Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fantastic Flea Market Find — Writing Desk Chair

 

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Once a week I hope to share a flea-market find with you.  The hunt through flea-markets, rummage and garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops is so much fun! Do you relish a really good thrift find, too?

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I enjoy decorating by mixing older with newer pieces together, and it’s hard to beat the prices of most second-hand furniture.

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The chair was at a church rummage sale I stumbled upon one morning while driving down an old dirt road. Of course I snapped it up. Actually, I think I flopped down on it to claim it before anyone else did. Not that there was a line-up or anything. It figured I didn’t have a dime on me either, so I asked this sweet lady to hold it until I returned from the bank. I think I scribbled my name in large letters on a piece of paper and asked her to tape it to the top.

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It’s not an antique, but it caught my eye. The olive green, velvet upholstery shows some wear, and that doesn’t bother me. The backrest curves forward with contrasting crewel and trim. I like stuff with a history, even if I’ll never know what that story is.

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The back legs curve and give it charm.

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It’s being used at small writing desk in a corner of our living room where the bills get paid, mail sorted and messages written sometimes. I thought about painting the legs off-white like I’ve seen designers do in DIY magazines to make old furniture look more modern, but changed my mind.

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The green has worked well in the living room until this past winter when I decided to change the wall color from cream to light gray.  One Friday night the mood struck and I whipped up a linen slipcover to go over it. (That’s what happens when it’s too cold to go anywhere.)

I plan to share with you how I made the slipcover right over the chair when my sewing machine was down.  Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get the job done! Hope to post about that soon.

How about you…. have you found a great second-hand chair that you just had to have?

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Fresh Raspberry-Peach Fruit Jam

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The other day I posted a delicious recipe for Strawberry-Orange Jam in this post, which happens to be incredible! Here is the same recipe, but with raspberries and peaches. Both call for the addition of mouthwatering lemon citrus and fresh ginger.  Nothing to be intimidated about here as it’s so easy to make and out-of-this-world good!

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10 Frugal Ways To Love Your Home Again

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Even before spring arrives I begin making changes around our house in anticipation of sunnier, warmer weather. It’s also my way of pushing ahead to the next season, even though it may be weeks before it’s officially on the calendar.  I’m ready for change to take place around our home after a long winter.

A couple I know have recently become disenchanted with their home. After decades spent in the same house boredom has set in. They are wondering if it’s time to sell and look for a new house that will bring them excitement and contentment again.

I have felt like that way, and when I do I know it is time to stoke the home fires and spiff things up a bit.  Here are a few frugal-minded, simple changes to consider before making any rash selling or moving decisions:

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Lighten the feel and get rid of clutter.  Grab a storage box and tackle every room in your home to get rid of unwanted clutter.  Collect out of season items and pieces you’re tired of and donate, repurpose or sell. Clear tables, shelves, counters and floors to see each room with fresh eyes. Decide if less is more in each room. Editing is often the only change needed to freshen a space.

Shop your home. Add character to your home with what you already have. Sort through your decor and visualize it in a new way or place in your home. Consider the season. Layer lighter items in a soft color pallette for spring and summer and strive for an airy, fresh appearance. Bring out heavier, darker items for the cooler months to add warmth.  If you see too many black or brown accessories consider painting them white or cream to bring in light. But don’t take away all the black. Black or dark items ground a room, so be sure to keep at least a few to avoid a stark white room. Add a green houseplant to the living room and/or kitchen.

Rearrange furniture. Move sofas, chairs, tables and area rugs to a new position for an instant change. Group pieces together in a different combination for a whole new feel.

 

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Exchange furniture and accessories.  Interchange pieces in an unexpected way. Add a dresser and mirror to your hall or entryway. Trade lamps and throw pillows between the bedroom and living room. Gather framed photos from around the house and corral on one wall as for a gallery collection (I have quite a few on my Pinterest “Gallery” board if you would like inspiration ideas). Create a different purpose for jars, stools, baskets and other accessories.  You can see how I repurposed an old picnic bench into upholstered seating here. Determine if you want to energize or relax a room by how your family spends time there.

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Borrow art from the library. Yes, from the library! Our local library offers art for rent and other art for purchase. Beautiful paintings and sketches crafted by local artists are usually available to patrons at most libraries.

 

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Make a trade. If you have a friend or close relative who enjoys decorating on a budget too, ask if she would like to make a trade.  My sister and I have done this several times and it has worked great!  Another fun idea is to host a swap meet with friends and trade or exchange stuff you no longer want.

Use up old paint.  If you’re like me, you probably have several gallons or cans of old paint sitting in storage. Use them to update a tired piece of furniture, accessory, or to make a wall statement. Mix small batches together to customize a shade you like. Purchase inexpensive samples sold at stores like Lowe’s and blend with leftover paint to make a new hue.

 

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Copy designers and catalogs. Browse home decor books written by popular designers. View websites like HOUZZ or Pinterest and peruse home magazines for inspiration. Catalogs from stores like Pottery Barn are free to keep and packed with decorating ideas to emulate.  You don’t have to make a purchase to satisfy your craving for change, instead enjoy what you have in an updated way inspired by the professionals.

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Create vignettes for big impact.  According to the dictionary: “A vignette is a brief, but powerful scene. A good vignette leaves you wanting more.” This is the perfect explanation for juxtaposing accessories in an interesting and off-beat way. Rotating frames, children’s art, and other collectibles in small doses instead of putting everything out at once lessens clutter and draws the eye to what you really want to showcase in your ensemble or vignette.

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Contrast color and texture.  Try adding a nubby, knitted throw blanket to the back of a solid fabric sofa or chair. A patterned or grass-woven area rug gives dimension to wood floors. Place a shiny ceramic jar next to a muted clay pot. Mix antiques with modern pieces for playful tension. A room with too much texture can look busy and heavy; too many solids and similar tones can appear blah and boring. Vary your textures through fabrics, throw pillows, curtains, area rugs, accessories, frames, pots and baskets.

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Because we are human, phases of boredom and discontentment will probably always come and go — even in a brand new house. But by making budget-friendly and smart changes, we can take a fresh look at our homes and see them as a blessing to enjoy once again.

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Sweet English Pea Salad

English Pea Salad

If you like sweet peas, this scrumptious dish is for you!  I’m the pea lover in our home, so when I make this salad it’s all for me. Of course, I would happily share with you. The sweet and savory flavors meld together for creamy goodness in every bite. Yes, please!

Sweet English Pea Salad


2 large hard-boiled eggs, whites chopped, yolks crumbled
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp dried basil
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tsp apple-cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt (or to taste)
1 pinch ground pepper (or to taste)
1 pinch garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp food seasoning
1 can (15oz) very young, small early sweet peas or Le Sueur peas

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except peas, mixing well. Stir in peas and refrigerate salad for several hours, or overnight. Serve at room temperature.

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The Classic Betty’s Salad & Homemade Dressing

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The iconic Betty’s Salad. Have you heard of it? Even better, have you tried this delicious assortment of tender baby spinach, bean sprouts, hard-boiled eggs and crispy bacon with sweet red dressing?  Betty’s Salad is fairly well-known here in the midwest.  It was made famous by Betty Timko, owner of the elegant Timko’s Soup & Such, formerly located in Toledo, Ohio.  Mrs. Timko has since passed away, and her restaurant is now closed, but at one time crowds flocked to her all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffets. Betty came up with her wonderful salad and homemade dressing in 1961, and it’s still produced and sold in many grocery stores today.

When I was a young girl my family and I would dine in her restaurant for special holidays, usually Mother’s Day.   It was  a large place and classy looking to me.  Betty’s Salad was my favorite choice from the beautifully presented buffet of entrees, soups, sides, and desserts.  I recently made her salad and dressing at home and it was just as wonderful tasting as I remember it from back then.

Betty's Classic Salad


5 ounces Baby Spinach
6 hard-boiled eggs, diced
8 ounces fresh bean sprouts (or half a can, well-drained, if fresh are not available)
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

Betty’s Classic Dressing
1 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, fine dice

Layer all salad ingredients in the order posted. Mix dressing ingredients – chill for approximately 1 hour to blend. Drizzle over the salad when ready to serve. Enjoy!

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The Impressive Black Cast-Iron Skillet — Benefits And How To Care For Yours

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Black cast-iron cookware has made a popular comeback in recent years and for good reasons. Just like Grandma knew, these heavy-duty black beauties cook foods evenly and crispy.  Most are fairly inexpensive to buy and seem to last forever. And they become easier to cook with over time. Authentic cast-iron pans are not produced with a chemical coating that could flake off into food either.

Cast-iron skillets and pots are also versatile and can be used to cook food on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and over an open fire. Most are made from recycled scrap iron which makes them heavy and almost indestructible.  They can be scraped on and foods can be cut right on their surface. The more they are cooked with, the more non-stick they become for sautéing, grilling, braising, baking, and frying all types of cuisine.

There are many benefits to cast-iron and maintaining their pristine, long-lasting condition is well worth the little extra attention they will need for proper conditioning.

Caring for Cast-Iron Cookware

1. Season the Pan – When seasoned properly a skillet becomes non-stick. Most new pans come pre-seasoned, but will cure even more after a few uses. To season, pour enough oil to glaze the bottom and bring the pan up to a hot temperature on the stove. After about six uses the pan will be ready-to-use as a non-stick surface.

2. Daily Care – Caring for your pan is simple — clean while it’s still warm from cooking. After the pan has cooled a bit, use a scrubby and water to scour over the surface, then rinse. Dry the pan thoroughly to avoid rust and rub a small amount of oil back over the surface to fill in pores before storing. Heating the pan to a high temperature before cooking will kill any possible germs. For sticky, or strong odor foods like fish, use a tiny amount of dish soap to clean. When cooking non-stick foods such as eggs, grilled cheese, and pancakes, wipe the pan out with a paper towel the same way you would a non-stick grill. To scour off stuck-on foods pour kosher salt in the pan and rub with a scrubby.

3. Good to Know – Always pre-heat the pan before adding food. The handle will be hot when in use so buy a heat-proof handle cover, or keep an oven mitt nearby. Never cook acidic foods like tomatoes in the pan and don’t submerge or soak the pan in cold water for long periods of time. Avoid leaving food in your pan overnight.  And never put it in the dishwasher.

And most importantly… If you have been blessed with an heirloom black cast-iron skillet, be sure to use it. They can also be purchased at nearly any store, or online.  Be sure to check with your local hardware or thrift store, too.

Lisa

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