Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wine Bottle Lanterns

Last night, I got together with some friends to make the wine bottle lanterns I had mentioned in one of my enewsletters (what? you don’t get my enewsletters? Sign-up here.) as our June “How Do They Do That?” class.

I served up some watermelon with goat cheese (a great combo introduced to me by my dear friend, Sheila) and cantaloupe with prosciutto –and some wine, of course—then we got started.

You will need:

an empty wine bottle

one, 1/2” x 3/8” copper coupling

one, 1/2” copper cap

one tiki replacement wick

a roll of Teflon tape, 1/2”

torch fuel (not shown)

wine bottler lanterns 002

After one false start of wrapping the wrong end of the coupling piece, this project took about 10 minutes. Super easy!

So, you start by wrapping the large end of the coupling with teflon tape until it fits snuggly in the neck of the bottle. (Now, try to keep up . . .)

You then insert your wick into the coupling, so it sticks out beyond the narrower end by about a 1/2”.

Then, using a funnel, pour the fuel into the wine bottle—be careful not to overfill.

Then you stick the wick into the bottle—with the tip fitting into the neck of the bottle.


The cap is used to keep the wick dry when not in use.

Here’s Travis demonstrating his mastery of the teflon tape.

wine bottle lanterns 001

Here’s Ryan demonstrating what not to do—this product is not for consumption!

wine bottle lanterns 002

Taylor diligently tending to her project.

wine bottle lanterns 003

The finished wine bottle lantern/torch . . .

wine bottle lanterns 004

A couple notes:

1. The refill wicks available at home improvement centers are a good size for the coupling, but they only reach two-thirds of the way down the bottle. Granted, they will absorb fuel without touching the bottom, I thought I’d rather have one that does; plus I wanted something a little more economical. I found this web site where I purchased 10’ long lengths of the wick—even with shipping, it was less expensive than the refill packages. While the coupling opening is 3/8” we decided the large wick would be better—next time I’ll get the 1/2” wick. If you’re going to make quite a few of them, you might want to order, otherwise, shop local.

2. The picture below shows a bracket you can make to attach the bottle to your privacy fence or deck, which would look cool, but make me crazy nervous about fire hazards—the link for those instructions are here.

wine bottle lantern

3. Never leave an open flame unattended and don’t run with scissors.

As always, for me anyway, it wasn’t the project as much as it was the friends! Thanks to Karen, Ericka, Lauren, Debbie, Ryan, Taylor and Travis who came and participated. I had a great time with you all!

One parting shot—Travis posted this on Facebook as soon as they got home (about a 100 yard walk down the street). Lovely . . .

T & R lanterns on table

Thanks for your indulgence!


I'm linking to French Inspired Thursday--thinking you might use your empty French wine bottles! I am having trouble with blogger and loading the picture for the link, so just click on the words link.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer = Limoncello

Remember the scene in Under the Tuscan Sun when Diane Lane’s—umm—love interest described the process of making “limoncello?”  While, I’d prefer to drink it on the beautiful Italian coast, the patio in our backyard will do in a pinch.

I watched the movie the other night, which inspired me to make it again.

I used the recipe I found on the food network from Giada De Laurentiis—as a general guide.  You’ll find it here.

Lucky for you, I captured the process in photos:

I used 1.75 liters of a decent vodka and the rinds of twelve super size lemons.  I poured the vodka into a 4 L plastic pitcher, then added the rind.  I put the lid on it, with the pour spout adjusted to allow it to “breath.”

june stuff 099

There is sat for 5 days—I didn’t have time to deal with it on the fourth day—how could one more day be wrong?

(Isn’t it pretty?)

june stuff 103

Then I made the simple syrup.  Since I increased the amount of vodka by more than half, I doubled the portions for the simple syrup . . . twice (no this not a type-o; I had to make the simple syrup twice, because my ever vigilent son—chief keeper of the kitchen—thought it was water and poured the first batch down the drain.

june stuff 104

Add the syrup to the vodka/lemon mixture, cover it d leave it on the counter for one more night.  I think I was supposed to remove the lemon rinds, but again I was running short on time so I put it in the refrigerator.  I poured it into these mason jars—in true “southern style” and returned it to the fridge.

The finished product . . . I think I understand why they usually sell it in frosted bottles; it’s what’s inside that matters.

limoncello 001

One for Clarksville . . . one for Virginia (yay for vacation time!!!).

My recommendation—take it easy—it’s deceptively delicious and smooth!

Cin cin!

Thanks for your indulgence!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just a Swingin’

How are you at relaxing?

Me?  Not so good.

But every now and then, it seems possible.  Every now and then I am able to envision myself sitting down, poring over magazines and books—gathering information and inspiration at an exceptionally leisurely pace.  Sometimes I allow myself this sort of indulgence, like when I’m visiting with my sisters—they enjoy the same things.  But those opportunities are few and far between. 

A little over a year ago I made this, because I had to make it:

 swinging bed

I hangs from the rafters on the third floor of our building—only because I have nowhere to put it our house. 

Isn’t it inviting? 

It’s dressed in the softest bed sheets printed with a sweet rosebud and four, feather-filled euro pillows.

I love knowing it’s up there, but I rarely visit it.  I’ve never lounged on it—although I did check it for sturdiness.  I made it for The Roost (our attempt at a Occasional Sale here in Clarksville).  It’s sad that it’s up there—all alone, but it’s also strangely comforting.

One of these days, I’d like to build one for a porch, preferably screened, and facing a lake or river.

One of these days . . .

Thanks for your indulgence.



ps—the one above is available for purchase (local delivery only).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Heat and Wine Bottles

My weekly Leaf-Chronicle article follows:

Summer is here and it appears Mother Nature is really mad at us. How else do we explain leaving record setting winter temperatures and moving straight into record setting summer temperatures? Someone needs to apologize and soon—otherwise we’ll all just turn into puddles on the sidewalk!

The worst part is, we had all of that rain and my perennials went nuts! Usually that’s good thing, but my front garden went from a reasonably attractive cottage garden to “grab your machete in order to cut through this dense growth” garden. Thinning that growth in this heat was horrible! The other drawback to the rain is the weeds. They really enjoyed our wet spring, too. We’ve determined that feeding the birds this past winter, combined with the rain, resulted in copious amounts of weeds. But, we did use the weeds as an opportunity for some “family bonding,” by enlisting the help of the kids to pluck the weeds out of our garden beds. Needless to say, they don’t want to feed the birds next winter.

Now, we’re just watching the water meter tick off gallon after gallon in order to give the newly planted perennials and annuals a fighting chance. Several years ago, I found my favorite garden product—it is called the “Plant Nanny.” They help keep the soil moist—right at the roots, too. This isn’t the kind with the glass globes; you use your own recycled wine bottles. We sold them at Hodgepodge but, the manufacturer hasn’t been producing them and I’ve not had them available for over a year. I recently approached a local potter and asked her to reproduce them for me—I’ll keep you posted!

Speaking of wine bottles, have you ever had one that you just hate to throw-out or even send to the recycling bin because it’s just too pretty? (I find it especially difficult to give up blue bottles.) Well, that just means you need to find something creative to do with them—like those plant nannies. I love seeing a row of pretty bottle, blue, green or clear, lined-up across a window sill—catching the morning or afternoon sun. I’ve seen them transformed into clever chandeliers, such as those made by Jillian Legg-Romano at ARTifacts. I have candelabras that you insert in used wine bottles. There are so many creative re-uses for these bottles! There is also the bottle trees you see in many yards—I never tire of those.

My all-time favorite re-use, however, is to invert them in the ground to form an edging for your garden (a la “rock garden”) or use them as a border along your path. I originally saw this at my friend’s, Becky Hall’s, house. She used them in groups of 5 – 7 as mini ledges for a garden she planted on an incline. It reminded me of my parents’ rock garden in Maryland—only there are wine bottles where the rocks would be. Terribly clever!

Bottle Garden_0017

Bottle Garden_0019Bottle Garden_0024

I’ve recently made my own wine bottle lanterns. I’ll be posting instructions for your own DIY project later this week. Do you have any other ideas for recycling wine bottles? As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Okay—time for the alibi. I was going to post the instruction for the wine bottle lantern, then I decided it would be more fun to get-together and make them. So, mark your calendars and sign-up for our next “How Do They Do That?” class on June 28th, 6:30 p.m. at my house. I’ll provide all of the supplies, but you can use your own wine bottle, if you so desire. Cost for the class will be $15. It’ll look like this—minus the mounting bracket . . .

wine bottle lantern

Pay for the class online, through paypal:

Thanks for your indulgence!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

I’ve been painting . . .

I love working on a piece of furniture—taking a piece of discarded furniture and making it desirable again or simply adding a finish to a unfinished piece.

This project was a custom made piece—a platter rack.

I had a customer in the shop who had been looking for just such a rack. She saw our display piece and we started discussing possible finishes. Fortunately, my friend, Glenn, had time to add the finishing touches to a rack he had already been working on, prior to leaving for Norway. He delivered it to the shop and I proceeded to add a Country French yellow finish to it. This is how I did it . . .

I started with a provincial stain from Minwax.

yooo 005

This was my base. I the started using the Caromal Colours products. The next layer was the chipping crème. You can see it on the lowest shelf—it appears milky white, but dries clear. This is the layer you need to apply if you intend to “age” the piece you’re painting by removing (sanding) away the paint layer.

(I thought you might be able to skip this step, but I assure you—you cannot. This paint has such an incredibly powerful bond with the object, that simple sanding doesn’t work.)

chipping cream

Here is the painted piece.

paint, presanding

Here is the rack after I’ve sanded it. I could barely get the paint to budge where I hadn’t used the chipping crème.


This is one side after I’ve sanded it.

sanded side

Here is the same side after I’ve brushed it with the toner . . .

side with toner

Then the same side (albeit turned-over), after I’ve rubbed the toner off again!

side, wioed toner

And, viola, the finished piece!

platter rack done

I love, love , love how it turned out! I hope my client is happy, as well.

Just a side note . . . Hodgepodge will soon begin carrying Caromal Colours! I’m very excited to be partnering with Kathy Owen of Petticoat Junktion to offer these amazing paints! We’ll share more information as the inventory begins arriving. In the meantime, let us know if you have questions.

Also, let me suggest you sign-up to receive my emails if you think you’d be interested in learning more about these paints. Kathy will be offering a class in the coming weeks. (The link is on the side bar of my blog.)

I'm linking to Vintage Inspired Friday with Debra at Common Ground.

Thanks for your indulgence!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Southern Style

My latest opportunity to create something turned into an accidental creation of two things.

A while ago, Kendall helped me with a project for a group of Army spouses.  They were coming to the shop to hold their monthly meeting and wanted to work on a project as well.  Kendall had seen an idea for this:

fairy in jar

We made dioramas inside of canning jars.  The idea being that you’re giving the impression of having captured the subject of your diorama in a canning jar.  Cute!

Well, as I’m always trying to plan the next “how do they do that” project (although, I rarely actually find time to convene these classes—I do think about them!), I was trying to think of other projects or diorama themes we could produce.  I decided—in the interest of appealing display—to elevate the canning jars.

And thus was born—a truly accidental conception—the Southern Style wine glass! 

wine display 3

In honor of their birth place, I’ve given them names in honor of the rivers which converge here in Clarksville—the Red River red wine goblet and the Cumberland white wine glass.

Here’s the great display Jennifer arranged at Hodgepodge:

Jennifer moved them out of my laundry basket and arranged this great display . . .

wine display 2

Love that willow wrapped wine cooler!

wine display 5

Some visual aides—you can use them for any ole beverage of your choice, but we used Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio!

wine display 6

Here’s a tight shot of the Cumberland White Wine glass.

wine display 8

The Red River Red Wine glass.

wine display 9

A table setting using the glasses and our melamine dinner settig 3

wine setting 1

wine setting 2

wine setting 4

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at Southern Style table setting using our new wine glasses.

Thanks for your indulgence.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Cookbooks—one last word!

(This was my article for the Leaf-Chronicle on Sunday, May 29th.  It seems folks are pretty passionate about their favorites!)


This will be the last one, I promise! I hadn’t planned to write another article about cookbooks, but after meeting with the wonderful ladies who make up the Clarksville Country Women’s Club, I decided I would be remiss if I didn’t add this addendum to last week’s article about my favorite cookbooks. I completely ignored the locally produced cookbooks; those produced by church groups, women’s clubs and military family support groups. I spoke with a few of their members and we discussed how much we enjoy locally produced cookbooks. Actually, I also received several emails and a few facebook comments regarding the some favorites I failed to mention

The first one brought to my attention was the local Junior Auxiliary’s Linen Napkins to Paper Plates. I’ve carried this one at the shop and receive calls for it constantly, but they’re no longer printing it. Let this serve as notice the ladies of the Junior Auxiliary—there is demand for your product. After that, the mentions were community specific.

What I like about those types of cookbooks is that they usually contain the best of the best. Those who submit their recipes are usually very proud of their submissions. They only offer-up those recipes that receive highest accolades at family dinners, reunions and social gatherings. The recipes in these collections have often been handed down for generations. Don’t you just love it recipe calls for “oleo;” you just know that one is a few generations old!

I really like finding these types of cookbooks from 30 or more years ago. It’s like a history book. The cooking tips are priceless! The other thing I love is that they are full-on-fat-content-be-darned recipes! Rarely do you come across a recipe in one of these books that would be considered “light.” They speak of a different time in our American lives. They speak of days of activity and very little—if any—television viewing; definitely no games to be played on tv. Kid’s activities, as well as adult activities took place outside. These recipes are from the kitchens of ladies who prepared their dinners without “googling” menu plans on the internet. They shared their recipes through bridge clubs and church groups. You’ve got to love that!

My all-time favorite compilation of recipes, however was my own notebook filled with recipes. I started it one summer while we were in limbo between Germany and Georgia. I spent a lot of time traveling to see family and friends while Darren found us a house and got settled at his new unit. While visiting, I wrote down recipes for the dishes they prepared for us. I also took the opportunity to copy a lot of my mom’s recipes in her index card file. I had recipes from my aunt, grandmother and cousins as well as those of friends. It was a treasure!

You’ll note I used the past tense.

About two years ago, I took it with me to do my grocery shopping and accidentally left it at the check-out counter. I ran immediately back to the store, but we couldn’t locate it. It made me so sad to know I’d never be able to compile such an amazing collection I’ll never know where it went, but I hope someone is using it and enjoying as much as I did. If the new owner is reading this, be sure to try my mimi’s 1-2-3-4 cake—it is amazing!

Well, that wraps-up the cookbook series . . . for now.  Thanks for your indulgence.


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