Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thrifty Fall Mantle


Fall is one of my favorite seasons to decorate for. What I love about it is the fact that natural things can be  displayed, directly from mother earth.


One of my favorite areas to decorate is the mantle. Since we have no actual fireplace, the primary reason I installed a mantle was so I would have one to decorate. You can read all about the mantle here , from a few years ago.

I knew I wanted a wreath hanging above the mantle, some sort of a fall-ish wreath. I checked out Pinterest and tried to come up with something I could make, and wouldn’t cost a cent. I once again thought how neat it would be to have my unfruitful bittersweet vine hanging full of berries, to make a nice fall wreath with. When I planted the vine, I didn’t realize a male and female would be needed to produce berries.So now I would need to plant two more vines since I have no idea whether the present one is a male or female… :/

Finally, I decided to try and make a burlap wreath. I really had no instructions to follow, so I had to feel my way through until I found the groove.

I started out with a piece of wire that I made into a circle, twisting the ends together. Then I cut 2”x 8” strips of burlap. I then proceeded to tie these pieces onto the wire, pushing them together as I went. At first it looked pretty hopeless, but as more strips were tied onto the wire, it took on a wreathy shape.

I didn’t take any pictures while making this,mostly because I was fairly certain it wouldn’t work out, but it turned out better than I had expected…





I trimmed some of the ends then, to give it a fuller look.


The mantle…





The “Thankful” banner is from last year and you can read about it here.



The only thing I bought here was the corn and pumpkins.

I made the old door a few years ago for one of our arbors, but had since taken it off.

The beautiful leaves are from a  Maple tree that resides beside our driveway.




I painted the jars with spray paint and distressed them using a black paint marker. The jars on the end are filled with plants from my gardens. Don’t look too closely at the one in the middle… I glued cotton to a twig, trying for a pussy willow look alike. :o





I painted this basket and put a few logs in it. (which, unfortunately will never be used in this room:()


In a few days I will be sharing a few more simple, thrifty fall decorating ideas and also a before and after makeover on this…


Pretty ugly, rite? :) (my type of makeover!)

Thanks for visiting & enjoy this wonderful season of color!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rustic Wedding Arbor


I am always fascinated when I go to a wedding and see all the pretty decorations and creative props. Not to say I don’t also marvel at the bride & groom and the spiffed up bridal party, but I do admit to almost looking more forward to seeing the display of center pieces, flowers and other neat décor.

I’ve always told hubby I would want to marry him again, just to decorate the wedding. :)

A little over 17 years ago we were married and had an Amish wedding, which had considerably less glitz, if you will, than the wedding we would have now. But, needless to say it was one of the best days of my life and we are just as “married” as a glitzy wedding would have made us.

But, as I was saying, I always thought someday I would love to make some props and decorations to rent out for a shabby chic-ish, rustic, vintagey kind of wedding. I figured a good place to start would be an arbor. After all, what looks more complete by the alter, or even in the back of the aisle where everyone walks through, than an arbor?

A few weeks ago I found some perfect old barn wood in a sale. I began envisioning an arbor. So, this past week I worked on one, in my spare time.

It was probably one of the more difficult things I ever made, mostly because I had to work with angles. (I was never a numbers person) It was also a challenge since I had to build it so that it could be fairly easily taken apart again to move it.

Here are some pictures I took along the way. I didn’t take step by step pics because of the complexity of it but you can see how it slowly evolved. It’s a far cry from perfect, but that’s the neat thing about rustic.. it doesn’t have to be perfect!




This beadboard looked like this when I bought it! It made my day. :)








Finally, all painted and ready to use…





Old ship lap boards for the roof (they had the perfect finish already) …



Bolts to fasten the posts…



I will never tire of beadboard…







Okay, lots of pictures from all angles :)..







The sun was shining it’s brightest the day I took these so the lighting isn’t great, but I imagine this arbor decked out in burlap and flowers, or even sheer fabric would make it a nice display for a wedding, or even other parties.



If you are local and are interested in renting this arbor or know of anyone that is, please let me know! You can contact me through my porchswings n’ honeysuckle facebook page.

Have a great week you all!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canning Pears with Jello


What beautiful fall weather we are having! I wish it would stay like this for a long time..( preferably about six months ) :)


Blue sky..




Fall blooms..




I felt prompted to get this post uploaded today since we are nearing the end of pear season. I want to share a few different ways of canning pears that we have enjoyed in the past.

Last week I got a bushel of Bartlett pears at a local market. They were still too green so I laid them out on newspaper on the basement floor.



Pears are probably my least favorite fruit to can and these pears weren’t very nice at all. Some were tiny and some had brown spots. They are delicious though! It’s very time consuming to core and peal them, especially if there’s one person to hundreds of pears. :/




I put them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown.

After each bowl-full, I cut them into bite size chunks.



Then on into the jars they went…




For the jello pears, I added one small box of jello per jar.




You can use whatever flavor you like.


Next fill the jar with water, to the neck.



For regular pears (without the jello) I mixed 3 parts water to 1 part white sugar. Growing up, we used to always boiled the water and sugar, but I don’t and it turns out fine.

I also filled the jars to the neck with the sugar water.

After wiping the rims and putting the lids and rings on, they were ready to cold pack.

I placed them on a cooling rack or jar rings (to elevate them) in the canner.


I added water to the neck of the jars. After the canner was at boiling point, I boiled them for about ten minutes.. just enough time to seal the lids.

Adding the jello, gives the pears a nice, colorful look. (kids love them)

The jello doesn’t completely set in the fridge, but gives the pears a great flavor!

Jello pears…


Regular pears…


It’s such a rewarding feeling of setting food on the table that was canned by me and I know what all is in it!

I have a project going on in my workshop that I will share with you one of these days. It involves the most awesome beadboard that I found at a sale. I don’t even need to do anything with the finish.. it’s perfect!


Okay, I know that had nothing to do with pears, but I needed to share!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Canned Chicken Thighs



noun can·nery \ˈka-nə-rē\

: a factory where food is put into cans


Okay, so you are thinking how does this possibly fit in with makeovers, painting and DIY projects?

Well, I thought I would share a few other topics with you that I have found to be very helpful in my life.

Growing up in the community that I did, I was taught how to can and preserve food. Although I don’t always get it done the way mom used to, I do get some done that I will post about.

Don’t worry, I will still be sharing any makeovers and DIY projects that I feel might interest you. :) (presently I have about five ideas brewing) :o

This week one of my favorite local markets ran a special where you could buy 40 pounds of boneless chicken thighs for $39.60. I snagged a box on Tuesday.




Oh, I should talk about my “cannery” a bit. No, it’s not a factory like described above. It’s more like a drab, kinda dark area in our basement that could seriously use a makeover, but it does work great to work on large quantities of food.




At times I feel a little suffocated down there since some of the windows are almost covered in ivy and I’m at my best when I can at least see the outside while working indoors. I find that playing a little music helps with this. So Tuesday before working with the chicken, I set up my tablet to play Pandora.




First I washed the thighs and cut most of them in half. I think they fit into the jars better if the pieces aren’t too big.








Next they were ready to be put into jars. I used regular quart jars.






I added a teaspoon of salt to each jar and filled it to the neck with water.






After wiping the rim clean, they were ready for lids and rings. I turn the rings until they are snug, but not too tight. Often I buy lids in bulk since it’s a bit cheaper than the boxed ones.










For meat like this, I always use new jar lids. I have at times for juice, fruit, etc. used lids that were used before.


Now the jars are ready for the stockpots. Here’s the part where I am pretty old fashioned. I know there are pressure cookers out there to cut your cold packing time in half or more, but I have always canned with stockpots and since that works great, I haven’t yet tried another route.


You of course can’t set the jars directly on the base of the pot, so I use cooling racks and old  jar rings to get them off the bottom.








After setting the jars in, I fill the stockpots with warm water up to the necks of the jars.




I set them on the stove and turn the burners on high until they start to boil. I cold pack them for three hours. I turn the burners down once the water starts to boil,then I don’t have to worry about running out of water. If the water does get a little low, I add more hot water. I was always told to never let the pots run out of water, that the jars would explode. Thankfully I have never had to test that theory!

After they boiled for three hours, I set the jars out on newspaper, on the floor.







The 40 pounds of chicken gave us 28 quarts. After they cooled, I checked the jars to see if they sealed. A few of them didn’t. I refrigerated them, but they can also be re-cold packed if you wish. At times, I have also put the chicken and broth in freezer containers and frozen them for preservation. Often I just use it in the next few days for a meal.

After washing the jars, they were ready for the shelf!






What a great feeling knowing we have 28 meals of chicken ready to use anytime! In the future, I will share a few of our favorite family recipes to use this chicken with!

Have a great week, everyone! Thanks for visiting!