Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fabric Uses

Fabrics of all kinds can be used for than making skirts, blouses and slacks. Some of the ways I have found for fabric uses are things you may wish to try sometime. Cloth is being made with all kinds of images printed on it now. Even our favorite old storybook and recent movie characters are appearing on fabric. Decorating bedrooms with the newest character-themed fabric has become something that is a yearly project for a lot of Moms that sew.

Lamp shades, pillows and vanity chair seats are some items that can be covered with fabric to brighten a bed room. Even if you can't afford to purchase a new bed comforter, an inexpensive pair of curtains can be made with nice material from discount stores. Cover a binder with cloth to make a new family photo album. The small items you can change will make a big difference in a room.

Try wrapping seasonal gifts with scraps of fabric to give the quilters you know. I can promise that those small pieces will probably end up in one of their beautiful projects in the future. Don't throw out clothing which has stains that won't come out. Save the buttons and parts of the garment that are not stained for future projects. Or use the old garments for dusting cloths that you can then dispose of. Some gently used bed sheets can be cut into strips and crocheted into plant hangers, or crocheted baskets. Walk through your home and look for ways that you could use fabric to change things around a bit.

Recycled Containers

All of us need things to put small items in around our homes. One of the best ways to help ourselves, and the environment, is to use recycled containers. You can use cereal boxes as magazine or book holders. Cover them with decorative contact paper to make them fit into your decor. A 303 size tin can is just the right size to hold pens and pencils. You may want to spray paint the can, or cover it with white paper, and let children decorate it with markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc. You can cover them with used greeting cards too. This would be a great gift for a child to personalize with their own picture on it for Grandma or Grandpa's birthday!

The use of tuna or sardine cans will help you have a place for rubber bands, paper clips and other smaller items. Some of the divided plastic containers, such as old ice cube trays, make a great place to put earrings, to keep the pairs together.

The green berry and cherry tomato boxes are good places to store cotton balls, and other items, inside your bathroom drawers. Before you toss a container out...think of ways it can be reused to keep it out of a landfill a little longer. A good rule of thumb is...Unless it's falling apart, it has another use.

Vintage Sewing Notions

I have enjoyed sewing of all kinds over the years. Many of my family and friends have given me some beautiful vintage sewing notions at times when they no longer wanted them, and some have come to me by way of when family members have passed on. I have my grandmothers old thimble, darning needle and a pair of scissors that come apart by a hinge clasp. My mother-in-law's mother's old tatting shuttles are especially meaningful to me. I decided to put some of the things together in a shadowbox collection. It is hung on a wall where everyone can enjoy looking at them. Always include a little plastic sleeve on the back of family pictures and collections such as this, to put a slip of paper in recording who the items belonged to, how you came to get them, and always try to put names and dates of the items or people on the paper if you can. You never know where these items will end up when you are gone. This makes the pieces much more valuable when there is a trace system on them. Don't be afraid to use the items when you can. I received a jar of buttons from a relative once, and inside among all those old buttons were three that had at one time hung on the uniform of a Civil War soldier; and quite possibly it may have been one of our distant relatives. Others enjoy hearing the history behind the pieces, and some younger people who are learning the art of sewing may never have seen some of the unique pieces. They are truly historical pieces!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Silverware Crafts

Silverware that has been worn out can still be useful. I have made several types of silverware crafts over the years. One of them came from an idea I got after a neighbor burned their garage that was old and falling apart. A couple of days after the garage was burned, I helped clean up the mess, and found some old pieces of flatware that had been buried in the dirt inside the structure. A knife, two forks and two spoons had been run over so many times by the vehicles pulling in and out of the garage, that they were now as flat as could be. I threw them on the pile of trash we were going to dispose of, and turned my head back quickly toward the heap when they fell together with a twinkling, melodic sound.

I picked them off the heap again, and thought that surely I could make something out of the old pieces. The next morning I thought about the sweet sound they had made the day before as they were thrown together on the trash pile. After cutting a four inch width circle out of a plastic butter bowl lid, I cut five evenly divided notches around the edge of it. Then I tied five 12 inch lengths of fishing line to each of the pieces of silverware. I touched a small dot of strong glue to where the string was tied around the flatware so it would not slip off (allow the glue to dry for an hour or so). I then tied all five pieces of the other end of fishing line around a key ring that was tarnished from use. I hung the key ring on a nail protruding from the top edge of an outside kitchen window. Separating the strings, I placed each of them in one of the notches that I had evenly cut around the butter lid. The wonderful sound of the homemade, silverware wind chime tinkling in the slight breeze was worth the effort to save the old pieces.

I have also found some beautiful old tablespoon patterns at flea markets and thrift stores. Double over a 10 inch piece of 1/8 inch ribbon. At the center fold, tie it with a knot around the top of a tablespoon. Drop a spot of glue between where the ribbon and the spoon touch. Also, tie the top ends of the ribbon together in a knot. Make a small bow with another length of ribbon. Glue it to where the bowl side of the ribbon and spoon are tied together. Now glue fancy, vintage buttons or tiny artificial flower buds inside the bowl of the spoon. These make very pretty gifts for any occasion.

Cookbook Spaces

The need for cookbook spaces is becoming a necessity in the modern kitchen. There is a great demand for cookbooks in this new age of healthy eating. Making smarter food choices can mean less time at the doctor's office fighting illnesses and diseases in the future. Most kitchens do not have a bookcase, but your cookbooks can still be accessible with a little help from modern technology and human ingenuity.

You may have space under a cabinet to store a small computer which can give you thousands of recipes at the touch of a finger. Another solution might come from the top of your head, or right in front of your nose. Do you have room for shelves over or under your existing kitchen cabinets? If you don't cook much, maybe a simple file box which will hold recipe cards can be placed on the counter top somewhere. There are small recipe stands sold at specialty shops that will hold a wire bound book of index cards you can flip through. Some of the stands are big enough to lay a family vintage cookbook on to refer to while you are preparing a special dish. Then place the vintage cookbook on a shelf in another room for safe keeping until you need it again.

Veteran Memorial Wreath

We have a wonderful veteran memorial wreath that I hang on our door for holidays to honor our family members. The wreath has pictures of our family that have served in the military from World War I to the present time. I placed assorted types of small United States flags between the pictures to add pride and color to the wreath. Some of the pictures are faded, so I have learned to make computer copies from the originals. This allows me to keep the original pictures of our family stored in special acid-free, lignin-free albums, away from constant light which may damage them.

Through continued research of vital statistic and archive records, I hope to find pictures of our family who have served in earlier military periods. Their pictures will then be added with honor and pride to the military wreath which we proudly display on special veteran's holidays.

Salt and Pepper Shakers - Memories

As a child I remember that my mother had a collection of salt and pepper shakers sitting on shelves above her stove in our kitchen. I was fascinated by the different sizes, shapes and colors of the shakers. As I grew older, I learned that some of them had belonged to grandmothers on both sides of our family. Many sets had even been given to my mother as gifts from the personal collections of dear Aunts and other relatives who are now deceased.

When my dear mother died, I decided to keep the collection. It has been added to abundantly over the years. With every birthday, and each time we returned from a vacation, the set grew by several pair. While searching for the shakers at flea markets and collectible shops, I learned that some of the sets in our collection are very valuable, and I have shared this fact with our children. Someday this pleasant childhood memory of mine may help pay for the college tuition of my great grandchildren; but for now, the treasured salt and pepper shakers have a special place in both my country kitchen and my heart.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I am a firm believer in recycling anything I can to keep it from being put in the garbage any sooner than it has to be. Recycling helps us keep our environment safe and clean. Use tin cans for pencil holders or other uses by filing the sharp edges off. Glue used or unused pencils, or other things, around a can to hold all those other pens and pencils you have laying around the house. We all get cards from people during the year. Glue them onto tin cans of different sizes to make other desk accessory holders for scissors, paper clips, rubber bands, etc. Make several of them with children to give as gifts to parents or grandparents.

Cut the bottoms off of water and soft drink bottles and use as funnels for different things both in the garage and around the house. Use them to put oil or water in the car. Keep water off the leaves of house plants by using one of your homemade funnels.

Reuse cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rings as gift boxes to hold items you give to others. Cover them with used gift wrap or pieces of fabric from that recycled shirt you threw away last week (don't forget to save those shirt buttons for a craft project later). Tuck in a gift that will fit inside the roll. Now cover the whole roll with the mesh bag material you saved from oranges or potatoes bought from the grocery. Tie both ends in a bow with the cut up strings you saved from your worn out tennis shoes.

All of us can think of ways to keep garbage out of the bag. Before you throw anything out, think of how it can be recycled again to keep the ground water safer, and help protect our environment!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


There are a variety of ways to display candles in your home. Some people are allergic to fragrances, but this should not deter anyone from enjoying the beauty that candles can bring into even the smallest of rooms. Many companies make non-fragrance candles in the same colors as those with fragrances. Don't overlook companies who sell ornate candles on the internet. Some of the very fancy fragrance candles can be burned inside, and those that can be burned outside often have a substance made into them to keep pests away while you are entertaining guests.
Candles can alter the mood in a room at night. They are easy to purchase at stores everywhere, and some people make their own from home produced beeswax taken from bee hives they may have on their own property.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Refrigerator Magnets

One of the most interesting spots in most homes to look at is the refrigerator. Many of these appliances hold refrigerator magnets, souvenirs from special places the family has visited; and it is the honorary spot for a child's latest art work. The magnets are usually used to attach the post cards and art work at hand. Some of these magnets can become valuable over time. If you come across a collection of them at flea markets or thrift stores, you might be surprised at the price tag value some of them hold.

When you have too many on the appliance, don't throw them out. Use them to make an art deco piece by gluing some of them around kitchen bulletin boards, or make a collage wall hanging to put on a wall near the refrigerator where the other magnets are displayed. Some of them can be used in memory games if you have more than one of each kind. Have children pair them up after turning them over to find a match. Cut small pictures or words off some of them to use in a scrapbook project.

Some of them even have attractive borders around them that you can cut inside of to use as a picture frame. Use the bordered frame to display a child's yearly school photo. If a relative gives you one with their picture on it, ask them for another one. Cut the picture out of the two magnets, and glue a long, looped hanger thread between the pictures. Tie a red or green bow at the spot where the looped thread comes out of the top of the picture, and hang it on your Christmas tree as a special ornament.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Candy Making - Potato Candy Recipe

Making candy is a project the whole family can have fun doing. One of the quickest recipes is that of making potato candy. Candy making can include every family member in the process. Have the smallest children help pick out the potatoes to be used. The older children can clean the potatoes by brushing them clean in a bowl of warm water. Leave the potato skins on to keep more vitamins in them. Adults should boil the potatoes in a pan of water until a fork can easily be stuck into them. Peel the potato skins off while the potato is fairly hot. Mash the potatoes well on a large plate. Then begin to add powdered sugar a little at a time until the mixture can be formed into a ball (do not let it become too dry). Put the potato dough ball on a 20 inch length of wax paper. Roll the mixture out as close as possible to a rectangular shape. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on top of the rolled out potato dough. Bring the ends of the wax paper up to help start the dough rolling into a log type shape. Keep rolling the dough until the log shape is totally formed. Wrap a piece of clear plastic wrap around the candy log. Place it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Take out of the refrigerator and cut into about 1/4 inch size slices. Place them on a candy plate to serve. *Do not slice candy log until just before serving, or place slices on plate and cover with plastic wrap until ready to be served.

Candy making of all kinds can be fun. If you have children; include them in getting the ingredients together, washing dishes or any other part of the process that is suitable for their age. All ages can enjoy eating the candy together!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Television Rules

The family television viewing is almost a thing of the past. Most homes have a television in nearly every room. Television rules need to be made for many reasons. If small children have a television in their room, there needs to be a rule on which shows they can watch, and what time the TV goes off at night. Many television sets now have parental controls built into them which allows some control for the parents.

For older children, the times and variety of shows may be more relaxed, but they still need their sleep too. Adults often find that when they view shows with many food commercials, they make trips to the kitchen even when they are not really hungry. Make it a rule not drink anything after 9 PM. All of those commercials with refreshing drinks can cause you to make many trips to the bathroom during the night.

Many people prefer to read instead of watching TV before going to sleep. Reading can put you in a more relaxed state, and set you up for a good night of rest, and it does not include commercials!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

House Cleaning

House cleaning is not the favorite job of anyone I know, but it must be done to keep order in our homes. My most useful tool is a plastic carrier that has different sections in it for all the things I need to do my house cleaning with. Carrying it with me all through the house saves a lot of back tracking to get the items I need. It holds a bag of recycled dust rags, a 16 oz. bottle of water, toilet bowl cleaner and toilet brush, furniture polish, a non-scratch scrubber, window cleaner, paper towels, and all the other things I will need for my one trip through the house to clean.

When our children were at home, I would keep one laundry basket in each of their rooms. The rule was: All clothes put in the basket got washed, those that don't, won't! It didn't take long for them to realize that their favorite clothes would not be clean and ready to wear unless they followed the washday rule.

The Spring and Fall cleaning tasks can become a family fun affair. Split up the chores fairly and make a game of it with the team finished first getting a prize. The losing team could serve the other team dinner tonight, or the loosing team could do the dishes for a week. Either way, both teams win because they will have a cleaner home to live in!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Glassware Decorations

Using favorite pieces of your glassware collection can be fun to decorate with. Using your own glassware decorations can also reduce the cost of decorating for many party occasions. Gather small items from your backyard like pine cones or dried seed pods from your plants. Put them inside a large glass, a pitcher, or a punch bowl with a small set of Christmas lights. Allow room for the plug of the cord to hang out of the glassware. Use an extension cord, or place the glassware near enough to an electric socket to be plugged into it.

Floating candles lit in a punch bowl, or large salad bowl, with either clear or colored water in them make a beautiful decoration for a centerpiece. Use five or more different kinds of glasses, filled with water at alternating levels, to put lit floating candles in too. Set several pieces of the same item from one of your other collections on a mirror; then place it in the middle of the table for a eye catching decoration. The mirror will reflect lighting in the room and add interest to your table as well.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Sometimes a desk can be used for other purposes besides a convenient place to write out bills for the month. They make a handy place to serve one or two extra guests in a pinch. And they can be a child's 'special place' at the home of Grandma or a babysitter. The desk can provide room for writing, drawing, reading, coloring, etc. If you are fortunate, you may have the space in your kitchen to sit a cooking desk. It could be used to keep file folders in a drawer with the title of each recipe catagory on them. Another file could hold handy pages with information such as pie charts, temperature charts and ingredient exchanges. You may have space in another drawer for your recipe cards and labels too. Another drawer might be a useful place to put cooking helpers in, like small funnels, cake testers and icing spreaders. Some desks have cubby hole slots toward the back of them. Keep small food scales, stacked measuring cups and similar items used for cooking in them. You can use your own imagination for the varieties of uses for that extra desk you were about to get rid of because of its lack of use.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Beading Crafts - Beads

Beading is a great thing to do at my country kitchen table in small or large groups. Many boxes of beads can be set around the table with people passing the boxes around or moving to different chairs from time to time. Boxes of beads may be put together by arrangements of color, shapes or sizes. This is a great activity for church groups or scouts too. I have even had a "beading kid's activity time" during Christmas family gatherings and reunions. The girls enjoy making beaded friendship bracelets to share. We also have a red hat group that has met several times to make bracelets in our colors for those fantastic outfits we wear!
There is a line of very tiny beads that can be purchased at craft stores to make small or large pictures. You can find these special kits at most large craft and hobby stores. They require the use of a very thin, needle of about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length. You must use a special type of thread for these beads.
Younger children can use larger pony beads relatively easy. Key chains and stringing beads for Christmas chains is a fun activity for this age group. Special attention should be used in having beads around very young children so they do not ingest them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I enjoy making my own stationary to use for many purposes. Some stationary can be used for writing letters, making small posters, or for invitations. A variety of means can be used to bring attention to your paper when displayed among other people's work. Florescent colors are a real stand-out, but sometimes you can simply use white paper with a small clip art design in an upper corner to bring attention to a poster. The use of large, bold lettering for the heading of your text is an eye catcher, or use lettering in your favorite color to bring people's attention to a poster too. Find a different font for the lettering on your poster, but do not use too many different fonts on the same poster or invitation. Remember to use the old rule of who, what, when, where and, sometimes how, when making posters or invitations!

Draw a small picture of your own (a picture of your pet, house, a landscape, etc.) in one upper corner of the stationary. This makes your stationary truly one of a kind. Reduce the size of one of your child's drawings to set in the corner of a piece of stationary used to write to your parents or other family members. If you have taken a particularly interesting snapshot, use decorative scissors to cut out the subject in the picture and set it in the corner of a sheet of paper. Copy it; then reduce the size of the picture, and put it in the upper left corner of an envelope. Run copies on other envelopes, and you will have a set of stationary to use yourself, or give as special gifts to friends and relatives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Recording Family History with Pictures

I've been asking my extended family members for copies of pictures. Our country kitchen table is the perfect place for getting a group together for an afternoon of looking at family pictures. A brown bag lunch is brought by everyone, and then the rest of the afternoon is spent sharing the pictures. We have a computer and copier available for those who want to take some of the pictures with them for later uses. The pictures can also be scanned into the computer and put on discs for some to take home.

When we get together someone always has a story to tell. Keep a tape recorder handy for these special times. Place it near the ones telling the story, even if you have to ask everyone who wants to share telling the story to rearrange themselves seated closer together so the tape recorder will pick up their voices. A written copy of the story is great, but hearing it told first-hand by the people involved is priceless. Family histories are so rare; and many of our family story tellers are passing away before their tales are kept for posterity by means of writing them down, or recording them. Don't forget to keep a couple of cameras handy for taking pictures of your times spent together. Our country kitchen table is in many photos in our family albums. It continues to be a special gathering place for all of us.

Scrap Booking

Our whole family enjoys working on scrap books by spreading all the materials needed out on our country kitchen table. The kitchen is the favorite gathering place in our home, and we use it for all kinds of projects. Getting pictures cropped for scrap books is something everyone in the family can have a turn at. Some people like traditional squared off corners on their pictures, but some like to use jar lids and various sizes of glasses and bowls to make circular pictures for their albums. Finding all sorts of shapes for scrap booking use in your cabinets and drawers can be a fun scavenger hunt game to get everyone involved in this family-time project. You could also have each family member find items in their rooms to use as templates to cut out pictures in odd shapes to make albums interesting to look at. Give a prize for most unusual items found, smallest item, largest item, etc. If some members of the family are too small for these games; then work in pairs or teams.
Many scrap booking scissors, papers, albums and other items needed, can now be found in stores selling items for incredibly low prices. There are also many web sites you can refer to by using key words for scrap booking. Scrap booking stores have also sprung up in larger towns since this way of preserving family has become a lucrative business.
Don't overlook the drawing talent some members of your family may have. Even the smallest children enjoy drawing stick people. Get them to replicate a family picture. Then display their drawing beside the original in your album. There are no rights and wrongs in displaying pictures in your albums---it is YOURS! Make homemade pop-up pages using some photos. Find how-to books for numerous topics in your local library. The library is a place many people fail to use, and it can save you hundreds of dollars when you check the books out for a certain time period to get what you need out of them, instead of having to purchase the books and then have needlessly taking up shelf space. If you find a book that you think you might like to have as a reference source for later, then purchase it at a book store.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Buttons - Family Memories

Buttons are not just for blouses anymore! You can use buttons on almost anything you would like to decorate today. A friend of mine made a beautiful wall hanging display. She cut a piece of black velvet fabric to fit the inside of a 10 x 14 window box frame. On the black velvet fabric she attached a small white doily her grandmother had crocheted many years ago. My friend had been given her grandmother's sewing box, holding many family memories. In it were all the things she had used to mend her family's clothing with over the years: a darning needle, vintage buttons, a wooden needle case, a needle threader, a thimble, a seam ripper and a unique collection of buttons her grandmother had kept from their clothing. My friend had a trophy shop inscribe a small brass plate with her grandmother's name, birth date and death date on it. She placed the brass plate at the bottom of the frame. Lastly, she put a picture of her grandmother in a tiny vintage picture frame, and placed it inside the top right-hand corner of the window frame with all the unique buttons place around the doily among the other sewing notions. My friend plans to give the precious window box frame to her daughter when she gets married.
Buttons can be used on other things too. I've seen them glued to door knobs, used as earrings, added with old broken pieces of jewelry to make brooches, large ones used as board game pieces, and many other things. Let your imagination run wild with ideas for their uses!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Card Files

Card files are useful ways to keep and reference information. We spend much time and energy looking for items we need each day. These file systems come in all varieties. Some people like to use recipe card boxes, some use file cards on wheels that flip cards to view them easily, and still others prefer to use simple shoe boxes. Whatever the method you use, you will benefit from them. Cooks like to use the small to large sized card boxes to keep their recipes handy in the kitchen. They may have divider cards with different catagories of foods listed on them. Don't forget to make up a catagory file of where to find all those utensils and special dishes that you don't use very often and get put in a cabinet under the sink, or in the bottom of the china cabinet. Address/phone files usually get used each day. Use them for Christmas card lists, birthdays, business or just keeping in touch. I usually try to check that all the information on my file cards is correct and updated whenever I get a card or letter from someone, or when they include names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc. in their correspondance. Use a file system in the garage to find tools and items not used very often for gardening or working on your automobile. Use a card system in the craft room with each hobby listed as a catagory. Then put the items needed and where they are found on file cards in each catagory. Use a file card system for your clothing or jewelry in the bedroom. Be sure to pull cards from all of your file systems when an item is discarded. On the back of each card you may want to list things such as purchase dates, colors, uses for the item, etc. Don't forget to attach receipts to the backs of cards for items you buy which may need to be replaced under warranties. We never seem to be able to find these when we need them. Whatever card system you choose, don't forget to keep it updated. And card systems do no good unless you do as my mother used to tell me over and over: There's a place for everything, and everything should be in its place!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Uses for your Country Kitchen Table

I have transformed my country kitchen by way of using our table in it for many uses. Also, a large upright bookcase in the kitchen/dining area not only holds my collection of recipe books, but also many shoe boxes filled with items for the different interests I enjoy working on; such as writing, genealogy, scrap booking, etc. I have covered each box with fabric that has something on it which relates to what is tucked inside. The box I have for writing supplies has books, pens, and pencils printed on it. The box for genealogy has tiny picture frames on it. You get the idea. There is such a variety of prints these days that you can cover all of your boxes with whatever topic-printed fabric you wish. This way of labeling the boxes looks much more attractive on the shelves than a piece of paper with the content title written on it. You could also use gift wrap paper, contact paper, or paper that is printed off your computer and decoupaged on the box.
We enjoy entertaining both small and large groups in our country kitchen. Our table extends from 5-12 foot with the extra leaves we can add to it. If you don't have extra leaves to put in your table, purchase a reasonably priced piece of plywood. Place it on the top edge of one end of the table, with the other end of it resting on the top of two chair backs. Remember that you can't leave too much space between the table top and the chair backs or the plywood will sag in the middle. You could use extra chairs as reinforcement in the middle of the plywood to prevent the sagging problem. This idea also works to provide extra space needed for larger groups of guests. Just be sure to have a table cloth large enough to cover the chairs so they won't be seen. A printed king sized bed sheet would work nicely in that case. Place the table and one of the chairs pushed up against a wall, and you won't have to let the cloth overlap but a small distance over the back side of the table.
By lengthening or shortening your table, you can use it for many types of entertaining, or for working on those favorite projects you enjoy spending time doing.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Place Settings

There are so many ways to enhance a special dinner with table place settings when entertaining your guests. The rule of thumb is to keep all of the place settings in the same color scheme, but the dishes themselves do not have to exactly match. I was invited to a brunch with friends one time, and the hostess had a beautiful table set out for us. She served a spring salad with potato soup, and a mandarin dessert with whipped cream topping.
The table settings were in a cream-colored background with little orange flowers, and tiny green leaves. None of the patterns matched; but because she had not deterred from the color scheme, the table was very elegant! She had purchased inexpensive fabric and had hand sewn dinner napkins to match the dishes. Later, I had a lot of fun searching for place settings at the resources I mentioned above. A beautiful peachy-orange solid fabric, that I made a tablecloth from, really set off the creamy-colored dishes. I crocheted a four inch cream-colored border around the tablecloth to add charm and elegance.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Games Played on the Kitchen Table

The kitchen table makes a wonderful place for families and friends to gather for playing board games, cards, etc. The games can be played with only a small group, or you may want to invite a larger number of people. Tablecloths may become a bother, so clear the table of items that might get in the way such as salt and pepper shakers, ashtrays, drinking glasses or bowls of food. It's better to take a snack break than to have drinks or food getting on cards or game boards. The break will also give the participants a chance to socialize.

Choosing a theme makes the time spent together more interesting. There are now many inexpensive stores that carry party theme lines of merchandise. Once you have settled on a theme, you might want to send invitations and make it a special event. You can use your computer to make the invitations, make your own, or use ones purchased at the store. Making your own cards ahead of time could be a good family activity in and of itself.

There are many card games that do not require a lot of planning. Keep a couple decks of cards handy in a kitchen drawer. Pull them out when the conversation wanes and you may have everyone trying to teach everyone else a new card game in no time. Board games are very popular too. There are old ones, new ones and newer versions of the old ones. Kitchen tables are the number one place to play games and have fun!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cookbooks with Covers

Many of my cookbooks are from yard sales, thrift shops, or have been handed down through family and friends. The covers on some of them are worn and tattered from being used many times. It struck me one day to cover them with paper to match the theme of the cookbook. It makes me feel good to gaze at the shelves in my kitchen and see the old cookbooks looking like new again; and now wrapped in a variety of colorful materials. The cookbooks may need to be recovered from use over the years, but they will be lovingly cared for as they are handed down from one generation to the next. One of the more favorite copies has a pocket inside the front cover with instructions on how to make new coverlets for them as the occassion may arise in the future. Many of the books have hand written inscriptions written in them near a recipe. Or, a family member may have written a "secret ingredient" used to inhance the flavor of a dish. These would be great to duplicate on a copier and use on a scrapbook page in your family albums with pictures of a family holiday meal shared together. The well maintained recipe books will help generations hold dear the favorite foods of the family and the times they shared over mealtimes!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Kitchen Themes

There are so many kitchen themes to choose from. Mine is apples. We all like to change things once in a while, and it can be easily done with a few different accessories. Stores, magazines and television are some good sources to get ideas from. See something you like...then duplicate it to fit your theme. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, but you can create the same atmosphere by getting a few things and adding to them a little at a time. There is no need going to great expense unless you have the funds to do so. Yard sales, consignment shops and thrift stores are wonderful places to pick up inexpensive items that will work with the things you have collected for your new theme.
Sometimes just a new coat of paint, or adding a decal will make a piece you like fit in with the theme. Look for items in those boxes you might have set aside in your own garage or basement that could be dressed up, or changed to go with your new theme. Don't forget to ask family and friends if they have something set aside that you could borrow or purchase from them. Watch your local newspapers at holiday time, for community open house tours that are put on by woman's clubs or homemaker groups. The cost of the tours are usually at a minimal price, and you can get ideas for your whole house. Sometimes you get to stop in at one place on the tour for refreshments, and often a free recipe book of all the items served is included with the price of the tour. What a bargain!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cookie Jars

Cookie jars are not just to hold your favorite kind of cookie to eat! They can be great decorative items for your kitchen or any other room you would like to show off a collection of them in. They could be placed on a long shelf above your kitchen window, or on a buffet table top. They can hold those delicious cookies you love to enjoy, and they can also be used as extra storage space for those little items that you can never seem to find jumbled up in a kitchen drawer. Recipes could be tucked into them if you have no place for a cookbook collection. Use them to hide valuables in, such as jewelry, on a top shelf. Use a plain or fancy one for a centerpiece in the middle of your holiday table with greenery around it to dress it up a bit too. Cookie jars are one of those treasured items that are sometimes handed down from older family members. Before you throw out the "old" cookie jar that sat in the corner of Aunt Sue's kitchen counter since you were a kid, have it appraised by a professional antique dealer. It may astound you to find out that it could be valued at several hundred dollars. Some of the ugliest pieces in the homes of relatives that have passed away can be the most valuable pieces of art you ever thought possible.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kitchen Tablecloths

Tablecloths come in every size, shape and color imaginable. Some people like solid colors, and others like different textures or designs on their tablecloths. My favorite kind are the old vintage tablecloths. They are hard to find. And when they can be found, the prices can be very high. Some fabric stores have vintage fabric. It was when I came across some beautiful pieces that I decided to make tablecloths of my own. To make them even more attractive, I crocheted several inches out from the edge with matching thread. Many of my friends and family have enjoyed getting some of them as one of a kind gifts. I stitched them all by hand from the hem to crochet. Some are quite large, and took many hours to make; but a lot of enjoyment came from the time spent. The time and effort of my work put into them today might someday be close to that of what the vintage tablecloths from yesteryear are now!

The tablecloths can be stacked in various ways to make them more attractive too. A circular tablecloth may be layed over a square one so that only the pointed edges of the bottom one show. They don't have to match perfectly. I've seen this done several times at parties, and the tables were very attractive with vintage dishes containing wonderful food displayed on them.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Writing Poetry

I enjoy writing poetry while sitting at the table in our kitchen. Our double wide windows give a clear view of the feeders we have for our country critters that are consantly eating, and of the 15 x 15 foot garden we made last summer. The view lends itself to much inspiration in my writing. The antics of the birds is quite comical, and there have been times when a rousing fight ensues over territorial right to the food. There have been other times when a mother or father bird feeds their young on one of the first outings the small bird takes from the nest. The new fledgeling sometimes flutters its wings to have the parent respond by giving food.

We also have a hummingbird feeder attached to our window outside by a suction cup. I'll never forget the excitement in my husband's voice when a hummer came to feed less than two inches from his face. Talk about up close! These times have been an inspiration to my writing poetry on many occassions.


Clocks can decorate a room, and play a functional part in them as well. The many materials used in making clocks today can make them fit in almost anywhere. Ones with large faces and numbers can easily be seen by older people who have waning eyesight. Some have special lighting features which make them attractive at night, and some play a variety of songs for added enjoyment. The space you want a clock in sometimes dictates what size you need; but when space is not a factor, the range is endless. There are some very interesting grandfather clocks being made today that include all kinds of lighting features, chimes, and musical songs. Some have multiple dividing parts of the face that then divide again to unvail whole scenes which move around behind them. The oldest grandfather clocks may be very expensive, whereas the newer versions can be much less so. You can find many varities of clocks in stores, but the most enjoyable places to find some are thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets. Don't overlook some of the best deals around in newspaper classifieds. Some of the neatest varities I've seen are in specialty stores. There is an Amish furniture store in our community that has a great clock that I have on Santa's list for this year!