Friday, May 4, 2012

A Bath in the Front Yard

Finally, it feels like Spring has sprung and I can finally start planting the garden. I've been chomping at the bit to get moving, so welcome to...

This place came with two claw foot bathtubs. One was intended for the bathroom remodel. That never made it for lots of reasons. The other, without feet, was going to be a a fun and funky plant container. Well, finally...

I had hubby and son move the tub to the front yard late last year. I planted some tulips around it and waited and waited for Spring so I could fill it with dirt and plant some lavender. In a few months those pretty purple flowers should be overflowing the tub. 

I'm not much of an artist, so my sign isn't quite what I was hoping for, but I'm sure it will weather out with time. 

I'll be planting out on either side of the tub. It already has lots of poppies, and I'll be adding some yarrow, rosemary and of course, lots more lavender. It will be sort of a rough and tumble Mediterranean look and hopefully stand up to a hot, dry summer. As I mentioned before, water is going to be scarce this year.

It's it fun way of re-purposing something that would otherwise be destined to the dump.  Besides, fun and funky is the look I'm going for. Hope you're gardens are blooming, too. 

Linking to:

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Saturday Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lilac Heaven

Just a few days ago my lilac buds were closed tight. Today...

I'm in lilac heaven. The scent is beyond description.

But it's so short lived, so if you'll excuse me, I'm joining the bees and filling my face with this lovely smell while I can.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We're Waiting!

I'm up to my eyeball working on a new site, but after hours sitting in front of computer I just had to take a break. I ran outside for a little walk and tried to avoid this unhappy mob...

They just want to go back to work, back to the gardens. They've been patiently waiting all winter.

Soon my friends. Promise!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's Spring and I'm Heartbroken!

I know, who can be heartbroken on such a beautiful day?

Just three days ago it's snowed.

But now the poppies are exploding.

The lilacs are just about ready to bust open, too.

Even my beloved roses are showing tender new growth.

And therein lies my heartbreak. I love roses and I wish I could have more. But this is not the year.

We've had a dry spell for quite awhile and even the recent rain and snow hasn't done much to help. That's the downside of living a rural life (wells and such).

The hubby and I had already decided that we're not putting in a vegetable garden this year and just concentrate what water we do have on keeping the orchards alive.

So an unexpected trip into town today and a stop at Lowe's had me so tempted to pick up a couple of rose bushes. Why do they put those pretty plants near the entrance so there's no way around them?

It broke my heart to have to pass them up, especially the new Burgundy Iceberg roses. Soooo pretty!

Instead I headed for what I stopped for: 5 new English lavender plants. They'll be part of my small Mediterranean -- and drought tolerant -- garden I'm working on this weekend.

Luckily, I love lavender (and most flowers) almost as much as I love roses.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fabric Covered File Cabinet Tutorial

I finally did it... I finally got my fabric covered file cabinet done!

At the beginning of the year, one of my "must-do" organizational projects was getting a bill paying center set up. Well, here it is, the middle of April, and I'm finally done. Better late than never.


Although I consider myself mostly organized, I have to admit I was a bit scattered with the bills. I had one place where I keep the incoming mail, another for the bills, and yet another (and another) for paying and filing. Not a good idea.

A file cabinet was the best option and one that I could keep in my kitchen, since that's where I tend to do most things lately. I was going to start hitting the yard sales, but then I remembered I had this strange little file cabinet hanging around. What's better than free?

It's smaller than most single file cabinets, but it had everything I needed. A place on top to keep a mail caddy, a space that will hold a basket for incoming mail, a drawer for pens and stuff and most importantly, a file drawer to... well, file!

But it was ugly! It's covered with faux wood-grain laminate and the edging was falling off. What to do?

Paint and decoupage. My first decoupage experience with paper turned out so-so, but I wanted to try my hand with fabric. I've seen a couple of projects that look fun... and cute. I dove in and you know what... it worked out better than I thought. Want to take a look at how I turned an ugly file cabinet into... well, something isn't too bad to look at?

The first step was sanding the entire cabinet down with a fine-grit piece of sandpaper.

And then covering the feet with plastic. I could have spray painted the feet, but sense I'll be rolling it around a lot and didn't want to chance a lot of chipping, I left the feet alone.

Then it was time to paint. I didn't prime the cabinet first, although that's always best practice.  Instead I used multiple coats of the Fusion paint (that's made for plastic surfaces... and works great, BTW).

And when I said multiple coats, I really meant that. I found a lot of lot light coats work the best to avoid runs.

And since I only wanted to paint the outside, there was a lot of wrapping, taping and more painting to get the edge of the drawers that wouldn't be covered with fabric.

But after I started painting I realized that the spots under where the edging came off should have been filled. There was lots of voids. So I that's what I did... filled them them with spackling. When that dried,  I sanded the surfaces smooth and... yes, painted some more. (It took a can and a half to finish this little cabinet!)

Once everything was tried, it was time to decoupage. I'm sorry I didn't photograph this process  thoroughly. Even with a helper (thank goodness for an extra set of little hands), it's was a fast and furious race to get the fabric down without the decoupage media drying first.

I wanted my fabric pattern to be seamless, so I cut one piece to fit over the top of the cabinet and the front of the drawers. I cut the piece a couple inches wider than the entire width of the cabinet. Then we laid down a thick coat of Mod Podge on the top of the cabinet and laid the fabric down. We used our hands to smooth it down and then a spatula to really get it tight in the corners.

Then laid down more Mod Podge on the front of the drawers and smoothed the fabric down over the drawers. While the Mod Podge was still wet, I was able to move the fabric to make sure the pattern aligned, especially at the drawer lines. The fabric is only on the flat surfaces. There wasn't enough room to wrap the fabric around the drawers. (What I love about using fabric for this decoupage process... unlike paper, fabric doesn't wrinkle back up!)

After the first coat dried, I was able to cut and trim the fabric. This was just a rough trim at this point. I also folded the over the front and back edges of the cabinet with more Mod Podge.

Then it was just a matter of continuing to cover the surfaces with Mod Podge. In all, I put on about five coats on the top and the drawers, letting the Mod Podge dry between coats.

After everything was tried, I came back with a sharp utility knife and trimmed the ragged-looking edges. Oh, and I added new knobs, too. I was going to use the original handles and repaint them. Unfortunately, the dog ate one of them.

Finally it was ready to fill up and use.

 All-in-all, I'm happy with my little fabric covered file cabinet. What do you think?

Linking to:
Coastal Charm Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
Craft-o-Maniac Monday
The Girl Creative's Just Something I Whipped Up
My Romantic Home Show and Tell Friday 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cooking on a Cold Day

The weather's been weird. Warm enough to make the peaches think it's time to bloom.

But then it turns cold.


I've been hunkered down in the kitchen with the wood stove to keep warm (it's really doing a great job this winter, too). Between working on a new "project," which I'll show ya all in a few days, I was thinking about dinner.

Ground turkey was on the menu for today, but how should I use it? Chili... burgers... meatloaf! That's it!

My favorite recipe for turnkey meatloaf is from Ina Garten. She's the Barefoot Contessa and one of my favorite Food Network chefs. My hubby isn't a big meatloaf fan (thanks to his mother and her crunchy onions in ground beef recipe). This is the first of my many attempts at making meatloaf that he really loves. The boys love it, too.

It's a simple recipe and I've added my own touches to it. I've already put that info, plus a lot more about Ina, up on Squidoo, so rather than repeat myself, I'll just give you this link.


Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What Have I Been Up To? Or, How Things Change

Well, obviously, not updating this blog!

Sorry about that, but I can say I've been busy. Writing mostly. Some of that for clients, and a lot for me. Since I left the corporate cubicles last June, it's been and interesting time. Back then I thought I'd be able to earn enough writing for online sources to at least pay for my Corba insurance (a big ouch, BTW).

Things have a way of not going according to plans and that's what happened as soon as I left my job. Demand Studios, who I thought I'd be doing a lot of work for, did a big shift. Panda hit the Internet and that caused still another shift on the Internet. And although I found a few other clients, the biggest shift of all was the realization that I don't like writing for other people!

I do, however, like writing for myself and that's where my focus has been these last couple of months. First on Squidoo, where I'm finding a little success. "Little" being the key here, but enough that I think it's possible to earn money. I've also been working on my existing websites to add a little more content (not HMH, unfortunately) and working a a couple new sites. All of that takes a lot of work and takes me away from Home Made Haven.

But I'm back! HMH may not be a "money site" for me, but it does feed the soul. All those decorating, cooking and gardening projects I want to do -- and share -- are important to finding my muse and living a well-rounded life.

So, what's on tap? I still have to do a lot of that writing, but I am making room for a few "fun" projects that I'll be sharing (along with a few other things that are stuck in my camera or on the computer).

  1. Finishing my sewing/craft studio (all 27 square feet of it). It's mostly done except for organizing the bookshelves and doing something on a blank wall, but I'll be sharing some of that in the next couple of days.
  2. Spring is coming and that means... planting time. While the lack of rain this winter will put a crimp in our gardening plans, I still have intentions of putting in "Kate's Lavender Bath." Stay tuned for that one.
  3. I still need to figure out flooring options in all three of the bedrooms and I need to do something with the kitchen.
  4. The biggie, though, is my new "library." We're rehabbing a 1947 travel trailer into a place to store my books and moving it closer to the house. That ought to be fun.
While I may have to go back to work this summer (just admin temping), I still try to be out and about a little more around our little community, instead of being this hermit. Hope to see you all soon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Canning Meat... Again!

It's seems about once a month I find myself canning meat. This time my local Vallarta market had pork cushion meat. They also call it tamale filling. I don't make tamales... yet, but I do like to take advantage of thrifty food finds. A few months back, I bought a pressure canner so I can put up meats, and vegetables that I grow in the garden. A pressure canner is an absolute must for low acid foods and while it's a bit pricey upfront, it pays for itself over time.

I'm making sure of that. So far I've canned chicken (breast and dark meat), beef cubes and pork cubes. If you're asking why I don't just freeze the meat, well, my freezer space is limited and right now it's filled up with a combination of raspberries (red and black), cherries (sweet & sour) and a couple full turkeys!

One of the reasons for canning is to save money on the food bill, but I also can to save time. I like the idea of grabbing a "good" can of food, warming it up and having it on the table in less than 20 minutes. And I've got the canning process down so it doesn't feel like it takes a lot of time. After the prepping I monitor the canning process while I'm working on the laptop in the kitchen. While I've canned just meat pieces so far, this time I wanted to try a meal in a jar. And therein lies my dilemma.What should I make with the pork?

My first thought was shredded pork and barbeque sauce for pulled pork sandwiches. Then I though shredded pork with onions, peppers and tomatoes for tacos. I flipped back and forth until I was totally flummoxed. I can usually make a decision, but this time around... I was at a loss! UGG!

So what did I finally do? Shredded pork in broth!

Not quite what I had in mind for a handy, ready meal on the shelf, but it will still works. Now I can add the barbeque sauce or taco seasoning to the already prepared meat and still save time. I can also use it for soups, casseroles or whatever else the muse suggests.

If you're interested in finding out more about how to use a pressure cooker to can meats, take a look at my Squidoo lens on canning meat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If It's January, It Must Be Time to Organize!

Yeah, it's that time of year. Holidays are over and we all realize how much clutter and disorganization we've living with. For me... big time disorganization. I thought when I quit my job last June that I would have had the house in tip-top shape. I'm sorry to say, that didn't happen. There was some much-needed time off to veg and then getting back to being a freelance writer... what was I thinking!

Anyway, 2012 is going to be the year of decluttering and organizing (along with cleaning and decorating, I hope). I'm taking tiny steps. The first was this...

Okay, you're asking what is "this?" I write a lot of crafty, homey stuff, so I don't throw away magazines and I collect books like crazy (okay, that's my story and I'm sticking to it). They're stacked up all over because I just don't have a dedicated spot for a library (yet!). I was looking around for a small cabinet that I could stash the magazines and books inside, but still be handy when I need them. Well, you know what happens when you're looking for a specific piece of furniture. Right, you never find it.

What I did find, however, was an old rolling TV stand. So I set about to make it work. I should have taken better pictures, but that's another story. I spray painted the stand black around the edges and on the wheels and then found some pretty scrapbooking paper in blacks and whites. I decoupaged the two flat surfaces. Not well, mind you, since it was my first attempt. But since the shelves are covered with magazine bins and books, it doesn't really matter. I may look for some baskets to replace the plastic bins (or not), but for now my little project does what I need it to do... hold the books and magazine I use for inspiration. And it's step one in getting some type or organization to my office space.

My computers are also getting decluttered. I picked this up yesterday and hope it works. They're all running so sloooooow!

New on the agenda is getting the office files cleaned up (picked up file and hanging folders yesterday, too) and then working on my "craft/sewing studio." All 27 square feet of it. That will be coming up by next week (I hope). Until then,