Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer's Bounty


My garden got off to a pretty good start this year. But alas, it is not so great now. If it weren't so depressing, I might have posted a picture of it. We have had lots of rain, so we did not have to water much. The problem is, however, that we had a little too much rain, for several weeks, and not enough sun. We did have squash, zucchini, beans, peppers and cucumbers for a few really tasty meals. The over-abundance of rain seems to have encouraged the pesky bugs and worms, which started attacking all the vines and they withered. They look pathetic now. I had planted several varieties of tomatoes and they have done quite well. There are a few tomatoes and peppers still growing. This is a picture of the last of the eggplants and several types of tomatoes I picked a couple of days ago.

In spite of my garden's not doing well, there were some things that benefited from the rain. One of the things in my yard that did well and produced a blockbuster crop this summer were the blueberry bushes. We have two bushes and they have provided a couple of gallons of berries, so far, which is the most we have ever had in a season. Here is a picture of blueberries we picked several days ago:


I poured all of them into my largest wooden bowl to get a picture. There is a gallon of blueberries in this bowl. I flash froze most of them on shallow baking pans and then transferred them to quart freezer bags and placed back into the freezer. These will be good in the fall and winter months for baking.

Yesterday, my husband went to Edgefield, South Carolina to have one of our cars serviced. Funny how he always seems to plan the service for about the second or third week in July, which most people in this area will know, just happens to coincide with peak season for peaches. Georgia is known as the Peach State, but South Carolina is a top producer of peaches in the United States, second only to California, where there is more land on which to grow the fruit. Edgefield, South Carolina and many of the surrounding towns, commonly referred to as the Ridge, are well known for the enormous amounts of peaches they produce each year. You might enjoy an article I found on line by the New York Times at  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/us/28peaches.html.

Since he is crazy about this particular fruit, it came as no surprise when Glenn returned home with some gorgeous peaches. Apparently, the rain has been very good for the peaches, because they are huge this season, as you can see from this photograph:

Peaches from an Edgefield, S.C. Orchard
Since we have both blueberries and peaches, in abundance, I was inspired to have this bowl of blueberries, peaches, a little milk and a sprinkling of sugar for lunch earlier today:


It was delicious!

Figs, one of my favorite fruits, will be maturing soon. There will also be something we folks down south call scuppernong or muscadine grapes. To see what these look like, you can click on this link for Clemson University http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/small_fruits/hgic1403.html or this link muscadine‑grapes.jpg northcarolinatravels.com. I notice that the references I found on the internet refer to this fruit as a grape. However, they are not the kind of grape most people would think of as a grape. They are not fleshy like a standard grape and the skin is not usually chewed and swallowed. They have a pulpy-like sort of sack in the middle, which contains the seeds. This pulpy little sack is surrounded by very sweet y liquid or juice. It is one of those things that most people like just for the juice and some people use the juice to make wine in the same way regular grapes are used.

Now, I have a fig tree, but it never seems to grow and produces only two or three figs a year. I have had it for many years. I have fertilized, mulched, composted, etc. I move it every now and then, to see if it will do anything someplace else, but it never does. The blueberry bushes did the same way until, finally, they came alive and started bearing like crazy. I am hoping the fig tree will do the same. 

My friend, Harriette, has a couple of great fig trees and scuppernong vines and she is kind enough to invite me to pick from hers. She is the best friend, EVER. Those figs are so sweet and good! My husband likes for me to preserve them, whole, and he eats them on toast. I like them that way, too, but I love to eat them raw, right off the tree! The thought of picking these and experiencing their mellow goodness fills me with anticipation.

 After all the summer crops are gone, we will still be able to buy tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits from the supermarket, but they will not taste the same.
 Summer is fleeting and these fresh and delightful offerings will be only a sweet and pleasant memory and something to look forward to when spring planting time arrives and we once again look forward to all the unsurpassed goodness the gardens and orchards will yield.
Until then, let us immerse ourselves in the joys that summer has to offer and delight in-------


----before it slips away and is replaced by the awesome spectacle of fall, with its majestic colors and mouth-watering aromas and flavors.


































Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Face-lift for the Master Bath

My master bathroom has been in need of a face-lift for several years. It looked so bad that I did not take any before pictures. The changes I made would look more impressive, if you had seen the before. We had painted it yellow more than six years ago. At the time, I was into yellow, so we painted the master bedroom and master bath in yellows. I really do like the color yellow, but the color in there had long since begun to grate on my nerves. It was looking more putrid than pretty. The floor was beyond disgusting. I won't go into graphic detail about it, but suffice to say, it was looking like a really bad "before" room from an episode of  This Old House.

I had been planning to replace the floor this room's floor for quite a while. I decided several years back what flooring I was going to use. I first discovered the flooring while visiting Jennifer Grey's blog, The Old Painted Cottage at http://theoldpaintedcottage.blogspot.com/ . It is one of my all-time favorite blogs and if you have not checked it out, you really should do so. She has a monthly feature on her blog called Cottage of the Month. I have been checking out the Cottage of the Month for at least three full years and am never disappointed. I have spent many hours, going back through past years, looking at previous houses she has featured from each month. As I recall, she has been doing Cottage of the Month for some 7 years. If you would like to browse some of the cottages you can click on this link http://theoldpaintedcottage.com/pages/cottagemonth_enter.htm. Warning!!You might become addicted, because I certainly have!  It was Jennifer's own home, Cottage 8, which inspired me to look into Allure flooring.  Go to this link to browse through her home  http://theoldpaintedcottage.blogspot.com/2009/08/cottage8-before-after-reveal.html. It is pretty awe-inspiring. Being a big DIYer, the thing that most impressed me was the fact that she and her husband did pretty much all of the remodeling themselves. Jennifer states in her blog that the question she is most often asked is about the floors in her home. Those beautiful wood floors!

The thing is that, though they look and feel like real wood, they are actually vinyl planks and Jennifer and her husband installed them all themselves. Anybody who knows me also knows that I am beyond inquisitive when it comes to DIY techniques, so when I read about those floors, I checked into it right away. The flooring is something called Allure and is sold at Home Depot. There are lots of reviews (most of which are favorable) on the net. I read all the good things Jennifer had to say about the flooring and how much she likes it. I emailed her the end of last year and asked if she was still happy with her floors. She emailed me back right away, saying that she was so pleased with the flooring she had installed several years back, but that they were about to do the remainder of their home in exactly the same flooring. If you visit her, you will note that she has posted instructions that illustrate her husband in the process of installing the latest flooring. You can go to this link http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMaster-6-in-x-36-in-Country-Pine-Resilient-Vinyl-Plank-Flooring-24-sq-ft-case-33114/100594661#.Ue68B_nVB6M to check out the exact flooring they have in their wonderful home. There are some really good Youtube videos on the subject, as well.

Since I so liked the way their floors look, I played copy-cat and went with the same. I purchased it 2 or 3 months ago, but had to wait until summer to install it. We started on Monday before July 4th and I enlisted the help of my 16 year old grandson, Glenn, the first day of installation. I was going to do the job myself, since my husband is working part time and has crazy hours, but I knew I should not try to move the toilet and replace it alone. This is my sweet grandson:
My Sweet Grandson, Glenn
He is so smart and quick to catch on. My son-in-law, Jimmy, has taught him well. He was so patient while we worked together. It is a good thing, because it was the first time I had done any type of flooring. Since I had not removed the old vinyl flooring yet, he helped me do that. That was the hardest part of the whole process. Since it had more adhesive than I had anticipated, it took us the greater part of the day to remove that mess. Technically, we could have laid the new flooring over the top of the old, but it was pretty badly damaged where it butted up with the tub, so I did not think it was a good idea to leave it down. It is important to make sure the floor(or sub-floor, as in our case) is free of any lumps, nail-heads, etc., as these will affect the final look of your new floor. We worked the toilet area first and then placed the toilet and new seal back down, so that Glenn would not have to come back the next day. Installing the floor was wonderfully easy, as a sharp utility knife is used for the straight cuts and a pair of vinyl siding shears is great for cutting any curves or other than straight lines. I was able to do the rest of the floor alone. I finished it the next day. After putting quarter-round molding back all around, calking any nail holes, etc. in the molding with white calk, sealing all around with clear silicone where the molding meets the floor and along the tub, this is what it looks like after it was finished.
New Allure Master Bathroom Floor

I was pleased and satisfied with the results and was ready to tackle the painting next. I had been collecting paint samples for months and since I was going for a fresh, clean look, I had decided it would be a light, white-gray. I found a color that suited me in the Olympic Paint line. The following link will show you the color I decided on for the bathroom http://www.olympic.com/color/paint-colors/moonlit-snow-c40-3. I used Satin Paint +Primer. It was the first time I have used paint with primer and I love the way it covers. It dries very quickly, as well. I used Olympic Semi-Gloss White Paint+Primer for all the trim-work and vanity cabinets. This is a shot from the door leading from the master bedroom and I think it shows the floor much better:
Master Bath after Painting with Olympic Satin+Primer and Olympic Solid White Semi-Gloss+Primer Trim

The curtains are the ones I found at Habitat Thrift Store. I purchased the white rug and a larger one, as well, to use at the tub from T.J. Maxx. My sweet baby daughter was going to get rid of the little cabinet and asked me if I wanted it. Well, yes, because I knew where I was going to put it. I had thought about painting it but my friend, Harriette, and other daughter, Angela, think I should leave the stain as is as it looks quite good with the new floor. So, I guess it will stay that way, at least for now. I am thinking about toning down the tin in the doors with a whitewash or an antique glaze, since the tin is a little to shiny for my taste. I would like to hear your opinions on the subject, so what do you think? The following pictures were also in my last post, showing some of the thrift store finds I used in this bathroom:
Shower Curtain from Goodwill Industries



Great Storage Box from Goodwill Industries to Corral Clutter and Hide Medications

My dear, sweet mother has gone on to be with the Lord. My older sister, Johnnie, introduced her to ceramics many years ago and she, with Sister's help, made the great pitcher and wash bowl for me. Here is a close-up of it:
Ceramic Pitcher and Washbowl Set Created by my Mother
It was one of the few things she did in ceramics. I have not really had the perfect place to put it, but I am happy with it atop the little cabinet.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about all the white switch plates covers I purchased for half off at Habitat Thrift Store.  I bought every one they had, in the various sizes, since I have other rooms to paint in the same or similar color. They look as good as new. I know new ones do not cost very much, but why pass up a deal when you see it?  I The ones I removed are beige and did not look as well with the new color. I don't know if you can see them well in this picture that I cropped out to try to give a closer look, but hopefully you can tell that they look pretty good for an average of fifteen or twenty cents apiece:

White Switch Plate Covers from Habitat Thrift Store

Here's another picture of that wall with the switches:


I think I took most, if not all, of these pictures with my cell phone and they are not the best quality. Something seems to be going wrong with the camera on it, because today, I could not even download pictures from it to my laptop, for some reason. The camera on it might have gone bad on me.

By the way, I spray painted all the drawer and cabinet pulls with Krylon Hammered Metal for Plastic. You can see them pretty well in the second picture of the bathroom in this post. The knobs were actually the shiny brass kind. I know I could have used a spray paint made for metals, but I decided to experiment with what I had on hand--the one for plastics. It works beautifully!


Now, I have to get busy and choose some pictures and so on for the walls. I have a few in mind that I already have.  Maybe I will post again after I finish with that. I'll use my camera next time and maybe things will look better.

Other than some updated faucets and towel bars, which we installed several years ago, and an occasional paint job on the walls and vanity, our master bath had not been updated since we purchased our home almost 22 years ago. Thanks to a little hard work and the assistance of my wonderful grandson, Glenn, we now have a master bath that is clean,  crisp and fresh looking. There are several other things I want to do in there but, in spite of that, a room that had become somewhat depressing to use is now a pleasure for us to enter.








Monday, July 22, 2013

Thrift Store Treasures and Fabulous Finds


Most people who read my blog, even occasionally, will know that one of the things I enjoy most is going to thrift stores. It is a favorite past time of mine and I could and sometimes do explore the aisles of these places for hours. Sometimes I go with a purpose in mind, but some of the best finds are those that are unexpected treasures. Today, I will post about some of the things I nabbed this spring and summer.

First, let me show you something my friend and I found near the beginning of summer. This hutch top:




We had to go back to Harriette's house to get her truck, so we could haul it home.  It is a pretty big truck, but fortunately it has a camera for safe backing. It's a good thing, because we certainly did not want her to be the topic of headlines in The Aiken Standard for being the woman who backed through the Habitat Thrift Store. She did a good job backing into the space, never getting close to the glass window,  as you can see from this photo:


It is an antique hutch top, for which I paid $15.00 at Habitat's 1/2 off sale. It actually has the date stamped across the back, which also states the color finish on the piece as being "parchment."  Please, if you see my husband, please do not mention to him that I said it is an antique, because it was built the same month and year he was born. It is in good shape and it cleaned up nicely with some Murphy's Oil Soap. http://www.colgate.com/murphy-oil-soap#/home. I love that stuff! You probably already know this, but Murphy's Oil Soap is a terrific product and I use it for tons of jobs around the house. It is made from vegetable oil and is gentle on most things, while still being really tough on dirt and grime. It even works great as a pre-wash treatment to remove grease and lots of other stains from items in the laundry. It has a pleasant and mild fragrance, at least I think it does, unlike the caustic odor of some other cleaning products. There is no compensation for my telling you this. I truly enjoy sharing tricks and ideas that make my life easier around the house.

A nice gentlemen helped us load the piece into the back of the truck:



The original idea was to attach a bottom plank or board to it and it would make a good bookcase. It was pretty quickly realized that idea could be ditched because it will look like it was missing something. To be precise, its bottom half. Therefore, I will now be searching for a match which will coordinate nicely with it. Then, I will paint both with some chalk paint to marry the two. Maybe a subject for a later post?

The following picture is fuzzy and does not do justice, but I also nabbed these white cafe/tab style curtains at Habitat half off for $1.25. There were 2 pair, so I picked up both pairs for a whopping $2.50. They worked perfectly for what I had in mind. I used these in the latest DIY project around my house, the master bathroom "refresh."


It is important to keep an open mind when thrift shopping. I have been married a long time and have raised two girls and helped to bring up five grandchildren. During that time, I have experimented a lot and have developed a pretty good knack for removing stubborn stains and getting things looking good again. This wonderful cut-work and embroidered tablecloth had been passed over because it had "some spots," as the writing on the piece of tape which was wrapped around it stated. There were no tears or frays on it and no loose threads on the embroidery. It was priced at $3.50, so I got it for $1.75(half price). 

Beautiful Cut-Work and Embroidered Tablecloth ($1.75)
This is actually a long, rectangular cloth, which I had folded and placed on my kitchen table to take some pictures. The "spots" turned out to be a few tea stains, or at least that's what they looked like to me. I experimented a little with some "Shout," which was not what was needed. I really did not want to use full strength chlorine bleach. I have used dishwasher detergent to remove stains from counter-tops and even a few items of clothing in the past. I gave it some more thought and then I decided to try about one-half cup of "Cascade" dishwasher detergent in the pre-soak cycle of my clothes washer, using hot water. I let it fill up and agitate for a couple of minutes, then I allowed it to soak for about forty minutes. I checked and the spots were gone, so I added laundry detergent and washed the cloth on "delicate" cycle. This is actually long rectangular cloth which I intend to use on my dining room table after I paint in there. I hope to do that within the next couple of months. I just finished painting my master bath and will soon begin working on the bedroom. For purposes of picture-taking for a future post, I folded the cloth and placed it on my kitchen table to take the above picture. The tablecloth really is beautiful. Here is a close up of the cut-work and embroidery motifs in the cloth. 

Close-up of Cut-work And Embroidered Motif  On Tablecloth
Isn't it gorgeous?

So far, I have been posting about Habitat Thrift Store finds. Now, I'll show you a couple from Goodwill Industries. 

Here is a solid white shower curtain which I was able to get for $1.51:
White Shower Curtain From Goodwill Industries. Price $1.51.

It is in perfect condition, so I used this shower curtain in my master bath refresh, after putting it straight into the washer and dryer. Since I am going for a fresh, crisp and clean look in there, it was perfect, at least for the time being. Honestly, how could I lose at $1.51?

Now, I adore wood items and I really like great boxes. I was planning on putting some sort of container in the middle of our vanity to help control clutter and to use as a place to store our daily medications, etc. I knew I had an immediate purpose for the box I am about to show you. I was considering giving it a coat or two of paint in a white hue, but my husband likes the stained wood, so I am planning cleaning it up with some denatured alcohol, as soon as I get to Home Depot or Lowes. This great box was marked at just over $10.00. It was senior day at Goodwill, so it came in at just under $10.00 at the register. 

Wooden Storage Box From Goodwill (Priced Around $10.00)



The items I have posted about today are a few that I have purchased recently and that I thought you might enjoy reading about. I have used several of these in my master bath refresh, which I hope to post about later. It was great fun hunting for these little thrift store treasures and fabulous finds. Thanks for reading my little post today. I hope you enjoyed checking out what I discovered and how I am using them!