Dress(er) for Success - Roadside Rescue Dresser Redo

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Earlier this summer, my youngest and I were on the way home from a trip to actually drop off a couple of boxes at Goodwill (I know...strange, isn't it?! The thought of actually donating instead of purchasing?!) I had just been lamenting the fact that I really needed more storage space in my studio when,  on the way home, we passed a dresser. A long, low dresser,  under a tree, near the street, leaning half way into the ditch beside the road. SCORE!  Much to the chagrin of my 17 year old, we turned around and hoisted this beauty (yes, I realize that "beauty" is probably a stretch) into the back of the truck. 

Over and Out! PopOVER Pan finally OUT of the Cabinet

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Have you ever had a kitchen tool that you just know is mocking you?  It's usually the one that you purchase on a whim or that is given to you as a gift. Something that you've wanted but once you actually have it, you don't actually use it?! I've got one. The guys and gals in the canning supply cabinet refer to him  as "Pops". You know the type. He's slick. Shiny. Hard as iron and cool as non-stick coated steel. He came from Williams-Sonoma and he's been living the good life.

Changing Hardware: The "Hole" Story

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While refinishing my roadside rescue dresser for the studio, I decided to change from the traditional waterfall bale pulls that came on the cabinet to something a bit more my style. You guessed it,  farm girl french. I wanted the cabinet to have an older, more utilitarian, feel. I chose Restoration Hardware Dakota 3/4 inch button knobs in rustic pewter for the smaller, top drawers on the cabinet.

Dakota Button Knob
Source and Photo Credit: Restoration Hardware

Cabinet "De-Finishing"

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Almost ten months ago, as I began my journey to blogger-hood and my first ever barn sale, it became pretty clear that I was going to need more storage for my growing stash of sewing and crafting supplies.  Fortunately, at that same time, a boutique in my very small town decided to renovate. They left not one but two painted pine cabinets in the alley behind the store one Sunday evening, destined for Monday morning trash pick up. Needless to say, that wasn't gonna happen. It took two trips but the twins came to live in my studio. (I don't have any before photos of the two of them together.  This photo was taken mid-makeover.)

Arts and Crap - Organizing the Studio

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For those of you who weren't around seven months ago for the last time that the studio was cleaned, here's the link to the post.  It was bad. So bad that I couldn't walk into the room.


Read All About It! - Newsprint Table Runner Tutorial

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I have to admit it, today's post was yesterday's news even before I wrote it.  I know that some of you will probably even feel like you've read it before.

As I was considering

  or not to even write it,
I thought to myself,  !What the heck. You're all good

", Right!?

Sure. Why not!? I started folding 

and weaving

 And before I knew it

Sometimes I just can't help myself.  Now all that's missing is a couple of live Maine Lobsters, a few clams, some corn on the cob and new red potatoes and we'll be good to go.  I guess that a trip to the fish monger is in order! But before I go, I'd like to leave you with just two more words on this topic:

The other good news?! When we're finished, it can still be recycled!

Linking to:
DIY Showoff
Funky Junk
I Gotta Try That
Making Lemonade
Nifty Thrifty Things
Six Sisters Stuff

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Crafting in a Green World

Lovin' These "Summertime Blues" - Blueberry Muffin Recipe

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In the words of  the band, The Who, (to whom I may or may not have listened at some point in my lifetime),
"...There ain't no cure for the summertime blues." They were talking about working during the summer, trying to afford gasoline and only having two weeks vacation. Yeah, I've got those summertime blues, too. But today, I've got these blues:

Felt Storage Container - Knocking off West Elm

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Have you ever come across a solution that was so brilliant in its simplicity that you wondered how in the world you didn't figure it out earlier?  Yeah., me too. Last night, I was looking through the West Elm catalog. I happened upon this:
Of COURSE I Pinned it to my Knock Off board. This morning, after my youngest son left for his morning run, I walked into the boys' bathroom and was greeted by this: 
 Seriously!? The "issue": Adolescent male grooming products and not enough cabinet space. The "answer": Felt storage!

Sugar and Spice Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

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Do you have a cabinet in your kitchen that you're afraid to open? Do you cringe and step back just a little as you slowly open the door (in fear that something will fall out and hit you on the head) yet you're forced to open the offending cabinet at least three or four times a day?  I'll be honest, I've got one. This is it:
 It's what I very loosely refer to as the "spice cabinet".  In case you're  new or haven't realized it yet, I like to cook. A lot. I also like to bake. A lot. I also can fruits and make preserves. Not a lot, but often enough that I have "stuff" that it takes to do that.  Over time, this cabinet has become a hazard. Not so much for my sons who are both over 6 feet tall but for me, because I'm only 5'4".  The conditions in high-rise spice cabinet housing are, well, overcrowded. 
There have been complaints, mainly from the  spices, about being "elbowed out" by the larger products, like the vinegar I expect that from vinegar, it can't even play nicely with oil unless I whisk them up a little.  Heck, even the vanilla has recently turned on spices who have the same label. Sister and brother spices, purchased from the same store, fighting for space on the first shelf.

Working on My PHD's

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Holy Smacks!  It's Thursday! How did that happen?! I seem to have lost an entire week! I'll admit, it's been  more than a little busy at work. It probably didn't help that I ended up in (Facebook) jail on Wednesday night after too much (blog) partying with friends;  AND I've been working on completing one of my  PhD's this week. Yep, that's right, I'm working on several. I mean, if I'm going to do the work, I find that having more than one PhD is something that I've always aspired to. It's something I've been working on since college. Heck, I even had a couple of PhD's before college.

Okay, before you go getting all jealous and thinking to yourself, "How DOES she do it all and still manage to have the time to blog about it?" I've got to confess that what I'm talking about is not several advanced courses of study by which I've  become a subject matter expert in some lofty topic. The PhD's that I'm talking about are my Projects Half Done. That is a topic on which I am a subject matter expert!

I'm currently working simultaneously on PhD's in Exercise (room make over) and
 Architectural Design (elements that need to be hung on the wall).
As you can see from these photos, I'm more than half way through my PhD in Geography.

That's the final that you see leaning against the wall. I'll take it (off the floor and hang it up) some day when I have the hour (or more) of intense concentration that it will probably require (to figure out which wall to put it on) There's also a mechanical component to the final (since it didn't come with mounting hardware).

I'm also pursuing PhD's in  several areas of U.S History from various periods: 
1985 Bombay Company(bench refinishing) with an emphasis on linen slip cover upholstery.

 1945 Illinois Architectural Salvage with an emphasis on finally having the glass shelves cut.

 1950 Tell City Chairs  and 1960's Road Side Rescue Dresser
Not one but two PhD's in Furniture with emphasis in getting them painted and the heck out of the garage so that I can park in there before winter.
I am, however, happy to report that, after an extremely strenuous week of working until midnight for two nights, I have completed my PhD in Herbal Science with an emphasis on  making new Lavender and Chamomile dryer sachets!  It was tough. There was some harvesting and drying of herbs. Mixing was involved.

I made it through the sewing and had even taken the final (step of putting them in the container on the shelf in the laundry room) and then, it happened. Just when I thought that I had finished, I realized that there was an additional requirement: I needed to make a couple of gift sachets. They needed to be special, worthy of a PhD that would take almost a month to complete.

The thesis for this PhD involves friendship. The dissertation involved embroidery and hand stitching, beading and sewing of linen, lavender, and lace. The final (packaging) was today and I'm turning them in (to the post office) tomorrow. I expect that I'll learn the outcome of the work  in a few days when my committee of three receive their respective packages.

Now that I've completed one PhD, I think that I'll to go to a few estate sales this weekend to see if I can't find another one (or two) to pursue!

P.S. A special note of thanks to my dear friend, Laurie, for sending me the cartoon that inspired  this post!

Linking to:
DIY Sweet Home

"Preserving" Summer - Fresh Strawberry and Sour Cherry Jam

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Remember these from last week? or how about these?
  Last Monday morning, I went to one of our local farmer's markets where vendors from Michigan sell their produce. It's a really good thing that I did! I was able to get the last of the Michigan strawberries for preserves! Since I was going to be slaving over large pots of steaming water in the 100 degree plus heat having a free facial anyway, I decided to grab some sour cherries and make cherry preserves too!

The recipes and process are very similar. The most time consuming and tedious part is pitting the cherries and hulling the strawberries.  My dad taught me a trick to hull the strawberries using a plastic straw.

Easy peasy! Pitting cherries, however, is another story. The recipe that I use calls for a cherry pitting tool.  Well, I don't have one and I'm certainly not going to buy one to make preserves once a year!  I've tried several methods for removing the pits. I even tried using a plastic straw to push the pits out the other side of the cherry. I mean, what the heck, it works for strawberries, right!? Well, let me tell you, it's not the same with the cherries. I'm sure that it can be done but it's a job for trained professionals, in a controlled environment. You know, like those drivers in the car commercials who navigate winding roads at high speeds without a problem while I have difficulty making it to the market and finding a spot to park without running over anyone!?  Do not attempt to remove cherry pits using a straw at home. You'll end up with cherry juice all over your shirt...and walls and cabinets. Just stick with pitting them by hand, no tools, trust me.
 It only takes a few ingredients and it's as easy as boiling water. Fruit with some sugar and lemon juice.

Everything gets boiled...the fruit, the jars, the lids. The person doing the canning gets a free facial. Seriously, if canning came with a massage and a pedicure, I'd do it once a week!

 Same process with the cherries, more steam, free facial. Heck, by the end of the morning, my skin had been steamed and my pores were so clean that I looked like I was in my 20's. (Yeah, like a 20-something  who needed a haircut and some highlights and who likes to wear clothes with cherry and strawberry juice all over them.)

While the miraculous effects of the steam wore off before anyone but me could witness them, the preserves will last through the winter and into next spring (by which time I'm hoping to  figure out a way to make the cosmetic benefits last a bit longer).

Canning Tools:

  • Large enamel canning pot
  • Glass jars with rings and seals. My Grandma used to use melted wax but, really!? I find that the screw on lids are easier and it makes it easier to store in the 'fridge after they're opened.
  • Regular tongs for removing lids from boiling water. 
  • Cool "gripper thing" to pick up the hot jars with (that's a technical term, anyone trained in the art of canning will know what you're talking about.
  • Wide mouthed plastic funnel.
  • Ladle for transferring preserves to jars
Sources for canning tools: Ace Hardware, KMart, Target, Walmart, garage sales, flea markets.

Strawberry Preserves (Jam)


(Yields about 12 250 ml jars depending upon how long you boil the strawberries.)

13 cups fresh strawberries (about 4.5 to 5 lbs)
6 cups of sugar
½ cup of lemon juice (I use organic lemons.)


  • Place berries into a large, deep, pot and mash berries with a potato masher while bringing them to a simmer over medium-low heat.  How much you mash them is up to you. Some people like big chunks of fruit in their jam, and some don't. I do, so I don't smash them much.
  •  Add sugar and lemon juice. I used an old fashioned hand juicer and squeezed real lemons (organic) for the juice. Make sure to pour the juice through a strainer if using real lemon juice.
  •  Stir. Bring to a boil for a approximately 30 mins.  Skim the foam as you are boiling.  The foam builds up quickly when the mixture begins to boil again after adding the sugar.  Watch it closely.Periodically, test the thickness of the jam by spooning it onto a plate. If it runs like syrup, it’s not ready. (I spooned it onto  a plate and let it cool for about a minute, giving it time to set before deciding.) When it's thickened enough, skim the foam one last time and remove from heat. 
  • Remove the hot jars from the water. 
  •  Place canning funnel into sterilized jar. Ladle jam into hot jar leaving proper ‘head space’, which is the space at the top of the jar between the underside of the lid and the top of the jam. For jam it’s  about ¼ inch or, up to the bottom line at the top of the jar. Over filling and under filling may cause the jar not to seal properly.
  • Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth.
  • Place a lid and a screw ring on the top of the jar and tighten firmly. (But not so tightly that it requires tools to remove it.
  • Return the sealed jars to the hot water making sure that the water covers the top of the jars by an inch. Boil  for 15 minutes.
  • Remove jars from water and place on a towel to cool and listen for the "pop" sound that the lids make when they seal. It's like music to my ears and it means that everything worked the way that it was supposed to!
I make sour cherry preserves using the same recipe.



Linking to:
Homestead Simple
In The Old Road