Hot Salsa for My Salsa Loving Kid

The reveal of today’s project is a little different than most. Today, I cooked! Well, sort of. I made salsa!

I’ve been growing tomatoes in containers on my back deck. I did much better than last year and recently harvested more fruit than we could eat. So, I started thinking about cooking something with them and settled onto the idea of making salsa. So last night on the way back from the hardware store, I stopped at the grocery store and bought the necessary ingredients.

In addition to my tomatoes, I bought scallions, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and something I hadn’t tried before, Orange Habanero peppers. The sign under the produce seemed to indicate that they weren’t that hot, not in relation to several other peppers like Ghost peppers that were on the next row down. And I only bought four of them.

So, I started the morning by dicing the peppers. I removed most of the seeds and chopped them very finely. (Sorry about the blurry photo!)

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I browned them in a frying pan in a little bit of butter while I chopped scallions and the cilantro. I added them to the pepper mix and simmered while chopping and dicing tomatoes. Tons of tomatoes!

Somewhere in there, though, I managed to rub my lip and then my nose and set myself on fire! It was then that I investigated my peppers of choice and found out that these are some of the hottest peppers grown! I also found that the best treatment involves dairy products, so I first soaked my nose in a bowl of milk and then found a tub of Philadelphia cream cheese that I proceeded to smear all over my face! A minute or so later, it started working and the heat dissipated. It return immediately when I wiped it off, so I reapplied and decided to leave it for a while.

In the meantime, I finished chopping the tomatoes and added it all to the pepper/onion/cilantro mix and turned down the heat.

IMG_3422Isn’t that beautiful?

I added two quarts of water to the mixture and let it simmer the better part of the afternoon. I actually let it simmer just a little too much, most of the water was cooked away. I hadn’t intended to cook it that much. I may still be tempted to dilute the final product if it is still too hot.

IMG_3424I let it cool a bit and then scooped it into two jars that I had saved (you know me and saving!)… and fitted them with lids. They looked a little plain without labels, so with “The X-Files” playing, I whipped out a personal label, printed them and glued them onto the jars.

DSCN4119Here is the label itself. For those who don’t know, my son’s name is Streeter. Most of the time I refer to him as “The Kid” just to reduce the amount of exposure on the internet.Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 9.00.56 PMHe will be home tomorrow – been gone for a few days – and I will let him try this. All I know is that the burning of the peppers took hours to finally dissipate, so I am opting out of eating any of it. The Kid loves hot – the hotter the better – so as the label says, its for him!

As a side note, I’ve sold three of my recently finished projects and have someone coming for a fourth tomorrow. I love this time of year!

julie

Some progress this weekend, but mostly about organization. You ever have those ‘little things’ on your ToDo list that never seem to get done and drive you crazy?

First, some major cleanup and organizing of the furniture projects. Since there is one really big project that is this close to being done but has to wait on one final piece, I wanted to get it out of harm’s way (and my foyer)… so the project of the day on Saturday was to get the garages organized. The weather was gorgeous! I think it was about the only way to get The Kid out there to help!

Anyway, we took everything out of the garages and put it on the driveway. In the middle of all of it, we had a couple stop by thinking we were having a garage sale! I suppose from the fact that I use those plastic tables for everything. (Its the only way to work if your knees are unable to bend!) They were supposed to come back and take two dressers that I had identified for a CraigsList giveaway, but alas, they never returned. It actually might be okay, as I found a project that I had printed out some time ago to do, but never did. The larger of the two dressers might be perfect for this!

The garages were swept and vacuumed and all counters were dusted to remove sawdust. I find that if I don’t do this periodically, it starts to gnaw on my nerves and I don’t want to be in the garage. About 4 to 6 times a years seems to do the trick. I am an organizing freak, but not TOO much! I’ve collected old rugs from CraigsList to lay down on the garage floors. I like the feel of them and they help cut down on noise and keep the garage warmer in the winter. Since they are ‘throwaways’, it doesn’t matter what spills and I have a shop vac that can almost sucks the color out of the rugs. I like to be able to work in bare feet or run out to the garage for a minute without having to put my shoes on.

Then everything went back into the garages in a nice and orderly way. The smaller garage now holds the ‘finished’ projects and we pared down the ToDo projects to a workable amount. And my foyer is (mostly) clear! When I actually got things all done, I realized that I really don’t have many projects left to do, which is great, as 1) winter weather is just around the corner and 2) I am probably going to be going to work soon. 😦

That only left the deck. I don’t know how much of this blog you’ve read, but I compost on the back deck (just off the kitchen). It started with one simple barrel and has since moved to four! I get the most beautiful black dirt out of it and I keep all that stuff out of the garbage. When you pay for garbage and recycling, composting really cuts down the bill!

I replant tree saplings that I find in the yard to the bins on the deck for later transplant to the yard. My dream one day is to have the back yard completely lined with trees such that you can’t even see the neighbors. Its a many year project, but it is coming along nicely.

My tomatoes that I’ve been growing in containers, have finally(!) been producing tomatoes! The only thing is the tomatoes are all different sizes, but taste very sweet. I think what I did wrong was plant too late in the season. I am hoping all these tomatoes make it to ripe before the first frost.

The Kid and “my other son” (this is a sweet kid who has been best friends with my son since we moved here 11 years ago… he has spent almost as much time in my house as his, so early on I started calling him my “other son”) moved the large barrels from the deck to the backyard. As the only way off the deck is down some rickety stairs (next spring’s project), I opted to have the boys take them through the house and out the front door, then around to the back. Whew! Stinky!

They then dumped the contents into the former garden. It doesn’t look like much from the picture, but this is the contents of two 55 gallon barrels! And just look at how beautifully black!

IMG_2100Recently, our neighbor was planting trees in his backyard adjacent to ours and I asked if he would auger two holes for trees that we’ve been growing on the deck. I love our neighbors! We don’t know our neighbors all that well, but they always wave and we get visits from their little dog Cody from time to time.

IMG_2990The tree in the foreground is Ashla’s tree – for our puppy dog we lost nearly two years ago. Right after she died, I found this tiny little elm growing in an barren pot near the the area she used to lounge in the front yard. It seemed right that it appeared right after she left us. So, I transferred it to the back deck and thought little more about it. Two years later (almost) it was still growing strong, so it became her tree. In the spring, we plan to add a little bench behind it and some puppy paw print stepping stones and a little plaque with her name. Then we’ll sprinkle her ashes there.

Streeter & AshlaThe Kid And His DogWith the neighbor’s new trees and our two new trees, this will become a beautiful reflecting space. She was a pretty special little dog and my son’s only pet and I know it was hard for him when she died. We are only now starting to think about a new pet and it really is more me than him.

I also, (almost) finished up my “couch” project – what I work on while watching movies. I’ll show you that tomorrow. And then I cleaned up that area. Whew! Sometimes it feels good just to stop, take a break, assess what is going on and clean things up!

So, after all that work this weekend, I kind of feel like I need a break! Ha!

julie

Off The Radar For a Bit! Update of Beading, Gardening and Painting!

Things have been a little hectic for me, as of late. Of course that means my project work sort of falls to the wayside while I attend to other matters. It isn’t anything very interesting or even all that important, but it – along with the fact that my son has been unavailable to me – makes the project work get set aside.

Its funny how much we tend to take things for granted. Well, okay, so I should correct that and say how much “I” take things for granted. My son has been involved with something new for him and it has taken him away from home last week, first for five days and now again for 8 days. It really hits home that I don’t have his help – from simply helping me move and pickup items, but also his expertise and knowledge in the work we do. He also has a great sense of humor and fantastic ideas and I miss not having him around for that and for so many reasons. But mostly because he is an awesome kid and I love himIMG_1934.

I’ve been doing a little handwork with sequins and beading, just to keep my hands occupied. Sometimes it is funny how I will pick up a new hobby or skill, this time, just by making a small purchase to repair something. Now that I have the supplies and material, it seems a shame to not take full advantage of it and use more of the supplies. In this case, it was a great little case of a variety of sequins – colors and shapes – and seed beads. You saw one of my attempts a few posts back, but have been doing a little reading up on how to use seed beads and tube beads and have completed a couple of more projects.

I also have an update on our container gardening. I don’t know why I can grow my indoor house plants without even trying, yet when I make a obvious choice to grow something in a garden or container, I don’t seem to have much luck.  Here is the latest shot of my container tomatoes:

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I actually did manage to get my first ripe tomato, albeit a little small. Oh well. IMG_3291

There are some tomatoes… but they don’t seem to be getting very big. The Kid isn’t faring much better with his sweet corn, the one in the container just dried out and the ones out in the yard are packed a little too tightly (I think). I haven’t been out lately, but once I was out to check on the corn, I took a look at my strawberries. IMG_3293Earlier in the year, I knew that they wouldn’t be doing much this year, so I let them just got to seed. Hopefully get some strong daughter plants and have better luck next year. Amazingly, 90% of the plants were gone! Most of the bed was littered with grass, but I was surprised to see that the plants literally were gone! There was a row of strawberries along the house’s foundation, and they had two mature berries. Okay, you want to see sad?  Here was the total “harvest” from the corn and berries. I told you! Sad.

On the subject of plants, however, I picked up a really big, very healthy plant from CraigsList. Somehow houseplants fare much better. In fact, even trying to kill a houseplant intentionally won’t happen. When we moved from California to Missouri some years ago, I just stopped taking care of the houseplants since I knew they would never survive such a trip. But even after weeks of inattention, they were still going strong. I moved them out to the yard when we had our huge garage sale and offered them to people as incentive for buying our other stuff!

So, this plant I picked up from CraigsList was a schefflera. Only thing “wrong” was the fact that it was growing too tall for the office waiting room it lived in! A bit root bound, so I replanted in a new larger pot with some Miracle-Gro soil and it is now a new center piece in my foyer. The first couple of times I caught the plant out of the corner of my eye from the kitchen or coming out my bedroom, it scared the life out of me, thinking it was some big hulking man or something! You can get an idea of how tall it is by how it dwarfs the china cabinet (which stands about five and a half feet. And during the pickup, I managed to snap off about two feet of the center stalk. It recovered nicely and is already sprouting new leaves and one at the base.

IMG_2375I had to move one of my golden pothos over by the door and now it is going crazy with all the indirect sunlight!

photo 1A quick peek at my garage… I’ve prep’d pieces for painting… the head board and foot boards in the picture will be given the “ombré” effect in pinks. I am hoping to be able to go back to all of my customers who bought dressers and nights stands and vanities and coax one of them to adding this to their current pieces. My first thoughts were that the spindles should be given the same paint scheme, starting at the top with the lightest color pink and then at the rings, switch colors, but that might be overdoing it a bit. (In fact, can’t even find a quick image on Google!) The Kid thinks that each spindle should be a different color, and even did a quick mockup for me:

IMG_0434I think I like that as it goes to the simple and clean look (like the dressers) and it is a lot less work! For a “guy” and for as young as he is, he has pretty good taste. I guess the apple didn’t fall from the tree. 😉

julie

Projects Underway, So I Will Show You My “Gardens”

I honestly have no idea how this happens! I just finished five fantastic pieces and I turn around and the garage is filled to capacity with new ones!

Lately, I have been trying to work as early in the day as I can, as the weather has been hot and humid. I don’t have to be in the garage long for me to be soaked with sweat. I keep hoping that it will help me lose weight, but, alas, it isn’t working. 😦

So, the first thing on the ‘To Do’ list this morning, was to mount the circulating fan that has plagued me by constantly being in the way, to the ceiling. A fairly easy proposition and with The Kid’s help, we had it done quickly. And what a difference it makes being close to the ceiling and managing to circulate over most of the garage’s space.

DSCN3645So, as to the fact that I really don’t have anything to show because it is all in progress, I thought I would give you a look at how the container gardening is going.

2015-06-05 17.46.33These are how my started-from-seed tomatoes looked when I finally replanted them in the containers (5 gallon buckets acquired for free around my part of town). I hadn’t gotten my version of tomato cages up at this point.

DSCN3659And here is what they look like today. They are growing nicely! I have been collecting coffee grounds which I am going to mix with Miracle-Grow soil and add to each bucket. Hopefully that will give them more of a boost. I do have flowers on most of the plants, but need to check if I should pinch those off or just let them take their course. Seems that the plants are on the smaller side, at least to me. This is the first time I’ve ever grown tomatoes.

I’m also growing something on the other side of the deck. There are three trees in there, one is the tree I want to plant in the yard to memorialize our dog, who we lost a little more than a year ago. We are going to dig the hole and add her ashes and then plant the tree above it. I have been casting concrete stepping stones that have a ‘paw print’, to act as a walkway to the tree.

The other plants are ‘surprises’. I have no idea what they are or how they germinated or what they will ‘grow up’ to be. Time will tell. All I know is that I’ve always had a green thumb, even when I don’t intend to grow something!

DSCN3663And here is The Kid’s little corn patch. I cannot wait to have home grown sweet corn! (I think they should be taller, though.) This is not mine to mess with though and The Kid just wants them to run their course. It has been so wet as of late, and I suspect that is what is preventing the plants from growing “up”.

julie

Quick Update: Paisley, Painting and Scrap Quilting

Been a little remiss in writing regular posts. This does not mean that I haven’t been working hard and have a ton of projects ongoing all the time.

I am not sure that I revealed this before, but a fair amount of the work I do – in projects and experiments – are sold to fund more projects. That’s why you will see a lot of repainted furniture… I have found this to be the most reliable and easiest way to make money. As a second note, I have been on a professional sabbatical for the past six months, so the furniture projects also help to replace some of the earnings that I haven’t been contributing to my household budget.

Currently, all of the former pieces completed have sold, thankfully!

With all of that said, the garage is filled up! Kansas City has a wonderful CraigsList community, but like everything, it isn’t always consistent. I can go for months without being able to snag decent furniture and then (like last week) it turns around and we have been able to score a bunch of pieces. I had so many projects lined up, that I needed to make a physical list and schedule pieces to make the most sense and still be contributing to the household budget, while still working on pieces for the blog.

DSCN3604So, a shot of the garage… this is three dressers and two nightstands, in my signature pink primer. All five pieces will be done in the same ombré pink scheme and will be sold mix and match. We also have a project dresser and an entertainment center – both pieces that are scheduled for some transformation experimentation. There is also the leftover “hi-fi” that I have finally decided to turn into a “bill pay station”while keeping the ability to play music. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I am doing with it, exactly why it isn’t on the ‘do right now’ list.

One of the fun things I have been messing around with is beading decoration. I have this weird love of paisley, but you wouldn’t find a single thing in my house decorated with it. It is a weird kind of love… but soon hope to integrate some of it into the master bedroom redesign. Lack of funds have put that plan on hold – the most expensive portion is the purchase of fabric.

photo 6Here is the paisley beading project. I took this snapshot with my phone in a fairly dark living room, so the colors aren’t as vibrant as they really look. The felt pieces have all been stitched onto a deep blue background and today I purchased all of the beads and sequin pieces I will need to complete it. Part of the delay is that much of the sequins came in a large collection of colors and styles and with my OCD I first had to sort it all to get what I needed to match colors.

photo 5Here I had started the deep green with glass tubular beads and then started on the turquoise. Lots to do and lots of shapes and colors to work with. I am really enjoying this project.

I have also been working on a small challenge of my own, I wrote a little about it last week. I wanted to see just how small sized scrap I could work with and still be successful. Here is some examples of pieces that I feel that I can use. You can see how small they are by the lines on my cutting mat. I can’t really work with anything less than 3/4″, you can’t get two good seams and still have much displayed in the piecing. I had two plastic boxes, about shoe boxed sized, and have used up the scraps of one.

DSCN3602I had started with a 3″ muslin square attaching the scraps. I think I’ve gotten enough to make a doll-sized quilt or the perfect center to be surrounded by larger scrap pieces. This was fun, but a bit tedious… it seemed just once you got the needle moving you had to stop! But it becomes almost cathartic along with watching old movies!

Okay, that was a quick update to the past week’s work. Lots to do in the coming weeks! Oh, and can’t forget the container gardening… one tomato plant even has flowers! I think I have to pinch back these flowers, as the plants need some upward growth before it can support fruit. I think I need to read up some more!

julie

Paisley and Felt, and Tomatoes on the Vine

Did it again. No matter how determined I am, I simply am unable to finish all previously started projects. Some just seem destined to be hanging around the edges waiting for the inspiration (or sheer boredom) to kick in and I can pick up these unfinished projects. Over in the quilt world, I know that unfinished quilt tops are called ‘UFO’s’ and I suppose that could be related to any creative project.

I can’t even really tell you why, but I have recently jumped on the paisley band wagon. I have always loved paisley, from its simplest form to some of those amazing fabrics you see in upholstery and clothing. I suppose that it has to do with my physical limitations – everyone knows that I’ve been given the okay to have both of my knees replaced – I like to have projects to do while I am applying cold or hot compresses in hopes of helping the swelling and the pain. Sometimes it is all I can do to get to the couch and once there, sometimes have it be almost impossible to stand again.

Okay, that was not a cry for pity. Seriously. I just wanted to explain why I have to have projects that can basically be done from the couch. This paisley project is just such a project.

So, off to the internet to find a paisley leaf (is that what you call it?) that was fairly complex but not too complex. I found this one:

Paisley Starting Point

The whole paisley towards the bottom is what I started with. I am planning on doing some embroidery and beading on this, so it can be too ornate, but I did want to include a lot of color. Here is how far I got last night:

DSCN3582The great thing is that I can add or take away any element I want (or don’t want). Right now, I am not sure I like the center paisley… but while I am beading and embroidering the many layers before I get to it, I have time. I see some of the circles are not very round… will fix those in the process too. When this is done, I am going to sew the whole thing onto a felt book cover. So, this gives me a lot of hand work to do while I am both waiting for surgery and during recovery.

Another thing that The Kid helped me finally get finished is the tomato “cages”. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what to call this thing, so I am going with ‘cages’, although it is so not a cage!

So, you may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I planted tomato seeds in a little starter kit. As they grew, I transferred them to food grade five gallon buckets and they went out on the back deck. They are growing like weeds! 🙂

So, I knew I was going to have to support the branches of the plants, but didn’t want to use the traditional tomato cage. Did you realize that those stupid things are like $6 at Home Depot!? No thank you.

photoHere was my sketched idea of how to support the plants. Well, finally, I made this happen. Now the super great thing is that this cost me nothing. Well, because I had the supplies on hand, I didn’t have to buy anything (that money was already spent a long time ago). It consists of two buckets, 10 gallons of small rock, two 2″x4″s, small “eyes” (the kind from ‘hooks and eyes’) and some rope or twine.

I wasn’t sure whether the twine would last the growing season, so I opted for the plastic rope. Time will tell if this works. So, just eyeballing it, I screwed the eyes into the 2″x4″s about 8 inches apart, repeated on the second board. Then holding them in the bucket, I filled it with small rock. Then I threaded the rope back and forth between the two boards, after I had set them on each end of the row of tomato buckets.

DSCN3576So, here’s the setup. I have already figured out that there needs to be something to keep the two boards even when it starts to get weighed down with tomato vines. Can you believe how big this plants have grown already?

I think I need to figure out better knots as well. Not wild about the neon yellow colored rope either. Whatever I do, its going to have to be done soon, at the rate these are growing. I sure am hoping that I get fruit!

If you look hard enough, you can see The Kid’s corn garden… those, too, are growing quite nicely.

DSCN3580 V2Okay… that concludes the updates today. Over the past couple of days, we picked up three new furniture pieces to work on. The ivory dresser sold, which just leaves the recently completed ‘suitcase dresser’. I guess The Kid is going to be doing most of the physical labor on these.

Okay, gotta go ice the knees!

julie

Lately, I Have Been So Distracted!

There doesn’t seem to be any ramp up time for me when I start thinking about going back to work. It goes from a fleeting notion to a full blown hunt in a snap. Much of my time lately has been taken up with the construction of a job hunt. I have had a few minutes here and there, but it seems that once I get things organized and ready to work, I am tired or distracted by a phone call.

But, with that said, I have finished a couple of projects. The first one is something I’ve done before, but I never seem to get bored with the idea. The suitcase dresser is a very popular style, especially when you’re looking at a piece that may have damage or isn’t the highest quality. I’ve probably done a half dozen of this style now, and it always comes out great.
Although these are difficult to do, they tend to take some time to complete. Especially when the cabinet requires work as well. The Kid was much more involved in this one, as all of the drawers had to have fronts placed and supports both front and back of each drawer. One drawer had to almost be rebuilt from scratch, the one good thing is that all the pieces were there and just needed to be put back together.

I created a tutorial some time back, you can see it Suitcase Dresser Tutorial. I didn’t take many photos, since I’ve done the tutorial. I will tell you that if you have dedicated space to work on it, it helps. I did most of the work in the kitchen and dining room, and had to constantly move the drawers as I progressed with the work.

DSCN3560I tend to work on it ‘assembly line style’, that is, I glue the fabrics on all of the drawers first, then glue the tucks on all four sides. Since each side needs to be clamped while is it drying, I can only do one side at a time. So I have to find a way to stack them out of the way while the glue dries.

I’ve gotten some things done with the container gardening… if you recall, I am attempting to grow tomatoes on the deck. So far, so good.

DSCN3564That’s The Kid’s one stalk of corn, he wanted to try just one. He also planted corn in his backyard garden.

DSCN3565We’ve had so much rain that everything is so green and the grass around the garden seems to have overtaken much of it. On this side, we attempted to build a small berm; the yard slopes such that when it rains, we end up with a little stream. I call it “a river runs through it’… and we’ve now figured out to avoid it, but with the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had, it has widened. We experienced standing water around the seeds and we worried that nothing would ever sprout. But it does finally seem to have a foothold and now we have to watch the garden to make sure it gets the proper amount of water.

DSCN3575And speaking of growing… I rescued this little violet when it was on its last leg about a year/year and a half ago. Someone had left it behind when they left their job and it sat for nearly two weeks without being watered or attended to. It was sad. I brought it home and repotted it in a larger pot in MiracleGro soil. And almost immediately this thing started sprouting new leaves and flowers. It has given me almost nonstop flowers ever since. Don’t those little purple flowers just make your heart smile?DSCN3571On the other hand (or should I say knee), I am now forced to ice or apply heat to both knees almost daily. The ice packs that I’ve been using have started to leak and I never really liked them anyway. They never really fit right against my knees, consequently, I did not get the full benefit. I had seen this ice packs using rice and you can both heat them up or cool them down.DSCN3572 I actually had bought two bags of rice awhile back and with so little crafting time, I thought maybe if I just cranked out a few smaller projects, I might feel like I am accomplishing something. The project is simple enough… I would cut some muslin fabric and sew the edges together leaving one open side; to keep the rice from bunching up on one end or the other, I added some baffles. Then using soft fleece, I made each one a cover. I used velcro for the opening – this way if the covers get dirty or wet, then can just be thrown into the washer/dryer.

Front of Denim Hems BagSo, I’ve also attempted to use up some of the denim that I cut up a few weeks ago. The main bulk of the denim is going into one or the other of two main projects: a braided rag rug and reupholstering a wing chair.

That leaves me with pant leg hems (2 per each pair of jeans), back pockets (2 per) and a waistband. So, I took the plastic bag of hems and sat down in front of the sewing machine and started sewing them together. Once I had a sizable piece of fabric, it hit me… this would make a terrific all purpose bag!

Back of Denim Hems BagI have always been a fan of canvas bags – we use them for groceries and I carry them into many places that I shop. I had found one that was about the right size of the piece that I had sewn, so opted to use it as sort of a lining. With it in place, I then used a waistband to finish the bag.

I found an older bag that had a beautiful handle and removed the rivets that were holding the handle in place. I cut four pieces of leather as the support of the handles. I couldn’t get the rivets to hold with my home kit, so I’ve opted to find some place that does leather work. I also want this place to stitch the bag pocket, as there is too many layers for my sewing machine. That is the thing with denim, it gets too thick very quickly. In fact, during this entire process, I broke 18 needles! And these needles were specifically for denim and other heavy projects. It is just as you work, the layers can add up very quickly… especially when you’re talking about seams!

DSCN3570On the other end of the sewing spectrum, I’ve been doing some hand sewing. I just start a with a circle of felt – whatever color I have on hand – and start adding stitches and have been using beads on many of the pieces. I didn’t have a specific project in mind, but while perusing Pinterest, I saw some pin cushions that looked similar. So, violá!

DSCN3569Won’t these be the most adorable little pin cushions?

DSCN3568And the great thing about this, is, this will give me a chance to use up much of my scrap felt. I can sit and watch television and stitch to my heart’s content. (Someday I will get back to working on my My Huge Cross Stitch Project. I just had to take a break from it for a while.)DSCN3567And the last little project… My son built this in his wood shop class a couple of years ago and I never knew exactly what to do with it. But working lately in my home office lately has shown that for the health of my knees, I need to have my feet elevated. And what better way to do it than with this little footstool! I painted it my signature red and I had just enough fabric to cover the foam that I added (material is left over from re-cover my dining room chairs and pillow covers for the couch). Don’t you just love it when things come together?VioletsSo, I am going to leave you with another shot of my happy little violets!

julie

Another Saga in The Never Ending List of Projects

I feel like I haven’t written anything in a long time, and if you don’t count the last two quick posts about my “ible”, it has been more than a week. Doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten things done though. I think I may just be getting a little lazy about documenting it.

So, a couple of previously finished pieces have been sold and making a bit of room in both the house and the garage. It almost seems that there is a ebb and flow to how the pieces sell. I will have a few pieces for a while, adding to them as I complete projects and then all of a sudden a bunch of things will sell. But sell they have and I am happy to have some cash to begin new projects.

First up, I wanted to provide an update on our gardening. We finally had a break from the rain and we were able to get the corn planted into the garden. We stacked grass clumps around the two sides to help deter the little rain stream that is created every time it rains. We also planted additional seed, such that we could get some kind of result.

2015-06-05 17.46.42

The Kid wanted to keep one stalk in a bucket, sort of as a control subject. I like to have him take an interest in something other than his constant computer use. I am trying with all my might to make him a well rounded young man.

My tomatoes have also been transplanted into their containers. Its has been a hit or miss with the watering so thankfully I started with more starts than I will eventually need.

I still need to complete my plan for the supporting structure, what I plan to use in place of tomato cages. They are still quite little, so I have some time.

The next project that I am working on is another ‘suitcase’ dresser. I love these and have quite a bit of the materials on hand for them. They always seem to sell quickly, too. This one I opted to paint the box in the aubergine color (used on the little Aubergine Victrola cabinet remake).

2015-06-12 18.45.17And here are the drawers in progress…

One of the things I love the most about this particular project is that it allows so much creativity! There is something deeply satisfying about picking out the fabric, being able to look and touch all the different colors, weights, weaves and styles. And because I use a heavier fabric – usually used in upholstery – it is a whole new set of fabrics.

The particular dresser that I had picked up, wasn’t the best quality. In fact, the drawer fronts were molded plastic! I only found this out but attempting to remove the quirky design on all of the drawers. I am so mad at myself for not taking a “before” photo! These two dressers sort of resemble the style of the drawers – not exactly, but it gives you an idea of what it looked like:

The drawer fronts, once I removed the molded plastic section – turned out to be nothing but 1/2″ fiberboard (and not in very good shape with what it took to remove the drawer front). It took a few days of thinking, considering and exploring, and in the end I opted to just leave the fronts and cover it with a solid piece of 1/4″ high quality plywood. This would make it perfect for then doing the fabric “suitcase” fronts.

2015-06-07 17.43.56I also have been working on the very beautiful waterfall dresser. I had high hopes when I bought it that the veneer breaks could be repaired and  with only a little effort, it could be restored to its natural beauty.

Unfortunately, as I started attempting to re-glue the veneer, it literally just fell off. All the drawers were the same and I was just heartbroken! Unfortunately, after sitting in garages and basements, the elements were just more than that poor veneer could deal with. In my estimation and my opinion, the veneer – and more importantly the glue used to secure it – just dries out. There was just enough contact to make getting it off in single pieces impossible. If it had, I could have simply reattached all the pieces. It was just not to be. Sadly.

So, now it is getting updated to a gorgeous ivory – Toasted Marshmallow, to be exact – and it will get new hardware. Oh, did I mention that the previous hardware on this dresser was immaculate! Not a scratch or break anywhere. I don’t think that hardware really matches the style of the dresser once it was repainted though. I opted to list it on eBay and they sold for $65!

I opted instead, to use hardware that I have in my arsenal. I often find hardware at different stores and yard sales and estate sales. Sometimes the hardware comes from an older piece of furniture that I rescued. In this case, these came from my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you live close to one, you should check them out. And often as they get new donations all the time. And you are helping your community to boot!

2015-06-12 18.45.48I had ten in two different styles that I wanted to ‘try out’. The dresser is impressive and needed something ‘large’ to compliment it. The style closer to you in the photo has won. I love this color, it is a shiny gold with a hint of pink – it is actually named “Rose Gold” (from Rust-Oleum). You can see in the corner of the photo a wood applique that I am also installing on the dresser. It too was painted.

2015-06-12 18.45.56A closer look… I love the sparkles! Its beautiful in a quiet sort of way.

2015-06-07 17.26.36Here is the cabinet ready for primer and then paint:

2015-06-12 18.45.33As I mentioned, the veneer just fell off the drawer fronts, but the veneer on the body was in pretty good shape. I only had to patch two small areas, one on either side. Here is the dresser following its third coat of paint.

Here are the drawers, prep’d and ready for painting. And with three coats of paint that followed a primer layer.

2015-06-05 22.17.43One last project in the works. These are the inner seams from all those pairs of jeans that I took apart. I curled them up and secured with a pin temporarily. I think that this will make a very interesting rug and have to figure out how to permanently secure them and attach them to a rug backing. You see in the lower right hand corner of the photo that I have some not currently curled and am hoping to use them to fill in some of the blank areas in the form of little curlicues.Denim Circle3There is a little more work to be done, obviously. This is one of the side projects of taking apart all of those pairs of jeans. I also started the project I hinted about in the deconstructing post. The problem is that working with so many layers in seams with only a standard sewing machine is that needles break. A lot. I went through 12 before I decided to order some heavy duty needles online and will wait to finish up when they arrive.

2015-06-05 17.46.50I found this little guy sprouting up from between boards in the back deck. I love how nature does what she wants! I pulled him up carefully (along with some from the front) and planted them in a long planter box on the back deck. I really would like to have tons and tons of trees on the property. And I love an underdog!

julie

Corn and Tomatoes: Traditional and Container Gardening

This will be the fourth year that The Kid and I have attempted gardening. The first year was pumpkins in the ground in the backyard. I think we actually got one little pumpkin. The next year, we bolstered the ground with Miracle-Gro and made an attempt at watermelons. We had tons of flowers but not a single melon! The Kid was seriously bummed.

At the same time, I planted my first strawberry plants in the area under the ‘martini deck’ that hangs off the master bedroom… it gets great moisture and gets great morning sun and then is shaded from the afternoon heat. The second year saw more berries but I knew that it was going to take at least two years to get really established plants and fruit. I lost some of the peripheral plants and want to add some starts, but first need to re-plant some from the back to the front and make a pathway to get around the two back sides against the house. The ground has been so wet that stepping in between the plants has caused my feet to sink low enough in the soil to completely cover my feet and shoes!

Last year, The Kid went back to pumpkins and we did keep a lot more of the vines, but still only three pumpkins. And those were about the size of grapefruit! I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, but we’ve opted to switch to sweet corn in the garden this year. We dumped almost 40 gallons of compost into a large hole and then covered it – once again – with Miracle-Gro soil. Its been a wet spring so we started the corn inside. It is about to overtake its current containers, so I hope that things dry out a bit.

2015-05-12 21.10.52So The Kid is growing the corn, so I opted for tomatoes. After spending the better part of two afternoons weeding my strawberry patch, my knees are screaming! So, I have decided to grow my tomatoes on the back deck in containers. This should help the strain on the knees – damn getting old sucks!

I have a great idea on how to do this container growing without laying out a ton of money. The tomatoes will grown in 5 gallon buckets, gotten for free! Yes, FREE!

I stumbled onto a site that talked about getting these buckets free, so I decided to see just how true it actually was. So, I spent a few hours today trying to wrangle buckets.

My first stop was Panera Bread. They were able to give me 3 5-gallon buckets, they were indeed pickle buckets. They are soaking now to help reduce the pickle smell (I personally do not like pickles!). A second Panera later in the day resulted in being told that we could dumpster dive for them. Not sure I want them that badly.

Then on to Burger King – they said they normally just throw them in the dumpster, but would stack them next to the dumpster and I could come by periodically and pick them up. The manager I was talking with said she would love some tomatoes – wink wink. I will definitely bring her some if I am successful and actually do pick up some buckets from her store.

Next was KFC, McDonald’s and Subway. All of them say they no longer get the buckets, either the food is delivered in different containers or no containers at all. HyVee Bakery (food store) said they didn’t have any but a second HyVee bakery turned up a single frosting bucket that was square and maybe 3 gallons in size. Wendy’s manager was no where to be found but the cashier said they had buckets and they go into the dumpster in the morning when prep is done. I may pop back over there at another time and actually track down the manager. I eat at Wendy’s a lot, so hopefully it will be successful in the future.

I figure that I will grow two plants per bucket and line them up, side by side. On either end I will have another bucket, this one filled with either stone or cement with a 2×2 in the middle. And then I will place screws or eye hooks in the posts and run twine or other thick line back and forth between the posts to create a kind of ‘fence’ which I can then use to support the branches of the plants.

 My doodle of the setup:
photo
 This initially stemmed from the fact that I could easily lay out a hundred dollars for pots and tomato cages… and there is no guarantee that I will get any fruit! Plus, this seems like a more challenging path to take.
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I hope we can get everything we need to get the plants into dirt. They seem to grow like crazy in the house!

Finished. Again!

Just a quick post to show you the last two pink ombré dressers that have been completed and are ready for sale.

These are so simple, at least for us once we have a routine defined, to clean, fix and then paint. This time was kind of a neat dichotomy of styles in the same finishes, both have their unique charms.

2015-05-18 11.30.42I’ve always been partial to the older, antique styling of the right dresser. This was in amazing shape for its age, actually has the furniture maker info stamped into the inside of one drawer: Better Kennard’s Furniture Company. It still had working wood wheels on the ball feet!

2015-05-18 11.30.50The only work to this one was to replace missing drawer guides. Here is The Kid grinding down one of the guides so that the drawer moved more smoothly. Sparks were flying!

2015-05-18 11.21.23The other dresser is from Bassett. An name easily recognized for quality. I like the larger roomy drawers and even the smooth face of the drawers as the drawer pulls are built into the bottom of each drawer face.

2015-05-18 11.31.06I love the way these colors go on, and they are so shiny!

2015-05-16 14.47.20Isn’t that beautiful!? A couple more photos of the garage en progress:

2015-05-16 14.46.58The dresser on the far left is a beauty that I picked up for a mere $20 which has minimal veneer loss. this will be my first restoration piece in many months.

2015-05-14 17.25.52I have a nice small supply of various finished veneers that I have been collecting to be able to repair the chips and missing veneer.2015-05-16 14.47.10Garage almost seems like a small assembly line. With The Kid’s help, we are able to complete these quickly without much fuss. I love that the garage makeover has added dramatically to the ease of doing so.

A few more photos of the finished projects:

2015-05-18 11.31.362015-05-18 11.31.18We’ve been doing some work and arranging in my computer room as well. Seems my six month long sabbatical is rapidly coming to an end. For those who aren’t aware, I am a full time computer software engineer. I do these projects on the side as my way of reconnecting to my creative side (hence the blog name: On My Creative Side). The projects that I complete are usually sold simply to further fund more projects and at times, it does get expensive. So back to the daily grind.

Be sure to stop by again soon. I have the antique chandelier that is almost complete as well as a few other projects. I’ve actually managed to put some time into sewing again, challenging myself (or at least try) to use up my scrap bin. We’re also doing some gardening! Look at our starters!

2015-05-17 12.26.01Those are corn (in front) and tomatoes (in back). Now we just need to get the holes dug in the backyard to hold the compost we’ve made from the back deck to the garden and get them planted. It has been almost non-stop rain for the last two weeks and the ground is seriously muddy. I went out to weed my strawberry patch and with every weed I pulled, I took with it a baseball sized root ball! I stepped into the middle of the patch and sunk to the top of my ankle!

julie

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