Tuesday, September 28, 2010

vintage pillowcases

It seems that lately I've taken to collecting vintage sheets and pillowcases.
You know how these collections creep up on you. You buy one by chance, then another, then before you know it, that's the section of the store you go to first. You see a floral corner peeping out from behind an ugly '80's quilt and you realise that your heart just went pit-a-pat.

(Why vintage 60's and 70's patterns now when a few years ago I would have groaned at their ugliness? Who knows? That's worth a whole other session on the couch.)

If you're a collector like me, you'd also know how rarely you find them.
So you can imagine my delight when two weekends ago I stumbled not just on one or two, but piles of pillowcases.

I showed restraint and bought just two piles of them for $3 each. That's twenty pillowcases, in one spot, for 30c each.

The colours, the patterns....be still my beating heart.

Of course, some went straight on my bed.
Some others, I'm keeping to cut up and make banners from.

The mirror I also got from the same garage sale for $3, but that's another story.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Relishing the small pleasures

Things have been a little difficult at home lately and at times I've been feeling full of despair. So the little pleasures have been very important to me. That little bit of happiness I can get from creating something, especially if it's homely, can be enough to get me through the day and let me know that life can be good and beautiful. Making tomato relish is for me one of those small pleasures.

First you need 1 1/2 kilos of juicy red tomatoes, the more ripe, the better.

You'll need one old, stained recipe book that used to belong to your mother.....

some empty jam jars.....

and some of this.

Cut a little cross in the top of each tomato and cover them with boiling water for a few minutes. This makes them easy to peel and this is where the ripeness helps. The skin peels off easier, the more ripe they are.

Chop up the tomatoes and two large onions and put them in a large saucepan.

Cover with brown vinegar and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 mins.

Add a heaped tablespoon each of dry mustard and curry powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and two cups of sugar.

Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Thicken with 1/2 cup cornflour which has been blended with 2 cups white vinegar.
Pour into jars which have been cleaned and heated in the oven on low heat.

Arrange in a row and admire your handy work.

Tasty with burgers and sandwiches or with oven baked potato wedges for an after-school snack.

Or do as Rosie does and just dip your finger in and enjoy the flavoursome tanginess.

What are your small pleasures?

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Procrastinating, This Time in the Pantry

When we first moved into this house, it wasn't very clean but I only had time to clean one room properly and that was the pantry. It had mildew all over the ceiling and walls and revolting lino on the floor. I wasn't going to put food in there. I ripped up the lino and gave it a wash down but four years later it was back to looking like it had never been cleaned. So I got out the sugar soap and the bleach this time. Then I thought, "While I've got the shelves out and it's clean, I might as well fill the gaps. That won't take long."

(before and after cleaning)

And you can guess what happened next.
"Well, while I've cleaned it and filled the gaps, I might as well give it a coat of Primer so it's ready to paint when I am."
"Now that it's cleaned AND filled AND primed, I might as well paint it."

So I did.

(With Dulux Aqua enamel in Antique White USA for those who like the details.)

Here's an after picture of the same spot of the first photo.

It's a bit hard to see the difference in the above photos, but in the next photo you'll see how shabby the rest of the house is, and what a difference a coat of paint makes.

You'll notice that I painted the floor too.
You can imagine that after four years of being walked on and having food dropped on it, unsealed floorboards wouldn't look, or feel, very nice.
And not to mention the large gaps between the floorboards which had 60 years of accumulated gunk and dust congealed in them. It was a nightmare to clean.

But filled and painted......aaah, it's so clean. And easy to keep clean too. I can sweep the dirt right out of there now and any marks come off easily with some vinegar on a rag.

The white makes it look so clean and fresh
and with all my foodstuff back in, it's like the pantry that I always wanted.

I always wanted my pantry to kinda look like an old general store, with everything stored in old glass bottles, which I've picked up here and there. (They also keep out the grubs and moths better than anything else I've ever used.)
I've been making swing tags for labels to keep with that feel, but I'll show you how in another post...to come soon.

And if you're not sure why I call this procrastinating, when it seems like a lot of work, have a look here.

Thanks for stopping by.

I'm taking part in My Romantic Home Show and Tell Friday

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It suits me to a tee

Here's a little more craftiness that I've been doing in my "spare time" and I'm really pleased with the result.

I'm a real jeans and t-shirt girl and an idea had been bubbling away in my head for a while now to try a make a more vintagey-looking shirt with a bit of embroidery and "new-school" applique. (I call it new-school so you don't turn away shuddering with images of '90s country sunflowers or Raggedy-Andys.)

I found a really nice fitting black tee at my local factory outlet shop and I thought for $3, it doesn't matter if it goes wrong.

Okay, so the bird design is a bit popular at the moment but you've got to admit it's cute.

I sewed it all on my machine just using a straight stitch and went around all the applique about three times, purposely going out of the lines for a shabby feel.

Tried it on, wore it to work with jeans...I'm very happy. I think it would also go well with a skirt.

(I washed it today for a sturdiness test which it passed. Phew!)

So I think I'll be going back for more t-shirts. I've got another few designs running around in my head.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Painting the linen cupboard - a Housewife's Tale

I've always been a procrastinator and whilst reading or watching TV are good ways to not do what you're meant to, my speciality is starting other small projects. I'm still painting the sleepout but in the meantime the linen cupboard had been bugging me because it was such a mess.

You know how it is....it starts off well but then the kids pull a sheet or towel out and with it 3 more. It's much too difficult to fold up neatly, so it gets shoved back in. Meanwhile, Hubby has been generously helping with the washing. He wants to get things put away with a minimum of fuss so puts things where they'll fit regardless of whether they are towels, sheets or blankets. Soon you open up the cupboard and a mess greets your eyes but it's too overwhelming to put right, so you shove things where they'll fit too.

One weekend I decided that I'd had enough. I was going to pull everything out and refold it and cull the excess. This is what it looked like as I took it out and stacked it to the side. I'm being brave and showing you things as they really are in my house. No stomach-turning perfection here.

Then I thought, what if I made it prettier so that I'd want to keep it clean. The rest of the house might be a mess but if my cupboards are tidy when I open them, it gives me such a little thrill in my stomach and then I can pretend I'm a good housekeeper. It's reverse psychology - we all know people who's houses are perfect...except for those hidden places they don't want you to see. I figure if people happen to open my cupboards and see them neat, (because lets face it that happens all the time, doesn't it) then maybe they would think I am really a neat person and the current state of the house is just a temporary hiccup. That's what I tell myself anyway.

The linen cupboards are nice, in a vintagey way with wooden boards and old doors. What a shame they are painted in 3 different ugly shades of cream and brown. I think they must of used up the rest of their paint tins in here.

I wanted to make it more like something you'd see in a Cath Kidston picture so I decided to paint the walls blue and the shelves white.

What's that?? I'm meant to be painting the sleepout? But I'm just cleaning the shelves. Oh, how did that paintbrush get in my hand? It's only a small job... it won't take long, just a couple of hours. I promise! Don't knock over the piles of linen stacked there. Yes, I know it's been two days now, but I might as well finish. Yes, I'm nearly done.

There. that looks so much better.

 The doors are still cream. I'd love to paint them white then fill in the squares with wallpaper or scrapbooking paper, but I should quit while I'm ahead. For the moment. Get back to the sleepout.

Although the pantry really needs a good cleanout, don't you think?

Get to know me

  • I love the smell of cinnamon and vanilla.
  • My favourite flowers are daisies.
  • My favourite trees are pine trees.
  • I always like to have the bickie jar full and a cake on the cake stand. I know...not that healthy, but so good to look at.
  • Autumn is my favourite month, although I do wish we had more of a change of colours up here in Queensland.
  • I love Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder. They started my love affair with "old-fashioned" stuff.
  • I'm a boots and jeans kind of girl, but also love vintage skirts and dresses.
  • I like sewing and am in love with quilts at the moment.
  • I love reading. (I have a weakness for archeological thrillers and historical romances, but not Mills and Boon-type ones.)
  • I love old houses with character. No new estate houses for me. (Sorry Rosie.)
  • I love vintage/cottage/farmhouse decorating and pretty pinks and blues, with a splash of red for colour.
  • Polka dots can make me sigh with delight.
  • I have 4 chooks. They are MY pets. Another tick on my dream-come-true chart.
  • I don't eat dessert much any more. I'm not dieting, I just don't want it. (Does that mean I'm growing up if I say no to an icecream cone?)
  • I'll still always say yes to chocolate though!
  • I like to sit on the front stairs in the sun, to drink my morning cup of tea, while I contemplate what to do in the garden.
  • I've got the gardening bug again recently. It comes and goes with the weather. I'm envisioning cottage flowers in pink, blue and white to go with my green picket fence.