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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Slow Climb Back To Normal, And An Old Oak Table in Distress

I know.  I know.  
Normal?  Seriously?
Well, we're talking as close to normal as
That Old House ever gets.
Oh come on, confess.  How normal is your house?

So, the big fresh Christmas tree in the Conservatory came down,
the fallen needles got vacuumed up, the chandelier was re-hung,
and the table put back in place.
Notice anything odd? 

The center leg looks like it's been on an all-night bender
and can't stand up straight.  Because it can't.  Not for long.
It also goes AWOL and falls off, if given the chance.

This is a grand old oak table that was in my Great Aunt Margaret's
Brooklyn home.  Long, long ago.  It has countless leaves,
and can stretch out to about 6 miles long.

Here it is, in January 2010, in the Sunroom with the old wall color,
old carpeting, and our dear old dog Dion.

We used to be able to carefully stretch it out to accommodate 
at least several of those leaves, but now?  Everything falls apart.
Also January 2010

We managed this past Thanksgiving to put in some leaves,
but it was touch-and-go, and our guests never knew how close
they came to wearing their gravy in their laps.  I hope.

Moving the table into the kitchen for Christmas,
to make room for the tree in the Conservatory, was an adventure.

Parts fell off.  Legs.  Screws (below). 
Random bits of dry old wood exploded out of its innards.
We made a stab at fixing it, but it was at best a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.

The working mechanisms for an old table like this,
with their many moving parts, are elaborate, intricate, delicate,
clever, and completely ingenious.  Trouble is, me and Howard?
Clever and ingenious do not describe our woodworking skills.

Conservatory, Oct 2010, new carpeting, new paint.  Old table - still working.

 So now we need to decide, Howard and I, how to fix a much-loved table
that has served my family, in one house or another, for a century.
I've called a couple of furniture restorers; so far, no one's returned my call.
I suspect no one wants to tackle this table!

the table is usable, without any leaves; we don't mind the bit
of wiggle, and we're careful not to stress the dear old thing.

 Today, I realized it needed a quick centerpiece,
and had a pinecone wreath ready to help out.
The snowman looks silly, but he asked for a chance at stardom.
 I thought the glass with the silver balls would work.  But -- no.

This one, below, looks ... well, it looks awful.  Dreadful.
It's a bad thing to mix growing greens with plastic ones.
The winner of the world's Saddest Philodendron Award.

Finally.  Below.  Good enough, and doesn't make me cringe.
 A lantern, left over from a wedding at a country club.
We did not steal it.  Really.  No, really.  Probably.
Anyway, the gold blob inside is an LED battery powered candle, of realistic wax,
that, just like a real candle, melted into goo in the sun.
Now that's what I call realism!  :-)
Equally real -- the difficulty of getting melted wax out of the darned lantern.

Okay, done.  Wrote this piece Friday, then got distracted, and am finally
posting in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  Yawn.
Happy weekend! -- Cass

It's Feathered Nest Friday at the French Country Cottage.  Click here!
My Romantic Home is home to Show And Tell Friday.  Click here!
At The Charm of Home, it's Home Sweet Home Friday.  Click here!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Does This Mean I Have To Clean?

Oh dear.
One end of the Sunroom is looking mighty bare.

Back in mid-December
a big Canaan Fir moved in to spend Christmas with us.
Meaning the round oak table and the chandelier had to move out!

The tree took on lights and ornaments.

And stayed with us throughout the 12 days of Christmas,
and the beginning of the season of Epiphany.

All good things must come to an end.
Sigh ....

Does everyone hate to take down The Christmas Tree?

Well, luckily at That Old House,
there are a few others to take its place!

In our Dining Room ... 
a small artificial tree decorated with demitasse cups & saucers.
(An idea I stole borrowed from Mary at Little Red House.)

I aim toward dismantling the fresh Sunroom tree
shortly after January 6th, Epiphany.
But our artificial trees?  I like to let them linger a bit.
One year, they lingered till Groundhog Day, but we won't go that far this year.  Probably.

(Mrs. Gilda-the-Red likes to make napping nests
in the tree skirts.  Who am I to spoil her fun?)

Two more faux trees glam up the Parlor.

A few years ago, our artist daughter Anne decreed they be
decorated in white, silver, gold ... a wintry monochrome scheme.

Anne lives in Washington DC now,
but we've kept her pale and pretty color scheme.

And speaking of kids ... both Anne and Alida have
collections of ornaments from their childhood,
and they are hung on a tree in the study/family room.

One of these years, "the girls" will take their ornaments to their
own homes, but in the meantime ... they bling up our holiday.

Howard and I didn't quite finish putting the Sunroom 
back to rights after taking the tree down this weekend.

We'll get there.  We'll be back to normal soon.
(My gosh, that empty sunroom looks awful, and awfully cold!)

Happy 2015, my friends.
May this shiny new year bring you joy and blessings galore!
-- Cass

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Haulin' Out The Holly Time

Nineteen days until Christmas.


How is this possible, when just a few weeks ago, we were still
harvesting tomatoes from our diehard and shriveled vines?

November, right after Halloween: 
(I suspect our tomato plants actually benefit from our benign neglect
of them, and become tougher and more productive out of sheer cussedness.)
Weird, eh?  Weather.
Mother Nature is a wicked practical joker.
The day before Thanksgiving, this:
...which piled up to 6 or 7 inches before it ended
Thursday morning, and it stuck around for 5 days.

Now the tomato vines look like this:

The Prison Yard looked like this, not all that long ago:

And today it looks like this, like some abandoned industrial site:

Collapsed annuals, weeds, and veggie plants,
gritty dirt from snow shoveling, and just that dreary look of winter.

It's time, my friends.  It is time.

Bring on the bling!

I think one of the strongest arguments for decking
your house with Christmas lights is that
it is so freaking dark in winter!
Even just a bit of light around the front door helps dispel that winter gloom.
Meanwhile, my house looks really spooky, doesn't it?  Hmmm....

Take heart.  In just a few more weeks we begin the
long slow climb back to the Summer Solstice.

Well, as Auntie Mame sang:

Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet

Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
We need a little Christmas now

This weekend, Howard and I will get the Christmas storage boxes
up from the toasty boiler room, and they will take over the dining room.
Big time.

2011's chaos.  It's the same every year!
The chandelier gets poinsettias.

 The front stairs get garland and ribbons.

And there will be a Christmas tree in every room.
Well, every occupied room!

What are your plans for Christmas decorating?
Less than past years?  More?

And do you change styles year to year, or keep with
your own traditions for the holidays?

I'm so nosey!  -- Cass

PS  Howard already has lights on our side fence.  Show off.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Day -- The Good, The Bad, the Stupid, and The Ugly

One week ago, I was slaving over a hot stove,
getting some cooking done before Thanksgiving.
And expecting 20 people to gather at the table.

Then, the snow struck.  And it also stuck.
6 or 7 inches of the dang stuff.
That's the Bad.
Our numbers dwindled to 15, as our five Virginians
wisely decided to skip this trip up the coast.
The Good is that the food all got cooked, even both turkeys.
Including this little one, cooked on Wednesday, unstuffed
so it isn't tainted by the wheat (gluten) in the bread stuffing.
Sorry, there's just no way to make a hunk of cooked bird look pretty.
Especially when you have done what you swore you would never do, and
roasted it in one of those stupid aluminum pans.  Which you'll never do again.
Wiggle wiggle wiggle!  Not strong enough for 14 pounds of poultry!
Now that is the Stupid!
As for the Ugly. . .
What is the holiday season without a few ugly holiday sweaters?

Dylan DiPoochy was wrangled into a reindeer sweater by my daughter Anne.
It was not a hit with Dylan, although we thought he looked pretty cute.
It lasted about 15 minutes, and he was back to comfy nekkid.
I don't have the heart to tell him that I have little Sherpa-lined jackets for him and Gilda.
(Gilda doesn't really care if we put clothes on her.
Do you think she'd look fetching in the ugly reindeer sweater?)

Oh.  One more Bad.
I did not get a new picture of Howard in his heirloom Turkey Shirt.
I forgot this last year, too.
I also took no pictures on Thanksgiving Day.
So many Bads!
And one last Bad.  Or is it more one last Stupid?
Remember my master plan to have our guests put the little
cups and saucers on the Dining Room Christmas tree?
That probably would have gone better if I'd actually put the
ornaments out where people could find them, and if I'd actually
asked them to trim the little tree.
Oops.  My BadMy Stupid, too!
But to wind up with some more of the Good,
there are people I want to thank.  Without them, I'd be sunk.
Husband Howard and Daughter Anne pitched in tirelessly on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sister-in-law Phyllis and Mother-in-law Irene washed and dried
pots and pans and wineglasses and serving dishes ... and more!
Phyllis also brought cranberry pie, and our niece-in-law Deb brought cookies and brownies.
Irene (Howard's Mom) baked dozens of tiny pecan rolls and mini-muffins.  An annual tradition.
Sister Peggy and her hubby Bill brought champagne and shrimp.
Nieces Grace and Mary bailed us out by picking up ice on their way.
And I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting someone but my personal hard drive is running low on space.
On to Christmas, my friends!  -- Cass

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's A Thanksgiving Kitchen

A kitchen, in a home where
Thanksgiving Dinner will be served,
is a bustling place on the day before the holiday.

So it is today, at That Old House.

Our daughter Anne is home from Washington for the holiday
and just put the first turkey, which stays gluten-free, into the oven,
and now she's working on a gluten-free stuffing to accompany the bird.
It will begin to smell divine in here.  Soon.

Meanwhile... outside, it's doing this:

Yes, it is snowing.  A lot.  Weather folk say we'll get around
8 inches of snow before it ends late, late tonight.

Good. Grief.

We've got our little infrared heater things heating up the sunroom,
and making believe it's a woodstove.  Yes, it's cheesy, but we love it.
(Thank you, Martha of Linderhof, for inspiring us to add this to our sunroom.)

And later today, Anne will help me fish the
Thanksgiving china out of the breakfront . . .

and since we serve buffet style, we will wrap
flatware in big napkins to mark each place at our two tables.

Most importantly, Howard has located his Turkey Shirt,
shown here in a shot from Thanksgiving 2012:
The Turkey Shirt will be a little looser this year; low carb eating!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

We wish you delicious turkey, and tasty trimmings.
And no matter if your table seats one, or thirty ...
That Old House is grateful to know you!
Tomorrow, the Big Bird (no, not that one!)
goes into the oven, stuffed with a savory bread dressing.  
I'm thinking ... half my plate for stuffing,
everything else can jockey for space!

Later, gators!  I'm going to check my lists again,
to see what I am forgetting! -- Cass

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Christmas Tree For Thanksgiving

At Christmas, we have a decorated tree in pretty much
every room.  Including the dining room. 

Up until a couple of years ago, we put a small spiral tree there,
and added pine cones to it, tucked in here and there.

But then, I remembered this picture,
from Mary's Little Red House blog:

Mary put a small tree in her dining room, and
festooned it with tea cups.  And I absolutely loved it.

So, out with the wee spiral tree.
And in with a small traditional tree.

That little tree is decorated with a lot of red,
and lots of birds, and lots of faux fruits & pine cones,
and lots of little vintage demitasse cups, their saucers Crazy-glued on.
Because who doesn't like a craft project at Christmas?

It's not a fresh tree; we put our big fresh tree in the conservatory,
where it is cool overnight and the fresh tree stays fresh.

No, the dining room tree is proudly fake.
Can you tell?  Oy.  I pretty much always forget
to toss a tree skirt around its spindly ugly plastic bottom.

Seriously, Cass, how hard is it to remember to do that?

Anyhoo, this year, on Thanksgiving Day, this tree will already be set up
in the dining room, but it will be nekkid as the day it was born.

There will be a nearby box, and maybe a basket or two,
of little vintage coffee cups, flocked birds, pinecones,
red and gold and silver glass balls ... all the lovely things that belong on this tree.

If you are one of our guests on Thanksgiving Day, I hope
you'll be inspired to grab a few ornaments and sling them onto the tree.
You will do this, or there may not be any hot gravy
at your end of the table.  It's good to be Queen.

Then come back to visit the tree you decorated, at Christmastime.

Oh.  What happened to the little spiral tree?  It has a new job;
it stands sentry on the landing of our front hall stairs.

Just one week, my friends, till Thanksgiving!
Are you cooking this year? -- Cass

Link Parties on this Wednesday.... go visit. Go join.
Work It Wednesday...Lots of inspiration!  Click here.
It's Show & Tell at SNAP.  Visit.  Do!  Click here.
It's What's It Wednesday at the charming Ivy & Elephants blog.  Click!!!