Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. ~Les Brown
I ask myself, "Is the making of New Year's resolutions a recipe for failure? How many of us keep resolutions, anyway.
If a resolution is too far out from our usual comfort zone, it's likely we won't keep it very long. Perhaps, the setting of goals is more attainable because goals are reached a little at a time until we find that we've accomplished what we've set out to do.
We survived another busy Christmas! If you didn't schedule some time off or a little time out during the pre-Christmas weeks and days, now's the time. If you can.
Hopefully, during this week-long break between this holiday past and New Year's, you can sit down, lay down, give yourself some downtime. To read, think, knit, rest - even nap - because we all likely need to take a break to, re-group, re-new, inhale - even exhale a deep long sigh. Because we made it this far!
Christmas — that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
I have a few words that "decorate" my home. They are words I try to live and thrive by...words that inspire, remind, and uplift.
Ah, Peace! Blessed Peace!
"Peace" hangs on a hook in my hallway. This word reminds me to keep a peaceful heart regardless of how busy I may be at any particular moment. Inward and outward peace. Yes!
This is the Season of Peace and Joy as we head into Christmas, multi-cultural Holidays, and the New Year. May we all be peaceful, joyful, and grateful.
This sign hangs on a large wall in my entry.
"Simplify". Wasn't it Thoreau that espoused a simplified life?
The complete quote (I just looked it up) is...
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
Henry David Thoreau
Our culture seems geared toward chaos, demanding more of everything such as work, business, errands, wanting, shopping, and hurrying...
...and features less of the important things of life, such as leisure, restraint, peace, gratitude, and time...time to relax, to stay home, to nap, to spend with family and friends.
"Simplify" reminds me to assess my real needs and desires and eschew the frivolous, the momentarily "fashionable" (the phonily Phhh-asionable?), and the "hurry on in, supplies are limited" advertising gimmicks for needless things.
"Blessed" hangs in my bedroom.
"Blessed" reminds me that indeed I am blessed. Knowing we are blessed helps to remind us not to take things for granted.
Wow! I have a home, a car, income, food, and just enough stuff! I have family, friends, health, and peace! I have blessings uncounted!
Perhaps, today would be a good day to count them, to journal them, to share them, to thank God for all he's given me and you and all of us!
Thyme and mushrooms, like soul mates, are meant to be together!
There is something about the pairing of thyme and mushrooms that is just, well, perfect. It must be "food destiny", fate, kismet! It's just meant to be.
There are many food and herb pairings but there are few that are quite as scintillating as a thyme/mushroom pairing. Maybe tomatoes and basil? Cucumbers and dill? Garlic and (almost) everything?
Whether you saute mushrooms or make them into soup, try adding thyme to the mix and see if you don't fall in love.
Here's my favorite cream of mushroom recipe.
If using small mushrooms I slice them thinly through stem and cap. If using large mushrooms I chop them.
Cream of Mushroom Soup With Thyme
Recipe:Cream of Mushroom Soup (serves four)
2 cups sliced or chopped mushrooms
4 TBS minced shallots or onions
2 TBS butter, plus 1 TBS oil
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried and crumbled
2 heapingTBS flour (regular or whole wheat)
2 cups beef bullion
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1//8 tsp pepper
Optional garnish: Fresh thyme sprigs or a pinch of fresh, chopped thyme as a garnish
Saute mushrooms, shallot (or onion) , and the 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried) in butter and oil for about five minutes. Blend in flour until mushrooms are well coated. Things will look quite dry.
Add the broth all at once and cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Heat through - but don't allow to boil - and serve with a pinch of chopped fresh thyme or a fresh sprig or two of thyme as a garnish, if desired.
All done! Did you guess what the last project was? Corbels!
My fireplace had very little dimension or depth. Nice granite surround but little interest. So, I added a fleur de lis for interest, painted the rather mundane mantle to resemble an old ship's beam, and to add more dimension and a traditional look, I added corbels.
After an on-line "corbel" search of hardware stores I found some I liked on Amazon. They were long enough at 27-inches, not to deep because my mantle is narrow, and not too wide. Perfect!
The corbels are made from polyurethane and come already primed.
Using black, acrylic stencil paint I added a dark accent in the carved and depressed areas of each corbel.
There's no obvious way to hang these. Screwing them in would be an option, as would gluing them on.
I'm not good at screwing things in at an angle which would be the needed attachment to adhere the top of the corbels to the underside of the wooden (and hollow, I discovered) mantle. Then, I suppose they'd need to be glued to the granite. Hmm...I could see myself standing around holding the corbels in place while glue or caulk dried. Not!
Even while simply holding them up or trying to measure (repeatedly) the corbels slipped and slid over the polished tiles.
At Walmart, in the sewing-notions department, I found industrial-strength Velcro tabs. I purchased one package of regular thickness squares because when I'd held a corbel up to the bottom of the mantle I discovered there would be a small gap at the back edge of the top part of each corbel.
There was no gap at the top front edges of the corbels so I also purchased a package of "low-profile" industrial strength Velcro in oval shapes.
The Velcro has some powerful adhesive on its two parts so there wouldn't be a lot of time to fiddle about with positioning the corbel onto the granite once the tabs were in place. Thus, careful measuring to center the corbels seemed like a good investment of time.
The thicker, heftier Velcro tabs were mounted to fill the small gap due to the underside of the mantle being at a slight angle. The low-profile tab was mounted at the top front of the corbel where there was no gap.
I staggered the low-profile Velcro ovals on the back of each corbel and centered one at the bottom tip which is out of the frame of the photo above.
You can see a couple of spots where I tested my paint and stain techniques on the back of the corbel before beginning to paint. It was wasted effort because the backs of the corbels aren't primed, but are porous instead, so I just had to begin and hope for the best.
All done and ready to hang.
Using a wax pencil, I marked the granite exactly where the corbels were to go - centered on the tiles. The corbels narrow down along their length from top to bottom so I accounted for this in my measuring.
I measured and marked the top of the corbel from its two sides to the side edges of the tile it was centered on. Then, I measured and marked similarly from the center point of each corbel to the edges of the tile, and last from the bottom sides of the corbel again to the edges of the tile. I drew a vertical line to connect my three dots on each side.
Now, all I had to do was stick on the corbel within the two tapering lines and it would be on straight. Easier said than done! I had to quickly pull it off a couple of times to get the alignment absolutely correct.
Still, it wasn't right, and by now the Velcro adhesive had clamped so tightly to the granite it wouldn't let go.
However, the beauty of Velcro is that its fabric parts were made to pull apart. This allows for small adjustments in the how the fabrics meet. And even if the two tabs aren't perfectly centered the Velcro still holds tightly. So a minor offset where the two fabric portions meet is not an issue. Phew!
The second corbel went a little easier as I had stronger light from the window by which to see my lines more clearly.
You can see at the top/back of the corbel where the gap exists due to a minor tilt of the mantle bottom. Short of removing the mantle there isn't a fix for this. And besides, would an old ship's beam be straight? Not likely.
I choose to simply see that the gap adds to the overall look of age and the implied provenance of my faux ship's beam mantle.
Having learned by doing this project, I would suggest using the black Velcro tabs instead of white ones, like I used. Black Velcro will virtually disappear into the gaps. The thicker industrial tabs didn't quite disappear at the top edges.
I could have solved this problem two ways. First by buying black tabs, or by mounting the taps closer to the center of the top of the corbel. Too late for that!
So, I solved the problem by using a knife to shove a piece of black yarn along the side of the Velcro that was visible at the top of the corbel. Problem simply and happily solved! Black cording would also have worked, but I knit so I happened to have yarn. The wee "teeth" of the Velcro hold the yarn from slipping out.
Then, I made a comforting cup of herbal tea and sat back and admired my totally finished fireplace!
* * *
Finished and cozy for the Holidays!
NOTES: The fireplace project - fleur de lis stencil, and paint treatment to create the mantle's "ship's beam" styling - cost nothing because between my Mom and I we had all the supplies.
The corbels added cost to the project. They were nearly $60 each! With tax and shipping they came to $138 for both. Still, $138 isn't too much to spend to add interest, style, provenance, and dimension to a nice, but previously bland, flat fireplace.
Although I used basically the same paints, stain, and technique on the corbels as I'd used on mantle, there was a difference in the materials. One being polyurethane, the other being wood, so the surfaces took my techniques differently.
The result was that the corbels emerged from my faux-painting techniques looking more like stone than the wood look I was initially going for. This bit of "project serendipity" worked as well, or better, than what I'd, in my DIY (do-it-yourself) naivety, had planned.
These paints and the Minwax were used on both the mantle and the corbels (the sponge was not used on the corbels).
Click on the link below. It will take you to the first post on this project and will list in detail the supplies and techniques used to faux-paint a blah wooden mantle to look like an old ship's beam.