Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting what you want

I'm generally a cheapskate. I don't like to spend money on something when I can get something that is serviceable for less. The problem is that often I regret the less expensive item and am not happy with it because it isn't really what I wanted. 

We've been in our house for almost three years now. Our kitchen still has the original cabinets which are in desperate need of a new coat of paint. They also have the most hideous hardware. The hardware is not original, that's for sure and definitely not my style. So recently I've been bitten by the kitchen remodeling bug. I've been thinking about what I want for the kitchen since we moved into the house.

I want to stick with the 1950's theme. Last year I stripped the wallpaper (you can see it in this post) and Mike painted the walls. I intend to paint the trim and the cabinets a nice bright white and have been searching and searching for the hardware to go on the cabinets. I considered glass knobs to match the built-in china cabinet (I'm still amazed that in the smallest kitchen ever, there is room for a built in china cabinet). So, to see if that's what I wanted I bought a similar looking (but plastic) knob from Home Depot. It didn't do it for me or anyone else in the family. So, I continued my search. After searching through 1950's kitchen photos, I found the picture I shared in my last post. I thought perhaps a simple vintage silver pull would work and began searching for those. 

It was in that search that I came upon the hardware in the above photo. Now, I need 21 of these babies. That makes the search that much more difficult. As you can see in the photo, there are 21 of similar quality. Mike approved the look and the price. They were more expensive than I generally spend on hardware. We figured that it is ok to spend a little extra on something you love and will have in the house for what could be the rest of our lives. Especially when we won't be spending much money on the whole redo. Most people spend $10K or more on their kitchen so $200 on hardware you love isn't bad, right?

This is my third house. Our last house required a LOT of rehabbing. We did it slowly as we had time. To be honest when we sold the house, we had to fix quite a bit to sell. After fixing it, I said to myself, why did I live with it that way for so many years? Some of it had to do with money. I also find that eventually, I don't see things any more. They just become part of the background. 

So, I'm trying to be productive. I'm trying to keep my eyes open and fix what I can now so we can enjoy it. No, I won't redo what I can't afford but our little kitchen redo is VERY affordable. It helps that the kitchen is so tiny. Not much counter top to replace. 

The cabinet pulls came the other day. They are gorgeous. Now, if it would just stop snowing here so I can get out and buy some paint.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I don't have many words today but I have lots of pictures. Just read the captions, ok?
Footstool that was given to me about 5 years ago. I took off the first bottom layer (it's laying on the top)

I thought this was the last layer. Pretty black pattern. Check out the funky green poly stip. Do you remember this fabric?

large shot of what I thought was the original fabric.

Wow. Here's what I found as the original fabric. Wow.

Close up of the peeps.

I adore this man. Love the lute, the flowers and the hanging lantern.

Close up of the lovely maiden. Wonder what she's singing?

Reupholstered. Just a tad different than the original.

Monday, January 24, 2011


 I'm obsessed with my kitchen. Re-doing and painting and maybe even getting new counter top and sink obsessed. In all of our other houses I never quite did exactly what I wanted, always skimping in some way. Well, I've always regretted it and have decided to make my kitchen what I want (while still staying in budget). Our house was built in the 50's and so I'm trying to stay with that theme. I ripped out the doors that were covering the spice shelves. They were obviously added at some point and I hated the doors. You can see by the picture below that I had to rip off a piece of wood to reveal the original shelving. It curves at the bottom which I love but you can't see in this photo.

The photo above shows one of the four handkerchief's I bought to make the curtains. I really wanted vintage linens to use in the kitchen. Since I like to appliqué, I thought it was apropos to use a vintage appliquéd handkerchief to make the curtain. I thought it was historical that when shopping I met up with our piano tuner whose wife happened to have the one shop that had vintage linen. I love that kind of connectivity.

 So I pondered a bit about how to make the curtain. Finally I came up with cutting out the appliqué and sewing them in diamond formation. The red polka dots are from my design wall. I just love that color red. I'm planning on painting the rear of the shelves pink and the rest of the cabinets and shelves a milky white. 
I know, I know, most people paint first and make curtains second. Well, not me. I hate to paint and it takes up so much time. Sewing on the other hand is generally joyous and can be completed in a fraction of the time. I'm hoping to get the paint this week and start on these shelves. I bought some really great vintage strawberry tea towels off etsy this week. They came today. I'm pondering how to make them into cafe curtains for the door that leads into the sun-room. This kitchen re-do is so much fun.

Wait till I show you the hardware I bought yesterday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

wishful kitchen

1950's Kitchen corner:)
photo by pinetree 4 from flickr
I'm working on re-doing our kitchen. I so wish I could add these little shelves. Alas we don't have enough space between the cabinet and the window. I will be looking for the cabinet hardware, however. Isn't this the sweetest little spot to do your dishes? So bright and cheerful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Asian Grilled Salmon

It's been busy around here. Nathan started back to public school today. He needed more socialization and to navigate environments that were not home. His first day seemed to be a good one. Nolan is still at home with me although he's taking a few classes so he's not just here at home. New opportunities are presenting themselves.
I've been trying to eat a bit healthier lately. Tonight I made one of Mike's favorite dishes: Asian Grilled Salmon. It is really easy and very delicious. The recipe is for the grill but I just pop it into a 400 degree oven for 30 or so minutes and it turns out just the same. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
1/2 cup green onions or chives (I just realized I forgot to add these tonight!)
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP sesame oil (use olive oil if you don't have sesame.)
1 TBSP peeled and minced ginger root

Mix last four ingredients in a bowl. Put salmon into a foil packet, sprinkle the onions over the salmon and pour the sauce over it all. Seal up the packet and place on a medium hot grill until the fish flakes, about 20 minutes. Totally delicious.

For a really easy meal, put fresh asparagus coated with olive oil into another foil packet and set beside the salmon. They cook in about the same time. We like our asparagus crisp with a sprinkling of kosher salt.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Silence and Sewing

 The boys went to Mass with Mike this evening. Since I'll be at two Masses tomorrow I stayed home.....alone. Yum. Silence is golden. I turned on NPR, listened to the news and created this little bag. I created a pattern from an old bag that I wore out. I love this size and shape. It's sturdy, big enough to hold a book (the only reason to carry a purse, in my opinion) but not so big as to be cumbersome. 
If the fabric looks familiar that's because I made the body out of a pair of my husband's old khaki's. The fabric is fabulous, nice and broken in but yet sturdier than cotton. Love. Now back to that silence....

Friday, January 7, 2011

A little sewing

At the end of the year (sounds like a long time ago, doesn't it?) I worked on a few sewing projects for myself. Mostly I've been wanting to hone a few of my skills. I've found collars to be a bear and thought I'd work on that. I dug through my patterns and decided to make myself a fleece jacket. I thought this would be a piece of cake. Turns out pattern companies have forgotten how to write instructions. Anyway....I finished the jacket and it is much warmer than I expected. It is unlined but roomy enough to fit over all my bulky winter wear. The downside is that it isn't formed or fitted so it looks a little baggy. Since it's been really cold this winter, I'll take warm over fitted any day.
Next up is what I'm calling my June Cleaver in Red. I really like this pattern but don't think it's the best for my body type. Lots of pleats just where I have lots of belly. I still need to hem it and it's short sleeve so I won't wear it until the spring anyway. Hopefully there will be less belly by then. It was fun to make.

I also borrowed my mom's serger the other day. It scares me a bit but I want to make some long sleeve t-shirts. I have three that I LOVE but only one doesn't have holes. I have issues with long sleeves that don't go down to my wrist because it makes me cold. These tee's have great sleeves and I want to imitate them if possible. I bought a pattern but also noticed there's a t-shirt in my pattern making book. I may try to make my own pattern instead of using the one I bought. Time will tell.
Snow Day Quilt
In other news, it's snowing today. That's probably why I went upstairs and tidied the sewing room. There's nothing like snow to make me want to sew. Remember this quilt that I made last year during the snow? I doubt I'll be that productive this weekend but you never know.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Re-gifting myself.

Happy 2011. I hope the new year brings peace, health and happiness to everyone out there. Of course, we know that life always throws in some twists and turns but I think we would stagnate without the challenges that help us grow and learn and (hopefully) gain those necessary character traits.

But, really, I didn't come here to talk about all that. I came to tell you how I'm re-gifting myself. I guess that's what it is. Let me start with a little history. I've been a sewer since before I went to school. Some of my favorite memories have to do with my mother calling me in from play so she could pin pattern pieces onto me.  She made some beautiful dresses. I remember sitting at those long tables in the back of fabric stores looking through the big pattern books. My mom never let me choose patterns from Vogue because she said they were too difficult for her. I think they just would have taken more time than she was interested in spending. She can make anything. When I was young I used to hand sew the most horrible little stuffed animals from scraps. When I was old enough, Mom signed me up for 4-H sewing. To be honest, I was never very good.

Fast forward to around 1999 or so. I hadn't much sewed for a long time. I made my boys a few outfits but boys aren't much fun to sew for. Then I discovered quilting. That was my passion for about 10 years. This year, I decided to sew clothes again. I'm not even sure why. I think I just wanted to remember how to do it. I made some skirts and tops and dresses over the summer. It was fun and MUCH faster than quilting. 
Oompa Loompa Nolan with Willy Wonka
This fall, Nolan was an Oompa Loompa in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at a local theater. I offered my assistance to the costume designer and had a BLAST! It really made me want to learn more about clothing construction. I found a pattern making class at a local art school and was given the money to take it from my hubby and mother-in-law.

Here's the re-gifting part. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas I was looking at the class so I could register and I discovered that it is a pre-college class. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a class with a lot of teen-agers and also worried it would be a little slow moving. It also was five whole Saturdays (which was a really good bargain for the price of the class). I just wasn't sure I should be away from home all those Saturdays.
Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified

So....I started looking to see if this was a skill I could learn on my own. I found the book Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch. It is just the thing I need to get started. I like the clothing in it, too, which helps. So, after talking with my husband, I decided to use the money for the class to buy a chair for our living room. We have never had a nice comfortable chair for people to sit on. It's something I've wanted for a really long time. So it really is a wonderful gift.

I'll try to post my "journey" with pattern making as I learn it. Of course, I'm a terrible poster so don't get too excited! I hope to start this weekend with a simple skirt. I could use some new clothes as mine are really falling apart. Of course, I hope to shed a few pounds this winter (don't I always say that?) so knowing how to alter my patterns will be a good thing!
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