Sunday 26 June 2011

Repurposed Candle Holders

In our last home, I had a lovely pair of outdoor candle holders that I really loved, and used every year in our courtyard garden. Can I just take a moment to weep and wail over the loss of that garden? If I miss anything from our previous home, it is most definitely, without a doubt, the courtyard garden. And the old elm trees. And the hammock hanging between the old elm trees.
Okay, before I get all hysterical here, let me get back to the point of this blog post.
My apologies for the crummy picture, but it gives you an idea what they used to look like.

I really loved them.
Then...we moved. Hubby's company paid for movers and when all was said and done and I started going through my gardening items this spring...this is what I found...

Those glass balls? They weren't supposed to come off.
Apparently the movers were determined that they would  come off and shattered the glass in the process.
Trying to burn candles outside without a glass hurricane of some sort is rather useless, so I sort of expected these would end up in the trash. But because hubby and I are both self proclaimed procrastinators, I left them laying around for a long time and then eventually threw a couple of pots of top just for kicks.

I have LOTS and LOTS of these leftover from the courtyard.

I kind of liked the general look of the two together.
But obviously the colors were completely different and that looked...weird.
So...I thinked and I thunked and then decided that I could try the same painting method that I used on
 these candle holders. (Apparently I have alot of candle holders too.)

So that's what I did. I sprayed a solid coat of black paint, then went over the black with a mottled coat of aluminum. Then I gave it a really blotchy coat of cream to calm down the shine of the aluminum.
After that, I layered on fairly thick coats of dark green and burnt umber acrylic craft paint.
The final step was to highlight it with an olive green acrylic paint, until I felt I had achieved a mossy and aged look.

The green is not showing up really great in the pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it, I guess.
They are actually pretty mossy looking.
I considered using silicone to attach the pot to the stand, but in the end decided against it,
 as the pots need to have some drainage, and it's worked out fine.

I did wonder how the acrylic paint would hold up to rain and moisture, and believe me, we have had ALOT of rain and moisture so far this spring, but they have done just great.
My poor plants, however, have hardly had enough sunshine to recover between the rain and crazy hail storms. These pictures were taken immediately following yet another big rainfall!

Hey - did anyone pick up on my red geraniums?!!!

The Lettered Cottage


Wednesday 22 June 2011

Antique Window Turned Coat Hook

Remember this window from this post?

When I saw it, I kind of envisioned turning it into a coat hook of sorts. I think the hinges on the top got me going down that path. Which then got me thinking about these little beauties....

Would you believe I bought these over ten year ago and have never used them?!
I found them at a sort of "dollar store" in Sweden on a holiday with my parents...of all places! I loved them, bought them, and have dragged them around BC and Alberta with me to every new home and never found a good use for them until now.
So now I am even more convinced a person should never throw anything away. Like, ever!
Ten years is a long time to wait...but still!
 (Sorry Hun! For some reason I don't think you don't see it quite the same way as me...)

After a good scrubbing of the window panes - which were gross and dirrrrrty - we did a quick bleach and water wash on the wood frame just to make sure any possible mold would be killed off.
Then Hubs fastened three picture hangy thingies along the back. Doesn't he make a great hand model? I made him get a manicure first.

Then he attached those hooks by using a really strong adhesive. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of it right now, but it's one that'll "stick anything to anything", according to hubby.  : )

Edited: Okay, just for you...I checked to see what it is. PL9000 - a heavy duty construction adhesive!

I wanted to hang this up in the kitchen by our back door. It's our only entrance to the backyard, so some sort of something was needed for hanging up raincoats, sweaters, etc. for coolers days outside.
Walking allllll the way to the stairs, down the stairs and to the front door for the kidlet's coats was really becoming way too much exercise, so obviously I needed to solve that problem.

I have to say it...I'm in love! There's just something about that old chippy paint that is SO charming!
And I am thrilled with how well those hooks tie in with the window - even ten years and two continents later!

Hmmm. Maybe a boxwood basil in an old pail would work too. Kinda diggin' that.

I just discovered this plant not long ago and now I'm fighting the urge to go buy about fifty more.
They're the sweetest things and this one makes the kitchen smell so yummy!

So now there are only four more windows stashed under the deck, waiting to be put to use somehow.

 I'm just hoping it doesn't take ten years to come up with something creative to do with those......


Linked to with Serenity Now's Weekend Bloggy Reading,
Frugalicious Friday at Finding Fabulous
SNS at Funky Junk Interiors!
Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman

Saturday 11 June 2011

Enjoying the Beauty of Summer

For me, summer just doesn't last long enough.
So this year I am determined to squeeze out every last drop of it and enjoy it to the fullest...

Yesterday morning I decided to bring some summer indoors...

Loving the farmhousy simplicity of lilacs...

Any white flower is the most beautiful in my eyes...

Can I encourage you to bring some of your summer beauty inside today as well?

Thursday 9 June 2011

Make Your Own Yogurt!

Hello, hello!
 Sorry for the delay in posting around has been a little nutty lately with traveling, a wedding, sick babies, hospital stays and yard work!
I've had a couple requests for this post, so this morning I decided I better get cracking!
(Sorry for the wait, M!)

Remember my granola post? Well, at the same time I was kicking and screaming at the price of granola, I was whining and complaining at the cost of the yogurt hubby was eating with it. The artificial sweeteners were making me cringe too. But for some reason, the thought of tackling homemade yogurt put me into a bit of a sweat. Until I discovered a method that convinced me I really could do it! And without a yogurt maker! Bonus!
Now I make yogurt about every two days and the family LOVES it.
 (And yes, hubby also claimed he would never eat homemade yogurt either...I had to trick him into thinking I was making it for the kids. Now he devours it so fast, the kids don't have a chance!)

So let me encourage you to try it.
You'll love the taste, the health factor and the money saved!

First, you'll need a crock pot. I bought the most inexpensive, smallest one I could find. I think I spent about $10 on this one. I figured if the yogurt experiment was a fail, at least I hadn't lost much.

Then you'll need four cups of whole milk. I've never tried lower fat milk before so I'm not sure how that work.
 If you try it...please let me know the results!

Pour the milk into the crock pot and add a capful of maple syrup and a capful of vanilla. Stir.
Now - again I'm going to harp on the quality of ingredients. The first several times I made this, I used vanilla from Mexico and the flavor was heavenly. Amazing. Then I ran out, so I bought a bottle of pure vanilla from our local grocery store. The flavor was so awful, I stopped using it. So if your vanilla has a really strong alcohol scent to it, I'd suggest skipping it will not taste heavenly. Trust me!
As for the maple's a small enough amount that it merely adds a sweetness without
making it taste like a pancake.

Turn the crock pot to "low" and let it cook for 2.5 hours.
Then turn it off and let it sit all by it's lonesome self for 3 hours.

After three hours, scoop out about a cup of the milk into a bowl. Here's where you are initially going to need some store bought yogurt. Buy plain yogurt that has active bacterial culture. Just read the ingredient label.
 Take out about 1/4 cup and add to the 1 cup of warm milk.

Whisk it together well and pour back into the crock pot.

Now you need to cozy it all up to get things working!
You need to wrap a towel around the whole works in order to insulate it and get it workin'.

Please ignore my dirty oven. I like to put the crock pot on a cookie sheet and pop it into my oven and leave it there until it's done. My counter space is at a serious minimum, so this is just convenient for me,
 but it isn't necessary.

And because I'm a freak like that,
I put the top oven rack on top of my stove to remind me not to turn the oven on!!

Let the milk sit for at least eight hours or even overnight. I tend to start my yogurt around 9:00 am and then leave it overnight, but I'm a little lazy. It's usually "set" by around 10:30 pm...but I'd rather be in bed then so I ignore it until morning.

This step is totally optional. I big, fat LOVE Greek style yogurt. But then, who doesn't?
So - the next morning, I line a colander with a coffee filter and put a bowl underneath the colander.
Obviously. Duh.

Look how nice and creamy that is! Woohoo! This part always makes me excited!

Now, this I almost ALWAYS forget. Make sure you take about 1/4 cup of yogurt out to use as a starter the next time around! Just keep it in a little container in the fridge until you need it.
 That will keep you from running to the store at 10:00 pm to buy another container of starter for the next morning, not that I've ever had to do that.

Then pour about half the batch into the colander. I can't find industrial sized coffee filters any where in town, so I have to do this half at a time, but if you can find something!
Let the yogurt sit in the fridge and strain for however long you like. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it gets.
I let it sit for at least 10 hours, but that might be much longer than necessary.

When you've decided you've waited long enough, you'll find this lovely stuff in the bottom of your bowl!
And in your colander, you will have some serious yogurty goodness. Yum, yum, yum.
Scoop it out of the coffee filter and strain off the second half. I keep the unstrained yogurt in the crockpot in the fridge until the colander is free.

Here it is. Creamy goodness.
Straining it really does cut down the amount of yogurt you'll be left with...probably by half...just warning you.
But in my opinion it is totally worth it, both flavor-wise and penny-wise.
 It's still costs much, much less than buying it.

I'm sorry. I am no food stylist.

Now you can add whatever you like to it. We love raspberry or blackberry jam in ours, especially when the yogurt has vanilla in it. (Err...make that hubby's tummy.)
You could try fresh fruit...whatever tickles your taste buds! Just make sure you try it!
I doubt you'll ever go back to store bought!
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