To gluten? or not to gluten?

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For the last few months, I have been having a problem with gluten attacks.

They start about 3 o’clock in the morning, and wake me up with a horrible pain in my stomach.  I literally feel as though I have been poisoned!

So, I get up, take a couple of charcoal tablets, and drink some water with a half teaspoon of baking soda to stop the pain.

I had seen all of the “gluten free” products on the market, and thought that there must be a common concern.

The one thing that I noticed was that the products that were being “pushed” were still full of ingredients that I couldn’t read!  So, I took it upon myself to do my own research, and find a solution to the problem.

A few years ago, I found the Joy of making bread from scratch and didn’t want to give that up.  There is something meditative about making your own bread.

I discovered that sourdough breads are easier to digest.

So, I started making my own sourdough starter.

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I tried Einkorn flour, that is non-hybridized ( non-gmo), and is grown in Italy.  I like it, but find it hard to work with.

The one thing that I noticed about it, when I had my last gluten attack, was that the Einkorn had a spirit of gentleness to it.  A light bulb went off for me:  that Organic, non-hybridized food is gentle, like God.  Where as, the newly man-made foods, have a “violence” in them.  They are causing much illness in the world, and early death.

I went on to discover that bread is no longer “iodized” ( since the 70’s), and that there has coincidentally been a rise in breast cancer.  Breads were being bromated ( a rat poison) to stabilize the flour.

So, I found this flour at Walmart.

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It makes a nice loaf of bread.  And it doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night.

I don’t know if it’s non-hybridized.  I just know that it has a gentler, kinder, spirit.

The jar in the pictures contains my sour dough starter.  You can make this your self or order a starter online.

I recommend Donna Schwenk’s page.  She is the queen of fermentation, and has many free recipes you can use.

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your starter can be made in a glass jar with some filtered water and flour.  It does need to be fed to keep the cultures alive.

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You can feed it more flour and water every couple of days. Some people have had their starters for many years, even lifetimes! They can be stored in the fridge when on vacation.

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Your starter is healthy if it gets bubbly.  I use about a half to a full cup of starter in my bread recipes.

I also, have just started using about a half cup of golden flax in my breads ( like the French do). I let the dough sit overnight with the flax seed in it, so the seeds can start sprouting. They just expand, but the Life force becomes stronger when they do.

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I like to drizzle a little olive oil on the bread and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before I place it in the oven.

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I like the small round “boule”.  I make 4.

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My family loves them, and they are easy to store.

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The come out with a crunchy crust, and lovely spongy interior.

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And of course, you must use Real Butter.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and Holiday season!

And that my friends, is a Cottage Necessity.

 

 

 

I had an idea…..

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One day while walking along the road, I had an idea…

This idea followed me to bed, and was there when I woke up to face the day.

This idea peeked through the clouds as I drove hither and yon ~ This idea seemed to be a part of me that wouldn’t go away.

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I had gotten many ideas before, but none had ever persisted like this one.

This was an idea that was so powerful, yet so simple.

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The idea was to plant more trees on the Earth~~~

While this idea seemed simple enough, and it was not uncommon that there were others who had had the same idea before, the message was clear…

The Earth was calling forth for helpers.

The trees whispered among themselves, and were feeling very sad.

All of the people were crying about the drought, the global warming, and the hotter summers…

The birds grew quiet and the bees began to die.

The answer was a simple one; that each person should plant a tree!

But many misunderstood the value of planting more trees, and doubted that such a simple solution could solve so many problems.

They worried that the roots would interfere with the pipes underground that carried the water and the sewage.  They feared disease, and they disrespected the trees that grew so tall, and they cut them down.

Forests were cleared and removed, and large buildings were erected, and land was stripped to raise cattle.

People forgot why the trees were here.  They lost touch with the natural world and spent more time indoors with electronic gadgets and  television.

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There was a group of people and a growing concern that was simmering, but hadn’t quite gotten the attention that it deserved from the general public.

Not many people realize that trees have been sheltering us for thousands of years.

But we have stopped listening to their whispers. They are trying to give us their message. For they have been here the longest, and they have much wisdom.  They carry the wisdom of the Earth.

Indigeonous tribes have used the message of the trees to communicate with other people far across the globe long before the electronic age.

Native American Indians called the trees ” Tall ones standing praying”.

There have been times in my life when I needed answers, and would sit with a tree and ask my questions, and the answers would come.

So, I decided that I should go to the trees, and ask my questions about how to proceed.

A stately tree was my sacred space when I was growing up.  I would spend hours sitting, climbing, and hanging out with my tree when I was a young girl.

It taught me about patience, peace, strength, integrity, and the value of silence.

The Buddha sat with the Bodhi tree until he received enlightenment.

Sir Isaac Newton received the understanding of the Law of Gravity sitting under an apple tree.

So, I knew the trees would teach me how to proceed if I just took the time to sit with them, become still, and listen to their whisperings.

Trees work hard to purify our air.  Their roots reach down into the Earth to find the water table, and they create rain.  The trees are the lungs of the Earth.  They provide homes for many ecosystems, shade for a hot summer day, and shelter when it rains.

In California, the Sacramento Utilities District ( SMUD), will provide up to 10 free trees to homeowners.  They will come out and show you the best place to plant your trees, but you have to plant them.

The Arbor Society will send you free trees that are compatible with your area.

Maybe you have an organization that will supply you with a free tree for your yard.

This is my prayer:  That every person who has a yard, plant one tree in that yard this year, all over the world.

The Tree Sisters have a goal to plant trees over the next 10 years. It is worth checking out their story on Facebook.

My goal, that every family plant one tree this year to reforest our earth, and it starts in your own back yard.

And that my friends, is what I call a Cottage Necessity!

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It’s time to come clean on slipcover madness….

I’ve given slipcovers alot of thought.  Nowadays, I see them everywhere, and like many others, I love them!

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They can change the look of the room, the piece of furniture can take on a new life, and you can take them off and clean them!

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Now here’s a good example of a piece of furniture that could use a slipcover!

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This is an Ethan Allen sofa.  It has good “bones”, has been sitting in a sunroom, taking a beating on the fabric which is beginning to shred.  Who in their right mind would want this old thing?  you may be asking yourself.

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This was before my slipcover madness set in.  I picked up this beautiful Ready-made, Damask slipcover for $15. and it fit the bill at the time.  I have to say that this sofa was one of the most comfortable sofas that I have ever sat on!  When I moved from Long Beach, I had my upholsterer pick it up, and as things go, I never saw it again.  ( It was only because, I had no way to get it home).  But, I did keep the chair…..

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This chair is still with me, and everyone loves this chair. ( photo shows it just in from the upholsterer’s and the string on the bottom holding the ruffle down. ) I had him add the ruffle, rather than the pleated skirt.

Oh, but you say, that I am getting off the subject of slipcovers, etc. Just a note, that a previously owned piece of upholstered furniture can be given a new life, just the same, and that an older piece of furniture has had a chance to “gas off” from the flame retardants that are put into them, so in my opinion, they are less toxic, and often better made, than a brand new piece of furniture.  Plus, it’s ecologically friendly to reuse, recycle, redefine.  Back to slipcovers……which fall under the same category of less toxic….

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Here’s a great example of a chair that will survive many more years of love, with either a new upholstry job, or a slipcover.  I had the legs refinished previously.

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In it’s first incarmation, I took the easy route, and purchased a pre-made slipcover from a well known company.  As you can see, it was not the perfect fit, but served a purpose for a while. And I could wash it!

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When I found this vintage Ralph Lauren Fabric ( which by the way, a vintage RL was used on the ruffle chair) I knew it was the perfect choice for a new slipcover….. so, I prewashed the fabric……

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This was my first attempt at making one myself. The basic idea, is to make it inside-out.   I do not recommend using a pattern fabric for your first slipcover, like I did, as it is more difficult, if you are into perfection, which I am not. So I’m okay with the way this one turned out.

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As you can see, my patterns are a little wobbly, but this is another comfortable chair, that I will enjoy for a very long time.  And, everyone seems to migrate to this good old girl when they come to visit.        Now, for my most recent …….

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A neighbor gave me this old settee when they moved.  This is my design.  I call it the “Sailboat Sofa”, because I used the cutest sailboat fabric, and coordinated it with a stripe, and red piping, and added nailheads, just because I love them.  I will always have my Sailboat Sofa, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot enjoy other outfits!

It has donned the Damask slipcover for a while.

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And now, that it has found a new home, it needed a facelift……

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So, after looking everywhere for the right fabric, that also fit into my budget, I found some white slipcover remnants in the Ikea bins.  They are just to the left of the check out stands, where they have all of the mark downs.  Here is what I found;

2 bases, 5 partial cushions, and a couple of random ( arms) all in the same white slipcover denim that I had been looking for.  Being the person who likes to do things the easy way, finding shortcuts if I can, to make my life easier, this was the perfect solution.  To be honest, I was kindof dreading making a slipcover for the sofa, but wanted one so badly.  Do you know the feeling?  So, I took all of my items home, ( about $40. worth) and began ripping seams, saving every piece of piping, zipper, etc. so that I could put this one together, and make it work for my Sailboat Sofa.

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I put it on wrong side out, and it basically fit, except for the back.  It needed to have the camel-back shape, and I had to piece the back as you can see in this picture.  My settee was also a little shorter, so I had to take it in, in a couple of places.

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Once I had that sewn, I had to make the bench cushion.( a bench cushion, is one single cushion that goes all the way across the seat).  So, I saved one of the longest pieces for the top, and pieced the back side with three pieces.

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Sorry that my photos are so dark!   Anyway, I put a throw on the back, and a couple of new PB pillows that I bought with a gift certificate ( so they ended up costing me about $7.) And

Voila!  It was done.

P.S.  I will be posting more pictures of my new slipcovered sofa in future posts, with hopefully better lighting.

Please come back again, as I show you my dining room finale from the room reset challenge.

Cottage Necessites….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two:Room Reset Challenge

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I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, on the room reset challenge, for my dining room.  In my first post, I talked about the window treatment.

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How it had to serve several functions:  Privacy from the outside, while still allowing the maximum amount of light into a room that only has a window on one wall.  It had to have privacy during the daytime, as well as the night.

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As soon as the windows were done, I started painting the chairs that I had acquired from a cousin who was cleaning out her garage.  Originally dark green, a color that was popular in the 80’s, and which I still love, the chairs needed to be brightened, and lightened.

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I was loving the color, and as you can see, I have no where to paint, except right in the room where the furniture is sitting!

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I also started to experiment with the color choices for the table, as it was time it got a new paint job.  I wanted to go with either white, or gray.

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I painted two chairs with a small bottle of chalk paint from the hobby store in the color “Cascade”.  So, on my way to the store for another bottle, I passed by these chairs that had been left on the side of the road. After rounding the corner, and having a minute to think about how those chairs had a French Farmhouse look to them, I flipped a quick U-ey, and rounded them up in my backseat!  On the way back, as I took a closer look at the curb where they had been, I also, noticed a table leaf, something that I had wanted for this small table.

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As you can see, I didn’t waste any time getting the seats off, and ready for paint.  I was also considering using the Navaho area rug in the new room, but later changed my mind, and decided to go with bare floors.

 

Distressed painted side dining room chair with burlap sack coffee bag upholstered seat cushion for cottage style home decor; french country; Upcycle, Recycle, Salvage, diy, thrift, flea, repurpose!  For vintage ideas and goods shop at Estate ReSale & ReDesign, Bonita Springs, FL:

This photo, via Pinterest, was my inspiration for the new chairs.

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So using what I had, I started with a drop cloth, some blue painters tape, and the same blue chalk paint that I used on the other two chairs.  I used a sponge applicator, and did a rough, not too perfect application for the stripe, as I wanted it to look worn.

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I tried to find some images and easy transfer methods online to use, but with no luck, and anxious to finish the job, I took a coupon to my local hobby store, and purchased this stencil.

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I used an acrylic charcoal gray for the letters, and just “pounced” the stencil lightly, so as not to get any globs.

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Next, I brewed some fresh coffee, and with a paint brush, I painted the coffee on the entire upholstered seat, to age it.  It made me a little worried, and my family was giving me some strange looks when they saw this!

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But after it dried, it had the right amount of patina that I was hoping for.

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I decided not to distress it as much as my inspiration picture, and thought that it would achieve that status, over time. So, I just did some light sanding.

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Next time, I will share with you how I gave the table a slightly Provencal style, as I realized, that this room, was looking more Provencal, than Farmhouse.  What do you think?

Part One: I answered the Miss Mustard Seed Reset your room challenge, and here’s what I did…..

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Here are the before pictures of the room.  It is a very small area, and very dark, only getting the morning and afternoon light.  Since I am in a condo,  Privacy in the window is of utmost importance.  I need to let as much light in as possible, while still maintaining my privacy. Originally, the lace curtains that you see in the photo, hung to the floor.  I did a mock up of a roman shade to see if I would like it.  The bookcase under the window would have to go.  The large bookcases, will remain in the dark walnut color original to the maker’s design.

What is the Miss Mustard Seed Reset your Room Challenge, you may be asking your self?   Well, for the longest time, I have been an admirer, stalker?, and follower of her wonderful blog, that is full of beautiful photography, and writing from the heart.  In fact, she is the one that I give credit to, though she doesn’t have a clue, for the reason, inspiration for me starting my own blog.  I think and breathe design, even though my budget is limited, I would spend my last dime on a table or chair, that I can repurpose, paint, or refinish.  So….

I took on the challenge to pick a room, it took about a minute to decide, my dining room was in need of a lighten, brighten, and quieten, to see what it needed.  The room was crowded, lacked any style, was way too dark, and was the one room that was the dumping place for anything that didn’t have a place, and it wasn’t being used for it’s intended purpose, an eating area.

The other part, was that I needed to do it without any additional money spent, or at least minimal.  So, I had to use what I already had in my stash.

The room above shows it after I have removed everything but the big pieces of furniture, which MMS calls a “room reset”  and Myquillin, the Nester, calls ” quieting the room”  Either one works for me, and I think it is a great way to start.  It is also, a great Feng Shui principle to empty the room, and get the “chi” moving .  Clutter causes the energy to stagnate, and when things get moved, the energy is set free and allowed to circulate.  It also feels great to see a room without all the stuff in it, so that you can get a better perspective from looking at it with fresh eyes.

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My first priority was the window.  I found this remnant in my fabric stash, and loved the colors with the rest of the furnishings in my living room, as you can see in the second photo, where I have it next to a chair fabric.  The colors are teal, brown, and soft burnished red on a cream background.  This was just enough material to do the cafe curtain…..

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First try, and they didn’t look right, so I folded one under to see if a shorter version would look better.  Also, the rod was sagging, so I inserted a couple of shish kebob skewers in the rod.  Cafe curtain rods come in a maximum 48″ long, which is just enough to cover my window. Any more, and the rod would have pulled apart. Also, since I was limited on the amount of fabric, I was not able to get an exact pattern match with the repeat being 29″.

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The next thing I did, was take a sheer rod pocket panel that I already had, and sewed a new rod pocket along the long side of it.  I used four ribbons, cut about 36″ long to hoist it up into the balloon shade valance that you see in the second picture.  I also felt like the cafe panels were too darkening, so I cut the original lace panels down, and put them on a tension rod behind the cafe panels for a layered look.  There is basically nothing that I can do with the verticle blinds that are a permanent fixture in the condo, and give me the most privacy at night.  I love the way it turned out.  I already had the fabric for the panels, the sheer curtain panel, and the lace panels that I cut down.  When I was digging around, I found two packages of cafe curtain rings ( 30 total) and had the tension rod.  The only purchase so far, was the cafe rod, and I used a coupon for 50% off, so it cost me roughly $4.00.

Tune in next time to see what surprises showed up for me when I was right in the middle of painting the chairs!

Simmering some potpourri to welcome Fall….

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When Fall arrives, the air takes on a freshness, emitted by the trees that equals no other.   To bring some of Nature’s wonderful fragrance into my home, I like to simmer a little pot of potpourri.  You can do this right in your kitchen with spices that you probably already have in your pantry.

I like to use Bay Laurel, Cinnamon, Cloves, thyme, rosemary, fresh lemon and orange peels, even apple peels are good.  You do not need to use all of them, just a few will do.

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I like to slice the orange or lemon peel from the orange, and bend it over the pot so that the aromatic oils infuse into the mixture. ( be careful not to get it in your eyes)

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You can simmer it on low with some water.  It will bring a lovely aroma into your home, and everyone will think you made some cookies!   We could even smell it outside, all the way to the curb.

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