Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chair and Cheesecake (Dip)

THING ONE - CHAIR:  This old chair was given to me by a friend of mine.  Wouldn't EVERYONE want a chair like this??  Anyhoo, it belonged to his mother and was part of a set in their dining room when he was a little boy.  I don't know what happened to its siblings.  As I may have mentioned before, I'm a sucker for old stuff that looks like junk. I always think it can be fixed up and restored of its purpose.  I contemplated waiting until I actually DID fix this up before I posted pictures, but I thought it might motivate me to get started earlier if I pressured myself by telling the whole internet world of my intentions.  So now I HAVE to fix it up, right?

When I saved the close-up picture to my computer, I named it "Chair Before - Scratched and Disgusting."  This chair has been in a storage unit for about five years, and it's full of dirt and cobwebs and yuk.  I suspect some of the yuk happened prior to its storage days.

Before I get to the fun part of returning it to a beautiful throne fit for a king, I have to get all of the gunk off of it.  That's going to take a while, and I'm going to have a hideous expression on my face while I'm doing that part.  In fact, I can tell that I already have a hideous expression on my face just thinking about it.  I can't believe I put this dirty old thing on my good carpet to take a picture of it.  So that's that about The Chair.  When I'm finished with it, I'll let you take a gander at the finished product.  Wish me luck!

THING TWO - CHEESECAKE DIP:  Don't worry, Thing One has nothing in common with Thing Two.  I was just perusing some of the other blogs I follow, and I ran across a recipe for Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dessert Dip.  Which one of those words is not appealing?  I'll answer that: None.  So, even though I haven't made it yet and don't have my own photo of it, you can find a picture and the recipe at the Fake-It-Frugal blog here.  If you try it before I do (and I'll post again with a photo after I try it), please let me know what you think.

That's all I have for tonight.  I'm off to buy a remnant of upholstery fabric and a few Granny Smith apples!

Wait! Wait!  I've been watching "A League of Their Own" while I typed this and just got to this part: "There's no crying in baseball!"  What a great line.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Perfect Summer Lunch and Memories of Grandpa

It's a lovely Saturday afternoon.  The sun is shining, but the temperature is a mild 82ยบ right now.  It's nothing at all like the extended heat wave we have experienced here in the Midwest in recent weeks.  There is also a nice little breeze which I welcomed while I was mowing my lawn earlier. They say we might get rain later, and we can certainly use it. 

It was about noon by the time I had finished mowing, so I was ready for a break and a bite of lunch.  I was tired and didn't really want to do any cooking, but I was out of lunch meat and other "easy" stuff. I had a couple of nice tomatoes, some bacon, and a little bit of lettuce, though.  Cooking bacon doesn't constitute REAL cooking, especially when you know you'll end up with the perfect summer lunch: a B.L.T. on toast.


I'm sure you've heard it said a thousand or more times, there's nothing like a freshly picked, ripe tomato. Of course if you're not a tomato lover, you wouldn't care one way or the other. But for those of us who do like them, the difference between freshly picked and "hot house" tomatoes, or those picked early and shipped to the stores is vast.

My grandfather, who was at one time a farmer, planted a huge garden every year and kept it looking pristine.  He was always very proud to sit down to supper and announce that most of the food on the table was fresh from just outside his door.

After I moved to Edwardsville and into a rental house with a yard big enough for a garden, Grandpa encouraged me to plant tomatoes.  So early in the Spring that year, I bought a package of "Big Boy" tomato seeds and planted them in a flat.  I kept the flat inside and in front of a south facing window so it would get plenty of sunshine.  My ultimate goal was to do the transplanting outside after the risk of frost had passed.  Not long after I planted the seeds and the little sprouts were just emerging from the soil, my grandparents came for a visit.  Grandpa spied my miniature garden, "What do you have growing in that flat?"  I reminded him that he had suggested I plant tomatoes, so that's what I'd done.  "Well, I didn't mean from seed.  I meant you should buy a couple of tomato plants and set them out later.  You'll never get anything out of those spindly little things.  Wait'll next month and go get yourself a few good sized plants."  Well thank you very much, Grandpa!  The gauntlet had been thrown. I kept my scrawny little seedlings.  As they began to get bigger, I thinned them and chose the best of the lot to set in the ground after Easter (one of Grandpa's rules of thumb).  A few months later, I took a picture of my son holding a big bowl of beautiful, ripe tomatoes fresh from my garden.  I proudly showed the photo to my Grandfather and reminded him of those hopeless little seedlings.  He smiled, "Well I'll be."  I could tell he was proud too.  While I couldn't for the life of me find that photo of my son and those tomatoes, maybe you won't mind the substitute above.  It's a peck of tomatoes I had picked from our garden on another summer's day a few years later.

What's better than the perfect summer lunch and all those juicy tomatoes?  The memory of my Grandpa, his encouragement, and that little moment in time that I hope never to forget.

Here's to you, Grandpa!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Antique Coal Bucket Has Me Perplexed

When my niece and nephew-in-law bought their house a few years ago (probably several now), there was an auction of the contents.  An older gentleman had been living there, and he either passed away or he had to move to assisted living.  In any event, the auctioneer was trying to sell a welder that my dad wanted to bid on, and nobody was getting the bidding started.  So, using the marketing tool "What if we throw this in ... and this ... and this," he was successful in getting the bids rolling. Dad ended up with the welder he wanted, and this antique coal bucket was one of the throw-ins.  He didn't want it and, long story short, I was in the right place at the right time. LUCKY ME!  So for all these years, I've had it waiting downstairs while I think about it.
Here's the deal: Purists have a rule about not ruining antiques by fixing them up. But I think I have an "out" with this one, because it looks to me like someone painted it silver some time ago. Since the paint is chipped and kind of dirty looking again, it's okay the way it is, but I'm thinking of painting it one of two colors: An Americana red (like the star in the other photo), or matte black.  By the way, the star isn't usually on the floor, but I needed to put it up against something contrasting so you can see the color of it better.  I have black furniture in my family room. I've been meaning to use the bucket as a magazine holder. To paint or not to paint. That is the question. Now I just need someone to follow my blog to give me some inspiration. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Nice Day for a Visit in St. Louis

What an EXCELLENT day I had today! I took the day off from work to spend some time with Emily and Jon while they are in the area. We started out with breakfast (or brunch ... depending on what time you get out of bed) at "Uncle Bills" in StL. I live alone, and while I really don't mind eating alone, there's nothing quite like sharing a meal and good conversation with people you love...especially when the meal includes coffee. Other than meeting for breakfast, there was no agenda for the day, so we were able to take our time and relax. I really get a kick out of these two. At one point during breakfast while Emily was recounting a funny story she had heard at a seminar, Jon said, "Emily, talk slower and use fewer words." She happily ignored his "advice" and finished her story, with laughter threaded in between the words. What fun! I told Jon that since we have so little time together, we have to cram as many words as we can into the day. And that we did!! LOTS of gabbing and laughter and it was GREAT!!!! After breakfast we went to one of the malls and looked at cool stuff that was too expensive for any of us to buy. Jon did buy a paper, however, and he sat down to read it while Emily and I browsed and gabbed in Restoration Hardware. Then we headed over to Crate & Barrel where Jon sat down and read the paper while Emily and I browsed and gabbed. Did I say that already? He's a very patient "shopper!" Afterward, we headed downtown so they could check in at their hotel. We topped off our time together at Starbucks (where else?) and gabbed and laughed some more. Now I'm back home. It's quiet, and I'm loving the memory of a banner day while I enjoy a cookie from that cookie jar up there in the picture and ... what else ... that cup of coffee! Mmmm!