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Friday, November 26, 2010

Gobble Gobble Gobble . . . .

. . . the Party's over . . .

Where'd everybody go?

 They were here just 24 hours ago!
 Old folks and young folks. Or at least, youngER folks.
They came for this:

And left us with these:
Which were cleaned up with loads and loads of help from this:

Howard, in his special Turkey Day shirt.  Don't hate him because he's beautiful.

By now, on Friday, all the dishes are done.
The wineglasses washed and stowed away.
And the leftovers are on stage for a return engagement,
as the girls and their friends dig in.

But it was fun.  Thanksgiving came and went,
and all the food was cooked and served,
and I managed to not poison anyone.

And Mr. Dion got presents from Happy Frank!
He'll tell you all about them soon.
Right now, Mr. Dion is sound asleep.  Being in charge of a big family party is hard work.

I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving Day had a wonderful time,
and ate enough calories to last you till Ground Hog Day.

On to Chanukah and Christmas!  -- Cass

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Special Wish From Dion DiPoochy

Note from the editor:  First of all, thank you so much for your kind wishes and prayers for my Dad.  He was admitted to the hospital, thankfully it is not pneumonia, and he should recover from this latest problem.  But sadly he won't be with us for Thanksgiving Dinner.

However our dog Dion, an 11-1/2 year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, will be, and he'll be expecting wonderful things to come his way.  In fact, he is so excited about tomorrow, that he's sending a message to all his sweet dog friends out in Blogland.

Today, the blog belongs to Dion . . . . call your dog so he or she can read Dion's words of wisdom!
Our kitchen makeover reveal was Monday's post: click here.

Hello my Doggy Friends!

It's Dion, and I want to share some wisdom with you.

Back right after the world began, which was when I was born, I found out about a
magical being named Happy Frank. Every year, on the last Thursday in November,
this magical being brings gifts and presents and sometimes even freeze-dried
liver to lucky dogs. Lucky dogs who are GOOD.
Me, being good because I am asleep.
 This being is named Happy Frank, and that's why the last Thursday in November is
Me, patiently waiting for Happy Frank.
Even our humans join in the celebration. They cook giant parakeets, and make
lots of green things that no one really wants, and pies that people really DO
want, and they eat so much food that after the meal the men of that species can
only lie sprawled on the sofas, taking up valuable dog space, with their pants
loosened and their tongues hanging out of their mouths . . . which is not as
cute when they do that as when we do that. The tongue thing, I mean. We don't
wear pants.

That's because we are so much better looking down there, you know?
See how cute my tongue is?
But I digress.

Anyway, when I was a mere puppy (and all puppies are mere), I would hope and
hope and hope for Happy Frank to bring me gifts on his Giving Day.

But he never did.
I was just not good enough.
I tried.

But somehow Happy Frank must have found out about the time I ate Mom's homemade
gingerbread house, or the time I stole a bag of marshmallow peeps out of a
visiting kid's backpack and ate them all, or the time I ate the glass Christmas
balls, or the time I ate my pet girl's birthday cake, or the time I stole the
bagels off the kitchen counter and ... yes, ate them, or the time I opened and
ate a whole tin of something called Hershey's bars (which was deeee-licious), or
the time I ate a big canister of Poppycock, or the time I jumped up on the stove
to get the leftovers out of a pot of stew, or the time I pulled the pet girls'
Halloween candy off the piano and . . . well, I think I've said enough to give
you an idea of why Happy Frank has not showered me with gifts in the past.
Me, after eating the whole can of Poppycock.  For some reason, I didn't feel so hot.

But this year, I've been good. I mean, really good.
An unkind soul might say it's because I can't jump up on countertops and pianos
and stoves anymore but I prefer to think that I am mellowing.

Maybe that's the key. Maybe Happy Frank waits until some of the things a dog
does to make his dog's life interesting and fun aren't so easy anymore . . . and
that's when you get the Giving Day presents.

Kind of like being able to join AARP and get discounts. Compensation.

I think that tomorrow will bring a big surprise for me, a wonderful present from
Happy Frank.
Me, still being good.  I have not even molested that new carpet in the sunroom.
I know it will bring 30 people to our house so I hope Mom is making a really
big-butt parakeet, and I hope those people are messy eaters prone to dropping
things, and I think if I can get a shot at the sweet potatoes and marshmallows
when they're unguarded . . . .

Oops. Old habits are hard to break.

Happy Frank, ignore that. I do not plan to dive into any casseroles or leap up
onto the stove. I will do my sad-eyed sit-at-the-feet of the likeliest pigeon --
I'm thinking Cousin Judy is a soft touch, or Uncle Scott -- but I will not steal
food. I will not. Really.

I am a good dog.

And I wish all my doggy friends a very Happy Frank's Giving Day, and I hope
Frank brings you a wonderful gift.

As long as he doesn't bring you MINE.

Love, Dion DiPoochy
Rockaway, NJ, USA

PS -- about getting caught filching the leftover stew out of the pot on the
stove? Who knew that sticking your head in a metal pot and rattling it around
on metal stove burners made enough noise to alert the humans in the dining room?
Live and learn.
And finally, me.  Being molested by my sisters.  This picture was taken about a hunnert years ago.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Want to see our kitchen makeover completed?  Click here!

Here it is, 2 days before Thanksgiving,
and my Dad has gone back into the hospital.
We are not sure if it is pneumonia or something else.

I am abandoning my Thanksgiving preparations today in order to be there with him.
As my Mom used to say, "If it doesn't bleed, don't worry about it."

I was so sure Pop would be able to be with us on Thursday.
He is 90, and each celebration with him is a blessing.
I am going to keep hoping that he can be.

My Dad, below, enjoying our family grape harvesting
back in September, behind That Old House.

 And eating grapes!

So I'll un-cross my fingers long enough to type, and make a few phone calls,
and drive -- but prayers and good wishes are much appreciated for his recovery.

-- Cass

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Kitchen, Revealed and Back In Business!

I am probably as tired of writing kitchen as you are of reading that word.

But it's done.  Or, near enough.  There's always something;
a bit of molding to be reattached,
a small triangle of wallpaper to be patched,
and those inevitable holidays that make you realize that no matter how hard you try,
you are going to make mistakes.
Which is all right; mistakes mean you've done something, and that it can be fixed.

But here are our pictures, taken this afternoon.  

I meant to glamorize the kitchen by taking the oddball magnets off the fridge, moving the dish detergent under the sink . . . but this is a working kitchen, and I'd taken the pictures before I remembered to stage the room.

We started out 2-1/2 years ago with this, the kitchen as it was when we bought the house:

Last year, I saw this picture in a design book:

I liked the look of this kitchen -- sort of a casually formal look, a look that might be at home in an old country house.
I knew I couldn't copy this kitchen, but it was my jumping-off point,
and it gave me the courage to put up a black and white toile wallpaper!

I never intended to make our kitchen period correct.
Our kitchen is in the newer half of That Old House, and no one would want to work
in an authentic kitchen of the 1880s.  But I hope we've achieved a warm and old-fashioned look.
It's not chic or cutting edge.  But then, neither am I.

Okay.  On to the pictures.

 Spot the doggy?  Lower right hand corner.  I didn't realize he was there.
 The kitchen opens to the sunroom.
 Oops.  A basket of clean cotton blankets waiting to go upstairs to the guest rooms.
 Oops again; a piece of oak molding left standing up in the far corner, near our coat hooks.

 Looking into the kitchen from the butler's pantry.
Another oops -- molding on left side of stove area needs to be re-attached.
 Taken from the area of the old oak table in the sunroom.


There's still decorating to do.  Curtains to sew.  Plates and a clock to hang.
Some order to be brought from the chaos on parts of the counter.
And that counter needs an oiling!

The soapstone counter, the cooktop, and the big sink were done just exactly a year ago;
days before Thanksgiving.
The rest of the kitchen was paint, wallpaper, our own sweat equity, and a bottle of Advil.

Some details . . . .

You can click once, and then again, to make any picture really big.

And it's back to cleaning and counting linen for me.
Actually, I need to hit up WalMart for plate hangers and giant safety pins.
Giant safety pins?
Oh yes.  Stay tuned! -- Cass

Linking today to:
Mary at Little Red House -- Mosaic Monday. Click here!
Susan at Between Naps On The Porch -- Metamorphosis Monday.  Click here!
Cielo at The House In The Roses -- Show Off Your Cottage Monday.  Click here!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Gathering Of Family And Strangers -- Again

 The push is on at That Old House, to be ready on Thursday to host 
Thanksgiving Dinner for 31 hungry souls.
So today, with 4 days to go, I'm re-posting my first Thanksgiving post,
from way back in 2008 -- our first holiday in this house.

Not many pictures; it's mostly words.  And things have changed in the two years since.
What hasn't changed is the special gathering of family and friends that is an American Thanksgiving.
Here's what our first one was like, in this old American home:

 (First posted December 11, 2008)

It's two weeks to the day since we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new old house. We thought we'd be down about five in our usual head count, but it seems that Nature and Thanksgiving both abhor a vacuum.

We welcomed 3 complete strangers, California natives (poor things!) with no East Coast family. Niece Alice invited one of the Californians, niece Becky invited two others. We were delighted to have them.

So all in all we were a modest group of 27.
Howard and I, married 30 years, have hosted Thanksgiving all but 4 years. It is the perfect ecumenical holiday; everyone celebrates, so there's no chance of offending anyone's beliefs, or non-beliefs. Everyone believes in eating. And everyone believes, or should believe, in gratitude.

It was odd, planning for Thanksgiving in a different house, after 20 feasts in our former house on Riveredge Road. In that old house, I knew where everything was and where everyone would sit, and our kitchen was so narrow that there was only room for Howard and me in it -- no spectators allowed. We realized this year, with the kitchen so open to the conservatory, that people could HEAR us. Yikes.

I discovered the day before the feast that I was missing the long banquet tablecloths, half of the old silver flatware I use at the holidays, and various bowls, pots, etc. Time to improvise.

Plus ... our dining room is a good size, but not large enough to seat 27, especially now that "the cousins" are actual complete and full sized humans. It's no longer possible to jam 10 little bottoms cheek-to-cheek at the far end of the table, as we used to do at the long living room set-up on Riveredge Road.

(Picture of dining room, before setting up the long rental tables. So serene before the chaos!)

We put a "cousins" table in the conservatory, a kids' table, with "kids" ranging from 18 to past 30.

The 13 "grownups" got rented tables, diagonally placed, in the dining room. The dining room table was moved into the parlor as a drinks table, and the parlor chairs and sofa were moved back against the walls to make room for more chairs for chit-chat. With a fire going, it made for a lovely, cozy nook for my Dad and my brothers to sit and have a really good jaw.

My daughters, bless them, retrieved all of the Thanksgiving china from the bottom of a breakfront, and made sure all the wineglasses were spotless. Or nearly so.

It was a good dinner. The food was what Thanksgiving food should be: traditional, not poisonous, cooked in a timely manner, and EATEN.

And we all were grateful.
Dion, above, and Connie, below --- enjoying the special
cookies our niece Becky brought for them.

I am thankful for so many things this year, too many to list. But my joy in a family gathering is shadowed by my mother's absence. I want her there to encourage me and tell me I did a good job, to call me the next day for our "party post-mortem" conversation. But she can't be a part of our family gatherings now, and she will never see this old house we love so much. Mom is a prisoner of Alzheimer's Disease, and lives in a facility only 10 minutes away... so close as the crow flies, but light years away from reality.

But to have my husband, my daughters, so much of our family, and those three complete strangers, to sit at our tables and break bread (and wishbones) with us -- now that is a blessing indeed.

Next Thanksgiving -- the draperies in the dining room will be actually SEWN and not just fabric panels hung by clips, and I will by then have found that missing silver flatware. Probably.

On to Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year!

The intervening two years have brought changes.
Most importantly, my mother is no longer with us.
Nor is Connie, our little Cavalier.
Howard has a different job.
 Our dining room draperies did get sewn, but now I want to replace them.
We found the missing silver at Christmastime, in a box labeled "Winter Coats."
(Moving is an adventure.)
And now I've got to get back to business.  Lots to do; I love this week before the holiday!
I work well under a wee bit of stress.

See you tomorrow with lovely de-cluttered, re-decorated kitchen pictures!

Thanks to Chari of Happy To Design for hosting Sunday Favorites. . . click here!
And to The Tablescaper for her Seasonal Sunday blog party. . . click here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Many Days?

Do you see what it says at the top of this blog?

6 Days Till Thanksgiving.

Six Days. 

Count 'em . . . 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6.

Six Days until this:
 turns into this:

to be carved up by this:

Howard, November 2008, sporting his traditional Thanksgiving plumage: The Turkey Shirt.

But this year, I'll be cooking and he'll be carving in a rejuvenated kitchen.
The 2010 version of this picture will have Howard, The Turkey Shirt, the turkey, but this new background:

Yes, the kitchen is done -- painted, papered, newly knobbed.
Messy still, and disorganized.  But done.
 It's not quite ready for all of its closeups; I've still got organizing and putting-away to do.
The soapstone needs oiling, everything needs a good cleaning.
Things need to be put up on the walls.  Pretty things.  Practical things.
 Our tools are still in the room.  Yes, that's a level on the jam cupboard. 
And everyone who lives in a very old house is now snickering
at the thought of using a level in a house where ain't much level anymore.

Switchplates and outlet covers are not all back.  Indeed, one has gone missing entirely.
The dishes that live on the faux-Welsh-dresser-thingy
-- aka Jabba The Hutch --
are still stacked on a table in the study.
 But all in all, we're pleased.
It took much longer than we thought it would.
Partly because Life kept interfering.
Partly because we forgot how very fiddly it is to paint kitchen cabinets.
And to wallpaper.

A full reveal, with all the bells and whistles, on Monday.  

And I can scratch KITCHEN off the T.B.D.B.T. List!


Here's the thing about the To Be Done By Thanksgiving list -- it's all about motivation.  For me, for Howard.
Our guests may say, "Oh, the kitchen looks nice!"
Maybe a couple will notice if we get that new fabric up on the windows in the dining room.
But I'm the one to whom it's important, and using the deadline of Thanksgiving as a motivator works well for me.
And if you ask Howard, he will wisely say it's important to him, too.

It's a self-delivered kick in the pants.
Note to self:  stop wearing those steel-toed boots.
But I'm really glad we turned a 1980s-looking kitchen into
a more appropriate 1880s-looking space.

Have a lovely weekend.  I've got a shopping list a mile long!  -- Cass

Go visit other Show and Tell Friday posts at Cindy's My Romantic Home blog -- Click here!

P. S.  Anyone interested in nice solid brass cabinet knobs?  I know where you can get some.