Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mason Jar Solar Light Lanterns

I have had several queries about the mason jar lanterns lately. Hopefully, this post will answer all the questions. Mom had actually purchased the jars and lids last year when we were living in the apartment. Once we got settled in the new house, we knew they had to go somewhere special, somewhere that said summer. The Front Porch! Don't they just seem to shout long summer evenings, dancing fireflies and warm breezes? 
The mason jars are last year's special 100th anniversary additions. Love the color! Though I have noticed you can now buy them in just about any color of the rainbow at craft stores. The solar lights are from Amazon. (There is also lids with handles for hanging)They are specially made to go on canning jars so all you have to do is screw on the lid and wa-la! you have a lantern! Even though they are a bit pricey, they are worth the hours of enjoyment. 
At first we weren't sure where to put the lanterns on the porch, until I saw a pinterest picture of mason jar tea light lanterns. Then while cleaning I came across theses old coat hooks. Perfect! 
And with a bit of florist wire we had hanging lanterns! 
During the day, the sun isn't quite bright enough for the solar battery to recharge fully. We usually take them off their hooks and set them on the edge of the porch where is it sunny. Even on a cloudy day you can put the lights under a lamp for a charge.
 For a bit of added drama at night, we put a handful of beach glass (collected along the Lake) in the bottom of each jar. It is beautiful with the light bounced around, almost like the sun shining through a prism.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Picking Cherries

Two weekends ago Mandy and I headed up to Door County, Wisconsin to pick cherries! I so was excited! I love picking fruit and this was our first time picking cherries. Visions of jams, pies and cherry goodies swirled in my head. 
 Not only do I love the end delights of fruit picking, but there is something enchanting about a fruit orchard. The peacefulness, the sun and blueness above, the calmness of nature that surrounds one. 
We provided with metal buckets lined with a bag for picking. (I loved the buckets!) For hands free picking the bucket had rope attached to it that could be tied around the waist. We certainly needed both hands to pick there were so many cherries! They were so very ripe and would fall on our heads if we jiggled the branches too much. 
 It was a good cherry year, no ladder climbing required! I filled almost one bucket standing in one spot. Each bucket held about 9-10 pounds of cherries. We had such a great time we ended up picking 75 pounds of cherries! Lots of cherry jam and pie coming our way!
These are the "tart" variety. Good for baking and jam making. The skins are thinner and they are a smaller then your regular grocery store variety. But still oh so good!
Aren't they beautiful? The branches were so weighted down we learned early to start at the top of the branch and work our way to the tip. As soon as some of the weight was off the end, the branch would spring up a couple of inches! If you didn't get the father up ones first, they would now be out of reach.
 We were some of the last pickers. Almost right behind us the picking machines came, so fascinating to watch. The machine would shake the trees for about half a minute catching all the cherries with their wide tarp wings. 
 It is really two machines, one on the right and one on the left. The right side maneuvered into place around the tree, then the left side, then they shake. The cherries roll down the sides unto the conveyor and get  sent to a tank filled with water to keep cool and prevent bruising.
Once the tank is filled, a tractor takes it to the edge of the orchard to await collection. 
A full tub waiting to be sent to the factory to be made into juice. We played in them for a few minutes, the water felt so good! It was a lovely warm day, not terribly hot. But is it still a bit of work picking 75 pounds of cherries!
Stay tuned for some Cherry recipes!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bits of Randomness


Sorry I have been absent for a bit. I have a horrible cold and cough right now and it is just about all I can do to slog through the day. Ugh! But as soon as I am back up and running again I have a few posts I am very excited to share with you, like our recent Cherry Picking trip in Door County!

In the mean time, here are a few things that have caught my eye recently.

Wouldn't it be lovely to holiday somewhere like the Village of Gerberoy in France?

This post about Secretaries in classic movies tickled my funny bone! (love the pictures too!)

I have been thinking about sewing a Vintage Style Swimsuit. Sound like a fun idea?

This Homemade Salve Recipe has been a favorite this summer.

Thought this was a great reminder On Safe Dog Walking, it can be a bit scary in the city.

Doesn't this just make you want to start your own Roadside Flower Stand?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Story of a Door

This is one of those posts that I have been meaning to write for about a year and just haven't gotten around to. Last week I was looking back on what was happening last year on the blog and noticed I posted about my upstairs bedroom. (Before and After)So to celebrate the one year anniversary of it being finished I am going to share with you the hardest diy project we did upstairs. The Door. I am so proud of that door, every nail in the frame was put pounded in by my hand (several times!). Have you ever hung a door? Let me tell you, it is not easy.

Before-see how much room the door takes up?
When I bought the house, the upstairs bedroom door opened out into the landing. A bit odd, but that was the way it was. One of the first things I realized was the landing would have so much more room and more functionality if the the door opened the other way, into the bedroom. So it went on the list.
Before- door swinging into landing
After months of work and sweat, we ran out of things that could move forward downstairs, so decided to switch tracks and see what needed to be done upstairs. The Door stopped us in our tracks. It needed to be switched around before we could paint, other then that there wasn't much else to do. But since my brother was more importantly occupied with wiring and plumbing it didn't look like it was going to get done very soon. So I took a deep breath, convinced Mandy we could do this and gave it a try!
Since the door needed to swing in and to the left instead of swinging out and to the right, we thought it shouldn't be too bad as all we needed to do was take out the door frame switch it back to front and put it in again. Sounds simple enough.
Before- the trim didn't come off very tidy. A little patching needed.
I don't even remember how many times we took that darn door out and in! We would get so frustrated and tired we would have to leave and come back another day. A few times we thought we had it, but then realized there was a huge gap at the top, or it didn't close completely or it wouldn't stay open. We ended up working on it several weekends and pounding those nails in and taking them out many many times!
No more holes!
Finally, we got it just about right, the door opened and closed right, the gap was balanced between bottom and top and wonder of wonders when we nailed the nails in, they didn't throw anything off! We gave up on it being level, because the door was most likely made on site for the doorway, we don't think it was too level to start with. Add that with a bit of sagging and we are happy it is at lest working!
Looking from the doorway into the closet.
 A bit of plastering and a lot of paint, and no one would ever know we went through all that frustration.
 After all is said and done, I think I would have still switched the door (I love how much bigger it makes the Book Nook!), but I definitely would have thought a lot harder before tackling it myself!
Sometime after we put the door in and when we actually moved in the door shifted again. It now doesn't quite latch all the way, which I was quite certain it did when we finished. It must of been the cold winter. But whose complaining?!? Certainly not me!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Damsel in Distress


Yesterday, Mandy and I had an impromptu Fred Astaire movie marathon. He is one of my favorite actors! I love the movies he is in, he had such great comic flare. We were in the mood for a musical so we started with "Funny Face", also starring Audrey Hepburn. That really got us going, so when we noticed Netflix also had "Daddy Long Legs" with Leslie Caron off we went! 
After that is was official, the next movie had to also be a Fred Astaire. That is when I came across " Damsel in Distress" on Amazon. Can you believe, I had never seen it?! It also stars two more of my favorite actors, Gracie Allen and George Burns. A typical goofy comedy from the 1930's; an odd ball story line written by P.G. Woodhouse, marvelous dance routines, fabulous costumes and great one liners. Loved it!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Easy (dairy-free) Elephant Ears


This morning I was in need of some quick comfort food and what better then cinnamony Easy Elephant Ears for breakfast! The original recipe is from our much loved and battered copy of Gold Medal's Alpha Bakery Children's Cookbook. I don't remember where we got it from, but we all have wonderful memories of learning to bake from it. 
This recipe uses baking powder not yeast, hence the quick part. I probably could make them without a written recipe and half asleep it is so easy to whip up!
Over the years we have tweaked it slightly here and there, our newest version is dairy free so my sister Mandy can enjoy them too.

Easy (dairy-free) Elephant Ears
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups water (or milk of choice)
3/4 cup veg oil (or melted shortening or butter)
Mix dry ingredients together and then add liquids. Mix well and turn out dough unto a floured surface and roll about 1/2" thick. Spread a little oil or butter on dough and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at one edge roll dough up and slice in 1" wide slices. Place on cookie sheet and bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes about 18 cinnamon rolls. (In case the whole family is over, can be doubled or tripled with the same results!)
Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hydrangeas


The more I see hydrangeas, the more I love them! Such a lovely old-fashioned plant. I can't believe I haven't grown them before!  
 It is so exciting to see the little ones I planted last year blooming. (so exciting they made it through the winter!) I am not certain if this variety is naturally leggy or if it is because I didn't trim them down in the fall. I must admit I am a little envious of the owners of all those bushy white varieties that are falling over with blossoms. 
Such a beautiful pink that fades over the summer to white.