Category Archives: Kitchens

New Curtains

This morning I’ve renewed my efforts to do something different for our kitchen windows. For several years the kitchen theme has been a red/white/green cheerful, kind of a 40’s look. Red rick-rack and all that.

But then, as women do, I started thinking about something different. Although not something so different that would require wall painting, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – the kitchen could certainly do with a new coat of paint, but I just can’t face packing up everything and all the rest of it that goes with a painting project.

So, I’m going to be contented (for now) with new curtains, potholders, and a few other things.

Our dining table was the one that my parents bought in 1965 from a discount furniture place in Tulsa. Can you imagine yourself 46 years from now still using a table from a discount place?

I guess they don’t even make discount furniture like they used to.

Anyway, the table (which you may have seen in some of my photos under some of my projects) has a brown, woodgrain formica top with a house and trees painted in 2 opposite corners. The accent paint color is kind of an aqua.

Then our son’s girlfriend gave me a cat and fish wind chime for Christmas, which is Very nice and she really shouldn’t have spent that much money. But it is nice and I really like it. The colors are the same as in the table. So the blue/green/aqua colors of the mid-60s are what I’m going with for the new look.

To fit in with my “Using What You Have” thoughts for this year, the curtain fabric is some that my sister gave me.

Now, Don’t have a cow: it’s fleece.

I know, I know. Fleece just isn’t curtain fabric. But it is in my house.

Our kitchen windows are on the south with no shade, which is nice in January, but not in Texas in August. And the window shades just weren’t very effective, besides which, they’re shot.

My sister pointed out that fleece is too bulky to make the rod pocket, and I don’t want to do tabs, because that would let light in around the tops and I’d have to buy new curtain rods (or come up with something else), so….

I’m hand printing/stenciling cats and coffee cups in green and turquoise on a piece of old sheeting to add to the tops for rod pockets. One thing I’ve learned with using acrylic paint for fabric painting: it helps to thin it a little bit with water, but not too much. I had too much water in the mix and then had to add more paint. But with it thinned a little it helps it to look more like fabric dye than gloppy paint. I tend to buy only basic colors, so I had green, but not the turquoise. For it, I mixed the green with some dark blue, then a little white to lighten it. Amazingly enough (thank you, Lord!), it is exactly the color of the fleece.

Yesterday I tried sewing a patchwork top on, but it just didn’t look right.

We’ll see how the hand printed fabric turns out.

So far, so good.

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Filed under Crafts - Cheap, Free, Home, Kitchens, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have

House Altered Book, Using What I Have on Hand

My activities are still very limited – mostly to what I can do sitting or lying down. Lying down means reading, watching a video or working crossword puzzles.

Sitting activities are a bit less confining. My ability to concentrate has improved; so I decided to try making an altered book this week.

The theme is a house. I love the look of kitchens from the 1930s – 1950s. Especially with that soft green color. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I don’t know what it is. If you do, please tell me in the comment section.

To get inspiration and some ideas, I did a search on youtube for altered books and I watched a lot of them. All of them had merit, because there really aren’t any rules concerning altered books; they are as individual as the people who create them. Click here and here to watch a couple of my favorites. (Each of these has more than 1 part. After watching, look in the sidebar for the subsequent parts.)

And, as always, I wasn’t exactly sure of how to start, so I simply started anyway.

Usually, it’s difficult for me to begin a new project because I’m not working from a kit, with directions. I think it must be kind of like a writer sitting down to begin a new work and they face the blank page. Knowing that once I get into the project, it will become apparent what works and what doesn’t. But by then, the first ones may not fit in with the rest as much as I like.

The fear of dissatisfaction has kept me from doing many, many things. And now I know
that perfection won’t be obtained this side of heaven, so I feel freer to start.

Hooray! It won’t be perfect!

So after watching the youtube videos for a couple of days, I started gathering my tools (small scissors, decorative edge scissors, gel pen, heat gun, stapler, crimper, glue stick, Tacky Glue, etc.) and my supplies (magazines, decorative scrap paper, ribbon, paint, stamp pad, Ultra Thick, etc.) and an old phone book to use as my base (it works great; when the top page gets too messy or gluey to work on, I simply tear it off and use the next one).

If you’ve been around scrapbook stores or have been to a “party” like Stampin’ Up, my supplies will look totally out of place. Not professional at all, because I like to use what I have instead of spending money that I can’t afford to do it their way. For instance, bone folders are considered a basic necessity. I use an old Kinko’s account card (looks like a credit card) and it works just fine.

The book that I altered for this project is a mathematics magazine (it has regular typing paper-type pages — not the slick kind that most magazines have and it’s bound by staples rather than a glued edge). Since our son has his B.S. in math, we have a ton of these magazines that he no longer wants. Ordinarily, we would recycle them. Instead I use them. I think the current term is re-purpose.

The first step was to prepare the base. Red acrylic paint was thinned down to a very watery consistency on a Corelle saucer (not a store bought paint palette) and painted around the edges of the two pages. After drying, a salvaged gray junk mail envelope was affixed with a glue stick on the left side, and pink construction paper was glued down on the right.

When making altered books I don’t try to use acid-free materials. Since I’m 55 years of age, they won’t have to last forever. I really don’t have anyone to inherit these projects, so it doesn’t matter if they don’t last a hundred years. For things with family photos I’m very strict about using only acid free materials.

Instead of buying packages of that wonderful ephemera for embellishments, I photocopy all kinds of things, enlarging or reducing them, as needed. Magazines, catalogs, junk mail, packaging material are wonderful resources.


For instance, the vases of flowers that border the left and right sides came from a clothing catalog. The pages are nice and thick, which made it easy to tear. Two of the phrases (‘This house is peaceful” and “make your house a home”) were clipped from magazines. The brown dotted paper ribbon at the top and bottom were cut from the cover of a Christmas paper pad.

As I said, I mostly use glue sticks (instead of those proper costly products like the double stick tape). For things needing a stronger fixative (like buttons), I use Tacky glue.

The green medallion was made from part of a green magazine page, which was stamped, glued to chipboard from a cereal box and cut out. Then I dabbed it with a watermark stamp pad, coated it with Ultra Thick, and melted it with the heat gun to make it shiny. It should’ve had a second coat. That was something that I learned by experience.

I had a lot of fun making this book and it didn’t cost me a dime. As I worked on it, I thought about how there are so many different kinds of altered books, using many different types of materials. One of the youtube videos that I listed above used solely commercial materials. They make a great looking book.

And I thought about why I get such fun out of cutting up the magazines and thinking up ways of getting a particular look without having to buy a lot of things.

I think it’s because when I was a girl, my sister and I cut furniture and paper dolls out of the discarded Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, and this is very reminiscent of those long ago days.

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Filed under Altered Books, Cozy, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Dogs, Ephemera, Kitchens, Thrift, Using What You Have, YouTube

Chocolate Syrup

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from The Tightwad Gazette II


This recipe is from Amy Dacyczyn’s book The Tightwad Gazette II, which I highly recommend. It’s good for making chocolate milk, hot chocolate or an ice cream topping. Since the publication date is 1995, I’m sure the price of Hershey’s chocolate syrup has gone up. I don’t know because I haven’t bought any for years.

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It is cheaper and tastes better than commercial chocolate syrup. Just don’t overcook it. You will end up with something like fudge sauce, which is great over ice cream, but difficult to dissolve in a glass to make chocolate milk.

It doesn’t take very long to make; after it comes to a boil, you only cook it 3 minutes. It’s easy to make, our grandson almost always asks for it and if we don’t have any in the refrigerator, he loves to help his grandpa make some.

And while it’s cooking, well, that fragrance in the kitchen is like perfume.

This post is linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom

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Filed under Books, Cookbooks, Cooking, Family, Kitchens, Thrift

Kitchens, etc.

Can’t title this one ‘Bathing Beauty’ because that little girl is me, but I can say that I wish I was still that cute.

Bath in Kitchen Sink, June 1955

This is our kitchen in 1955. Notice my brother’s Roy Rogers lunch pail on the counter; or it could have been my sister’s. These were the cabinets we had until my dad and brother started their new business venture, Edens and Son General Contractors.

Carl Edens about 1965

Carl Edens about 1965


Daddy had a very strong work ethic (his first job was taking drinking water out to the oil field workers in Oklahoma at age six, about 1915), but McDonald Douglas Aircraft+government contracts= frequent layoffs. When the contract ran out, he would work at home remodeling, construction, roofing; whatever he could find and it was usually in the winter.

Carl Edens about 1966
(Notice the clothes pin bag hanging by the back door on the left. This time Daddy doesn’t have a cigarette, that’s a kitchen match in his mouth; he smoked a lot and if he didn’t have a cigarette in his mouth, he usually had a toothpick or a matchstick there.)

Anyway, about 1965 his income became much steadier and bountiful. It wasn’t long before my parents decided the kitchen needed a new look. My brother and sister-in-law had bought a new home and my mother liked her cabinets so much that she used Carolyn’s as a model.

The appliances were kind of a chocolate brown, the stovetop was set into the counter, and the oven was built into the cabinet area. 60s modern! No more bending over to look inside. Right after this photo was taken, they bought a matching brown side-by-side Sears refrigerator. Sears Best. And it must have been, because that refrigerator lasted until about 1994!

Antiques were not popular then, and my mother has never really understood their attraction, unless it’s the really high end items. She said she grew up with old stuff and she didn’t want any more of it. (Funny because that’s what my friend said the day we went to the antique mall and tea room. That was her first trip to an antique store and she didn’t understand the allure of wash boards, etc.) So, every 4 or 5 years, we’d get new furniture or a new car. My parents really knew the value of a dollar and got the most for it. We never shopped in south Tulsa (the affluent area) but they got as good a value for their money as they could. Daddy was a Ford man. I only knew one person who drove a Buick or an Oldsmobile and that was my uncle who worked for an oil company.

All that was to say, that when our income went up, my parents responded by improving what they had instead of going for something bigger and nicer. They remodeled the kitchen and then paid off the mortgage on the house about 4 years later.

Mingo is no longer there. Well, of course, the land is still there and some of the trees but in 1992, the airport bought all the land and moved everyone out because of the noise problem. The houses are gone. What remains of my mother’s new kitchen is a cabinet door they removed when Daddy bought her a new dishwasher and had it installed. My husband drilled holes in the old door to make us a Wa-hoo board.

I’m so glad he did.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Family, Kitchens, Mingo, Oklahoma

Kitchen Tables

our house, 1967

Houses were much smaller when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Even new houses in Tulsa were small. I grew up in Mingo, just north of the city, a tiny community where none of the houses were new.

Nearly everyone in Mingo ate their meals at the kitchen table. There were almost no dining rooms in my neighborhood. I can only remember 2. Every night families gathered together after their day to share the evening meal. Late afternoon activities that would interfere with a meal were unheard of. Kids in my neighborhood didn’t have dance lessons, and very rarely piano lessons. I had heard there was a boys Little League team but in those days it would not have interfered with the evening meal.

It was a working class neighborhood. After school (and maybe a little television), weather permitting, children played outside: little kids played with dolls or cars, yard games like Hopscotch, Hide and Seek, Statues, Red Light-Green Light, or dress-up and make believe; bigger kids rode their bikes, played driveway basketball, or impromptu softball. Mothers prepared the evening meal. Dads came home from work.

Families sat down together and ate dinner. Webster defines ‘dinner’ as the principal meal of the day. My mother always referred to our evening meal as supper, because when she was a girl, the noon meal was the big one and her mother called it dinner. But unlike her growing up years when her father operated a country store a hundred yards from her house, my father worked at Douglas Aircraft or on a construction job and was too far away at noon to come home and eat. But old habits die hard, and even though she cooked every night, she still called it supper.

So, kitchens were an integral part of our homes.

The kitchen table was where my mother cut out the fabric for the clothes she made for us, where we did our homework, played cards or dominoes on Saturday night and met again each evening over home cooked food. I can remember the table covered with waxed paper and freshly glazed yeast doughnuts that my mother made. And how it felt to sit on my dad’s lap and learn how to play dominoes and Hearts; I don’t remember ever being told to go away while the grown-ups played cards. It was where I sat while my mother helped me practice my spelling words. At Christmas, I made marshmallow snowmen and helped my mother put stamps on Christmas cards. I must have been pretty young the first time because I remember 4 cent stamps – this was a penny less than normal postage for envelopes that weren’t sealed.

Our kitchen, 1966

Our kitchen, 1966


Somehow my mother was able to cook the holiday meals – from scratch – in the same room we ate in and kept it looking nice for the meal. My dad was a John Wayne type but he helped her cook Christmas dinner. However, on Thanksgiving morning, he and my brother were always out hunting. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were always at noon, and I can remember that I used to worry that they wouldn’t be back from hunting so that we could eat on time. They nearly always were.

My family was not able to pass down many family mementos. In 1937, my maternal grandparents home and store were covered with flood water for 2 weeks, ruining nearly everything they had. A few photographs survived and a Bible that still has the silt from the Ohio River dried in its pages. My father’s family had to leave everything at a friend’s house when they left Oklahoma when my grandmother died in the mid-1920’s. They were never able to retrieve their possessions. Oddly enough, only my grandfather’s blacksmithing anvil remains. It weighed about 100 pounds.

So, I didn’t inherit really old family treasures, but I do have several things from my childhood and one of them is our kitchen table. Not the first one I remember – 1950’s chrome and gray formica topped. The one they bought in 1964 – brown, wood grain formica with painted scenes in two opposite corners. It’s the one you can see in the background of some of my recipe and craft posts.

It’s not valuable or even particularly lovely to anyone else. Our home isn’t big enough to have a dining room, so our old table sits in the middle of our kitchen. It’s the one that my dad sat at to feed our sons, and it’s the one we sit around with our grandsons and share meals when they come to visit.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Family, Kitchens, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Using What You Have