Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Under normal circumstances all I can think about, this time of year, is my gardens....but normal circumstances do not apply, this year!!
While I AM thinking about my gardens....I am, also, obsessed with a multitude of projects IN the house!
It's an odd combination of needing to be organized, finding purpose for the various spaces in the house, wanting every nook and cranny to be pretty....and taking care of the past!
I know, for a lot of parents, the whole "empty nest" thing can be traumatic. But....all of my kids are settled and happy....and that's all that really matters. They can't live with you forever....they need to find their own "nests"...and that's a good thing!
However....sometimes they leave quite a few belongings behind....after all....Mom and Dad have a big attic....so there is a "sorting" process that takes a little time. And...when you own a small business and don't HAVE that much time...it takes even longer!
From the very first time we set foot in our home....in spite of all that it DIDN'T have going for it....I knew what I wanted it to be. I knew what it COULD be! I have, always, concentrated on the first floor when it came to decorating....the "public" floor. The upstairs was full of toys and books....clothes and shoes....jewelry and collections....music and electronic equipment! The kids had their spaces...even if it was short term. But, eventually, their "lease" was up....and those spaces became mine...(well....except for the room devoted to my grandson's toys and trains!)
I have started from scratch....with the paint colors....exactly where I started with the downstairs! Bit by bit....and we still have painting to do....we are finding the "groove"...color pallets that are making me happy! And....bit by bit....I am finding that decorating upstairs (even if no one EVER sees anything I do!!!) is just as exciting as decorating downstairs!
When I decorate...I tell a story. I have pieces that I have collected over the years....as well as many, many pieces that I have been trusted to take care of....and I put them all together in little displays that make you want to really study each object. Many of my favorite decorations have history. Some of the history is someone else's story.....and some of it is mine! I have many, many treasured collections and pieces of the past....my past....that were entrusted to me.
Just about everything I hold near and dear was given to me by my MomMom. Antiques and family heirlooms as well as hobbies and interests. In the process of re-claiming the upstairs portion of our home....I am finding a permanent place for memories!
I am going to try to find a few minutes....in between painting and sewing and gardening....to show you some of my projects....and tell a few stories, too! After all of this hard work....I want someone to see the results!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Thursday, April 14, 2016
I know this Winter could have been worse (if you can, somehow, forget about that blizzard!!) but it seemed to drag on longer than usual!
This time of year my OUTSIDE to-do list is always very long...but I have managed to get myself in a real pickle, this year. Not only are all of my outside chores and projects calling me....but I have started about 15 INSIDE projects that all need to be finished, too!
I got this bright idea to re-paint our kitchen cabinets. And, right around the same time, I was inspired to do a little makeover in our upstairs bathroom. Well....that turned into a little more than a LITTLE makeover....I painted furniture in addition to all of the walls and woodwork. And then....I was so excited with how well the kitchen cabinets turned out....I decided that the kitchen needed a new paint job, too! And....I was so excited with how well the furniture in the bathroom turned out that I thought I would paint a few more pieces!!
Now....just about every room in the house is upside down...waiting for one, two....or seven...projects to get done....and my garden is wondering where I am!! Luckily....for my "guilt-o-mometer" it has been cold, wet and/or very windy every Monday since "Spring" arrived....but, I think that is about to come to an end!
This, probably, wouldn't be any big deal if I weren't SO type A....and if our home weren't such a sanctuary. I NEED it to be clean and organized....and pretty.....and warm and welcoming....at all
times! It is what keeps me sane in this crazy, fast paced, pressure filled life that I have created.
So....how about you? Do you have a few (hundred????) Spring projects on your to-do list? If so....what are you planning??
I will try to post some pictures as we accomplish things....I'm sure there are plenty of other people, out there, who love to look at fun before and after DIY projects....maybe there are even a few other people who have over extended themselves!! Seriously....please tell me I am not the only one!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Thursday, April 14, 2016
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
The whole Holiday turned out to be somewhat of a challenge, this year!
About a week or so before Easter our refrigerator (at home) started making a strange "buzzing" sound. It was short lived (at first) but...something we kept an eye (or ear) on...at least to the best of our ability since we aren't really home much!! I put a thermometer inside and kept a watchful eye....but, pretty quickly, it became obvious that someone needed to take a look at it!
That, however, turned out to be quite the challenge! We called many, many different places and no one seemed to have the time to come out and take a look!! After the first couple of phone calls....my husband started to describe the noise it was making and ask for "professional opinions" as to the likelihood of it's survival. The thinking here being that, perhaps, we would just be better off, not only getting a new one, but that getting a new one would be FASTER than getting someone to come out and look at our old one!!
As it turns out....that was not the case!
Our refrigerator was in ICU....but the decision to end it's life came after a very, very long Saturday (Easter pick up day at the shop!!!) when I said....just pull the plug!!!! Now....I, characteristically, always look on the bright side. It is a really, really good thing that we own a restaurant and not a furniture store!! All of our food could go in the refrigerator at the shop!! However.....preparing a Holiday meal without a refrigerator.....was a challenge!!!!!!!!!
The good news...the new one (which could NOT be delivered any faster than having a repairman come out and look at the old one!!) is in it's new home! And....we survived!
I have never been one to back down from a challenge. In fact....I have been known to be a little obsessed by them. I NEED to find solutions....I am a "fixer"!! (Are there support groups for this?)
I must say, though, that I would prefer not to be THAT challenged when I am, already, dealing with the challenges that come with every Holiday!! As is the norm....I had to make "a call" and decide when we were "booked" for Easter bakery orders. It....like Easter itself....came early, this year!! We had orders starting to come in right after Christmas!! I keep a close eye on the growing stack....and tally, and count, and make list after list....but, eventually, I always get to the point where I feel like I just can't take another order!! If you were one of the customers I had to turn away....I am sorry!! But....almost 22 years of doing this has taught me to go with my gut and know my limitations!! And....as much as I would like to imagine that I don't HAVE any.....I know that I do!!
Could we expand....put in more ovens....hire more help....make more and more and more? Probably. But that is just NOT what I want....not why I started this business!! I make it all.....from scratch....just like I do for my own family. And....that's the way I want it to stay!! I hope you understand!
I, also, hope you had a wonderful Easter.....and that the ONLY challenge YOU had was remembering where you hid the eggs!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I know the current trend is white. White, off white, beige, taupe, linen.....white.
There is something very calming about those rooms of white...and shades of white....it's kind of like when a fresh snowfall covers the drab landscape.
I appreciate this trend. I love to look at the pictures of those rooms. However....I couldn't live in those rooms!
Our home is full of color. Red, green and black (yes black!) are, pretty much, my go-to colors. While the white pallet is calming and serene....the rich, saturated colors that I prefer are warm and comforting...like a hug!!
Now....having said that....we are in the process of repainting our entire upstairs. I have found myself leaning towards off white, taupe and beige! Well....not exactly! I love burlap. I love the color and texture. The first wall color I decided on was a variation of burlap. We painted all of the trim a warm, clean white....yup....white!! It is beautiful!! We painted the next room a really pretty "grayish" burlap and, yesterday, we finished the bathroom!! Another...slightly lighter...shade of burlap. Each of the rooms are different....have their own personality....but flow together seamlessly!
Now....In my defense....all of these color choices have proven to be a wonderful backdrop for my collections....my collections that are FULL of color!! Those rich, saturated, time worn colors that I love!
Even my collecting habits go against the trends....I have stuff...lots and lots of stuff!! I will never live in a space without my collections!! Finding new treasures...and displaying them...is one of my greatest joys! It makes me happy!!
So....the point of this story? Well....don't follow trends.....make your house YOUR home. Surround yourself with what you love....and with whatever makes you happy! And....most importantly....paint something white....you're going to love it!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Monday, February 15, 2016
I don't know how you feel about this....but Spring can show up any time!
It's really not about the weather. As I sit here writing this...it is snowing....again. But, under normal circumstances I don't mind the snow....as long as it comes in "normal" quantities!!!! And it's not because we experienced bitter cold temperatures over the weekend.....although that really was not fun! (Why on earth do people LIVE where those temperatures are "normal"???)
No....it's not because of the weather. It's because I miss my garden....my flowers, my herbs, my birds....and because Spring is one of my favorite times of the year!
Just like clockwork...it happens every single year without fail....my "want to-do" list is formulating and getting long!! I want to do some painting....a little sprucing up! I already have a beautiful new...very "farmhouse" color picked out for our bathroom! I want to do a little sprucing up in the bathrooms at the shop, too! I bought some new fabric to make a new skirt for our downstairs bathroom sink....and I am looking at some new curtains for the gift shops. I am, also, planning on doing some re-arranging in the gift shops...I love to make everything look new and fresh....and to find new merchandise that will inspire you!
Springtime is THE time for renewal...outside AND inside, too! And....nothing inspires the creative juices like warmer temperatures and the beautiful colors of Spring!
Yeah....I don't know about you....but I am ready!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, February 15, 2016
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
An innocent question. Or the beginnings of a firestorm!
If you live where the "blizzard of 2016" hit....you know that is, pretty much, all anyone has been talking about. The interesting thing, though, is that no two conversations are the same.
There are people who are singing the praises of the road crews...people who are angry and frustrated because those very same road crews are not doing a very good job. There are people who are talking about how their neighbors and communities came together and worked...side by side...to clean up their little corner of the world....and there are people who still can't find their cars...or who cleaned out their space only to be plowed right back in again. There are those who took out their snow shovels and did the responsible thing...and cleaned up those sidewalks....and those who still haven't touched them.
So....why so many different takes on the very same storm?
I think one of the explanations lies in our personalities.
I can really only SPEAK for myself......but I can observe others and draw conclusions.
My take....as much as we all would like to believe that we have a handle on the weather....we do not. You can check on what the weather experts are saying 24/7 via all kinds of avenues...TV, computer, phone....but, the bottom line, just because "they" are telling you something doesn't make it "so"....and Mother Nature is driving this bus! Sometimes "they" are right....but, just as often, "they" are wrong. So....observation....watching the weather is a pleasant diversion....sort of like reading your horoscope.
Another observation....the world is made up of all kinds of people. There are people who try to find the good in everyone and people who are just plain miserable. There are people who do "the right thing" and people who wait for someone else to do "the right thing" for them. There are people who take others feelings and situations into consideration....and people who only care about themselves. If you would like to observe all of this for yourself....head to the grocery store two days AFTER a storm. Just stand still....people watch. Watch the ones who are in the middle of the aisle...blocking the way....maybe on their phones....completely oblivious to everyone else (I am going to assume they have not done their sidewalks...) and then there are people who are picking up the things that they need...as well as a few things for their elderly neighbors (I am going to assume they are part of that community that worked together to clean up the whole neighborhood!)
As I said before....I can only observe and draw conclusions for others....but I can SPEAK for myself. I do not do well when I am not in control. Period. And there is no...NO...situation that you have less control of than the weather....and what happens AFTER a weather event. My opinion....the roads aren't horrible....but I think they could have been better. That brining thing that they wasted days and dollars accomplishing....was a dreadful waste of time, energy and money. There should be a "Plan B" in place for "historical" weather events....better to be prepared for something that never happens than to be unprepared. I think our little town (and many, many others...) were unprepared. I think if you love the snow...that's just wonderful....but there comes a time when you should keep that to yourself! And now would be that time! I think if you have a job that you can do from the cozy comfort of your home....or one for which you continue to get a paycheck even if you don't, actually, work...that's super awesome for you....but there are an awful lot of people who NEED to get somewhere....work, an appointment (perhaps the doctor...) who would like for you to be quiet!
We will be starting our 22nd year in business this Summer (ah....Summer!!) and, although everyone is claiming the reasons for all of the, current, problems is the "historic" nature of this storm, I have witnessed the inability to handle snow (even less historic amounts....) many, many times over those 22 years! Taking into consideration my problem with lack of control....I am seriously considering taking this bull by the horns....does anyone know where to find a used front end loader? Craig's List??
Posted by A piece of cake at Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
I love, love, love the Holidays....starting with Halloween all the way through Christmas and New Year's Day....but there is so much to do...decorating, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping...there isn't a lot of "extra" time.
But....once the decorations are all put away (and my Snowman and Valentine's Day collection is out!!) there is a little time to think about something else. Now....let's be clear....there is just a "little" time.....because...before you know it...it'll be time to think about gardening projects!!! (And after the snowstorm, yesterday....the sooner the better!!) but January and February are perfect for those indoor endeavors!
When you are the "caretaker" of antique properties (and we own TWO!!) most of the time those projects involve maintenance....painting is, usually, at the top of the list! But....there's always time for some other things too!
And, right now, I am obsessed with old recipes!!
A few months ago I pulled out all of my grandmother's recipe collection. I have four separate "collections"...notebooks and recipe files. They are full of newspaper and magazine clippings and hand written recipes. There are quite a few "typed" copies, too! Typed....like on a type writer!! 😊 The hand written copies are not in her handwriting. They were shared by someone she knew. I go through those pieces of paper...carefully!!!...and think "this must be a great recipe" after all...someone took the time to copy it and pass it along. And aren't those the best?
There are definitely many, many more "treat" recipes than "dinner" choices. Pound cakes and pies, cookies and candy....and that's fine with me!
There is a place for fancy, (over)decorated, trendy baked goods....but not in my world! I love the old recipes....the old-fashioned, homemade, nostalgic...HAPPY recipes!! We are so lucky....we have access to Pinterest, Facebook and Blogs. They are today's newspaper and magazine clippings....they are how WE "share" recipes!
Someone takes the time to cook or bake something...and it makes people HAPPY....and then they pass it along!! Old-fashioned ideas....just a new way of doing it!!
I am, slowly, working my way through these recipes....picking out the ones I want to try. Once I settle on one...I will take the time to bake it and then "pass it along" right into the bakery case at Sweet Memories!! With any luck...it will make all of you happy! After all....making people happy is my job....and, usually, it's a piece of cake....or pie, or cookies!
If you have an old recipe, or two, that has been making people happy....pass it along!
Posted by A piece of cake at Sunday, January 24, 2016