Wednesday, November 23, 2011

~Happy Thanksgiving~

~Count your blessings~

  ...Let’s be on the lookout
for the bits of pleasure in each hour,
and appreciate the people who
bring love and light to everyone
who is blessed to know them.
You are one of those people.
On Thanksgiving,
I’m thankful for you.

By Joanna Fuchs

Until next time...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

(Faux) Blackened Wax Fruit Tutorial~Thrift Shop Bowl Makeover

 If you read my blog on a regular basis you already know that I'm a thrift shop junkie. I have a favorite local shop run by the sweetest little ladies. They are exceptionally kind to me and always seem to have the "good stuff". Last week I stopped by, and among other things, found this...
...large wooden bowl filled with faux fruit, only $4. This is only a few pieces of the fruit, as I nearly forgot to snap a "before" photo. I had an idea brewing and was impatient excited to get started.

I've always wanted a big ol' bowl of the beautiful blackened wax fruit that I see in shops, but being the cheapskate that I am, have never wanted to spend the money on something "I can make myself". Yes, yes we've all been there, haven't we? We CAN make it...but we almost never do. Well, when I saw this lovely big wooden bowl filled with fruit I got the idea to turn faux fruit into "blacken wax" faux fruit. And if it didn't work...well, the bowl was still a deal at $4, right? And while I was at it, I decided I'd give the bowl a new/old finish.
 I already had everything I needed, so I gathered my materials.
 For the faux wax fruit you only need a few things.

Black Acrylic Paint, Matte Finish (the cheap stuff is fine)
Ground Cinnamon  (the cheap stuff is fine here too. I bought ALDI brand)
Small Artist's Paintbrush
Drop Cloth
Handheld Hairdryer (optional, but sure speeds up drying)

This project is so're gonna love it.

Spread out your drop cloth and give yourself plenty of room to work. If you do a lot of pieces, you'll have fruit drying everywhere. Using full strength paint, begin painting each piece of fruit with a nice even coat. I painted one side of each piece of fruit then sat it aside to dry and did the next piece. Then I went back and painted the other side of each piece. I checked each piece in bright light to be sure I had good coverage. You want the original color of the fruit to be completely covered. 
 Like this.
I didn't paint the stems. Tip: If any of the fruit is missing a stem-or if they look "fake", you can replace them with stems from real fruit. Just poke a small hole in the top using an awl or a large needle and glue in the replacement stem. Do this before adding the cinnamon.  
 Now for the tricky part. OK, not really...there is no tricky part.

After the fruit is completely dry (this is where the hairdryer comes in handy), pour your bottle of cinnamon into a shallow dish. This project only uses up a small amount of cinnamon, but you can keep what's leftover to use on another project. Just don't use it for cooking. Now, roll each piece of fruit in the cinnamon. You can gently pat, rub or sprinkle...whatever works for you. I just rolled mine around, then sat each piece aside while I painted my bowl. 
Now for the bowl...I started by giving my bowl a good washing and allowing it to dry overnight before painting. There was no previous finish on the bowl. For painting the bowl I used Old Century Colors, acrylic paint in the color, Olde Pewter 2023. I used full strength paint to get the look of a heavily painted old bowl...but you can water your paint down (one part paint, two parts water) for a more transparent look. 
 My painted bowl, before the antiquing process.

I painted the bottom of the bowl, going around in a circular motion, with the grain. Pay special attention to the rim and the bottom where you would see natural wear, were it an antique bowl. If you get too much paint on the bowl, just use a wet cloth to scrub some off, again following the bowl's contours. You can also use fine sandpaper to remove a bit of paint. When you're happy with the way it looks, set it aside to dry. Again, I used a hairdryer to speed up the process.

After your bowl is dry you'll want to go over it with an antiquing medium to give it a bit of age. I used Folkart/Plaid Antiquing Medium, in the color Apple Butter Brown, to stain my bowl. Mix one part antiquing medium to two parts water. Remember a little goes a long way. Brush the mixture on over the outside of the bowl and quickly wipe off excess stain with a dry cloth. Then repeat on the inside of the bowl. The antiquing medium drys fast and the longer it sits, the darker the wood will be. If it is too dark for your liking, wipe some stain off with a wet cloth. 
The  bottom of my painted bowl, after a light sanding and applying the antiquing medium.

I antiqued both the inside, and the outside of my bowl. Keep in mind that you won't want to use these products on the inside if you plan to serve food in your bowl, as they are not food-safe. 
 The inside of my finished bowl is a nice warm brown color.


Looks  and smells just like the real deal...and just in time for my Thanksgiving table!

That's it! Told you it was easy!

Until next time...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winter Offerings on Early Work Mercantile

I had so much fun stitching up these sewing baskets for the Early Work Mercantile update today. I hope you'll stop in and take a look.

~Winterberry Sewing Basket~
The Winterberry Sewing Basket is spoken for. 
~Thank you, Barbara~

~Winter Blues Sewing Basket~

The Winter Blues Sewing Basket is spoken for. 
~Thank you, Christine~

Until next time...

Log Cabin Christmas at Early Work Mercantile

Here's a little sneak peek at what I've been working on for the Early Work Mercantile update on November 15th. My designs were inspired by the classes I took at Country Sampler last month. I'm really pleased with the way these projects turned out. I can hardly wait to show them to you!

 At Early Work Mercantile, you'll find lots of great winter offerings from many talented primitive artists. I do hope you'll stop by for the big reveal.

Until Next time...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Skinny Spinach Gratin Recipe

Is there anyone who doesn't know about Gina's Skinny Recipes? I'm a little late to the party, but I've been trying out recipes from this site for the last few months and I can honestly say everything I've tried has been wonderful.  As extra incentive to try out Gina's fare...I might mention that there's 30 pounds less of me since I started cooking Gina's way.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I'd share a particular favorite of ours. If you need a side dish or yummy hot dip to take to holiday dinners, this one's a winner!

~Makeover Spinach Gratin~
(recipe here

Only 111 calories in a generous, gooey, cheesy 1/2 cup serving. Makes a great hot dip with crackers or toasted bread too. Enjoy!

Until next time...

Boxwood and Berries~Day 2~

Where oh where does the time go? You've all been so patient, waiting to hear about my incredible day two at Boxwood & Berries...this time with the fun and fabulous Stacy Nash instructing our group. Here goes.

~Stacy's Finished Project/Sample~
(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

Walking into the school room that morning felt very surreal. I think I must've pinched myself hundreds of times during my time in Spring Green. But sure enough, I was wide awake and day two was ready to begin. Taking our places, each of us found this pretty little package at our place setting, like a gift waiting to be opened.

(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

I have long been an admirer of Stacy's work, chatted with her through email, and even sold her patterns way back when...but I had somehow never gotten the chance to meet her in person. My first impression of Stacy...a lovely, tall blonde who reminds me a great deal of my gorgeous friend Jane-both from Indianapolis, their voices eerily similar. I think the very best thing about Stacy (besides her obviously killer talent) has to be her sense of humor. She  can deliver a joke with a totally deadpan expression. You know, the kind of humor that makes you do a double take? She's a funny lady...I really love that.

Stacy is also warm and friendly, and very clever. She eased us into a detailed project that looked hard, but she had somehow found a way to make easy. Remember the sampler I was stitching a few posts back? Under Stacy's guidance, we spent the morning turning our stitched pieces into a beautiful fabric covered sewing box...complete with accessories. We all marveled at how easy everything went together and were thrilled to go home with so many finished projects. Again, I was fortunate enough to share a table with Patti, needlewoman extraordinaire, who was always one step ahead of me and willing to answer my bazillion questions. 

A table at the back of the room was laden with projects from both designers. Stacy's newest projects line up along the back wall. 

Stacy's new Christmas pattern and a fall sampler she created for a class at Not Forgotten Farm.
(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

Day two found us incredibly busy as we tried to fit in as many adventures as possible. Once again Patti led the way as we took ride in the beautiful countryside to a little shop called The Woodshed. The gentleman who owns the shop refurbishes wooden crates and boxes (the kind we love) and gives them new life. As much as I enjoyed seeing the shop...I think I enjoyed the ride there and back with Carla & Wendy more. Having met at Boxwood & Berries only last year, the two have become good friends. With their banter and easy laughter they seemed almost like sisters. I really hope to spend more time with this FUN pair!   

Jeanne is a fantastic organizer and packed our time in Spring Green with wonderful activities. Late in the afternoon on day two, we got a chance to stretch our legs by walking several blocks to the home of Ruth Hass, a local antiques dealer. Ruth's home is gorgeous, and is decorated in the simple, primitive colonial style that is my particular favorite. Ruth was gracious enough to not only let us peek inside her home, but to allow us to take photos so YOU could peek too.

Patti has some great shots of Ruth's home on her blog, so I'll try not to duplicate them...but as I scanned my photos,  I noticed that Patti & I seemed to fall for the same vignettes in Ruth's home. :) (Hop on over to Patti's blog for more photos!)

As you walk in the front door, this corner "office" is sure to catch your eye. I think if I had to pick a most favorite spot in the house, this would be it. Maybe.

Ruth's family room features built in shelving, a fireplace and access to the sun porch. You wouldn't know it by looking, but her family uses this room every day. 

On the other side of a central staircase is this rustic, but functional,  dining room. People actually eat meals here. 

At the back of the house, just off the kitchen, is this truly amazing buttery. This room is a work of art. Oh to be a crock on Ruth's buttery shelves and just gaze at this masterpiece all day long! 
The view from my shelf in the buttery.

Even the bathrooms are beautiful here.

Impeccable displays abound. I loved the simplicity of this washstand in the upstairs bath.

After the others had passed through, I lingered. One of the most pleasant things about Ruth's home was the play of light on carefully placed objects.

Primitive doll in upstairs bedroom.

Chest in upstairs hall.

Game board in upstairs hall.

 Main floor, back hallway.

And this, dear readers, was just day two. Can you imagine?

And where did MY completed "Stacy project" end up?

My finished project found a home on a little tavern table in front of the window among other sewing collectables. Isn't it perfection? :)

Until next time...