Tricolor Bouquet

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For this week’s bouquet, my husband picked up 3 bunches of Alstroemeria flowers for me. Also known as Peruvian Lillies, these inexpensive, long-lasting blooms are easy to find and come in a variety of colors. I love their easy-going charm. At first I considered distributing them, a stem or two each, into a bunch of different bottles, but then I got taken with the idea of massing them together in an ombré fashion. The size of the gesture appealed to me. The bouquet turned out looking more like stripes than ombré, but I still dig it.

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The vase was a vintage freebie from my in-laws when they were weeding their basement. The groovy harvest gold takes me way back- and works well with the colors in our living room!

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Cheese Dish Cover or Lampshade?

This weekend, my husband and I stumbled across one of those perfect garage sales:  the kind with oodles of stuff to poke through, where the sellers had similar tastes to ours, where the prices were reasonable, and where the sellers were ready and willing to bargain on top of all of that. So good! We made out like bandits, and we enjoyed chatting with some folks who were clearly kindred spirits.

One of my favorite finds? Check this brassy beauty out:

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Originally, I’m guessing this served to cover a font of holy water in a church. The lady selling it had mentioned which church it came from but that information has already slipped my mind. Alzheimer’s, here I come! At any rate, seeing as we’re a bit short on holy water in our home, I was planning to put this to a more mundane use instead.

Using it as a food cover leaps out as an obvious option. I have one of those charming old woven ones, and what with all the bugs, it is a crucial accoutrement when eating outside. This could serve the same function. The cross serves as a great handle, plus there’s the added bonus of it being so heavy that the wind wouldn’t dislodge it. On the downside, no one would be able to see the food it was covering, but that doesn’t seem insurmountable. Maybe with some sort of pinterest-y tag hanging from it, or a sign propped up next to it?

Another option would be to turn it into a lampshade. That might take some engineering because of its weight, but I think the end result could be quite lovely. I may even have a lamp that would work, possibly, but I’ll need to rewire it. Rewiring lamps is going to need to be a skill I pick up soon.

Something to think on, at any rate!

Our “New” Little Black Corvette

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette 006

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette

No, we did not get a new car, and my apologies to Prince. Frankly, what we did get is something that I think is almost better: through a friend-of-a-friend, my husband was able to pick up an amazing, new-to-us 1961 Schwinn 5-speed Corvette bicycle. Isn’t it lovely? The design is quite beautiful and apparently these bikes are rather hard to find. They were only manufactured for 18 months!

The details just get me:

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rear reflector

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starburst logo, graphic black and white brake lines

Beautifully made, plus the overall feel is pretty cushy. Yes, it is a bit heavy compared to modern bikes, but once you get going it’s a smooth and comfy ride.

The bike came from a fairly serious collector who was unloading some fascinating items from his varied collections. My husband was able to scoop up a few other great things, more to come on those shortly. Hopefully just more to come in general! This summer has been very busy. I had to make a choice: play or blog? Playing won. Lots of bike riding and kayaking when not working like the proverbial dog. Now I want to work on getting back posting more regularly!

Homemade Basil-Infused Lemonade

005Summer is on the way! My husband was inspired to make some fresh lemonade today. He used this recipe as his taking-off point: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_lemonade/. He followed the suggestion to use the lower amount of sugar listed in the recipe and he added one lime. Then he muddled about 8 leaves of holy basil, a variety of basil from India (Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as tulsi or tulasi) from our garden and added that to the lemon/lime juice. After chilling the completed mix in the fridge for a little bit, it was ready to drink.

Having a profound sweet tooth, I was a little sceptical about how lemonade would taste when made with less sugar, even though I liked the idea of cutting it. My verdict? Didn’t miss it at all. I would actually like to try cutting the amount of sugar down even more next time. Adding the basil really helped, I think. It was subtle, but it cut the tartness of the lemon in a nice way– it smoothed things out just a little.

003My husband used this nifty little vintage Juice-O-Mat of ours to juice the citrus. We picked it up somewhere along the way several years ago, either at an auction or perhaps at a garage sale. Frankly, we got it primarily for its good looks –and because it was a deal. It sat on a shelf for quite some– until today. I’m happy to say that beauty runs bone-deep for our little Juice-O-Mat. Not only is it good-looking, it is also well-designed. It was so easy to use! (Although this was my husband’s project, I did assist with harvesting the lemon juice.) No strain at all and it was very efficient at squeezing every last drop out of the lemons and limes. Now that we’ve given it a try, I suspect that we’ll be using it quite a lot from here forward. Nothing tastes as good as fresh does. Plus, I really value being able to control how much sugar is in my drink.004Next time we’re thinking it would be fun to muddle some fresh mint in place of the holy basil. Can’t wait to try it. Until then? Cheers!

Meet Bernard Blanc

Bernard 017The moment I saw the Craigslist posting last night, I was lost.  It read:

Antique Polar Bear Lawn Decoration  This was a gift from a neighbor who was moving to a tropical climate in which he would not fit her new decor! She fell in love with him in a French ice cream shop over 30 years ago and had him shipped to the States. He has moved with her throughout the mid-west since. When she moved she left him with us. He would be great in a restaurant, ice-cream shop or as a school mascot. He is aprox. 4′ tall and heavy!  A two person move for sure!  Cash only please.

There was a lopsided picture of the bear, sitting forlornly outside, dead leaves gathered at his paws. He was a little dirty, and one of his bottom paws was mutilated, but he was special and I just needed to make him mine. The asking price of $50 seemed completely reasonable to me. But I would need help retrieving him, and my husband maybe should have a say in such a matter. So I showed him the listing. Absent-mindedly (he was watching a baseball game at the time) he said, sure, okay. Good enough!  I contacted the owners immediately. They said the bear was still available and that we could pick him up either Saturday or Sunday.

In the cold light of morning, my husband was dismayed. Dismayed that I hadn’t bargained when I contacted the owners, hadn’t even tried. He wasn’t saying no, mind you, but I knew it would bug him eternally if we paid the full asking price.  I emailed the owner once again, explaining that my husband was needing a bit of convincing and that a price drop would probably seal the deal.  Would she take $40? She would! My husband was satisfied and so off we went.

Bernard 035I am ridiculously pleased.  I don’t, however, plan on using him as a garden decoration.  He’s now an indoor bear. My polar bear is ceramic, quite heavy, and very handsome.  And, according to stamps on his insides on the bottom, he really is French.  One, in English, read, “Made in France” while a second one read “Produit de Normandie” or something along those lines?  I don’t speak French and he’s so heavy that I just don’t feel like lifting him again right now to confirm, so that’s probably not spelled correctly or is grammatically displeasing or somehow incorrect.  (It’s really a 3 person job to move the bear, except that he is such an awkward shape.) Nevertheless, with that inscription, we even know what region of France he’s from!

I can’t help wondering how old he is.  I’m thinking kind of old.  Supposedly, he was shipped here 30 years ago, and I suspect he wouldn’t have been new then. And making a bear of his size out of ceramic seems costly —that’s a lot of clay, and you’d lose so many in the kiln while firing, I’d think.  And he’s pretty detailed.  An ice cream shop would find cement or fiberglass a more cost-effective way to make an advertising figure like this, no? So maybe he was made before the fiberglass technology got refined? Or maybe that’s just a very American material and the French are still popping out giant ceramic advertising figures to this day? I’d love to know more.

He strikes me as a boy bear, so I thought “Bernard Blanc” nodded suitably to both his bear-ness and his French heritage.  However, apparently the owner’s children had been calling him Aurora. In a weird coincidence, we’re supposed to have a great shot at seeing the Northern Lights in our area tonight.  So maybe the bear is a she and I should call her Ursula Borealis? Aurora Bearealis? Decisions, decisions…

Bernard 002Luckily, the pups seem mostly to be ignoring the bear. One of our cats is pretty fascinated and seems to want to climb him. I’ll take it.

Plates, Plates, Plates

As I’ve mentioned, I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to dishes/china/plates/pottery/and the like.  Perhaps because they combine beauty with functionality, I am a magpie about them.  When the price is right?  I can pretty much always justify adding to my collection. One of my favorite patterns?015

Free Form, by Metlox PoppyTrail California.  This pattern was produced in the 1950’s in 3 colorways: Free Form, Mobile, and Contempora.  (Same design, but filled in with different colors.  Contempora used gray, black, turquoise, and fuchsia; Mobile used turquoise, purple, yellow, and fuchsia; Free Form used the combination of brown, chartreuse, turquoise and yellow you can see above.)  All are pretty awesome, but I particularly love the color combination used in the Free Form variation.

My collection actually started with a few pieces in the Mobile colorway that I found for a song at a thrift store.  Lucky find, because this stuff isn’t usually super cheap*.  Here and there, at a positively glacial pace (maybe a piece every 2 or 3 years) I’ve added to my collection, tightening my focus to Free Form version.  I drool and dream about the carafe, the pitcher, and the boomerang bowl from this line.  Very rarely, they turn up on eBay, but always with starting prices ranging from $150-$400.  Ouch.  I hope that someday the yard sale gods will smile upon me!  Until then, I quite enjoy the few pieces I have.

007Here’s a cup and saucer in the Free Form pattern, and an amazing teapot from the late, great Kahiki.  The Kahiki was an old-school, compeletely fabulous , kitschy, themed-out Polynesian restaurant in Columbus, OH.  Sunday brunches there were really something special.  It opened in 1961 and closed in 2000.  RIP, Kahiki.

* A caveat concerning my definition of “expensive”.  I am a frugal collector.  The Mobile pieces with which I started my collection? $2.50 a piece at the thrift store.  So, for me, when the combined price and shipping for a plate or bit of china on eBay or whatever goes over about $15-$20, that gets to be awfully hard to justify.

A Sledding Odyssey

My husband and I took a few days off right after New Year’s Day.  There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground leftover from our Christmas storms, so on one of those days we decided to bust out our sleds and go find a good hill.

Not as easy as it sounds.  Central Ohio is fairly flat.  You kind of have to look around for hills.  But I thought I had the perfect one in mind:  the sledding hill out at Highbanks Metro Park.  Yes, a hill devoted to sledding!  It’s relatively steep, there’s a nice long run at the bottom so you don’t sled out into a road, they have a little hot chocolate shed nearby, they put hay bales around any hazards– it’s a pretty plush setup.  I’ve noticed this sledding hill for years while hiking in the park, but had never tried it before.  Off we went.sledding 005Only to find that the hill was CLOSED!  There was a big stern sign saying the hill was not open to sledders.  We went out several days after the snow fell, and I think all of the previous sledders had packed down the snow on the hill to the point that it was pretty much just a thick sheet of ice.

After a short hike on one of the park’s many trails:sledding 003

we set off to find another sledding option.

This time, we decided to try a hill behind the Groveport Recreation Center.  Not very high or steep, more of a large bump, really.  But again with a nice long open run at the bottom.  No dodging trees or cars!   Unfortunately, not enough other people had attempted to sled that little bunny hill.  The snow wasn’t packed down enough for the runners on our old-school sleds to work.  It was like trying to sled in wet concrete.  No amount of pushing would get the sleds moving.  Utter defeat.

By now we were rabid to sled down a hill, any hill, gosh darn it!  My husband used his phone to try to goggle another likely spot.  And he thought he found something.  Sycamore Park in Pickerington supposedly had sledding.  It was about 45 minutes until sunset.  We decided to try.

sledding 008Victory!!!  The sledding hills at Sycamore Park formed a kind of basin or natural amphitheater.  Some of the hills were higher than others, the snow was perfectly packed, the run at the bottom was long and obstacle-free, and there was even a nice jump on one of the hills.  And since schools were back in session, we had the whole place to ourselves.

sledding 017I even managed to catch some air off the jump a few times, it was great fun!

sledding 014Our old-school, wood-with-metal-runners sleds worked perfectly here.  Nice speed with a good long glide off the bottom of the hills.  We’d picked the 2 of them up for maybe $3.00 at an estate sale a while ago, it was fun to finally put them to use.sledding 018Good stuff!  Our sledding odyssey was totally worth the effort.

An added bonus?  Sycamore Park turned out to be home to the Fairfield County Bicentennial Barn.  Ohio celebrated its statehood bicentennial in 2003.  As part of the festivities, a barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties was painted with the bicentennial logo.  I’ve seen some, but mostly because, being visible from highways, a few of them are quite easy to view.  It was an unexpected pleasure to bump into this one on our sledding excursion.

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