Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hallway Decorating

When we renovated our bathroom, we took the light that had been in the hallway and used it as the overhead light in the bathroom, which left us with a gaping hole in the ceiling of the hallway.  While I don't mind stumbling around in the dark, DL wasn't a fan.  So I was on a mission to find an overhead light, keeping in mind the design and vintage of the house.  

I found a cool light at a vintage shop, and I decided to try it out in that spot.  It had to be shortened significantly, but we kept the chain in case we ever want to move it again.  I love the green in the leaves!  

The walls got a quick coat of a custom-tinted pale gray, and a new runner was purchased at Target.

It has been approved by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, as I have found a few clumps of hair here and there.

I placed a small cabinet in the hallway for storage of incidentals (like feminine hygiene products that no one ever uses) with a cool brass "shopping bag" and silk hydrangeas on top.  I have pared down the number of photos in the hallway, and all are now in black frames.

Overall, I'm happy with the hallway.  Some day when I retire I will have the floors refinished, but not until then. (I keep saying that kind of stuff...maybe I''ll get a book deal or stand-up contract and then I'll actually be ABLE to retire!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Copper rain gauge from UncommonGoods!

*This is a sponsored post for which I received product and compensation, but (as always) all opinions are my own!*

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Tom at UncommonGoods. He asked me if I would review a product--the product being one of my choosing.  He sent me some great info about the company (I had heard of them, but didn't really know what they were about) and some links to some great products worthy of Father's Day consideration!

First of all, I feel like I need to mention how awesome Tom great to work with!  (And helpful. And he chases tornadoes...but not in Brooklyn.)  Brooklyn is where UncommonGoods is located. Much like the hipster borough it's located in, UncommonGoods is a company on the cutting edge--dealing in environmentally-conscious and handmade items as well as donating to several charities of their choice. They have a cool blog where you can meet their team as well as the artists who create their interesting products.

The product I chose was a copper rain gauge, because DL is a weather geek.  He's the kind of guy who watches the weather channel anytime he thinks there's a chance we'll get snow or a tornado or wildfires or really any weather at all, including mild and sunny.  For years he has been using different items to figure out how much rain we've had, but it's mainly just a guessing game.  This copper rain gauge is just the ticket!! (Because you can't just leave a plastic Little Mermaid cup out in the yard to catch the rain, fercryin' should have something pretty! Now that I think about it...why do we still have a Little Mermaid cup? But I digress.)

The rain gauge arrived in a matter of days, and what impressed me first was the way it was packaged.  Normally when I order something, it comes in several boxes surrounded by an ocean of packing foam.  True to their mission of being environmentally-friendly, the UncommonGoods box was one cardboard box inside another. (It is true that what I ordered wasn't breakable, so maybe that's why there wasn't any extra packaging.) But I loved the simplicity of just two boxes.  

The rain gauge is also beautiful in its simplicity--it's a copper tube wrapped inside a metal spiral.  Like the sticker says, it's made in the US, and you all know how I feel about American-made goods.  The quality is sturdy, not flimsy, and I am sure it will spend many happy years in my garden, if I can keep the man-eating ivy away from it!

This item came with instructions (mainly just how to make sure it's set up properly and how to clean it--nothing special or fancy necessary) and a little bit about the company who fabricates what they consider to be the World's Coolest Rain Gauge.

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), DL is thrilled!  The fact that this rain gauge uses the Archimedian principle of water displacement to measure rainfall (UncommonGoods has a whole section of Geek Gifts) makes his little heart glad. I am thrilled because it's pretty and sturdy and made in the US.  It's a win-win for both of us. They also have a great selection of gifts for men who are cool and our better halves! (Or is that 'halfs'?)

If we can just get it to rain......

Find the World's Coolest Rain Gauge here!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Don't tell anyone...

I am licensed to teach 'Family and Consumer Science.'
Shhhhhhh--don't tell anyone.

(For you old-timers, 'Family and Consumer Science' is just the new name for 'Home Ec.')

The reason I am licensed to teach it is a different story for a different day (Courtney), but I am. And if you know me? Right now, you're probably thinking to yourself, "WTF?? She doesn't even vacuum more than once every two weeks!" And you'd be right.
Just because I CAN do something doesn't mean I WANT to.

I learned this week that people don't necessarily want to know stuff. And by 'stuff' I mean 'everything I know.' Which is sort of a puzzlement to me, because I want to know everything! (Except math, 'cause I figure I know enough of that already. If I need math done, I've got folks I can call.) So, this week we were learning about the Great Depression (not this one; the one in the 1930s) and the dust bowl and industrial farms, which is why Henry Fonda needed to leave Oklahoma and move to Cali, where he became a movie star. Okay, so maybe that was The Grapes of Wrath. And my brain, being of the "popcorn" variety, made those connections and moved onto food safety and dyes and pesticides and feed corn and slaughterhouses and e-coli and fast food and cooking and cleaning and 'Family and Consumer Science.' All in the span of about twenty seconds.

Everytime I get into one of these "teachable moments," some kid always says "what does this have to do with anything?" I want to smack that kid. I want to scream "It's ALL connected! WE'RE all connected! Someday, the people in charge will GET IT! You won't be asked to fill in bubble sheets; you will be asked to create a flow chart to show how the land we use growing feed corn for cattle (who are not supposed to eat corn, fercryin'outloud--they are GRAZING animals with four do the math--because I can't--) could be used to grow other grains and vegetables for PEOPLE, therefore making fresh foods less-expensive. When fresh fruits and vegetables are comparable in price to the dollar menu at a fast food chain, poorer folks will be able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, and they will be healthier." But I don't say that. I just shrug and get back to showing them how to fill in bubble sheets.

Bubble sheets.

(this is a repost from a few years ago.  If you call me, I'll tell you how I REALLY feel....)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

An After! (I had a before, but...)

Well, I wanted to show you a before and after of one of our latest pieces, but...

You're just getting the after.

This was a nasty old brown cupboard that DL got at an auction.  It came in a lot with a bunch of stuff he wanted.  I took one look at it and "BAM!"  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I cleaned it up  by dusting it and then with oxyclean and water and then let it dry in the sun.

After it was completely dry, it got two light coats of MMS milk paint-- one coat of Grain Sack and one of Shutter Gray.  Both were just lightly brushed on, allowing a lot of the brown to show through.  I let the paint dry until the next day, then went back with a dry cloth and brushed off any loose bits.  I LOVE the way the top ended up (above)!

After that, it got a topcoat of General Finishes poly.

Right now it's being used as storage at Shoppes, with a tag that reads "Not For Sale (yet!)"

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ten things I learned from my mom

Happy Mother's Day, Peeps!

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and colors and levels of ridiculousness and sometimes they didn't even give birth to us, but they are MOMMY or MAMA or MOM or any one of a dozen different names...but one thing is for certain: each one of them loved us with all of her heart, even if she couldn't always show it.

Today, I am sharing ten things my mom taught me.  (She was a teacher, after all.) So thank you to Elizabeth Sexsmith Dunton ("Beth" to her friends, "Betsy" to my dad, and "Mom" to me. Except for those moments when my sister and I call her "Haley Mills.").

1. It's okay to be a laundry racist.  Some things, like reds and whites, need to be segregated.  

2. It's NOT okay to be cool with excluding PEOPLE for any reason (race, socio-economics, different abilities). Everyone has something to offer.  Count them in. They may surprise you.

3. You will never regret having a garden. (Not sure she meant a garden that was covered over with foot-thick English Ivy, but every day we uncover more surprises!)

4. Old houses are worth saving. (I grew up in a farmhouse that was built in 1876.  It hadn't been touched since the 1930s.  There wasn't a bathtub or shower, and every room on the first floor had a door to the outside.  Mom and Dad re-built that house over the course of 30 years, which is probably why I've always found it 'normal' to live in a construction zone.)

5. Give what you can to others.  (My mom has always given her time and talent and stuff we don't use any more to various and sundry causes.  One of those causes when I was in high school was a girl who needed clothes, though the reason escapes me.  One day, she showed up at school wearing one of my skirts.  I was taken aback and was walking down to my mom's room--she taught in my high school--to give her a piece of my seventeen-year-old-mind, when this girl approached me, shyly, and said, "Thank you for this skirt. It's the prettiest one I have." People, the skirt was brown corduroy. I think I mumbled, "You're welcome," and went off to a corner with my tail between my legs.) I hope I am always in a position to continue my mother's legacy of giving.

6. Teaching is tiring. 'Nuff said.

7. Old age is not for sissies.  Crap happens that you probably won't like...and sooner or later, it happens to everyone. Make the best of it while you are on this earth, but it's okay to be annoyed by it on occasion.

8. Travel when you can. Go far if you want. (And, apparently, you can never take too many trips to Amish Country.)

9. There is a trick to fitted sheets, but I can't remember what it is. 

10. If you can read and write, you can do anything.  Even if you end up teaching for slightly more than minimum wage.  Reading and writing are the keys to learning.  Thanks for teaching me to read, mom!

Don't forget to tell your mom how much she means to you today...even if you're talking to the sky.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mantel 2 for spring

As I said...we have a lot of flowers here at Brandywine.  (Even as I type this, I'm planning mantel 3.)

This time I made a garland to hang in front.  I used an old book from an estate sale (ordinarily, I would NEVER tear up a book, but parts of it were severely water stained) and followed Sherry's directions here!

From Gardners 2 Bergers

My bathroom was featured!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fluffy stuff

plate on etsy here

I will tell you one thing, if you don't already know it. (No one told consider yourself warned.)

Menopause is not always your friend.


Stuff that didn't hurt before?  It all hurts now.  Physicals used to be a breeze.  Now they come with more tests and a few warnings. (Like "We're going to keep an eye on your blood sugar/blood pressure/ right knee/weird spot on your shin..." any or all of the above.)  

But the worst thing about menopause in my case is that it comes with extra fluff.  About 20 pounds of extra fluff.  And I'm not a fan of being fluffy.

SO...I decided (with a little prodding by Dr. T.) I needed to do something about the extra fluff.  And it involves my plate.  (Not the one above, though my plate is very similar. It's a 3-way, too.)

Patricia got me on the right track, and some of her ideas were incorporated in my change, but I knew that it was mostly up to me.  So I bought two triple-sectioned plates and started my plan, which is very simple.  (I bought the plates for about $6 at an antique mall--2 of them so that I could have a spare.)

The federal government is tired of me being fluffy.  The federal government is not interested in paying for my triple-bypass.  The state government is scared $hit!ess that I will croak in the middle of class, leaving them to find a last-minute substitute.  And DL depends on me to tell him what to do.  So...

I took this image from (which is a GREAT resource, by the way), and devised my own plate strategy.  My plate has three sections (like the one on the top) and I have combine fruits and veggies to take up the large section (one half) of my plate.  The two smaller sections are for meat and starch. (Not 'carbs.' Some 'carbs' are good for you, like most vegetables, which help you poop, and that's important.) Starches include potatoes, beans, rice, noodles, or, in case of emergency, a yeast roll or biscuit.  (Sometimes whatever problems you have can be solved only by bread.  Just sayin'.)

I have not cut ANYTHING out of my diet.  Nothing.  There is a reason for this.  If I feel like I have deprived myself, I will get to the breaking point and eat an ENTIRE CONTAINER of whatever it was I deprived myself of.  (A pint of Ben & Jerry's/a bag of potato chips/a full-size Snickers bar...there's a reason they call it 'Chunky Monkey,' peeps.)

How is this all going for me?  Well, I've lost 10 pounds since January.  I think that's pretty good, considering I haven't really started exercising yet, because my exercise of choice is walking and it's been so crappy outside.  Once I start walking, I think the weight may come off a little faster. 

Do I feel better?  Hard to tell.  I have a feeling I would have to cut out the caffeine and alcohol in order to feel better, and I'm not sure I'm ready for THAT.  I have found that there is such a thing as "too sweet" for me now.  I keep dark Hershey's kisses around, and if I want something sweet, I just have one of those.  I don't crave sweet or salty anymore.  

I have also noticed lately that if I have dairy, there are physical and mental repercussions.  I may have to cut out dairy, which I will hate.  Weird dreams and smelly gas vs cheese. A conflict of Frazier/Ali proportions.

So if any of you are feeling the fluff creeping up...I recommend a 3-way.