Monday, July 22, 2013

Alix’s Garden


We have a very old little building on the edge of the backyard used for garden tools, the mower, and the kitties’ beds.  We call it “the Cobhouse.”  A name we plucked from one of our favorite family read-aloud books, A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck.  (if you haven’t read this yet, you should!)

As I said, the Cobhouse is very old, but since it is still quite useful, we decided to keep it for a while longer.  The kids gave it a whitewash this Spring and it does look much better than it did, but I still wouldn’t call it pretty.

I’ve looked and looked and can’t find a good shot of it in our files, but that’s probably because we have generally tried to avoid any pictures of it.

One of the first things we did last year after buying Kenilworth, was to clean the neglected area around the Cobhouse.  There were large piles of firewood and bricks scattered around, lots of weeds, a few metal stakes that may once have been used for a fence for dogs, and a dilapidated doghouse.  But that was the extent of our efforts.

Over the winter however, Alix made plans for a garden area next to the Cobhouse.  We collected packets of seeds in the Spring, reassigned the wood from 2 old raised beds that we weren’t using to delineate 3 boxed areas, and she planted her garden.

There was a section of split rail fence on one side, but she envisioned a white picket fence.  So I began a search on CL.  I finally found some for free!  Enough to go around 2 sides of her garden, which was enough for now since Luke’s potato patch bordered the 3rd side too closely to put fence there.

Here it is in the back of the trailer after the boys and I picked it up.


It was about 60 years old…. which made it perfect in our eyes!  The paint was peeling with just the right amount of peel.

Luke used a post hole digger for the posts.


He was a little bashful about me taking his picture, but I got one!






We already had several plants on one side, so he was careful.

He had to take most of the pickets off the original fence sections because many of the boards holding the pickets had broken when they were removed from their original home.  To get the spacing right when he replaced them, he made a template from pieces of scrap wood.  The template had the outline of the top part of the picket, and he pressed it snugly against the pickets to hold them in place while he hammered them to the boards.

He did a great job and Alix and I were both very pleased with how it turned out. 






Apparently we weren’t the only ones!






I found these pictures in our computer files. 

I thought they were adorably funny.

Don’t you agree?



Friday, July 19, 2013

Spray Painting Metal Folding Chairs


We’ve been using metal folding chairs at the kitchen table since we moved in last September.  They were really intended to be a temporary solution until we could afford some wood chairs and a banquette style bench on 2 sides of the table.  The table is tucked away in a cozy corner in the kitchen next to the stairs and we have already enjoyed many meals and chats around it.  But using chairs instead of a bench is much more limiting to the number of people (especially kid-sized people) that we can squeeze in around the table.  We have the space for more!!  I have already picked out a style of bench for Glenn to build for it that I think will look just right, and I can mentally picture how it will look.

However I am beginning to see that the banquette is a fairly big project, and I’m afraid it’s going to be pushed back bit by bit on our Priority List.  There are just too many other important things that have to come first.  Like trim in our bedroom and the new area.  Mudroom closets to hang coats this winter so all of our coats won’t be crammed onto a flimsy, tilting plastic rolling rack.  New ballet shoes and tights.  Work boots for Luke.  A few new things for school.  Pointe shoes. Clothes for some of the kids who are growing way too fast.  And so on!  I’m sure you know what I mean.

But back to our metal folding chairs!

Several years ago I painted the 2 little kid-sized metal folding tables and chairs we bought at Big Lots.  They came in bold primary colors and didn’t really go with the neutral colors of our home.  I painted them a nice soft white and recovered them in some sturdy, padded vinyl fabric.  See..


IMG_9412    IMG_1701


So although I knew I could paint the chairs in our kitchen, I had held back up till now because I kept thinking they were temporary.  Well, I finally realized that whether they stay in the kitchen for a few more years, or are replaced and become our extras for large crowds, I still want them to be pretty. 

It was easy to unscrew the back rests from the frame.  I laid them on drop cloth, cut around them leaving a generous 2-3 inches to fold over and staple to the back.  Did I remove the original fabric and staples?  No, of course not.  There just wasn’t a good reason to go to all that trouble.  Winking smile


I used Glenn’s hand stapler for the whole project, using 1/4 inch staples. 

IMG_1453  IMG_1455


The seat cushions were a little more complicated because they were secured with plastic screws which could only be removed by breaking off the tips.





This meant we had to get replacements.  We took one of them with us to Lowes and found them in the section which had auto upholstery tacks. It was easy to find the replicas and they were fairly inexpensive at 80 cents apiece.



Here’s a closer look at one.




I took the chairs outside, set them in a huddle on a big sheet I use for painting, and then gave them a coat of primer, followed by 2 or so coats of Heirloom White Rustoleum spray paint.  For eight chairs, I used 2 1/2 cans of primer, and 5 cans of spray paint.  I didn’t paint the seats or backs, other than making sure the edges looked good.  And although I painted the undersides of all the chairs, I didn’t try to get the complete coverage I wanted for the legs and sides. 




While the chairs were drying, I cut out the pieces for the seats.  I used one of the seat cushions for my first cover, and then just cut out the other 7 by laying it on top of the drop cloth and cutting around it.  Easy!




When the chairs were dry, I used clear furniture wax to protect the paint finish.  In the past, I’ve used spray polyurethane, but I didn’t have any this time.  I thought it was a good opportunity to see how the furniture wax would work on metal.  Guess what?  It worked great!  I especially like that the finish isn’t too shiny and glossy like it would be with polyurethane.  Instead it is more matte, but still keeps the paint from chipping.

Although I don’t usually like Glenn to take pictures of me while I’m doing projects, I didn’t mind this one so much because it’s not close up. Smile Plus I thought it might be fun to see that I don’t do anything very professionally, just cram myself in the middle of a project where I can work on things as quickly and efficiently as possible.



Glenn was a huge help on this project!  He removed all the staples from the old fabric so he could put the new upholstery screws in place.  Then I wrapped and stapled the new fabric onto the cushions and pressed them into place on the chairs. 



We finished them and I took a few pictures. 




I couldn’t find a recent shot of the table and chairs by themselves that gave a good view for a before look, so I used this one from last year.  I took it before we moved in, so things are a little bare.  


IMG_3080      IMG_1460


Here’s a different view, in case that wasn’t good enough. Winking smile




I still might stencil an “O” on the seats to add a little pizzazz, but for now they are so much nicer to look at than before!


They’re temporary!  But pretty. 



And isn’t this a sweet little creamer?


Have a great weekend!




I’m linking to MMS’s FFF

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



Would you believe these are our own little guys?!


One of the extra special blessings we received when we bought Kenilworth was a peach tree. 

Although we don’t know anything about the care and handling of a peach tree, I think we are about to learn!



Apparently they are very heavy when they are ripe.  Two branches broke before we could pick them!



The poor little guy! 

But we picked all the fruit today, and then I trimmed the broken branches and sprayed something to seal them and protect the tree from invaders. 

He looks much better now!



So now we have two tasks before us.  One is to read everything we can about how to care for a peach tree so that it survives and thrives.

And the second is to do something with all these peaches!  In a hurry!



I think we are having Peach Clafoutis for dessert tonight.  Oatmeal and peaches for breakfast.  Peaches for lunch.  Peach smoothies for an afternoon refresher.  Peach wine with a peach and chicken entrĂ©e..

And so on.  Smile

And I’m thinking some of our nearest friends and family may receive a little peachy surprise this week.



Hope your day is peachy!


(I couldn’t resist.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Ballet Camps


We’re blessed to have a wonderful ballet school right here in our little town.  The teacher and her husband were both professional ballet dancers for many years and have had their own ballet schools several times.  They own the studio and share the many duties associated with having your own business, while working full-time jobs elsewhere.  They are dedicated and loving, patient and kind. 

We love them.

It was Glenn’s idea to start the girls in ballet, back in November of 2008.  They’ve learned a ton, and have participated in 2 recitals so far, Copellia and Sleeping Beauty.

The last couple of years they’ve been excited to participate in the week-long summer ballet camps Ms. Hume provided for them.

Olivia and Kate were both part of the Princess Ballet Camp.  The little girls dressed in their choice of tutu and wings and did all sorts of fun Princess-type things.  They colored princess story pages, watched 5 of their favorite princesses dance, had princess snacks, and listened to Ms. Hume read them a different princess story each day.  Kate participated because she was Princess Ariel.  A perfect Ariel, if you ask me.

Here are a few pictures showing how much fun they had…


Kate was a very popular Ariel with the little girls.



Here is Olivia with two of her BFFs – Kate Chungwai and Cousin Claire.



I love this shot of them stretching their little toes..




And then the twins and Kate had fun learning different types of dance – including Irish Step Dance from a local dancer who competes nationally.










These fun costumes were provided by the ballet teacher.  The girls made their own headpieces and beaded the necklaces during the week. 

The camp week culminated on Friday with a special performance for the parents.  The girls danced to two different types of music, one was Irish and the other Indian. 

Here they are on the final day! 





Beautiful girls!


Although they were sad for the fun to end, they’re looking forward to a new year of ballet.  Plus this year is a recital year, so come May, they’ll get to dress up again in gorgeous costumes. 

Life is grand!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rug Swapping


Sometimes I just want to do something to a room.  Something that doesn’t cost any money.  But makes an impact.

Even if it’s just something no one notices, but me. 


So a few weeks ago, I was sitting in the family room, and decided it needed just a little something different.

Aha!  What if I swapped the rug from our bedroom with the one in here?


So I did.



It didn’t cost a thing.




And yet it makes an impact in the way the room feels.


To me, it is a little bit snazzier.  But not intrusive.



I think it adds a little texture, but still lets the room be quiet.


At least, as quiet as a room in a house with seven children can be.  Winking smile