Food Locker

100 years ago, or so it seems, we started to paint the kitchen cupboards.  Actually, we started in March and by November we were finally finished with the cupboards and countertops.  The walls still need painting and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with the space above the cupboards.  For now, the shining star of the whole adventure is the bookcase which is now my food locker.

I find her beautiful, practical and oh, so useful!

It is truly amazing what a little paint, a handy husband and a lot of patience can produce.  Before the transformation, when I was much younger : ) I spent hours trying to decorate the open shelves with seasonal displays and books and dishes, etc.  Then, when I got a little older, I got tired of digging in the bottom cupboards by the sink for the canned goods.  My brilliant idea to put the foodstuffs on the bookcase created a "poor farmer" decorating style all my own...

I think my decorating style had a great deal to do with the fact the first cupboard doors hubby made were put on the new food locker.

Of course, since the food locker looked so nice, I had to do something with the rest of the wall.  I got rid of the red paint, replaced the old dry sink (which I really love, but just didn't fit with the "fresh farm" decor) with a bench seat and decorated the top of the foot locker.

Since there is no such thing as remembering to take a picture of the kitchen when it is clean and everything is in its place (more like there's no such thing as everything in its place in the kitchen) here's a peek at another part of the kitchen after the facelift.  I love the new faux beadboard cupboard doors and hardware.  All total, hubby made 23 doors!

It is really hard to believe how scared we were to paint everything white...

The change has been wonderful... but some things never change.  I still don't like to cook!  

Hopefully my creative juices and ambition will kick back into high gear.  I've missed being away from blog land.  Even though the kitchen still needs a lot of paint... we're already toying with the notion we will redo the bathroom this winter.  You might say we suffer from DIY ADHD!


More of the Dow House & Events

I do believe the Dow City Christmas extravaganza, A Christmas Carol was a big hit.  I was able to get more pictures  of the Dow House all decked out for the holidays.

The Dow House
The structure itself is beautiful, inside and out.  The grounds are well kept year round and the carriage house is an attractive addition.

For sake of simplicity, here is a collage of highlights from inside the house.  There were so many wonderful things!  The chandeliers were probably my favorite.

There were activities for everyone all day long and into the evening.  The cookie exchange had lots of goodies including these adorable little melting snowmen.

The Christmas Market Place is where I spent most of my time... debuting my candles (finally)!  I was pleased with the results.  My Kenny - well, really my daughter's Kenny - was a great help.  And so was Mardi.  Hope they had as much fun as I did!

My favorite Street Guy:  Ye Olde Popcorn Vendor!

The grand finale of the event was a lighted Christmas Parade.  Wow!

I believe that is Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past.

And a lighted Christmas Tree in the middle of the street.

God Bless Small Town America!


Old Fashioned Christmas

This year I jumped at the opportunity to join the talented gals in Dow City, Iowa, in decorating the historic Dow House for Christmas.

The Simeon E. Dow House is a beautiful two-story, 13-room red brick house that was built in 1872.  The locals have done a wonderful job at preserving the vintage originality.  

I was assigned the Maid's room.  I headed down the dirt road for inspiration, knowing a Maid in the late 1800's would not have any money for lavish decorations.  Much to hubby's chagrin, I returned home with his pickup loaded with all sorts of ditch goodies for my project and filled the garage with greens and weeds.

But what wonderful weeds they were! 

One of my favorite finds, a little difficult to appreciate in the picture below, is the Sunflower stem... it dries to resemble (at least in my mind) shepherd hooks that worked perfect for hanging tissue paper snowflakes for an interesting and "poor Maid" creation.

I was delighted to be able to incorporate some of my past projects into the room... hand-dipped candles, antiqued rag dolls & mittens, Christmas stocking, etc.  The most elaborate item in the room was the fruit basket, designed to be a gift from the Dows to the Maid, complete with nuts in the shell and three Silver Certificates for her faithful service throughout the year.  (They're fake, of course)

Oh how divine the aroma of those orange slices & cloves!

My room, of course, pretty much pales in comparison with the rest of the house... pictures of which I hope to take and post soon as the decorating wasn't finished when I left.  

So today... I'm off to join in the festivities in Dow City... and debut my candles at the Christmas Market!


Happy Fourth!

I've been itching to create something... anything.  It's been a while and I fear the old creative juices are gonna dry up and blow away if I don't do something!

In the spirit of the holiday, I put together a little something that was inspired by Gail at My Repurposed Life.

One day I hope to be able to create a beautiful and unique piece of functional furniture like Gail, but for now I'll settle for just a little holiday touch to brighten the kitchen.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday!


Lions & Tigers & Bears - Oh My!

Good grief.  I guess I better stop complaining about the weather because it seems the upper atmosphere has ears and doesn't like me grumping about all the rain.  I think there are very few places in the United States that have actually had a nice Spring.  Fires, floods, tornadoes - you name it, it's been awful everywhere.  Guess I really didn't have much to complain about compared to what others are facing and losing.  I was complaining about cold, cloudy and wet.  Nothing, I tell you, nothing compared to the devastation elsewhere.

So, I guess it's my own darn fault that I lost one of my good (tree) friends in the storm last night.

He was a goofy looking thing, for sure, but he was like the Sentry at the end of our driveway.  Our personal Wal-mart wanna be greeter. Our unique, not-another-one-like-it-in-the-world tree.

Snap.  Gone.

By far, the worst damage we've had out here from storms since moving out here in 2003.   We've had wind storms that picked up pieces of outdoor furniture and blew them across the yard and downed huge limbs, but never have we had whole, giant trees destroyed.  

Okay, so we didn't have lions and tigers and bears, but there were plenty of "Oh My's!" as we walked around the property surveying the damage.

Inside the spare garage... at least the new garage door opener wasn't destroyed.

Poor little spare garage.

Grain bins don't belong in corn fields.

(If you click to enlarge the picture, you will see Dolly Llama is a little confused about the large object in the corn field too)

The charming old machine shed took a beating too.  The same tree that embedded itself in the garage roof, banged into the machine shed...

... and actually moved the building.

Mind you, the building wasn't in the best shape to begin with, but at least it was straight.  The boards were not leaning to the east before the storm.

This was another giant beauty that was hard to see fall.  It held remnants of a tree house built years and years ago and was a wonderful source of shade for the little grain building and the llamas.

It fell into the fence and took out a couple sections.  The llamas, like the goats in one of the other pens on the north side of the property took advantage of the breaks and were roaming freely around the yard this morning!

Considerable damage, for sure.  BUT, there are more things that weren't damaged... our vehicles, our house, our little pond, our family.  It could have been much, much worse.  

The big machine shed will have to come down now before it falls down with the next big wind.  (but won't those 100 year old boards make some awesome, rustic items?)  The spare garage may disappear too.  Its cement floor may become a basketball court.  The trees, as they were, cannot be replaced, that is the saddest part of all.  The appearance of things out here will change - slowly, dramatically, but isn't that the way it is in life?  Change, always change.


Iowa Life

I have very little to show in the way of project progress for the weeks I've been away from the blog, so I won't even bother.  Instead, I've been spending time outdoors, enjoying as much of it as possible.  The weather has been wickedly cruel this spring - cold and wet with intermittent days of blazing heat.  Temperatures in the 60's one day followed by 90's the next.  It is almost as though Mother Nature is demanding our attention... or punishing us for ignorance of her great powers.

Three of the four exit roads from our place are posted with caution signs.  These "Level B" roads are blocked all winter long and practically impassable right after rain the rest of the year until the county grader scrapes away the ruts and gullies.   They remain open solely for farmers who have no other access to their fields.  They are slowly disappearing from the Iowa landscape as new accesses are created on higher maintenance roads and they become crop ground... a win-win situation for farmers and the county.

One hot evening, after an afternoon of water wars and running around in their skivvies, the boys and I hopped in the pickup after supper and traveled down the disappearing roads.
To the naked eye, these roads have little to offer... unless, of course, you're a kid with a dirt bike.  But I find they lend a glimpse back in time when there was nothing unusual about them at all.

I hate to even guess how old this fence post might be.  It's definitely before the invention of the perfectly milled, weather treated posts used today.  It looks pretty proud standing there next to the steel post and electric fence, don't you think?

The windmill - once the life blood of the family farm - pumped water from the well to the farm, providing water for the family and livestock.  These are disappearing as well.  It is fairly rare to spot a windmill that is still standing intact. 

Perhaps that explains why so many people, like me, use replicas to adorn their lawns and gardens.

Wildflowers add a delicate touch to the rugged landscape on the seldom traveled dirt roads.

Patches of Iowa's state flower, the Wild Rose can be found out in the middle of nowhere too.

How beautiful the Wild Rose and other wildflowers must have been back before the days of modern farming, chemical weed sprays and high maintenance of roads.

The boy's favorite flower, of course, was the spent Dandelion.  This one was as big as Ethan's fist.  There was no leaving the area until they were allowed to blow all the seeds off the stem and into the wind.

I ended our adventure as the sun was setting.  The boys tried desperately to make me draw it out a little bit longer, but this mean old grandma took them home and put them in the bathtub despite their pleas. 

 It was one of those perfect days when everyone was happy - albeit for different reasons.  For Grandma, it was a nostalgic event.  For the boys, an excuse for getting dirty without getting in trouble. 

I did remember to thank Mother Nature for the nice break in her cycle of wicked weather.  It has warmed up to reasonable again, but we received 3" of rain yesterday morning and they are predicting rain and thunderstorms each day for the rest of the week.  We will be fine atop our hill, but western Iowa/eastern Nebraska does not need any more water. 


Kitchen enCounters

Oh the joy of feeling like we are finally seeing something like progress in the kitchen makeover!  It seems like forever ago that we decided to take the plunge to make some drastic changes.  In memory of the way things were, here's a shot of what the kitchen used to look like on a daily basis:

I've always loved the layout of the kitchen and the view from the window is to die for.  I liked the red countertops, but they were in need of replacement or repair.  We went with repairing and painting them because there just wasn't any way we could afford to replace.

The countertop in the sink area is where we found our biggest challenges:



and Oooops!

When we pulled the sink out, the Formica broke on the back side.  I think a disaster like this would be most disheartening for the light hearted, but I really wasn't concerned because I knew how to fix it!

First of all - don't throw away the pieces.

Just get out the Gorilla Glue, piece it back together, clamp it and put some weight on it until it's dry.
 Then you get out the trusty wood putty and fill in all the cracks and dents and burns.

It still doesn't look very lovely, but it's going to be just fine once it is sanded down and primed.

The chip and burned spots shown above are gone!  So is the busted up piece of Formica behind the sink:

Granted, this project - just the sink area - took about two weeks to accomplish because we both work full time, and the steps are time consuming as well:  
1)      Fill burns, chips and ooopses with wood filler, sand the countertops (to remove the shine and smooth out the puttied areas)
2)     Apply the primer - here I would highly suggest and most definitely recommend the Giani products because they are made specifically for these projects and they come with complete, easy to follow instructions.
3)  Dab your color(s) onto the countertops with a sea sponge (comes with the Giani kit)

In the laundry room I used all of the colors that came with the kit... plus I added the turquoise to coordinate with the color of the walls.

(That is my kitchen sink, pro tem while we worked.  It was 23 paces from the stove to the sink!)

For the kitchen, I went with just the red acrylic on top of the primer.  The result, if I do say so myself, is stunning...

...especially when you take into consideration the disaster we started with.

4)  The fourth, and final step is applying the top coats.  We went with three coats... allowing each to dry overnight before applying the next.

What we ended up with made us smile : )  we find ourselves just standing there admiring the difference!  Of course, adding the beadboard backsplash made a huge difference in the appearance too.

Of course the crowing glory was installing the sink.  I really wanted to get an apron sink to give my country kitchen the Crow's Toes look with a farm sink - but they start at around $700 and have to be special ordered when you live in the middle of nowhere.  So we went crazy and decided to go with a black sink and Tuscan Bronze faucet.  

Because we opted to repair and paint the countertops, it cost us approximately $100 and a lot of patience, but it also saved us enough money to have new custom beadboard cupboard doors made for us, so all we have to do is paint and install.

The most difficult part of our project is complete and we are happy and pleased with our efforts : )  Last night we purchased a new range hood and because the weather is not conducive to outdoor work, it just might get installed today!

I hope I have done a satisfactory job of showing how easy and inexpensive it is to fix countertop problems you may enCounter and maybe even inspire you to take the plunge if your kitchen could use a facelift too.