Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advents of White

After making several advents like these and
then teaching a couple classes in making them,
this is the only one I have left.
It stays up year round in my bedroom.
The frame is from my Great Aunt Iva.

Day 25 is my father's bible.
Many other items are from family long since passed.

This very large one over 40" was made for a holiday show I did last year.
A friend purchased it in the first 2 seconds after we pulled back the tent flaps.
Seems silly, but I'm glad it went to a good home.

A quick WW today
Please join all the others at Faded Charm
hosted by lovely Kathleen

Respectful. Economical. Productive.

We say a lot about respect when we use the full measure of what we grow or buy. In the old days it was common practice to use every part of a slain animal; and many people who slaughter their own livestock still do it today. From the horns being broken down and used as a fertiliser, or filled with cow dung and buried to produce the magical biodynamic Formula 500, to using bones for stocks and

Monday, November 29, 2010


Although organized and tidy, as we have discussed in prior posts,
I do not consider myself a ritualistic type.
No one day is similar to the next except in the fact that
they are usually busy days.

The last few weeks I noticed an inclination toward
a daily pattern in many aspects of my life.
Is this due to age or necessity? Am I becoming a
"set in her ways" kind of gal, and
is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Minutes after my feet hit the floor in the morning I am
found here. This cup, this coffee, this creamer.
I used to buy whatever half-caf coffee I came across
but I have settled on this one it seems. I am NOT
a coffee connoisseur by any means., which you can tell
by my no frills machine. I just want 2 cups
that don't bother my stomach and send me into hyper orbit.

I've noticed I now use a soup spoon instead of a teaspoon.
What the heck is that about?

If I back up even one step I smack into these two.
As I enter the kitchen they are tossed a treat from the
dog treat jar on this cart to
tide them over until I pour the coffee.
Then, the looks of "FEED ME.... NOW" ensue.

My ex - ex mother in law ( you figure it out) had a weekly
routine that I found absurd way back when in my mid 20's.
Monday was wash day. Tuesday she ironed.
Wednesday she shopped with her two sisters.
Thursday was clean house day. Every Friday night they had take out pizza.
Sunday dinner was ALWAYS a beef roast, potatoes and green vegetable.
Her home was orderly, very clean and uneventful.
Now that I am about the same age as she was then,
I see a purpose, a rhythm that I now find appealing.
As we age, do most of us find comfort in the ordinary, the routine?
Does it take years of living to obtain the rhythm, the rituals that comfort us,
as our favorite family foods or a cup of coffee do?
Why do I still frequently wear the same torn, stained, paint spattered
faded red zip front sweatshirt purchased from The Limited over 20 years ago?
I have many others, but always reach for this one, as I did this morning.
Comfort ~ Ritual
good things

Line drying your washing

I'm often intrigued by the questions asked in emails, particularly when they're about the most simple things. It always reinforces for me the need to learn new skills correctly and for that reason I never tire of explaining the most simple of tasks. The other day, Matthew asked how to hang washing on the line and if there are any tricks or ways of doing it well.With many simple household tasks,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Books, biscuits and cricket

The end of November. This year has gone so fast, and soon we'll be faced with the new year and all it will bring. It doesn't feel like November because this year, although the temperature has risen, we haven't had much humidity. In the tropics and sub tropics, where we live, it's not the heat that affects you, it's the humidity. But we're still sleeping with a quilt and a blanket on our bed

Friday, November 26, 2010


I am still so stuffed from yesterday, if I pasted feathers to my butt
I would be in danger of being shot for Christmas dinner.

Yesterday I was the guest at a beautiful and delicious dinner hosted by a dear friend and I couldn't resist a second helping of stuffing and the perfect sweet potato casserole. Suzi stuffed me with appetizers for an hour before dinner, six different kinds and then topped off the meal with pie and gingerbread with homemade lemon sauce.
She is one of those dangerous cooks. "C'mon eat - eat."
gobble gobble waddle waddle....

The day was wonderful and we talked politics and crafting and relatives and Christmas plans, it ran the gamut, and was the perfect way to spend the day, and
dilute the sadness of missing my kids.
I am so very thankful for her kindness.

Kudos to an amazing chef!


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thompsonville Rd
Mc Murray PA
circa 60~61

Scott & Suzan

Thankful today for all of it.
The good, the great, the downright awful.
It brought me to this place
where I am at peace.
My children are happy, safe and well
and cooking together today;
beginning their own
holiday traditions far from home.
Although my heart longs for them, I
am blessed with their good health, their
happiness, and lives that are enriching them
and contributing to the good in this world.

Blessings to all of you.
I am so grateful for your friendship and that
we continue to share in each others lives.

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The division of work in the home

This is a tough one. How do you decide who will do what in the home. If you're a retired couple like we are, the division tends to take care of itself. Here we do what we enjoy doing - I work in the house and generally Hanno works outside. We are having a slight variation on this right now though because I'm writing most of the day and we don't have much of a garden to tend, so Hanno does various

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

everywhere I go

may you and yours have wonderful blessings this holiday
I'm very thankful darling daughter, dearest son

Please visit White Wednesday @ Faded Charm
hosted by Kathleen

lots and lots more holiday white~ scroll down a few

Homemade baked beans

I made baked beans and pork last week. It was delicious and very filling. Recipes for baked beans are similar but you can change the recipe to suit your own tastes. If you like hot beans, add fresh chilli, or chilli flakes; if you like a mustard taste, increase the mustard. This is a great frugal family recipe that can be frozen or served again the following day and it will taste even better

Monday, November 22, 2010

Worker Bee

Purge* Stage* Sell* Buy* Pack* Move* Unpack* Stage* Sell*

This is what the process has been for the past month with a client that I have moved three times before. This is the last and final home she will live in. This is a certainty. It is quite small by her previous standards and she was scared and sad and convinced it would be awful.

The moving van, moved her yesterday from 9-3. Before I left last evening, her kitchen was complete, everything in it's place, her bedroom and bath all cozy and pretty.. I wanted her first night in her home to be comfortable.

In the 11 hours I spent there today, I finished all the other rooms except for the guest room and organized her garage. yep..MY way! Soon I will hang all her paintings and measure for all the new blinds and curtains, but tonight there is not an unpacked box anywhere in her home, or stuff strewn about. The doggies are perched back in their favorite chairs and all the appliances and cable and phone and trash are all set up or installed.....Not bad for less than 2 days. I am a full service worker bee. buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ( note the z's) Did I mention all the items she purged are stacked in my garage waiting for me to sell for her?

She was smiling tonight, and when I said "Didn't I tell you I would make it look cozy and wonderful? She said "Yes you did." I said "You didn't believe me?" She replied "Only half way, because this place was so awful." It isn't now. She is happy again, and safe in her cozy home that she can take care of and afford. As I left, she said she should have known better than to have any misgivings. I mean, we have done this same thing a few times.

I love this kind of job. My knees, my back, my muscles, my arms don't love it so much, but it is worth every single ache to make someone a home...

If I don't get back here before GOBBLE day:

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and many many blessings.


In defence of grass

The beginning of summer always means the start of that most mundane of garden chores - mowing the lawn, or as we think of it, harvesting the grass. We have quite a bit of open grass to harvest here and it does take time but despite what many others think of lawn or grass or turf or whatever you call it, we would not get rid of it. Here it's a vital resource that gives more than it takes.Now let

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Potatoes and carrots

It always surprises me just how much you can generate with something simple and a bit of work and know how. Hanno called me outside the other day and proudly handed me a large baker's basket full of potatoes he'd just dug from the garden. We think there are over 10 kg/22 lbs. All those potatoes from just a few sprouting supermarket potatoes planted in two square metres, or about one third of one

Friday, November 19, 2010

By My Hand

Each week Chania gives us a photo challenge and
various ideas go through our heads until we have our AHA! moment.
Mine came a couple of days ago when I unearthed this
scherenschnitte I had cut about 20 years ago.

When I was first married, money was scarce and we made our
entire holiday decorations out of felt, paper and ribbon.
This was one piece of a series of ornaments and table displays
I made for our home one year.

I have not done much paper cutting in the years since,
though occasionally I would throw one into my Gathering classes.
Most people balk at the time required for such intricate cutting,
but I always found it relaxing. Relaxing?
(Yeah yeah, I enjoy weird stuff like Organizing,
and cutting minute pieces of paper. What can I say? )
Right before doing this post, I surfed the net
and found fabulous artists doing incredible work with
small scissors and Xactos. Maybe you should check it out?

It's affordable, portable and fun!
Don't you just love the squirrel tail?

I am pretty confident that this has sparked a renewed interest in
my paper skills. I just need to get past this one last week
with a client, and then it is clear sailing to the studio and
holiday gifting and crafting.

Please join Chania over at RAZMATAZ for more Hand Made.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Storage Made Easy

Here it is:
The secret to my organization:
I started with an 8x8 sheet of plywood and had the
store rip it into fourths.
Using standard lengths of 1x 4's built shelving to exactly fit
those document boxes you get at big box stores.
Measure twice and cut once.
(BTW I have standard 2 car garage )
You can make these taller, shorter and adapt to fit your space.
Use all plastic bins if desired. The key is no wasted space.
Just enough clearance to slide containers easily,
and don't mix up a bunch of items just so you can stuff it into large bins.

Of course this same system will work with sturdy
metal shelving, found at Costcos or Sams. If I remember correctly
21 of these boxes fit on those shelves with the top row stacked two high.
I have done the exact same thing for clients, who wish
to be able to take the system to their next home.

My bins are placed on the floor so that mopping is a breeze.
Yes, I mop my garage, I was taught the "NAVY way".
I write contents on removable labels because storage needs change.

This is the only shelving doubled in depth, others are singles.
You can see here, where I've removed 2 boxes.
Notice the tags on the front of the shelves. Those identify the back row
at a glance. I bought bins and boxes as I could afford them and as I needed them,
so this can fit every budget. Yes, I had to have all the boxes match..so shoot me.

You can see several bins missing. Those are in the house
as I decorate that particular tree.
That is the second part to how great this system is:
I can grab a bin or 2 boxes, whatever is needed to decorate
a room or a particular tree. I go to the garage and grab
just those containers needed and there is no jumbled mess
of boxes in the home or garage.

I store everything this way, not just decor,
and as a result the closets inside my home are not cluttered.
An added bonus; critters do not
like these painted boxes as compared to standard cardboard.

So there you have it.
Budget friendly if you add to it gradually, adaptable to any
size space and if you wish, totally portable.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Washing the dishes - the continuing story

What is it they say about hindsight? I thought we'd be perfectly happy with our sink when we had it redone a couple of years ago. We had a flood in the kitchen, when the dishwasher sprung a leak, and the insurance company paid for the replacement of the floor and the cupboard bottoms. Taking the cupboards out meant they had to remove the bench tops and therefore we had new bench tops fitted as

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One chapter ends, another starts

Yesterday ended a very important chapter in my life. It was my last day as co-ordinator of our neighbourhood centre. True to form, it was a busy day with a frugal home workshop in the morning, a combined BBQ lunch with us at the neighbouhood centre and the staff and students of our Flexischool to mark their end of year, talking to a homeless man new to us and telling him we will help him hang


While watching Darling Daughter munch on some
generic brand of cereal while on iChat, I inquired why she
was munching cardboard.
"Mom, cereal is so expensive here."

So I have the brilliant idea to send her some cereal as a hOOt,
and buy her a couple boxes of Quaker Oat Squares her fave.
Running very late yesterday, I cram the cereal into a flat rate
box and grabbing shoes from the shoe basket on the stairs I head out.
I'm sure it has occurred to most of you that paying about
10.00 for 2 boxes of cereal and 10.00 for the flat rate box, this was
not an economical move, but more one of mother love.

I join the line at the post office just before they lock the doors,
out of breath and grasping a box that shakes with the sound of well, cereal.
The line is pretty jammed up, everyone standing uncomfortably
close to each other. You wish you could check your breath
in your palm or sneak a pit sniff, but no room. When trying to act nonchalant,
I tend to stare off into the distance or stare at the floor. I chose down.
Stared at my shoes. Notice anything? Look again.... sigh

I had been running errands for about 4 hours wearing two different shoes.
This awareness starts me to chuckling and nearly talking out loud to myself.
Perhaps I was, because the woman in front of me turned around
with a disapproving look, so I simply pointed down to my feet.
She looked, paused, looked again and then harumphed
and turned back around... which made me snort and hiccup burp as
I considered what she would think if she was aware
I was clutching a box of cereals that I was mailing to New York.

Of course this has nothing to do with White Wednesday
so here is some white : 0

If you missed my last two posts check them out, loads more white!
As my then 15 year old son used to say
"where Christmas goes to throw up..."

Please join Kathleen over at Faded Charm for another WW.
and double check your shoes during the holiday hustle.


An ocean full of hugs and thanks from Sharon

Hello all, this is Sharon, finally back in the fold and recovering from the illness that just about kicked me down this summer. I would like to thank you all and hug you all for the thoughts and prayers offered up for me, for I believe that is what helped me beat the infections that nearly killed me (on more than one occasion). I also feel a swap coming on after the holidays are over. My dear

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Elves Are Busy

The family room is done, as is the porch.
I did not attempt to do the twinkly lights shot,
have not mastered those.

This little table is where we eat our breakfasts and lunches.
The white chest is full of candles, and tea lights purchased
during great sales and clearance so that I may use them daily.
FYI- nearly 95% of all furniture, chests, benches, tables, etc.
in all rooms I painted or is original vintage.
There was no painted furniture when I began doing my
home this way. Briwax and I are very old friends.

More Nicole Sayre

Favorite angel has topped this tree for
many many years. The tree is an old cheap
needle style one I wrapped many moons ago with
warm and natural batting.
What to do on long winter nights. : D

I always do the table displays in big box or bowl arrangements,
so that they can be easily and quickly removed, to make room
for more guests, or change out soiled linens. Notice the one back
on the breakfast table. Swoop! it is removed and now there is
room for four diners instead of two.

This shot has strange perspective.
Everything is not all piled atop everything else as it appears.
I just loved the morning light coming in.

If you notice, nothing is removed, just a few figures added
and lots and lots of greenery pics usually purchased for 90% off
end of season. They are carefully packed away each year in dust free tubs
and make it super simple to decorate the entire home in a flash.

Back soon with more; including how this stuff is stored!

Life after the dishwasher

I've had a dishwasher most of my adult life. One of the first household tasks I taught my sons was to unpack the dishwasher - a job they both hated. About a year ago, I looked at my latest machine and asked myself why I had it. I couldn't come up with a good answer, so we gave it away. That was a great decision.Now I wash up twice a day. Breakfast, morning tea, bread making and lunch items

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aprons - the secret handshake

I don't know what it is about aprons but when I put mine on every morning, it turns me into someone else. I feel more of a homemaker when I'm wearing an apron and just like an actor getting into a costume and into character, when my apron is on, I'm ready for my show to start. Often I put my digital camera in my pocket and if I see something that would make a good photo during the day, I

Friday, November 12, 2010

So It Continues

So it continues in the family room and kitchen.
I do not remove objects in order to replace with
holiday theme items, I nestle them right in and add lots
of greenery with lots of snow that I often regret come January.

Lights are not in yet, and I may just skip this year.

My kitchen tree, dripping with Nicole Sayre, whose beige and
cream ornaments are perfect for my decor. She has returned
to these colors in her new line but without any ornaments
only the larger figures. I hope to snag a few of those this year.

My new Vietri dishes that I mentioned a few posts back.
A client bartered these for work and I was thrilled.
The French doors lead to the sun porch.

Part of the family room.
This room has pale yellow walls. A mistake, and one
I was going to correct... about 5 years ago! It doesn't bother
me so much anymore, and it does brighten a naturally dark room.
I am very proud of the counter. I helped cut, install and grout that baby.

Hutches everywhere get a little something tucked in.

Onward to the porches and the bedrooms!
How is it coming at your house?


Lots of questions coming in about my timing,
amount of work and amount of decorations.

Since I am usually quite busy right after Thanksgiving,
this is the only time I have. The large tree goes up Thanksgiving evening.

I used to do displays for stores during the holidays and often my
pay was store credit, or a large discount (as in wholesale price). That is why
the abundance of Nicole Sayre, otherwise I could never afford.
No one seemed to like these colors then, everyone wanted
traditional red and green. lucky me! When you
combine store credit with 50% post holiday...
Bartering is great.

I organize for a living, so I have developed a system of storage,
that makes it so simple to get what I need and do a tree
lickety split with no mess in the house. I may post about it soon.
The system works for any type of storage.

AS for the rest of the decor, I simply plug in a bunch of
winter greenery, three large bins full... all purchased after the
holidays about 15 years ago, for 75 - 90% off.

So this decor is pennies on the dollar collected over 30 years.
I don't do any other holiday decorating anymore.
This is the big show, so to speak.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask,
"Mother, what was war?" ~ Eve Merriam

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We'll burn them out

I send my sincere thanks to everyone who wrote a comment over the past two days. There were some very helpful suggestions there and I'm sure many people would have been helped by them.Lets take a leisurely stroll around our place. This all happened yesterday afternoon when I saw Hanno building a straw bonfire in the chook yard. We've had an infestation of lice in the chook house and he wanted

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So It Begins

White tree in family room going up.
I will be busy with a client right before and
after Thanksgiving so this is the week to
get some decorating completed.

The trees are usually in the same location each
year, but I switch the ornaments around easily
because they are all the same color wise, with
white or silver as the base colors.
This year the tree also has pale pink and celery colors,
with featured figures from House of Hatten
Nicole Sayre, and Sarah Lugg.

Please visit all the other White Wednesday posts
over at Faded Charm hosted by Kathleen.

post script:
Comments referring to "my tree " as if it is solitary....
This is the second one I've completed of nine.... : D
Holiday insanity reigns, because this is still
me " cutting back"..lol