Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Vintage and antique --- such are the things of my youth! And what a strange feeling to realize that once modern items are not old and quaint. The hot curlers in the case under the table are very much like the set my sister and I used to share. I can remember the delight and relief we expressed when we were able to graduate from prickly curlers and curler caps to the ease of a blow dryer and hot rollers! The suitcase is just like mom's. How fancy sis and I felt when we could borrow it for an overnight trip to a friend's house. And the mirror tray --- still something I love. Are they out of style yet? It doesn't matter. If you love it, it stays, no matter what!
Monday, July 30, 2007
I've been thinking about blog topics for August, but for now will end July with a few favorite pictures that I haven't yet shared from Elm Street Antiques. I've really enjoyed my visits to this sweet antique and gift shop. I'm always surprised by things for sale as antiques that are from my childhood and teen era! Salt shakers like sat on my parent's kitchen table, a sewing box, or hot rollers like I used as a teen don't seem like antiques, but rather pieces of my past. . .and it wasn't all that long ago now, was it? Similarly, other objects from my husband's past fill this role. The beautiful flannel infant jacket in this picture is very similar to one my husband's grandmother made for him when he was a baby. Hand-stitched, embroidered, and trimmed with a tiny crocheted border, it was crafted with love and hope for a child's bright future.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
My first kitchen was American Country. I hardly know where to start when commenting about this style of kitchen decor, as an emotional response is quite evident as I type the words. Step back in time with me to my early married days and a little barn house set on a hillside. The kitchen was upstairs with a view of sagebrush covered hillsides through two very large windows. A dormer was the perfect size for a large, round dining room table and chairs made from pine. A painted brown bookcase sat nearby, filled with cookbooks, wooden objects, candles, and dried flower arrangements. Rag scatter rugs in blue accented a mustard-yellow floor. A collection of miniature baskets were arranged neatly along the top of the cabinets next to ceiling, adding color and a quaint sense of beauty. The curtains were my pride and joy --- creamy muslin trimmed in rows of a ruffled brown print that took hours to hem and gather. They were tied back with coordinating fabric. Everything was brown and blue except for the touches of cream and white that were the palette for the earthy colors. Wrought-iron trivets carefully selected from a family trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania graced the walls. And in those days, chickens were evident in many kitchens, and they were definitely a focal point in mine --- either as ceramic chickens, wooden eggs in a chicken-wire box, or as a copper-wire hen bought in Mexico and filled with threads of brown raffia to look like straw. Old bottles tied with simple ribbon and filled with dried grasses and wheat were set in floor corners. Cobalt blue dishes and white ironware were slowly collected and added to decor at a pace that newlyweds can afford. Woven rug chair pads bought in Pennsylvania Amish country were a colorful blue and accented the dark pine chairs. As time, and new places to live evolved, the country kitchen gave way to a traditional look, but I still miss that country look and look back on those years with great fondness.
Here are some of the unique features that make an American Country kitchen as outlined in Pat Ross's book, Kitchens.
American folk art establishes the characteristic look of this style. A hooked rug hanging on a wall, a whimsical whirligig placed on a wall, a sponge ware bowl filled with wooden apples in red or green, or a wooden slice of watermelon set atop a counter all help create this look.
Braided throw rugs work well to cushion weary feet for those long hours of chopping, mixing, or doing dishes at the sink. They are colorful, durable, and shake clean easily.
Wrought-iron trivets, either vintage originals or reproductions, can make an artistic statement when hung on a wall. To show off a handsome collection, hang large pieces of pegboard, paint them the color of the wall, and attach trivets with peg hooks. They're easy to remove and place in service. Single trivets can be hung by a long nail.
Wreaths made of softly colored everlastings find a home in the American country kitchen. Straw flowers, babies breath, or grapevine wreath trimmed with a pretty plaid ribbon all add to the country look.
A row of sponge ware bowls is always fresh and appealing.
Fish decoys painted in soft colors make great art for the country kitchen. Hang them in a row or make them swim across the wall.
Dried herbs can be tied onto a hanging or standing rack along with dish towels made of homespun fabric. For party occasions in the kitchen, tie a small bunch of dried herbs on the back of each chair.
Place a colorful old penny rug in the center of the kitchen table with an old-fashioned lazy Susan on top.
Cooking utensils are easy to get to when they're stored in a decorative stoneware jug on the counter.
Find the perfect oak rocker for your kitchen, and set it by a sunny window. [In our kitchen, a wooden cradle trimmed in calico blue was set beside one of the large windows for baby Brandon. It was the perfect place for him to sleep or sun while mother worked on supper or a canning project].
Fill a wooden bucket with dried flowers and place on the floor.
Fake fruits and vegetables made from wood, marble, ceramics, wax, or paper mache make lovely permanent arrangements.
Folk art objects and American country antiques related to the kitchen can be placed on a shelf or window ledge. Carved dolls, wooden barnyard animals, old medicine bottles, decorative butter molds, or antique utensils all make great additions to the American country kitchen.
A floor cloth stenciled in a quilt or theorem painting design is both attractive and sensible in the American country kitchen.
Use old checkerboards to make graphic wall art.
Swag a country-check fabric across the tops of your kitchen windows.
Consider a brass candle chandelier in the kitchen. The romantic candle glow in the evening will transform your family dining area.
Primitive country benches are as at home in the kitchen as they are in the rest of the house. A bench not only offers family and friends a place to drop their things and sit for a while, but also provides additional storage space underneath.
Cookbooks by the dozen become decorative objects in themselves. Stack them in a line, on a shelf, on a baker's rack, or use several over sized books as a pedestal upon which to set a lamp.
American baskets are light, attractive, and always ready when arranged on top of kitchen cabinets or in the lower portion of open shelving.
Drill small holes in antique knives, forks, and spoons --- the odd bits of flatware found at tag sales and flea markets, rarely tow of them the same --- to match up with the existing screw holes in your drawers or doors. Then remove the existing hardware and replace with your whimsical new pulls. Most silversmiths suggest looking for flatware that is sturdy so as to prevent the bending or loosening of handles. Wooden spoons provide a rustic variation on this clever idea.
Begin looking for old graters and sieves at flea markets. Then hang them from your pot rack to add interest to the new things.
Unusual and fanciful hanging lamps can be made from a tin colander --- old, new, standard size, or chef's size. Select from several graphic punched designs (stars are fun), then run an electrical cord through a hole drilled in the top. Electrify it using an adapter kit found at most hardware stores.
Painted watering cans are great for watering pots of herbs and ivy --- and look great as a part of the decor.
Old quilts and textiles make great accents in this style of kitchen. A worn quilt makes a pretty tablecloth or centerpiece.
It's reassuring to keep a small light turned on in the kitchen after dark. Small table lamps with soft pink bulbs of fifty to eighty watts provide a cozy atmosphere as well as supplemental light on gloomy days.
Mirrors do a great job in expanding a small kitchen. A pine mirror on a wall behind the kitchen table or a long piece of mirror cut to fit the space under the kitchen cabinets doubles the look of space. A grouping of whimsically framed small mirrors becomes a bright and artistic arrangement on a dark wall.
Make a gallery of children's artwork for the wall or fridge.
Start a collection of cookware, utensils, linens or other items for the kitchen. Old salt and pepper shakers, for example, come in every imaginable motif from pink flamingos to wishing wells. They're bright, useful, novel, fun to display, and even more fun to find.
Most of all, have fun and make your kitchen an expression of you and who you are!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
"For it is by grace you have been saved," the apostle Paul reminds us, "through faith --- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God --- not by works, so that on one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). Perhaps the most potent fertilizer for soul fatigue is our inability to grasp this concept of grace. For when we begin to understand the irrational nature of God's love, it frees the spirit to live fully. Understanding grace empowers us to buckle up and drive again.
John's gospel records the story of a disciple who failed his best friend so severely, he thought his mistake had pushed him beyond the boundaries of grace. Make no mistake, Peter had pulled some spectacular blunders in the past --- the time he sank while walking on water, the time he spoke the words of Satan, the time he whacked off a soldier's ear --- but nothing like the time he denied knowing Jesus. Sometimes we crash com completely that it feels irredeemable. The soul is totaled. Write it off.
What's so amazing about this story, however, is that when Peter most felt the crushing burden of soul fatigue, Jesus extended the invitation to start over.
And he did. . .what an amazing story! So much hope, comfort, and peace in the example of Peter for us today! So, my friend, if you are feeling soul fatigue, don't give up. This is a new day. . .a new start. Let Jesus fill your heart and soul today with His irrational grace!
This morning we are experiencing a reprieve from summer's heat. Gentle breezes and a few sprinkles make a day that's reminiscent of spring or autumn. Golden raisin cinnamon rolls made with coconut milk, brown sugar, and vanilla are raising on the counter top. While I wait to put them in the oven, it's the perfect time to think about kitchen decor and what makes each style unique. Yesterday I posted ideas that I'd found and shared with my friend, Linda, for her French country kitchen. It got me wondering about other styles, especially English country. What makes English country unique? The first things that come to mind are laces, teapots and teacups, porcelain, and lots of pretty flowers. Am I right? Let's see! The ideas posted here originate from the book Kitchens, Imaginative Tips & Sensible Advice for Decorating, Equipping & Enjoying by Pat Ross.
1. English kitchens are known for their blue and white china. Not only for tabletop, but for wall decor as well. Antique dessert plates, even if chipped and worn, can be hung over a door jam, stove, or other display areas. Drama can be created by using large dinner plates. Smaller plates can fill in the gaps, creating a lovely effect. Be sure to hang them with sturdy plate hangers of the appropriate size and strength.
2. Pine in a well-scrubbed look says English country. Both plain or color-washed pine are acceptable for this look; knots and graining add appeal. If you don't have Pine cabinets, a sideboard or pine chair may be all you need of this wood to give the desired look.
3. Add a slightly formal appeal to your kitchen by adding botanical prints framed in gold!
4. White ironstone, in a combination of patterns, is very English country. The clean lines and ageless purity of this type of dishware makes a wonderful selection for tableware. It can be displayed on walls in kitchen or hallway, in cabinets, and on counter top. If you build a collection of white ironstone, you'll never run out of serving pieces, display pieces, and decorative accessories for the kitchen and dining room alike.
5. Window coverings are lovely in romantic cotton lace with cheerful tiebacks made from chintz fabric for color and effect.
6. Hang ruffled lace or chintz fabric behind a glass cabinet door to give your kitchen an English Victorian feeling.
7. If you have a lonely wall, place an extra shelf or two there. Paint it white or softly color-wash it, then fill with china and crystal.
8. Find a tall, handsome broom (or make one yourself) and place in a kitchen corner for show (and use, of course).
9. If your kitchen has space, add a comfortable easy chair to a corner spot. Slipcover with an overscale cabbage rose pattern. Don't worry, it will be as pretty in your kitchen as it would be in the living areas of your home.
10. Flower arrangements should be as my mother always made: informal, loose, and mixed. Use a combination of flowers that are relaxed and garden-friendly (daisies, lavender, pansies, foxglove, roses, ferns, etc.). Use an ironstone pitcher from your collection as a container to place the flowers in.
11. Eclectic collectibles placed informally throughout a country kitchen is very English! If the objects are special and tastefully arranged, it is never 'too much' (I'm going to read this sentence to my husband!).
12. Find decorative accessories that double as serving pieces and kitchen utensils. Old painted boxes work great for toothpick storage and Wedgwood teapots can hold fresh flowers from the garden.
13. Old oversized pots and iron cauldrons are reminiscent of "Upstairs, Downstairs" and of times past, reminding viewers of the time when the kitchen staff was sizable and the guests numerous. These pots work great for banquets or as large vessels filled with dried flowers.
14. Bulletin boards covered with beautiful chintz prints and lace or trim create a color accent to kitchen decor. Such a board is the perfect place for placing appointment reminders, souvenir postcards, greeting cards, and thoughtful notes from friends.
15. Avoid kitchen wallpaper prints that scream "kitchen". Instead use large botanical prints or a stylish dining-room type pattern. Stripes and tickings are also appropriate for an English country kitchen.
And don't forget, always have a tea kettle ready to heat on the stove for a quick cuppa tea when your neighbor comes to visit!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Enjoy, be inspired, and have a beautiful day!
2. Paint an old kitchen chair blue; place a galvanized tin of strawflowers next to the chair. A sweet child's chair will take on new life when repainted in white and stenciled with a trailing ivy design.
3. Give a bare wall new life by adding brickwork, reminiscent of hearths in rustic dwellings. There are do-it-yourself brick kits on the market that can help you accomplish this.
4. Extend a thick wooden pole or dowel across a counter, then hook on a wonderful assortment of baskets. They'll come in handy for serving everything from baguettes to brie.
5. Plant pots of mums and other seasonal flowering plants in wooden buckets and place several close to the door for a warm welcome.
6. Add a clever touch with a pleasant ceramic pig who wears a chef's outfit and holds the evening's menu on a small blackboard. Look for this amusing fellow in kitchen speciality stores and catalogs.
7. Seek out kitchenware made of weathered iron-pot racks and baker's racks are especially homey - to set a country French mood and provide useful storage at the same time.
8. What would a French kitchen be without garlic? Add strings of garlic to the pot rack and hang it next to the door. A garlic wreath is pretty, useful, and easily made.
9. There's never enough copper in the French country kitchen. Hang pots and pans and line up plates along a counter.
10. Fill a tin pitcher with wooden spoons and scoops.
11. Look for unusual French bistro glasses and store them in plain view.
12. Use pretty cotton tea towels to make cafe' curtains --- stripes, florals, or checks all look charming.
13. Wish you had more open shelving? Consider removing the doors from an old cupboard. Or remove doors and rehinge in an open reverse position with the door fronts showing.
14. Stack terra cotta or other colorful plates on open shelves for easy access and attractive display.
15. Keep yellowware bowls filled with fresh pairs and apples.
16. A shiny brass bar cries out for a line-up of fresh tea towels in bright, cheerful provincial patterns.
17. Freshly laundered tea towels stacked on an island or counter are a welcome sight - and a subtle hint.
18. Table linens in toiles and checks are de rigueur for this look.
19. Sheer fabric shirred and hung behind glass cabinets doors establishes a French country tone --- so does cotton lace.
20. Decorative tiles that speak of things French can stand at the back of the counter, ready to serve as trivets under hot pots and plates.
21. Don't forget table linens - napkins, tablecloths, and placemats - in cheerful patterns. Sunflower yellows and cornflower blues go with practically everything.
22. Place a wine rack in full view (be sure to keep it away from heat) [Fill it with sparkling pear and grape and apple juices]
23. Large pot racks are popular in many regional decors, but especially well suited to French country.
24. An old weathered cabinet can be given a second life with a quick stripping and color wash. Then tack pieces of chicken wire behind the glass doors. Or replace the glass panes entirely using chicken wire, plain or painted.
25. Faux-finish your walls to give them a timeworn feeling. A ragged or sponged design can be accomplished easily by the beginner. This is a case where neatness doesn't count --- the irregularity is part of the charm.
26. Vintage kitchen utensils -- mortars, pestles, rolling pins, choppers --- can still be found for reasonable prices. Hang them in a line along the wall or used them as accents.
27. A country stepback cupboard that looks at least a hundred years old is always a perfect touch! No one need know it was picked up at a flea market and lovingly refinished by you.
28. Cover your young plants with hothouse bells, or cloches, for an authentic French garden look in the kitchen.
29. Add a high shelf to display the objects you'll collect for your French country kitchen, such as pretty plates and small copper collectibles. Consider stain-painting the shelf white or soft green.
30. Plate racks come in many sizes and have a variety of wonderful uses --- from strong iron racks that sit on the floor near the table to pine racks that are often a large enough to act as room dividers. If you have pretty dinnerware, it's a shame to keep it hidden behind cabinet doors.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
My life has been blessed by the thoughts and ideas of Brenda, of the blog Coffee, Tea, Books and Me where she promotes family, beauty, flowers, friendships, all things tea time, books, a great cup of coffee and especially...our Lord...are deemed of utmost importance. I will admit by first being drawn to her blog by the word "tea" in the title. But, over time I have come to realize that Brenda reflects many thoughts and ideas that I share, as well as new ones that I simply have not thought of or taken the time to ponder. Recently Brenda awarded Gracious Hospitality with The Blogger Reflection Award. Thank you so much, Brenda! I am honored and hope that Gracious Hospitality can, in a small way, bless the lives of others as much as your blog has mine.
The Blogger Reflection Award originated from the lovely blog owned by a sixteen-year-old, home schooled girl at Lothlorien, Realm of the Lady of Light! This was the description of who should be recipients:
As for my award, it is called The Blogger Reflection Award. Why? The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.
Selecting five recipients to pass this award along to is no easy task. I am blessed daily by the thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and encouragement of fellow bloggers. So, for those not selected, please know that it is only because there was not room enough to mention all the encouraging blogs I read, love and enjoy. My five recipients are:
Bonnie's Quiltville's Quips & Snips
Although I do not know Bonnie well, I frequent her blog and have found her to walk the talk. It's easy to promote a certain lifestyle or course of action, but another thing to quietly live to be of service to others. Bonnie's life reflects what she believes without superfluous words. Her creative and inspiring quilts come second to her quiet service to others. Whether it be to make and give away beautiful quilts for charity or to organize a card and fat quarter blitz for a friend who needs comfort, she is there for those around her, sharing kindness and love. I have been blessed by Bonnie's example and am honored to be able to pass along this award to her.
Inland Empire Girl's Gathering Around the Table
This beautiful blog is a constant source of inspiration! Whether Inland Empire Girl is promoting her love of writing, the beauty of her locale, the joy of sharing her heart and self with her students, or her walks down memory lane, I find connecting points that relate to my life as well. I have enjoyed and appreciated her selfless nature and how it's reflected quietly by her example and life. Being a public school teacher is no small feat this day and age. Her dedication to her students and her love of education is evident and truly from her heart.
Elizabeth's Joy in the Morning Light
Elizabeth's blog is sometimes sporadic, not because she isn't enthusiastic about blogging, but simply because she is busy living life! Her joy for nature, family, education, travel, and dedication to God are expressed through her writing. Even if she hasn't posted for awhile, I daily check her site, simply to make sure I don't miss a thing! Elizabeth lives her life according to her value system, one which includes service to others and family in high regard. She's a creative home educator who weaves nature, scripture, and learning together into a whole.
Clarice's Storybook Woods
Clarice is a dedicated and creative wife and mother who shares the joys of daily living. Through her posts about homemaking, art, or home schooling her expressive personality shines forth. She combines her love for books and art in a unique way that strikes an emotional response in her readers. Clarice is real and simply the kind of person I would love to visit with over a cup of tea or lavender lemonade. I always find inspiration at her blog site and appreciate her selfless devotion to her home and family.
Donetta's A Life Uncommon
Donetta is the devoted mother to two internationally adopted children with special needs. Life revolves around selflessly caring for her family, home schooling, and dealing with the unique needs of her children. Always positive and holding fast to God's hand, Donetta shares the common things of life on her life uncommon blog. Her joy at God's blessing in her life is fully evident in all she says! She truly reflects His character.
Photo: Elm Street Antiques
Monday, July 16, 2007
Emilie Barnes and her best friend, Yoli Brogger have written a book together called Beautiful Home on a Budget. Within the pages of this little book are a wealth of ideas for creative, comfortable, and cost-wise decorating. Here are some of their ideas of things that can be framed for a wall decoration. . .or that can be hung on the wall just as they are.
Bunch of dried flowers with big ribbon hanging down --- or eucalyptus, branches, twigs, wheat stalks
A chair (doubles as a small shelf)
Architectural drawings and blueprints
Tools of any kind: cutlery, farm implements, crochet hooks
Trays (hang with cord or rest on little nails)
Vintage ceiling tins (Paint, hang in groups, use to frame a mirror or print)
Quilts, afghans, or throws
Tools with interesting shapes
Seashells from the beach
An unframed oil painting on stretched canvas (if you like, cover raw edges with velvet ribbon)
Antique doilies or handkerchiefs
Interesting note cards
Photos (formal or candid)
Children's art work
A glass shelf resting on wood or plaster corbels
Doors, shutters, or gates --- the more beat up the better!
Interesting old letters and postcards
Old windows --- hang glass, curtains, and all!
Small carved pieces from furniture or buildings
Plaster decorations from a paint-it-yourself store
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Problems with our ISP have slowed down my blogging, so I will be playing 'catch-up' for awhile as I post things that have been saved away for awhile. Today let's take a trip back to Karen's Lavender Farm. The fragrance, the beauty, the inspiration --- all wonderful! But the best part of experiencing a place like Karen's farm are the people! They are kindred-spirits, gathered from near and far. It's interesting how a common denominator like lavender can make everyone instant friends! Conversations, idea sharing, crafting together, and simply sharing a smile or nod all meld together in a place like Karen's Lavender Farm --- providing a sense of kinship and joy to the day. Most of the pictures posted today need no explanation. Simply enjoy the comradeship and feel a little piece of it for yourself from wherever you are in the world. Enjoy a blessed day!
Karen's mother is teaching the art of making lavender wreaths to these two women who travelled over 100 miles to spend a day at the farm and learn the craft. They were very diligent! It takes 120 bundles of lavender to make one wreath. They are busy putting elastic bands on small bundles of fresh lavender so they can attach them to straw forms.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
A bouquet of lavender fru-fru graces the dresser in the bedroom. Mussie tussies and lavender wands fill a vase, adding fragrance and color to the space. Although I enjoy it now, I will enjoy it even more during the bleak months of winter when there is not a flower or green thing in sight!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A simple picture of the rolling wheat fields not far from our home. They are so beautiful this time of year. It's not quite time for harvest, but it won't be long until combines and wheat trucks are busy on these rolling hillsides. It's always amazing how some of these steep hillsides can be harvested, but the combines are especially made with self-levelers and other devices to harvest steep hillsides. I really enjoyed the play of shadows on golden fields on this day.
3 cups red dahl or lentils
1 cup sliced or chopped onion
1 - 2 tsp. fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 - 1/3 cup oil
Mix this all together and then add five cups water.
Cook until the dahl is tender. Serve over rice.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
If you are reading this, you are probably a blogger, so will understand how frustrating it can be when you cannot blog! Our Internet service has been sporadic, at most, for the past week. Computer usage has been limited to things that don't require the Internet. Late this afternoon the problem seems to have been corrected. Maybe, just maybe, blogging can continue as normal. One can always hope!
Our weather has been very hot, and this year's lavender is done with it's first bloom. Most of the lavender stalks have been cut and dried on large sheets on the floor of the living room. The house has smelled tranquil and soothing. I've been relaxing by rubbing dried lavender stems over a large screen that's set on a Rubbermaid bin so that the lavender bud falls off and through the mesh of the screen and into the tub. I've mixed all varieties this year to make a blend that's beautiful in shades of purple, lavender, pink, and white. It still requires one more screening through a smaller mesh, but the lavender bud will keep indefinitely at this point. Some people say that lavender simply improves with age, the fragrance becoming more pronounced with time.
Most of the lavender has been trimmed into pretty little mounds. After the weather cools some most of the will bloom again for one last, although smaller, hurrah before snow flies!
Saturday, July 07, 2007
We were blessed to attend the wedding of Cynthia and Freddie.
Cynthia has been an important part of our life since she was the seven-year-0ld neighbor who lived next door. Cynthia loves babies, and when Rylan was born she was at the age where a baby next door was a major attraction. She spent countless hours in our home, playing with the boys, reading to them, and helping to care for them. She was like their 'big sister' and I enjoyed having a girl around the house to talk to. It seems just yesterday, yet here she is, all grown up and a married woman. It's my prayer that God will bless them with a long and happy marriage. Both are teacher's and have much in common and a long courtship has given them time to become one another's best friends.