Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Dishes

I took a photo of some of our Christmas dishes. My mother and grandmother pitched in to give us this set one year for Christmas. It was from Bradlees, a department store in the Northeast. Anyone remember Bradlees?
Rob and I bought a few extra pieces to add to the set just before Bradlees went out of business. The glasses were purchased separately at TJ Maxx, but they go pretty well! Handy Man bought the glasses for me for Christmas one year.

It says "Holly Yuletide" and "Japan" on the back of the dishes.
I've looked around at Christmas dishes at various stores, but I've never found this exact pattern again. Not that I need any more dishes in the set...but in case I break something, I thought it might be nice to be able to find an extra piece.

Handy Man and I took these dishes out today and put them in the kitchen cabinets. We store the Christmas dishes in quilted china covers, inside a buffet in the family room. (I'll do a separate post about the buffet sometime.) We put some of our everyday Fiesta Ware dishes away to make room for these.

Do you have a set of Christmas dishes? What do they look like?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

I hope that all of you had a great Turkey Day today. I didn't get a photo of our turkey since we were all dying to eat and busy with side dishes, etc. But here's our turkey roasting pan. Handy Man bought it a few years ago at a specialty kitchen store.

Here is a photo of my plate before I sat down to eat it:
Yum!! On our menu for side dishes: cranberry sauce (we like the stuff in a can), mashed potatoes, peas, squash and rolls. Yes, I know there is an empty space there... Crafty Grandma also made green bean casserole, and I could have fit some of that there, but I'm not a big fan of that dish.

For dessert, I had chocolate pudding pies and my sister-in-law made an apple cake. We were STUFFED!

Hope your day was great.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Articles about Vintage Fiesta Ware

On this page, we'll list some online articles that we've come across about vintage Fiesta Ware.  I'll be adding to it periodically, and checking to be sure the links are still active.

If you have any articles to suggest, or if you see any broken links, please email us at:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting Organized for Christmas

How is everyone doing, getting ready for Christmas? ;-) What, you mean you haven't done anything else yet? Have you thought about your Christmas decorations yet? 

Handy Man calls me the "Christmas Freak" (hmmm, that doesn't sound too nice) since I like to start decorating pretty much the weekend of Thanksgiving. Hey, a Crafty Girl likes a lot of Christmas decorations, and it can take a lot of time to get them set up!

Over the years, I've used all sorts of ways to store our Christmas decorations. Several years ago, we bought these containers to hold everything...I believe we bought them at Home Depot, but I can't really remember now. You can usually find these red and green containers right around this time of year. I found some on the Lowe's site though, for between $4.48 and $6.47 each.

Here are my 10 (!!) containers of Christmas ornaments. Hey, didn't I tell you that Handy Man called me the "Christmas Freak?" The roll bubble wrap on top was purchased to help cushion the cute ceramic Christmas trees we bought this summer.

Two years ago, I went through my decorations to organize them. I pulled some stuff out that was getting old and ratty to toss; and I donated a few things that were still good. I made more room in my boxes, and I organized everything inside the containers in a better way.


It used to take me forever to put the ornaments and decorations back into the storage boxes...so I figured out the best way to store them, and then labeled each container with labels that I just made in Word and taped on with packing tape. This made SUCH a difference! Now its so much quicker to put away all the ornaments and decor.

All the storage containers fit nicely onto these shelves in Handy Man's man-cave, the basement. You could also stack these boxes up, and they have nice handles and are easy to carry. They are great for keeping out moisture and dust.

Isn't that nice and purty? The bottom row has three storage boxes for "Fall and Halloween" stuff.

How do you store your Christmas decorations?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting the House Ready for Winter

By Handy Man
Well, it’s that time again to close the old place up for the long New England winter. I try to hold off as long as I can. This being "New Hampsha", one can never tell when it’ll hit 70 degrees in October. Anyways, I’ll usually tackle my list either the first or second weekend in November (weather permitting).

The “list” usually only takes about a half a day to complete and ensures that we stay toasty and warm in our little cocoon.


First, and most importantly, I give the pellet stove a thorough cleaning… not just cleaning out the ashes, mind you, but cleaning the whole unit. This includes dismantling the auger motor housing and cleaning out the sawdust and cleaning the exhaust pipe. A clean stove is an efficient (and reliable) stove.  

(Note: we'll have other posts about our pellet stove. Whatever heating system you have, its a good idea to get it cleaned and ready for use. This may involve work that you do yourself, or calling in someone to clean your heating system.)

Then, I move to the windows and doors. I go around the house, closing and locking all the windows to ensure a tight seal. And then, I replace the screens with the glass in the storm doors.

I also drain the garden hoses and bring them inside. If we have any deck furniture outside, I bring it into the garage for storage.

Once the house is buttoned up, I spend a couple of hours tidying up the yard by cutting down the spent flowers, using the weed whacker, and performing the final mow of the season. After that, I put my lawn machines “to bed” for the winter and get my garage ready for use as a garage.

What sort of things do you do to get your home ready for winter?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Bread


Pumpkin Bread
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 cup light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups grated pumpkin (use a small-holed grater)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 5x9 inch loaf pans or two 8 inch loaf pans and set aside.


Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl. Add grated pumpkin and toss. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir into dry ingredients. 


Transfer to prepared pans and bake on middle shelf of oven until a wooden skewer inserted into center of bread tests clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack. Run a knife around edges to release bread from pans.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Craft Fair

Yesterday we went to a HUGE Holiday Craft Fair. This craft fair is put on by Castleberry Fairs and Festivals, and it is awesome! This show was at the Rockingham Park Race Track in Salem, NH. There were TONS of people there, and tons of vendors. 

There was so much to look at: jewelry, woodworking, Christmas crafts, toys, clothing, candy, specialty foods...I can't even name everything. We went last year, but we just had to go again this year.
Crafty Grandma and Grandpa gave Handy Boy a little money to spend at the fair, so he was thrilled! He spent most of it on a turkey-shaped chocolate lollipop  and a ginormous chocolate chip cookie…then was bummed when he didn’t have enough leftover to buy a small, handmade wooden car. Too bad, so sad, said Handy Man! (Mean old Daddy.) Handy Boy put the rest into his piggy bank when he got home.

Craft fairs are my favorite way to buy Christmas decorations! When we bought our first house, I went around to small craft fairs in our town and bought cute, handmade items for great prices. 


I have NO business buying any Christmas decorations anymore (I have almost too much), but I couldn't resist a couple of things. I bought this cute little wooden snowman for my sister-in-law, shhhhh, don't tell her... 
...and I bought this really cute snowman runner that I'm going to put on top of my bookcase when we decorate for Christmas:
I have a "thing" for snowmen, which you will see once I show some pictures of our Christmas decorations.

This is just a long-winded way of saying that if you need to be somewhat thrifty when decorating for Holidays, don't rule out craft fairs. Not everything will be "cheap" (and it shouldn't be, craftspeople spend a lot of time and energy making things...) but you can get a great selection of unique, handmade items for a good price, and you'll be helping out local craftsmen and women. 

Check the internet, and your local newspapers for upcoming events in your area.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter Gear for Handy Boy (on the Cheap)


Since the weather is turning cold, I’ve been looking for some outerwear for Handy Boy for the upcoming winter. Handy Boy is 8 now, but ever since he was a baby, I’ve been shopping at consignment stores for his snowsuits. 

One year, I found a really nice, almost brand-new LL Bean snowsuit for about $18! Brand new snowsuits from LL Bean can cost $50 and up. I decided that there is no way I’m paying $60ish for a snowsuit that he MIGHT wear for one winter.
 
Handy Man and I did some Goodwill shopping recently, and we bought the following items:
- snow pants, a hat, and some really warm gloves (the hat and gloves were brand new at Goodwill, but very inexpensive) for $19.99 total
 
- and these really nice, barely-used, LL Bean snow boots for $6!
Handy Boy has a nice winter jacket from last year (another Goodwill purchase for about $10!) that he will wear again this winter, but next year I'll need to get him a new jacket, since he is growing so much.

Here in New England, it can get pretty expensive to outfit a child (or children) with winter gear for playing outside. You can shop sales, especially at the end of winter, but don't rule out shopping at Goodwill, children's consignment stores, or even yard sales, to find these things.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This was posted on our 13th Anniversary, September 20th, 2010:

Today is our 13th Wedding Anniversary.

Lucky number 13! Aren’t we cute? I was 25 and Rob had just turned 26.

Some fun facts about us:

Number of apartments we’ve lived in: 2

Number of homes we’ve lived in: 4 (one was a rental, three were homes we bought.)

Number of times we’ve moved our crap from apartment to house to rental to house: We don’t even want to think about it!

Number of years we have been renovating homes: Over 13, yikes!

Number of bathrooms we have renovated over the years: 5

Number of kitchens we’ve renovated: 3

Number of bedrooms we’ve renovated: 11

Number of wounds we have sustained from renovating projects: Too many to count. Cuts, bruises, many splinters, a few mild (!!) electric shocks. Thankfully, all were treatable without a trip to the ER.

Number of ceiling fans we have installed: Eleventy-billion. (We like ceiling fans.)

Number of sewer back-ups we have had: One. And let us never speak of it again.

Most difficult renovation project:
Handy Man: The kitchen in our second home. (Crafty Woman: I will post pictures of this sometime!)

Crafty Woman: The upstairs bathroom in our current home. (Pictures to come for this as well.) Everything needed to be torn out, carried down a stairway, and heaved into a dumpster. In the winter. Then we had to heave all new fixtures INTO the house, and up the stairs. Think about carrying a toilet and a bathtub up a flight of stairs! During the project when everything was ripped out, we had to go DOWNstairs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I hated that! Runner up: Renovating the one and only bathroom we had in our first house.

Easiest renovation project: Uhhhh…we’ll get back to you on that one.

Handy Man’s favorite room reno: The kitchen in our second home, because it was so difficult. (He said something about it being “rewarding.”)

Crafty Woman’s favorite room reno: The above-mentioned upstairs bathroom in this home. More relief than rewarding, for me, I think!

Happy Anniversary to my Handy Man!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Getting Organized for Christmas

Every year, I try to organize myself for Christmas. This involves making lists of gifts I want to buy, as well as ordering photo cards, and writing a list of ingredients for Christmas baking.

In order to spread out the expense, I usually start buying a few things at at a time starting in October. However, this year, October was craaaaayyyyzeee busy! I did ZERO Christmas shopping in October. However, I did put some money aside for my Christmas shopping.


Today, Handy Man and I went to a few different stores and I bought 90% of our Christmas gifts, as well as some dry ingredients for Christmas baking.

I have a few more things to get, but I'm VERY happy to be so close to finishing! Here are some tips for things we've done over the past several years, which make for easier Holidays:

- save up some money ahead of time for Christmas shopping! Whether you start a specific Christmas account or not, this is always a good idea.


- cut back on some things: Do you really have to send out 100 Christmas cards? Try cutting back on this a bit.


- shop online. Amazon.com has free shipping with qualifying orders over $25. There are lots of great online deals to be had at this time of year. Check out Deal Catcher for free online coupons, and Black Friday deals. Shop in your PJs at 10 pm!

- talk to friends and family about gift-giving: arrange to draw names, or even skip presents (especially for adults!) altogether. Chances are, many of them will feel relief at the idea.


- potluck: Ask friends and family to bring food, drinks and desserts to Holiday meals and parties. People are glad to help with this, just ask!

- decorating: You don't have to put everything out, every year. Alternate which decorations you put out each year. Also, decorating doesn't have to get finished in one day or one weekend, do a little at a time.


I'll be posting more ideas as Christmas approaches. What things have you done to make the Holidays easier? Nothing yet? Now is the time to start!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Wrap


Buffalo Chicken Wrap
white meat pieces of chicken
romaine lettuce
bleu cheese dressing
croutons
buffalo sauce
 

wraps

Cook up the chicken with buffalo sauce. The more sauce, the spicier it will be. Wash the lettuce, add croutons and blue cheese dressing. Mix. 

Once the chicken is cooked, mix it up with the lettuce, croutons and dressing. Put the whole mixture onto a wrap, and wrap it up! Yum.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rob's Honey-Do List

Rob's never ending Honey-Do List:  

- install new two new windows upstairs 

- build upper cabinets for above stove 

- lay down a brick patio in the back, near garage door

- top off mulch beds in the front of the house

- get dirt delivered; spread it over dead spots, re-seed

- replace picture window (one of the small windows suddenly CRACKED one day.)

- put new weather stripping in upstairs bathroom window 
 
- install new tub in upstairs bathroom

- make screen for basement window
 
- and on and on and on and on...
 
Finished Stuff 
(Let's give the poor guy some credit!)

- paint green bookcase white
 
- stain new printer stand

- fix upstairs shower drain
 
- install pavers in front yard
 
- install solar lights

- re-stain decks (there are 3: a small one on the front, a medium-sized one on the side of the house, and a large one on the back!)
 
- hang up new ceiling fan in kitchen

- fix vacuum cleaner
 
- bring wood pellets into basement once they are delivered

- re-seed grass in part of the front yard
 
- install new hot water heater

- insulate pipes around new hot water heater
 
- build a shed in the backyard

- cleaned out the basement and garage

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Resources About Vintage Fiesta Ware

We have learned a lot about Fiesta Ware from collecting pieces over the years. However, we learned a lot by shopping, shopping and more shopping, talking to others about Fiesta Ware, talking to antique dealers about it, reading books, and looking up info on the internet.

We've also found some information along the way that we've liked. I will periodically add to this list. Feel free to send suggestions about other good Fiesta resources.

Happy Heidi This site is a great resource for photos and prices of Fiesta. She also sells Fiesta on her site. There is also information about Riviera, Harelquin and Rhythm dishes. Those collections have dishes with similar colors and styles. Some Fiesta enthusiasts collect some, or all of those dishes as well. I decided we needed to draw the line somewhere!


There is a great interview on Collector's Weekly with Heidi Kellner from Happy Heidi. She gives a great overview on what to look for, how to tell if your Fiesta is vintage, etc. This is a great starter guide before you decide if you want to invest in any Fiesta.

The Homer Laughlin China Company is also a great site for new Fiesta. We don't collect new Fiesta, but I know many people do.


There is even a film documentary called Dishes about collecting Fiesta!


Our favorite book about Fiesta is The Collector's Encyclopedia of Fiesta, by Bob and Sharon Huxford. This book is the 10th edition, which was published in 2005. This book also has lots of pictures and information about Harlequin, Riviera, and Kitchen Kraft lines.

I came across a blog called The Little Round Table. The author is an avid Fiesta collector, and she has dishes and glassware from other lines as well. Check out her amazing table settings using Fiesta and other dishes; as well as her extensive collection of vintage table cloths.


The Homer Laughlin China Collector's Association (HLCCA) is a huge resource for Fiesta Collectors.  They have a blog, info about yearly Fiesta conventions (!!), publications and a small store with items for sale. 

Collectible Medium Green is a message board for people to discuss Homer Laughlin dinner ware.

The site Fiesta Dishes.Info has a lot of great information as well.  They show an amusing video of a person using a geiger counter on a piece of "radioactive" vintage red Fiesta.

I'll be adding more to this page over time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to Prep a Lawnmower for Winter Storage

By Handy Man
Before I begin, I will first say that there are many correct ways to prep your lawn and garden machinery for winter’s hibernation. But, I’ll describe the steps I use based upon my father’s advice from nearly 40 years for power equipment repair experience.
 
I’m sure more than one of you out there has gone to start your lawn mower for the first time, at the beginning of the mowing season and nearly pulled your arm out trying… You can admit it… It’s ok, most of us have done it at least once. Now you see that the whole idea behind this process is to prevent what I’ve just described, above.

Now, performing this process yourself is not for everyone. For those of you who are not DIY’ers, I have this advice:


Bribe a friend or relative with a case of beer to perform the service for you (just be sure to wait until the service is complete before imbibing).
-or-
Pay a mechanic for this service.

If you are going to attempt to do this yourself, here's how to do it:

For machines which require an oil change, I like to run them for 10 minutes or so before beginning. This heats up the oil, thinning it out, allowing it to drain from the engine block a little easier.

1. Check the oil level. Always check the oil level before starting the engine. It’s a good habit.
2. Run the engine for 10 minutes or so to warm it up.
3. While warming up the machine, take a minute to gather up the waste oil drain pan, any necessary wrenches, pliers and screw drivers. And don’t forget PLENTY of rags. (It’s better to have too many and not need them than to have too few and need more than you’ve got).
4. Shut the engine off. Drain the oil and change the oil filter (if applicable).
5. Refill the engine with oil (refer to the manual for the correct amount).
6. Again, check the oil level to ensure proper level. Too much oil is just as bad as not enough.
7. Run the engine for a minute or two and check for leaks.
8. Turn it off and check the oil. Add more as needed. (A new oil filter will retain 3 to 4 ounces of oil after the first run).

Now that there is fresh oil in the engine, it’s time to drain the gas from the tank and run the machine again until it burns all of the remaining fuel out of the gas lines and carburetor.

For the machines which do not require an oil change, I still like to run them for 5 or 10 minutes before beginning, just to get them warmed up. Then drain the fuel from the tank and run the machine again until the gas in the lines is burned up.

If this seems like too much work, please keep in mind that there are fuel stabilizer products which are supposed to keep the gas from going bad over the winter. They do work, but I prefer to run the machines completely out of gas. My equipment has never failed to start on the first or second pull, come spring.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why Do We Collect Vintage Fiesta Ware?

I thought that I would talk about how we got started with our collection. Back in about 1997, we had a yard sale. We had relatives donate things they no longer wanted to our yard sale. A few of the items that we received were pieces of old Fiesta Ware from my grandmother. Rob wasn’t sure about selling them, and he set the pieces aside.

There weren’t many pieces; there were some plates and a few bowls. I didn’t know much about them. We set them aside because we liked the colors and the look of the dishes. Eventually, we looked into a few books about Fiesta Ware. We had also seen some dishes in antique stores, and purchased a few more items. Over time, we bought more and more, and had to decide how to store and display what we had collected.

Since then, we have gathered a pretty large collection. A lot of it is displayed, and we even use some of the regular dinner plates. We also have plans for Handy Man to make more shelving and cabinets to display more of our collection (yet another project for the Hunny-Do list!)

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