Saturday, January 28, 2012

Indoor Activities: Easy and cheap tabletop garden

I thought I'd take a moment to show off an easy indoor project for those of you craving a little gardening fix in the middle of winter. I'm totally in love with miniature worlds indoors, be it dollhouses, or terrariums. And while I didn't have the skills or materials to create a terrarium, I did have this great collection of stuff that we could put together in a tabletop garden.

This is such an easy project, I let my kids do it. (Well, most of it; I'm kind of OCD about the messy factor, so I did the dirt part...). I used an outdoor planter that was shallow and wide. This was a cast off from one of my aunts, so it didn't cost anything. Since it doesn't have any holes for drainage, we filled it half way with gravel I scooped up from the road (why pay for fancy river rock that no one is going to see anyway?). I added a couple scoops of topsoil, and then placed the large items.

My son found the large fossil rock at the river this summer and he added a couple pieces of turkey tail fungus and pinecones for variety. We also dug a few tiny ferns up from the woods.

I had a sad miniature palm that was barely hanging on; only a few tall sections were still growing, so I put those in the planter for a bit of height. I bought the pink plant new for a couple of dollars at the grocery store. Any small scale plant will do, but I liked this one for the bit of color it added. 

We peeled up some moss from the yard and used it to cover all the remaining dirt. Every few days I just add a bit of water to the plants and spray the moss with water from a spray bottle. My kids added the army men, which I think came out pretty cool- kind of an homage to jungle warfare- without being too kitschy! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blog Roll Updates!

My daughter, the future librarian!

I am reducing clutter, virtually, for the New Year. My blog roll had become quite cluttered, with over 250 blogs I was following. So, I went through them all, and deleted about 60 of the ones I no longer read or haven't been updated in the last several months. Hopefully no one will take it personally if I deleted myself from their follower list!

Also, if you are a follower of my blog, I do try to follow yours if you have one. Let me know by leaving a comment sometimes, if I am not on your list! And if you know of a worthwhile blog to follow, please leave a comment below and maybe that person will gain a few new followers from here. Generally, I try to follow blogs that are updated at least once a week, and contain something of interest to me, whether it is vintage lifestyle, sustainable living or decorating. I intensely dislike blogs that exist solely for product or individual promotion, so don't even bother suggesting one of those.

I am also considering what types of new posts followers most like, so leave a comment if you would like to see more or less of the following: collecting, history, thrifting, projects, or anything else I might have forgotten!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thrifted Thursday: Tons of stuff!!!

As I mentioned before, I have been doing a lot of thrifting lately. For pure tonnage in the thrifts, January and February are probably the best time to shop- a lot of people are decluttering for the New Year! I also have the added incentive of having to outfit a new kitchen at our cabin. I've been buying the usual clothing for the shop and also have been shopping for kitchenware for the first time in years.

Since it's been about 10 years since I really had to buy kitchenware, I have the opportunity to establish a new vintage look. And since this is a cabin, I'm going for a rustic, Adirondack style with lots of enamelware and cast iron. I love, love, love enamelware as it is, so the opportunity to buy more and to put it to use is really exciting to me.

I'm going to try to do the whole place without buying anything new or plastic (save the odd piece of jadeite green Tupperware). I think the entire contents of the wire basket cost me about $10. I bought the crinkle wire basket from an Etsy seller, and that was probably the mot expensive thing I've bought so far at about $20.

I got a pair of these sheets for $1 each, and I am thinking about turning them into curtains. Or I might move them into the store...they are really pretty.

This suit I originally bought for the store as well, but after I brought it home, I realized it would fit me. It's brown nubby wool with flecks of red and purple, in mint condition (and only $10!). It's so classic I am having trouble dating it (I'm thinking 1980s does 40s?). I love the cutouts on the collar and the placement of the buttons. It fits me like it was custom tailored, and I have already worn it once!

I found my first pieces of confetti lucite also- these two bracelets and the earrings below. Too bad they don't match- they were found at 2 different stores. The bracelets were $5 each and the earrings were $2.

These boots are about as close as I can come to Uggs, which I refuse to wear. They were brand new, still with the $60 Kohl's tag on them. I paid a little more than I usually do ($15) but they are suede and I needed something like this. They are really warm!

This last one is probably my biggest score. I needed a tea kettle for the cabin, and was looking for one of those old, classic aluminum ones. But then I saw this enamelware one for $6 and was sold.  It had never been used. Not until I was in line at the register (and realized how freakin' heavy it was!) did I notice what was on the bottom...


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A snowy day

I've been busy thrifting and stocking my Etsy store, so those of you starting the hunt for Viva, head on over and check it out! If you see something you like, enter coupon code PIT20OFF for 20% off your purchase!

I have a whole bunch of neat purchases to show you, but I'll save those for Thursday.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos of my daughter, aka "Mini-me", walking in the snow. We just got a dusting yesterday, but she wanted to go outside and play in it. She was enjoying making tracks through the yard. I think this sequence of photos captures that perfectly:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Party Chicken (A Retro Casserole)

Hi all, I know I haven't done a recipe Monday in a while, so here goes! And this is probably not the best one to try if you're one of those people with a New Year's resolution to lose weight or reduce your cholesterol. On the other hand, it is easy and delicious, and good for serving at a potluck or covered dish dinner (hence the name). It's a nice warm casserole for a snowy day at home, as well. The prep time is minimal, and it cooks in a slow oven, so there's very little work involved (my favorite!)

This recipe has been in my family for some time; it was always a favorite of ours when we went to visit my grandmother. (And my grandmother lived until she was 89, so eating this regularly didn't appear to have any ill effects on her!) 

Party Chicken

8 pcs boneless chicken breast- tenders work well
4 slices bacon, uncooked and cut in half
4 oz. dried beef (chipped)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 pt sour cream

Cover bottom of large greased baking dish with the dried beef.

I'm not sure how easy it is to find dried beef outside of Pennsylvania, so you could substitute some very dry ham, like proscuitto, or even dry-cured salami. We make our own dried "beef" from a leg of venison.

I'm using my very favorite enamel ware pan- nothing sticks to it, ever. (I tried to fit it all in a Pyrex 2 qt baker, but it was too tight.)

Lay pieces of chicken on top. I used two whole breasts, and cut them in half lengthwise (butterflied). You could cut them up even more to get smaller portions, too.

Place 1 piece of bacon on each piece of chicken. I didn't have any uncooked bacon, so I used ham. My husband is an old-fashioned butcher and makes all our ham, so I chose a nice marbled piece for this.

Mix together soup and sour cream, spoon over chicken. Try not to think about your arteries.

Bake for 2 hours at 275, uncovered. Serve with a spinach salad and brown rice to absorb all that cholesterol! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Resolutions

Have I mentioned before how much I dislike the idea of making resolutions? Nothing like starting a brand new year by setting yourself up for failure! That said, I am a big believer in self-improvement, and I do have some lifestyle changes I try to implement throughout the year (every year). I suppose this is like a New Year's resolution in the fact that I reflect on things I can do better, but I specifically refrain from setting objectives to be reached. After all, if I resolve to lose 20 pounds and only lose 5, I have failed to reach my objective. Let's call it a goal to make healthier choices and perhaps that will be easier to stick to.

And I always seem to make the same "resolutions": to dress better, and to get rid of clutter, year after year. Well, I am happy to report that I have made great strides toward the latter, mainly by opening my Etsy store. I have sold some things I don't need, and at least the rest of it is inventoried and packed safely away, waiting for its buyer to come along. I am also thinking about opening a stall in a local antiques mall, which would allow me to unload some of the larger items I've accumulated.

After all, even if I couldn't resist these MCM lamps for $3 at an estate sale this summer, I can call it inventory, not hoarding!

As far as dressing better, I think my occasional Sunday outfit posts helped, and I do wear a lot of vintage dresses in warm weather, but during the colder months there is a lot of room for improvement! And for someone who claims to be a dealer in vintage clothing, that's an area I desperately need to improve!

I also checked a couple of items off my long-term "to-do" list. I finally acquired my vintage stove, a 1950 Westinghouse double oven range. As I write this, my husband is downstairs re-wiring the burners. I had started that job, but he soon took it over after watching my slow progress for a couple of weeks- it's great of him to take it on! I hope to have it up and running again in the next few months. (A new post on that to come soon!)

Obviously this is not my kitchen....

I also finished some wood working projects which had been waiting for years. I finally re-finished my dad's old coffee table and gave it an MCM makeover with hairpin legs. 

And I finished my TV-quarium (TM), a project I had been thinking of for at least 7 years. I was very pleased with how these projects turned out and it helped me get back in touch with my "handy" side, something I had all but given over to my husband years ago.

I also started a sister site, the1930sproject, as a serious study in living a Depression-era lifestyle. Hop on over and check it out!

So here's to 2012, may it bring us happiness!