December 2019:


Winter has arrived. We had early snow Halloween weekend (3-4 inches) and about a week later we got another 3-4 inches on top of that, and cold weather. The snow melted (thank goodness!) but winter caught autumn unprepared - a surprise ambush!

The house is now decorated for Christmas season and I snuggle underneath a thick throw blanket on the sofa at night admiring the Christmas tree. It's cold enough now to fire up the fireplace, brrrrr!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed holiday season. May we all be jolly and bright and happy.


Monday, May 27, 2013

In Love With My Ming Style Chow Leg Coffee Table

Hola everyone!

Happy Memorial Day to you!  I hope you had an enjoyable holiday.  Tomorrow it's back to normal and work work work. Sigh.

A couple of days ago I received the June 2013 print edition of Traditional Home:

When I saw the coffee table I gasped, because it is much like my coffee table.  The feet are a little different, as is the color but - see what you think: 

I looked up the source for the table in the Traditional Home Reader's Resource.  It is called the Darjeeling table by Summer Hill, out of business; no further information was given.  I don't know the size, I don't know the material it is made from, or its size.

I purchased my table in 1997 or 1998 at Marshall Field's furniture clearance floor that had taken over the old Gimbel's building in downtown Milwaukee, since closed.  I fell in love with it immediately and gulped and paid $400 for it - insanely expensive for me at the time (still is, actually, LOL!) 

It is solid pine (heavy as heck!) and has a natural/distressed finish with small areas here and there just touched with a faint white-wash. 

My table top measures about 35 and 3/8th inches square, and it is about 15 1/4 inches high.  Because of the bowed out legs, the footprint of the table overall is about 39 1/2 inches square, measured at the widest point of the legs.  This is called a chow style table.  It's from the Ming Dynasty, an incredibly rich period in Chinese history for furniture design.  The form of the legs are actually called "chow" and distinguish this style from other less exaggerated leg styles on Ming Dynasty furniture. 

Curious, I wondered what such style tables are going for today.  So I set out on the hunt!  Here is what I;ve found thus far:

At, this table described as a "contemporary Chinese Ming style with horseshoe feet design legs."  This table is 42" square and 16" high (way larger than mine!)  It has a hand-applied black distressed finish and a beveled glass top.  The material it is made of is not specified, so it could be wood, it could be MDF, or something else.  The cost is $879 plus $179 shipping!  Holy Hathor! I think this is the same table, which says it is made out of elmwood, but there is no mention of a beveled glass top. 

I didn't find anything that matched at Wayfair.  This Hammary chow leg coffee table seems to be very popular in the search findings, but it is rectangular, not square.  Sure is pretty, though. Here is one example:

It's large!  56" x 36" x 17" tall.  Discounted price at The Simple Coffee Table Store is $630 and offers free "curbside" shipping. So they just leave it parked in your driveway or on your sidewalk???

I'm a little taken aback by the color of this table - it appears to be stained orange, but it may just be a bad photograph, too.  It's offered by Furniture by Zoostores:

This is the Compass Home Furnishings Carrara cocktail table.  The specs are "fuzzy."  I'm not sure if this table is 30" square of 36" square!  It is made of some type of unspecified "Asian hardwood," is 18-19" high and has a "medium wood" finish.  It is not quite the classic bowed chow leg, more like the Ming style called "banana leg" but it does end in a horse hoof foot.  It is priced at $739 plus free shipping.

So, rather slim pickings!  I have to go to bed now, must be out the door by 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, sigh.  If I find any more likely prospects I'll do an update. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kitchens On My Mind: Half a Dozen Fabulous Redos From Around the Web

Hola darlings!

It's a beautiful day here today. Finished the front yard tirmming and swept everything up; cut the back yard grass and am now going to head out and start trimming and them whacking down and pruning!  But I have taken a couple of breaks in-between the work and got this post ready for you.

I have gathered these projects as examples of what can be done with imagination, a plan, lots of hard work, a handy mate or close relative who works for pizza and beer, and a small budget!  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of kitchen revamps and redos on the internet, and they range from the grandiose in mansions five times the size of Maison Newton to small but beautifully rendered galley kitchens in New York apartments.  I selected these particular redos because (1) the footprint of the kitchen was not changed, i.e., plumbing was not moved and the original kitchen arrangement, including cabinets, remained more or less intact, (2) lots of sweat equity but low cost, and (3) doable by a single woman on a miniscule budget, possibly with the help of her reasonably priced handyman, Kevin the Wonder Man! 


Ashley and her husband at Domestic Imperfection created an incredible kitchen.  Their total outlay so far is $1,600, not including new appliances (purchased before the redo began in earnest) that bring the total up to $3,700.  Still to come is new flooring (although truth be told I see nothing wrong with the current flooring and think it looks great with their restyled kitchen) and new lighting fixture(s).  The before and after pictures are stunning!  Here is one of them:

From Domestic Imperfection blog.

You can read all of the details at Ashley's blog.  The floating shelves created to hang underneath the upper cabinets is one of the most ingenious uses of space I have ever seen, and I love them to pieces!

Kelli at Pretty l'il Poseys shared a dramatic kitchen makeover too -- of her mom's kitchen!  Oak colored cabinets were changed to dark and gorgeously dramatic, and all white countertops turned into a spectacular granite look with acrylic craft paints -- the kind you buy at JoAnn's or Michael's (total for countertop redo $20), all for about $250. The painted countertops are simply awesome and look like the real thing even in close-up photos.

Here is one of the after photos.  When you see the sole before photo you'll immediately appreciate the amazing transformation that paint and some decluttering created in this lovely kitchen -- I want those windows, and the countertops too!  The look is definitely luxe and would look fabulous in one of the multi-million dollar mansions that we see in People Magazine and Architectural Digest...

From Pretty l'il Posies blog.

I hope you'll read all about the amazing transformation at Kelli's blog.  This kitchen amply demonstrates the amazing transformative power of painting, staining and switching out cabinet hardware! 

Jami and Brian at An Oregon Cottage did a total transformation of their kitchen for - are you ready? - $1,165!  Again, with no relocation of any major pieces or plumbing, paint and new countertops were the primary agents of the amazing transformation. The microwave was moved -- to above the range, which was itself transformed merely by the removal of a "back" piece that unscrewed and made the range/oven look totally different and very 21st century.  A new sink and faucet were added as well as new hardware on the cabinets.

Here is one of the after photos.  It was sheer genius to have some of the cabinet "fronts" removed and glass installed in place - same cabinets used, but with the glass an entirely new look resulted.

From An Oregon Cottage blog.

You can read all the details at Jami's blog, including a cost breakdown.  The entire project took about a year; it was done in increments which is a very good idea, because it gave them time to see what they liked and what still needed to be changed, as well as saving up for the costs of doing the work.

Jane at Frugal Fine Living did a kitchen transformation for $250.  She took her space from 1990's builder's standard (with yet more of those oak colored cabinets) to a rocking kitchen with hints of Provencal in its toile curtains and hardware.  Check out one of the after pics:

From Frugal Fine Living blog.

You can read all about Jane's progress as she takes her readers step by step through her redo/remake process.  Beadboard wallpaper, which I've also seen elsewhere in kitchen redos, was used to great effect on the backsplash and the end of the cabinet runs.  In 23 years I have yet to install a backsplash in my kitchen and if I do not do it anywhere else in my kitchen, for SURE I am doing it this year behind the stove, with paintable, scrubable high-grade vinyl wallcovering that will eventually also be installed elsewhere in the back of the house which has kitchen, dinette and family room all open to each other overlooking the back yard. 

The wallpaper is a great budget-wise idea that will also be easy to swap out for another look down the road, should I tire of it.  I seriously doubt I'll tire of it though, since I've had the kitchen in its more or less original state for so frigging long, har!  Should I live another 23 years I'll be contemplating a kitchen redo at age 85.

The final kitchen redo I'm featuring is this amazing space from the Mills family at The Handsome Home.  It is just awesome and once again, how many times can I write it??? -- shows the power of paint and, in this case, actual beadboard used to cover over a darkish-beige tiled backsplash.  Check out one of the after pics:

From The Handsome Home blog.

It is hard to believe this is the same space (many before and after pictures so you get a great feel for how the space was transformed), but it is. As far as I can tell, the only thing that was swapped out was the kitchen sink and faucet, from double aluminum sink to porcelain (?) farmer's style sink and a new faucet. Of course, that style of sink and faucet can be VERY expensive. I don't have a cost on this kitchen transformation, but I would say overall it was done on a modest budget. 

So, there you are.  My inspiration kitchens, done on a dime and a TON of imagination!  I love each and every one and will be incorporating many of the ideas shown in these kitchens in my own redo.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Trad Home's Online Magazine Special: Great Kitchens

Hola darlings!

I have been perusing Traditional Home's special online magazine this month on Great Kitchens.  I've oohed and aahed my way through the first 41 pages thus far and while lovely, I confess that I just cannot relate to the humongous cavernous kitchens that are beautifully done up but make me laugh when I think about today's nuclear family in one of them.  Then I got to page 42 and "Small Size, Big Style" (written by Ruthie Staalsen) and I fell in love with a kitchen!  There are before-after pictures too, that were missing from the previous articles.

In this roughly 14' x 14' kitchen, existing cabinetry was retained, painted white and glazed with a warm color to give a time-worn patina and rich glow.  Wrought iron hardware was added -- pulls and knobs.  New lighting was installed, the existing island was expanded to add an in-cabinet waste bin and then the island was embellished to look like a stand-alone piece of furniture in a contrasting finish to the cabinets.  Just gorgeous!  New flooring (tile set on the diagonal to visually "enlarge" the space) and tumbled stone inset with black wrought iron medallions backsplash treatment were added.  A soffit was added above existing cabinets to the ceiling and then trimmed out with elegant mouldings to eliminate cabinet tops that used to just collect dust.  A bay window was added by the sink to flood the room with light.  Here is one of the pics of the refinished space I snipped from the online magazine article:

Is this style Provencal or Valencia?  I don't know, but it's so beautiful.  I love the chandelier above the island -- so light and airy but providing tons of work light.  And the sconces on the cabinets on either side of the sink area.  How on earth???  The wiring must disappear inside the cabinets and then into the wall.  I imagine that would be very expensive to have such wiring installed.  The sconces themselves, though, are drop-dead gorgeous! 

Other changes included replacing an outdated drop-in cooktop with a flush surface cooktop mounted directly into the new granite countertop and new appliances, including a new microwave installed above the cooktop. 

This homeowner was able to do this gorgeous designer-created kitchen due to an inheritance from her grandmother that specified the money be used to remodel her kitchen!  I do not expect to receive such beneficience from any of my relatives, but there are plenty of ideas in this kitchen remodel that I may be able to borrow and adapt to my own humble kitchen. 

And humble budget, too!  In the next post I'm going to show you a handful of some kitchen redos from various blogs, most of which have one thing in common:  low cost! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kitchens On My Mind

Hola darlings!

Are you looking forward to your three-day Memorial Day Weekend as much as I am?  Woo woo!

I still have much to do to get the back yard into semi-decent shape, but it it coming along.  Fortunately, last weekend was gorgeous.  But on Wednesday a cold front brought lots of rain, wind and abnormally cold temperatures.  So cold it's been since Wednesday, I've been back into my winter jacket with the hood, and gloves!  Brrrrr.

Last night when I got home the June 2013 print edition of Traditional Home was in the mail, and I dove into it this morning during the bus ride to the office. A great issue!  And a special feature on kitchens this month with a sweepstakes.  The prize is awesome for one lucky winner!  

Which got me thinking about my kitchen - again.  I've been thinking about it for over a year now - and still haven't tackled the repainting that it needs.  Other things I've worked on here and there, and things are coming along, agonizingly slowly! 

Amazingly, even after 22+ years living here, I am still quite happy with my picks for cabinets and laminate countertops, and even the flooring, although it is a bit the worse for wear after all these years. 

There are things I want to change.  I've written about that before here, I'm sure.  It isn't a very long wish list, given my budget constraints and the fact that I'm going to be retiring in less than 5 years (Goddess willing!)  A few changes I think will make a big difference in the overall ambiance of the space while also bringing it out of the late 1980's into the 21st century. 

I've received TONS of inspiration from Traditional Home over the years.  For instance, check out this "10 Steps to a Fab Kitchen" kitchen/dining area remodel.

Kitchen and dining area remodel, Traditional Home May/June 2013 online. Photo.

I LOVE it totally, but I have to be realistic.  Still, there are many points of inspiration and surely many items can be achieved with the "look for less!" 

Many of YOU have done fabulous redos/revamps/updates -- whatever you want to call it -- of your kitchens that have been of great inspiration to moi.  Without doing uber-expensive changing of locations of plumbing and staying within the same basic footprint, I have seen the most amazing updates that I still cannot believe it's the same room in the after photos from the before photos!

I have picked out half a dozen redos from blogs online that I will show you tomorrow.  You may be familiar with many of them.  Each of them is wonderful in its own right and did not cost an arm and a leg!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Storage in Stairs and Stairwells

Hola darlings!

Right now I'm in the throes of watching the U.S. Women's Chess Chamionship and exciting it is, indeed!  Only two more games to go and I've got the live coverage on right now on my other lap top and listening/watching even as I'm working on this old trust Toshiba. 

I didn't want you to think I'd fallen off the end of the world.  I saw this article the other day at Yahoo and really enjoyed it.  Over the years I have seen ideas on utilizing space underneath stair wells - often involving creating an office space or cozy reading nook with built-in seating and shelving, or shelving and cushy wing chair with footstool, but this article really opened up my eyes to many different possibilities, most of which I just cannot imagine would meet United States building code requirements (no railings, too steep a pitch of step to stair ratio). Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  For the creative D-I-Yers, or those who can afford to hire professional help, any of these ideas can be adapted to your own homes.

10 Clever Under-Stair Storage Space Ideas & Solutions

A wealth of ideas just in these four photos.  Many more ideas by following the link.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Am The Evil Squirrel Queen...

Hola darlings!

As you may know, I am an old softy when it comes to animals and I get such a big kick out of the squirrels who congregate in my yard to be fed.  They get peanuts and nuts in the shell.  Costs a mini-fortune every month but since I refuse to adopt a pet after the heartbreak of losing to death, one by one, my three doggies some years ago, I just cannot face adopting another dog, only to lose it to death or, even worse, I die first and my dog would end up at the animal shelter.

Fast forward to today.  I believe I may have blogged about this very same thing happening around this time, last year.  But perhaps I blogged about it at Goddesschess blog, not here.  In any event, the Phantom Raker has struck again!

Yep, whoever it is rakes up all of the nut shells the squirrels deposit into his or her yard, and then dumps them surreptitiously in my front yard, near my mail box.  Last year a small pile was also deposited on the south side near the beginning of my driveway.

Quel horreurs!  Squirrel prints all over my deck during blizzard, EEK EEK EEK EEK!

A real class act, wouldn't you agree?  Like I'm deliberately sending the squirrels with nuts in their mouths into his or her yard just so the nut shells are deposited THERE?  What a Svengali act!  Maybe I should take my squirrel and nut show on the road, heh :)

No shells in front yard this morning, three piles of shells had been deposited when I arrived home this evening. Obviously, this is a person with too much time on his or her hands and who knows my schedule.  If I saw this person doing this while I was home, I would confront said person.  What kind of sick, weirdo coward does such a thing? 

Quel horreurs deux!  A squirrel eating a nut on my deck, EEK EEK EEK EEK!  And looky there, plenty
of evidence that lots of squirrels have been munching on nuts and peanuts on said deck, too. 

If I ever do find out who it is, I will rake up a big fat pile of nut shells from my back yard (they are always present since I feed the squirrels morning and night), deposit said shells into a lovely gift bag, I will go to the person's house, ring the doorbell, and deliver the shells in person to this tresspasser who is so warped as to take the time to rake up the shells but instead of disposing of them like a normal person would do, chooses, instead, to dump them in my front yard.

Does he or she get a thrill out of that, I wonder?  Does he or she watch when, this weekend, in-between bouts of forecasted rain, I will go out and rake up said shells?  Does he or she rub his or her hands together in glee, cackling like an evil fiend as they watch from behind the curtains?  Sick, sick, sick. 

I wonder if this person shoots birds or puts out poison bait because they poop on the trees and lawn?  Poisons rabbits because they dig holes for nests in one's lawn and eat one's hostas?  Kills any animal that happens across the sacred boundaries of their yard? 

Quel horreurs trois!  It's a Demon Squirrel from Hell!  Just look at that glowing eye...  Gee, wonder why that crazy
woman who feeds the squirrels (moi) has such a lucious full green lawn???  But look at those nut shells, what
a mess!  To the concentration camp with her, Heil Hitler! 

Get your jollies off, neighbor.  I'll be sending legions of squirrels into your territory who will, I hope, deposit tons of nut shells and dig countless holes into your lawn.  I've got a brand new crop of baby squirrels swinging all around my big old elm tree out back and I'm training them up already.  Yep, aimed right at YOUR yard.  Bwaaaahhaaahhaaaaa!