30 March 2015

TWEAKING THE COLORS


If something in your home isn't working for you, maybe you don't need to go out and buy something new.  Maybe that item just needs a little "makeup" to look fresh and new.  Everyone knows about painting a piece of furniture, or an object like a lamp or the above bracket sconce, but have you thought about painting other items, too?


To wit:  


This plate from the 1990s, nice decorative piece, but the colors are not compatible with the design scheme anymore.  Why dispose of something like this when possibly it can be refreshed and look new? (I had already begun painting when I remembered to snap the photo.)


in progress

just about there

finished!

Some artfully applied craft paints and a coat of spray-on shellac to seal the paint revved it right up, and it will find a new home on the colorful back porch very soon -- when the pollen season is over.


You might remember that the fabric on this old estate sale patio sofa on the same porch got some fresh paint, too.  No need to settle for the wrong colors!






Linking this post to Metamorphosis Monday, Mod Mix MondayTweak it Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesday.


24 March 2015

THE GHOST OF EASTERS PAST



When I was a little girl (yes, that was quite a long time ago), I still earnestly believed in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.  I was a faithful mendicant till way past the age when it was appropriate.  I always had a frilly new dress made by my mother, tricked out with lots of lace and ruffles and a sash that was tied in a big bow in the back. My auburn hair was usually tortured into long sausage curls, my mother being a big fan of Shirley Temple.  






There were no Easter decorations as such in the house, but my father always grew lots of flowers, especially Irises.  I am not sure they were blooming on Easter, as I remember some of those days being quite cold, but from somewhere, we always had a big vase of purple Irises on the mantel.  After the early Easter Basket surprise, the obligatory trip to Sunday school and the preaching service, followed by the big Sunday Dinner, we made our odyssey to the cemetery to visit the grave of Iris Dale, my sister.  The purple Irises were reverently placed on her grave.  






Only then were we dragged off to Lincoln to visit my maternal grandparents and play with our cousins all afternoon.  Of course, the Easter basket was brought along, to the church, the cemetery and to Lincoln.  







There are no children in my life anymore, none related to me anyway, and no real reason to make a fuss.  I rarely attend church, so it is not really a religious observation either.    Still, tomorrow I will drag out the box of Easter decorations and the little box of bunny rabbit dishes from the Cracker Barrel a few years ago, and a few little spots in the house will get a dose of Easter commercialism.  



What can I say?  Madison Avenue has found fertile ground in my head.  Old habits die hard.

Ellen


17 March 2015

THOSE INDIAN CANDLESTICKS



Remember those wonky candlesticks ($15) from an estate sale a couple of weeks ago?


crooked, icky dark brown

Always look at the shape, not the color, of something that catches your eye at an estate sale or flea market.  It is only COLOR -- you can always change it!


gessoed and beginning of the paint



painted


gilding waxed

and finishing waxed

with Ikea candles


These make the perfect table accessory on this Boho screened-in back porch.  



Linking up to Kim at Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday.

I am also sharing at this great new link up event which features your link on eight different blogs -- what a great idea!


Additionally, I am joining the Friday party at The Painted Drawer.

14 March 2015

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL (and body)

Today I made chicken soup.  After a run to Publix for a whole bone-in skin-on chicken breast, I threw it all in the pot in the appropriate stages.  (Instructions at the end of the post.)  So good!  




Inspired by Rhoda's post a few days ago about her Mama's chicken noodle soup, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  About how that incomparable rich flavor of chicken soup has the power to soothe the savage breast and cure whatever ails you.  


We had made a pretty good dent in this batch already before I remembered the camera!

I have to admit that this dreary rainy weather which has followed an unusually cold dreary Winter season has gotten me down a little.  More than a little some days.  I have gone to the hearth, so to speak, and I have been doing a lot of cooking, ever since before the holidays.  


This old book, copyrighted in 1974, is my favorite bread book.
It has been well-used, as you can see.

The nearly-forgotten pleasure in bread-making has restored my soul to some measure, and my adaptation of the old James Beard basic white bread recipe is just the most wonderful thing when "toasted" (OK, it's kind of fried) on the griddle in butter.  Top it with homemade jam or preserves, and you have a breakfast (or afternoon tea) fit for the gods.  It also makes a wonderful sandwich.


Hot from the oven!


Yesterday -- rainy, rainy dreary day.  I made spaghetti and meat sauce from scratch, using tomatoes from last summer and fresh herbs from Sprouts.  I have been trying to use up some of what is in my freezer to make room for what will come this summer, albeit late, say the prognosticators, because it has been so dry in the West and so cold in the East and Midwest.  



Do you find yourself drawn to the fire, the source of heat and light in the Winter, too?  I have realized that putting that old sofa from my two aunties in our kitchen's breakfast area instead of a big table and lots of chairs is about the best decorating decision I have made in this house.  There are four windows on that end of the room, and the morning sun comes streaming in from the East.  With the room's cheerful colors and the light and good smells of morning coffee and some kind of bread or muffins in the oven, it is the best time of the day in Winter.  Even when there is no sun, it still seems comforting and cozy.  


I find that often during the day, when it is time for a break, I head for the kitchen instead of another area to sit for a bit.  All that is lacking is a fireplace.  However, the flames from the gas cooktop are a pretty good substitute as the water boils for coffee or tea or grits or oatmeal.  


For the bread:
Mr. Beard's recipe

 Now I have to confess, at this point in my life, my hands are often too sore to knead this bread by hand.  I use the big Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment to do all the mixing and kneading.  I have also made a few adjustments to this recipe which suit my tastebuds better.  Additionally, I punch down the dough twice (with the mixer) before turning it out into the pans to bake.  

Here are my changes to the original:

2 pkgs Rapid Rise yeast instead just one regular;

one whole stick melted butter -- fat gives bread its tender crumb, and this amount makes a melt in your mouth loaf of bread;

reduce the salt to two teaspoons;

I omit the egg wash;

I do use regular White Lily all-purpose flour, because that is what is called for.  I have tried using bread flour and the result is not as good.  When these and the other recipes in this book were developed, what we now know as bread flour was not available to home cooks. 
 

It takes all six cups of flour, and although it will lose the shine when the mixer has kneaded it long enough, it is still slightly sticky when turned into the buttered pan.  Just get messy with it, and divide it up!  When the bread comes out of the oven, smear a little piece of butter over the tops and cover with a dishtowel till cooled off a little before removing from the pans. 

Remember that ovens vary, and yours make take more or less time.  Also, lay some foil loosely over the loaves if they look to be browning too fast.

Orange herbal tea and toast -- a couple of bites missing.



For the soup:

Put a whole chicken breast (two pieces if cut in half) with skin and bone intact into a very large pot of water.  Cover and bring to a boil.   When the chicken is tender, set aside and strain the broth.  Put the liquid back in the pot, and add two ribs of chopped celery, two good handfuls of sliced carrots and 1 small onion, chopped.  Add two heaping tablespoons of Chicken Soup Base.  (This comes in a jar, and will be near the chicken broth in a box in the grocery store.)  When the veggies are tender, add in the chicken which you have shredded, discarding skin and bone.  Bring the liquid back to the boil, add some salt and pepper to taste (or not), and dump in 1 bag of noodles.  I like the extra wide, you might like skinny ones.  Simmer till noodles are al dente. Prepare to feel transported.



11 March 2015

OUR IRISH TABLE

Green on Green

Everyone is Irish when St. Patrick's day approaches, right?  We actually do have some Irish in our ancestry, but it is not something we think about except this one time each year.  Then it is all just good fun.





There is Irish Coffee, Bailey's Irish Creme, Jameson Irish Whiskey;  Shamrock motifs are everywhere as in cakes and cookies; plus there are the traditional dishes of meat, potatoes and cabbage -- and Irish soda bread.  Some of these things enjoy more popularity than others.  It is all just a matter of personal preference.





Most people love their greens all year round in one form or another:  money, salads, scenery.  It is a restful color, tranquil even, that many love to have in their homes.  It is a color that is particularly attractive on a redhead. 



Just as in nature, shades of green blend and play well together.


Here, it is used on the table, layered green upon green upon green.






Ellen
Linking up to Cuisine Kathleen for her 7th Annual St. Patrick's Day party!


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