Thursday, April 26, 2018

Simple DIY Birdhouses

When DH and I were in England last June, I saw this birdhouse outside a little shop. I took a picture of it thinking it would be fun to make one like it when I got home.

Before I got started, DH cut out the birdhouse shapes for me on his table saw. 

Monday was a beautiful Spring day here (finally) so I invited a few of "the Girls" over to make the birdhouses.

These two ladies, Margaret and Jo, are sisters. They have lived in the same house in our little town their whole lives. I met them over coffee at Dunkin' Donuts and really enjoy their company, their stories . . . and their creativity. They got to work staining the birdhouses with exterior stain.

My sister-in-law, Lillian, and BFF, Mary Elizabeth kept busy using the drill press to drill a small hole in the bottom of each can. The cans need to be clean and dry. We used a metal file to make sure the open end was free of sharp metal edges that could hurt the birds (or us!).

I set up the spray paint area. Everyone brought half-full cans of spray paint they had on hand to contribute to the project.

Lillian and Mary Elizabeth got the brilliant idea of hammering paint sticks and tomato stakes into my lawn , putting a can on each one, and spraying them on there. Sure worked better that trying to hold each can up separately while painting our arms!

Does this look like fun or what?

The "Ladies" ended up with lots of great colors to choose from.

And I ended up with a polka-dotted front lawn!

A couple of the ladies decided to use acrylics to paint designs on their houses.

The last step is to use a washer and short wood screw to attach each pre-drilled can to the wooden back of the birdhouse. 

We also drilled a hole into the back of each house for hanging.

And Voila!

Eleven birdhouses completed, two bottles of wine consumed and a good time had by all!

 This was a perfect Spring project to share with friends!

This post is linked to:
Farmhouse Friday #54 at The Painted Hinge

Friday, April 20, 2018

Vintage Makeover: This Gets Personal!

I call my efforts to stay healthy "The 150 Project" because, at 5'5" tall and xx years old,  150 is my goal weight. When I was 40, my ideal weight was 120, at 50 I raised it to 130, at 60 it became 140, and now this Boomer is happy to maintain at 150. Which I haven't done in awhile.

When I was a kid, it was my ill fortune that my first name, "Cheryl", happens to rhyme with the word "barrel". I'll let you figure out the rest of the rhyme. I wasn't that big but was always "heavy set". Add to that a round face and, well . . .  you know.  Mom used to remind me that, "Sticks and Stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you". Mom, God love her,  clearly did not have a first name that rhymed with "barrel".

I've been a  Lifetime Weight Watcher member since I first "made goal" back in the early 1980's. Since then, my weight has fluctuated from 105 (thanks to the "Divorce Diet") to 196 (the Nachos and Margaritas diet).  Having recently tried on my summer clothes (which didn't zip!) , I rejoined Weight Watchers ten days ago. It's my first time on "Freestyle" and, so far, I really like it, especially the list of  "200 No-point Foods".

Weight is such a sensitive issue for most women, me included. I am a well-educated, well-traveled, well-read, confident woman who has met Presidents in the Oval Office, and yet, I'm  still afraid to wear a sleeveless dress. I haven't bought a bathing suit in years. I actually dared to try one on in Target a couple of weeks ago and left the dressing room in tears. I'd rather walk over hot  coals than put myself through that again.

At one point, I decided to work with a personal trainer. Does it look like I'm having fun here? After a year, I hadn't lost a pound, although I have to admit working out was a big self-confidence builder and I did have a lot more energy. Unfortunately, the kettlebells eventually got the best of me and I ended up injuring my newly toned back. No more of that.

Last week, we received an invitation to a summer party in Kennebunkport. On it were the dreaded words, "Cocktail Attire Suggested".  Immediately my heart began to race. I love Kennebunkport, I love parties, I love my friends, but me in a cocktail dress?  I can hardly get my mind around the thought. Aren't cocktail dressed usually sleeveless? Form fitting? Slinky? Like bathing suits with longer skirts?

I have two months before I have to commit to "The Dress". So, I've emptied the "carb cupboard" and stocked the frige with lots of healthy foods. I know I can do this. This time, I just wish I could be smart enough to maintain my goal weight once I get there.

I'm lucky to have a supportive DH and the best Weight Watcher leader ever, Mary Elizabeth.  I know what to do and I'm determined.

There is only one question left . . . 

Hope springs eternal!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What Would You Make With This?

I received an unexpected gift that's really special to me . . .

Ten yards of vintage dishtowel fabric that has been stored away for years.

DH and I first met these two creative ladies over coffee at our neighborhood Dunkin' Donuts. After many mornings of conversation , we've become friends. Margaret and Jo are sisters who grew up in our little town and have lived in the same house for over sixty years. We love hearing their stories of how life in small-town coastal Maine "used to be".

Since we've become friends, I've invited "the Ladies" over to my house to work on crafts with me. They taught me to knit again (the RIGHT way this time!) and, in exchange, I taught them how to make jewelry. That has evolved into a monthly Applegate Lane "craft group" with five ladies in it.

One afternoon, as out little group discussed future projects, my friend, Mary Elizabeth, described a class she took at Fiber College of Maine last Fall on stenciling dishtowels.

She took the class with another friend of mine, Kendra, who gave me this towel.

That was when Margaret mentioned that "somewhere" (maybe "stashed in the shed" behind their little cottage) she still had dish towel fabric that had been her mother's. I didn't think much about it that day but the next time we saw Margaret at Dunkin' Donuts, she pulled out this huge roll of vintage toweling.  And said it was for me!

I measured the fabric. It's 16" wide and TEN YARDS LONG!
Hunting for the old fabric, and then gifting it to me, were such thoughtful gestures on Margaret's part that I'd like to do something special with all that yardage. 
Maybe use at least part of it to make something for her and her sister?

I guess making dishtowels out of this fabric is the obvious answer. I've also thought about making aprons, valances, place mats or table runners with it.  I'm just not sure that those are the most creative uses for so many yards of  the "real stuff".

So I'd love to hear your suggestions.  I have pretty good sewing skills but can't seem to come up with the perfect project.  Can you think of unique uses for this fabric that would lend themselves to either my own coastal/farmhouse decor or, even better, to gifts for friends?

I'd love to hear your ideas!

This post is linked to:
Flaunt It Friday #398 at Chic On a Shoestring
Farmhouse Friday #52 at The Painted Hinge
Salvaged Junk Projects #423 at Funky Junk Interiors
Craftastic Monday Party at Sew Can Do

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Tobacco Basket

This is the tale of a tobacco basket.  It survived quite a journey to get from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina to my home in Maine. Thanks to some good karma and two good friends, it finally arrived.  

Here's the story . . .

I first saw "my" tobacco basket at this antique shop on our camping trip "Down South" in March.

The shop, Linda Page's Thieves Market, is right over the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston in the town of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It's a fun place to stop if you get to the Charleston area.

I looked up, saw the big tobacco basket, and I knew I had to have it. DH did not exactly agree.  And his arguments were pretty sound:  Tiny camper; HUGE basket (40" square!), long ride to Maine. As those of you who have been married for a while know, sometimes you do have to "know when to fold 'em". So . . .
I left South Carolina basketless.

Back in Maine, I was still  pretty bummed about missing out on my basket.  "Maybe", I thought, "I'll just make my own." I found a good tutorial on a blog called Anderson & Grant. But once I figured out the cost of the materials and the time it would take to make, I got discouraged. To weave the size basket I coveted, I'd have to mold the reed around a card table top (per another site I found). How was DH not going to notice me doing that???

So I looked online. I liked these vintage tobacco baskets on Etsy. . . until I saw the shipping charges. . $300.00! No way. Looked like no tobacco basket for me.

And then the BIG IDEA hit me!

While we were "down South", our Maine friends, Bob and Peg, stopped by our campsite to visit. They had "followed" us to Florida and said they were planning to stop in Savannah and Charleston on their way home in April.

Hmmm . . . Maybe Bob & Peg could go to the "Thieves Market" for me and sneak the basket home in the back of their car.  Then I'd just have think of a way to slip it into the house, nail it to the dining room wall, and act as if it had always been there.  (DH would never notice.)  So I texted them.

Here is Peg's reply from the Thieves Market; the basket was still there!

Good friends not only go along with our crazy ideas, they dicker. Bob and Peg saved me 20% , bringing the basket down to $80.00. They texted me this picture of Bob holding the basket with the caption, "Mission Accomplished".  Yes, the basket is almost as  big as Bob!

The last photo they texted was this one. Final challenge was met:  The basket fit in their car. And, the next day, it was on the way to Maine!

I figured that if anyone could figure out a way to get that huge basket into a fully loaded Subaru it would be a physics teacher like Bob. Those skills helped him win Survivor Gabon in 2008. Bob and I taught high school together for years and remain friends.

Here are Survivor Bob and Peg, my "basket buddies", in Gabon, Africa.

Yesterday, DH and I drove to Bob and Peg's farm and picked up the tobacco basket.

It was a bit tricky to hang, but it's up now and is the focal point of my dining room.

I think this tobacco basket and I were meant to be together.  
And we are  . . .thanks to good friends.

I love it!

This post is linked to:
Amaze Me Monday #259 at Dwellings
Happiness Is Homemade Link Party #215 at The Painted Hinge
Metamorphosis Monday #480 at Between Naps On the Porch
Sundays at Home Link Party at Little Farmstead
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life
Talk of the Town at Knick of Time
Wow Us Wednesday #382 at Savvy Southern Style
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