PHEW! Ok, holidays have been survived! I achieved a goal – doing all my Christmas gifts HAND MADE. Cue the “awwws”. My mom taught me from a young age (probably something she learned from her crafty mom) that things made by hand are made from the heart. She always appreciated a gift someone took the time to personalize or make from scratch, and I have found the same to be true. I picked organic fruit to make jellies from scratch, layered dry ingredients to make soup mixes in mason jars and crafted ornaments. Little, tiny birdhouses were painted with care, and everything was wrapped up in IKEA boxes that my husband assembled.. which I still count as hand made! Hah!
My most time consuming, or OCD moment, was in making labels for the jellies. I sat behind my lovely little MacBook into the wee hours of the night drawing up little images for my jelly, making labels and instructions for the mixed bean soup, and then gluing it all together. Then, I slept.
Oh wait, did I mention that in the middle of Christmas Crafting my husband and I bought a house?!
Yes, yes we did. We saw it for the first time just before Thanksgiving, made an offer, negotiated, and signed before Christmas.
And the we moved. Needless to say, this has been the most hectic holiday of my life. I think I’m still in the “shocked to have found the house of our dreams” phase, mixed heavily with the “I can’t wait to get started on projects to make this our home” phase. I’m not complaining. We have a few acres, we’re on top of a hill, and our house abuts 400 acres of conservation land. Uhm. Yeah. It’s dreamy. I find myself getting misty-eyed on walks with the dog, when we come across this:
All of the trails are marked, and as people have moved in, they have added their own trails to their properties. This one goes to our neighbors’ – namely, to their garden house/shed, at the back of their property. Guess we will have to get a sign of our own! I think that will be a project for the spring. Next up? Painting.. kitchen ch-ch-changes and thrifting for furniture for our very empty house. Watch this space!
Fresh from the thrift-farm – ripe and rusty
Please excuse me while I dream about a vintage farm where skeleton keys grow from heavy branches, and a shovel in the ground produces a bucket full of antique knockers. Err.. door knockers, of course! During the course of gardening and landscaping I did manage to find oddities such as horseshoes, pottery/ceramics and coins, but nothing like the beautiful patina that is on this little green tool box. As soon as I laid eyes on him I knew he was coming home with me, and at a price of one dollar nothing was going to stop me! The other thing I knew was that I wanted to keep the rusted, rugged appearance.
I started by giving it a quick washing with a piece of lint-free cotton, and hit it with a brush to remove any loose debris. This cleaned up most of the surface dirt, and got rid of any rust that was breaking away. The next step was scraping off a few super old stickers/pieces of tape. I did this as carefully as I could so as to not introduce any more scratches to the places where the paint was still intact.
Now it became important to use a sealant that would preserve the mixed finish that was already on the tool box, keep the rust from flaking, and help in evening the roughness of the raised surface.
This paste wax, formulated for metals, wood and paints (interior only!) will work wonders for this. Anyone embarking on a rust-covering experiment should realize that this product will change the color of the rust. It will deepen the orange to a more ruddy brown, so be prepared for that.
I like to work my wax into scrap piece of muslin about 5″x5″. Throw on a pair of gloves, lay the muslin over your hand and scoop up an amount of the wax. I used about a tablespoon’s worth of wax for this box, and still had some left in the fabric. Twist the corners of your fabric to give you a handle to maneuver the wax over your work surface. Massage the wax through the material, and then rub it onto the surface. It doesn’t really matter how you apply – across any grain, or in a circular fashion. What matters is that you get a nice and even distribution of the wax. This is smelly business! Open some windows or work outside if weather allows. Give your piece about 20-30 minutes (maybe longer if it’s cold, like it was today) to dry. You’ll know it’s ready because the once clear wax will have turned a milky, hazy color. Now use a FRESH piece of lint-free cloth like an old t-shirt to buff the hazy wax until it has a great shine. I found the top, most rusted bit, absorbed almost all of the wax, so I might give it another treatment to make sure it’s well-sealed.
And that’s it! Once it’s buffed it’s all set. Anything that is sealed with wax should be cared for well. It’s not the strongest or most protective sealant available today and can’t be put outside. However, it does give a beautiful luster to everything it’s applied to. I don’t think the look of the piece changed much, which is good because that was my intention, but it does feel different. Now I’m off to fill this bad boy with my tools.
Beautiful, whole foods
This is a truly end of summer recipe. This was the final cucumber to be retrieved from the little beachy garden, and I wanted to really enjoy it’s flavors. There was an avocado kicking around, and with a handful of ingredients I was ready to whip up something green and cool for the unseasonably warm day we had today.
So, let’s get to it!
What You Need:
a blender (my little immersion blender works great)
1 decently sized cucumber
juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove or a teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 cup plain yogurt (fat-free, low-fat, full fat, Greek.. however you like it!)
Optional: Few sprigs of mint to make it SUPER COOL
What To Do:
If you have a store-bought cucumber, peel it. Otherwise, cut in half length wise. Scoop out the ooey-gooey inside, but don’t dig too deep. You don’t want to lose the flesh of the veg. Slice a few more times length-wise, then chop into little chunks. Toss into the blender. Next, halve and pit your avocado. Trusty spoon works here, too. Dig out the tender green meat of your avocado and layer over the cucumber. Finally, add your yogurt, lemon juice and minced garlic. Blend it! Ohhh yah. It should be creamy and smooth. At this point, you can easily put in the fridge for a few hours, but… I wanted to eat it right away as an afternoon snack. So, toss in your mint and blend it up a bit more. Then, dish up and crack some pepper over each dish. Makes about two servings, but can be easily scaled up for more!
I mandolined a few pieces of the cucumber before slicing in-half for garnish
When my husband and I got together I came with two cats, and he came with a dog. Neither of us was much for the others’ pets in theory. (I’d had a dog as a child, but one that his would fit neatly inside of were she so inclined as to eat terriers.) Undaunted, my furry fluff balls preened on his lap and wooed him even with his allergies. The dog, who comes with quite the story to be shared at another time, didn’t need to do as much convincing as I’d lead myself to believe. He is, after all, pretty adorable, and I’m a mush. That being said, the pets as a whole are basically oil and water, and we haven’t managed to get them to mix – yet.
A few years on and now the pooch has become a bit of a momma’s boy. He follows me around the house and whines incessantly when I go anywhere without him. I think I find it more endearing than the husband to whom the mongrel belonged to before I came in the picture. That said, he mostly shrugs and smiles, and then soothes the little beast while I’m out in town creeping through people’s old treasures.
I’ve also taken to something quiet unexpected. Cats, being fairly self-contained and somewhat pretentious little animals – have little time for dress up. They enjoy when I sew them a catnip toy, or a comfy new pillow to sprawl across, but tiny little outfits are beyond their comfort.
Well-Travelled Dog? Oh… he loves an outfit. And he wears them SO well.
A gentleman ought to travel abroad, but dwell at home – Thomas Fuller
What’s that? A little jacket, you say?
He is also a very spectacular model, rolling over on cue to display his little belt. I used a old wool jacket for the canine coat, cut up and re-purposed on the super cheap, from a half-price in blazers day at the local Hospital Thrift. Whole project might have cost me $5 – and that’s not bad, for couture. The dapper outfit was put on display at a wedding in New Hampshire, and I hope he’s not too shy to wear it to a few more events this Fall. Original pattern comes from Canine Couture, though it’s been pretty heavily modified.
I’ve got to admit, I’ve been a little slow to post my precious finds. I’m keeping them all to myself! A few weeks ago I went a hunting on Craigslist, and found a listing just up the road with a few picnic baskets for a steal. I drove up, and after a few turn arounds arrived at a sweet little place in Cataumet. It was right down the road from an ADORABLE little windmill, which is a part of a local church that I had no idea about. I plan on packing up one of my new (to me) baskets, some snacks and venturing out to that end of the woods to take some photos of it. The windmill that is… well, maybe a few photos of the basket, too. The baskets themselves are in great condition, and I forked over the whole ten dollars for the pair.
My husband is always saying how he lucked out in getting a wife who prefers things dusty, dinged and well-loved…
…I think I lucked out, too, because I found a husband that doesn’t mind me bringing home battered bits of wood, and stacks of books that smell like attics and PLENTY of “soon-to-be” projects.
Maybe it’s sentimentality, but I just like the feeling of the aged leather under my fingers as I moved this bit of wickery-goodness around. The latches were a little tough to get moving at first, but a quick bit of WD-40 loosened them right up, so that they move smoothly now. A wiping down with mild detergent, and she’s ready for the next phase of her life; which includes housing my new beach blanket which was sewn up just today!
The checkered bit was a table cloth picked up at the Hospital Thrift store for a couple of bucks, and the back is well-washed drop cloth. The two pieces of soft, slightly beaten up cotton are perfect together. It’s comfy, and heavy enough with the added drop cloth to not blow around.
With that, I’m packing it in. Leave recipe ideas for our soon-t0-be adventures in the wilderness!
There are a lot of things I love, and one of them is a delicious, fast side dish. This creamy avocado pasta gets it’s texture not from a tradition source – in fact, it’s the veg doing most of the heavy lifting! No mayo, cheese or cream to be found. (Though I’ve made it with a dollop of mayo in place of the olive oil and it was SUPER good that way, too.) Serve it to your favorite vegetarian when they come over for lunch, or impress a carnivore with this smooth side. So easy it almost doesn’t need any explaining! Original recipe comes from Oh She Glows.
What You Need:
Any kind of blender: little immersion blender worked for me
1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
Handful of garlic chives or a few cloves of garlic (1-3 depending on your taste buds)
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or mayo
2 servings of your choice of pasta (I used a thin spaghetti, but medium shells work great, too)
Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, place the chives, lemon juice, and olive oil into your blender and puree until smooth. This may be awkward. With an immersion blender you may find there isn’t enough “stuff” to really get in there. Don’t worry, it’s fine to blend it all together once everything is in there. Next, add that avocado, and salt and continue blending until the mixture has a smooth and creamy consistency. Some of the chives might not be completely blended – that’s ok, they add a nice texture. Add your pasta, I started with one half and then added the rest of my pasta to coat evenly. Serve immediately to awestruck onlookers!
I’ve also refrigerated mine. If you can keep as much of the oxygen off it as possible, with a bag or plastic wrap, that’s best. My hubby made some fantastic turkey burgers and we enjoyed this right along side them! Much better for the waist line than chips or fries.
Verdant Workshop is a small business created by Nicolette, a stay-at-home wife and mother to three furry babies. A love of reading blogs, writing and photography paired with a creative spirit makes the jump to being a blogger an easy one. Here you will find projects you can do at home (maybe with things in your garage, attic or shed!) and inspiration for taking on that project you’ve been meaning to get to.
Verdant Workshop is the place where I can showcase DIY projects I’m working on, display fun vintage finds, share recipes from my kitchen and just generally be a creative outlet.
I’ve long been a treasure hunter. My grandmother and mother both instilled in me the love of a good yard sale, and support from other strong women in my life has encouraged me to teach myself to sew, crochet, embroider and never fear tackling a new challenge – be it a craft or using oil paint for the first time. I have a particular passion for milk-glass, and hobnail thanks to starting a collection to display on the tables of my wedding. I’m influenced by French countryside style, as well as New England Colonial furnishings. You will likely be able to pick these out of the things I showcase.
I’m a sucker for a copper patina and chippy paint.
I want to show everyone who reads this blog that you can do a lot with a little. Spend a little, work a little, and come out with something beautiful for your home that is tailored just for you. This might be in the form of a craigslist find, paired with some elbow grease to become a treasured furnishing. Maybe some herb seeds, water, sun and patience to become the fresh flavor in a recipe.
Verdant, just another word for lush greenery, is one that has special meaning for me. It evokes the bright greens of spring and meadows heavy with flowers. When working I envision myself in a Workshop with big windows and hanging plants – but for now I’ll settle for my small, gray basement space. I plan to make a lot out of this little place – so should you!