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At the ready

Thursday morning our mower was returned from the shop, all tuned up and ready to go … if only we had any grass!  Poor Toro!

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Going Dolphin

Our house was built in 1937 — full of charm (Realtor code for “no closets”) and lots of wonderful woodwork and flooring.  When we moved here almost 23 years ago, every room was decorated with “country” wallpaper and ruffled curtains.  Gradually we have moved to a less fussy style, but we have lots of family antiques that dictate the scheme.

Several months ago our cable service added HGTV, and I could finally hold my head up in public.  Of course, it was only on our primary TV, not in the studio.  Then, that also changed also, and now I can have HGTV on while I’m stamping or prepping for camp.  I’ve been really struck by the changes decorators make to color in their projects.  It seems most of us are too conservative!  These shows (and lots of inspiration from The Lettered Cottage) have given me lots of do-able ideas — some for paper crafting, also!

So a few weeks ago DH plunged into repainting our tiny, main bathroom.  I’ve had Martha Stewart Jadite green (shown above) in there for many years.  It was pretty, but dated.  Our towels were tired.  The accessories were pathetic.  I found  towels in a summer sky blue and fresh spring green, but wanted to make a serious statement with the paint.  Leaving the woodwork white, we quickly agreed (!) on Dolphin Gray for the color.  It’s the color of freshly poured concrete — like wet Sahara Sand, if that would be possible.  It’s so striking and beautiful!

Now that things have settled down a bit in our lives, it’s on to the trim and the final touches.  A fine way to start the new year!

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Christmas at the movies

How can we have hundreds of cable channels, but there’s nothing to watch?  This is not a new frustration, and so many years ago I started collecting classic (and newer) Christmas movies that we could watch on our schedule.  Leading unexciting lives, the highlights of our weekend evenings in December often involve Bing and Fred and the others.

The new, made for TV movies?  So tedious, so contrived, so predictable, so filled with commercials!  The funniest thing I’ve read on this subject was Posie’s post last year.

Last night we watched Christmas in Connecticut, the original, of course.  One thing I love about classic movies is doing a bit of research on the actors.  After we’re finished, I bring up The Internet Movie Database and search for the movie, usually, or sometimes the actor.   Where have we seen the judge before?  (Mayor Pike in Mayberry!)  What ever happened to the actress who played the young woman running away from home in Going My Way?  (A mystery!)  Just how small was Vera-Ellen’s waist?  (21″!)

It’s good to watch the oldies.  We can speak the dialog right along with the characters and, at least once a year, I get to perform “Sisters,” amusing DH and possibly alarming passersby.

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The pretty tree

Today I’m sharing a bit of our Christmas tree with you.  It’s a small tree, so we can lavish decorations on it.  When DH asks what I’d like, I usually ask for the “pretty tree.”  This has dozens of vintage glass ornaments that, like things older than 50, ahem, have seen better days.  I still like them.  DH fusses that they are too worn, but, well, he did ask me what I wanted.  We add loops of pearl garland, beautiful glass icicles that I bought 30 years ago from Marshall Field’s, china bells from the Christmas tree of my childhood, and some glass ornaments hand painted by a friend of ours.

Do you see the price tag at the top of the photo?  That’s on a blown glass acorn we bought in Rothenburg, Germany, a town said to have been the inspiration for the setting of Disney’s Pinocchio.  For more trivia, you will want to know that as a youth, DH brought that character to life (yes!) in his school’s stage production.

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Kitchen days

This week has seen lots of time in the kitchen, working ahead on my holiday baking.  Next Sunday and Monday I have three events that need treats, so I must plan accordingly.  Dough is standing by, the big mixer is out, and recipes are spread on the counter for review.  My apron is ever at the ready.

Tuesday I made — and counted! — 593 Pretzel Buttons!  About half will go to our county’s Hospice, where volunteers will combine the donations of dozens of bakers into festive bags and deliver them to people under Hospice care.  I’ve been involved in the B.U.N.S. (Baking Up Nice Surprises) for probably 20 years.  It’s something I can do.

But all that bending over and meticulous work is hard on the back and shoulders!  DH helped a bit, but he is already under care for a back problem.  A Tylenol PM (and a lavish application of hand cream) helped later!

There’s really no point in making only a few of these.  If you’re making 200, might as well make 600.  So December campers, you’ll probably see them later this month.  If they last …

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Fair entries

Plates and honey pots

Some of you have asked about my Sandwich Fair entries that won ribbons.  Here are parts of two entries:  Honey Pots (1st Place) and Souvenir Plates (2nd Place).  Each category required five items.  My honey pot collection was the result of some antiquing (although they’re not technically antiques).  I just love the shape of these, and since my name means “honeybee,” it seemed a fitting item to be collecting.  I have six pots, each a different color.  They make a wonderful display in the kitchen, shown above, especially this time of year with the changing light.  I still look for these, but I’ve never found a color that’s new to me, so the collection is stalled.  And that’s fine.

The souvenir plates are Staffordshire.  Again, I look for the same design but different colors.  My original “rule” was not to buy any plate of a place I hadn’t visited.  I discarded that when I couldn’t find a green Staffordshire plate.  It was quite a quest, one which was starting to tire DH.  Out antiquing together, I had gallantly allowed my younger sister to purchase a green plate of the Rocky Mountain National Park (which she had visited and I hadn’t).  I regretted that act.

Sure that I would also find a green plate, we looked for years.  When we’d walk into a shop and the shopkeeper would ask, “Are you looking for anything special?” I could say YES!  I would recount the story of the green plate that got away and our futile search.  Someone told me, “You know, they didn’t make just one,” and that was just the encouragement I needed to keep looking.  But even eBay didn’t yield the elusive green plate.  Some time later my sister stunned me by telling me her plate wasn’t green at all — only in my dreams!

The word “souvenir” is from the French:  to remember.  I love items from the 40s and 50s that recall my own childhood vacations (but not in those decades, thank you!).  That’s why I’m loving the Ken Burns film The National Parks:  American’s Best Idea that’s airing this week on PBS.  Are you watching, too?

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Housewifery

Freezer

This little task has been on the Parade of Daily Adventures list for some time.  People at home were beginning to make remarks.  The goal was always to defrost on Thursday, so that anything unrecognizable could be taken to the curb under cover of dark for an early Friday morning garbage pickup.

It was like an archeological dig for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.  In addition to gentle chipping and prying, there was quite a bit of swift carrying of pots of boiling water from house to garage, some use of a heat tool (not an approved use, I’m quite sure), and only a little bit of grumbling.  I did make some amazing discoveries; let me just say that I don’t need to buy frozen salmon for … the rest of my life.  We are well supplied.

I’ve organized the freezer in boxes this way for many years, and I laughed yesterday when I saw in the new October issue of Better Homes and Gardens their suggestion to use plastic “spa baskets” for the same purpose.  My boxes were much cheaper — $1.50 each on clearance at Office Max — and I like the “ice blue” color.  They fit perfectly in my ancient freezer; your results may vary.  It looks good, at least for now.  If we have another one of those 36-hour power outages, well.

And now, must buy ice cream.

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