me confess . . .
"My name is Cass, and I am a dishaholic."

I am also participating in Julia's "Hooked On" Friday blog party, at her absorbing Hooked On Houses blog. Click here!
And I've got a recipe, of sorts, for Gollum's Foodie Friday. No great pics, and one of the items is actually plucked from the trash, but -- well, see for yourself, and also see much much better food stories right here, at Designs By Gollum!

Dishes. I have a lot.
Witness the old walnut cupboard at the end of my kitchen:

Open the doors if you dare,
to find stacks and stacks of Christmas dishes, and
even Christmas flatware (wrapped in the yellow plastic).

There is very little upper cabinet storage in this kitchen. We plan to build open shelves on one wall, to hold much of this china clutter. It ain't pretty, and it should be.
I think there are 7 different patterns represented on these shelves.

In the dining room, the big pine breakfront does its bit for the cause:

There's that new Aynsley pattern I got at the hospital thrift shop:

And my oodles of Mikasa Far East; I confess I just got another service for 8 on Ebay for $25.

Wedgwood, rummage sale tea cups, and assorted glassware,

and underneath? Noooo.... don't look!

I warned you. Stuffed with white Thanksgiving china (embossed Della Robia type borders), and in the upper right corner, a stack of old Limoges plates with pink roses.

Look to the left of the Limoges -- clear fish platters!

Mikasa Ribbon Pink behind a side door:

The rest of it is tucked behind the Christmas dishes in the old walnut kitchen cupboard!

Across the dining room, my grandmother's china cabinet, a hodgepodge of bits and pieces, including. . .

yes! More of that old Limoges -- some plates, and bouillon cups!

A small stack of Far East dinner plates rests on the sideboard,
waiting to be tucked away in the breakfront:

We used those plates several nights ago, when we had a dinner guest on a night I did not feel like cooking. So I took an easy way out. No, not takeout food, but the next best thing:

Baked Salsa Chicken

Never heard of it? Neither had I, till I made it up a few months ago.
It's a foolproof chicken dish that cooks up easily -- my kind of everyday meal.

I don't have a picture of the finished item, but I can show you what we used.
Literally, what we used. I didn't take pictures of the cooking either, but I have evidence that I can show you.

You need chicken. I find that frozen boneless, skinless breasts or tenderloins work best. Here's the remains of the package I used, from Target of all places, and still in my freezer:

And you will need. . . Salsa. Thank goodness we recycle.
Using my best forensic investigator skills, I found this in the bin:

We use the Mild, but you can kick it up.

And you can use this:

Shredded cheese. We use sharp cheddar or a Tex-Mex mix,
but it's not critical what cheese you use, or even if you use it.

Method: Preheat your oven to 450-degrees.

Spray the bottom of a shallow baking pan with cooking spray, and add a very thin layer of salsa. Plop in the frozen chicken, in a single layer.

Dump on the rest of the salsa, and smoosh it over the top of the frozen chicken. I used two small jars the other night, for a lot of chicken.

Cover the whole mess with foil, and pop into the hot oven. Set your timer for 45 minutes, and go walk your dog or read a good decorating magazine. Don't start drinking yet; you aren't done and will be playing with hot food.

When the timer dings, take off the foil, reset the oven for 350-degrees, and reset your timer for 30 minutes. You can take a long fork and wiggle the chicken around a little bit if you have an urge to feel needed.

When that timer dings, pull out the baking pan, stir up the salsa and chicken a bit, and then sprinkle on whatever cheese you want, as much as you want, and put back into the oven. When the cheese melts, you have dinner.

We served this with Spanish Rice, and roasted broccoli. The chicken was fork tender, and every bit was gobbled up. I overcooked the roasted broccoli almost to the point of burning it, and discovered that it is fabulous that way -- crunchy florets! Serendipity.

Dion DiPoochy says it was delicious. Well, at least it smelled delicious. He is asking someone to call the authorities to stop the abuse; why, why, why is it always dog food?

Have a lovely weekend! Howard and I are planning an early traffic-avoiding start and heading out to the family beach house tomorrow; we need to get it ready for the season! I'll take pictures -- Cass