Friday, January 12, 2018

An Improvised Vanity Table

I have been wanting a vanity table for makeup application forever.  But in our smaller house, and the configuration of the chimney as it relates to our bedroom (right in the middle of one wall), we have to pick furniture carefully and are limited in where we can place it.  I thought about looking into a new dresser that might just have a makeup space in the middle, but our dresser wall just wouldn't accommodate that, and besides, I'd rather not spend the money on that right now.

So I looked around, and realized that a small desk we have in our room could easily be re-purposed into this makeup station for me.  It's a nice desk, an antique, and had the blessed feature of sitting fairly flat against the wall, thus fitting perfectly into the "nook" to one side of the chimney in our room.  I really don't use the desk as a desk, since all bills are paid online and letters have morphed into emails, so it was mostly for storage, and (ahem), clutter.

I went through and purged a lot out of there (old cancelled checks from back when they still sent you those each month, unnecessary papers, index cards, you name it), found a mirror online that fits "just so", and has a magnetized little magnify mirror that you can take from the back of it, stick on the bigger mirror, and see yourself close up to do your eye makeup), and a small plastic makeup storage caddy.  All of my cleansers and moisturizers stay in the bathroom.

I needed a small chair or bench to use with this.  I found this one online, that is small, and stows off to the side nicely.

The desk 
(still a lot of stuff in the side cabinets part, but I'll get to that!).

Close-up: the mirror (reflecting my flowered shirt), 
to the left is the makeup caddy, 
to the right another storage box, and a "tea facial" kit.

The desk with the new bench in front.  
I love the floral upholstery!

The bench placed off to the side  
and the desk folded up after use, 
so I can get by the corner of the bed easily 
to go around to my side.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Another Fireplace Snafu

I think we finally have it right.  It took some doing.  Last night we lit a fire.  We (thought) we had the flue open, the flue fan (installed last year, see here) was on.  But wouldn't you know it - smokiness.  We figured maybe we needed some sort of "turbo-booster" in the flue to propel more air out.  I dashed off an email to the fireplace guy (who ended up responding almost right away, good guy, that one), but then the smokiness got really bad, ending with a scary comedy of errors where Paul had to get the fireplace log out into the snow in a metal tub (don't ask).  Then Paul was testing the flue, trying to figure out what on earth was wrong.  Well since it has been gajillion degrees below freezing here, the flue had frozen shut (our first clue should have been that the flue fan did not sound very loud, even on high, which we now know means - it isn't open!).  Once Paul had tugged the flue chain several times, it finally opened up -we knew because the fan sounded loud, about the same time we got an email back from Fireplace Guy suggesting that very thing.

Today I was very brave, and asked Paul to light another fire before he left with the kids to go see his mom.  I was contemplating doing some quiet journaling after a very busy morning away from the house.  I really wanted to sit by the fire on this freezing cold day, with a cup of tea, and a chance to work in a new journal I got (more on that later).  All was well!!  No smokiness, a beautiful fire, and I enjoyed my respite.
And I captured a nice picture of Tyler 
in front of the fire right after it was lit.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bedside Table Scarf Craft

A while back, I needed a quick nightstand scarf for our guest room (which was Robert's room, and he still stays here when he visits home - which will be tomorrow!!).  After Robert moved out to Portland, we decided to do some long needed renovations to this room that were too involved to do whilst someone was living in it.  These included:
  • Gutting, insulating, and wallboarding the closet (still in the works, but mostly done, no secret passageway yet though)
  • Revamping the electrical in the closet
  • Tearing down the ugly tile ceiling, replacing with wallboard
  • Fixing the venting system in the floor (the pros did that)
  • Removing the old wallpaper and painting
  • Sanding and refinishing the large dresser (but only the top of it; the rest was in pretty good condition)
  • New carpeting
We also found a cute bedside table and a "banker's lamp",  which this room was lacking the whole time Robert lived here (poor boy!).  This is what I wanted the nightstand scarf for.  I found and inexpensive, washable, cloth placemat at the nearby hardware store, and saw that I could easily cut it down and stitch it with very little time involved.

I measured the table top, and cut the placemat to size, keeping the existing hems on two sides 
and allowing seam allowance to turn under for a matching hem on the other two sides. 

New hem pinned and ready to sew.

The little table fits perfectly in this awkward little corner next to the bed.

I love the vintage feel of the banker's lamp.  The placemat will allow a water glass to sit without ruining the finish of the table.  Paul ran an extension cord unobtrusively for alarm clock or a cell phone charger.  There's a shelf below as well for books, tissues, etc.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


This is a tale of the elusive "Darling" pin.  My mother had a beautiful antique pin, inscribed with the word "Darling".  I always loved that pin, and when my mother passed, expressed a desire to keep it from my mother's belongings.

When my sisters and I began going through my mother's things after she passed, we could not find the pin in with the rest of her jewelry.  We felt really horrible.  Then, miraculously (St. Anthony had a a hand in this!) we found the pin almost by chance, after unfolding a crochet shawl my mother had made.  She had worn the Darling pin with the shawl, but had the foresight to attach it to the shawl with a vinyl (invisible) thread so it would not be lost by accident.  So I took the pin home and placed it in my jewelry box.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for the pin.  I swear I took apart my jewelry box looking for it, but it was not there.  I asked my sister Barbara if she had it by chance - she did not, but promised to say a prayer to St. Anthony, asking for his assistance.  I did so as well.  I looked in the attic, trying to find my mother's shawl.  I couldn't find that either (although I did find a shawl she had made for me).  I felt just awful, thinking it was gone for good.

Today, I set about cleaning my completely messy and disorganized house (Robert is coming here on Tuesday!!).  I have been in the process of setting up a makeup table in an antique desk in our room (more on that in a future blog post).  I decided to do a clean and purge of my jewelry box (something I had planned on doing whilst looking for the pin; there was so much in there that I no longer wanted, and it was bursting at the seams).  And what do you think happened?  I found "Darling"!!  She is now in a small box, safely in the jewelry box, so I will always know exactly where she is.

I'm so happy!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

End of Season Tasks

Last week and this, Paul and I have been tidying up the garden in preparation for winter.  Paul took down our birdhouse for winter storage, we gathered up the tomato cages, and covered some of our perennials.  Paul will run the mulching lawnmower over the grass to collect up the leaves on Monday, when the weather is predicted to be "warm".  We also arranged for Sears to come do routine maintenance on our snowblower. 

Paul and I also went through our canned goods, purging any expired ones, cleaning and sorting.  This was not planned; the upper shelf of our Lazy Susan base cabinet shifted down, needing an adjustment, which Paul took care of.  But I have been meaning to go through it, so all was good.  The trick is to use up all of the duplicates I found and didn't realize I had - how much coconut milk can one person accumulate?!  I see Thai food in our future, maybe some Indian or Caribbean as well.  We are well stocked in vegetable soup for the winter.  It feels good to have that done. 

Sadly, there is a frost predicted for tonight.  So I went out and collected the last of the herbs before they are frozen.  Surprisingly, in spite of some pretty cold and awful weather in the past month, three herbs survived: rosemary, oregano, and parsley.  In keeping with my international cooking, I will also need to make some recipes that use parsley and oregano (Italian, anyone?!).  The rosemary I plan on using to make a rosemary hair rinse (link to holistichabits video/prep instructions here).  Rosemary is great for the hair, and has aromatherapy benefits as well, which apparently one will smell while prepping the hair rinse.

Left to right: rosemary, parsley, oregano

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Michaelmas Party and New Harp Inaugural (Part II - The Dress and The Party!)

There were many moving parts to this party.  Besides the sewing, there was music to be learned and practiced, a hairstyle to be gotten, and food and decorations.  Paul, was an angel, and helped me so much with party set up and as our butler!

I had a special braided style done by Crowning Glory Braiding.

The table beforehand.
This time I have the right dimensioned tablecloth!

The new baby - cherry wood, with a cherry blossom motif

Here I am with the new harp.  
(Excuse the wrinkles in my dress - 
photo taken after I played for the ladies.)

And here are the Tea Ladies!
We had a lovely time.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Michaelmas Party and New Harp Inaugural (Part I - Sewing)

A week ago, on September 29th, I had a Michaelmas Party at my house.  Michaelmas is the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (one of my favorite saints, and I say the Saint Michael prayer often: see here).  I had often heard this holiday mentioned in Jane Austen movies, and never really knew what it was.  I was vaguely aware that it was near the end of September. I was wanting a theme for a dinner I was planning for my Tea Ladies.  It was going to be a special dinner, because I wanted to debut my new folk harp, a Dusty Strings FH36S, which was due to arrive at the beginning of September.

So I put together a Michaelmas Party with a Jane Austen/harp theme.  I decided to make a new gown.  I had a nice yellow fabric that I was actually intending for a test pattern that I am involved in evaluating, but I wanted to do something simpler, so I used La Mode Bagatelle's Regency Wardrobe Pattern which I have had in my stash.  I also needed a set of stays that I could wear and still play the harp in, so I bought a Short Stays pattern and the kit from Redthreaded.

The dress pattern: 
I used the crossover bodice with short sleeves

The Redthreaded kit:
I liked this kit, and the owner was very helpful with my questions!

The finished stays

The sewing was rather rushed; as usual I was running out of time, literally sewing up until a half hour before the party.  It is only by the Grace of God (and the fancy-schmancy invisible zipper foot I bought years ago, especially for my machine) that my invisible zipper went in without a hitch. (Yes, I was completely historically inaccurate and used a zipper.  This dress was meant to be a quick costume, not a faithful reproduction.)  The hem I put in is probably The Worst Hem Ever.  Machine sewn with a big basting stitch setting, and horrible on the inside, But it passed muster on the outside.  I will go back and re-do it in the future.  
Stay tuned for Part II - The Finished Dress and The Party!