Monday, August 30, 2010

Pretty can be practical

A few months ago, I came across this post at The Farm Chicks.  Serena, THE Farm Chick, showed how she had organized her pantry... it was practical but pretty too.

I really took this idea to heart... however, living with 2 men and 3 dogs... well it isn't always easy.  I have to admit, when I open a drawer or a door that is "finished", well I get a happy feeling... kind of silly but it's true.

We were just finishing up a project we'd had started some time ago (actually years would be accurate).  Our farmhouse is old by Washington standards, built in 1920.  I guess they had used the hall closet for many things over the years and didn't seem to feel the need to put a door on it.  Since it is an arched door and is finished in drywall/sheetrock, well putting a door on it was a challenge.  We came across an old screen door (for free at the ReStore) that was missing it's top.  Finally this past December my husband finished up the door and I painted it.  Since we left it as a screen door, you could still see inside, but the dogs could no longer drag my coats out and play tug-o-war with them.  I wanted the closet to look pretty, yet be practical.  I painted the shelves, purchased some baskets and jars and my tidy closet was born.

I've continued the idea of pretty but practical in other ways. Instead of using plastic or cardboard to store things, I try to use some of my collected vintage pieces in new ways. I use small old pyrex type casserole dishes to keep small stuff organized in my kitchen.

In my sewing room I keep pins, thread, needles, etc in small vintage milk glass bowls.

An old bathroom cabinet was re-purposed as my spice cabinet.  It fit my existing spice jars perfectly.

I keep my espresso/latte making utensils on top of my espresso maker in an old jadite pan.

Jars of batteries, purchased in bulk at Costco, are kept in large mason jars in an old milk bottle carrier.

My pantry of mostly open shelves was built with old beadboard and a cabinet (again from the ReStore).  I mostly use jars and vintage pieces to hold things.  Notice the small and large crocks, we use them to keep our dog food in.

The list can be endless and I still get that happy feeling when I open one of my pretty but practical cabinets or drawers.  My next project is lining my kitchen cabinet with oilcloth instead of shelf paper... maybe on the next rainy day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The weatherman is never right

I'm not sure why I even look at a weather forecast.  Here on the Puget Sound, our weather is affected by so many different things that I'm not even sure why we have weather forecasts!

I had planned on a weekend of sewing since the weather was supposed to be cloudy and rainy... never happened.  We saw some clouds, but there wasn't one drop of rain at Red Gate Farm... and I was really looking forward to no watering in the gardens.

What I did do was make my first batch of tomato sauce of the season. 

This is my sixth summer here on the farm.  This first year I had an overabundance of tomatoes and decided to make tomato sauce.  I had purchased Ball's Blue Book of Preserving (for you Canadian readers Bernardin has a similar book) and it has been my preserving bible ever since.  I admit, the first year I was intimidated by canning and only froze my tomato sauce.  The second year I canned it in a water bath canner, now I use a pressure canner since I can my tomato sauce in little "jelly" jars I can fit 20-some jars in the pressure canner at once, instead of the 3 or 4 cycles it would take in the water bath. 

It's a pretty easy process...

In my largest stock pot (mine is 8 qts), I start with a large onion, 5 or 6 garlic cloves, one large carrot and 2 stalks of celery.  Saute that in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

I wash, seed and chop LOTS and LOTS of tomatoes.  We're talking 50 or 60 romas.

Cook them down to something like this...

Then the easy part, I puree the tomatoes using a food (or foley) mill.  It removes most of any left over seeds and the skins.  This thing is amazing... if you make fruit butters, applesauce, raspberry jam (not seedless, just less seeds), or of course tomato sauce, it is a lifesaver... no peeling at all.

Back into the stock pot to reduce by about one third... then I just follow my instructions on my pressure canner for sealing.  I mostly use my tomato sauce for pizza, which is why I use small jars.

Fantastic sauce... try home canned some time.

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is it...

When I was younger, I think I was a "summer" person, now I seem to have become an "autumn" person... it is my season of the year.  I don't know what it is this year, but I'm really looking forward to fall... it seems to be a common theme since I've been seeing this a lot out there in "blogland."  I know we've all had our share of ups and downs... including the weather this year (too hot, too cold, too wet, etc).  Maybe we're all just ready for a change.

This year, especially, I am looking forward to everything that comes with fall.   I am eagerly waiting for the crisp sunny days, foggy mornings, cool nights, turning leaves...  making potato-leek soup with veggies from the dying garden... curling up with a good book and the fireplace... wearing sweaters...

I guess I have to say, I'm ready for a change... for the pace to slow down as the days get shorter.  To hunker down inside my little vintage house at Red Gate Farm.

Enjoy the weekend.

Chris at Red Gate Farm

PS Don't miss out on my first ever GIVEWAY.  My way of saying "Thanks" to all of you out there.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekend Forecast

During the summer I work a "4/10" work week.  So my weekend starts tomorrow, Friday.  Our weather forecast is for clouds, wind, mild (think cool) temperatures and maybe a little rain.  I plan to spend some quality time in my room... my sewing room.

It's the the room where I keep all my pink, my aqua, my chenille...

My flowers and ruffles...

And my sewing machine.

This weekend I plan to make these outfits for my nieces... and to FINALLY finish my dining room curtains.  After 5 1/2 years, it's time.

Enjoy your weekend and don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY here.

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


It's only Wednesday, I've been back to work for just 3 days and I'm already looking forward to the weekend.  Time in the garden...  Our weather here is predicted to be a little bit cool, cloudy and maybe a little rain... so maybe some sewing and canning too.

PS - Don't forget to enter my 50th Blog Giveaway.  This is my way of thanking all of you for welcoming me to the blogging world!

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A GIVEAWAY to celebrate 50!

In honor of my 50th post, I wanted to have a GIVEAWAY.  Well, actually the 50th post was a couple of posts ago, but better late than never.

A couple of days ago I posted about the new Farm Chicks christmas book.  If you like Christmas, vintage, country, homemade, chippy... well it's the book for you.  Here's a little peek (all photos are courtesy of The Farm Chicks Christmas) inside at a couple of my favorite things...

So, if you haven't guessed it yet, the GIVEAWAY is for a copy of The Farm Chicks Christmas and a little something extra!

You can get up to three chances to enter the giveaway.  1) Leave a comment here; 2) Post a link on YOUR blog or send people my way from YOUR blog, then come back and leave another comment; and 3) Become a follower (or if you are a follower already), then come back and leave another comment.

The drawing will close in 2 weeks on Tuesday, September 7th at midnight - pacific time to be exact. The drawing of a number will be done using the "random generator".

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Finale: Dining Room Cabinet

The "built in" for the dining room is finally finished.  My husband finished the drawers last week while on vacation.  I primed and painted them.  He installed the vintage handles and slid them into place. 

Since last February when we decided to sell our circa 1985, but made to look like 1900, china cabinet and build a "built in" cabinet we've spent around $500 and countless hours. 

Of course we originally thought we'd (and yes that would be the royal we... I'm just the painter) build most of it from scratch but ended up getting a cabinet to repurpose from out local "reusit" store The ReStore, in Bellingham WA (see here for the start of the project).  The lower section was built from "scratch" using vintage doors.  Back in the spring we spent quite a few hours on it... between my husband's building and my priming and painting - I spent one weekend just priming and painting the upper cabinet and doors

Well, then we kind of slowed the pace a bit, as usual we spend a lot of time during the spring and summer working on the gardens and the inside projects take a back burner until the weather gets a little, well, wetter.

This time we didn't wait for the fall weather to set in, last week on vacation it was time to finally finish this cabinet. 

So... here it is... my new, mixed with old, built in china cabinet. 

Just for in case you're wondering... Most of this project came from the ReStore; upper cabinet, ten of the vintage handles, lower cabinet doors and two of the drawers.  Paint was a custom color match at Kelly Moore to match a Behr color "Gobi Desert"; their durapoxy paint is wonderful even if it is latex.  Six knobs on upper doors were from a local store, Grandiflora, in Lynden WA.  Trim and plywood for shelves came from a local wood store; Windsor Plywood in Bellingham WA.  Miscellaneous items; wood, glass, hinges, etc all came from Lowe's or Home Depot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fedex man delivers on Saturday... Who knew?

A couple of weeks ago, I won a giveaway from Rural Revival and CSN.  It was very exciting, again thanks to Andrea at Rural Revival and CSN!!  Yesterday, the Fedex man stopped with my package (I didn't know Fedex delivered on Saturdays).

I was very excited to see what was in the package.


Ironically, I'd been looking at getting a new rug for my kitchen on Dash & Albert's website and come to find out that CSN carries most of Dash & Albert's line of rugs and bags.

What do you think?  I love the new rugs, I got two of the same rug so I have a back up. 

By the way, for those of you who've checked out old posts of my kitchen... the dishwasher finally has "it's front" on the door.  It's the cabinet all the way to the left.  Originally there was a pull out bin type cabinet there.  After 5 years without a dishwasher, we installed an 18 inch dishwasher last December... now it finally has a "front".

And before I forget... Andrea is having another giveaway over at Rural Revival... check it out.

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today from the garden

Things are really picking up in the garden lately...

Transparent apple tree... garden in background.

French and purple green beans - bush type.

Beets, forget the name and yes, they are supposed to be striped!

Green "Envy" and pink "Cut and Come Again" Zinnias that I grow in my vegetable garden.

White dinner plate dahlias.

Roma and yellow pear tomatoes; lemon cucumbers (my favorite).

Our 5 year old peach tree... poor thing is still just a stick and is COVERED with peaches this year.  My husband had to not only brace one of the branches, he actually staked the tree too!

Fresh peaches from "stick tree".

Hope you're enjoying this late August Saturday.  Tomorrow is my last day of vacation, it's back to work for me on Monday.

Chris at Red Gate Farm

Friday, August 20, 2010


Finally, I was able to get back into my sewing room. 

It had been a disaster since June, when my daughter moved home from college and left 10 days later to move to Toronto.  I'd really been procrastinating about getting all of the stuff she left behind packed up and stored.

I've had a lot of projects in mind but I turned this...

into this...

I enjoyed being creative again... I didn't use a pattern or picture to make my pillows.  They're "just me".

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lucky me...

Lucky me... Look what was in my mailbox when I got home today.

I pre-ordered this a few weeks ago and was so excited to see this box in my mailbox today.  I really like the Farm Chicks and hope to make it to their show one of these summers.  The last time I had a trip all planned, room reservations made and paid for, itinerary set...well the day before we were ready to leave, I stepped off of my back step onto my garden hose and broke the talus bone in my foot/ankle... also known as "snowboarders ankle"... my story wasn't so glamorous or daring!  Needless to say, I didn't make it that year either.  One of these days...

Until then, I'll enjoy the latest Farm Chick book all about my favorite holiday ~ Christmas.