odds & ends

I’d rather be gardening….but that is a long way off !  Reading this morning’s  post of  one of the bloggers I follow, Johnwhays, renewed my resolve to enjoy these cold winter days and put them to good use.

I finished a pillow I was making and it adds a cheerful note to this funny chair that I painted and reupholstered earlier.  I removed the back from some earrings I had and gorilla glued them onto the ends of the arms.   I don’t go for “high style” here, (obviously, lol),  I lean more toward the whimsical….things that make me happy

I made my weekly batch of kefir in this big, 8 cup glass jar. For any of you out there that want to make your own kefir and haven’t gotten your own kefir grains or don’t want to deal with maintaining them..dehydrated kefir starter works great and it’s quick and convenient. Eventually, I will get a hold of some live kefir grains  but this is  fine for now.

A while back  I learned from another blogger, Agnes from Gaiainaction , that it’s possible to start plants from  grocery-store bought ginger and tumeric  and that she had done it.  I potted some up and will keep them moist.   Hopefully, if I can keep myself from poking at them, they will be growing in no time!

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Hello November

Hello November! Today was windy, raining and cold.  Gloomy  Aconitum, not one of my favorites,  is still holding on to its flowers.  Also called Monkshood and Wolfsbane, every part of this plant is poisonous.  It’s often featured as the culprit  causing gruesome deaths  in murder mysteries.   It was one of the few plants here when I moved to this house 14 years ago.

This little Black Eyed Susan vine, on the other hand, is so cheerful and  still blooming.   I started the seeds inside in early April and  then set the baby plants into a pot,  trellis in place,  6 weeks later.  By mid June the vines had scrambled to the top of the trellis and were covered with flowers.  I save these seeds.   After the flowers bloom, I pull the pods and set them in a bowl on the window sill.  One night in September, I heard  lots of little popping noises. All  the pods were opening and shooting little black seeds out of the bowl.  This is a fun and exuberant plant from start to finish.

Today I made some pizzas.  Trying to come up with a  thin crust that is  both crispy and a little chewy, I  substitutied 1/3 of the white flour for semolina flour and it worked pretty well.  I topped them with mozzarella, cheddar and asiago cheeses and tomato sauce.   Really good! Thinking of something else I wanted to get done, I headed out to the vegetable garden for some cabbage. Halfway there, soaking wet and freezing, I turned around and decided not to make sauerkraut. Better to spend the afternoon with a pot of tea in my favorite chair, making Christmas presents.  Happy November!

Home Made

hand painted table

Table I painted

My Grandmother grew up on a farm and raised her children on a farm as well.  They had a cow and some pigs, geese, ducks and chickens and a giant garden.  Canning, churning, cheesemaking, baking, sewing, soap making, tending the garden and the children…she did it all and nothing went to waste.    She made comforters and stuffed them with goose feathers.  Any stale bread or cake was ground into crumbs and added to the next batter.   Ashes and fat were used to make soap.

I’m told the house I live in now is a lot like where she raised her children.  By the time I knew her, she was widowed and  living  down south in reduced circumstances.  She had 4 small rooms and the littlest bit  of land.  No matter.  She made it her own and she had a garden.  Behind the house was a small tin shed she called her “utility room”.  There she kept her treasures, all cast offs and rummage sale finds.  There were yards and yards of material,  neatly arranged, color coded, on  floor to ceiling shelves that lined  2 of the walls.   Glass jars filled with buttons, thread, yarn, laces and trims, were on shelves along the third wall with pots of glue, sparkles and paint. In the middle of it all was an old wooden work table and next to that, her  foot pedaled, black Singer sewing machine.

From this place, she worked her magic, transforming  her little home into a clean, cozy nest.  She did it all with her own hands.  Everything always had a fresh lick of paint.  Starchy white curtains were drawn back so sunlight filled the rooms.  Chairs and couches, plumply reupholstered, were strewn with cheerful pillows in happy colors. Chenille bedspreads and patchwork quilts were on the beds and her braided rugs on the floors. Here and there, you’d see a bit of sparkle from some old jewelry, on a soapdish she’d  made or on a picture frame.  Pick up a dishtowel, and there was a smiling duck she’d embroidered.   There were always homemade jellies and a scratch cake in the pantry, and homemade bread in the breadbox.  Her house smelled like laundry brought in fresh from the line.

This is what I aspire to, though I have a long way to go.  I have my own little workspace where I sew, paint and repurpose things to make them beautiful to me.   I’m happiest there, in my garden and my kitchen, working on things to make my home fresh, cheerful and clean, where nothing goes to waste and  I can make things that I call beautiful.  Life is not easy, far from it.   Appalling things happen, personally,  globally.   I am learning to do what I can and let go of, or pray about , those things over which I am powerless.   In the meantime, this is where I am and what I do.

Painted rocker with my Granmother's quilt

Rocker I painted with my Grandmother’s quilt

Upcycling the ‘End of Summer’ mood

Upcycled trunk I found for $20.  I painted  it and use it for storage/ coffee table

Upcycled trunk I found for $20. I painted it and use it for storage/ coffee table

This morning I started pulling my Fall and Winter clothes out of the dresser in my closet .  They’re all to be washed , ironed and  laid nicely into the main dresser where my summer clothes are now.  While they are in the washing machine I’ll be starting the process of putting some of the gardens to bed.  I’ll clean them up, feed them up and tuck them under until spring.  Feeling a little sad and a bit daunted at the thought of another long winter, I reminded myself that there is a lot of  creative time in the cold.  So much time has been dedicated to the garden and in the kitchen the past few months, and I loved it .  I do have to admit it’s wearing a little thin.  This post is just a few pictures of  what I worked on in past winters, a motivation to  get those creative juices flowing and to embrace the coming seasons.

Upcycled table, painted and handles replaced

Upcycled table, painted and handles replaced

This post was shared with Mod Mix Monday