Pottery Collection

April 27, 2012

Over the years, I’ve managed to accumulate pottery from our trips. It had been sort of scattered around the house, with some of it stuck in drawers or on various shelves. When I put away the Easter decorations, I usually get the pottery out to stand on a chest in the dining room. This year the collection had grown a lot, so I thought I would share it. As you can see, I like blue!

The plate with the turtle is from Hawaii (Big Island) as is the blue and green plate in the front left, which has dolphins on it. The bowl at the front right is something my mom brought back from Turkey for me. The interesting shaped vase at the back right is the Navajo wedding vase I bought last year in Taos. The little bowl to the front and left of that, as well as the big blue bowl in the center are from Maine. In the back left, the bowl that is pink inside is from Santa Fe. The little piece to the front and right of that is a small plate or coaster that has sea glass set in the center of it. I bought that somewhere in the SW last summer (after I bought it, I saw them in almost every store, so I am unclear where I got it). The tall blue vase is a mystery! We looked at something similar in Colorado last summer but did not buy it. I have bought this since then, but have totally blanked on where, possibly Amelia Island, Florida.

When I asked my daughter if she could remember where I bought that vase she told me I have to put stickers on the bottoms of these items, and other things in the house so that I can remember so that she will eventually know where it all came from when she inherits it, which is a good point. I have a lot of beautiful things my grandmother bought on her travels and I am just clueless about where some of it came from. So, today I stopped and bought a package of stickers. Let the labeling begin!

This pottery collection has sort of organically happened over the years. I never set out to collect pottery, and Mr. MarthaAndMe will tell  you I have PLENTY  of collections (sheep, bookmarks, baskets, ornaments, teacups, eggs, antique glass, cranberry glass). I just keep bringing it home so I apparently I collect it! Do you have any collections that have snuck up on you?


Padded Headboard Project

January 25, 2012

It’s been quite a while since we have attempted a major home project. I have a bedroom set that I got when I was about 16. The headboard for the bed will hold a full or queen size bed. A couple of years ago we upgraded to a king mattress and box springs (when you have 2 golden retrievers sleeping with you, you don’t have much choice). We could not attach that to the headboard, so we just stood the headboard up between it and the wall, but you could tell it was too small, so it looked a little funny.

The headboard was curvy, with different carvings and panels in it, so whenever I sat up in bed to read or watch TV, my head was against some uneven part of wood. It drove me nuts. Pillows did not do the trick. I wanted a padded headboard. There are some out there, but none of them are in colors I would choose. So, we decided to make our own. This project was actually pretty inexpensive (in contrast to buying a pre-made headboard) and was accomplished in one day.

First we measured how big we wanted it to be. Then we bought fabric, batting, a piece of wood and a big piece of foam. We cut the wood an inch smaller all around than the foam, so that the edges would be soft. We used a spray adhesive to attached the foam to the wood. We covered it in batting and then covered it in the fabric. We used an air compressor stapler gun which makes it quick work.

We worked slowly and carefully because the pattern is linear. The hardest part was the corners. It took some trying, but we came up with a technique that had some very small folds/creases at the corners so it wasn’t too lumpy.

Mounting it on the wall was very easy because Mr. MarthaandMe bought these fantastic self-leveling mirror hangers. You attach one piece to the wall and the other to the back of the headboard. They catch each other and hold the headboard up (each one will hold up to 75 lbs and we used 2). It was easier than I ever imagined.

Total cost: under $300. The fabric and batting were both 50% off at JoAnn Fabric. Wood was from Lowe’s for about $8. The foam was from a special foam store. We would have had to use 2 pieces if we bought it at JoAnn and were worried the seam would show. Mr. MarthaAndMe used to repair office furniture and used to buy foam for chairs from this store. We got a professional discount since they remembered him (it still was not cheap – $78).

It took us most of the day but we kept getting interrupted for other things, so this could really be done in just a few hours.

I am THRILLED with how this turned out. I will be going to bed early from now so I can spend some time reading, leaning against it!

New Decorations

December 21, 2011

This year I made some changes and additions to our holiday decorations. As always, we have  a tree in the living room with my ornaments and white and pink lights, braided pearl strands and pink bunting. We have a tree in the family room with the kids’ ornaments. I also have a tree in my office with book ornaments.

This year, partly because I now do a lot of my work in the kitchen, I added a kitchen tree, with kitchen themed ornaments. It has blue and white lights. I found all sorts of cute ornaments – knife, fork, spoon, blender, pots and pants, strainer, PBJ sandwich, milk carton, pitcher, tray of gingerbread men, toaster, crate of blueberries, a ravioli, chocolate covered strawberry, and even a Hostess cupcakes – all on eBay! I must admit though I am jonesing for another ornament on eBay. It’s a little oven with cookies baking in it. It lights up AND it smells like cookies baking. It’s going for around $110 though, so I won’t be buying it any time soon. I had the most fun prowling eBay for the ornaments I did buy though!

I haven’t figured out what to put on the top of this tree yet. Some people have suggested a chef’s hat, but I’m not a chef, so I don’t like that. I was thinking maybe a little doll’s apron tied around the top, but am not sure what that would look like. Any ideas?

Teen Martha and I went to a Christmas tour of homes and I loved how some people had ornaments hung in their windows. If you look in the background of the kitchen tree photo, you can see I have my 12 days of Christmas ornaments in the windows, but I wanted to do something else. I realized I had 3 blue star ornaments that would be perfect in the big window over my sink, so Mr. MarthaAndMe hung those for me. Next year, I am going to do something on the shelf above it as well – maybe a grouping of reindeer with some that cottony stuff that looks like snow drifts.

At the tour of homes, I also loved decorations people put on the backs of their kitchen chairs. Next year I’ll be doing that too. I haven’t been able to find what I want to do it this year.

And just a note here that my kitchen walls really are not the color they look like in these photos! They are a very, very pale subtle green but somehow they look horrible and neon in these photos!

Moving on to the dining room, I’ve added to my tree collection this year with several new ones, and I also bought a white sparkly runner to put them on so they pop more.

In case you didn’t know, I don’t do red for Christmas. Pink is my Christmas color. I do cranberry in the family room. The kitchen is blue themed so I am going with decorations in blue in there.

I have had the same Christmas dining room centerpiece my entire married life. It was time for a new one. Not an easy task with my color scheme. I bought this 60% off at Michaels and had to do some work on it. It had some awful brown roses in it I pulled out. I added more pink poinsettias, some gold accents, and put it in a shiny mercury glass vase I got at TJ Maxx for $19. I am THRILLED with the results!

In the living room I have my display of tree toppers on the mantel. This collection has grown as well, so I thought I would share it with you. I also found some fabulous vintage pink curly-que garland at an antique shop, so I’ve replaced the pink bunting on the mantel with that. I also bought pre-lit garland this year because I got tired of seeing all the wires from the lights I wrapped around the garland.

Again, the colors of my walls just look horrible in these photos for some reason!

Decorating for Christmas is so much work, but I just love it so much! The hardest part for me is I spent so much time and put so much thought into and we never have a single person come over to see it (neither set of parents is interested in coming here for Christmas), so at least I get to share it with you!

Just Had to Share

October 6, 2011

My next book, The Organized Kitchen, is now listed on Amazon (for pre-order) and I got to see the cover for the first time! I think it’s a pretty Martha-worthy title. And my years as an unofficial Martha apprentice definitely taught me a lot and helped me write this book. I’ll be talking more about it once it’s closer to the pub date (which is January – perfect for New Year’s resolutions!) and sharing some of the tips then.

New Year’s Eve

January 2, 2011

It’s our tradition here to have fondue on New Year’s Eve. And it’s also a tradition for the kids to invite their friends. This year Teen Martha had 5 friends and Dude Martha had one (so the teenagers got the dining room and the boys ate with us in the kitchen). We had to run out and buy a third fondue pot. This was the first year people actually ate most of what I made. This time, we set up fondue pots on the table and instead of passing the food for dipping, I set it up buffet style on the kitchen counter. First course is cheese fondue (basic – gruyere, wine, cornstarch). With that I served: mini turkey meatballs, spicy chicken sausage, ham, tortellini, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, french bread, pumpernickel rye bread, pears, apple, grapes and I made 3 dipping sauces: tomato/Italian, mustard, and pesto. There was hardly anything left. Dessert was a chocolate fondue and a white chocolate fondue. In the dining room we did one pot of chocolate and second pot that had half chocolate and half white chocolate (Mr. MarthaAndMe did some synchronized pouring to make that happen). With it I served: pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate chip cookies, shortbread, pretzel logs, marshmallows, Rice Krispie treats, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pineapple, tangerines, and pineapple. I had chopped peanuts and sprinkles to roll things in as well. This was also inhaled.

I decorate the table with a New Years garland, lots of fun hats (although most of them will not be caught dead wearing them in a photo), noisemakers, those little champagne poppers, and everyone got a chocolate snowman. I serve sparkling juices, soda and chocolate milk. I use paper plates and plastic cups. It’s a lot of work though. Although making the fondues is pretty simple, the prep takes me all day – cutting everything up and cooking all the veggies and pasta and meats. It’s fun though. The best part is that I cook like a lunatic all day and decorate the table, they come, they eat, they horse around a while then they all leave to go to the later parties. Mr. MarthaAndMe clean it all up, then collapse. I never make it to the ball drop and am usually asleep pretty early. It’s a fun tradition though – and before we went out and invested in a third fondue pot Teen Martha promised she will continue to have friends come.

Happy Holidays!

December 22, 2010

This is my tree collection, which I’ve been slowly adding to each year. I love the feather trees (and so do the dogs, which is why they’re in the back!). The little blue ones were my grandmother’s. This year I added the pink one and the gold one in the back right (it’s behind the white one and kind of hard to see). The big silver one is mercury glass.

My Flock

December 15, 2010

I have a thing for sheep. Quirky, unusual, yet lovable sheep. They can’t be too big. They can’t have faces that are too human. And it’s most fun if I buy them on vacation. Here is my flock. Do you love it? It’s so big I’m going to have to expand to another shelf (the big blue on on the bottom left has already begun the migration). I have a silver money sheep from China (I did not bring that one back myself unfortunately!), a cranberry colored sheep I bought on Hilton Head, a cool one that looks like it’s made out of spaghetti that I bought in Montreal, the most amazing sheep with a face made out of a crossword puzzle from Vancouver, a great one with its head tipped from Maine, one with pink ears from Hawaii and many, many more. There are sheep made of lace, clay, cotton, paper mache, bristles, real wool and much more.

My latest addition is the fab pink sheep in the front right. My friend Melanie McMinn, felter extraordinaire made this for me in New Zealand. Check out her Etsy store. She makes all sorts of amazing, gorgeous felted creations, real works of art. I’m so happy to have one of her pieces in my collection!

I Am Not Martha

December 14, 2010

I try really hard to decorate beautifully, cook wonderful meals, and buy lovely gifts, but I don’t have a wrapping room (and how I wish I did!). The wrapping supplies live in the closet under the stairs. When I’m ready to tackle the holiday wrapping, it all comes out and takes over part of our bedroom. We set up a folding table and I sit on the edge of the bed and wrap on the table. When I’m actually wrapping, all the junk you see on the table is on the bed so I have the entire table for wrapping. It’s a horrible, ugly mess, but I live with it for a week or so while I work my way through the wrapping. I would love to have a room just for wrapping, but that’s not possible. So every year I live with this disaster, hating it. It’s so very un-Martha, yet I think I’m able to produce gifts that look lovely.

Do you have a very un-Martha area of your house this holiday season?

Martha Mondays: Thanksgiving Table

November 15, 2010

Thanks to Karen at Karen and Charlie’s Kitchen for choosing this week’s pick-your-own project  – Thanksgiving tablescapes. I liked the one where you make a small pumpkin into a candleholder, so I did a trial run with that, which looks sort of lame since it’s crooked. I guess you need a straighter pumpkin to get it to work! I just hacked away at it with a knife to make the hole, then pushed the candle in. I like this idea a lot, even if mine wasn’t the greatest in execution!

Here’s a photo of a centerpiece I bought a few years ago (I think I got it at the grocery store to be honest!) and which I really still love a lot.

Teen Martha’s Room

September 25, 2010

Teen Martha started college this fall, but is living at home. This big change in her life necessitated a big change in her room as well. She was done, done, done with her room that had 2 pink walls and 2 purple walls. She was done with her purple comforter. She was done with the big desk unit that was designed for a giant monitor when she now has a laptop. She was done with the lime green Roman shades. She was fed up with the clutter.

Step one was decluttering. She packed tons of stuff away and emptied out lots of books. Her curio cabinet, which housed her collections of porcelain hinged boxes, miniature shoes and other items, was taken away. The desk was dismantled. The blinds came down.

The first step was painting. She wanted stripes. Oh my. We primed the walls with white (twice). Then we taped it off so we could do a pink stripe and a green stripe. We let it dry, did another coat, and removed that tape and taped again so that in between the two stripes was a white sparkle stripe (two coats there too). The painting took weeks with all the taping, untaping and numerous coats.

We found the duvet cover on Overstock which was a huge bargain given that it is Tommy Hilfiger. She wanted plain roller blinds to darken the room (Walmart) and found some gorgeous white see through nubby drapes at Target (you can’t see these very well in the photo so here’s the link to see them).

The desk is all Mr. MarthaAndMe. In the dark ages, Mr. MarthaAndMe used to own an office furniture repair company and he also at one point worked for an office furniture design firm. He still has contacts there and one of those took us up to the dusty, hot storage room where we found two desk tops and a pedestal which Mr. MarthaAndMe and his handy brother cut down to fit as an L shape in the space Teen Martha had available, with the pedestal as support.

On our summer trip, Teen Martha bought some Chinese lanterns in Vancouver, and those hang in the corners.

She decoupaged her light switch cover with clippings from magazines (it doesn’t look like it matches in the photo, but actually the colors are really spot on).

The room isn’t quite done. She still wants a desk lamp and wants to replace the rug by the bed and get a new office chair.

But I’m pretty proud of how well it turned out. The desk seems to be working well, giving her lots of space to spread out. All of this cost under $300.

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