Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sometimes It's The Little Things...

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Have you ever had one of those "DUH" moments when you slap yourself on the side of the head? You know, one of those "Shoulda had a V-8" moments when something so simple and obvious has eluded you and you've just noticed it? Yeah, we all have. Well, I just had one of those moments and I wanted to share it with you.

My computer has a bunch of different external drives: two CD/DVD drives, a personal backup drive, several memory card drives, not to mention a couple of internal drives. Each drive has a different name -- C drive, D drive, L drive, etc.. This makes for a versatile computer. It also makes for one that can make you a little nuts when you're trying to figure out which drive is which on your directory tree.

For years I've been using trial-and-error to find the right drive for one purpose or another but I've just found a super simple way to avoid all that angst. All it took was sticking some self-adhesive letters on the front of each external drive. Now each drive is identified with its own name and I won't have to play "eenie-meenie-miney-moe" anymore when trying to distinguish them. Now why didn't I think of that sooner.


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Done and Done - Finally!

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So, remember that small chest of drawers I started stripping over a month ago? (Click here to read that post.) Well, after numerous interruptions I finally finished it and I'm rather pleased with the way it came out. Full disclosure here -- I am NOT a furniture refinisher so my experience and skills in this particular area are lacking. Nevertheless, I have never let not knowing how to do something stop me from doing it if it was something I really wanted to do. In this way I have learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. Just understand that I may not do it very well.

Back to the chest of drawers. It's old, with chipped corners and questionable construction but I really like its clean, simple lines and it's a perfect piece upon which to practice my burgeoning refinishing skills. Above left you can see a before photo taken when I began to strip off the varnish. Below left you see what the chest looks like today, stained, stenciled and ready for a new life housing cardstock in my crafts workshop. The colors are a departure for me inasmuch as I prefer natural wood tones for furniture but I figured as long as this was going to be a creative learning experience I was going for broke.

Among the lessons I learned during this exercise was that paint and stain do not behave in the same way when applied to a surface. Paint would have been easier to work with but I wanted the wood grain to show through the color, something I would  not have been able to accomplish with paint. The edges of the motifs are a bit darker than the center. This was accomplished by going over the motif edges with a second coat of stain but the first layer must be allowed to dry first or the second layer will lift it off and cause unevenness in the color. I used two sizes of plastic scrapbooking stencils by The Crafter's Workshop (TCW192 - Ginkgo Leaves), 12" x 12" for the sides of the chest and 6" x 6" for the drawer fronts. This was  the most difficult and labor intensive part of the refinishing project. I had to clean the stencil after each use before laying it down again to prevent blemishing the surface with wet stain. Because the stain dried quickly and formed a sticky bond to the plastic, this was much easier said than done. It took nothing less than Magic Eraser and a lot of elbow grease and patience to clean those things. Next time I'll paint.

So my paint stripping score so far is one bedroom door, one radiator cover and one small chest of drawers stripped, sanded and refinished with one more bedroom door in the works. After this I think I'll take a break from painting. I've got some apple and pumpkin pies waiting to be baked.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, October 19, 2012

From Bucket to Banquet

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The bucket
The banquet
A few days ago I posted how my husband and I picked a small quantity of apples from my backyard tree. Well, those apples turned out to be tangy sweet and delicious with firm white flesh, perfect for eating out of hand. Unfortunately many of those apples had been badly bruised or cracked when they fell off the tree or through my hands in a lame attempt at catching them when my husband tugged them off the tree. That meant that they wouldn't keep very long before they began to spoil and I had to do something with them quickly. I hereby present to you the first apple pie of the season.

I'd better go now before my family devours the pie and leaves me with the crumbs.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beauty Surrounds Me

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Sedum in bloom

Marigolds in beautiful fall colors.
Rainbow coleus
Fresh basil for my meals. Mnmm.
Delicious apples in my tree.
Festive fall basket and purple
and yellow pansies
Although I enjoy my garden immensely, many are the days that in my rush-rush to and fro I view it with little more than a sidelong glance and assess how much more work it will demand of me. But then there are those days, like today, when I look at my somewhat disheveled garden and marvel at it. Even now, as the days grow shorter and colder and summer's glory is fast fading, I am surrounded by the beauty and wonder of nature. Such beauty gladdens me, humbles me and makes me smile. Behold my many blessings.

I rescued this 'weed' from
my father's backyard.


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, October 15, 2012

...And Miles To Go Before I Sleep.**

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My schedule has been filling up at any alarming rate and I'm finding it more difficult to carve out the time needed to complete the projects I have begun and move on to other projects waiting in the wings. This weekend I decided to make some definite headway on some things that have been lingering around in various stages of completion (or should I say incompletion).

Last month I posted about painting my daughter's room and stripping a chest of drawers. Here's an update. Although the painting of the room was completed some time ago, the bedroom door, which had been taken off the frame for stripping and priming, has yet to be done. My daughter has been using a curtain on a tension rod in place of a door for over a month and while she has been a very good sport about it, I know she wants her door back. Making headway on stripping this door was my number one priority this weekend. Given the experience I had with stripping my son's door in August when he painted his room, I was not really looking forward to it but I was determined. Here you can see what the door looks like with much of the paint in the center panel scraped off. The dark brown color is the original stained and varnished finish of the door before all the layers of paint were troweled on over the years. It took me an hour or so to get most of the paint off the center panel and then I started on the other side and did the same. The doorknob and hinges were taken off, cleaned and stripped as well. I didn't get too much further than this before the sun went down.

I probably would have gotten further along with the door had I not taken some time out to help my husband harvest some apples from my tree. He was up on a ladder placing winter covers on all the air conditioners and was in the vicinity of the tree. He just couldn't resist those red beauties so he reached over and started plucking those he could easily reach. I caught most of them but some hit the ground and got banged up.  We ate a couple of those and they were really delicious. Maybe the garden lime I added around the base of the tree at the beginning of the season was the reason for that. In any event, I guess I have some apple pies and fresh apple sauce in my near future. On a somewhat related note, I made a batch of fresh seasoned tomato sauce for the first time last night using tomatoes and some  fresh basil, oregano and scallions from my garden. My intention is to use it as a base for a lasagna I'm planning to make in the near future. Can't wait.

My son came home from a shopping trip with his girlfriend. (Can you imagine? A guy who actually goes shopping with his girlfriend?) They had gone shopping for Hallowe'en costumes and modeled what they had purchased when they got home. My son chose a Scotsman's outfit complete with kilt and cap and his beautiful girlfriend, Carla, chose the Mad Hatter.

 So, getting back to that chest of drawers I was stripping last month, I completed staining it in a pale green color which is totally unlike me. I tend to be a lot more conservative colorwise when it comes to furnishings but I felt adventurous and decided to break with convention. To punch up the green, I stenciled a design on the chest and drawers in a deep turquoise color. In the photos at left you can see the completed drawers and the chest in progress. It will soon be finished. Now all I have to do is find a spot for it in my already crowded crafts workshop where it will be used to house some of the TONS of craft papers I have.

The rest of this month is coming up hard and fast and I still have loads to do. I need to finish stripping and priming the bedroom door, complete the stenciling of the chest of drawers, attend one board meeting, one community association meeting, create a database, design and manufacture an invitation for a client, celebrate my son's 23rd birthday, my husband's and my 26th anniversary and get flu shots. And then it's November.

Whew! I think I need to lie down and take a nap.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

** Title of this post is a line from the poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Garden Images

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Tomatoes waiting to ripen
Cucumber is still producing.
September draws to a close and there is a noticeable -- and welcome -- coolness in the air. Although my daily garden routine has relaxed quite a bit from the manic days of summer's full heat, my garden is still in putting on quite a show, much to my surprise. There are over a dozen large tomatoes waiting to ripen on the vine. My cucumber plant, which I had written off as exhausted a couple of weeks ago, still
This is what broccoli flowers look like.
surprises me with more delicious fruit. And in a fit of self-education, I have allowed some of my vegetables to bloom rather than pick
them at their edible peak, just so I can see what the flowers look like. Have you ever seen a carrot blossom? They are beautiful lacy heads that look very similar to Queen's Anne's Lace. And broccoli flowers look like little buttercups.

Bee on a brilliantly colored marigold.
In a few short weeks my shipment of garlic will arrive for fall planting. Fall is
Carrot Blossom
the best time to plant garlic for a great summer harvest and this year I decided to give it a try. I love garlic in my food and I'm anxious to try cooking and eating my own garlic, as much for the taste as for the satisfaction of having grown my own food. One planting season is not quite done and I'm already getting started on the next. So I'm being proactive. Or else I'm being compulsive. Or perhaps I'm being compulsively proactive. Unless I'm just plain nuts. There is more than a good chance that's the case.
Carrot blossom viewed from back.

I was pleased to see lots of bees still hard at work harvesting nectar for their winter honey but dismayed that there were more whiteflies and mosquitoes in my garden than I have ever seen before. Thankfully the season is drawing to a close in another month or so and I won't have to deal with those little peskies until next year. Which, now that I think about it, is only three months away. That means the holidays are almost upon us. I'm tired already just thinking about it.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva