Monday, February 08, 2016

Simple Valentine decor

A Valentine-y hutch shelf, just simple with the same old ironstone and silver plus a card by Mrs. Smith and a plate of "cookies" to make it more festive.
Today I'll show just a few photos (well, maybe more than a few) of my simple decorating for Valentine's Day.  Even though it's a day longer this year, February is still a short month and so this decor will stay up for the month.
Very simple dining room table centerpiece
A closer (though blurry) look at the felt heart made by my friend J.
My granddaughter and I made these heart-trimmed book page banners a few years ago; there's one for each of the three dining room windows.
I made this "Love" banner many years ago and it's only paper but is still holding up.  Don't mind the clutter in the corner cupboard shelf behind it!
Some felt Valentine cookies in an antique dish
Framed Tasha Tudor calendar art in the front hallway
This year's February ribbon board
A keepsake from years ago.  My hubby and I were off on a nursing home ministry, something we did weekly and had to skip supper to do.  Our youngest daughter, a high school student at the time, fixed a Valentine supper for us to come back to!
A tag I made a few years back to commemorate the same daughter's skating afternoon with her grampa (who was 75 at the time!)
Reverse side of the tag.  I'd hoped to make a tag for every month as I was so enjoying it, but life has become so busy!
Hope you've enjoyed these simple ideas.  I'm linking up today with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage, and with Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Trivial pursuits

An unexpected snowstorm this morning has given me more time at home than I thought I'd have today.  Do you ever find that when you're given an unexpected gift of time, you have trouble figuring out to do with it?  I finished my quiet time early with the intent of heading out to do the grocery shopping.  As it became light out, however, I realized it was snowing quite steadily.

I've been puttering ever since at various tasks, the most important of which would be my Sunday School lesson.

Image from
I'm all set with the lesson for this Sunday, but I have to work ahead as it often takes me a couple of weeks to prepare.   And it often takes close to a month for our class of ladies to work our way through a lesson together.  I hope that everyone else is learning as much as I am!  And yes, I realize that learning and applying are two different things, and both are necessary for true spiritual growth.

Another thing I did was to put together my Valentine ribbon board.  This is something I try to do every February ... display some of my vintage Valentines as well as other special items from this season.  I've got all the items in place, just need to hang the board in the front hallway.  And I will do a post, probably next week, on my simple Valentine decorating.
This is from 2010, I think.  This year's is more sparse.
I'm also working on making tags from 2014's Christmas cards, always an inspiring task while snow falls outside the dormer window in which my little crafting desk is located.
Again, these are from a previous year.  I'm just getting started with this year's.
And I'm also planning, if time allows, to put together a little sample craft for a "Christmas club" I'm helping out with at a local library.  I'll share pictures when I get it figured out.

I think I'll make a Baked Fish Chowder for supper, and maybe some Iron Skillet Biscuits to go along with it.  My hubby dearly loves the biscuits from that recipe!

Lastly, I've been looking for a chance to slip in these pictures of a rather random sewing project I recently completed: simple pillows for a kitchen rocker.  We have, in our kitchen, a somewhat shabby rocking chair with chippy green paint.  When my grandmother gave it to me, the seat was missing, and my then-12-year-old son and I wove a red and white checkerboard replacement out of macrame cord.  (My kitchen has a strawberry theme.)  I've been reluctant to repaint that chair -- although it certainly could use it and in fact needs more help than that -- because I'm pretty sure my grandmother painted it herself.  Anyway, over time the seat got less comfortable so I padded it with a couple of pillows.  These were small square pillows made from washcloths trimmed with cotton fringe.   (Anyone recognize that as a home decor project from the 1960s?)  Someone had given these pillows, made from red washcloths with ecru fringe, to my mother as a gift.  There was literally no place in my parents' house where red pillows would look even remotely at home, so my mother passed them on to me.  They have lived in that rocker, with time out for occasional washing, ever since.  But they had just given out.  Flat, stained, ugly pillows that I cringed at every time I noticed them, which wasn't terribly often.  I knew I had to replace them, and I thought the best choice would be to make some more washcloth pillows.  So "washcloths for pillows" has been an item on my shopping list for awhile, but I never had time to browse that aisle in Walmart.

One day I was cruising past the clearance section and came upon a package of five microfiber "bar mop towels" in two nice shades of green.  Inspiration struck, and within a week I had carved out the time to make my pillows.
This is the darker green, though it doesn't appear all that dark in this photo.  See below for one of each.
I made each pillow out of two shades of green, so I can have two darker green pillows, two lighter green pillows, or one of each.
The colors are a bit truer-to-life in this lower picture.  My camera is so random at times!  One never knows what it will do.
Are they perfect?  No.  Will they stay pouffy?  Probably not.  Do they serve the purpose and look as good as I need them to look?  A resounding YES!

The rocker itself will have to be a project for another day.

I've taken the fish out to thaw, and fed the wood furnace.  The snow continues to fall.  Now back to tag making!

Monday, February 01, 2016

A simple tea rack

Many years ago when our daughters were at a boarding high school, they often brought friends home with them for the weekend.  At that time we kept our boxes of herbal and flavored tea neatly stacked in a kitchen cabinet.  Neatly, that is, until one went to pull out a particular box of teabags.  Then the stacking system revealed its inadequacies and instability.

I will never forget how embarrassed I was one weekend when some of the girls were making a cup of tea.  One of them reached for a particular flavor, and at least a half dozen boxes came out of the cabinet with it in a mini-avalanche of tea boxes!  Yes, we had come to the point where we had so many tea boxes that they began tumbling out of the cupboard.  Obviously, we had to figure out different storage for them.

 I had seen a rack for holding tea boxes offered in a tea catalog for around $80. It was beautifully constructed -- out of oak, if I remember right.  I showed it to Mr. T.  He figured he could make a “rustic” one out of pine to serve the same purpose, and he did. It's still serving us admirably after all these years. I couldn’t get a photo that showed the top shelf (too narrow of an area where the rack is located next to our back door), but the top shelf could be used either for display (which I do) or for 2 additional tea boxes.

Mr. T would want me to caution you, I know, that this rack is what he calls “rustic, very rustic.” It is  by no means fine carpentry and he realizes that. But it's a wonderful storage solution and is commented upon by almost everyone who spends any time in our kitchen.

It's fun, when visitors come and we offer them tea, for us to just point them to the tea rack and let them choose the flavor they like.

At the bottom of the rack, I have hung a teapot hanging made out of felt from a kit some years ago.
I’ve always wanted to make another, and saved the pattern just in case. And after many years, I did make another, this for a dear friend.

And then this final photo, which was not taken in my kitchen, but instead in an apartment kitchen in faraway Nevada. My daughter who lives in Nevada wanted a tea rack like mine, so on one of our first visits there,  Mr. T and our son-in-law worked together to make one. It’s so neat to think of her having something just like mine, that was handmade and designed by her dad, in her kitchen too.  Ten years later, with six growing children, they are no longer in a small apartment, but in a house, where the tea rack is on a dining room wall.

Hope you have enjoyed seeing this  simple tea rack.  If you also have issues with the current system you're using to store your boxes of tea, you might like to think about constructing one for your own use!  Mr. T won't mind a bit if you borrow his "rustic" idea!

I am linking up today with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage  and Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.  Also with Roses of Inspiration  and Share Your Cup Thursday.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A bit more winter decorating ...

This year's winter hutch
I haven't done a lot of winter decorating this year, but thought I would share just a few more things.  Busy day ahead and lots to try and schedule into the day, so I will just do some quick photos and captions.  Enjoy!
Winter ribbon board in the front hallway
A tag I made a few years back
Upper shelf on the hutch.  My friend J. made the "snow" card; my daughter sent me the sparkly "Winter Wishes" one.  Love that lamp with its snowballs and the hanging snowflakes.
My glittery houses, a snowy cross-stitch, and a few simple figurines
Family heirloom ironstone; my silver baby cup; sparkly red snowflakes
And the hutch in its entirety.  The mugs on the top shelf were handmade Christmas presents from a granddaughter.
Hope this simple post has been fun to read (even though there are precious few actual words in it)!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Warming up winter ~ it takes a village

Today I thought I would share what took the place of the Christmas tree, which we finally managed to take out on Saturday!  I have a small collection of lighted houses, which we often circle around the base of the Christmas tree.  We most often put the Christmas tree in front of this picture window, moving the blanket chest to do so.  Then, when the tree comes down, we move the chest back and arrange some of the houses on it in a little village.  We still need light and sparkle here in northern New England!  The little houses look so warm and welcoming with light spilling from their windows on a cold night.

Here are a few more views:
It's always amazing to me how the houses magically turn into a village when you add trees and people.
The church at left is actually a school building.  It makes a great church however, and I found the church sign at Walmart a few years ago.  The building at right is the dog bone bakery, and on the hill in back is the library.
A little bit better view of the library.
Here are a few more photos, these from years gone by.  The first two are "villages" from previous years, then we have a closer look at some of the buildings.  Lastly, a couple photos of winter decorating on my hutch, with a couple of other lighted buildings.    I have a few others which I don't always bring out, including a truly wonderful lighthouse!

The needlework and quilt shop
The saw mill is in the center of the photo
A better look at the library
The crockery shop
Can't forget this glittery lighted church on the bottom shelf.

The little Currier & Ives house is also a lighted building.
Hope you've enjoyed this look at a few of my lighted houses!  I'm sharing today with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My very favorite after-Christmas buy!

I actually wish I had bought more of these lanterns.  They aren't too fancy looking, but they were only $2.50.  I bought this the day after Christmas and of course all my decor was still in place, so I brought this in and placed it on a chest next to our manger scene.  You can just see the edge of the wooden stable at right in the photo above.

The next photo shows the lantern and creche more clearly, though the picture is somewhat fuzzy.

Below is our manger scene as it looked last year.  The wooden stable was made by my dad many years ago.   I got the idea of placing a New Testament, open to Luke 2, in front of it after seeing something similar that Sandi, at Rose Chintz Cottage, had done.  I liked the idea and the look very much, but felt it needed something to set it off.  Evergreens with entwined white lights would have done the trick, but there is no outlet anywhere near that chest, nor any place to hide an extension cord.  I don't care for battery operated light strings because in my experience the batteries die much too quickly.

So when I got this lantern home, I decided to try it by the creche.  There's a place inside the lantern for a candle.  I first tried a votive.  Bad idea.  It ended up melting all over the candle cup.  Tea lights work much better.  Of course, a battery operated tea light or flameless candle would be better still.

Still, a little something was needed and I had the spray of cedar and glittery red berries in my stash.  I put the stems behind the stable and sort of curved the berries around the lantern.  Much better!

 As I mentioned at the beginning, I do wish I had bought several of these lanterns.  The nice thing is that they are not specifically Christmasy, so they would work in any season.  If we happen to find any more next time we visit that store, I will snap them up!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Adding warmth and charm to your home with needlework

Country Baking sampler "framed" with a dish towel
I so enjoy displaying needlework in my home, whether it is a project I have done or something someone else has made.  Today I thought I would share a few of my needlework treasures with you all.  I'll just put captions under the photos and call it good.  Busy day today!
Colossians 4:6 sampler
Embroidered tea towels always add a nice touch -- I made these for someone else.
Simple fall stitchery
Sorry for bad quality of photo -- I made this Hummel stitchery for my grandmother years ago.
My sampler wall in a narrow hallway -- the tall sampler is Isaiah 1:18.
I saw this saying in a catalog and made the wall hanging for a gift.
Sampler of Luke 6:38
Philippians 1:11
Psalm 73:24 -- made for a grandchild's room.
"His eye is on the sparrow" -- made these pillowcases for a gift.  Pillowcases are another nice use of stitchery in the home.
My friend Les stitched this for my strawberry themed kitchen!
Tea-time trivet made for my daughter.
Crewel wall hanging stitched for my son
2 Timothy 1:7 sampler
"Love is a shared umbrella" -- crewel design stitched for my parents years ago.
"My Mother's Garden" -- stitched for my mother
Hand-hooked picture made by my great-aunt
Schoolhouse cross-stitch by another great-aunt
Psalm 118:24 by my friend Marilyn.  What a great attitude adjuster each morning~
Hope you've enjoyed this look at some of my favorite needlework projects.  What type of handcrafts do you display in your own home?

Linking up today with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.  I'm also linking to Bernideen’s Tea Time, Cottage and Garden Blog Party.