Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everyday use-what-you-love table setting

In April I gussied up our sunroom. We spend about 3/4 of our year using this room as a living room and dinning room. It is almost floor to ceiling windows on three sides and so we get lots of natural sunlight. Unfortunately, there aren't real windows, only storm windows and screens. If it is a sunny day, we can use the room even in February. Once the sun goes out! It's popsicle land. Since we spend so much time in the sunroom I wanted to add some color and whimsy. Above you can see the dinning area. As you can see, we had a small table and mis-matched chairs. I'd been wanting a large wood table for the sunroom for a long time, something with leaves that could seat a large group for dinners and discussions. 

One of my friends was selling the perfect table over facebook. Cheap. It needs refinishing but with the leaf makes a large square. A square is perfect for discussion! Almost as good as round. We bought it but then I had a dilemma. Now the two table cloths I made for our smaller plastic table were too small! Well, I'm a do what you can with what you have kind of gal so we "make" it fit.
 Above you can see the table set for our dinner. As you can see, the table cloth is not big enough, but because the table is wood, it looks grand! Someday when we refinish the table it will look fabulous!
I like to add something from nature to my table. Right now the squirrels are eating the acorns from our neighbor's oak tree. We have lots of their "misses" in our front yard. You can see the acorns with attached leaves around the candle on the table.'s a closer look. You may notice a few odd things in this picture. The first is that I set the table on three sides. Seems odd, doesn't it? Because the table is so big and we have some other seating in the sunroom, we keep the table pushed very close to the wall unless we have company. We sit like this for our meals. It also allows everyone to gaze on my delicious quilt while eating! (Insert laugh track here.)

Another thing you may have noticed are the dishes and glasses. They don't match or even really go with the table cloth and quilt. I have worked over the last year to eliminate paper products from our home. The first area I worked on was paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware. I needed enough plates, napkins and glasses for a party. The plates and glasses you see came from a thrift shop. I buy things at thrift shops when I love them. I don't worry if they match or if there are enough for a place setting. In fact, the only matching place setting I have is my good china. And that I bought at a neighbor's auction for $80 right before Mike and I got married 20 years ago. I'm talkin' about a 6 piece place setting of honest to goodness real china! What a deal.
Here's a close up of one of the place settings. You can see the floral china plate. I just love it! For under $10 I got about 7 large plates, 7 small plates, 3 soup bowls, 4 dessert bowls and one large platter. You can't beat that! They are all either this purple-ish flower pattern or the orange you see in the other photo.

In addition, I bought the Juicy glasses at another thrift shop. I actually think I have four of these but can't find one at the moment. It is probably in our basement with one of the men. I love these glasses that originally held something else: peanut butter, sour cream, etc. I have several others including the floral one on the table.

You can see the linen napkins I made. They are just large squares that I hemmed. Nothing fancy. I do love the feel and texture of linen.
 Above is a close up of my center runner. It was made from the same linen as the napkins. I wanted something that was natural and that I could decorate with items from out of doors like the acorns and leaves you see above. The large floral coasters were made from the left over fabric I used in the wall quilt. We also use them to set our hot plates on to protect the wood table when we eat. They are larger than typical coasters and fit nicely under a plate. 
Finally, here's a close up of my wall quilt. I had recently read Memoirs of a Geisha and wanted something remotely Japanese. I thought this fit the bill nicely. I do so love the colors. The lanterns were a Joanne Fabric find. I believe they are Martha Stewart. I had a 50% off coupon and am pleased with their look. 

So why am I showing you all of this? Well, I'm entering a contest! I don't do that often but I saw the Table Stitch, Table Set, Tablescape contest at Sew, Mama, Sew and thought I'd showcase our everyday table. 

What I want you to take from this post is not that you need to sew your table setting or that you need to start thrift shopping or even that you should make a quilt for your wall. My purpose is to tell you to find things you LOVE. For me, it is less important that the whole setting matches than that I love each piece that is used. We also live on a very strict budget so it is vital that I spend little money and that I think about the footprint of each item I purchase. 

You are probably different.

That's the point. Don't think you have to do what you see someone else doing. Do what you love. Spend some time thinking about what that means. For me, it means simplicity (you see how simple my table is) and color and some craft (sewing). For you it may be romantic, modern, matchy-matchy, store bought, thrift bought, knitted, papercrafted, etc. The world is your oyster!

Go for it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


 I've been pondering the trash we make and the impact a few changes could make for the earth. So today I focused on wine. I do love a good glass of vino on the weekend with a good meal. What I don't like is the paper and plastic bags that package the bottle. We do reuse our plastic bags for our cat litter but the paper bag tends to go into the trash. 

I was given some heavy muslin-like fabric that was going to be sent to the thrift store. I thought it would be perfect for this project. It will work well for another project I have in mind, too. More on that later. 

I used the paper bag as a guide for the measurements. I love making patterns when I have something to base the pattern on. I made quite a few stupid mistakes while working on this. I figure I learn best by making mistakes. 

I wanted the bag to be fairly unobtrusive which is why I liked the plain fabric. After crafting it without the contrasting band I thought it was a little too plain. 

I think the floral band at the top adds a nice touch without being too fancy for a trip home from the liquor store. It could be fun to do some kind of printing or stamping on the front. 

I put the ribbon on the inside (by mistake, actually) but I kind of like how it worked out. I just tied the ribbon once I pulled it tight so it would stay closed. I'm also thinking there could be some other closure options. 

This bag fits a large bottle of wine better than the smaller bottles. I'd like to make a bag for the smaller bottles, too. Once I have things figured out I'll post a tutorial. With the week I'm having it'll be a while!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Read Aloud

My boys are teenagers. 14 (actually a few months from 15) and 16. Yet I do something with them that I have done since before they were born. I read aloud to them. Nolan has always adored books. Nathan does not like novels quite so much. It is difficult to find a book that they will both enjoy. Nathan has a fascination with time travel, so now that they are both teens, I have started reading The Time Traveler's Wife. There are still a few steamy sections that I modify (the joy of the read aloud) but all in all this is one of my favorite books. I'm looking forward to discussing it with the boys as we read through it.

We have been watching Heroes on Netflix for the last month or so. The boys are SO interested in the characters and what will happen next! It is so lovely to find something that we all enjoy and that gets my Nathan to TALK! Go with what they love, that's my mantra.

I'm hoping to get in a chapter of the book before the boys want to watch Heroes. Aren't we quite the exciting family? LOL.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Costuming for the New School Year

Nolan has a pretty main part in the fall play. Not too shabby for a freshman. We are, of course, very proud. I am, of course, very glad to be helping with costumes. Here's the start. Nolan is going to be dressing in a combination Dennis the Menace/Jug Head getup. The hat and slingshot need to be approved and may change before the end but I'm already having a blast!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Meal Planning....It Helps to Be Organized

 Now that I'm a working woman again, the task of meal planning and grocery shopping becomes a little more complicated. I'm blessed that my husband shares the cooking and the shopping. I have found when we aren't organized we end up running to the store almost daily. This is a money and time waster so I'm trying to get organized.

Since I've been back to school/work, I have to go to market on Saturday mornings. We try to buy as much of our food at market as we can. Since I can't just pop in any old time I want, I have to be organized by Saturday morning. So I find a Friday pm or early Saturday am date with my recipe collection to work out well. 

I recently organized my printed recipes into a binder which I hope will help streamline my meal planning. I also find that if I try to stay with one source for the week's meals it keeps things simple. This week I've chosen a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine that I've had for about a year. It has lots of fall recipes, including several that use butternut squash which we harvested from our garden in the last few weeks. 
Here you can see the method to my madness. My mother-in-law likes to comment on the "goldness" of my personality (I like things in order) and this really showcases that side of me. But, hey, I've gotta be me! So onto my method. First I decide how many meals I need to plan for and if there are any evenings that we need easy meals or no meal due to our schedules. I generally plan for 6 or 7 meals at a time. I then just let my fingers do the walking through the recipes. I also keep in mind what is in season and what I already have on hand. We buy our meat in bulk for our freezer so that makes shopping one step easier. 

When I choose the recipes that I want for the week, I write them down along with the recipe book and page number so whoever is cooking can easily find the recipe. I then make my lists. You got it right, I make two lists. One is for market and one for the grocery store. With list in hand I make two trips and our shopping is complete for the week. 

Although I don't always feel like sitting down to meal plan, I do generally enjoy it. I am always happy during the week that the planning is complete because I certainly have less brain power to make meal decisions after work every day. 

I'd love to hear how you do your meal planning. Is there a method you use? Do you live close to a daily market and can shop fresh daily? Do you grow most of your food? Are you a monthly planner? Let me hear from you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 50¢ Tee

I finally made it into the sewing room and actually sewed something! It was quite exciting, I have to admit. I've been out off my habit for about three months. When I am busy doing other things, I don't miss the sewing room too much. I don't tend to sew over the summer in general because our house is so hot. Add a daily three hour commute and school and there is no time for much else. I'm glad to be finished with that part of school and to be into my internship. It gives me a bit more energy, if not too much more time.

The t-shirt you see in the above photo was made from stretch fabric I bought at a local dance studio's garage sale. They were selling lots and lots of fabric. I really had to control myself! The above piece was just about enough for this shirt and not much else. 

I drafted the pattern from an Old Navy t-shirt that I love and have all but worn out. I still need to add the neck facing and hope to get that on tonight. I get so hot at work because I am always on the go and never sit down that I will probably be wearing t-shirts for quite a while. I may draft a long sleeve version of this pattern for the winter. 

In addition to sewing, I hope to be blogging a bit more now that school has started and we are somewhat settled into our routine. Everyone is doing well. I think I feel better about everyone's school and work situations than I have in a long time! It is nice to feel settled.
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