Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Antique Jelly Cabinet


It's finished.

After working on this thing off/on for seventeen-dang-years, it's done.

According to my mother, she bought this cute jelly cabinet at Thomas Taylor & Son's in Fairview, Tennessee several years before she gave it to me. Supposedly, it was made sometime in the 1930s.  All three coats of paint were milk-based; the first was white, then someone tried to do a sort of patriotic blue, then white again.  Even the glass was painted with the blue and white. Mother's plan was to restore the cabinet, but that never happened. It sat in the basement, untouched. It was the same mess it was in when she bought it, when I ran across it again around 1995.

She let me take the cabinet to fix up and use in my own kitchen.  Some of the hinges were broken, door knobs missing, and the back panel had delaminated and warped.  I purchased a sheet of masonite and replaced the back panel, stripped off all the old paint and repainted everything a bright white.  Then the work stopped.  I couldn't find any chrome or silvery 3/8" offset hinges that would work and be small enough to not interfere with the glass panels, and I wouldn't settle for modifying the cabinet to accept an overlay hinge.

For the next seventeen years the cabinet moved from my house back to various spots at Mother's, and eventually sat partially disassembled in a corner of my bedroom with old dolls and knick-knacks stacked on it.  Occasionally she would ask me, "When are you gonna get this thing outta here?"  so on a visit last Fall, I brought it back to my house and tried to figure out what to do with it and where was I going to put it.  I even thought of giving it away to my best friend, figuring I had no room.

A few days ago and starting to feel Mother's pain of having the cabinet in the way, I decided I'd keep it and put it someplace for good.  I found the perfect chrome hinges and bought wooden cabinet and drawer knobs.  For the knob color, I wanted a true 1930's red and chose Valspar's "Porcelain Red" in semi-gloss.  This scheme will be repeated on the kitchen cabinets when that renovation takes place.

There are a few places where the paint has been marred a bit from all the moving around, but it fits the cabinet's "personality" so it will stay as-is.  I suspect where it is sitting now is where it will stay, in the sunroom right off the kitchen.  It looks very much at home, as if it's always been here.

Mother will be here for a visit in a couple of weeks.  I'm anxious for her to finally see her little cabinet, loved and being used.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seating Arrangements

The front porch is taking on a nice look these days, courtesy of my mother and her parents.  Although my birthday was in June, I wasn't able to see Mother until last month to get my presents.  She mentioned she had some cool things for me and wanted to ship them, but it was going to cost a small fortune to do so and was disappointed I was going to have to wait.  Here's what I got:

Another great addition is my grandparents' two settees and matching rocker that sat on their front porch for longer than I can remember.  In fact, Mother has a picture of her brother and my dad in the front yard of the home where Mother grew up, and they're working on a car.  In the background is this furniture.  The picture was taken before my parents were married; Mother said she thinks it was around 1959 or 1960.  I thought I brought that photo back with me from her house, but I forgot it.  I'll update this post with a copy of it later.  Each settee has one broken rocker, but I plan on making some from an old hickory or red oak board I have.

Funny I have all this seating when there's only two people, maximum, at a time here to enjoy it.  Oh, and one small dog.

Monday, August 6, 2012


 I haven't been doing any work on the house. To be quite honest, I haven't had the money to do so and I still refuse to go in debt just to do cosmetic work. It's clean, sound and livable and that's all that's important to me for a while. On the upside, my car was paid off last month (WOO HOO) so as soon as I knock out a few small over-and-above the insurance coverages I have leftover from the March surgery, then I can start padding my savings account and doing a little more to fix up this place.

Since my last post, the garden has been doing very well with the exception of the beets. I think the voles are at it again, nibbling at the tender foliage as I sleep. At least they aren't tunneling like last year, destroying the plants at the roots. If a few tasty beet greens satisfy their appetites, so be it. I'll make the sacrifice. And, a fishing line fence kept out the deer, so there were a couple of good meals of sugar snap peas.

My raised beds don't supply enough tomatoes for mass canning, as I like to do every couple of years, and I have no peach trees. A trip to the Piedmont-Triad Farmers Market in Colfax, NC netted 50 pounds of tomatoes and 75 pounds of peaches. Yes, this is a lot for one person + Other Half. But you have to understand that I think he could drink tomato juice and eat peaches every day.

Other Half has some property in Davie County where he raises organic blueberries. They have such a wonderful flavor, and it's great knowing we can pick them straight off the bushes and pop them right into our mouths with no worries of pesticide contamination. I decided this year to make enough extra jams and jellies to see if I could sell any at work and on Craigslist for $4 per 8oz jar. The organic nature of the berries make them very easy to market, since people are becoming more conscientious of what goes in their tummies. I only posted the Craigslist ad a few minutes ago, but already at work I've sold twelve jams and three jellies in the first week. We'll see how the online ad goes.

 All total, my canning consisted of:

Tomato juice: 24 pints
Whole tomatoes: 14 quarts, 7 pints
Peach preserves: 27 half-pints
Whole peaches: 15 quarts, 29 pints
Blueberry jelly: 18 half-pints
Blueberry jam: 24 half-pints

The pantry is chock full, needless to say. But this should definitely last two years and maybe on into three.

Canning, to me, is sensible because I certainly have more time than money. The overall cost involved was really very little, especially since I only had to buy about three dozen jelly jars. I already had a lot of other jelly jars, pints, and quarts so that expense was practically nil.

 But canning also represents a large part of who I am. I was born in the country, raised on a farm, moved to the city and decided I didn't like it, then left to purchase my own home in the country because that's where I'm most comfortable. I was raised to be practical, and along with that practicality has come the ability to utilize my time wisely. Although many hours are spent properly preparing the fruits or vegetables for canning, washing and sterilizing the jars (I still haven't yet hooked up the dishwasher) then standing over a hot stove for hours as batch after batch is processed, the end result and satisfaction are well worth it. Achy joints and swollen ankles be damned; I've got good, wholesome food that I processed so I know exactly what's in it. And the older I get and the more involved I become in canning and freezing, the more I grow to appreciate my mother's and grandmothers' hard work doing the same thing. It's ingrained in me. It's truly is a large part of who I am and I plan on continuing the tradition until I can no longer stand at the stove.

Peach preserves, blueberry jam, and blueberry jelly
Some pints of tomato juice, also.