August 30, 2013

In Between

Hello, all,

We are at an in-between period. It will soon be fall on the calendar, but still hot here.
I like fall, but don't want to set that stuff out too soon, since we don't really do much for Halloween anymore, so it's a rather awkward period. When we were looking for the birdcage filled with  succulents stolen recently, Mr. B dragged this up from deep hiding in the plumbago and nandina. It seemed like as good a place as any to start to make a generic centerpiece.
It's an iron container with holes for three pots bought at Value Village last year. Flossie is much enthralled with the smell of the Spanish moss in the bottom.
When using it indoors it's necessary to have artificial plants. You can imagine what the nosy parker in that picture would do to real ones.
She only reluctantly tore herself away when one of the other cats spotted a flying bug of some kind; the hunt is on now.

What's doing with you as the Labor Day weekend is about to start? Plans to travel or entertain one last time before summer's unofficial end? I hope everything works out for what you need or want to do.

Have a good one!

August 29, 2013

Thrifty Thursday

Hello, Peeps, how are you all doing as we race towards Labor Day weekend? Has most of this year been one spent in a coma for me? How else could it have gone by so fast? 

Not to be confused with the student events at the Dental Branch where I worked; those were Thirsty Thursday and involved kegs of beer. Last Saturday Mr. B and I hit on a good rummage sale at All Saints Church near us. For $4.00 we got: one large picture, one small picture, a small cross ornament, a paperback book and a pillow made from a vintage quilt. It's hard to beat those prices! Last week while in internet limbo I picked up a few things at Value Village and a couple at Sand Dollar today. 
There you see the large picture, a signed and numbered print by an artist named Darwish. We can't read the name of the person who did the little girl at the piano. There is a little house to use in the fairy garden, a drum book for my drummer son, the quilt pillow, a cross ornament, more books, a sweet egg cup and more Marjolein Bastin items. They are matching cream pitcher and sugar bowl and a small piece to hang on the wall and put a cup in, for the bathroom.The prize of today's expedition is this:
a blue and red print Hermes scarf in the gavroche size. That information courtesy of my much more stylish friend, Tricia.
Here is a close-up of the cream pitcher and sugar bowl with the sweet little bird handle on its lid.
This is a really pretty silk Vera scarf with a pattern of ferns.
These Mirro card suit cuties remind me of ones my mother and her friends used to make sandwiches and cookies for card parties. Although the package is battered, it is original and unopened.

This is my latest loot. What cool things have you found lately?


August 28, 2013

It's always something.

Hi, friends,

Being AWOL was unintentional. We were without phone and internet for several days that felt like forever, although they weren't. Some workers on the pole nearest our house worked three days in a row last week, up in a cherry picker, very industrious. If only they had thought to reconnect everything before they left and went on their merry way!

Meanwhile, my other news is not good, either. Remember these?
Or these? 
My succulents in silver experiment eventually wound up on the front porch, but in a different birdcage that fit the seat of the miniature chair better. It's been there since April, until earlier this week, when it was apparently stolen. Mr. B was out trimming bushes Sunday while I was gone shopping and using the wifi at the grocery store, so it seemed maybe he'd knocked it down and didn't notice what happened. Except, he didn't. We looked in the flower bed adjacent to the tiny concrete porch and it's not there. I'm shocked they were taken, even more so since the thief had to come right up to the front door, which has glass in it. It's not a terribly big deal, aside from losing the containers and one of my favorite old birdcages, more from seeing the bad side of human nature up close and personal. We lost a lawn mower maybe 15+ years ago, but haven't had much of a problem in a long, long time. 

Is your neighborhood safe from wreath snatchers and plant rustlers? How do you deal with outdoor decor if it isn't? 

Till next time,


August 22, 2013

A Small Experiment

Hello, all, I hope your Thursday has gone well so far. Searching for a project or other effort, this gadget turned up, bought in a thrift shop a while back for <$2.00:
It's called a Pin-It Skirt Marker, trademarked in good working condition, useful for a seamstress, but is that all it's good for? How about using it another way? Like this:
It's wood and metal, sturdy as all get out. Maybe fun to make something with for the holidays? What would you do with one of these?

Have a good one,

August 21, 2013

More Sunflowers

Hello, everyone,

I hope your day is going well. As you know, reading is my favorite pastime, and this seemed the ideal time to share these books with you, since August is officially sunflower month around here.
In 1976 the author and her husband found an uninhabited house in the southwest part of France and fell in love with it. This is the story of their purchase and the variety of struggles to repair and make it a home and make themselves part of the community. Ruth Silvestre  is an actor and singer in Great Britain. Her husband was an artist whose charming drawings enhance the books. 
A Harvest of Sunflowers continues their story over the first twenty years they enjoyed spending part of every year in France. By now, their own and the neighbors' children have grown up; there are weddings and banquets and visitors to share the beauty with.
This volume recounts bittersweet events after twenty-five years in their home, and rounds out the story. If you like books about travel and people who who explore different cultures than your own you might enjoy these memoirs as much as I did. They make excellent summer reading, especially if a trip to France is one of your dreams. Ruth Silvestre is a very good writer, in addition to her triumphs in the theater. 

Have a  good rest of your Wednesday,

August 20, 2013


My camera will. not. work. It is infuriating. Most days it's very difficult, but today seems to be officially on strike to my great disgust. 

How about I tell you a funny story from one of my kids instead? Mary and Theo are only about 15 months apart (because Theo was adopted--two pregnancies that close together would not have been in the cards for me) and didn't get along together well when they were little. He pestered her endlessly. She spelled his name Thoe for years. 

One night when they were around 8 or 9 years old they had an argument. After Mary left the scene  Theo was still venting to me, insisting he was right and his older sister was just stupid not to see it. "She's so stupid" he raged "She's so stupid she probably doesn't know who Joan of Arc was!". I think he was taken aback with my mild reply that indeed, since  Mary didn't like history much, she may well be ignorant of the saint.

At  which point Theo confessed "To tell you the truth, we just heard about her in school yesterday. Before that I always thought she was Noah's wife." Noah = Ark = Joan? Why not? 

What funny things did your children say?

Take it easy,

August 19, 2013

Boxing fan?

Hello, everyone,

I hope your Monday  is off to a good start. It's getting warmer here, typical August weather.

Are you a boxing fan? Not of the sporting type, rather the container version. I have always liked wooden boxes. Here are a few of the ones in use right now:

This is a small wooden cigar box without a lid that holds loose photographs.
This one sits on its side to hold the bread tin. On the top it looks like this:
Don't you love the foreign characters? While we're in the kitchen, there are also:
a trio holding spices, sugar, tea and the like.

This was a very battered piece that cost less than $2 at a thrift shop, till it was revived:
It holds a lot of the small items accumulated to make more of those trinket and treasure candlesticks.

On the dresser a wooden cigar box holds my pocket contents and more:

To me, these add a fair amount of texture and charm and are attractive and functional pieces that add character to a space. Do you look out for odd things to re-use in your home?

Take care,


August 16, 2013

Friday Felines

Hi, friends,

Today seemed like as good a time as any to update you on some of the kitty population Chez AIT.

First, we see Freckles:
who is always anxious to greet Mr. B when he gets home. She jumps on the table and starts squawking the news like she's a reporter from CNN. Now there is proof that since she spends the whole day snoozing on the back of the sofa, it is all made up.
Bitty is senior cat but doesn't enjoy it much. All her energy goes to being grumpy.
Butterball is a few inches from Bitty. They coexist, but aren't congenial. Butterball has a gorgeous ruff around her neck. She looks like a  purebred, not the feral carport cat that is her true heritage.
You'd never guess Flossie, so small and demure looking sleeping in a chair, is the biggest hell raiser and spitfire of the whole crew. Her brother Freddie ran to hide under the sofa when the camera came out, so he's not represented today.
Giant Junior, he of the smudgy nose and furry toes. It's funny that he is so huge, yet his voice is so teeny he can barely be heard.
Trixie, napping in the kitchen. She needs to rest up so she'll be alert and ready to pester me during the night. No, three o'clock is NOT a fine time to play with a glitter ball. Especially in our bed!

That's a random sample of the furry fiends that rule our lives, caught while mostly being good, hardly the norm. It's still impossible to imagine life without them.

Do you have cat companions who've stolen your heart?

Have a great weekend!

August 15, 2013

Blowing the frugal bugle

Hi, folks,

How's your week going so far? I'm delighted to report glorious rain last night and this morning, so no complaints here.

This time of the year with school starting or about to start can be a pain in the pocketbook for many people, especially families. It seems like a good time to talk about saving money again.

1. Try to use what you buy. If you bring home shampoo that doesn't work for your hair, recycle it as bubble bath or to shave your legs. Keep an inventory of what's in your fridge, freezer and pantry and make every effort to not waste food. If there are  several small amounts of vegetables or other leftovers, see about incorporating them into a frittata or other dish. A good friend of mine used to regularly make "refrigerator soup" which was a favorite of her family.

2. Group errands so you go places close to each other on the same trips.

3. Pick up really good deals in multiples. Often there will be loss leader items at certain times of the year. If you can buy several nice art kits (often sold during the holidays) at once  you've got a few birthday gifts ready to go with no need to run out at the last minute and spend more. Conventional wisdom recommends making handmade  presents, but my kids absolutely hated to  give those. They wanted to offer something from a store, so finding great deals made life easier.

4. Think long term. If water is an issue in your area, go for xeriscaping or other methods that minimize the need to use a sprinkler. Native plants and perennials will thrive with less effort or $$ to maintain.

5. Use whatever aps or social media there is in your town to keep up with free or inexpensive events and activities. Do museums and zoos have certain free days where  you live? Take advantage of these opportunities.

6.  If you are short of time, as well as money, can you combine activities to make the most of both? Go with a friend you don't see often to grocery or thrift shop? Again, if you miss seeing other busy women, maybe you can set up a clothing swap one evening. Everyone can bring items they don't wear anymore and see if your trash is someone elses treasure. If a couple of people bring nibbles, the hostess provides tea and coffee and someone has an Ipod you've got a fun time for little effort and can clean out a closet or two as well.

7. When you shop and there is a problem, make a point to keep your receipt and return the item to get your money back. Don't just let it sit there, taking up space when you don't need or want it after all.

8. Of course, one tip that can bear repeating multiple times is to shop your house before buying anything new. It is amazing to me how often the perfect solution is already at hand.

9. If you're full up with sentimental handmedowns to the point that your house is cluttered, consider passing them on to the next generation. Maybe your grown offspring or those of your siblings would enjoy Grandma's ________ fill in the blank.
This is included because so many people have stuffed full storage units nowadays. If you don't have space to enjoy things that have family or nostalgic value still, that may mean it's time to pass them along.

10. The ultimate aid for saving money is honestly answering the question "Do I really love this?" because if it's just one more rooster or knickknack or string of beads it might be wise to leave it in the store. If you think "WOW! This is the coolest ____ I've ever seen!" and know you'll forever regret leaving it, you should probably go for it.

I hope these thoughts are of use to some of you.

Take care,

August 14, 2013

Playing around

Hello, folks,

Today I decided to play around with a small shadow box case that's been around for a while, but never really used yet. It was an under $3.00 purchase from a thrift shop a while back. Be warned in advance, the pictures are  bad, but when I tried to take more the camera obstinately quit working entirely, so we are stuck with these:
The curved shape of the top was my downfall, love the arched effect. It does have a glass shelf that can  fit in it, but since the idea was a nature theme, it had to go to allow for the height of the antler and feathers. Otherwise, there are a couple of acorns, small pine cone and a little china bird hanging down. Again, my apology for the glare.
I've thought about painting the exterior but never could decide on a color, so for now it's still gold. I want to try a variety of displays in it as the seasons change and we at some point get away from summer. It might have been designed for thimbles or some other small collectible originally, but it seems pretty versatile to me.

Have a good one!


August 13, 2013

First effort

Hi, friends,

Here is my first extremely modest attempt towards re-creating a replacement candlestick after the recent R. I. P. post.
Please take note this is not the final result, nor is it easy (at  least for me) to photograph mainly glass elements. There will be more ambitious efforts to follow, so stay tuned!

Have a great evening,

August 12, 2013

A few small finds

Hello, everyone,

Can you believe we are nearly to the middle of August? Who authorized the time to  speed up like a bullet train, because I for one am not amused.

I haven't bought a whole lot lately. Perhaps I'm getting more discriminating or accepting of the limitations of our space, but there hasn't been much it wasn't possible to live without.
I found that large bird dish lately, which will coordinate with the other bird decor come spring. There is an old metal spatula with chippy red and white painted wooden handle, and four knives with old looking handles; their origins remain a mystery  so far. They look like bone or bakelite to me but that could be totally off base. One small German china cream pitcher, one larger folk-painted one by Clare Burkes. A stack of books, mostly mysteries, and my favorite score, a cast iron medium-size skillet with enamel insides. It doesn't have a name anywhere on it, but is sturdy. The outside has some smudges and wear but the interior is in great shape.
This shows the other items, a pretty Italian scarf and a bag that has all kinds of birds on it.
Here is a Dansk Sonoma pitcher found at a yard sale  for $1.00 in perfect condition.

How has your thrift luck been lately? Are you doing well, or hoping for better times after school starts?

Stay cool!

August 9, 2013

What's for dinner?

Hi, folks,

Hot as the weather is, it's hard to get excited about cooking. That's why we're having salad for dinner. This was first encountered in a restaurant and truly delicious. Before long it occurred to me to try and duplicate it at home, where is is a great favorite now.

First, start with some greens:

This is Romaine lettuce, but it would probably equally good with another variety, if that's your preference.

Add some dried cranberries. Alter the amounts to fit the number of people being fed. A couple of heaping spoonfuls does fine for two.

Add Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, also to taste for the amount of greens/people.

Add a handful of chopped walnuts.

Here is where I deviate from the original recipe. It had prosciutto in it, and that's what was used when I made it, too, until the day there was no prosciutto in the house and bacon was substituted instead. M. B LOVED the change, so that's the new norm now.

Toss all ingredients with a vinaigrette dressing, and you will have:

The contrasting flavors are wonderful together, salty, sweet, crunchy, rich--it is definitely a keeper!

Have you ever tried to reproduce a particular dish from a restaurant? If so, were you sufficiently successful to add it to your regular family menu?

Have a wonderful weekend!


August 8, 2013

August 7, 2013

A Sunflower Table

Hello, folks,

I am continuing my theme sunflower theme for August starting with a tablecloth bought not long ago. The cloth is paired with some blue and gold plates from Pier bought at a thrift shop years ago, wooden napkin rings and yellow linen napkins. The glasses are blue, bought recently, and the flatware belonged to my in-laws.

 This is a pretty cloth that certainly is a perfect fit for the rest of the August decor.

 Here is a picture of the center with the birdcage moved out of the way.

I  hope you enjoyed my modest effort in tablescaping; now it's time to go figure out what will appear on these plates tonight.

Have a  great evening!


August 6, 2013

Sort of a centerpiece . . .

Hello, all,

I hope Tuesday is going well so far for you. Mine has been all right, except for the triple digit temps today. After finishing this post I'm going to a room with two fans, in addition to the air conditioning. It's that brutal.

As you know, I'd nothing for the dining room table, so today made a feeble attempt to remedy that. In a container with small objects scrounged and found there were three of these:

I don't recall where these were picked up but they're sweet, with the pale green border and dainty flowers.

With a few artificial succulents and my trusty birdcage, we now have:

It  gives a bit of interest to the middle of the table, even if fake plants are lame. Our cats try to eat all foliage and flowers, live or artificial, hence the metal protection. 

Have a wonderful evening, and for goodness sake, stay cool!


August 5, 2013


Hi, everyone,

I hope your weekends were relaxing or productive, whichever goal you had in mind.

Ours was pretty humdrum until Sunday afternoon, when a crash came from the living room. The noise went on and on. Mr. B was firmly planted on the sofa as witness, but no help at all. Remember those trinket and treasure candlesticks I made? The one in the header of this blog? It is just a sad memory now, thanks to Freddie the bad cat. He tried to jump onto some stacked picnic baskets in one corner with this result:

Even the little bird votive from the top was broken. The one below was broken in the sense that parts separated, but nothing was smashed:

I've got some more bits and pieces to make more when it cools off some and there is energy for a time consuming effort like this again, so stay tuned.

Have a good evening!


August 2, 2013

Sunflowers, the sequel

Hello, Friends,

I hope you're winding down your work week with a fun weekend ahead to anticipate.

Today is more sunflower decor for the next two months. First, in the living room:

Two bunches of sunflowers in that cute pail picked up a few months ago, saved for now, plus a pretty  votive holder bought on sale cheap at Big Lots a couple of years ago.

By the front door:

A neat tin sign from a thrift shop; also:

Straw hats on a primitive chair and a little ceramic wall pocket full of smaller ones.

Still to go: something for the dining room table. Also, if there is cat interference, as is always possible, the birdcage might have to go on top of the bucket on the desk.  I'm looking at you, Trixie Troublemaker! Or perhaps your able intern, Freddy, aka Mr. Baby.  The display is too big to fit under the large cloche.

Okay, weird messages from Blogger are popping up. I'm going to get out of here asap.

Have a good one!