Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Powder Room: I'm Obsessed!

Here's a little more from our powder room demolition, to give you the idea of the scope of the destruction. I love the paint sample taped to the wall. It feels so optimistic right now. Eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize!

Here's what taking out your frustrations looks like!

Ex-wall board.


I have taken my frustrations of yesterday out on the powder room by ripping out the tile board, taking down all of the stuff on the walls and generally getting it ready for the electrician, who is coming back next Thursday! We'll be ready for him this time. All we need to do is cut a big hole in the ceiling, along with cutting holes in the walls and floor, plus one to the exterior of the house.  It's exhausting and messy, but I'm keeping my eyes on the prize!

Molding above the wood tile: GONE!

Demolition. Take that!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And...We're Delayed

Home renovations and repairs can be a nightmare and our powder room redo is already bearing that out. The electrician couldn't even do the scheduled work today because construction has to happen first. I am not happy and I have miles to go before I can soothe my anxiety with a lovely libation.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Powder Room: During, part 1

I blogged the other day about our powder room upgrade, which is quickly taking on a life of its own.  The electricians are coming tomorrow to actually provide power in there.  After that I figured we'd paint, tile and call it a day.  However, I've been taking a critical look at the room and it needs a lot more work than that.  The sink, for example, is really low.  We've seen other evidence that the folks who owned this house before us were probably really short and the sink bears that out.  It's like a sink in a powder room in Lilliput.  I have identified what I want to be our new sink and fortunately Paul agrees.  Then there are the walls.  They're currently covered with this odd wooden tileboard, which was obviously meant to look like tile, but be the low-cost, fake version.  Well, being in a bathroom it doesn't hold paint very well after a while, particularly the portion behind the sink, which routinely sees water.  Therefore we've decided to tile the lower half of the walls, like a great many mid-century bathrooms.  There are lots of examples on my Pinterest Powder Room Inspiration board (click here to visit and be inspired by some fabulous rooms).  This project is obviously going to take longer than we'd originally thought, but we want to be happy with the outcome.

Wood tile - a cheap solution even back in the day

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Delicious Swag Lamp

I first realized that the vessel that contains Utz Pub Mix makes a fabulous swag lamp when putting together our symposium for the 2014 Tiki Oasis, in which we gave tips for entertaining on the cheap. Now we have two of these fabulous and economical lamps hanging in our living room, with another on the way as soon as we eat all the mix!  To make your own, all you do is wash the container well and drill a hole in the top, then insert a swag lamp kit from your favorite home improvement big box store.  That's it!  Fabulous lighting doesn't have to be expensive!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Powder Room: Before

Our house is old.  When we tell people that they often nod and agree that theirs is, too, but ours is really old.  Its construction dates from 1938, which may be younger than some, but the previous owners were clearly on a tight budget and the repairs they made ranged from humorous (lots of masking tape and string involved) to potentially dangerous.  That is when repairs were actually made.  Many were just skipped altogether.  When we bought the house we were given 44 days by our insurance company to update to a circuit breaker, which we did, and we needed to install a shower (the house had none), a furnace and, pretty quickly, a water heater.  We did install a fence in the backyard, which cured our neighbors of using our property as a shortcut, but other than that an a bit of tiling, we haven't done all that much.  Sure we've decorated, but in terms of real work, not really.

Well, that's about to change!  Tuesday we have electricians coming in to bring our powder room into the 20th century!  Not 21st - 20th.  The only power we currently have in there comes from a medicine cabinet that, fittingly, has two burnt out light bulbs.  All of our lighting is provided by an elaborate system of extension cords, which looks horrible.  Also, because of the "no power" situation, we don't have a fan, which means that there is a mold issue and the wood around our window has completely rotted.  Good times.  We just picked up a combination ceiling light and fan and switches, so we'll be able to turn on a light as we enter and run a fan as we shower like normal people.  I also want to get the lights in the vintage medicine cabinet working, since it's kind of fabulous, or will be when it's no longer a big old white elephant hanging on the wall.

Even Pinky the Cat can't stand looking at this cord spaghetti.

After that we really need to paint and tile.  Right now the floor is covered with astroturf, not because we were trying to be edgy (although the astroturf has served us admirably for years), but because tiling seemed like another headache.  There are currently asbestos tiles under that turf, but they're so dried out and broken that we've been told it's really not an issue anymore.  So we'll be painting (pink again, but with a much better primer) and tiling.  I think we're going to use this for the floor:

And I want to tile the outside of the tub while we're at it, since it's wood.  I know, but keep in mind there was no shower in there when they installed the wooden tub!  I'm thinking of white for that job as well, but with some fun accents.

Here's one more "before" shot.  I really want to have all of this done before Thanksgiving.  Wish us luck!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cookies and Sangria

Maybe not at the same time!

We're very excited to share our first Friday Happy Hour video, featuring a recipe for Fabulous Fall Sangria! Click here to watch! This easy libation is perfect for crisp fall days.

Fabulous Fall Sangria
The cooling weather seems to bring on the baking bug for me. We're still working our way through my first pumpkin bread of the season, but I was craving chocolate. The recipe for these was adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (1973 printing). I used a mashed banana in place of the egg the recipe called for, less butter, since the recipe called for far more than was necessary, and white chocolate chips, just because.  I wish I could offer you one - we have lots!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Coming Tomorrow: Happy Hour!

We're very excited to announce that, starting tomorrow, we'll be uploading two videos a week - our regular Tuesday episodes and Friday "Happy Hour" videos!  The Happy Hour videos will feature recipes and tips for, well, happy hour, although they'll be useful any day of the week.  Jump start your weekend with a lovely libation or two!  Coming tomorrow: a fabulous fall sangria!

Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified of all of our new videos!

Coming tomorrow from the Kitsch-en: Fabulous Fall Sangria!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Just Love Cleaning

Said Kelly never.

I adore making cocktails and cooking.  I enjoy sewing, crafts, decorating and many home construction projects.  However, the joys of cleaning the house have always eluded me in the past, mainly because we live in an old house that seems to get dirty again before I'm even done.  But we're having company a couple of times over the next week, so it needs to be done.  Happily, I think I've discovered a way to make the task much more enjoyable for myself (besides doing it with a lovely libation, which I highly recommend if you can get away with it ;)) and that is taking the time to re-appreciate all that we have as I dust and scrub.

It may sound silly, but when life gets busy and we're stressed out, trying to do too much at one time, I stop seeing our home and our surroundings.  Treasures that we've collected or inherited, fun knickknacks, photos and art - it all fades into the background of our busy days.  I've found that cleaning gives me an opportunity to see our stuff with fresh eyes and remember the good times or friends or relatives that brought these items into our lives.  True, they'll be dusty again before I know it, but it's a good feeling to enjoy what we already have.  I may not ever look forward to cleaning, but this new attitude (and a charming cocktail) means that it will get done with a minimum of drama!

Trying to see past the ancient beverage to the fabulous pitcher I received as a gift one Christmas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cocktail of the Week!

Our cocktail of the week is the East India! Click on the photo to see the recipe full sized! Bottoms up!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Unbearable Noise of Middletown

Friends who visit our home often remark on how quiet our neighborhood is.  Folks generally stay indoors most of the time and we have a little patch of forest across the street, which serves as a buffer from the main road.  It seems really peaceful... until it's time to shoot "Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en."

There are a number of methods for getting the best sound possible on a video, but the one that works best for us, at least for now, involves me wearing a microphone clipped to my dress (I'll leave you to ponder where the rest of the mechanism is stashed).  The mic is very small, but make no mistake, that baby is sensitive.  It picks up noises you didn't even know you were hearing.  Glider planes from nearby Randall Airport, which take off pretty much constantly on a beautiful summer day, sirens from volunteer fire departments in neighboring towns, revving motorcycles and muscle cars, emergency vehicles, barking dogs, shrieking children, lawn mowers in summer and snow blowers in winter, construction equipment - all of those noises that one tunes out on a daily basis come together to create a cacophony that suddenly has us feeling like we might as well live in the middle of Times Square.  And the mic picks it all up, which means we stop A LOT to wait for the noise to pass.

And then there's Jason.  If the U.S. had an Olympic team for making noise, he'd surely be one of its stars.  He doesn't do it on purpose - he's just totally hapless, yet also apparently psychically connected to us.  We can tell with 100% certainty when he will mow his lawn - when we turn on the lights to begin shooting.  Never mind that he just mowed two days prior.  Out comes the mower, along with the barking dogs for company and his motorcycle, so he can let it run for... some reason.  I don't know anything about motorcycles, so I'm not sure why one turns them on and lets them idle for a half hour or so without going anywhere, but apparently they do.  Jason is a one-person production stalling team.  And it's not like we can ask him to stop.  He has every right to mow his lawn, however unnecessary said mowing may be.  So we watch with fascination as he mows in a random pattern that makes no sense that we can discern and washes his bike with Windex as it chugs on its kickstand.  We might as well - we're delayed until the noise stops!

As someone who tries to solve problems, I've narrowed our solutions to our noise issues to four:

1. Move someplace truly quiet, but I don't think we'd be happy, since that place would be out in the middle of nowhere.  We're not "out in the middle of nowhere" people.
2. Find a studio in which to shoot.  I love that idea, and when we get a few thousand more subscribers (please click here to subscribe) to our YouTube channel we'll be able to shoot free in the state of the art YouTube studios, but in the meantime we'd have to pay a lot for that option.
3. Soundproof our house.  It would be ugly and expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
4. Shoot in the middle of the night.  It may come to that.

Of course, as I write this it's incredibly quiet.  All I hear are the birds chirping, the dehumidifier, the cars and trucks on Dolson Avenue... actually, maybe it's not that quiet.  I guess life is loud in 2015!

Here it is! The combo lawn mower-snow plow-production delay machine!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Apple Souffle Pudding

Since it's fall, which means "apple everything" and "pumpkin everything" season, I've been diving into Real, Old-Time Yankee Apple Cooking (1969), by Beatrice Vaughan, which I shared last week. Here's the Apple Souffle Pudding, which came out great and was really easy! In reading about Mrs. Vaughan, she seemed like the type who would test her recipes and not let anything into her book that wasn't perfect. So far my suspicions about her are right on target. Thanks, Mrs. Vaughan!

Apple Souffle Pudding

Friday, September 18, 2015

Casa de Shenandoah

I'm DYING! Today Wayne Newton's Las Vegas home (though he isn't living there at the moment) opens as a museum! We've GOT to go! And there is even a tour package available where HE will be your tour guide! They don't tell you online how much that costs. I guess if you have to ask, you can't afford it. But afford it we WILL, because we are doing this! Click here to learn all about it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cocktail of the Week

I'm returning to something I used to do years ago on my defunct personal website, the Cocktail of the Week! Here's this week's, which is perfect for fall! Cheers!

Equinox Sour
2 oz applejack
1/2 oz blood orange liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lime juice 
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Dash of Angostura bitters 

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Beatrice Vaughan: Food Columnist and Expert Cook

Few things make me happier than going through my vintage cookbooks and discovering a fabulous, forgotten lady who was a food celebrity in her day.  Today we're celebrating Beatrice Vaughan, of East Thetford, VT, who "demand(ed) a piece of the action" by starting a second life as a food researcher and writer in her fifties and published a number of cookbooks in her day.  And I was doubly happy to find this article about her from December 3, 1969 by "nationally known food columnist" Gaynor Maddox, since we're the proud owners of one of his records, "Hear How To Plan The Perfect Dinner Party," which he recorded with his wife Dorothy!  We'll be sampling some of Mrs. Vaughan's apple recipes in the coming days.  Apples and Autumn - the perfect pair!  And here's to Beatrice Vaughan, who never approved of "women in middle age who just sit down and wring their hands and complain about not being needed anymore.  There is always something to do if you look for it."  She was living proof of that!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bake a Boston Cream Pie in September!

And learn all about the phases of the moon while you're at it! Rawleigh's Good Health Guide 1955 Almanac & Cook Book has got it covered! Did you know that you can still buy Rawleigh's products? You can, although you can safely use other brands for that pie. ;)