November 2011–Recap

November 30, 2011 07:15 by ehouston

So, the end is finally here and this is one of those months that seems to have puffed away into nothing before it even began.  I put a lot of projects on my plate for such a busy time of year and had to shelf several at the mid-point in order to finish up at least some of them.  That’s the story of my life – major understatement there!  ;o)  Here is where we are at month’s end:

The Formal Living Room has a new coat and she seems to really like it. 


As for me and The Mister, we are still thinking about it.

The family room has some new accessories and this time we all agree they are much better!


We did a little toddler – created, toddler – friendly Fall and Thanksgiving decorating.


As part of that decorating we also learned how to make faux birch bark.  It’s still a work in progress, but the wrapped vases in the shot above came out pretty good for a first try.

We took the time to search out and speak to the Big Man Himself.  With much thought and care the Little Guy was sure to let him know exactly what he wants!  I just know it had something to do with Lightning McQueen and Mack Truck.  That was based on lip reading since he was speaking in a barely audible whisper.  Looking into those twinkling eyes and nuzzled up to that soft beard, my son was nearly speechless.TheLongWalkToSanta

After our encounter with greatness, we did a little furniture shopping for the family room.



But, I did refinish a small display cabinet for our upstairs landing.


Definitely more our style!

Aside from the big T-Day Gorge fest last week, we have been eating our fair share of pumpkin oatmeal.  Maybe I should say the Little Guy has been the one really indulging.  He has pretty much insisted on eating it every day since it was introduced as Halloween pumpkin oatmeal. 


I would say I am pretty much over it.

I FINALLY put the projects into a one stop shop index.  If only I could remember to actually add the projects as I go along.  At least doing this monthly recap will help remind me to do it… ah, monthly? 

Last but not least, I challenged myself at the end of October to complete a project based on inspiration found through Pinterest.  I gave myself an entire month to do this one since I was attempting to use materials that I owned along with items from the thrift store.  Since thrifting is so hit or miss I wanted to be sure I had enough time.  So far I have the frames and they are in the process of being painted.  Once I am clear on how all the frames will come together for the wall display, I can order the photos.  I’m getting there with this one and hope it will be on the wall by next week.  Cross your fingers for me, ‘kay?

Oh yeah, one more thing, I was working on an idea for trays to top our rearranged family room side tables.  I have the plan but have been unsure about the final look of the trays.  After the little birch bark project I think I may have the “look” all worked out.  I will be sure to post about that project soon.

I know, you are wondering why I didn’t just go out and buy what I needed at a discount store and/or toss the final projects if I didn’t like them.   It’s all real time around here.  You see, living a retro way of life is all about planning, saving and planning some more.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the spur of the moment idea and can easily go with the flow as needed.  It’s just that when it comes to paying for this life I want to do it as I go and not leave a bill when I am gone. 

We will get there with this place!  Hope you all had a terrific fall and Thanksgiving holiday.  Come on, winter!

Kitsch Krafts

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Gardening : Veggie Patch Update #3

September 23, 2011 05:32 by ehouston

In between rounds of hole digging for the new trees I also somehow managed to put together the veggie patch and get some food started this past spring.   At this point, I have already pulled the dead and bolting stuff out of the veggie patch twice and just planted another round of lettuces and spinach.


I tried to give the tomatoes another week, but they just hung there looking more and more unattractive as their leaves curled up and started to die.  Plus, the fruit was staying green and not really getting any larger, so earlier this week I yanked them out of their cozy little beds and sent them packing.  We had an abundance of tomatoes this summer that we enjoyed immensely.  My only regret is not planting more so I could make sauce for the winter.  This is something I plan to remedy next spring with a garden expansion- hopefully! 


A couple of Best Boys ripening on the vine earlier this summer.

By the way, I planted three Supersonics and a Best Boy this year.  They grew in a very upright pattern and produced a LOT of fruit.  So much so, that one plant got really heavy and slid down the stake, breaking under the weight.  I employed my usual method of staking and pinching off the suckers as they came up, taking only one additional step of actually pruning away branches around the bottom of the plants, to allow for more airflow, and cutting back those that were really blocking the progress of their neighboring plant.  The process seemed to work very well and I believe if we commit an entire raised bed just to tomato plants we will have plenty of sauce for a fully stocked pantry by next September.  I had never grown these varieties before and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  Hopefully Lowe’s will run another 2 for a $1.00 deal on tomatoes next year as well.  Wow, I just realized that we enjoyed cream of the crop slicing tomatoes all summer for $2.00!  cool.

Right now, I am hoping our jalapenos and couple of bell pepper plants hold on long enough to finish what they have started, which is just a little too small to pick yet.




This shot makes me giggle because the pepper plants look so funny being the only large, upright things in this garden bed right now.  The lettuce is coming in nicely to the left, though!

The herbs I left in the ground are still going crazy and while the strawberries are continuing to grow, they are not doing anything more than staying green. In the cleared areas of the beds I sowed some more lettuces and spinach, which have already started to sprout. 


If all goes well we should have more leafy green stuff than we can stand to eat in just a couple more weeks.  With this last attempt at outdoor gardening completed I am now shifting my focus to an indoor herb garden and some herb decorating for the fall.

Last week I dug up a couple of basil plants, some clusters of chives and the lone parsley plant to bring indoors. 


I used a cool oval galvanized tub that I found on sale at Joann’s the week before. Now I am counting on the sunny kitchen windows to help keep these plants going, because I can’t wait to use fresh herbs during the dreary winter months. Also, for some fall decor I transplanted my extremely neglected mum plants from last fall into bigger pots, along with a couple of our overgrown sage plants from the garden.


Since all I had to use for transplanting were ugly black plastic nursery planters, I squished them into our large galvanized tub to make one big display for our front landing. 


The soft gray-green of the sage plants contrasts nicely with the darker green of the mum leaves.  I like the color of the sage plants so much that I am considering pulling the last couple from the garden to add to the pumpkin display we will place on the steps next month.  Plus, pulling them out of the garden will free up more room for spinach- yum!  Now, if only the mums out front would give us some blooms we will really be in the fall décor business!

Have any of you started decorating for this time of year?  Do you bring anything in from your garden to keep going during the winter?  Any tips to keeping things alive indoors?

Kitsch Krafts

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Making And Crafts – Fall Decor

October 29, 2010 09:00 by ehouston



A while back my mom came for a visit and started me down a project path I was not really ready to take.  I was glad for the push, but I am even more excited about the finale.  I had been telling her about how every year I promise myself that I am going to go out and buy up the fall decor as soon as it goes on sale so I can get great stuff at a discount.  For years I have been wanting to get a bunch of those fake pumpkins that you can actually carve if you want to and use them to decorate our front stoop.  I just like the idea of being able to use them over and over again.  Well, every year I either forget to go back to the craft stores to get them or when I go back they only have the itty bitty ones left.  So, this year I had the idea that I would make some out of paper mache and that way I could have a whole big pile in every shape I wanted to decorate our place for the fall season.  It just so happened that I also received a box of goodies from another family member and in that box was an old Country Living magazine featuring paper mache pumpkins right on the cover.  Pretty funny, right?

Well, I was telling my mom the story and when I finished she said, “so lets do it”!  Even though I had about a hundred other things going I decided to take the leap and finally get to those pumpkins and gourds I had been wanting for so long.  Plus, it’s just fun to do crafts with other people that enjoy them as much as I do.

We started with some balloons and then used twisted paper to create “pumpkin” and “gourd” type shapes. 


(Day One: Getting encouragement to start from Grandma and the Little Guy)


(Day Two: Grandma, a little overly zealous in whipping up forms.  She was FAST!!)

Later I even did a couple of extra large “pumpkins” using both balloons and twisted paper to bulk them up a bit. 


(As you can see we created all different types of pumpkin and gourd styles.)


(We used old egg cartons to help elevate the forms and create air circulation for fast drying.)

I also realized that they needed some kind of ridge along the bottoms to keep them standing upright, especially after adding the stems. 



(A stem in process.  Just rolled a strip of newspaper, splayed the ends and used tape to hold it in place while adding strips of paper mache.  One note: we learned that using the 50/50 flour (white and whole wheat) created a paste that took a lot longer to dry and created a bumpy texture.  We stuck with regular white flour going forward.)


After several coats of paper, flour and water I also painted on a really thick coating of just the flour and water.  This helped to even out some of the paper ridges that are almost impossible to smooth out no matter how hard you try.  After the thick flour and water coating dried I primed them with regular old wall primer and then used various acrylic paints I had on hand to give them a final coat.  Although they are definitely stylized (and a bit lumpy) versions of pumpkins and gourds, and I doubt they will be fooling anyone, I still think they came out pretty nice. 




(We also added some discounted mums that appear to be about to bloom.  Hopefully that will happen before the frost gets them.  Cross your fingers for us!)

Even though these things took a long time to complete with all the other projects we have going on the biggest plus was that, aside from time, the only investment was one small bag of balloons and a couple of bags of flour.  I had paints and newspaper laying around already, so I think the total expense involved was around $5.00.  And, if we get lucky they will survive the fall weather so we can use them year after year.

Thanks for getting me started Mom!

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