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August 2008

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Plant

We're leaving for Florida tomorrow.  One week of carefree days and sandcastles and key lime pie. 

But you know what it is like before you go.  The errands and post-its and the cleaning... running myself into a frenzy, turning on my superhuman powers for those last 48 hours.   What?  I don't have superhuman powers?  Now they tell me.

I didn't realize until this week how desperately I need this vacation.  It will be good to put a physical distance between myself and all of the silly things I feel I 'need' to do, and make a list where "play in the sand" and "collect seashells" are of the highest priority.  I keep reading posts elsewhere about summer that make me wistful for the kind of summer I just didn't have.  I just never felt it.  There were personal reasons for some of this detachment, but mostly I just felt like I was scrambling, trying to catch up, catch my breath.  Make it though.  Fit it all in. 

I welcome the school year, the return of schedules, and the sweet slide into fall.  This last hurrah, a trip to Captiva Island with friends, is the perfect prelude to the slow-down I desperately need. To pause and breathe and exhale and take a moment.  It feels good already.

Have a wonderful weekend (+week), friends!  xoxo


Kitchen { Before and After }

Before.  Red walls.  White 2" blinds on the large window set and a black and gold valance.  You can't see in this picture, unfortunately, the 2-blub flourescent shop-light that the previous owners had hung in the middle of the kitchen. Our contractor even paused to say, 'that's like a...a... garage light or something.  What's that doing in your kitchen?'  Ahem.  Indeed. 

Before-kit

(It's really a shame you can't see the shop-light in that photo.  I got really good at framing that bad boy out of photos, though.)

After new paint, can lighting, new window panels and shades:

Kitchen-after2

The paint is now a grayish greenish blueish color called "Smoke Infusion" by the American Traditions line at Lowe's.  It better compliments the warm red tones of the cabinets.  In fact, at one point I had considered painting the cabinets, but the new wall color put an end to that little fantasy.   

The biggest project was the windows.  The bamboo connects the two spaces in a way that the white blinds couldn't, don't you think?  I love the simplicity of these panels and the cordless bamboo shades.  Cordless.  Cordless.  That's a heavenly word. 

Anyway.

Simple

Curtain rods were a challenge, because the space around the window casings is limited.  I was able to find a rod collection sold with a connector to use in corners, which works well for the large window and the small one at its right that were installed so close. 

Kitchen-after3

The ceilings are already 9ft, but it looks much taller in here now.  The panels don't reach the floor for practical reasons (dog, kids, dust bunnies, mop water, etc), but I like them this way, too.  It's very casual despite the dramatics. 

Panel1

Remember when I cut the panels too short?  This is the seam in every panel, about 20 inches from the top.  Rather than try to hide it, I pinked and zigzagged the edges, and finished it off with a french seam, top stitiching on the front.  I kind of like the way it turned out, actually.

There is a short window over the counter in the right of the photo below.  I wasn't sure how it would look with curtains swinging about, but the linen softens all the angles and I do like it, very much. 

kitchen after, long view

So that's it.  Hardly seems worth three weeks of sewing fuss and an entire summer of little projects, but I am happy to mark this one off the list.  It feels good to know that a few well planned changes made such a big difference.  And saved us some cash.  By using stock-sized shades alone (and sacrificing about 1/2 inch width which is covered by the panels) we saved almost $300.  And by spending $50 on some linen for the panels saved us a lot, too -- the linen panels at Crate and Barrel are $99 each!   Ack. Best of all, a $20 can of paint saved us the pain of repainting the cabinets, so that was worth its weight in gold.  ;)  

Table

Thanks for bearing with me over the past few weeks.  I promise, no more talk of kitchens or curtains or shades or anything.  Because there is a bathroom vanity that still needs painting. 


I got it, Grammy. And it's beautiful.

This happened to me, Thursday night.

Popcorn

My Grammy's china and crystal and things showed up during the day (Thank you, Aunt Sue!) and I practiced patience and waited until the kids were in bed to dig in.  The lot had been in storage for over a year and finally made its way to my home.

The employees at the UPS Store must have spent a full day packing this stuff.  It was so well packed; nothing was broken.  All that popcorn -- and entire truckload full -- went back to a local UPS store. They will reuse it; there was no need to throw it away. 

But back to the loot. It took a few hours to unpack, and gradually covered all of the flat surfaces in the room.    Grammy's brooches hang in shadow boxes right above the piano.  It seemed fitting that all her lovely fancy stuff was getting unpacked in there.

Piano-glasses

Seven different kinds of crystal.  Seven???!! Some have broken over the years, so there isn't a full set.  They are so delicate and etched with flowers.  Port glasses.  White wine.  Cordial.  Water.  Red wine.  Dessert.  Curvy coffee-ish glassware.  At least I think that is what they are all for.  I'd never seen such a selection.   I'm not sure how or when we will use it. 

I never registered for china when I was married, knowing that Grammy always wanted me to have hers.  It's strange and wonderful finally having the dishes she used so many times, here in my home.  

_MG_6654

I was washing it last night, thinking about all the entertaining, the stories, laughter, and tears these dishes -- the coffee cups especially -- have sat by and witnessed.  (Mikasa Marlboro Platinum and White place settings and serving pieces for 8.)  

vintage mikasa marlboro

I know they entertained a lot, dressing up that dine-in kitchen with china and crystal, covering the table with huge meals cooked just a few feet away, moving into the formal living room for after-dinner drinks (cordial anyone?) and listening to the music coming from the long stereo cabinet under the front window. 

cups and saucers

I don't remember ever eating off of the carnival glass compote dishes as a child, but they are screaming for tiny little desserts, don't you think? There are 10 of these, and 10 little matching fruit cups.    Oh sweets, you've been cooped up for too long.   

Glass 

It was a strange evening, surrounded by Grammy's things.  I missed her. I had a few weepy moments.  But I was happy, too.  She always wanted me to have her china and now it's here, ready for another go-round of holidays, and luncheons and bosses-for-dinner.  It's solid and 'serious' (as hubs said, the plates are quite heavy) and really, really beautiful.  Grams, I got it.  It's all here with me.  I'll take good care of it, I promise.  

There is a lot to clean and organize.  And to store.  Maybe that old china cabinet in my bedroom will be of some use, after all.  


Tutorial: curtain clip ribbon trick

curtaining.

Let me start by saying that it is entirely possible, probable even, that this tutorial isn't even necessary.  Just because I had an aha! moment doesn't mean it's a new concept. 

But when I read the tip that Posie's Alicia got from the curtain guy  -- about sewing a strip of ribbon to the back of the curtain top, with little gaps for clips to hang on to so you don't have to actually the attach the clip to the panel -- I did a bit of a happy dance.  Because that has always bothered me, but that was exactly my plan for my new kitchen panels.  And it happened to be my next step.  Problem solved. 

I took photos while I did it, so I might as well show you what I did.

=================================================================

First, I pressed what would be the very top edge of the finished panel.  (I had already pinked and zigzagged the edge.  No need to get too fancy way up that high.)

Then I took a length of ribbon and placed it across the top, about a half-inch from the crease top of the curtain, on the hem side.  I pinned the ribbon to it, exactly where I wanted the clips to attach, and then marked about a half inch for the clip to pass through.

something to clip-to

I don't have a photo for this part, but I sewed along the ribbon, stopping where the openings should be, to back up and reinforce the stitch.  Then, rather than cut string and begin again, I lifted the foot, pulled the thread through the machine, moved the fabric to the new position, and put the needle back in, reinforcing again and continuing to sew to the next clip marker.  Like this:

---==     ==--------------==  ==---------------==  == ---------------== == and so on, without cutting.

This left a few spots on the ribbon that were not stitched to the panel. 

I folded the hem over, and stitched below the ribbon to finish off the top hem.  The clips were easy to attach.  And the ribbon(and its stitching) is invisible from the front of the panel.

clipped

And, it totally works.  Much nicer than just clipped on, but still casual and informal.

up

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I am very close to being able to show the whole finished project.  There is still one more shade to hang (and it's a big one so I have to enlist the help of hubs), and then we'll be done.  Thank goodness.  Because I'm as tired of talking about these darned things as you are hearing about them.  ;)


Guilty Pleasure: Mad Men (the tv show, not angry men in general)

I'm not much of a tv-watcher.  I like having cable so I can listen to the music choice stations and keep up with new artists. 

But, friends, I have found something new.  And I like it.

Not since 24(and drat that writer's strike -- we didn't get a season this year.  I'm still bitter.) have I been so intrigued by a television program.

Mm-cast

Mad Men, the original AMC drama, is rocking my world.  First, because the main setting is a mid-sized Madison Avenue advertising firm, and the main character is the head of the Creative department (copy writers and designers).  I have been the entire internal marketing and advertising creative department for a small company for a long time, so how the producers convey the creative process is just plain interesting to me.

Mm-don

But second.  It takes place in 1960.  Oh, the music.  And the cars.  And the parties.  The atmosphere.  The set design is perfect.  From the desks to the clocks to the vintage accessories (children's books!  cigarette dispensers!  lamps! that sunburst clock on the wall in the above photo... )

Mm-office2 

And the recklessness.   They don't sugarcoat it. 

Imagine being angry at your child with the dry cleaning bag on her head, only because she probably ripped the bag off of one of your newly cleaned gowns.  Or drinking and smoking whilst pregnant.  No seat-belts.... children hopping over the front seat or hiding on the floor.   Resting your head on your honey's shoulders on the long drive home after a night with friends.

But what wins me over every time???  The CLOTHES.  Oh my.  Just look at Betty Draper.  This is what she wears to run over and watch the neighbor kid.  (She's just finished making dinner for the family.)

Mm-betty    

And here she is, all gussied up next to her handsome and mysterious hubs, Don.

Mm-dnb

And Joan.  The Gal in charge of all of the office Girls.

Mm-joan

She is somethin'.  Let me tell you.

We heard good things about this show, winning all these awards and such after its first year.  We started watching the first season's episodes on demand since they were available and we were intrigued and, well, we were hooked.  All 23 epi's were there for us just by hitting 'select'.  A show that can get away with things (oh, the drinking and smoking and womanizing) that you can't on regular network tv.  And hubs and I BOTH like it.  Brilliant!

Mm-girls

And then the Olympics began and HD On-Demand decided to replay volleyball and fencing and heavens knows what else in lieu of our beloved Mad Men season one epi's.   I tell you what, that made me cranky.  So much so, that hubs actually suggested I call around today to see if we can get the DVDs.  I must have been in a state. 

Mm-office

The good news is that dear Justin at Blockbuster was kind enough to verify that they do, in fact, have the discs we need to finish out Season One and get all caught up with the rest of the universe.  (Are you staring at the chairs or the cool desk lamp in that office?  I knew it.)  Crisis averted! 

Seriously, have you watched it yet?  I don't know that I like any of the characters, really.  They are all kind of grimy in their own way, but the show itself is immensely likable.  I do like the Menken's Dept Store owner character.  She is smart and successful and kind of tragic. And Betty, who was dressed in her flowy nightgown, shot at the neighbor's pigeons after he threatened to kill the dog, and she grew instantly more likable, in my opinion.  ;)

{ ALL photos borrowed from AMC's photo gallery. }