Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Added a Few Items to My Valentine Decorating

Whenever I think of something for my Valentine dinner party, I put it out to see how it will work. It's much better to find out what flops well before the night of the dinner!

I think Valentine's day is perfect to use the chocolate wine I received at Christmas.  Since it's a red wine mixed with chocolate, these red wine glasses would be perfect to serve it.  I set them out in a heart-shaped serving platter on the sled table that I filled with vintage valentines.

The table is only a few feet from the dining room, so I think it will work nicely.

I also put the vintage valentines all around two pictures that are on the dining room walls.
There is a large picture hanging on the wall  on each side of the table, so as you sit eating your dinner you will see these every time you look up.  I don't really like seeing the artwork in the center, so if I get really ambitious, I may cover the artwork with fabric or wrapping paper.   At the moment I am not thinking I will get that ambitious. :)

I made a "hugs & kisses" bunting (that's the proper name for those heart-shaped words) that I thought I would use on the table with the chalkboard over it, but it does not work there.  So I put it on top of the china cabinet in the dining room.

On the other side of the dining room, I have the curio cabinet that I showed you last week. I added the pink fabric and a boutonniere from our wedding almost a quarter century ago.
I can't think of a better decoration for the LOVE holiday. :)

At the moment I am pretty happy with everything.  I am going to make a blackberry/raspberry mousse for dessert that I have never made before. Yes, I admit, I planned it to match my pink/purple table.  I just hope it turns out!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finished the Top of the Storage Cabinets

When I got home from work today, I spent two hours in the kitchen. I cleaned the top of the big storage cabinets, washed the fronts with Murphy's Oil soap, scrubbed the floor and rearranged the top of the cabinets.

I decided to use only white items on the top with the freshly-painted green crate in the center. I shopped the basement and found the two identical pitchers that I put in front of the crate.

Here is the nighttime view with only the lights on that are on the cabinet tops.

Here it is with a flash:
At the moment I am happy with it. I know it's super clean up there and I have something different to look at for a few months.

Now I only have a small section above the kitchen desk to do. It can wait for another time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Had No Idea that I would be so Busy on Sunday

I woke up  before 5:00 a.m. and read a few blogs.  Then I started a new sewing project--turning a small portion of  the big heavy jean quilt I made a few years ago (actually seven years ago--time flies) into a table runner and a pot holder.

My long-term readers may remember that I spent months hand quilting a denim quilt and then it was way too heavy to sleep under. I finally decided to cut it up last year

and make something useful from it.  I frayed the edges of the runner and pot holder and I am fairly happy with how they turned out.  Of course, this is just a tiny portion of the king-sized quilt.  There will be many more projects to make from this quilt.

The only day I cook breakfast is on Sunday.  Right after doing so today, I started putzing about in the dining room. I wanted to get all of my dishes, etc. out for the dinner I will have in two weeks.

Here is the color scheme I plan to use:
I may change the glasses to red. I will show you the full table when I have the party.

After determining the table colors, I have no idea what happened. 

Somehow I ended up on a ladder removing my chickens and cookie jar collection from the top of my kitchen cabinets and

 washing them

(yes, I do use a toothbrush to get the dust from all the indented areas).

I did some rearranging of my advertising cookie jar collection and removed all of the faux greenery that I used to love.  I wanted a more streamlined look atop the cupboards.

I love this Mr.Peanut cookie jar, so I put him center stage above the stove fan:

Above the cupboards I had some fruit crates that were a dark green &  sponge-painted.  Yeah, like how outdated is that?   I asked DH to repaint them green and he did.  What a wonderful man! 

He did the painting  right on top of the family room carpet. Of course he put some paint blankets down before he started.  

Here is where one of the crates ended up:
It gives a nice pop of green in back of the chicken casserole.  The second one will go on top of the big section of  dish storage cabinets.

While he painted the crates, I painted the mat of a dark nautical oil painting I have in the family room.
Last year I painted it that gold color you see, but now I think it should be white as most of the other artwork mats in the family room are white.  Here it is done and rehung:

I like it. Thank goodness as there were about a dozen screws to remove from the inner frame before painting and it was not all that easy to get both frames and the mat back on.  Thanks DH for your help putting it back together!

So Saturday was rather relaxing and Sunday was a ton of unplanned work. I did not get all of the kitchen done, but after five hours, I decided to quit and do more after work this week.  It is a big job to get all of the kitchen grease and grime off the top of all the cabinets. Even though I had no plans to do so much work today,  I feel good about my weekend accomplishments. 

I hope you all feel good about your weekend, too.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Had a Quiet Saturday

This dinner of steak  and oven-roasted french fries was the highpoint of the day.
DH did the grilling while I made the fries.

They were so good and easy to make. Just slice up fresh potatoes into a stick shape, sprinkle with olive oil (or vegetable oil) and seasoning. I used a french fry seasoning, which was basically salt, pepper and paprika. Then bake in a 425 degree oven until almost tender. Mine took about 20 minutes.  I then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get them nicely browned.

Freshly-baked M&M cookies served as a sweet after dinner treat.

I spent some time today sewing counter mats from quilt blocks that I had no other use for. 
They are a nice big size. As you can see the red ones easily accommodate a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

Right now I am watching the Florida Republican Presidential Debate. I expect the remainder of my day to be quiet and relaxing.  I hope yours is, too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seed Order

Early this morning (5:00 a.m.) I was reading Sue's blog post about ordering seeds. She mentioned a site that had free postage and  just for kicks and grins, I copy and pasted it into my URL bar.
The site is http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/annualsA-Z.html.

I was thrilled to find these exciting seeds (not enough to get free shipping, but the prices were quite reasonable even with shipping).

You all know how I love the unusual in flowers and how I have been trying for years (with no luck) to find something that would grow up my arbors.  When I saw this vine, I immediately added it to my cart.

Firecracker Vine Seeds (aka Spanish Flag)

Ipomoea lobata (aka Mina lobata)

This member of the morning glory family produces masses of dazzling 1.5 inch tubular flowers that mature from soft lemon yellow, through orange and deep rusty red. A plant in full bloom will never be forgotten! Incredibly showy, it deserves to be the focal point of your flower garden. Grows to 10 feet or more tall. Annual

I thought this vine was interesting. The flowers turn into beans, which I find almost as interesting as the lilacl-like flowers.

Hyacinth Vine Seeds

Dolichos lablab

A showy climber with green and wine-colored foliage, lilac-rose blooms and shiny magenta 2-3 inch pods. Blooms and pods can used for cutting. Twining growth to 10-20 feet tall. Perfect for trellises, arbors, walls or fences. Perennial in zones 9 and 10, it can be grown as an annual everywhere.

Years ago I grew Love-lies-bleeding (red) and ever since I have been trying to find more seeds of this amazing flower. I have never seen them again in the local stores so I was thrilled to find a variety of amaranthus seeds!

All I can say about this one is GORGEOUS!

Amaranthus Seeds

Amaranthus cruentus

Fast-growing, 4-5 foot tall plants produce gorgeous, 2 foot cinnamon-orange. plumes over a long summer and fall season. An outstanding cut flower, Hot Biscuits adds spice to autumn bouquets. Easy to grow.

I love the dark foliage on this one:

Amaranthus Seeds

Amaranthus hybridus

Showy spikes of rich red flowers for cutting or garden color. Dramatic bronze foliage on tall, 6-6.5 foot plants. Packet is 1/4 gram, about 325 seeds.

I only ordered the chartreuse color on this variety.  I find it weirdly interesting.

Amaranthus Seeds

Amaranthus cruentus

Bright chartreuse, this color is delightfully easy to blend into the garden, or flower arrangements.

I googled and found this:

The seeds are eaten as a cereal grain. They are black in the wild plant, and white in the domesticated form. They are ground into flour, popped like popcorn, cooked into a porridge, and made into a confectionery called alegrΓ­a. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, and the seeds can be germinated into nutritious sprouts. While A. cruentus is no longer a staple food, it is still grown and sold as a health food.

Who knew you could eat this stuff?  I don't think I will be eating any of it, but I am eager to use them in flower arrangements. 

Amaranthus Seeds

Amaranthus caudatus 'Viridis'

Very similar to Love-Lies-Bleeding, but with drooping lime-green tassels which are superb cut or dried. Grows 3-5 feet tall.

I now need to find a sunny spot to grow the amaranthus. When I grew them before, I planted them against the back of the house. It was sunny against white siding and they did well. I think I may try that same spot again.
Thanks, Sue for your post that led me to finally find these seeds!

 I am now excited for my 2012 garden.  If you have had any experience with these flowers, please comment and let me know how they grew for you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Did Almost No Work This Past Weekend

because I was not home for most of the weekend. It felt good to get away and concentrate on fun instead of work!

We picked up my mom and dad at 8:00 a.m.Saturday morning to attend  a dinner/Motown music show, featuring these ladies:

They put on a great show featuring the Motown hits we all remembered. The dinner was quite good, too.   It was raining Sunday morning, so we met a friend for an early breakfast and  left by 9:00 a.m.  to beat the icy roads. We were home by noon Sunday.

It was raining here all day Sunday and Monday.  The schools were closed Monday due to hazardous road conditions.    When I was getting ready for work Monday morning, we had thunder and lightening. This is very unusual for late January.

This week I have not done much other than work, come home, reheat some of my frozen meals and go to bed. 

My missing curtains are still missing and the family room window remains bare.  The bare windows do offer a nice view after a snow storm.

I still have not made dining room chair covers, but I found this fabric that I bought last year.
It is a nice neutral color. I  may make two floor length covers this  weekend for the arm chairs.  I think I have enough fabric for that.

I received my Coldwater Creek jewelry order last week and was very disappointed to open the metal-fringed necklace to find it broken.
I have tried twice this week to fix it, using all of these tools. So far, no luck.  I dropped the first tiny round metal link on the bathroom floor and never found it.  So the next day I had to remove another link to try to hook it back together.  I only had about 10 minutes to try  before leaving for work.  I had to give up again and wear a different necklace.  I hope I can eventually get this fixed as I really like the necklace! 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Gifts from Blog Friends

A few weeks ago I was surprised to find a package in my mailbox from Dianne. I opened it to find these items:

I had been talking about slipcovers for my living room sofa for awhile and Dianne sent me a pattern she had purchased and never used.  Even though I just purchased slip covers, I would still like to make another set.  She also sent a floral applique pattern that I hope to use later this year.

Dianne is one of my first blog readers, so she knows me well. She thought of my love of setting tables with vintage dishes and also sent a magazine/book called, "Flower Arrangements and Table Settings" that she found in York, PA and thought of me.  It appears to be from the 50's/60's.  I was touched that she thought of me and took the time and expense to mail these items.

I own a similar set of milk glass dishes.  I did not realize the grape-shaped serving piece I have came in a set of four as shown here.
 I own these dishes in yellow. 
I find it fun to see how ladies from a half century ago set their tables with the same dishes I use today.

Thanks again, Dianne. I really enjoyed reading this.

Today  I was totally surprised  to receive this package from  Patti in Missouri.

She sent me some of her husband's grandmother's rain lilies!  His grandmother! Patti received them in the 70's. Three generations of Missouri women have grown these flowers and now they have found their way to my  Michigan garden.  I was born in Missouri, so I am thrilled to have flowers from my birth state!

I cannot tell you all how honored I am to receive these.  I just hope they will survive the next few months, so I can plant them early this spring.  Patti, you can be sure that I will treasure these bulbs. I remember seeing them bloom on your blog and they are beautiful.

 I wish Dianne and Patti  lived closer to me.  I would love to invite them both to a garden  luncheon when the rain lilies were in bloom.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I am Beginning to Plan my Valentine's Dinner Party

I love vintage valentines.  I wonder how the school girls felt when they got one of these sweet valentines from a half century ago. 
Imagining  a young girl giving this one to her boy of choice makes me chuckle:

I have been doing a little Valentine's day decorating as I find the items I already own.
I found a bag of these never-used lettered blocks in the basement last week. I was thrilled to find four blocks with the letters I needed for the upcoming holiday.  I combined them with a bag of glittered items I bought last year and made a couple of decorations for the top of the two dining room china/curio cabinets.

I will only be home one weekend from now until Valentine's Day, so I need to make my plans for my dinner party with DH's two brothers and their wives.
I searched my tablescaping blog to see previous tables I have set for Valentine's day.  I found a few, which gave me some idea of what I have to work with. Because, honestly, I forget at least half of the dishes and dining accessories I own!
I think I will use the red goblets for sure.  I would also like to use some vintage Valentines on the table.  At the moment I am planning on a purple tablecloth. Now that I see the lace overlay on pink, I may use that on the purple.  Then again, half of the dinner guests will be men, so I don't want to get to prissy.  We shall see.  It is great to have years of blog posts to look back and see what I have. Without the blogs, I would never have remembered all of this stuff!

I would love to use the red fabric rosettes that say "love",

 but I can't remember where I put them!  If strawberries look good in February, I may dip some in chocolate and nuts because I remember that these were very delicious last year. 

I am planning on stuffed chicken breasts and these Parmesan-crusted potatoes for dinner: I will throw a bit of pimento in the chicken filling for that splash of red color.
 I think a healthy fruit dessert would be nice, but I am not sure if that is what I will do. If the pears and strawberries look good a few days prior to my dinner, I may do both.  Then again, chocolate is always nice.............I am also planning on shrimp cocktails and a veggie--probably carrots to give some color. I think I will skip the salad ...or I could do just two shrimp in a heart shape and a small salad .... the planning is such fun, don't you think?

I really do love the planning of dinner parties.  I just hope it all turns out as I envision it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Love Shopping During January Close Out Prices

Yesterday I placed a small accessory order at my favorite online retailer (C***old***water

I show you these orders to illustrate how watching a site daily can save you a LOT of hard-earned cash.

I agree with the majority of people when they say CC is way overpriced.  Yet it is the place where I buy almost all of my clothing and accessories.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I like a bargain.  I would NEVER EVER pay regular CC prices for most of their items.  They used to have good quality clothing, etc. but in the past year, I have found them to be going downhill in that department and stated so on the recent survey they sent me.

I still find that most of their costume jewelry is quite nice--big quality lobster claw clasps on necklaces, etc.  I recently bought a necklace at JC Penney and it was way inferior to CC jewelry, yet I paid more for it than I normally do at CC.  Let me illustrate:

Here are the three items I recently ordered:

The prices you see are today's prices.  I ordered mine two days ago, when it was 50% off. I searched the net for a free shipping code and found one!

So I bought all three of these items for $36.01 and that included tax!  I don't think it gets much less expensive than that.

I have not received them yet, but I will probably be happy with all of them.  I mean, really, who does not NEED a reversile reptile belt?  LOL.  I certainly do.  I have a lot of jackets that will go will this belt.

My only regret is that I did not order the zebra belt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grocery Store Shock & Bracing for More Snow

I had a moment of grocery store shock Sunday--when did Miracle Whip go over $5 for a jar? Wow! I told DH I didn't need it, so wait for a sale.

 Am I the only person who hates those little stems they leave on fresh spinach?
 The stems are always there when I order a salad in a restaurant. When I buy spinach, I cut them off before I make my salad.  I wish the chefs would also do that.  This time I was not making salad. I gave the spinach a quick saute and ended up with this:

Can you believe that's $4 worth of spinach?  It's about three good forkfuls!

We are in the midst of another big snow storm.   I have not checked the weather forecast, but it's pretty bad out there right now. 


 I will peek out the front door into the blustery winter weather to see what's it's like.
It's a winter wonderland. The driveway was just cleared 1.5 hours ago, so it's been falling pretty hard all afternoon.  My mom just called to make sure I made it home from work OK. Isn't that sweet? I guess mothers never stop worrying.

While cleaning this weekend, I finally found my Mikasa crystal wine bottle coaster. I have been looking for it since last summer.
Evidently I needed to add some height to the butter dish and stuck the coaster under it, then put both on top of the china cabinet.  It is so pretty. What a waste to hide it up there where it can't be seen unless I stand on a chair. I cleaned the silver dish and put a piece of wood under it instead of the crystal.

Last night I felt like sewing, but did not want to start a big project, so I decided to see what I could make from my few small remaining bags of fabric scraps. ( I threw away a full garbage bag full over the weekend.)  I decided I would use this pattern because it only takes small skinny pieces of fabric.
 I made four of them.
 Then sewed the four blocks together:

It will make an interesting 9-inch square pot holder.

I also tried a second pattern with a less scrappy look.
 I like this one much better. It may work its way into something more special than a potholder. :)

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