Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rusty Art - "What Do You See?"

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies and nanas out there.  As for me and mine, although it is officially Mother's Day today, we are reserving our day until our June visit to Wisconsin.  It's been a quiet day here, puttering away at one thing or another.  Planted some daisy seeds, got the cauliflower babies in the ground along the back of the garage.  Starting some seeds inside for poppies and echinacea.

And then played with this...

 What do you see?  Rusty car parts, huh?  How about this....

I see a cute rusty bug face to peek out of a flower bed.  Um, oh you have your welding stuff handy?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Just Rocks!

Every once in a while you just gotta play a little game of "what do you see?"  I always loved the "I spy with my little eye" game...this is just a touch different.  You're looking at something not for what it is, but what could it be. 

Just a pile of rocks.  Husband dug these up from around the base of the electric pole and around where there was a makeshift wishing well thing that was falling apart.  So what we've got is rocks...and more rocks.  And this is what we did with them. 

So much nicer than buying a ready-made cement piece to direct water from the downspout or adding that extra angled piece of downspout that annoyingly gets in the way of mowing or comes undone and continuously needs to be re-joined to the downspout.  Good thing we have plenty of rocks, we've got several more downspouts to add them to!

The other nice thing about this is that we are making use of what is already here.  I love that.  It cleans up the yard, adds some interest and I didn't spend a nickel!  That just makes my day. 

Only three more downspouts to go...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh Yummy, Sugar Cookie Bars

I do love sugar cookies.  I especially love my Deluxe Sugar Cookie recipe that my kids and I make at Christmas.  But I don't have a large cutting board (it was part of my kitchen cabinets in the old house), and there really is not enough counter space to roll out cookie dough.  Enter the wonderful-ness that is the bar cookie!!!!!  No rolling, shaping, no switching pan after pan...ah love bar cookies! Sweet, neat and fast! 

While not quite the same as our favorite sugar cookie recipe, this is a yummy alternative.  I originally got the recipe from pinterest, but altered it slightly, by substituting powdered sugar for part of the sugar, decreasing the vanilla, increasing the almond and adding just a tablespoon of water to make a softer dough, a more melt in your mouth cookie. 

I absolutely hate rolling out sugar cookie dough and cutting, re-rolling, cutting, then finding room to cool all the cookies, then frosting and finding room for them to sit, while the frosting firms up.  But I do love eating them!  So this kind of sugar cookie bar cookie gives me a taste of that yummy sugary, frosted goodness without all the rolling, cooling, waiting. 

Here's my version of Simple Sugar Cookie Bars: 

1 C. softened butter
1/2 C. granulated sugar
3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 large egg
1- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tblsp. water

3/4 C. softened butter
1 lb. powdered sugar (adjust to your liking)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 tblsp. milk (adjust to your liking)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x12 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. 

Mix butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Blend in egg and almond extract. Stir in remaining ingredients  and mix just till dough begins to come together.  It will be slightly crumbly, but hold together if you grab a handful.  Press dough into baking pan evenly and bake 20-25 minutes or just till the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting. 

To make the frosting, I always use my Cuisinart, it just makes the smoothest frosting.  Start by beating the butter and sugar together, then add the milk and vanilla extract.  You can adjust the thickness of the frosting by adding more powdered sugar or more milk, whatever your preference.  Just make any adjustments gradually and oh may have to stick your finger in and test it!  Isn't that a shame?! 

And here are the little darlings.  So cute. 

Yeah, yummy.   Time for some sug-ah! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

An Un-staged Life: Painting Upholstered Furniture

Here was the dilemma; have in hand two really awful dirty wing back chairs.  Eventually want to reupholster them, but hating seeing this disgusting dirty cream colored fabric.   Yuk, yuk, eeeeeyuk.

And, I was unsure of what color or type of fabric to reupholster them in.  I truly do not want to choose a fabric I may wind up unhappy with, cuz that's kind of a costly boo-boo.

After seeing all the happy reports of Pinterest of folks painting upholstered pieces, I thought well, even if I don't like it, I am planning on reupholstering anyway. And, it will let me play with color and try it out. 

In this regard, the experiment was a success.  But would I do this again?  Um, no.  Oh, wait I did not even show what the chair(s) look like painted. 

I chose the Graphite Annie Sloan Chalk paint to do the honors with.  Why graphite gray?  Husband works on cars...  enough said. 

Three days and three coats of paint (1 and 1/2 quarts), aching fingers and hands...  not sure if the effort was worth the results.  It does let me make a more informed choice as to fabric color when I go to reupholster (sometime this summer, as funds permit).  I do like the graphite gray color, and I know now that I want a linen like finish on the fabric and I think silver nail heads adorning the wing parts of the chair and the very bottom front where there is a slight curve. 

Poor photo, it really is all one color, the streaky look is probably due to lighting (and my poor photography!).   I do still have to stain the chair legs. 

The short answer on painting upholstered pieces, yea or nay?  Nay, Neit, Nope, Negatory, Neine.   I'll throw a blanket over whatever it is in the future and wait until I can get the piece reupholstered appropriately. 

Do check out the various posts an the subject and reach your own conclusion.  There are lots of folks happy with the results.

On to my next painting project.  Another little end table! 

Next time, y'all! 

P.S. I truly cannot wait until I can stage and photo and post pretty things, but in the meantime this is my un-staged life. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hope SPRINGS Eternal

Sometimes I feel it here.  That feeling of possibility, of refreshed and new beginnings.  Sometimes. 

But honestly, more often I feel disgusted by the endless dirt and dust created by renovating and regrading the backyard to prevent water coming in under the house, and my impatience to actually move the rest of our things INTO the house has reached an all time high.  After several months in California in limbo and six months here in Kentucky righting all the structural wrongs done to this house in the past, I need to surround myself with comfortable and familiar things.  My things.  I need to try and make this place feel like home.  This is a small house, but even so, there is still not one entirely finished room. 

And. I. Have. Had. It. 

I keep looking at these tulips...  and am trying to view this struggle as though we are like the tulips, working through the dirt, then bursting forth into the light, finally feeling the comfort and warmth of the sun. 

OK, really Cheryl, you are about to lose it all together, aren't you? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Getting That Country Walnut Finish!

I rambled on a bit about painting with chalk paints, facebooked about painting the old orange-y finish oak chairs, but never mentioned what I was doing with the table.  Not that this is anything new in the land of furniture refurbishers (is that a word?), but I wanted the table top to be a nice deep walnut finish with gray undertones, the table base white.

And, tada! 

Before:   Orange-y 80's oak finish. 

After:  Farmhouse Style Walnut and White

But I seriously questioned how to get those gray undertones.  I didn't just want brown. But I didn't want gray either. 

After stripping the table top (thank you Citrasolve -- and sandpaper), hate stripping furniture. But anyway, after the table top was devoid of it's original finish, I applied a wash of gray paint.  That is, one part Annie Sloan Graphite to one part water, mix and apply loosely with a brush, wait a couple minutes  (but not long enough for any paint to dry!) and wipe off with a soft clean cloth. 

Work in small-ish sections so the paint doesn't get away from you and begin to dry.  What you want is for the gray to begin to seep into the pores of the wood grain, not dry on the surface.  If it's not gray enough for your liking, you can always go over it again. 

Now at this point, you could go with the weathered gray look by adding a wax finish.  You could also add a spot of white paint to some wax which creates a gorgeous soft weathered look.  I thought about doing this, but it just didn't seem to suit this table. 

Once I was done with the gray wash, I let the wood dry for several hours and then applied one layer of Minwax Dark Walnut stain.  Again working in small-ish sections, going with the grain of the wood. The stain needs to sit for eight hours before applying a protective finish, so early this morning I did the first of three coats of Minwax Matte Finish Polymer.  Three coats, cuz its a kitchen table and it's going to get used--heavily.  It did turn out pretty, I think.  Hard to notice the gray undertones in my crappy photos, but they are there. 

Since I couldn't work on the table top anymore last night, I painted the base.  At first thought I was going to go with solid white---both on kitchen cabinets, chairs and table base.  (The white on the cabinets is Annie Sloan Pure White, the white on the chairs and table base is Valspar's Chalk Finish Paint in a white color called Her Dainties (um yeah, who made up that name?).  But having lived with the pantry cabinets for several weeks now, I believe I will apply the Annie Sloan Dark Wax, which will soften the white a bit and antique the edges, creases and corners lightly. 

Why antique it?  I like the solid white, but a little antiquing hides a lot.  It's a kitchen, stuff gets dirty.  I live in the country, stuff gets dirty.  I have a husband, stuff gets dirty.   You get the theme here. 

 Next, another trip to the specialty store to get me some Annie Sloan Dark Wax....

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Kentucky Style Dirty Rice (a quick manly dinner!)

Husband likes spicy, wifey  not so much.  But my go-to Quick Kentucky Style Dirty Rice recipe satisfies us both.  (He does add some Cholupa sauce on his, but the spice in the andouille sausage is just enough for me.) 

The quick part?  This skillet dish assembles and is ready to go in about 30 minutes.  No really, thirty minutes.  I use a pre-pack (already cooked) andouille sausage, so there is no wait time for cooking that up and I chop the sausage and the veggies while the rice is cooking. Then everything is set for dumpin' in and cookin'! 

Quick Dirty Rice

4 C. prepared white rice
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 -2 plum tomatoes, rough chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 -2 tblsp. cumin (I use one tblsp. when cooking the veggies and the other when the rice goes in)
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbslp. butter
1 tblsip olive oil
1 lb. (pre-pack) andouille sausage, sliced into disks

Prepare white rice and set aside.  Heat olive oil and 1 tblsp. of butter in a 10-12 inch skillet, add chopped onion, celery and green pepper, stir and cook until onion is translucent

Sprinkle cumin over vegetables in skillet and stir to coat. Stir n the drained beans and add the andouille sausage.  Add that last tablespoon of butter, cover and cook over low heat for several minutes (at least long enough for the sausage and beans to heat through).  

Stir in the rice and last the chopped tomato.    

This is good with cornbread on a crispy cold winter evening or with a tossed salad and some iced tea on a warm summer night.  Either way you ready to eat! 

Hmmmm, what's for dessert? 

When I Disappear...

GAH!!.  *#&^@*&#@*  

When I disappear from blogging, facebook and pinterest, it's because we have used up our data for the month.  Just another wonderful plus to living in the country; we have no real internet service so we are working with a hotspot device.  Can you tell I am not so enthused? 

I have truly tried my best to plan for all the things I could do here to make this more palatable; a garden, flowers, a front porch to sit out on, planned on skyping with grandchildren and children, I would blog and facebook with friends and scrapping folks. 

Am checking into solutions.... yep, closed and removed a bunch of apps from our phones that we do not use.  Trying to be religious about closing all apps when we get done using phones so the apps are not continuing to update all the time.  Set them to manual update only. 

So, adapting to "country life" continues...