Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vintage Finds - Redesigned

Vintage finds, redesigned. This is my catch phrase for my sammysgrammy etsy shop. This inclination has been a part of who I am for so long, I don't remember when it started. I just remember always remaking, repurposing, redesigning from my earliest childhood. As a 12 year old, I redesigned my grandmother's sewing machine cover to be a skirt for the vanity in my bedroom. Even the dressing table was a reuse of a maple desk. In my naivete, I thumbtacked the skirt to the table. It looked so "girlie" and that was exactly my intention. I was a very happy 12 year old about my room. I actually still am on the hunt for items I can repurpose. Quite some time ago, I came across a white chenille bedspread at an estate sale. I bought it. My intention was to make one of those maxi length swing coat/dusters from it but I could never bring myself cut into the fabric and desecrate it's beautiful purpose.
You may know about the kind of weather we've been having in the northeast of the U.S.A. this summer. Blistering temperatures and no rain. I desperately needed a lighter than air bedspread. I can't sleep without covers but this summer, I wanted those covers to be thin, light, cloudlike, a whisper. I thought of the stashed bedspread. It was exactly perfect. The backround for the chenille design was a very thin, sheetlike fabric. I laundered it and dried it on the clothesline in the backyard. It smelled beautiful - like the outdoors. Then brought it in and put it on my bed. Alas, it didn't fit and didn't look good. I have a queen size bed. When this bedspread was manufactured there was no such thing as a queen size bed. There were singles and doubles and baby cribs. That's it.
My vintage bedspread did not drop down on the sides long enough. And it was enormously long lengthwise. In circa 1940 the happy homemaker made her double bed by letting the bedspread edges all drop approximately the same length all around the bed. Therefore the sides and foot of the bed all looked uniform. The huge amount of fabric remaining at the head board was used to wrap around the pillows. Voila! the bed was made. In the 21st century, we dress beds totally different. We don't cover pillows with bedspread. We actually highlight pillows, covering them with shams, adding lots and lots of them to make the bed look a bit like the bed of the princess in "The Princess and the Pea" story book. Therefore I cut off the extra length of the bedspread. I will make a pillow sham from it one day. Next, I needed to add depth to the sides and bottom. After much design-think, I decided on tulle. I purchased double the length of the 3 sides I wanted to extend. I stretched out the entire 7 yards of tulle and folded the 54" width of it in half and pressed it with the iron. I then had 4 layers of tulle.
I used 2 packages of clear elastic to gather up the skirt, stretching the elastic and sewing with a zigzag stitch so that when I released the tension on the elastic, the tulle automatically gathered up. The final step was attaching this gigantic tutu to the sides and bottom edge of my vintage bedspread. Now it fit my bed in a manner that pleased my eye. It is perfect for these hot nights. I'm in love with it........

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bird Bath Tutorial

I went on a garden tour a couple weeks ago. This is an annual event for two of my friends and myself. It takes place in one of our suburban towns and is sponsored by the town's Arts Society. This particular town considers gardening to be an art (and I agree). The residents of this town who are involved in the arts are usually members of this Arts Society and volunteer their time, talents and gardens for this, their biggest fundraiser of the year. Therefore, all the gardens on the tour have a plein aire artist sitting at an easel and painting in the garden. Many of the gardens have live music in the garden supplied by members of the Arts Society. The atmosphere is fragrant with the sound of music, lovely snacks, beautiful paintings coming to life and exquisite gardens.
At one of the gardens on the tour, I noticed a lovely birdbath that the home's owner had made. I fell, immediately, head over heels, in love and determined that I would make one. I am so delighted with it and I think you will be too. Here's a picture of the one I made for my hosta garden.
It is all re-purposed, reused,clear glass. The main structural component is one of those thick glass tall vases that come from the local florist when you receive a bouquet. I like to use a colored, bulbous vase on top of the tall vase. Then on top of that, a glass serving dish. For a sturdy base, I have used an upended glass salad dish. The glue to use for this project is a glue for non-porous surfaces. I used Beacon 527 multi-use glue. The method I used was to: 1 - glue the tall vase and the colored bulbous vase together. Wait one day for the glue to be solidly set. 2- Turn the large serving plate upside down and place the top of the colored bulbous vase right in the middle of the bottom of the serving plate - gluing it together. Again, leave for a day for the glue to dry and set up properly. 3- With the large serving plate still in an upside down position and firmly attached to the two vases, glue the inverted salad plate (the base)to the bottom of the tall vase. 4 - Again, leave for a day to set up. 5 - Now you have a beautiful birdbath for your garden. Fill with water and enjoy. Most people have a stash of these florists vases left over from bouquets they've received. They just seem too valuable to throw away. Here is an awesome use for them. For the glass serving dishes, GoodWill, second hand stores, etc. are good sources. Perhaps you even have some of your own you'd like to recycle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Act III of Rotisserie Chicken - Chicken Tortellini Soup

This is the final act of the rotisserie chicken that I purchased at my local supermarket for $4.99 and created several "meals for one" from................... ______________________________________________________________________ I'm sorry that you find yourself in the position of "cooking for one" and that your dinner companions are the TV or reading matter spread all over your kitchen table. But, simply because this is the most unenviable situation to be in, you should have absolutely delightful meals and not just purely servicable......... _______________________________________________________________________ For the chickie's final application, he's coming to the table as chicken tortellini soup with fresh spinach........................ ________________________________________________________________________ You remember that way back in Act I when I made the chicken quesadilla, I advised you to remove all the rest of the breast meat and use it to make chicken salad (that was Act II) and to wrap up the remaining chicken entire carcass and meat and freeze it - freezing also, the juices that were left in the bottom of the supermarket container that the chicken came home to roost in............... __________________________________________________________________________ Now is the time to remove that package from the freezer. No need to defrost it. First of all, wrap up the carcass in cheese cloth. This is prevent the bones from falling apart and floating around in your soup. (And this is a personal preference) I don't like meat floating in my soup. If it is all wrapped in cheesecloth, it will all stay where it belongs......................... ___________________________________________________________________________ Fill a large soup pot with cool water. Drop you cheesecloth wrapped package gently into the pot along with the juices that were in the store container bottom. Bring pot to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Skim off any foam which gathers on top. Add veggies to the soup. I like to put them in whole so that it is easy for me to remove them when the soup is done. I put a couple whole stalks of celery - including celery leaves, whole carrots and a whole onion. I also add a small can of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, if you have them................... ___________________________________________________________________________ Simmer for 1 - 2 hours. Remove wilted veggies. I mash the carrots with a fork and add them back in. I toss the celery and onion. All their goodness is now in the soup. Remove the cheesecloth package. Now you have a lovely clear soup...........
____________________________________________________________________________ Bring it back to a soft boil so you can cook the tortellini right in the soup. I add about half a 1# bag of frozen cheese tortellini to the soup. Cook according to package directions. When the tortellini is almost cooked, I add one half a bag of fresh baby spinach............................................. _____________________________________________________________________________ Dinner's ready. I serve this with a couple tsp. of grated romano/parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. If this doesn't seem like a hearty enough dinner, have a chicken salad sandwich with it. You can also have dessert - because there's not too many calories in the soup.!!!! ______________________________________________________________________________ After I ate my chicken tortellini dinner, I still had two quarts of soup left over. I put one in the freezer for another delightful future meal and the other in the fridge.