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Monday, April 23, 2012

Top O'The Evening To You

I had plans to visit our family beach house
on Long Island this past weekend.

Ah, plans.
As always, subject to change.

On Friday my sister Peggy and I went to Philadelphia on a family matter;
when I got home and pulled into our little dead end street, I was struck by the evening sun, 
just touching the tops of the trees with a clear gold shimmer.

We grow our trees big in northern New Jersey.  Deep soil.

The small new leaves of the maple at the end of our driveway look lit from within
against the dark of scraggly pine at the corner of our front porch.


I sat for a few moments in the car, enjoying this fleeting light show.
Then, tired from what had been a long day,
I got out and walked toward the steps down to the house.
And smelled lilacs.  Lots of lilacs.

There they were, spilling over behind the house, up along the driveway level.

I should have had pruners.  But I didn't.
And I thought, "Oh heck, I'm tired, and they'll be fuller tomorrow.  I'll cut some then for the house."

Ah, plans.
As always, subject to change.

By Saturday, I was in the throes of a nasty virus,
and in no condition to clip lilacs, or ride to the beach house.

And then Mother Nature piled on masses of rain all weekend,
and the lilac trees bent nearly to the ground under the weight of their sodden leaves and blossoms.

But rain is kinder than snow.
Last year's Halloween snowstorm broke the heart right out of our largest lilac.

Not so the rain.

My lilacs are still there, waiting for me and my pruning shears.
Maybe tomorrow, after they've shaken off their droplets.

Right now, I think a cup of tea is in order.

I hope your weekend plans turned out the way you hoped.
Tomorrow our daughter Alida comes for a whirlwind visit from California, to see her sister Anne.
If you have a sister, it's important to cherish her.

And Peg, this doesn't mean I have to buy you lots of presents.  :-)  -- Cass

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Things I Like A Lot, and Some Stupid Things

I was supposed to go on a thrifting junket with Emily
today, but the Household Gods had other ideas.

Instead, today I am home watching a mason fix and shore up
our old stone steps and retaining walls behind That Old House.

Below, a picture from a couple of years ago and yes, those little stones
tucked in under the stone steps don't really do a very good job at holding the treads steady.

But now, voila!
A dab of cement here and there, not too intrusive, and our pretty steps are more navigable.
I may miss the thrill of rocking back and forth on the second step from the bottom
-- that was the Fun Ride Step -- but I doubt that our guests will miss it.
I will also miss the surprised and sometimes terrified looks on guests' faces as steps moved beneath their feet.
Ah, good times, good times.
If these steps are a-rockin' . . . call the mason and make him come back.
Inside That Old House, I am trying to bring order out of chaos,
and by chaos I mean my bazillions of (mostly) decorating magazines.
The enormous old walnut dining room table we bought a couple of months ago to re-sell
has landed in my kitchen.  Temporarily.
I think I am going to keep it, and move it upstairs to use as a big sewing and crafts table.  
 In the meantime, today it is wearing its Organizer Hat.
I am making tidy piles of old magazines that I don't want to recycle; I do go back
and thumb through them. This is not even the tiniest tip of my magazine iceberg, but it is a beginning.

Taking it one pile o'mess at a time.
I am donating old books to make room on my shelves for magazines.
Howard thinks I am donating old books because I am a nice person.
Hahahahahahahaha.  He's so cute.
 I am not a hoarder.
Well, actually, maybe I am.  Of magazines.
Not of old Burger King wrappers or used tissues or chewed-up Chiclets stuck to bits of waxed paper.
I have my standards.

Speaking of standards, Country Living messed up my tidy piles by changing its size last year.
It is both longer and wider, as if it's trying to fool us into thinking it is really House Beautiful.
We are on to you, Country Living.  Pah!  Pick a size and stick to it.
Hoarders have a hard enough time as it is without your magazine shape-shifting.

Yes, in the upper left hand corner of that picture, above, is a can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Upside down -- because the sales lady said that's how to get the pigment distributed.
I think she just didn't have any paint stirrers to give me.

I have heard great things about this paint, and am going to try it one of these days.
In the meantime, it keeps me amused with its charming and clever antics.
"Look Ma!  I'm wearing a sombrero!"

In my pile of oddball one-off magazines is a 1980 Woman's Day 101 Sweaters.
I love my old knitting magazines.  My hoarding began years ago.
I'm pretty sure the kid in the upper right is picking her nose.

It's a time capsule.
Maybe I'll make this one as a surprise for Howard.
Yeah, that's the ticket.

 A time capsule of What-The-Heck-Were-We-Thinking fashions of the early 80s. 
Seriously, Woman's Day.  Seriously?  Do you think anyone actually knitted this giant Geoduck of a garment?
My apologies to any reader who knitted this ...garment ... back in the 80s.
I'd like to hear from you, if they allow email in the asylum.

I actually made the sweater on the right in the picture below.
In red.  For my Mom.
But because I have Knitting ADD and get bored and impatient after I finish the front and the back, 
and then decide that sleeves are kind of optional, I turned it into a vest.
She wore it, my Mom, 'cause that's what Moms do.

Speaking of yarn . . . .

After visiting our cousin in Philadelphia last Friday, my sister Peggy and I detoured to some other place in or near Philly
(hey, she was navigating, I can't remember everything) so she could check out this:

An electronic knitting machine.  It's pretty amazing.  It does all kinds of knitting, and is fast,
which is good because Peggy 's Knitting ADD is worse than mine.
Lace fabric made with knitting machine.
On the right a Tassel making kit, that apparently also can turn you into a crazy-red-haired Wonder Woman.
I'm in.  How about you?

At the yarn shop, I met a gentleman named Tiger.
"Excuse me.  Do I know you?  Give me your lap, but only touch me if you mean it."
 Tiger lives in the knitting shop, which surprises me as I thought cats played with yarn.
Apparently not this one.  He toys with humans.
"I have claimed you as one of my own.  Keep skritching my neck, and I will let you live."
 Naturally I got pictures of some of the yarn, because I love yarn.
Don't you just want to be in that picture, touching the yarn, sniffing it, rubbing up against it . . . .
Okay, that's a little creepy.  Or, I have become a cat.

Back to reality, and my piles of magazines.
I need to get back to work.
Sorting magazines is quite time consuming and labor intensive,
and of course that is not at all because of the reading that goes on while you do it. 

And now for something completely stupid . . . my camera took this picture when I was not looking.
No, really.  It did.  I have no idea how I got this shot of the corner of the walnut cupboard in the kitchen,
 with a box of -- wait for it -- magazines nearby, to be sorted.
Nice nails.  Not the kind you manicure.
It's Outdoor Wednesday over at Susan's A Southern Daydreamer blog.
Go visit, my friends!  -- Cass
Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dining Room Diva

Two posts in one day.
There's just a slim chance I need a new hobby.

At Thrifty Decor Chick, it's a Show Off Your Dining Room party,
and at Between Naps On The Porch, it's Metamorphosis Monday.

So, the dining room at That Old House.
We buy the old gal in March of 2008, and here's what we get in the dining room:
heavy pinch pleat stiff flowered draperies, a rusty-look contemporary light fixture,
and flesh colored walls, heavily stencilled.

Loads of indecision about color, and a painting crew later, we have this by April '08:

There's nothing wrong with the metal chandelier, but I'm hearing the house ask for crystal in this room.
Yes, for a humble farmhouse, she is quite the diva, our home.

In May of 2008, I buy a crystal chandelier online.  It's delivered in 3 boxes, in 9000 pieces.
With almost no instructions, and just a few diagrams.
I decide this is not a do-it-yourself Happy Homeowner project.  I am right.

It takes two electricians pretty much all of a day to assemble and hang it.
And I'm sometimes still surprised when I walk into the dining room and see it there.
She's a big gal, our chandy.

Our first furniture purchase for the dining room -- a vintage pine breakfront
from an estate sale at a Manhattan apartment on Central Park West.

Next, a very beat-up sideboard that needed major refinishing,
although its marble top was thankfully pristine.
Also a big vintage cast brass mirror from a New Jersey moving sale.

Also in the room -- my grandmother's French Empire china closet,
its finish restored by me more than 30 years ago, in our Pittsburgh apartment.

We buy our first-ever "good" rug for the dining room, and move a too-small dining table
and 6 chairs in from our former house, and I cobble together simple draperies.
True confession:  They puddle because I didn't hem them.
 This, above and below, was Christmas 2008.

Now it's . . . Summer 2009.

And Thanksgiving 2009;
our Turkey Day dishes waiting on the sideboard.

 In February 2010,
we buy a vintage Henkel-Harris mahogany dining table in a seedy garage near Newark Airport.
During a snow storm.
Howard and my brother-in-law Bill put it together; it replaces the smaller table, which we sell on Craigslist.

Finally, a table big enough to fit the extended family!

 I do love a beautiful table, and even more so when it's a bargain.

Tablescaping the new table.

These chairs end up being sold with their partner, the smaller table.  Hooray for Craigslist.

Our beautiful big old table ends up with a screwball assortment
of mismatched dining chairs in three styles and woods.

October 2010 -- as we redo our kitchen, the dining room handles some of the overflow of stuff.
No dinner parties during those weeks!

By Thanksgiving 2010,
the kitchen is done, and the "grownup" table in the dining room is nicely filled.

 June 2011 -- the dining room gets spiffed up for a wedding, as our daughter Alida and Josh are married.
Any excuse for over-the-top flowers, right? 

In the Fall of 2011, a big gorgeous blue and white bowl turns up on my doorstep,
a gift from Martha of Lines From Linderhof.  Woo-hoo!

We like us our blue and white china, Martha and me.

December 2011 -- and it's staging time for Christmas,
as the boxes of decorations are unloaded and sorted in the dining room.
The Christmas magic starts in this room.  Possibly because it is red.  

March 2011 -- and this is the dining room as it usually looks.
Fairly tidy.  Only one leaf (out of 3) in the table,
and the usual wackadoo collection of chairs scattered around the room.

I have new fabric for the windows in this room.  Ask me if I've sewn the new draperies yet.
No, don't ask.
You already know.
And now you also know way more about our dining room than you ever wanted to.

Visit the websites for Thrifty Decor Chick and Between Naps On the Porch for their Monday memes.
Enjoy! -- Cass