The Washington Post hosts a weekly humorous word play contest known as the Style Invitational, or just Invitational.  The challenge that inspired this pun asked the writer to add, subtract or change one letter and supply a new definition.  Looks as if the artist is a Hillbilly, too! 


Lithe Lady

Two summers ago, I picked up this lovely lady at the end-of-the-day, spontaneously stopping at one last yard sale while on my way home.  The color of the plastic has yellowed slightly, but the graceful flow of the lines is very attractive to me.  Professional photographer, I am not, but I do like the shadow in the mirror created by the flash on the camera.


Parlez Vous Burlap?


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Part of the fun of taking down Holiday Decorations is the pleasure of putting out something fresh.  Enter two yards of printed burlap–just the right length for a table runner and a few placemats. 

15″ wide by 72″ long worked perfectly for my table.  The best way to get a true straight line in any material is to pull a thread–fortunately, the coarse nature of burlap makes that very easy.  In this case, a thread was pulled the 72″ length of the burlap to remove the selvage (the finished edge).  The selvege is a tighter weave and needs to be taken off to allow for fringing in the final step.                                         

After the thread has been pulled, use the empty space left in the weave as a guideline to cut the burlap.  This technique works in both directions and was used to cut not only the runner but the placemats, too.

Set the sewing machine to make a short, medium-width zig-zag stitch. 

About 3/4″ in from the side, zig-zag around the entire perimeter of each piece.                                                                                                         

Snip loose sewing threads.  Remove the loose burlap threads that are on the outside 3/4″, creating a fringe:                                                       

Be forwarned that burlap can create a great deal of dust.  Best solution is to use the great outdoors, the basement or garage in order to make clean-up simple.  In my case, my best laid plans were temporarily delayed because of my helper.  Barbie LaMew decided that the cardboard box that had been set up to capture the discarded threads was the perfect spot for her afternoon nap.  Sigh.                                    

Burlap is also notoriously difficult to press, “au naturale”.  This works every time.  Dampen with a fine mist of water, then iron.                           



Exterior Before and After


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Remodel v.t.  -eled or -elled, -eling or -el-ling  1.  To model again.  2.  To make over or anew.

Built in 1941, this house has had various updates in the 60’s, ’70’s, and mid-80’s.  Other than a bit of paint here and there, though, not much had been done, either inside or out, since 1986.  Enter the new millenium and me.  Starting in 2006, there have been so many changes that it is hard to remember them all.  The major ones are easy to recall–a simple tour of the checkbook.  Listing the minutia would get oh so tedious.  Let’s start with a combination of the big ones:  New roof, siding, porches and pergola.  Befores:



Afters, er, I mean, “Continuings”:

Many more changes have been made since these were done–including new windows and much landscaping (some of that in progress).  Not a good idea to dwell on the undone.  Far better to look at what has been accomplished, thinking ahead only as far as one project at a time.

2012 Resolution(s)


Just a blink of an eye and the season has once again passed from this:

To this:

In all dimensions.  Be a better person, Mother, friend, neighbor, sister, housekeeper, driver, blogger.  Lower my stress levels, deep breath more often, pet the cat when she walks all over the newspaper…  It’s like a One-Resolution-Fits-All answer to the common conversational thread this time of year.  Happy New Year to you and yours.




Besides raking leaves, another traditional harbinger of the fast approaching winter season is the appearance of wooly worms.  For the “seasoned” among you, no explanation is necessary.  For the un-initiated, it means that the shiver going up your spine is not from the northwest wind blowing leaves hither and yon–it comes from the sight of a completely dark wooly worm!  Folklore and tradition says that the fewer light rings, the harsher the winter.  Gulp.  

The Time is Right


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Three weeks ago was too early.  That’s when the first Fall and Halloween decorations started popping up in various neighborhoods.  Ghosts, goblins, bales of hay and pumpkins were suddenly in full regalia.  It wasn’t even the first of October for goodness sakes!  Too early.

Three weeks later, the time is right.  The leaves are changing, football season is in its stride, the nights are clear and crisp.  The time is right.

About 45 minutes after deciding the Time is Right, everything had been pulled out or gathered and mostly put together.  Truth in crafting here:  saw the parking quote somewhere on the web, but did make my own version.  After printing the entire quote on regular white paper, I poured a half a cup of strong instant coffee into a 9 x 12 pan.  Next, the paper was put into the brew, letting it sit a few minutes to give it just the right patina.  A piece of scrap wood was salvaged from the ashes of the cold bonfire, proving to be the perfect background.  Other chores occupied the time until the paper was dry enough to handle.  After tearing the paper edges to fit the space, a little Modpodge magic produced the finished product.  As you can see, someone has already violated the rules….

A Toad By Any Other Name Would Be Toast…



Too bad lucky doesn’t rhyme with toad.  While straightening the garage the other day, some flattened cardboard packaging was set aside for recycling day.  The spot chosen to stack the pieces was only “a hop, skip and a jump” from the herb garden.  

When it was time to bundle the cardboard, a chance shuffle exposed a small hitchhiker:                                                                                            

Lucky Toad.  After a short game of cat and mouse hide and seek, I managed to encourage a circuitous route back to the herb garden.                                                                                

Now he/she is once again safely ensconced in his/her proper abode.  Do you believe in Guardian Angels?

Rome Was Not Built in a Day…


…nor, will this floor be prepped for sanding in the near future.  This first picture was taken at 10:45 am:

Backstory:  as part of the ongoing project of bringing this house into the 21st Century, it was finally time to peek under the underlayment in the kitchen.  The excitement of finding that the original oak floors were intact underneath two layers of linoleum and another layer of 1/4″ underlayment was almost derailed by the realization that there was a layer of black tar paper that had been put (correctly, may I add, to prevent moisture build-up) between the underlayment and the oak.

Tar paper that had dissolved into a sticky, gooey, frustratingly difficult mess with a stubborn attitude and no sympathy for the poor soul now in charge of its removal–ME!  #1 Rule of Remodeling is once again testing my determination:  “There is no such thing as an easy job.”  

The original goal of stripping the wood, sanding and refinishing before cold weather makes leaving the windows open while the polyurethane dries, an obvious impossibility.  Several deep breaths later, the new plan is to methodically remove one section at a time–at 45/60 minutes per square foot.  Come spring when the outside will once again allow refreshing breezes to stream through the house, the next phase of sanding and the subsequent application of three coats of polyurethane will be completed. 

12:45 pm:

 2:45 pm:

5:10 pm.  A roughly 6 square foot section completely free of tar paper and stripped of old varnish and stain: 

“Monkey”-ing Around


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Haven’t been out to many garage sales lately–conference for job, busy painting some rooms in the house.  Today though, I decided to spend a few hours monkey-ing around before getting back to the real business of the day–yard work.  First find of the day: 

The family that had this for sale thinks it is a gibbon.  After doing a Google search for images of the species, that jury is out, (babboon seems more likely) but whatever it is, seeing one sitting in a driveway in western Pennsylvania falls into the category of “maybe now I really have seen it all.”  The details of how one becomes the proud owner of such an interesting piece are bit fuzzy, but involve a  family member and alcohol–doesn’t it always?  

What made it even odder though, was less than 20 minutes later to encounter:

A live, distant cousin who was busy hopping from tent pole to cage top to my back.  Challenging little guy to photograph–sorry for the angles.  He absolutely was not sitting still for an instant.  What are the odds that while walking around two totally average neighborhoods on a Sturday morning, one would see two members of the ape family?  I’ve decided there isn’t a deeper message, just a case of a Monkey in the hand is worth two in the bush.