Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hidden Art of Homemaking~ Chapter 5

I'm still moving through this book at a snail's pace, but I am making progress!

This chapter on interior decoration is an easy one for me.  Of all the chapters Edith Schaeffer included in the book, this one and the next one on gardening have stayed with me the strongest.  When I was a new bride and reading Hidden Art for the first time, I was so glad to have my natural inclinations affirmed. And I was encouraged by her stories of making a home on a shoestring.  I think her shoestring was even shorter than mine!  I was greatly encouraged to use what I had available to me and that it didn't take a lot of money to make a pleasant home.  Any place can be made more comfortable and attractive with a little thought and ingenuity and maybe just a tiny bit of money for a package of seeds or a thrift shop find.  Her advice and attitude have served me well for the twenty-six (so far) years of my marriage.  Thank you, Edith Schaeffer!

I am simply amazed when I stop and take an inventory of our household goods and furnishings now. Over the years, the Lord has blessed us so much through the generosity of others, the careful use of resources, and plain ol' serendipity. We've been given pianos, coffe tables, chairs, bookcases, beds, dressers, and a Victorian parlor organ as well as smaller items such as lamps and dishes.  We've bought furniture at yard sales. Our dining table, headboard, and a bookcase, not to mention many of my beloved blue and white dishes, were found marked down at antique shops.  We bought our china cabinet secondhand from an elderly woman who was downsizing.  We've even sometimes bought furniture new~ on sale of course!  None of it exactly matches.  It's a very eclectic conglomeration, but I think our home has a feel of comfort and welcome, sort of like Bag End only with more windows and none of the roundness.

We do a lot of work for ourselves.  I have no idea how many square feet of wall space we have painted in twenty-six years, not to mention furniture.  Like some women, paint is cheap and easy.  I like to say that paint covers a multitude of sins. The one time we attempted wallpaper was the only time we contemplated divorce (just kidding!), so we have stuck with paint since then.  We've saved a lot of money that way and learned a thing or two in the process.  The result is that we have a comfortable home that pleases us and we have the satisfaction of knowing that we accomplished it on a budget and with our own hands.

Now let me show you two projects I recently completed.

Well, this one is almost completed:

We have been looking for a long time for proper kitchen chairs, but nothing has presented itself in the price range we wanted.  We'd been using old metal folding chairs for the time being, and I had the brainstorm just to paint them.  Just buy some spray paint and spray away.  So I decided to do them each a different color for a splash of fun and color.  I say these are almost finished because they all need a little touching up (except the yellow one which needs another full coast, plain and simple), but I ran out of paint.  The nearest place to get more is an hour away, so it's waiting until we are up that way for something else.  But don't they look cute?  And aren't they lots better than boring metal folding chairs even if they aren't exactly our first choice?  I can't decide which color I like best!

Here's a project I finished couple days ago~

Yes, that is two colors of light blue paint you see there on that little edging.  I like this wall color, but we did not paint it ourselves.  If we had, that wouldn't have happened.  This room is slated to be painted probably next summer.  Until then, we shut our eyes to the imperfections.

I made the window curtains two years ago when we moved here.  It took me awhile to get back to the shower curtain, but it's finally finished!  This bathroom construction has a bit of a "make do," vintage feel to it, so I thought I'd just go with it.  Hence the patchwork curtains.  They were easy enough for someone with my meager sewing skills to make, though they are far from perfect.  I just winged it as I went and they came out fine.  Good enough.  As Edith Schaeffer says elsewhere, if you insist on perfection or nothing, you'll get nothing.  This shower curtain is not perfect, but it's a dang sight better than the ugly white plastic utilitarian one that was there.

I mostly used fabric scraps from other projects, but I did have to buy some remnants and fat quarters in order to have enough.  It was still very inexpensive.

I'm sorry I can't get a picture of the entire curtain.  It's too small a space!

A close-up~

Visit Cindy at Ordo Amoris for more posts about The Hidden Art of Homemaking.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ August 17, 2013

Hey!  Look at this!  It's only Saturday night and I'm posting my {phfr}!  (Don't forget that you can read other {phfr} posts at Like Mother, Like Daughter.)


It's been awhile since I've posted pictures of this cutie~

These are from two months ago when we visited for Arane's first birthday.  Now she is walking proficiently and also talking.  She's learning new words almost every day!  You know how you've heard that being a grandparent is wonderful and how you get all the fun of young ones without the work of raising them?  It's true!  I am very much enjoying being a grandmother. :-)
I'm making a shower curtain to match these window curtains.  I will show you when I finish.
For the first time ever, we have two bathrooms.  Oh, the bliss! The luxury!  The reduced need to wait in line and schedule showers!  There was a big blank space on this wall that was crying out to be filled, but I had nothing to fill it with.  Nothing, that is, until I bought the matching shelves at a yard sale for $3 for the pair not long ago.  So this week, while I was spray painting my kitchen chairs*, I also did these with some leftover yellow paint from another project.  Then I rummaged around in what I already have and moved a few things from other places in the house, and now this little corner is more cheerful.  Here's a close-up~
I bought the little bird's nest over twenty years ago for $2.  It's one of my favorite things!
Spray paint is the frugal homemaker's friend.  It's cheap (paint in the can is even cheaper) and covers a multitude of sins.  Even the ugliest piece of furniture will look better with a fresh coat of paint.  I wouldn't want to be without it!
*which I neglected to take pictures of and hope to show you next week

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From My Commonplace Book

"The Reading Room" by Carl Larsson

"Books to the ceiling, books to the sky.
 My piles of books are a mile high.
 How I love them!
 How I need them!
 I'll have a long beard by the time I read them."

~Arnold Lobel

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." ~ Noam Chomsky

“For a liberal arts education is not a tool like a hoe or a blueprint or an electric mixer. It is a true and precious stone which can glow just as wholesomely on a kitchen table as when it is put on exhibition in a jeweler’s window or bartered for bread and butter. Learning is a boon, a personal good. It is a light in the mind, a pleasure for the spirit, an object to be enjoyed. It is refreshment, warmth, illumination, a window from which we get a view of the world. To what barbarian plane are we descending when we demand that it serve only the economy?” ~Phyllis McGinley

"The Church gave up beauty and then found that our proclamations of truth and goodness fell on deaf ears." ~John Mason Hodges

"Thrift is the really romantic thing; economy is more romantic than extravagance... thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste... if a man could undertake to make use of all the things in his dustbin, he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare." ~G.K. Chesterton

 "But by far the most important channel of transmission of culture remains the family: and when family life fails to play its part, we must expect our culture to deteriorate. But when I speak of family, I have in mind a bond which embraces a longer period of time than this [i.e. the sentimentalized affection of family in the sense of two parents and one or two young children]: a piety towards the dead, however obscure, and a solicitude for the unborn, however remote." ~T.S. Eliot

Sunday, August 11, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ August 11, 2013

Linking to Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr} again this week.


Hannah's latest creation, a combination table runner/hotpad.  Isn't this cheery on the breakfast table?

{Psssst! You can visit Hannah's Etsy shop (to browse or to make this your very own!) by clicking on the icon in the sidebar. ---------->}


Lots of peppers from the garden, in fact more than we can eat before they go bad.  So, I sliced and diced . . .
. . . and flash froze them and put them in bags for the freezer.
Here are the herbs I have dried so far.  The basil is so huge I cannot keep up with it.  So is the parsley.  The soil here is so wonderful that if a seed gets anywhere near it, it sprouts.


We set up a sewing room so our living/dining room would look less like a seamstress's shop, but sometimes the table in the sewing room is not big enough for Hannah's projects.  Her latest quilt falls into this category, and if you walked through our front door right now, this is what you'd see:
When she's not working, she covers the quilt pieces with towels so a certain cat, who is not supposed to be on that table anyway (!), does not rearrange the pieces. 
Thanks for visiting! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ August 4, 2013

Here it is 9 o'clock on a Sunday evening, just enough time for a quick {phfr} post.


Hannah's latest quilt.  I love the turquoise juxtaposed with the pink!

The apple tree in the backyard is loaded with apples this year, but alas, in the past they were sour and mealy.  They sure look gorgeous, though!  I can see this tree from the kitchen window and knew I needed to take some pictures.

{Happy} and {Funny}
Our friend Farmer John grew 175 ears of corn for us.  Dave picked it Monday morning and we spent the rest of the day shucking it, cutting it from the ears, and putting it into bags to go into the freezer.  It made 16 gallon bags plus some left for eating off the cob during the week.  My goodness, I don't think I've ever tasted corn this good and fresh!  The weather was absolutely perfect, so we sat on the patio to work. We didn't even break a sweat. Dave thought the saying on the mug ("Keep Calm and Carry On") was suitable for the day's activities.  We did just have to hunker down and get the job done even when were tired of the sight of corn.  We'll be very happy to have it this winter, though!
Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {phfr} enjoyment!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking~ Chapter 4

I am inching ever so slowly through this book, but at least I am making progress, however sporadic.  Cindy at Ordo Amoris has wrapped up the book club, but I will continue to crawl along as I can.
This chapter is a hard one for me.  I don't know how to draw, sculpt, or paint (unless you count walls).  I am, however, fascinated with drawing.  It's an amazing thing to see an artist take such basic things as a blank piece of paper and a pencil, pen, or piece of charcoal and bring something beautiful and insightful out of the blankness. 

But, alas, I have no ability in this area, and so I compensate.  Mrs. Schaeffer wrote about creating cards to give a more human touch, and though I don't draw them, I do use scrapbooking supplies and rubber stamps for my card-making.  Not quite as good, I know, but still more personal than a store-bought card . . . not that I don't use those plenty of times because I do.  Sometimes I just don't have the time to make a card.

One related area that I hope to find time for someday is calligraphy.  I adore calligraphy and especially Medieval illuminating.  Maybe when my homeschooling days are over I can take it up. 

I've often told my husband that if I had any drawing ability, I would put it to use illustrating.  I think it takes real insight and intelligence to be an illustrator and to bring to life an author's characters, settings, and sensibilities.  I have been known to buy books just for the illustrations.  Here are some samples of favorite illustrators~

E.H. Shepard is best known as the illustrator of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, but his illustrations for The Wind in the Willows are equally delightful.  I was excited to find this book for $1 at a used book sale. 


A classic illustration of Pooh-bear and Christopher Robin.  These rich, detailed, and warm illustrations are far superior to the flat, one-dimensional Disney version of Pooh and friends.  I always insist on the original illustrations for the Pooh stories.

My attachment to Eloise Wilkin has a sentimental element to it, I know, but in this one area of my life I unabashedly allow it.  Can you blame me?  Look at her detailed interiors!

Drink in her sweet, cherubic children!

Bask in all her vintage-y goodness and innocence!

Eloise Wilkin
So really, can you blame me?

I first came across Shirley Hughes when Lizzie was a toddler.  She fondly captures all the wonder and adventure of the preschool years in her illustrations of Alfie and his sister Annie Rose.


Catching Up

Lake Michigan--gorgeous! It really has been two months since I last made a blog post!  This summer has been full of traveling, gardening...

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