The Cookie Section…

I had an unexpected quiet hour this morning, and decided to tackle a pile of recipes that I had pulled out of my old recipe binder a while back. I’ve been slowly adding them to the new red Martha Stewart binder that I filled with cute Susan Branch recipe dividers from another binder.

Yep. I do tend to collect binders. And dividers.
And various other paper organizational materials.
And switch them out and rearrange them a little too often.


Anyway, I’ve been avoiding the “Cookie Section.”
It seemed just a tiny bit overwhelming.
Is it a major character flaw if the “Cookie Section” of
your recipes is the biggest and most used section?

I think not.

One thing that really impressed me when snipping out these old recipe pages and pasting them in the new binder, was how many ladies are represented in my “Cookie Section.” My Mom and my girls. Grandmoms and Teen-agers. Old and Young. Best friends and Ladies I just met. So many memories in a rather large stack of cookie recipes. Those recipes represent Christmas from my childhood, tea parties with my girls, “Wow, I really need that recipe,” mega-cooking adventures, Civil War balls, snow days, dinner with friends,  and because-we-need-cookies-right-now-why-won’t-the-butter-soften-any-faster?

Cookie Section

If you look closely, your name might be in that pile!


If not, it’s probably in the “Dessert Section.”

A Mood Board, of sorts…

One of my girls enlightened me on “Mood Boards” this past year.

I think I sort of knew about them, but for some reason never saw the importance of creating a mood board when coming up with a new design, a fresh brand, or a  snappy decorating scheme. Jo uses them with her graphic design clients to get a feel for who they are and what they are looking for in a logo or blog header. And today, while shuffling stuff around (Expert Stuff Shuffler here.) I gathered a few things that I LOVE and that have been an inspiration for Something-In-The-Works.

I’ve had this wonderful calligraphy mat for a while…


…And lots of Verbage/Words/Signage…


…And am slowly adding to a collection…


…And a historic print that I have LOVED since childhood
has been developed into textiles…


… which jumpstarted the Something-In-The-Works!

Any guesses?


A Love/Hate Relationship…

Contact Paper.

Need I say more?

Nothing freshens up old cupboards like brand new Contact Paper.
One of my girls bought me several rolls of this happy
vintage green Magic Cover Contact Paper at the
Dollar Store because it looked like me…


I saved it for a while because it had to go in just the right spot.

And I had to be in just the right mood.

Because there are a several important
steps to applying Contact Paper properly.

Step #1. Measure Carefully, taking note of
indentations in the structure of the cupboard floor.

Step #2. Cut out the first piece of Contact Paper
completely backward just for practice.
(This piece can be used later for a smaller area.)

Step #3. Cut out a new piece of Contact Paper
with the proper dimensions, right side up.

Step #4. Peel off the backing carefully and prepare
to apply the contact paper to the bottom of cupboard.

Step #5. Stick Contact Paper to your head, arms,
and any other available extremity, as well as to itself
before applying to the surface you had planned on covering.


After the battle is over application is complete
you will love the results! Fresh cupboards!

I Always Wanted to Remodel an Old Farmhouse…

… But I was thrilled when we were able to build our new home…

…Nearly twenty-three years ago!

And the last couple of years, as we’ve been making
a few changes here and there, guess what?

I get to remodel an “old” farmhouse!


We’re trying our best to employ our “Thistle Dew” motto as we switch things around. Minimal cost… Maximum use. No wasted space. Use what we have to the best advantage. Over the years, we’ve swapped bedrooms few times. The attached garage became an art room. The original art room (the Work Room, as it has been called over the years) became a sewing room, and then a catch-all room. The Grand Plan now is to create a master bedroom downstairs, with as little new footprint as possible, but also without deconstructing the entire house at once. Why? Because us empty nesters need two empty bedrooms upstairs. Really. We do. There’s a Reason. And for now it’s a one-step-at-a-time process.

Before we took off for California earlier this month to see our Grandboys, Hubby and I tackled the upstairs “work room,” that crazy, pretty, big room that has been a little bit of everything to our family. We crafted up there, homeschooled up there, sewed up there… it was even a makeshift bedroom when a daughter decided she needed her own space. It was time to get that room under control!

Room2We gave it a fresh coat of paint and put in a window…
…Which Hubby accidentally ordered by mistake for a
construction job he was doing a while back.

When we returned from our trip, we tackled the floor…

FloorBeforeThe floor held evidence of craft projects from the past.
Tiny graffiti artists had left their marks as well.
However, the tongue and groove floor is also the ceiling in the art room below,
so I was reluctant to brush liquid stain on it in fear of it dripping through.

PaintI opted for using black semi-gloss paint, applied sparingly with a brush.


It actually turned out better than I expected,
and took less than half a quart of paint!

Floor MidwayThis is what the surface looked like… Almost finished!

deskareaAnd now the fun of putting everything back
together and organizing my art stuff!
Yep… The studio is moving back to the work room!

Thistle Dew…

Thistle Dew

This’ll Do.

That little phrase… a play on words, really…
first gave a name to our little farmette,
and then to our business.

That phrase had connotations of contentment,
of making do, of being satisfied, of just enough…
of a Goldilocks sort of not too big, not too small,
not too hard, not to soft, not to hot, not too cold…

…Just right.

Thistle Dew was a balance our family was seeking, of living life at a speed in which we could enjoy the moments. A merry-go-round that was moving along at a good pace, but going slowly enough that you could step off from time to time without fear of injury. Where you could grab a friend and jump back on for a bit of fun, walk around on the ride and choose a different horse, and even wave and talk to those on the ground.

Somewhere along the way, the merry-go-round
morphed into a dizzying tilt-a-whirl.

Activities became obligations and our calendars filled to the brim. Every day held something important… sometimes several somethings. The To-Do List was growing by leaps and bounds and seemed to be taking on a life of its own. At the same time, our closets and cubbies and attic and under-the-beds became over-stuffed and overflowing. We multi-tasked and scheduled and organized and pedaled as hard and as fast as we could, but eventually realized we were getting tired of the too much and needed the just enough again.

Just enough for what really matters…



Angels Unaware

A while back, we realized we needed time to laugh and drink tons of coffee and hold little hands and take naps and bake cookies and just plain be. We began the process of clearing clutter and our schedules to make some space for real living, as well as the possibility of new and exciting adventures. We wanted to be able to say “Yes” to the right things instead of “Sorry… there’s no room… I don’t have time…” Not that our lives would not be sometimes hectic or that we would reach some sort of slow living utopia, but so we would have time to breath and enjoy life.

Last year, I chose “Home” as my one word for 2013. Looking back, I think focusing on Home, and everything it meant to us, was an important step in us getting back to just enough….

…to “this’ll do.”

Thistle Dew…

…My new/old One Word/Phrase for 2014




So, the May issue of Country Living Magazine was my favorite issue EVER.

I’m not kidding.

Chalkboards and maps and globes and typewriters and
filing cabinets and drawers with labels and birdhouses
and paperclips and postcards and suitcases and desks…

…all the weird things I pick up in antique shops
and how to put them together in a room!

I had barely put that issue down when my Mom called and said
Lavender and Lace,
the antique shop just down the road from us,
had something that I seriously needed to see.

So I went, I saw, and I bought it.


A mid-century, well-worn, awesomely aqua filing cabinet…
…very much like the one on the cover of the May issue of CL mag!

I’m guessing it was from a small museum in West Virginia…


It had been used for storing nature objects and fossils…


… but now needed a bit of TLC.


So, Hubby made some new drawer bottoms…


… And I removed the hardware…
…Very Carefully… it was old, fragile plastic.


I managed to pry off the hard rubber logo from the top… also very fragile!


We had a little black spray paint left from a previous project…


… and it took a little thoughtin’ to figure out how to paint the brass nails…


… and it worked perfectly!


I gave the drawer fronts a few coats of fresh aqua paint…
…left over from the upstairs bedroom remodels!


And now it’s ready to fill with all sorts of Art Room Stuff!


Nothing like a little inspiration and some leftover paint!


Comings and Goings…

I’ve been trying to keep “home” in my thoughts as the new year unfolds,
but so far “in my thoughts” has been about the extent of it!

We “overed” Christmas and the New Year… That’s a pretty busy time of year for our family. We cleaned up the wrapping paper and cleaned out the fridge. And then we packed, and left home for 12 days. Almost two weeks… Almost half the month! But it was worth it to see these two sweet faces…


And even though we were far away from home, we discovered that…

Home is where they love you.

Even if they are a little bit silly…


Just an old cliché?

Sometimes a phrase becomes so familiar that we take it for granted.

Created using the Cartolina app for iPad!

Created using the Cartolina app for iPad!

Phrases like “Home is where the heart is.”

It’s been printed and painted and stitched on lots of samplers.

Just “old hat.”

So cliché.

Or is it?

I wasn’t sure where the phrase originated, so I did a bit of quote researching to make sure it was attributed to the correct person. I honestly figured that nobody knew where that saying came from… Probably just a sentiment written on a sampler from the Victorian era. (An era I love, by the way, for its sentiment!) What I found was that “Home is where the heart is” goes back much farther. It goes WAY back. “Home is where the heart is” is thought to have been uttered in the first century A.D., by the Roman philosopher and historian, Pliny the Elder. Pliny also had a lifelong career in the Roman army and navy, and I wonder if time away from home due to military obligations prompted him to pen the phrase? One of his military deployments was in 79 A.D., when he was stationed in Misenum. There, he lost his life attempting to evacuate the residents of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted. His last notable quote was “Fortune favors the brave,” when he was warned to turn back. That’s what I call a hero.

All that to say that when phrases are old enough,
they are no longer cliché…

They become a CLASSIC.

The idea of Home is not just a sentimental thought…

It truly is where our hearts belong.

Some things just never go out of style.

A Resolution, of sorts…

I actually like to make New Year’s Resolutions.

They sort of make you feel like there’s a possibility
of getting your act together, once and for all.

And then January 2nd rolls around.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post about
choosing just one word for the  new year.

And that sounded a lot easier than making normal resolutions…

… And a lot harder.

And maybe a little over simplified…


…Was there just one thing that I needed to focus on this year?

…Something the Lord had placed on my heart
that I might have neglected in my busy-ness?

It took quite a bit of thought, and a whole scribbly mess of words
being jotted down, circled, grouped together, and crossed off.

And one word began to stand out…


And that one word led to a bunch of words
that encompass the idea of Home.

I’m sure there are more.

Beyond the Empty Nest
and the “What Now?”
Home has been waiting patiently.


Shiny Sink…

Do you know FlyLady?

Love her for her organizational wisdom!

Her #1 Baby Step for getting your act together…

Shine Your Sink.

I made a good sized dent in the Art Room Clutter yesterday morning, and today, decided to start at the “Sink” end of the room, and move toward the “Step” end, in one controlled swoop. My Art Room used to be our attached one-car garage that has never, ever had a car in it… It was Hubby’s workshop until he moved it to the horse barn. (Poor guy… Pretty tight quarters there too! But there is room for expansion!) We opened up a wide doorway from the garage into our dining room.

Best thing/Worst thing we ever did.

Best, because I like to work in my living space.
…Not up in a lonely spare room away from everything that is
going on. I can check on dinner, scan things on the computer,
be there for my family when needed,
or fold a load of laundry in between coats of paint.

Worst, because I like to work in my living space.
…And the stove and dryer beep at me when I’m working on
something really intricate, and I sometimes get distracted,
and the Art Room mess tends to migrate up the steps and
into the places that we should keep ready for company.

All that to make the point that the sink is on one end of the Art Room.

And here it is in all its clean, lovely, shiny splendor…


I LOVE this sink.

It’s an antique…
…Pulled out of a remodel job my Dad did, destined for the dump.

But Dad knew it belonged in my house.

It has a few well-worn places, and a couple of chips in the enamel,
but it looks perfect sitting on top of the retro-style cabinets that Hubby built.

A white sink in an Art Room needs a LOT of tending…
Black paint really does a number on it,
but Ajax and elbow grease can work wonders.

Good storage is needed there too…

This vintage cheese box is a great way to corral all the bottles of
stuff needed to clean dirty brushes and messy kids’ hands…


And a little reminder for myself adds a bit of humor to my day…


Typo intended.


What do you do first, when trying to get a “clean slate” in a room?