Valient Viewers of Braver Homes and Gardens

Friday, April 30, 2010

Antique Lamp

About a year ago my uncle passed away and my Gram, who took care of his affairs and owned the cottage he lived in, let all of her grandkids go through his house and take what we wanted. Usually such a scenario turns ugly fast. It's amazing the way some families can fight over who gets used junk. But we were all pretty congenial and friendly and everyone of us seemed to leave with things we could use and things that will remind us of The Cottage.

One of the things I snagged was a beautiful antique lamp with milk glass lampshades. Stupid me didn't think it was necessary to tape the glass lampshades down or take them off and wrap them. My sister who carried it out wasn't watching what she was doing. Both of us were carrying way more in one load than we should have.

Disaster struck. One of the glass lampshades fell off. Neither of us could stop it. Sure enough, it shattered. My little sister felt horrible. I could see the horror on her face and she could probably see the disappointment on mine. This is what I"ve stared at in my storage area for over a year:

So I've been on the prowl for a replacement shade for over a year now. I finally found one that fits on a spur of the moment trip to an antique store. It's not an exact match. The original shade has a ruffley looking top. The one I found is more of a squared off look. But at least both have the bubbled look on the sides. 

But it's good enough for me. I'll still look for a closer match but in the meantime, this lamp can finally be a showpiece.  The left shade dulls the light a bit more than the right one but I still think it looks very antiquey and old-fashioned.  So, fret no more little sister! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nina Garcia #2

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.   ~ Alexei Sayle

I just finished item #2 of my Nina Garcia project. I’m sewing all 100 of the things every woman should have in her closet, as outlined in her book The One Hundred. Her first item was the A-line skirt. Item #2 is the Animal Print which Nina describes as “an element of danger in an otherwise safe outfit.” The key phrase is “an element”.

Recall high school chemistry class. You take several elements and string them together to make the whole compound. (Like H20) – two hydrogens added to one oxygen (the elements) gives you water (the whole compound). It’s the same with fashion. One nice top, one nice headband, one nice necklace and ONE animal printed skirt gives you the finished look. If you add more than one animal print anywhere in your outfit, you run the risk of being mistaken for a cheetah that’s escaped from the local zoo.  Although this wedding dress from intimateweddings dot com is just breathtaking:

An example of the right way to do animal prints is like this outfit I've had in my clipping binder for years. 
This would normally be “an otherwise safe outfit” - a flirty skirt with a casual top. But the fact that the skirt has an animal print really gives the whole ensemble just enough pop to be borderline dangerous. Here’s my version:

  I used my new favorite skirt pattern, New Look 6463 (which I lined) and a great knit shirt pattern, Vogue 7967.  (I know my eyes are closed but trying to take pictures of yourself is a drag). 

To achieve the neckline that my inspiration picture has I used a black belt buckle I had on hand:

The only downside to completing ths outfit is that I like to wear colors and prints seasonally.  Both brown and animal prints just say "fall" to me, so I'll have to wait a few months to wear this outfit.  Here's one last shot of the animal print number up close:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Appalling to Appealing

How's this for UGLY? 

I found this beast at a thrift store for only $9.  I've been wanting to replace my huge, couches for a long time with one smaller couch and some armchairs.  Although ugly, this one had a nice sturdy frame.  My friend Catherine does upholstery and I've heard her, on more than one occassion, talk about how horrifying it is to have to replace the springs on a chair.  Springs are what gives a chair it's bounce and allows for the sink-into-it vs. hold-you-up factor.  This chair had excellent springs.  So I snatched it up.

First I took off the old upholstery and found an even uglier layer underneath:
I don't know which print is more horrid...

While I hated the old upholstery, I think my pochka finds it quite lovely.

It matches her fur perfectly.

I haven't upholstered in a while so I was a bit irked to find out that my local JoAnn's will no longer cut foam to order.  If your fabric store is just as paranoid about a lawsuit, you can cut it like I did using a drywall knife.  I also used "high density" foam.  It costs more, but it's so much more durable and I think you can tell the difference when you sit on it. 

Both the back and seat cushions are removable with a wood frame underneath.  Didn't think to take a picture of that, but the point is, I needed to make the cushions fitted so I started with the sides by making a strip, slitting down the center and sewing a zipper onto it.  Then I attached the side strip to the front and back. 

I also painted the entire frame of the chair white.  And this is how a chair went from appalling to appealing: 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Was Board

My friend Amy and I were emailing the other day and we both agreed that it really stinks to have to divert time and money to projects that just aren't fun.  Case in  point:

 This is a picture of $7500 worth of new roof i just had done.  How not-fun is that?  For $7500 I could landscape my whole yard at least five times over.  For $7500 I could buy a Bernina sewing machine and enough fabric to last a good five years.  I can't even begin to think of the fancy-schmancy cookware and exotic foods I could buy with that kind of cash. 

But a leak-proof, squirrel-proof roof is sort of a good thing.  Just one of those things you have to spend money and time on once in a while.  But it still stunk having to do it.

So you can imagine my aggravation the other morning when, trying to quickly whip up a headband in the five minutes before I had to leave for work, this happened:

Dag nabbit!  A hole right on my (ratty) ironing board cover.  I'm on a bender right now where I'm trying not to buy anything new if I can finagle something I already have on hand.  An ironing board cover is essentially fabric.  Which, um, I sort of have a lot of. 

I spent tonite whipping up a new one.  I used McCall's 6903.  It's just one pattern piece trimmed in double fold bias tape in such a way that it forms a casing for two yards of elastic which fits it snugly around the board. 

Digging through my immense stash I found some fun fabric I bought waaaay back when I worked in a fabric store.  (So that would be a good 12 years ago).  Yikes!  But it's fitting for a sewing room - it has an array of scissors, pattern pieces,  measuring tape and whatnot over it.  Not the funnest project.  But a necessary evil that turned out quite nice. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seeing Red

Yippee!  Tax time is over with.  I "got" refunds for all the people I did taxes for.  The last one is sealed up and on its way to Uncle Sam which means it's time to get back to more important things.  Like crafty stuff.  I sat at my kitchen table to do all this income tax nonsense.  And right next to me was this:

Is that nasty or what? 
I can't believe the Conductor continues to come over for my cooking with that thing lurking about. 
I've tried cleaning it millions of times with every product under the sun and the stains just don't come off.  So I decided to buy a new one.  Tarjay had similar ones for $8.  Call me cheap, but I think $8 is too much to spend on somthing that holds garbage.  What to do?  Well, I've seen lots of bloggers spray painting on plastic so I decided to give it a go:

Much better!  It matches my red kitchen walls and you can't see the stains.  Added bonus, I used a 50% off Coupon from Michaels so the paint only cost $3 with about half a can left for something else.  So $1.50 for a "new" garbage can is pretty darn good.  I just love how it looks.

But I love THIS view even better:

In other red events, the Conductor and I had dinner out the other night and came back for dessert.   I'm so itchy for my garden so this was a welcome sight:

Those are NOT fake strawberries with sugar on them.  And by fake I mean the storebought ones that are stiff as a board, and taste like nothing.  These are REAL strawberries grown in my yard that I froze from last year with some ice clinging to them.

Anyone that eschews fresh food and says that frozen foods or canned foods are "just as good" needs to come by and open up my container of frozen strawberries.  The first thing you'll notice is the BOLD RED color.   Real strawberries are supposed to be RED all the way through.  When was the last time you saw a completely red strawberry from the store?   Grocery store strawberries literally pale in comparison.  The second thing you'll notice is the smell.  Frozen since July, and still frozen as I worked with them, these berries gave off the most luscious smell - like I just picked them. 

You can't get real color and real odor out of a can. 

And you can't get REAL strawberry shortcake in April using frozen berries.  No sir.  I used the shortcake biscuit recipe from the 1963 edition of The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  I halved the recipe which gave just enough for two decent sized shortcakes. 
I threw the strawberries in a saucepan and sprinkled a handful of sugar over them and heated them up since they were still icy.  The sugar brought out the juices really nicely.  And it smelled delicous.  I also used REAL whipping cream with a bit of powdered sugar to make a chantilly cream.  I cut the biscuits in half, stuffed 'em with red and white.  And ended up with this:


Friday, April 9, 2010

Obi (Wrong) Wan Kenobi

Many sewists find sewing inspiration from watching movies. Myrna Loy’s nightgowns in The Thin Man, Madonna’s suit in Evita, Holly Golightly’s little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, just to name a few.

I found inspiration from watching the wrong movie. The Conductor and I were having a lazy afternoon at his place and he rattled off a list of movie choices. I stopped him at Star Wars (the first one) (or, technically the fourth one…I’m still confused about that).

He made (what I thought was) an offhand comment that his favorite of the series is actually The Empire Strikes Back which is the second (or fifth) one. But I’m an accountant. Numbers go in order. I simply couldn’t watch the second one before the first one.  So I didn't give his comment a second thought. 

At this point, I need to clarify that, while I picked Star Wars, I’m actually more of a Star Trek fan. Which is kind of crazy, considering that Star Wars was released the same day I was born. At anyt rate, I know more of the nuances of Star Trek than Star Wars.

Which explains why, when we got to the end of the movie I was so confused. I turned to the Conductor and said, “Wait a minute. I don’t remember seeing Yoda at all.”

Now, I can’t emphasize enough that the Conductor has always been a gentleman. Always. But there was a VERY perceptible “Duh!!” tone to his voice while he patiently explained, “He doesn’t show up until The Empire Strikes Back which is one of the reasons why I like that one better.”

There it is. I failed. I picked the wrong movie. I’m dating a guy that is respectful and generous and gentlemanly. And how do I pay him back? I make him sit through the wrong episode of Star Wars.

So, to restore order to the Force, I made a belt.

Every time I hear “Obi Wan Kenobi”, it makes me think of an obi belt. I tend to shy away from belts because of my potbelly. I don’t really need anything drawing eyes to my problem spot. But my sister Carrie told me that anyone can wear a belt – it’s just a matter of finding the right one. I’d heard that obi belts were slimming. I’m still not convinced. But I made this one and was brave enough to wear it to work.

What do you think? (Sorry the pose looks so ridiculous.  I was teasing a co-worker right when it was snapped).  But if it’s really *not* slimming, let me know. It’s bad enough I picked the wrong movie. I don’t need to be wearing the wrong belt.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tax Time

I'm going to call this mix of stuff my 1040 mix.  Because preparing it was a lovely way to put off dealing with taxes.  Isn't that terrible?  I'm an accountant.  I should embrace tax time.  But I don't.  I'm dealing with peoples' money and a government mandate that scares people that don't understand it.  (Everytime I hear someone say "they should just have everyone pay the same percentage of their income.  It would be so much simpler!!" I just want to SCREAM!). 

Anyway, this time of year brings stress I'd rather just not deal with.  So taking the time to make a salad, with the washing and chopping and mixing, is a great way to put off the inevitable.  Celery, scallions, radish, and carrot are always on hand in my kitchen.  To this mix I also add a nut (toasted cashews or sesame seed, usually) and a fruit (dried cranberries or canned mandarin oranges). 

That's my basic mix.  From there I might toss it with chopped cabbage and a homemade vinaigrette for a coleslaw.
Or toss them with cubed leftover chicken and fold it into some dill-loaded Hellman's for an awesome chicken salad.

I actually have BOTH cabbage and chicken leftovers so I'm going with option #3.  I made a dressing of Hellman's, honey, lime juice, and white wine vinegar and added some iceburg lettuce and enjoyed one awesome 1040 Salad. 

I had enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Ugh.  And's officially tax time. 

Braver Homes and Gardens

If you bounced here from my old blog, People Aren’t Flat, welcome. I started out with just a sewing blog. But then I’d have long stretches with nothing to post about because I wasn’t sewing. And I’d feel bad about that. What’s the point of having a blog if you rarely post anything, right?

But there’s a reason why I wasn’t sewing. I was doing other stuff. I’m always doing stuff. Painting, gardening, fixing, building, decorating, reading, and cooking. Not just sewing. You might say I’m a Jill-of-All-Trades.

Last Sunday night at about 10 p.m., ankle deep in sawdust, and digging dirt and dried paint out from under my fingernails, I got mad at myself for letting an entire weekend go by without sewing anything. Then it occurred to me how stupid I was for feeling bad – just for getting other things done. Right then I decided the first blog was just a rough draft. I do it all, so why not blog about it all?

People Aren’t Flat. Well, at least I’m not. I live a well-rounded life. And I should blog about it all. So here I am with my newer and better blog. One that will show EVERYTHING I do to stay not-flat in my home and garden.