Saturday, March 25, 2017

End of Winter Visitor Season.....with a Recipe!

We have been wintering in a desert town. We came the beginning of November, and now at the end of March it is time to head back to our home in the east, since bad weather is nearly over, we think!

Maybe you would like to know a bit more background. The place we stay is an RV Park, but it is also a Mobile Home Park. It's a family owned place, 25 acres of mobile homes, motor homes, fifth wheels, little trailers and you get the idea. Some are permanent and some come and go every year. As for the people, some with permanent dwellings, still come and go. 

Towards the end of the season, like now, everyone is trying to empty their refrigerator and cabinet of foods that will not last through the summer. Most of us turn off the power and so the freezer and refrigerator are shut down. This means generous snacks at Happy Hours and frequently, full dinners.

We are sometimes called snowbirds. It's a pretty good name. The desert is also on the migratory path of hundreds of bird species; 
    must mean we're the homosapien snowbirds!

Why I cook something I've never cooked before or just dreamed up for a pot luck or for house guests I do not know. But, today I'm going to do it - again. We are having what we all call, Happy Hour, but our snacks begin to be real meals at this time of year. I thought you may enjoy taking the risk with me today.

The "dreamed up" recipe for Janet's Hashbrown Casserole

chop celery,
red and yellow bell peppers

sauteed together in margarine or butter
until the onions are translucent

break up a 2 lb. bag of frozen hash brown
potatoes before opening the bag

open the bag and further break up the hash
browns into a large mixing bowl

add the sauteed mixture to the potatoes
and mix together

open a 14.5 oz jar of Prego bacon flavored
alfredo sauce into a sauce pan, heat over
medium heat just until hot, do not boil

spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with olive oil
cooking spray

spoon or scoop potato mixture into
the baking pan

poor heated alfredo sauce over potatoes

cover with shredded cheeses (I used the
rest of two different types of cheese and
used an 8 oz. bag of shredded mozzarella

bake in 350 degree oven, set timer and
check after 20 minutes bake longer if needed

The goal is for the dish to be hot through
and the cheese to be melted and slightly
browned, I think the sauce will probably
be bubbly and it ought to smell nice!

Pictures of the food'n'folks at today's Happy Hour.

The "Birds" here all said it was good. I think it might have been better with a little more salt, could have added it to the sauteed veggies I think.
Other foods included someone's homemade sausage! Wonderful. Included lots of veggies, beet chips, asparagas and more. Yummy!

No pics of myself and my hubby but everyone else who was there today is pictured here.

Several of our group have already gone home, so we are down 
by about 8 folks!

Beautiful evening in the RV park.Happy Hour/Dinner finished. Hubby has had his evening walk. Tonight he walked to the store and bought his caramel corn. Retirement life doesn't get much better. Good friends, good food, great weather and peace in our little corner of the world. And I, for one, thank God for it all. May everyone of you enjoy similar times, often!

God's Blessings and
Good Evening from Hubby and Me.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Making Bears and More - Old Folks at their Winter Home

This year several of the ladies here in the RV park learned to make jointed Teddy Bears. I believe, every lady who made one bear, made at least one more. Not the easiest craft but the results were so fun, I'm hoping to continue making them, and may add other toys as well!
Some of us continued painting again this year, and a few made some very pretty jewelry and other crafts.
This post is to show our Art and Craft Show held this past Saturday, the 4th of March, 2016. 

First Our Bears, Relaxing and Watching Everyone

At the right of this photo are two of the hand bags crafters made.
(Please excuse the basket. It had a bear or two displayed in it, they must have climbed out!)

These four our best friends. The large fella on the left of this picture is my friend, Nell Mitchell's, second born and the pretty brown one with the red tie is her first born. Unfortunately Nell has not found names for them as yet. 
The two littler light brown fellas are my boys. Winston on the left and Webster on the right. Winston, although he is my youngest, already knows he's going to live with a good family in Tennessee. Webster, my first, will be staying with me. He's a not inclined to leave the nest.

More pictures from the show.

This was my table.
The two dogs are "Pet Portraits" and the doggies belong to my friend, Betsy. They will be going home to her soon.  As you may be able to see, I have some of my cards out and I have been making refrigerator magnets of recent pet portraits to go with the paintings.

My good assistant (and hubby of almost 50 years!).

My bears, friends' Mom! A good woman indeed.

Rocks Painted by Rose Siwicki

Art  by Andrea; she is teaching Rose.
She painted a self portrait; it's in the center.

The six images above are the artworks of one talented and busy man, I know only are Ross. He made himself a nice studio in his shed.

The above four images are of art by Jean.

Art by Dick.

Crafts by Barb, one of the craft teachers. Her lady giraffe was my personal favorite. She's such a girly girl giraffe, and made from a gourd, so I guess she is gourdgeous!

Really amazing word carved canes. 

Nice artwork, regrettably I do not know even her first name.

Art by Duffer.
His name is the name of the town he lives in!
Talented artist and nice fella.

Jewelry from several talented ladies! All so pretty!

It wasn't a wine and cheese event, but we all liked the monkey bread, variety of cookies, punch and coffee! I baked some cookies. I'll share what I learned. First everybody loves monkey bread, graciously made by Duffer's good wife.
And, you can get 5 dozen good sized chocolate chip cookies from the not quite two pound tub of Toll House cookie dough! The ones I baked earned compliments from folks who thought I had worked all night baking them! I have to admit, Nell is the best woman. She helped me bake cookies. 

I'm sorry to say I seem to have missed a few folks work. Not an intentional slight. There was a lady who has only been painting two years who had a very nice little painting on display and another who learned to crochet and knit who had pretty colored dishrags and holders for your water bottles that kept the water cold! and were made from colored plastic bags. Very cool and prettier than they sound.

So there you go. Old people still busy enjoying their lives and making art and crafty things for family and friends and to sell now and then. 

Never let go of your joy. There is beauty all around you, look for it!

Other Than Chalk Painted, Furniture!

Since last posting about my experiences in chalk painting, in the fall of 2016 I painted two large pieces of furniture.

This time around, I used "store bought" paint, similar to "chalk paint" but it's "brother from another mother" AKA a different brand. It did not require nearly as much work as my homemade painting. Minimal sanding before and after. Due in part to the fact that each piece had been painted with craft paints previously. And on one piece I simply painted it with craft paint.

This piece is a nice little space heater with a pretty fireplace look:

and, the other piece recently painted was Mom's white and black china cabinet, which upon her passing went to my sister and when she passed, to me. It has now begun, a new life:

both of the above shown pieces were finished with the wax coating used on the chalk painted pieces in the last post.

Here are two smaller pieces of furniture I simply painted with craft paints in the early spring of 2016:

this old stack of shelves was painted with gloss black craft paint, the kind that comes in the small bottles from the art and craft sections of many discount and craft/sewing stores. In expensive but easy, easy to do, and quite OK, at least to me, and maybe to you too! It may have cost me as much as $2.00 in paint, and an hour of my time.
(If you have seen any of the previous post about my art you may be wondering about the little painting above this shelf .... yes, I painted it years ago, and framed it, before the shelf. It seems I, and you no doubt do too, gravitate toward similar things most of the time. So, when it came time to decorate this small mobile, where the furniture I'm showing is "living" right now, all I needed to do was search thru my old paintings and etc. that I'd stashed here and there to find matched stuff!)

The other little piece of furniture is a small table a friend gave me, with the lamp, because they didn't suit her. She inherited them with a used mobile home she and her husband bought. The top of the table looked kind of ugly. It turned out that was because it had already been sanded! All I had to do was use a bit of poly on it and it came to life again. Next I painted the legs with my left over gloss black from the above piece.
See what you think of my hand me down?

The lamp only needed a little cleaning as it was already a dark dark brown.

I love, love, love making my home comfy and pretty. I'll never be convinced this requires great expensive furnishings. You may agree or not, but making the funds available cover what's needed and then making those things look interesing and fun, just makes me smile! Feel free to take any or all of my ideas and make them work for you! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Using Chalk Paint on a Large Chest of Drawers

This chest is becoming a dusty blue-green!
I'm chalk painting it. Do I know what I'm doing? Almost!

This post is a bit long, but I've learned quite a lot about chalk painting, and wish I'd found it all in one post, therefore this is my attempt to give you more.

Since painting the little chest the post before this told you about, I've done more research about chalk paint, how it should go on, and what to do after painting it and letting the paint dry. And I've begun work on the above pictured chest.

The steps are not quite the same as the first articles stated. The claim was no prep is ever needed, which is not true. At the very least the piece you plan to paint must be cleaned, wiped down to get any dirt or grime off.

The chest above I bought from a neat and clean antique store. And it looked very clean. But, when I wiped it off with a disinfectant clothes there was yellow grime on the wipes. I thought that was more than enough to do before applying the paint, therefore I went ahead.

 Most of the chest the paint covered nicely and it went on quickly. But, some places I knew when I was painting that these may be areas where the paint might come off easily. I was correct.

The You Tube videos and articles I'd read say to use a damp cloth to wipe down the chest after painting. No comments about letting the paint dry but that seemed obvious so I did do that. 

Researching again I learned when the paint has dried - at least 4 to 6 hours but preferably 24 hours - the next step is to lightly sand the piece. After trying that and taking off the paint in several places, I went back to the Internet. Finer sand paper is best! 

The results of sanding with the fine sandpaper are amazing, because the surface becomes very smooth to the touch. It will change slightly in color as well. 

In the case of my chest of drawers, as I've mentioned, some of the paint came off in unattractive splotches, so I've just painted a second coating, making sure to get as thick a coat of paint as possible.

My first coast was also very rough as the with my first experience painting the small cabinet. This sent me once again to the Internet for more information. One person told about some of the things he had done to make the plaster of paris finer grained. The basic idea was to smash it. So, I put mine into a sealed plastic bag, and used a marble rolling pin! It worked well. Next I put the water in a bottle with a lid, added the plaster of pairs I'd smashed, tightened the lid and shook it well. This also helped, so when I mixed in the paint it went on much less rough. 

I've just finished my second coat of chalk paint. It's afternoon, so I'll let the paint dry until tomorrow. I've purchased sandpaper #400 which I'll use in the morning. The next step after the light sanding will be applying the clean wax coat with a clean cloth, and wiping off and the excess. After a few hours to allow the wax to dry, the final step will be to buff the surface with a clean cloth.

If my goal was to make the chest appear old and/or shabby chic I would do a bit more sanding and expose the finish underneath on the corners of the drawers etc. and then perhaps use a wax with a dark tent wiping it into spaces that might be darkened by a build up of dust thru the years, and again wiping off the excess. 

I'll post pictures of the process and end result after this piece is finished.

For many interesting and informative videos and articles do a search or two. But, as I recently learned, do not expect all the information you need to be in just one video or post!

Continue to learn more about, or even how to do new things. It will keep you feeling younger. It does me!

Prayers for health, comfort and peace.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Final Day for Chalk Painting a Chest of Drawers

Final, final steps.

Yesterday I sanded and waxed 
the chest and drawers.

Today I buffed the wax. vacuumed the 
drawers and added clean paper. 

You know modern chests have a paper 
similar to contact paper on the bottoms 
of the drawers, but old chests have wooden 
drawers, so without paper on the bottoms 
you may end up with splinters in your 
other drawers and maybe your bottom! 

Lastly I tightened the knobs and 
pronounced the project finished!

The finish is very smooth and the chest
looks OK but not perfect.

Chalk painting is more difficult than I
 thought from the information online.

There isn't anything wrong with the top,
I just enjoy the look of a scarf on it.

One last thing about chalk painting with
the plaster of paris, water and paint mix,
I used a bucket of water to wash out the
brushes and any other tools used for 
painting, and then dumped the water
outside in a graveled area by the garage.
I threw away the rags used for wiping 
down after sanding, as well as those used
to wax and buff. 

Now, when I rest up from this project, 
I'll go back and sand, wax and buff the small
cabinet I painted before I knew the finishing steps.
It is still sporting it's very rough surface.

Good Evening Everyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day Two & Backtracking * Using Chalk Paint on a Large Chest of Drawers

It's really better to put away one project before beginning another! Advice from someone who knows. The studio of a person with a cluttered mind. Proof, it's not necessary to be perfect, nor for your studio to be overlyorganized to make and do artsy stuff! 

Encouraging? Hope it is.

Back tracking:
Material I've used or will be using today 
on this project;
included are my experiences with them.

Chalk paint recipe: 

1/3 cup water, mixed with 1/3 plaster of paris. This water and plaster mix is then mixed with 1 cup latex paint. (Sample jars from the home improvement stores are usually one cup, so perfect for this recipe.)

In order to make the plaster mix smoother: 
I placed the 1/3 cup plaster of paris in the plastic bag, used this marble rolling pin to crush the grains of plaster, mixed the water and plaster in the water bottle,replaced the lid and shook the 
mixture. There are other ways to achieve a smoother mix. My decision to use this manner was dictated by materials available to me without spending more money.

Minimal prep of surface to be painted:
Although in nearly all the information I found online claimed no prep, or almost no prep is needed, but my experience is skipping some prep work is not advisable. A light sanding with a courser 
sandpaper than the final sanding will help rough up the areas where the varnish or other finish on the piece is undamaged, and is a step 
I wish I'd done! I did wipe most surfaceswith disinfectant wipes, however a better choice might have been a degreaser, as old furniture is very apt to have a greasy and grimey surface to repel most any paint.

Final step:
Clear wax applied with a cloth; excess wiped off.  I'll be trying my hand at this today.There are choices in waxes. There are different 
makers  and hues, most common are clear, light and dark. Some say it's possible to use other kinds of waxes such as Minwax, but reading labels I opted to stay with those which at least claim to be made specifically for chalk painted surfaces as it ought to be more reliable. We'll see by how my choice works.

Final sanding:
My husband suggested steel wool could be used.

I'll try this first fine grain sandpaper before the steel wool.

Cluttered mind addition:
CD/radio/tape player for noise or as needed extra stimulus while working. Personally I listen to books on CDs or tapes. Sometimes I like to listen to music on CD. 

Some photos of the chest and drawers 
waiting on today's sanding and waxing.

This is how the surface looks after first coat of paint, light sanding,
second coat of paint and before the second sanding and waxing.

The first coating, without my vigorously mixed plaster and water, was MUCH more rough with the little globs of plaster 
very visible. Even the rough surface sanded down, but of course, less roughness will take less work to sand smooth.

Until tomorrow! We will see how this all works.  So far, I love the color I've chosen and am optimistic of the outcome.

May this be a beautiful day for all of you.