Gratitude list

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

- Sara Ban Breathnach

As I prepare myself for the crazy, busy season approaching, I’m pausing today to reflect on what I’m thankful for.  My to-do list can wait, for now.  Here’s my list of gratitudes (in no particular order):

Quiet moments…

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Quiet conversations…

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Family time…

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Friends…

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Home…

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Watching kids grow…

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Creativity…

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Nature…

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Simple pleasures…

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Faith…

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and Hope…

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The list could keep going, but I’ll stop here.  Hope you consider pausing this Thanksgiving to create your own  gratitude list.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Elizabeth

A Piano Niche and a Chalkboard Wall

We recently got our piano out of storage and I spent some time decorating the piano niche.  This is what it looked like when I started:

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 My husband built the shelf specifically so that the dvd player could sit on it. (You can see the cutout on the left where the wires will connect to the player.  But, from my perspective, the very utilitarian  dvd player  hardly seemed worthy of such a beautiful shelf.   My suggestion to hubby that we find another place for the dvd player was met with silence.

So plan B was to  camouflage it.  Since it’s black,  my thought was to paint out the back wall with chalkboard paint.  Hubby didn’t quite share my vision so I promised to repaint the wall if it looked awful.

Here’s how it looked after the first coat of chalkboard paint, along with just the two required elements, the dvd player and a lamp:

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I admit, I was ready to turn back at this point and repaint.  But I have learned over time that it helps to live with the change for a few days and let it sort of settle in.  I played around with  some accessories, and decided that a second coat of paint was in order to really decide on whether the chalkboard wall was staying or going.

For the accessories, I hung our Ethan Allen  clock that we’ve had in storage for almost two years!  It felt a bit like Christmas when I unpacked it.

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I  really like the natural wood tone against the black wall.

Then for functionality, I pulled out two old wooden boxes – one to corral sheet music and another smaller one (on top of the dvd player) for remote controls.

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 Repeating an element (in this case the natural wood tones) is good for continuity.

From there, I added some old books which  always work well for adding character and texture.

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…and then a few seasonal items with the pumpkin and vase of bittersweet and cattails.

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Then, I brought in  an old piano roll meant for a player piano and  fished it down the back side of the shelf.

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I think it’s a nice tie-in with the piano.  And it also serves to minimize some of the black.

Finally, for balance and a touch of whimsy I stenciled a set of antlers and then hung a simple gold frame over them.

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Before and After

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I’m really glad I stuck it out and didn’t turn back after that first coat of paint. What seemed overwhelmingly black  initially, was greatly toned down once the accessories came in.  And you hardly notice the dvd player … yay!

Debra

Ring Bearer Pillows and Table Runners

We continue to whittle away at creating items for our (hopefully) soon to be launched wedding store. Sometimes progress is so painfully slow!  Yesterday I finished up these sweet little ring bearer pillows inspired by our table runners. We’re having fun playing around with new colors!

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We also recently created this Union Jack pillow for a custom order.  I love how it turned out!

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Until the wedding shop is open, these items can be purchased at our current store.  Also new, just in time for Thanksgiving, is our brown striped table runners.

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I love this time of year as we focus on what we’re thankful for.  Hope you’re having a wonderful fall!

Elizabeth

 

Fall Touches at My House

It goes without saying that I enjoy decorating – making my home personal and comfortable for my family and friends.  But over the years I have moved away from “holiday” decorating and more toward “seasonal decorating”.  I’ve gotten rid of most of my accumulation of things that are specific to any one  holiday — other than the Christmas tree ornaments of course!

My pared-down, simplified approach to seasonal decorating is to reflect a little of the colors from the outside, on the inside of my home.   Fall with all its beautiful hues of yellows, oranges, browns and reds, guided me to bring out accessories  that I have in those colors.

Here’s how I introduced some simple fall touches in my dining area.

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Starting with the mantle, I did a mix of things from nature – feathers, pinecones, indian corn and a few faux pumpkins and gourds.

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I added a few shiny pieces as well – a silver pedestal for the pumpkin, brass candle holders and the gold-framed picture – just so the composition didn’t get too dull and flat.

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The bittersweet is weaved in throughout to sort of tie things all together.  Incidentally, if you live in Mount Bethel, you can find bittersweet growing along the river between Mount Bethel and Portland.  Also, you’ll find it over by the Bangor Schools on School Road and Centerville Road.  Bittersweet is so beautiful. I love it for fall.

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For the table, I pulled out a rag rug  that I had.  I like using rugs on my farm table because they are wider and more textural than traditional table runners.  I wash them in my bathtub before using them.  A word of caution here –  old rag rugs are usually not color-fast.  I ruined a red one by washing it and it turned the fringe pink!

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If you like this idea, but can’t find a rug long enough, you can lay two rugs end to end and get the same effect.

The old dough bowl stays on the table year round.  It’s just sheet moss from the craft store laid over a bunch of packing peanuts.  I will add some pinecones to it in the winter and a few seashells in the summer.  Otherwise, it just stays as it is until I get tired of it!

I warmed up the two end chairs with some spiced color pillows, as well as a gold and yellow knitted pillow over by the fireplace.

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The knitted pillow was my first and last (I think) knitting project.  It was way too hard for a first ever knitting project but I was determined to finish it.  The pattern was from Country Home magazine about 10 years ago and it was designed to resemble the colors of old yellowware bowls.   My pillow is full of imperfections but from a distance it looks okay.

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 I brought out some amber color drinking glasses, my mismatched butterscotch bakelite flatware and some old blue plates that my parents collected over the years at yard sales.

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When my dad passed away , my mother divided up the collection and gave each of her three children a service for 16!  I like blue in combination with the traditional fall colors.  It’s a bit unexpected I think.  We are hosting Thanksgiving this year so all of these things will be used then.

What a gorgeous Fall season we are having.  Enjoy! Debra

 

 

 

Sweater Pumpkins

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At the beginning of October, Debra blogged about crafting with sweaters.  We’ve had so much fun creating these mini pumpkins out of old sweaters this past week! Yvonne over at the blog Stone Gable, has great instructions for making these sweet little things.  You can read her instructions here.  In addition to her instructions we also found it helpful to run some quilting thread or double thickness thread down the top, through the pumpkin and back up to the top again where we simply tied off.  This helped us control the shape of the pumpkin and allowed it to sit more securely without tipping over.

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We also found it helpful to trim off some of the stem before wrapping with wired paper twine (found in the floral section of most craft stores).  This took away  some of the bulk of the stem.  I love the way they turned out and I may use them this Thanksgiving for place cards that guests can take home with them.

I like the pumpkins plain, but if you want to embellish further, simply use your glue gun to attach a leaf (also cut out from an old sweater).

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This would be a great inexpensive craft night project or set up a craft table at Thanksgiving for your guests to make their own… keep them busy while that Turkey is baking!

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Happy Fall!

Elizabeth

French Mattress Style Cushion

I really like the look of french mattresses with all of the tufting and detail along the edges.. like this one from Country Living.

These mattresses are hand made in Texas by one man who fas been making them sense the 30's... Filled with cotton.....the edge is that way to maintain the shape,I think they are beautiful

Here’s some from Ballard’s:

Suzanne Kasler Signature 13oz Linen Farmhouse Cushion

And here are some other examples of french mattresses from Pinterest:

Driven By Décor: A French Mattress-Style Cushion for my Window Seat

A French Mattress-Style Cushion for my Window Seat

Because they are hand made, french mattress style cushions are very pricey.  I recently made a knockoff french mattress cushion for my  window seat.

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I found a great tutorial here at anoregoncottage.com.

DIY Tufted French Mattress Cushion {Ballard Catalog Knockoff}

Here’s my window seat before I made the cushion.

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I found a large piece of foam at a thrift store and while it wasn’t as thick as I wanted, the piece was large enough so that I could double it.   If you have really thick, dense foam, an electric kitchen knife works great for cutting it to size.  I put a little hot glue between the two layers just to keep them from slipping around when it was time to insert it into the cover.

In the past I have purchased foam locally at the American Ribbon Factory in Stroudsburg, PA.  I’ve also purchased it online where you can find many options for thickness and density.

My cushion isn’t nearly as thick or detailed as a real french mattress but overall I am pleased with the result.  Eventually, I think I will add a few more knots to make it a little more tufted.  This was an inexpensive but  labor intensive project.  Now I understand why real french mattresses are so pricey!

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Molasses Cookies (Gingerbread Men)

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I had so much fun leading a Food Demo for a  group staying at Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center yesterday.  Two of the recipes that I demonstrated are already on our blog. You can check out Homemade Granola here and Pumpkin Pie Cake here. The third recipe, Molasses Cookies, is another family favorite.   These cookies showed up in my lunch box often when I was a child.   I love this recipe because it calls for simple ingredients that I usually have around my home.  It’s also a great dough for making cut-out cookies at Christmas (or anytime!).  My son loves it when I make them into the shape of footballs and pipe white icing on for the laces.  We also package mini gingerbread men for Christmas gift giving.

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Ingredients:

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons molasses

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/4 cup flour

Directions:

Mix above ingredients.  Roll out dough on floured surface and cut into shapes or roll into balls, coat with sugar and flatten.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Frost with Royal Icing if desired.

*note:  If using this recipe for cut-out cookies, chill the dough for a few hours before rolling.  This will make the dough much easier to work with.  The dough also freezes well so feel free to make ahead of time and store until you’re ready for baking and decorating.

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People love these happy mini gingerbread men and we enjoy giving them away at the Hope Craft Market the first weekend in December.  I know it’s early, but I like to at least start planning ahead for Christmas gift giving and homemade gifts from your kitchen are always welcome!

Or simply enjoy these cookies year round like we do.  You don’t need an excuse to enjoy these cookies!

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Elizabeth