I've often heard children say, "There's nothing to do today". I beg to differ. I'd like to inspire you to do something. Anything. Read. Bake. Hike. Fish. Plant. Sail. Climb. Play. Reach. Move. Laugh. Dream; and take time to sit with me on The Old Granite Step.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Guy Wolff Pottery and the forget-me-nots.

It's usually April when we begin to see the small blueish white flowers along the roadside.  But because of this year's late spring, we're invited to enjoy them into late May!  I envy the yards where they spread all over; begging the homeowner to put off mowing for another week.  

When looking for a small pot for some of these tiny beauties, I came across this one that I adore.  It's stamped G. Wolff & Co. I remember when Martha Stewart visited Guy at his quaint Connecticut studio.  He was just one man creating pots as fast as he could.  I'm kicking myself now that when I lived there, I never went to visit.  

Guy's website tells us that these white pots were originally made for Smith and Hawken (now closed, my favorite location was in New Canaan.  It's a bit of a tragedy because Target carries the line now).  Until 2006, these pots were made in America.  Now the pots are made in China, where a specific group of throwers is able to handle the quantity challenge.  You can find more information regarding the different Guy Wolff stamps here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fresh Asparagus

We took a drive over the weekend to simply enjoy the wonderful spring scenery.  It seems as though the summer heat will be bearing down on us any day now.  There was a light breeze with nary a cloud in the sky.  We stumbled upon a small and a bit run down farm selling asparagus.  How could we resist?

It was quite a large tent for such a small amount of asparagus!  Perhaps the farmer will treat us to more veggies as the summer progresses.
 Fresh picked.

 A quick rinse and a small bit trimmed off the end was all that was needed.

 A dash of olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper and it was ready for the grill!
A fabulous side dish for the barbeque event!

If you live in the Michigan area, you can find information for the National Asparagus Festival here.

If you live in Massachusetts, you can find information for the Hadley Asparagus Festival here

Check your local farmers market for fresh asparagus!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

My Dad served on the USS Pawcatuck during WWII.  Thank you Dad and thank you to all of our Veterans as well as our active military personnel this Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Felted Soap

I’m guessing that most of you have washed and dried a favorite sweater at least once….you know, the lovely wool pullover that you purchased on your last trip to England?  You toss it into the laundry basket thinking you’ll remember to hand wash it when…uh oh….you pull it out of the dryer?!  Now it’s small enough to fit your five year old niece!  Yes, that sweater.  That process of shrinking is specifically called felting and when things are felted on purpose, it can be very useful!

Felting is often used in knitting. The result is similar to the old boiled wool jackets that we all wore in the 80’s!  When felting a hand knit item, the item is first knitted, then tossed in the wash.  The combination of hot water and agitation felts the item.  It could be a handbag, hat, jacket, scarf; there are felted toys and felted bowls…just about anything can be felted!  Keep in mind, there are other types of felting as well.  Wet felting, dry felting, needle felting; all different forms of art that enable you to create!

I’d like to introduce you to the idea of felted soap.  That’s right; soap.  You’ve probably seen it before; perhaps at an artisan’s guild, a country store, a farmer’s market or a craft show.  Felted soaps come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  They make fabulous gifts!
You'll need wool roving in several different shades, soap (I like to use Pears or Ivory), a bowl of hot water (as hot as your hands can stand) and a bowl of cold water for rinsing.
Roving is wool that has been washed, combed and carded into a thick, continuous “strand” ready to be spun.
Roving pulls apart easily so begin by pulling your roving into thin pieces that will wrap around a bar of soap.  The pieces don’t have to be the same size.  You can wrap your roving around the bar of soap in any arrangement you like just make sure that the entire bar of soap is covered!
You're ready to begin the felting process.
Submerge your wrapped bar of soap into the hot water and begin rubbing it gently.  You are now felting the roving!  The more you rub it and work it, the more it will shrink.  You are smoothing it around the bar of soap.  The fibers are bonding together to form a tight fitting cover around the soap.
Don’t worry about the suds, you’ll wash them away with the cold water rinse.  When the roving has felted to your satisfaction, dip the felted soap into the cold water rinse to remove any excess soap.  Let it air dry and that’s it!  
You have a beautiful bar of felted soap.  It will look wonderful in the soap dish next to the bathroom sink or tie it in a pretty ribbon and give one as a gift.  The newly felted bar of soap has terrific exfoliating properties as well!  It’s a built-in wash cloth that you can toss when the soap is all gone.  Just make sure the recipient of your gift isn’t allergic to wool! 
Wool roving is not hard to find.  You may find it at your local yarn store, craft shop, farmer’s market or even local farm.  Just make sure you are purchasing wool roving for your felting project.  You may prefer to use a beautifully hand made soap for your felting project.  The soap guild has soap makers listed by state!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Updating a very old bathroom.

We fell in love with this house on the first day that we looked at it.  There were holes in the ceilings, walls and floors.  I like to spackle as much as the next guy, but I often wondered....can I handle this?  We owned the house for seven months before moving in and I admit that I completely ignored this poor neglected bathroom for many months.  It's upstairs, along with three bedrooms.  It was a little scary up there at first!  Climbing those stairs was not on the "to do" list.  We were actually sleeping in the dining room anyways, so why waste the energy?  I knew that the bathroom wasn't that bad, but I just kept putting the project off.  Once I got underway, it was actually easy to enjoy!
You can see that the ceiling had drywall damage.  I don't know when the last time the tub was used, but it wasn't pretty.
We loved the claw foot tub and had decided that it really did belong in the house; thus we were going to keep it.  I knew that porcelain could be re-enameled but I didn't know how to find someone to do it.  I began asking friends for recommendations and was able to come up with someone who did a great job making the tub look new again. 
New fixtures were called for.
New fittings for old claw foot tubs are readily available.
We refinished the pine floors but I wanted a small rug for those chilly New England winter nights!

This room gets tons of morning sunshine!

You can see the "aqua" paint I chose when first painting the old room.  Once the tub and floors were finished, I wanted something a bit more neutral on the walls.

It's a very cozy space.  Well worth the elbow grease!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

View from the Kitchen Window 5/17

What a difference eight weeks makes!


by Celia Thaxter

The alder by the river
Shakes out her powdery curls;
The willow buds in silver
For little boys and girls.

The little birds fly over
And oh, how sweet they sing!
To tell the happy children
That once again ’tis spring.

The gay green grass comes creeping
So soft beneath their feet;
The frogs begin to ripple
A music clear and sweet.

And buttercups are coming,
And scarlet columbine,
And in the sunny meadows
The dandelions shine.

And just as many daisies
As their soft hands can hold
The little ones may gather,
All fair in white and gold.

Here blows the warm red clover,
There peeps the violet blue;
O happy little children!
God made them all for you.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Consignment Finds; Brimfield, Massachusetts

Brimfield, Massachusetts is a rather nondescript New England town often attracting those that visit neighboring Sturbridge.  "Brimfield" is used loosely now to describe the antique mecca that appears several times throughout the year.  The stars shop Brimfield; as do top celebrity designers.  Movie producers scour the fields for props and are almost guaranteed to find what they need.  It's a collection of old and new that can't properly be described in words.  People travel from afar to visit Brimfield.  We spoke to a vendor from Oregon and one from Georgia.  There were license plates galore!  First timers are easy to spot as they wander aimlessly with their mouths agape at all of the "stuff".  The expert pickers have carts or wagons with them but there are porters you can hire to get your large items to the car.  Be sure to bring sunscreen and water.  My best piece of advice....bring your pick-up truck!

 Some collections like this one are eclectic.

 There are millions of random items such as this towel.
 Tools aplenty.

 I think Joanna Gaines would love these!

 Our first purchase.  Ten dollars and it will look lovely filled with apple blossoms.

 A Southern dollhouse?
 Lots of cast iron pans.  I posted some recipes here.
 I think we all need a carousel horse.

 There were many old wooden crates to pick from.
 A new paint job and this could come in handy in the sewing room.

 All sorts of lighting parts.
 Reminds me of high school.
 Having a wedding soon?  These make beautiful centerpieces or candle holders.
 Live on the water?  Hang one of these for decoration.
I bought one of these last time we were at Brimfield.  It's in the garden and I love how it looks in the rain.

 Live in the mountains?  Perfect wall decoration.
 Chairs, chairs and more chairs.
 Was this on Mork and Mindy?  $1,500 and it's yours.
 I was pleasantly surprised to see this old sign post.  Do you know where it's from?

 What will you press?

 Perhaps these patriotic beauties are from an old Tommy Hilfiger display.
 These make decorative planters.

 Could someone give me a hand?
 More pieces for a wedding!
 Ask for a hand and this is what you get!
 I adore blue bottles!  Read about my $5 box here.

 Where are the doors?

 More wedding ideas.

 These doors would look spectacular in your kitchen!
 Someone loved him once.

 There were many pretty hand hooked rugs.  They look great in a frame too.

 These are from j. tedder Design.  Functional and interesting.

 We saw lots of this going on.
 Surely you need a small dinosaur.
 Talk about wedding centerpieces!  There are hundreds at one dollar a piece.
 I wish I had purchased this.
 We saw several coat racks made from these.
 There's a thrift shop aspect to the show as well.

 Some vendors put more time into creating displays.
 A chair fit for a King.

 One stained glass window in your home brings so much character.

 A well loved doll.
 The enamel looked great.  All it needs is a paint job!
 School's out!

 For the artist studio.
 We found the doors!
 My grandparents had a similar painting in their living room.

 Need flatware?

 Watering can nozzles; truly unique.
 This did not come off of a small boat.
 Could you use two of these in your garden?

 Use these indoors or out.
 This is a dye machine for testing dyes on paper or cloth.  Not something you find everyday.

 My husband said, "No, we don't need the purple door."
Answers the question, "Where do old tools go?"

 Brimfield is just over an hour from Boston.  Cam Neely, this one's for you!
 This could be an interesting chair.

 There are a multiple of uses for these.

 Fisherman unite!

 Easy to hang in your family room.  Use them for table legs.

 Re-purposed beach bags?

 I have never seen a hot air balloon basket up close.

 Don't throw out that old chair; it can be re-woven.
 A cute way to re-purpose flour sacks.
 Beautifully restored boat engines.
 Now we know what happens to all of that flatware!

If you don't like to "do it yourself", you'll find things already done.
 We also found a tiny Griswold #3 cast iron pan.  You'll see it all cleaned up in a future post.
Our final purchase was a set of four old table legs.  I'm not exactly sure what I'll do with them.  We only spent $35 this year.  Not bad!

Brimfield runs through May 17th, 2015.