Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day in Ohio!!!

Turkey Day in much fun to be here this time of year. A big, old, brick house in the heart of Shaker Heights....the perfect background for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Half of our family is here...the other half too far away to make the trip. Maui is impossible and even a trip from Vermont causes travel shivers with three little ones in tow.
We woke this morning to the aroma of "homemade from scratch" waffles. Son-in-law, Jeff has a recipe that is made the night before with yeast and all...the batter has bubbles in it come morning. Light on the inside and crunchy on the outside, they are like nothing I've ever tasted.

Prep work for dinner began immediately after we'd all feasted on that homey goodness. Potatoes, carrots, green beans, homemade cranberry sauce, creamed onions...all in the mix. We even got the teenagers outdoors to do a bit of raking. It's a very mild day here in Ohio.
Yesterday was the pie baking day. Daughter Beven makes the most delicious apple pie I've ever tasted. I had thought I was the queen in that department, but she has me beat. Grandpa (hubby) peeled and peeled and peeled. We all give him credit for our apple pie perfection because he cuts the apples in perfect pieces of equal size so they all cook the same. The pies looked sooooo good. (Look closely and you can see the steam coming out of the pie hole in one of the pictures.) Pumpkin pies are lined up as well, waiting for the whipped cream.

The turkey is behaving after several hours in the oven and looks to be ready on schedule. I'm getting hungry just smelling it.

There will be nine of us at the table for dinner and twelve for dessert. We play a game after dessert called 7/11. A fast paced game played with lots of goofy presents and a pair of dice. We laugh till we cry when we gather 'round the table for this bit of fun.

In addition to being incredibly thankful for my own wonderful family, I'm wishing you and yours a most wonderful Thanksgiving with all the blessings of the season.
And...tomorrow it's out the door to shop!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The truth about my apron business...

My husband occasionally asks me why I don't do more to promote my apron business. He often makes suggestions about cutting multiple aprons at once...sort of developing an assembly line...kinda, sorta. He has bigger ideas than I do. He sees things through the eyes of a manufacturing manager. Friends make suggestions, too. We have the kind of small town here that is mostly made up of little independent shops. There are several where my aprons would fit in perfectly. "Why don't you take a couple into some stores and see if you can put them on consignment? I'll bet you'd get a lot of orders for more!" I hear that a lot. I'm not complaining or criticizing. I'm flattered that folks close to me think I can do all those things. But, truth be told, I work in a small corner of our dining room and another small corner of one of our even smaller guest rooms. In the summer time, it's impossible to keep the ironing board up all day long lest our summer guest think I've got work in store for them rather than dinner. The little guest room,(the oldest room in this old house) serves as an open invitation in the summer for friends and family to come and stay and play in the Cape Cod sunshine. There are also toddlers around in the summer. My sewing center contains a lot of sharp objects....needles, scissors, seam rippers, you name it and it's there. All that stuff gets packed away during the warm sun bathing months. (We have a wonderful hospital here in Falmouth, but none of us likes visiting its emergency room.) Point of story? I can only sew when and where it's convenient. To be a bigger producer, I would need a dedicated space...a studio of sorts. catch my drift.
When I was young, I had a little shop...a boutique and tea room where I sold the dresses I made and the pies I baked. With four kids and a husband to care for, I didn't have much spare time to sew. Hubby would often look at me in bewilderment as I'd start cutting out a dress at ten o'clock at night. On his way upstairs to retire, he'd look back and say, "Are you coming to bed tonight?" I had a lot of energy then, and I needed the late night space and the quiet time to create the things I'd think up in my head during the day at the shop. Often, I'd finish a dress at two or three AM, jump in the car and drive downtown to my shop and put it on the mannequin in the window, confident that more often than not, someone would see it the next morning while driving through town, park their car and come into the shop and buy it. Our local police on the night shift, would often stop by and chide me for making them nervous. A woman visibly alone in a big store window at that hour of the morning is a sitting duck for trouble. But, I never worried. Our little Connecticut town was pretty safe and I knew the men in blue watched out for me.
But this is almost thirty years later. I can't start sewing at ten o'clock at night anymore. I can hardly keep my eyes open till ten. And, I seem to get going slowly in the morning as well...which doesn't leave me that many hours in between to sew. Then there's the grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, laundry, phone calls, computer time, and all the other stuff that takes up time during the day. I feel lucky if I get a couple of aprons a week made! There's not much hope of developing an assembly line.
The final insult to the proposal of doing "more, more, more" is the mess. Since I sew in spaces that have a dual purpose, I absolutely must clean up my mess each and every day. No one wants to eat a nice dinner with the ironing board sitting alongside the table. Sewing gets messy. Threads, pieces of fabric, lint, needles and pins all wind up in places where they don't belong.
Although I love the fanfare and the horns blowing and all from my family and friends, the bottom line is that I'm not the energizer bunny. I can't sew any faster and I can't produce any more and continue to live life as a retiree. I design and sew at a pace that I can manage. Encouragement is always welcome and appreciated, but truth be told, reality wins out in the end.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Old Wood...New Table!

Everybody is talking about recycling these days. But I think about recycling as being something more than just putting a plastic bin out for the recycle truck. I like the aspect of recycling where someone else makes use of something I'm getting rid of, i.e. yard sales, thrift stores and such. But, I also like recycling of a different kind. I think the new term for it is "repurposing." This is my first time joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch,

to share my "repurposing" story for Metamorphisis Monday.
Our old house dates back to 1724. Oh, we've added on a garage and new living room and we've remodeled the kitchen and breakfast room. We still have enough projects here that need doing to last us a lifetime. Hubby says it's his retirement job. I agree. Not only do we both enjoy remodeling and recreating, but it's the best investment we could make living here on Old Cape Cod.

When we took up the old floors to redo the kitchen, some of the boards were over twenty inches wide. Many were rotted and in horrible condition. Not to be denied, I set out to sort through them and save a few. Hubby has already "repurposed" a few of the boards and made several items for our home out of the old wood.
Ahhh...but I can always think of something else. We needed a small table in our new
kitchen/breakfast/tv room. Eating on our laps has proved to be detrimental to the furniture. I spill things. A lot of things. There are always crumbs around me when I eat on my lap. It's an easy but bad habit to develop...watching television and eating on one's lap...Nasty.
Fast forward to this morning when I got to photograph the new "pub" table hubby crafted out of a beautiful old, wide pine board (pictured above) that we salvaged from the original floors. It's a "Table for Two," and it fits perfectly under the double window that looks out onto our back yard and deck. The board turned out to be a beauty. After planing it down, the grain and knots stood out more clearly than I'd even imagined. Hubby has a way of making table legs that gives the illusion that they are chamf
ered. I don't know how he does it. I just know that I like it. We decided to paint the legs and base black to accentuate the top which was, after all, the crowning glory.
But...nothing ever goes completely smoothly in our house. I wanted to finish the table with a stain and tung oil finish. Hubby wanted to use polyurethane. This wasn't going to be an easy persuasion, because using tung oil finish requires more time and elbow grease than brushing on a coat of poly. With tung oil, you need about 5 coats at a minimum. Between each coat, you need to lightly rub it
out with steel wool. There's not much "bang for your buck" with the first couple of coats as they don't appear to be doing anything. But, by the third, you start to see the soft glow of the wood coming out. The end result is a finish that doesn't look too shiny or like it's been coated at all. It just looks like beautiful, glowing old wood. I love it.
Anyway, after begging and pleading, I finally convinced hubby to try the tung oil. Now he's a convert and in total agreement that it reaps a most beautiful finish. I think you ca
n see it in the pictures. I love, love, love it! It's perfect. We ate dinner last night, seated at the new table, on the antique chairs I purchased years ago for ten dollars each. It was nice. It also completes our new room. I'd been switching things around in that space in front of the window, but up until now, nothing seemed right. The new table is perfect. Really perfect. And because it's a piece of the history of this old house, it's even more perfect.

As usual, I'm working on a new apron. Check it out at
And...for the record...I love it when you leave me a comment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where'd everything go???

Traffic was light, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and the book on tape was great. All this on the drive to Wrenthem yesterday to visit With Heart and Hand. The shop is actually in the little town of Norfolk, just across the line from Wrenthem MA. We almost passed it. Haven't been there in four or five years, I guess. My memory was of an old building with a front porch filled with country wares, bittersweet, rocking chairs and the like. Yesterday, there was only a mannequin out front sporting a hat and shawl. I thought we were in the wrong place. But up the steps I went. Once inside, I recognized the owner who was surrounded by lovely displays of silver jewelry, beautiful handbags and gorgeous shawls and jackets. What's up with this? Not what I was expecting. I trekked upstairs to the loft looking for their formerly huge stock of fabrics. To my shock and surprise, the loft was full small wares, quilts, lampshades and odds 'n ends on sale. Although their website says, "over 500 bolts of homespun, decorator weight, toile and crewel fabrics," only a small stash of fabric bolts was visible. My heart sank. After chatting with one of the owners, I learned that the store has been going through some of the aches and pains of other small businesses so changes had been made. With Heart and Hand still makes custom curtains, table runners and the like. But the bolts of cotton civil war prints, homespuns, and fabrics so unique, I just could not find them anywhere else were gone. I sadly picked out two prints from what was left and bought enough of each for four new aprons. Back downstairs, I ventured into the rear of the shop where the furniture displays had always been. (The rear of the shop is actually a 200 year old house.) I was relieved to see a high back Sheraton love seat and several wing back chairs upholstered in familiar colonial fabrics. A huge, pine, dining table was flanked with black Windsor chairs and decorated with greens and Christmas fancy. Lots of reproduction cupboards all decked out and beautiful Christmas trees with ornaments so pretty, I was hesitant to take any of them off to purchase. I found a treenware bowl for the new table that hubby is making and a good stash of the new, 3 watt candle light bulbs that I use in our windows at home. But I couldn't hide my disappointment over the change in the front room. Most of the space was taken up with boutique items. Turns out, the shop is doing as well selling scarves and jewelry as they once did selling primitive and colonial wares. The juxtaposition of the two eras in one building was a bit disconcerting to say the least. Thankfully, Linda of Behind My Red Door had tipped me off earlier that morning in a blog comment, that With Heart and Hand was not what it once was. So, I was somewhat prepared but still terribly disappointed.
Not to be denied, hubby and I had lunch next door at the Eagle Brook Saloon. Now there's a place that hasn't changed a bit. It really feels like an old time saloon inside. Lunch was terrific so we ended the day on a high note.
This was not the first time I've been surprised and somewhat disappointed by either a drastic change or a complete closing of a favorite shop. I guess all good things must come to an end. But, I'm running out of places to go!! More online shopping is in order.
On a happier side, I finished an apron that I just adore. The fabric, as you can see, is a gorgeous shade of Ochre. It looks very old fashioned so I added a row of tiny pleated ruffles across the top of the bib. I think it's the sweetest apron I've made yet. Click on the picture for a closer look and check it out in detail at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lighting Update....

The day after I wrote my earlier post, the new light fixture arrived. It's up and we're enjoying the nice, soft glow it casts on the wall. I'm using a small, seven watt candle bulb that seems perfect. The fixture is simple and not too big for the space. (Hubby said to try and pick out something that wouldn't get in the way of bringing things up and down the narrow staircase.) Thought I'd ad a little bittersweet for a touch of color.

Finished a new apron today. I'll put it up online as soon as it's photographed. We're taking a road trip on Wednesday to Wrenthem MA to visit With Heart & Hand, one of my favorite shops. They have the most extraordinary selection of fabrics. Really unique things, among them....homespun cottons, silk scrim and the most unusual cotton prints I've seen anywhere. Hoping to find several choice pieces for my aprons and perhaps some homespuns for making pillows and curtains for our old house. Heart & Hand has always featured a couple of rooms of primitive furniture and decorative items as well. Keeping fingers crossed that it's still the case, since I haven't visited in a few years. I'll let you know!