Monday, November 30, 2009

1971 VW Beetle

So do you recognize anything up there? It's Teen1's Volkswagen all taken apart. The Lord of the Manor is doing a restoration project on it. It all started with a little engine work....

Here is the totally rebuilt engine. He took it all the way down to the block, had it machined and a bunch of other technical stuff, then built it back up using the proper parts. Before it had some stuff that wasn't original/correct, but now it's all good.

Then he removed all the fenders, doors and hatches and started repairing and repainting the body.

Teen1 chose the original 1971 Volkswagen yellow. I think it's a good idea to keep it original. added later: It's called Shantung Yellow.

Here it is in the spray booth with primer on the chassis! Yippee! It's getting closer and closer to being done every day.

The Lord of the Manor is even painting the wheel wells and the inside.

We are all getting excited about the bug here Amongst The Oaks. Especially Teen1!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Putz Houses, Glitter Houses

I've been wanting to make some Putz Houses or Glitter Houses for a long time. Last year I got this old one for inspiration and recently I finally made a few. I used this site for guidance, but customized them a bit. As you can see the originals had red cellophane windows, loofah trees, bright colors, and larger glitter.
I wanted mine to all be shades of gold and yellow. I had some cellophane for the windows that just happened to be yellow too. For the church I made the basic house a little larger, cut out pointed windows and added a belfry and porch. I also made more of a wall instead of a fence.

After gluing it all together and painting it comes the fun of putting on the glitter. It's so satisfying to sit whilst the family is watching television glittering away. In no time at all, you have a frosty little house to add to the neighborhood.
On this one I turned the roof the other direction and made larger windows, a central chimney, and a glass front door.

This is the first one I made and it's closest to the instructions with its three windows, picket fence and giant chimney, but however you make them they are cute, cute, cute. Imagine a bunch of them all in pastel colors. Or maybe all white and silver. Or rustic little cabins all in earth tones. You can bet I'm going to be making more of these.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Report

So, how was your Thanksgiving? Ours was wonderful, one of our best ever. I think because we only had 15 people. I guess that's my limit; any more than that and insanity takes over. Anyway, the food was all good and hot, the company was fun, there were no fights and {Hallelujah!} no broken dishes!

The Lord of the Manor and I got up early this morning and went for a walk. (We're trying to work off the potatoes, gravy, pumpkin and pecan pie, but then we had pie for breakfast so I'm thinking maybe we need to try a little harder.) Then he went to work on Teen1's Volkswagen, and I did hostess aerobics; taking the table apart, putting chairs back, laundering the table linens, sweeping, mopping, washing the pans, etc.

I won't be going anywhere near the Mall today. Instead I'll be working on some Christmas craft projects. I'm making some Putz houses using these instructions. I also got some clear ornaments that I'm going to paint. If all goes well I'll show some of the houses tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Place cards

I finished up the table last night with these place cards I printed. I like place cards, don't you? They look so elegant and civilized and they help everyone to their proper place without a lot of discussion. We always seat our guests as suggested by old fashioned etiquette books: the Lord of the Manor at one end, me at the other (closest to the kitchen), the female guest of honor at his right, the male guest of honor at my right, then alternate male, female until the kids end up in the middle. This can lead to starving at the ends of the table because the children rarely pass food, but somehow we make it work.

So do you use place cards? If not, how do you assign seats? We'd love to know here Amongst The Oaks.

Here's my Thanksgiving wish for you: I hope your turkey is juicy, your dressing moist, your potatoes fluffy, and your guests well matched.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Table

I set up the table last night for Thanksgiving. Now it is 4' wide and 12' long and seats 14 quite comfortably. I'm sure I could seat even more if I used benches, because really it's the chairs that limit the seating.
I found three nice large gold table runners at Home Goods. Usually runners are only about 14"x70", but these are 20"x96" and two fill the table and the third one is on the buffet.

I'm using these gold chargers, white plates with gold rims, and white tablecloth and napkins.

I finished it off with plain wine glasses, and water glasses with a little gold band. I gathered all white serving dishes for the things I'm making. We decorate our table with food and serve it family style so the center of the table will be full of food, but I still need to put a little something decorative in the center. Maybe the soup tureen? Or maybe fresh flowers?

These napkin rings echo the stag on the Lord of the Manor's family crest.
Now it's on to the cooking! Happy Thanksgiving from Amongst The Oaks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Carrot Cake

Yummy, yummy carrot cake

with cream cheese frosting

four layers high

on a new pedestal

to celebrate a birthday!

Happy Birthday to the Lord of the Manor!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

Bishop Stone asked about how Thanksgiving is celebrated here in America so I'll try to explain it a little bit. Thanksgiving means many different things to the 300 million people in America, but here is a brief history:
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Fall of 1621 at Plymouth Plantation. The year before had been devastating because the Pilgrims had a poor harvest and many of them died over the winter. But the friendly Indians had shown them better planting techniques which resulted in a good harvest. To show their gratitude they hosted a three day feast, invited the Indians (who brought venison) and gave thanks for their bounty. They had lots of meats and some vegetables, but no breads or pastries because they had no flour and no ovens. Below you see a picture of what the first Thanksgiving might have looked like.

Thanksgiving was celebrated sporadically over the next two hundred years, but was not an official holiday. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first official Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November and it has been celebrated in America ever since.
Below is the average American Thanksgiving dinner in the 1950s. My earliest memories resemble this photo quite closely. They were held at my Granny's house. There was always turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, some kind of jello salad, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was all homemade from scratch by my stay-at-home Mom and Grandmother.

Now days families still get together to reconnect, relax, and feast on turkey, but the menu and preparations are much more flexible. Some families go out to eat, some order it all precooked from a local grocer or restaurant, some purchase premade things at Cosco while some still make it all from scratch. Some families don't feast at all, but volunteer at a local charity to serve food to the less fortunate. However we celebrate Thanksgiving, the important part is to give thanks for our blessings, and celebrate the bounty of the season.
There are also other traditional activities on Thanksgiving like watching football on TV, taking a nap after dinner, and planning your Black Friday Christmas shopping spree, but I don't do any of those things so I'll let others tell those tales.

(lifted from the Internet, not my family)

So how will your family celebrate Thanksgiving this year? I'm sure we'd all love to hear, so please share it on the comments. And Thanks for visiting Amongst The Oaks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Spy

When my girls were little we spent a fair amount of time looking at the I Spy books by Walter Wick. We loved those things and still have a few of them. Yesterday when I was trying to get all those windows washed I was reminded of the I Spy books. You might ask why...
It's because when I tried to wash the windows in Teen2's bedroom, I was confronted by this mess on her desk. So let's play the I Spy game, shall we?

I spy a penny, a light bulb, a bit of hot glue,

some sandpaper, a chain, and two felt pens of blue,

some green handled shears, a little green heart,

a purple controller, headphones, and a car called "Smart".

And that is just a tiny portion of the stuff in the way of washing Teen2's windows. Every surface and the extra bed in her room looks just like another I Spy game. There are miscellaneous electronic parts, a soldering iron, a hot glue gun, scissors, screwdrivers, pliers, colored pencils, books, games, an I Pod, papers, stuffed animals, toys, you name it, it's probably there. I guess that's what happens when you teach a kid to be creative.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Window Pains

When we started remodeling this house way back in the summer of 1997, we knew we wanted traditional building materials to reflect the style of a true English Cottage. So those first four rooms got new double paned, all wood, true divided light casement windows and we loved them. Compared to the old circa 1950 windows that were in the house they were a dream; they cranked in and out effortlessly, they were warm and quiet and they looked beautiful.

In 2001 when we did the "Big Remodel" we simply ordered more of the same type of windows from the same manufacturer and again, we loved their beauty and energy efficiency. And when we did the kitchen remodel we again ordered two more of the same windows to put beside the range.

So now we have seventeen fenestrations plus this interior door filled with these beauties. They have a lot of panes. Lots and lots of panes. Two hundred and thirteen to be exact. Which I am now in the process of washing. Inside and out, so that means four hundred and twenty six panes.

So far I have done about half and I intend to get them finished this afternoon. I like to have clean windows for the holidays, don't you? And with the sun lower in the sky this time of year, I like the way they sparkle. Wishing you sparkly windows too from here Amongst The Oaks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

White Pumpkins

I'm so predictable. I got two little whitish pumpkins and arranged them on some fall leaves on each pedestal. I know, I know, I really need to push myself to try something different now and then, but I'm planning Thanksgiving dinner now so my mind is elsewhere.

We are having the families over as usual, but I think only 17 will be here, so {miracle of miracles!} we get to all sit down and eat together at the same table. It's so much more relaxing that way; I'm actually looking forward to it.

I wish I had time to post more often and put more into these blogs, but juggling a full time job, two teenagers, the house, the bills, the laundry, shopping and cooking leave very little time for blogging. Please just know that I read every comment and enjoy them immensely, and I appreciate all your help and suggestions. And thanks for taking time out of your busy day to visit us here Amongst The Oaks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Red Cliff Tureen

I'm almost finished with the buffet, but I need a little advice. Here's the basic arrangement, but do you think I should put small white pumpkins on the Martha Stewart cake pedestals? (I got those yesterday at Macy's. They were on sale for only $16.00 each! Regularly $28.00 each, which I wouldn't have spent.) Or maybe something else? Please leave a comment with your suggestion.
So here is the soup tureen from my MIL that started this arrangement. I Googled Red Cliff soup tureen and found {gulp!} that this baby is valuable. Replacementsdotcom had one just like it for $479.95! Nearly fell off my chair.

Anyway, it is beautiful, and I've always displayed it, but I'm glad I put it in a more prominent position where everyone can admire it.

Nice contrast against that dark wallpaper. Don't tell Julia (aka LOM, aka the Lord of the Manor) but I'm thinking of getting rid of that wallpaper and painting the dining room gray. A sort of dark gray, then overglazed with a lighter gray which I would comb to create a grainy texture. What do you think?

These pitchers are from Home Goods and are definitely not Red Cliff, but they support the grouping nicely and since I already have lots of pitchers they add to my collection.

So here it is, almost done except for some accent on those pedestals. Any ideas?

Friday, November 6, 2009

White Project

After the old, crumbly, creepy, decaying mess of Halloween, I'm feeling like I need something fresh, and clean, and bright, and white! So I'm sprucing up my dining room with white. I was inspired by the white ironstone soup tureen my MIL gave me many years ago. It sits on top of the china cupboard all the time, but I put it front and center on the buffet the day after Halloween.
Then I shopped the house and found this mirror from Home Depot which I painted white.

And these two lamps got painted white too.

Then I mixed some glaze with just a little gray....

and painted it over the two coats of white. Then I rubbed almost all of it off leaving a slightly grayish look in the details.

Now, won't these look nice next to the ironstone? I should be able to put everything together Saturday and show you the results. See you Saturday here Amongst The bright, clean, white Oaks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Party

I thought my blog would be back to normal today, but of course I must tell you all about the party, so I'm thinking tomorrow things will be back to normal. I promise.

The Fire Roasted Flesh Worms were wonderful! See their toothy little mouths? The chutney complimented the roast pork perfectly, and although we cooked four of them, I think we should have made more.
The Scream Cheese with Bloody Jelly was just a classic treat with a creepy presentation.

The Swamp Water tasted surprisingly good! It was lemonade concentrate, limeade concentrate, 7-Up, and rainbow sherbet. Really simple, but kind of brackish looking.

Horse Woman made these Devil Eyes. The green stuff looked a little like Wasabi, which would have been fiery, but it was regular egg yolk stuff tinted with food coloring.

This was just guacamole and blue corn chips, but we called it Guacamoldy and Petrified Bat Wings.

One of Teen2's friends made this graveyard cake.

And I made these with the leftover bread dough from the Mummified Mice. Hmmm, I can't seem to find a photo of the Mummified Mice, but they were precooked sausage links wrapped in this bread dough and cooked for 20 minutes. The kids seemed to like them, but I didn't get one so I can't tell you if they tasted good.

Here are some of the adults: Dead bride, Batman, Plan Bee, Lost Hiker, Julia Child, Bat Woman, and me, a Witch.

Here are some of the kids: Flapper, Pippi Longstockings, Pirate, Tourist, Doctor, ?, Chef, Cop, ?, Link, The Center of the Universe, Witch, Alice In Wonderland, Geisha Girl, Taco.

And I must tell you all that a famous chef came to help in the kitchen. Isn't it amazing? Julia Child came out of "retirement" to help us prepare our hors d'oeuvres. And look, she has her trademark glass of wine. And she said, "Bon Appetit" a lot too. And there was lots of food on the floor this morning.

So, we had a great party, and I hope you had a nice Halloween too. Now, it's back to our regularly scheduled programing. Thank you for your patience.