Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

My grandma knew what she was doing.

I'm kind of an old-fashioned gal.  Not in a fussy, prim or prude sense.  Certainly not in a women belong at home ironing their husbands' hankies sense.  But in a sensible, practical, creative, hand-made life sense.  These days it's referred to as being green, eco-aware, or crunchy (as in granola).  In my grandmother's day, it was called thrifty, wise, and just how things are done.  Here are some of my favorite old-fashioned things:

Kitchen essentials at Belle Ami. 
Cloth napkins.  Always, but especially nice if you are serving rotisserie chicken without forks.  On laundry day, I have to check my van for the ones that went out the door wrapped around my usual peanut butter and honey sandwich, eaten on the fly.  Cat, my partner in the bookazine, loves to fold them, so I try to leave this for her to do, when we meet at my house.  Nice of me, huh?

Pocket door tracks do double duty around here!
Hanging my laundry to dry.  Always.  Best thing to happen to my gas bill was for the dryer belt to break when my money was tied up and not available for calling in the repair service.  No outside line?  Me neither, since a neighboring business creates too much grain dust.  If the basement is smelling too damp to hang things on lines down there, I put everything on hangers and hang those in the track of my pocket doors, before I go to bed.  If I didn't have pocket doors, I'd put dowel rods in a few less-used doorways.  It takes a few minutes more, but I figure it balances out to about $20/hour, with the savings I pocket.

Vintage charm:  1940's wall paper still lines the cupboard behind 60's and 70's glass cocktail plates.
China or glass plates and real silver for parties.  Never disposable anything.  Glass cocktail plates can be picked up for a song at yard sales, and just a little more at thrift stores.  They look great in any season, and paired with mismatched vintage silver from the same sources, they're far more charming, not to mention sturdy, than paper plates and plastic forks.  If you like tea cups and flowers, collect mismatched china instead.  Or, if you don't mind having only one cupboard for food, collect both...in quantity.  Yes, Papa, I do believe food does taste better on a color-coordinated plate.

Not only does it house napkins, rolling pin and floral arranging supplies, this multi-purpose dresser holds a tray to catch keys and pocket clutter, keeping them off of the table.
Dressers in every room.  Antique and vintage ones, made from real wood.  Need a place to store those cloth napkins?  A shallow dresser in the walkway leading to the kitchen holds 'em.  Someplace to put croquet mallets and badminton rackets and the extra dog dishes?  Stow them in a brightly painted dresser on the porch.  Office supplies?  Board games?  Art materials?  More art materials?  The other art materials?  You get the idea.  The only place I don't use one?  My bedroom.  I built custom shelving in the closet that works better for clothes.

Fairly-fast food.  Homemade soup can happen in little more than thirty minutes.
 Homemade soup.  Tonight's started with a surplus of tomatoes and zucchini, simmered with some miso, onion, garlic, bell pepper, olives, butter beans, diced potato, and all the slightly limp celery from accidentally turning the fridge too cold.  A handful of basil, and the left-over pasta sauce, and it's Italian veggie soup.  Next week, pork and sweet potato.  Fast, easy, and sooooo good.

Sure, being an old-fashioned gal sometimes takes a little more time and effort, but I think it's a trade-off.  I don't spend my time rushing to the store to buy convenience items.  I don't need to shave minutes from my schedule by eating packaged food so that I can race to the gym right after picking up a prescription for digestive aids.  I'm not working extra hours to pay for utilities to fuel my conveniences, or for furniture that will fall apart before it's paid off.  Such old fashioned ideas might not be right for everyone, but the charm factor they add to Belle Ami is appreciated by the friends who gravitate here, and I know most of them are making similar changes to their own lifestyles. 

Eco-chic.  Gran was ahead of her time.

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