Thursday, December 31, 2015

Press for Champagne

It's time to celebrate the New Year! 
 With all the fireworks, celebrations and champagne corks that will be popping tonight.  

Who doesn't need their very own butler's champagne button?

I have mine in my dining room.  Somehow it seems to be out of order.  No matter how many times I press the button no champagne arrives.  LOL

Maybe you will have better luck with yours.
Here's what you will need.

Small frame
vintage button
gold felt tip pen

I found this little golden frame at the thrift store.  It is about 6" long.
I found the graphic on Pinterest.  Sized it to fit the frame added a few gold highlights with a gold marker.

In the bottom of the frame I tucked a couple of tags that I aged and distressed as though someone left them their long ago.

For the actual button I removed the shank from a black vintage button and glued it in place.

This little frame hanging on the wall of my dining room makes a great little conversation piece.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Happy 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kitchen Wall Treatment

When I first moved into this house the wall above the stove was just painted wall.  Nothing very exciting. Over the years I have tried different finishes. I had faux brick at one time. I  painted a mural. Considered tile.   But somehow I never liked anything I had there until I bought some dimensional paintable wall paper.  The ceiling in the kitchen is lower than the rest of the house and the cabinets were stained a dark walnut.  I always felt like I was in a cave.  

On the wall area that drops down for the kitchen I used the dimensional wallpaper. It is just over 1 foot tall. I love that it now looks like metal ceiling tiles.  I searched everywhere for a pattern that would give me the look of metal ceiling tiles and finally found some on the Internet.  After hanging it and letting it dry I painted it white and then gave it a second coat of white paint with a slight shimmer.

 That wall was also something I never liked, it just looked like it was never finished.  Now it actually has a purpose because I have my pot rack hanging from it at the end of my island and it looks decorative now.

So last summer I finally got brave and painted the whole kitchen an off white and the cabinets a bright white.  What a difference.  No more cooking in a cave.  It opened the whole area up and made it feel light and airy. I stood back and looked at my new bright kitchen and decided to add some of the cut out medallions from the wallpaper to each cabinet door and paint just the medallions with the white shimmer paint.

That still left me with the wall over the stove.  Now it was just blank uninteresting WHITE!  I mean a big WHITE square.  That really drove me nuts.  So I  hung the same paper over the stove that I had hung on my little wall of the dropped ceiling.   Yes, it had texture now but still just WHITE.   I tried adding the shimmer white paint.  Alright, now it had shimmer but still too WHITE.

Then it hit me. Why did I like this paper in the first place?  Because it reminded me of antique metal ceiling tiles.  That's it.  Off to the big box hardware store to see what I could find to make it look like metal.  Perfect, I bought two shades of Martha Stewart's decorative paints in small containers in two shades of silver.

First I painted the entire area with the lightest silver and just before it dried I used a cloth to rub the paint off the raised areas.  When the first coat was dry I went in with the darker silver and worked it into the valleys of the medallions creating lowlights.  And again used a cloth to remove most of the paint from the high areas.  Then When that was dry I gave the entire area on last coat of the lightest silver.

I love the dimension and sheen that this created and best of all the wall is very durable and washable. The Martha Stewart paints seems to have a high acrylic finish making them stain proof.  I know because I have splashed red tomato sauce on the wall and it washed right off.  Even the dried on bits I missed the first time.

  Finally, I have a wall over the stove that I really love and it gives me the Shabby Chic/Cottage feel that goes with the rest of the house and also looks great with my stainless steel and black appliances.

And best of all the total cost was under $20.00.  Little price for a big look.

Happy Decorating!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dollar Store Christmas Tray

Here is one more quick Christmas craft I made using Dollar Store finds.

I wanted something simple and shiny over my stove for the Holidays to bring out the shiny back splash I have over my stove.  So off to the Dollar store to see what I could use.  I found this round silvery tray which would be a perfect fit.  And grabbed a package of clear snowflakes.

Found this graphic on Pinterest and of course I sized it to fit the tray center, printed it on white card stock paper and cut it out.  Centered it on the tray and used hot glue to attach.  

How could we ever live without hot Glue?  The world just wouldn't be the same.

Next I dry brushed gesso in a few places around the edge to resemble snow and when that was dry I highlighted the snow with iridescent snowy glitter.   Attached the snowflakes with hot glue.

Added some red glitter glue to the bow, punched a whole with my Crop-a-dile in the top of the tray and added some green string for hanging.

Simple, easy, fast, cost $2.00 and a little glitter, glue and string. And it added a perfect accent to the wall above my stove.

(Tomorrow I will share my simple wall treatment above the stove area.)

Happy Crafting!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Altered Paperback Fairy House

I just finished reading this book and thought it would make a nice fairy house.  

I know, who reads a book and says, ahh this looks like I could make a fairy house.  Mr. K  just shakes his head when I tell him my idea.  But when I was finished he really thought it looked great.

This paperback book was about 450 pages which made me think it would make the fairy house nice and full by the time I folded all the pages.

I started this project by tearing off both covers and rolling the spine together to form a circle.  Don't glue the spine together just yet.  Wait until all the pages are folded.
I started folding the pages.  I alternated every other page.  First I folded two diagonal folds a little off center to give me the pitch angle I wanted for the roof line.

The next page I folded a half page vertical fold and a small diagonal fold to follow the roof line.

I continued with these folds until all the pages where folded.
Here you can see I have about one fourth of the pages already folded.  

And here is the book with all the pages folded ready to decorate.

First I hot glued a knotted piece of jute inside the circle of the spine to form a hanging loop, then used my hot glue gun to glue the entire spine into a circle bringing the pages together making a continuous circle of pages. With my hot glue gun I added bits of lace, flowers, and flat back pearls to the roof.

With my hot glue gun I attached a lace daisy trim to the edge of the roof line.  I found pictures of windows and doors I liked on Pinterest, sized them on the computer.  Cut them out and used distress ink on the edges to cover the white cut edges.  Added some highlights on the windows and door with Glossy Accents and hot glue them to the page base.

  Again, used a lace daisy by each window and added three mini green roses in two shades on top of the daisy.  On the front door I glued a brown flat back pearl for the door knob and three white mini hyacinth flowers to form the door trim.

In the center on the bottom I made a tassel from torn strips of muslin, 3mm pearl rope and a feather that I hot glued together and pushed up into the opening formed by the circle of the spine.

I love the way it turned out.  This would be so cute in a baby or little girl's room hung from the ceiling, also would be adorable at a garden wedding with several hung from the tree branches.  
This gives me all sorts of ideas for the boxes of used paperback books I haven't been able to toss away .

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Week in Review

Here's a review of the this week's posts.


Ebay Auction

Faux Fire


Save a cut avocado


Ebay auction


Merry Christmas

Happy Weekend!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Here's hoping all your Christmas dreams come true.  

Wishing everyone a peaceful and Joyful day shared with family and friends.

I hope you all remembered to buy lots of extra batteries.  The kids are bound to go through a few dozen in the next few days

Speaking of batteries, here is my helpful hint for the day.

Around our house we shop at Costco and buy Eneloop rechargeable batteries.  We started buying them about 5 years ago.  And now they are the only brand we own.  I have yet to have one fail to keep a charge even after 5 years of use.  They seem expensive to buy.  But when you consider how long they last they are very economical in the long run.  It seems every year more and more items run on batteries.  What I also like about the Eneloop  batteries is that they only come in AA and AAA, if you need C or D batteries you just pop them in the adapters and now you have 4 sizes of batteries without running out to buy a different size or storing extra batteries with the hope that they are still charged when you need one.

We have tried other brands of rechargeable batteries but none of them keep their charge or they fail after just a few charges.  Sounds like I own stock in the company or something.  No, just have found a product that actually preforms as advertised which seems rare these days.

Have a wonderful day.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Won My eBay Auction

I recently found these pictures on eBay and placed my bid.  I fell in love with them, they are quite large.  I had the perfect spot in mind to hang them.  I thought the pair would go great with my shabby chic/cottage decor.  I won the bid but when they arrived the frames were so dark they where making the pictures appeared dark and dingy.  And the frames where red and green, defiantly not my color scheme.

I decided to use white chalk paint with gold highlights on the frames to give them a brighter appearance.

And what a difference. They look completely different. Brighter and fresher. The colors look so much softer.  I love them now.  The dark frames where draining the life right out of them. I left the original frame colors showing through in a few places to give them an aged and worn chippy appearance, now with the gold highlights and the white frames these two pictures are perfect.
Such a small change made such a huge difference.

Hello, look who is in my drawer.  I was getting something out of this drawer to hang the pictures and when I turned around to flip on the light and turned back there she was, my assistant, right in the middle of it waiting to help. She is ready to lend me a hand, I mean a paw.  Sorry girl, I can handle this one on my own.

Happy Decorating!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How To Keep a Cut Avocado From Turning Brown

This is a trick I use whenever I have a half of an avocado left over. Avocados are so expensive it breaks my heart to open the refrigerator the very next day only to find my avocado has turned brown.

With all the extra company and meals to prepare this time of year this is a great way to avoid wasting this food.

Place your avocado in an airtight container with a cut onion and seal the lid.  The avocado in the picture below is 3 days old.  Still a nice green color and the flesh is firm.  Perfect for slicing and serving.

I've been asked if it picked up the onion flavor.  And my answer is, not that I've noticed.  But since I love onions and am probably going to serve them together anyway, I really never gave that any thought.

So the next time you want to save an avocado give this a try and then start counting all the money you are saving by not wasting those gorgeous avocados you just bought at the store.

Happy  Holidays! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Faux Fire

It is getting closer and closer to Christmas.  Only 3 days left. Today we are having a much needed rain storm.  I could do without the high winds.  Sure to be plenty of damage in the garden when this clears.

I remember the days when we had a crackling fire in the fireplace during rainy days like today.  The smell of the fire brought back memories of past Christmases.

But, nowadays, in this part of California there aren't many days of the year that you can actually use the fireplace.  

 So I decided to make a "faux fire" screen.  I have a ceramic gel burner in front of the "fire"  if we want a flame.  Otherwise, I put a battery operated candle, in front of the faux flames, that has a timer that comes on every night.  It make my faux flame appear to be dancing like actual flames.

To make my screen I made a cardboard template of the fireplace opening  and then traced that onto a piece of MDF and cut it out with a jigsaw.

Next I painted the entire piece flat black so it would look like the sooty fireplace walls. Then I got out my acrylic craft paints and painted my faux flames.

I began by imaging the semi circle of flames and started with the outer edges of the flames using a deep dusty pinkish red.  Next I used a very bright orange towards the center.

candle with timer

Then a darker orange between the two colors. Lastly I blended the colors in various areas to simulate the dancing flames and went back with some of the black paint to darken a few areas.

When everything was dry I edged my piece with insulating foam tape that has a sticky edge, placed that edge against the board.  I bought  the roll at the local hardware big box store.  It came in black which was perfect and about the width of the MDF board.  It is the type of foam tape that is used for door edges to keep drafts out and seal around the door.

Then I just wedged the piece into the fireplace opening.  Not only does it look like we have a fire going but it also keeps the room warmer by blocking out the cold draft of air that always seems to come from the fireplace opening no matter how tightly the damper is in place.

close up of flames
You can see in the background I dry brushed some of the orange very lightly to make it appear there are distant flames farther back in the fireplace.  Have fun with your flames using very loose strokes with your brush.  Flames are very jagged and uneven.

Hope everyone is keeping warm and dry this Holiday Season.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Fast and Easy Bean Soup

You can certainly tell Winter is in the air.  And what better time to make a hearty bean soup. 

Of course, being busy with Christmas I didn't think about dinner until it was time to eat.
OK, I have a half an hour to get dinner on the table.  What can I make that is quick and fast?
Yep, bean soup.  No you don't need to soak beans all night or cook this one on the stove for hours on end. (Even though it tastes like you spent hours on it.)

Just go raid your pantry for some canned beans and broth, dice an onion, and fry some bacon to get started.

We are mostly vegetarians in this house by choice but every once in awhile I will cook a little bacon.
Seems that is my one weakness.  I can go forever without eating most meat until I just have to have my bacon fix. Like some people crave chocolate.  For me it is bacon.

This recipe takes little prep and comes together quickly, piping hot and ready to serve in about a half hour.  And while it is simmering on the stove you have time to heat some crusty bread and toss a little lettuce in a bowl for a quick and tasty meal.

Best of all in my house their are leftovers for tomorrow night.  And of course the flavors will be even better the by then.

Yummy Fast Bean Soup

Here is what you will need.

4 pieces bacon, finely diced

1 small onion, peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

8 cups Chicken broth

4 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained or
2(15 ounce) cans cannellini beans and 2(15 ounce pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 bay leaf

1 large sprig fresh rosemary

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry instant potato flakes, optional

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Italian bread (optional)

  • Heat bacon in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.
    Transfer  for bacon to a separate plate, using a slotted spoon.  Reserve about 3 tablespoon of bacon
    grease in the stockpot.  (Discard any extra grease, or you can substitute olive oil in place of the 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.)

    Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.

    Add garlic and cooker 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.

    add chicken stock, beans, bay leaf, rosemary, and half of the cooked bacon.  Stir to combine.

    Continue cooking the soup until it reaches a simmer.  Then reduce the heat to medium-low,  cover partially, and let the  soup simmer for 10-20 minutes to that the flavors blend together.

    Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the potato flakes to thicken, if desired. Use 1/4 cup and test for thickening add more it needed.
    Remove bay leaf and rosemary.

    Serve warm, topped with extra bacon.  Garnish with Parmesan and serve with Italian bread and a green salad, if desired.

     I always keep an assortment of canned beans in my pantry for a quick bean salad or soup.

    We like our soup a little bit thicker, so a I add a small amount of dried instant potato flakes at the end of cooking to give almost any soup a little bit of a thicker consistency.

    . .

    Bay Tree

    I have a Rosemary bush growing in my yard and also a small Bay Tree. I love being able to go outside and pick my herbs as I need them.  So much tastier than the dried versions.  And most herbs can be grown in pots all year long if you bring them in during the winter months in colder regions.  I like to keep pots on my kitchen window sill during the colder months.  

    I have all sorts of herbs and medicinal plants growing from Rosemary, Bay and Thyme for cooking to Lambs Ears for cuts to name just a few.  

     I have a Curly willow tree for cut bouquets and the leaves and stems can be crushed to make a growing tea for rooting other plants.

    There are so many helpful plants we can grow in our own yards.  Somehow the knowledge our forefathers had of how to live off nature has been lost over time. I enjoy studying local plants for their  nutritional and medicinal properties.  Many are more helpful than today's modern medicines.

    As an example, every Spring we go into the hills in search of Miner's lettuce.  It tastes like a cross between lettuce and spinach.  I will pick a huge bag of the leaves and we have this wonderful salad all week. During the gold rush of 1849 the miner's ate this wonderful plant that is packed with Vitamin C to stay healthy.  It makes the best salad.  I have also read that some of the high end restaurants are growing this wonderful plant for their kitchens.

    When I was younger we lived at about 2000 ft. elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in the summer I would go out and pick the wild greens every night to make the tastiest meals. 

     I truly believe we need to look back at nature to improve our living and health in today's world. 

    Happy Cooking! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Altered Tin

This is an altered Altoid tin with a Paris theme that sits on my desk.

I used alcohol ink in brown to dye the sides of the tin.
On the front I decoupaged an image from Pinerest that I sized to fit using Picasa, then added a few pink mulberry flowers and a couple of white stamens.  On the edge I used a bronze colored glitter glue for a little sparkle.
I also scattered a few clear rhinestones around the image.

For the inside I glued a couple more images from Pinterest that I sized to fit.
And inside the lid I glued a few more mulberry flowers.  Again I used a brown alcohol ink to age the inside of the lid and edges of the images.

I glued a vintage style brown paper to the bottom to co ordinate with the other colors of the piece.  When everything was dry I gave it the piece a coat of Mod Modge.

I found this mini version of Paris on Pinterest, sized it to fit, cut out and distressed to edges
 to give it a used and loved appearance as though it had been played with many times.

It is just a fun little piece that makes me smile when I see it standing on the top shelf of my work desk.

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Tree is Up

Wow, I never realized how difficult it was going to be to catch up with Christmas after being away for the first half of the month.

Finally got the tree up last night, now to finish with shopping and wrapping and cooking.  Oh no, time is running too fast.

It is hard enough when I have 25 days, now with only less the 15, help.    I am not complaining, just amazed how quickly time flies.

So, this year will have to be the bare minimum for decorations.  I haven't even had time to put any lights up outside.  Instead I decided to just put a string of white lights in our front window for               
this year.  I know the kids across the street are going to be disappointed because they always look forward to seeing our lights from their bedroom windows at night.  Sorry guys, not this year. 

I have been playing Christmas songs on SiriusXM to get the sounds of Christmas to fill the house.  

And my assistant has been no help, either.  She is giving me that "What's wrong",  I see lots of new toys hanging from the tree. She can't wait to get into mischief.  I can just see it in her eyes.

Then I get the old, who me, I'm innocent,  look.

Hope you are all having a great Holiday Season. 

Don't stress, enjoy the season, your family and friends. Somehow we always manage to get done what needs to be done. And, the rest, well that just isn't important.  It is more important to concentrate on people and the season rather than killing yourself getting everything perfect and ending up so exhausted you miss the entire meaning of the season however you celebrate.  So, enjoy the people around you and save some time and energy to be with them this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Most Unusual Hawaiian Cruise

 It all began on a beautiful day in San Francisco.  There she lays, our ship as seen as we crossed the Bay Bridge.  We where so looking forward to our fifteen days of paradise as we toured the Hawaiian Islands aboard this beautiful ship.

Just look at the day, no fog.  You can't ask for a more gorgeous day in San Fransisco.  There was a light breeze but very pleasant temperatures for this time of year.

Grand Princess from Bay Bridge

And here we go out under the Golden Gate Bridge.

At 5:30 in the morning of the 5th day out my husband wakes me to say the power is out.  Wait a minute, the power is out, but we are on a cruise ship.  First thought, someone plugged something in that blew a breaker. Do cruise ships have breakers I thought.

Being curious and noticing there is no sound, dead silence, no AC blowing, no ships engines, I open our glass door and go out on the balcony.  Remember it is 5:30 in the morning in the middle of the ocean.  Pitch black except for the smoke billowing out of the front and back of the ship lit by moonlight.  Wonderful, the ship is on fire.  Of course, I race back inside to tell my husband to get up and get dressed as fast as you can. I hear him in the dark muttering.  Why? 

The ship is on fire I tell him.

I know we packed a flashlight but it is so dark where the heck is it.  About this time we hear the Captain on the loud speaker calling all crew to fire stations.  Forget the flashlight, I grab my cell phone and used that to get dressed.

So there we are dressed on our balcony waiting for the abandon ship single.  Thankfully about a half an hour later the Captain makes the announcement the fire is out.   But we have no engines and are now adrift at the mercy of the ocean.  BUT NO FIRE!

By this time all I can  think is "I WANT A CUP OF COFFEE, NOW"!

Thinking of coffee we climb the stairs to the buffet only to find semi darkness.  By this time some of the power has been restored.  And the crew is doing their best to feed 2,500 hungry scared passengers.  They ran out of coffee, almost out of juice.  They had set up the buffet as best as they could.  There where rolls, yogurt, bok choy and beans. Thank goodness for the fresh fruit and breads.

There we sit floating around the ocean as the crew works madly to get power back to the engines.  We are only about 20 miles out of Hilo.  After a few hours we get power to one engine and the staterooms so we make an attempt to get into the port at Hilo.  After 3 tries the Captain gives up, besides by now they have blocked the entrance to the port to keep us out.  There is no way they can deal with a disabled ship as big as ours.

His next announcement is we are going to try for Honolulu.  So all night we slowly make our way there.
And there it is, Honolulu at sunrise.  We made it.

The Captain did a great job of getting near the dock.  But with no thrusters we needed tub boats to push us the rest of the way.  Again the Captain announces that the crew is working to restore the engines and a special crew has flown all night from the mainland to meet us in Honolulu to work on the electrical problem so we will be able to continue the cruise and reach Kauai the next day.

We all go ashore and tour the city, come back on board and ready for departure.  As night is approaching again we are still in port.  Now, what is going on?

Then we hear the Coast Guard has boarded the ship, but we will leave soon.

Next morning I look out the window and guess what?  We are still in Honolulu.  Come to find out there was a near riot of about 50 people last night at the front desk and one of the passengers had called the Coast Guard.  Someone even threw a stapler at a supervisor.  I guess it got really heated.  So much so that the Honolulu Police where called to keep the peace.  The coast guard spent the night going over the ships electrical components that had been affect by the fire and cleared us to sail. 

We now had some thrusters, one full engine and half power on the other.  I felt so sorry for our Captain as people where blaming him for what was going on.  I was so happy for the wonderful job he did keeping us informed and safe.  By this time there where almost 500 people who wanted off the ship. So we spent the day getting them off and the ship ready to sale for home.

The BEST part of this adventure was why the people where causing such an uproar the night before.  Evidently the leader of the mob had convinced the people that they where all in danger since our thrusters weren't working as they should we would be unable to miss an iceberg in the ocean.  I think someone has been watching the Titanic movie too many times.  Really, icebergs in Hawaii?  Are you kidding me?  And so many people believed her. Mob mentality is really scary.  None of these people stopped to think we where in 80 degree water.  Really, icebergs?

Sorry, but I would much rather be on a cruise ship with engine problems than in an airplane with no engines.

I didn't mention but we where on a Princess ship. 

The Captains' next message surprised all of us.  The company was returning everything we paid for this cruise plus $200.00 dollars each on board to spend and 50% of the price we paid for this cruise off our next cruise.

As a side note, loved this VW one of the dock workers was driving.

Honolulu as we pulled out of the dock heading home

Well, since we where in Honolulu I got on the computer to check out booking a return trip.  I found one we wanted to take, so we booked it right then from our stateroom as there was only 1 room left on the floor I wanted.  We will be making the voyage again soon on a different ship.

It took us the full 7 days with a top speed of 18 knots to get back to San Fransisco and we arrived just before daybreak.

Sailing in under the Golden Gate Bridge

Bay Bridge as we dock

Giant tugboats where straining for about a half an hour to push us against the dock but we where finally home. This is the view of the tug directly below our balcony.

One of the 3 huge tugs pushing us sideways to the dock
I say this was probably the worlds longest trip to Walmart.  4,000 miles to shop at Walmart in Honolulu. 

It was said we broke the food consumption  record for a 15 day Hawaiian cruise.  We ate over 2 tons of food since no one went ashore except in Honolulu. 

We had a great time on the way sailing home, relaxed, watched several first run movies, saw all the ships shows and went to way too may art auctions.

Now I need to hurry and get ready for Christmas as time is running out.

Happy Adventures!