Book Swap Planning

I am on a rampage to get rid of stuff.

I'll be keeping my collection of etiquette books.
I’ll be keeping my collection of etiquette books.

One thing that I have recently signed up for is Ruth Soukup’s Unstuffed 10-Day Challenge.

On the shelves in the Treetops Room I found a pretty blank journal and a family recipe book.
On the shelves in the Treetops Room I found a pretty blank journal and a family recipe book.

Among my belongings I found an unused journal that I’ll be gifting to my dear friend. She is a beautiful writer but has never tried keeping a journal.  I think she’ll be surprised just how inspiring her writing is.

Book Swaps are not difficult to organize.
Book Swaps are not difficult to organize.

Finally, Charlie and I have set the date, May 7th, for a Book Swap.  The inside of the invitation reads like this:

Hey Bookworms,
              Is anyone else out there struggling with clutter including perfectly good BOOKS?  Everyone has books at his/her home that he/she would hate to throw away but really doesn’t want anymore. In honor of the culmination of “Teacher Appreciation Week”, May 7, 2016, Charlie and Jo invite you to a book swap where you can bring your old books and walk away with some new reads. The books should be in good condition but can be of any genre including children’s books.
The Rules
1.  Each person should bring no more than 10  books that you didn’t want to throw away but are ready to part with.
2.  On the day of the swap bring your books and pile them in front of the sign that closest fits the category of your book.
3.  When everyone has deposited his/her books on the surface provided you can check out the selection.
4.  You will be given a signal to grab as many books as you brought to a maximum of 10.
5.  Unclaimed books are fair game for anyone who would like them.
6.  All leftover books will be donated to The Book Thing of Baltimore where anyone can go and help himself to free books (description follows).
We all seem to have lots of attractive books.
We all seem to have lots of attractive books.

Refreshments will be served!

Are you ready to get rid of some books?

Shopping My Own House

I’ve been trying to organize a few things around The Glade.

Heavy folding chairs from the attic which are more useful on the first floor.
Heavy folding chairs from the attic which are more useful on the first floor.

While I was up in the attic I found 2 solid folding chairs that will be perfect for extra seating in the living room.

We have a 3-seater sofa and 2 matching bergère chairs -- seating for 5.
We have a 3-seater sofa and 2 matching bergère chairs — seating for 5 — in the living room.

We have permanent seating in the living room for 4 or 5 people. When more than that show up we either flow into other rooms or provide additional seating with occasional chairs and stools.

We'll pull the chairs closer to the coffee table after I have a chance to vacuum the rug.
We’ll pull the chairs closer to the coffee table after I have a chance to vacuum the rug.

Game Night purports to be 10 people. Ten people all in the living room where we tend to play on the coffee table.

The coffee table is ready for game play.
The coffee table is ready for game play.

I’ve cleared the coffee table of its décor items and distributed them around the house.

A fishy little vignette almost created itself.
A fishy little vignette almost created itself.

And I started working on emptying this big tub of kitchen utensils.

Before
Before
Improvement
Improvement

Charlie plans to use the skewers out in the garden since mice might have rambled through them.

Do you say coffee table or cocktail table?

Skewered Food

I’m looking for food for game night that is not too messy.

I'll be using vintage Merrileaf by Red Wing dishes for this get together.
I’ll be using vintage Merrileaf by Red Wing dishes for this get together.

It should also be delicious and fun to eat. That led me to think about food on skewers. I would want both sweet and savory options.

Tortellini Caprese Skewers
Tortellini Caprese Skewers

Tortellini Skewers — Mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil create the classic caprese.  Spinach tortellini is added for variety.

Chicken sausage with grilled peaches, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Chicken sausage with grilled peaches, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella.

Grilled Sausage and Peach Skewers — A twist on the first caprese this one features sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and grilled peaches.

These look easy.
These look easy.

Fruit Skewers — What could be simpler than fruit skewers: melons, berries, grapes, cherries?  So many choices.

Marshmallow, cake, and fruit.
Marshmallow, cake, and fruit.

Cake, marshmallow, and fruit. What if I changed the fruit to a piece of chocolate and added a little caramel sauce or peanut butter? The cake could be exchanged with marshmallow treats made with graham cereal.

We still have frozen strawberries that could be transformed into creamy fruit on a stick.
We still have frozen strawberries that could be transformed into creamy fruit on a stick.

Popsicles — Homemade fruit yogurt pops.  I could make these in a small size.

Hoping some late-blooming narcissi will still be available for cut flowers.
Hoping some late-blooming narcissi will still be available for cut flowers.

All these foods on skewers look like party food.  I’m going to work on my own take on skewered food and see what I can come up with. The top two really looking interesting to me.

Have you got a favorite skewered food?

Sweet ’16: April

I have a grand plan. At which I am a grand failure.

The shutters leaning against the conservatory belong on the front of the house.
The shutters leaning against the conservatory belong on the front of the house.

That being said, I’m plodding on with a new plan for a new month.

I want to paint the air vent on the exterior of the house the same color as the shingles.
I want to paint the air vent on the exterior of the house the same color as the shingles.

In addition to the unfinished items from the first quarter of 2016, we’ll be trying to complete the following:

  1.  Host game night.

    I have a cabinet full of party games.
    I have a cabinet full of party games.
  2.  Finish painting exterior trim and details left over from last fall.

    Cutting in around the round window is the only part remaining on the area above the porch.
    Cutting in around the round window is the only part remaining on the area above the porch.

That’s it!

On the back of the house the siding is finished but the oil tank will also need a coat of house color.
On the back of the house the siding is finished but the oil tank will also need a coat of house color.

I hope to have a good report at the end of April.

When the going gets tough do you find it tough to get going?

Baking Day

I started at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday morning following Rachel Falco’s recipe for Honey Wheat Bread.

Ingredients for honey wheat bread.
Ingredients for honey wheat bread.

The first waiting period is one and a half hours.

My brownie recipe is made in one small saucepan before baking.
My brownie recipe is made in one small saucepan before baking.

During that time I started the prep for my darling son’s birthday dinner. As usual I made a written timeline for the entire menu this time including the making of bread to keep me on track for the entire day. I have been known to inadvertently omit a prepared dish that I had stashed in the fridge or oven or pantry so now I use a visual check list.

I make brownies in heart-shapes and muffin tins.
I make brownies in heart-shapes and muffin tins.

I also made homemade, heart-shaped brownies in preparation for a brownie sundae.

This whole wheat bread is light and tasty.
This whole wheat bread is light and tasty.

Both the bread and the brownies were a hit at dinner.

Do you have a favorite bread recipe?

Goings On

First I’d like to respond to a comment from Hidden Hoarder about the solar frog on our side porch.

The frog needs absolute darkness in order to see its internal light.
The frog needs absolute darkness in order to see its internal light.
SolarFrog
The frog needs absolute darkness in order to see its internal light.

I wasn’t sure I could take a reasonable photo of it lit up in the dark.  But there it is.

We own a good variety of games.
We own a good variety of games.

I also started thinking about Game Night.  The antique wash stand in the living room is full of games.

There are even a couple of hand-cut puzzles in the game cupboard.
There are even a couple of hand-cut puzzles in the game cupboard.

I wanted to decide which games we would try to play on our first Game Night in a long time.

This is a fairly innocent game that gets people talking and reveals some unexpected information.
This is a fairly innocent game that gets people talking and reveals some unexpected information.

I narrowed it down to an ice breaker, Boxers and Briefs, and one of two other games.

Hoopla is a game in which everybody playing cooperates to finish the game.
Hoopla is a game in which everybody playing cooperates to finish the game.

We’re shooting for about a dozen people, more than that and we’ll play Hoopla, fewer, Team Trivial Pursuit. My first choice would be Trivial Pursuit.

We've been storing the shutters in the shed.
We’ve been storing the shutters in the shed — the ones in view are only about half the number we have.

Finally, we have a huge pile of exterior shutters that need to be painted.

Charlie prefers the triangle-shaped scraper.
Charlie prefers the triangle-shaped scraper.

Charlie began scraping the old paint this afternoon.

Charlie thought he was finished with this shutter until he looked at the groove full of chippy paint.
Charlie thought he was finished with this shutter until he looked at the groove full of chippy paint.

He estimates 20 minutes per side for scraping.  Then they need to be primed, painted and rehung.

Shutters are difficult to paint with a brush so I plan to use my paint sprayer.
Shutters are difficult to paint with a brush so I plan to use my paint sprayer.

This project might take a while, years even.

What’s going on at your place?

Organizing Tablecloths

We basically have 4 sizes of tables:

Our square cloths are sometimes necessary on a card table.
Our square cloths are sometimes necessary on a card table.
  1. Round — seats 4 people — 48 inches
  2. Round plus 1 leaf — seats 6 — 72 inches
  3. Round plus 2 leaves — seats 8-10 — 96 inches
  4. Round plus 3 leaves — seats 12 people — 120 inches
Although the kitchen table is round it can accommodate a square tablecloth.
Although the kitchen table is round it can accommodate a square tablecloth.

We mostly use tablecloths on the round table in the kitchen

My favorite cross-stitched cloth fits the dining room table with one leaf -- 72 inches long (table length).
My favorite cross-stitched cloth fits the dining room table with one leaf — 72 inches long (table length).

and the dining room table set with one leaf.

This is a versatile cloth which can be used with one or two additional leaves in the 48-inch round dining table.
This is a versatile cloth which can be used with one or two additional leaves in the 48-inch round dining table. (1 leaf here)

When the dining room table is set with 2 leaves we use a natural-colored damask cloth which we also use with just one leaf.

A vintage Christmas cloth fits the dining room table with one leaf.
A vintage Christmas cloth fits the dining room table with one leaf.

The tablecloths have been strewn all over the house during the renovation: some in kitchen drawers, some in the dining room windowseat, some in the laundry room, and the rest in the back bedroom on the bed.

I have at least 29 tablecloths.
I have at least 29 tablecloths.

This is really unmanageable so I laid all the cloths out in piles according to size:

  •           Pink damask                  46 x  64
  •           White damask                48 x  66
  •           Ecru lace edge                50 x  70
  •           White (in package)        52 x  70
  •           White damask                59 x  74
  •           White                             60 x  82
  •           Red                                60 x   84
  •           White                             60 x 100
  •           Ecru damask                  60 x 108
  •           Ecru cutwork                 62 x   80
  •           Dutch cross-stitch          62 x   80
  •           Christmas                      64 x 96
  •           White cutwork                64 x   96
  •           Cream/white flowers      65 x 112
  •           White damask                66 x   88
  •           White/white flowers (2)  68 x   84
  •           White/pink flowers        68 x 100
  •           White cutwork                68 x 102
I don't like the red tablecloth because it's a silky synthetic material -- I might keep the matching napkins, though, for Christmas and Valentine table settings.
I don’t like the red tablecloth because it’s a silky synthetic material — I might keep the matching napkins, though, for Christmas and Valentine table settings.

Then I eliminated any cloths (marked with a strikethrough) that I didn’t think I’d ever use, e.g. the red one. I really must try to pare the list down even more.

These drawers were filled with table linens we rarely use -- now just the kitchen tablecloths are stored along with napkins, dish towels, and pot holders.
These drawers were filled with table linens we rarely use — now just the kitchen tablecloths are stored along with napkins, dish towels, and pot holders.

I returned only square kitchen cloths to the drawers in the kitchen.

The closet in the back bedroom, Treetops Room, can house the cloths until the laundry closet is complete.
The closet in the back bedroom, Treetops Room, can house the cloths until the laundry closet is complete.

All others are hanging on hangers in the back bedroom until there is enough room in the laundry room for them to be stored according to size and, in some cases, purpose — for example picnic cloths.

The picnic cloths are specially sewn to stay on a table in the wind.
The picnic cloths are specially sewn to stay on a table in the wind.

I even managed to label the cloths according to their size and function.

How do you organize table linens? Bed linens? Bath linens?