Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pots and Pod's...

 If you know me you know I LOVE to bake and have a reputation as a good cook, if you like casseroles and homey type food.

The older I get them more I like quality tools.  I am not too keen on cheap pans or crummy spatulas... you get the idea.

My kitchen in the new cottage is very small and wonderful. [Isn't it cute?] However it presents some unique challenges  because it is just under 7 x 10 feet.

Looking out my kitchen window.
That is less than 70 square feet for the whole kitchen and it had to have a dishwasher, stove, microwave, fridge, sink and a place to store some food, dishes and of course it has to house a set of good cooking pans.

We put the pans on top of the cupboards which would work great if I was 7 feet tall, but since I'm not, dragging a chair into the kitchen when I wanted to make hot cocoa or fry an egg was a bit silly. 

David marking where screw should go
We have a friend named David that is a blacksmith and he does awesome custom work. So, for Christmas Bob told me he talked to David about making a small pot hanger for my new kitchen.

He came out to the farm two weeks ago and he helped Bob and I figure out where to put a hanging pot rack in this less than 70 square foot kitchen.

He brought some thick wire and bent it to my specifications to as a pattern for the pot rack.
"Do you think he will hit a stud?"

We wanted it to be practical and beautiful --as a side note Bob says I am the most practical woman he knows--so useful and practical are extremely important to me.

Also, we had to be careful to put it where I   wouldn't knock myself unconscious by hitting my head on heavy duty pans while I am scurrying around the kitchen getting a meal around. [I am not only practical, but a bit of a klutz.]

One week later he had it made and this past Saturday he again came out the farm and he and Bob made my kitchen absolutely perfect.

I want to add that David is a skilled craftsman and has a website that you can order from if you would like. Even if you only want some hardware, he can make it. His work is the best we have ever seen. His business is called Pod's Forge and you can go to his site to see the wonderful items he makes. If you order a custom piece you will not be disappointed.

You can see this was serious business. Actually David said that people come by his booth when he goes to craft shows and tell him they love his pot racks, but their kitchen is too small.

This is the smallest rack he has ever made and it will  hold at least seven pans. That frees up a lot of cabinet space.

I truly believe if you have a small kitchen you NEED a pot rack.

Here he is hanging it on hand-forged hooks with hand-forged S hooks.

When we were talking about what kind of rack I wanted, I told David that I wanted something simple. Our whole cottage is decorated with a kind of  Shaker/Amish style and we didn't want anything fancy.

I was very pleased with the rope style. I have no idea how he can take three pieces of iron and make them look like a rope, but it really does.

Once we got the pots hung I coaxed him to pose with my rack. I cannot believe how great it looks. You will notice that it is hung from only one stud. That is because it was so small and had such a small space it could fit in without me knocking my head into when I use the oven or the cupboard, we couldn't mount it between two studs. He designed it  to hang on just one.

Usually the rope would go the long way and it would be hung with the hooks in two different studs. But, that is why everyone NEEDS their own blacksmith.So it can be perfect for your kitchen.

So, because of Pod's Forge my pots have a new home. Don't they look great? I have to pick up a cast iron skillet for making corn bread and some pan-frying, but it will fit on the rack with no problem at all.

Here is the finished kitchen with the pot rack over my baking cupboard on the left. My broom which is made from an antique tobacco stick hangs on the outside wall.

See how nice the pots hang against the wall? Perfect. You might notice we have our coffee cups hanging on pegs over the stove. I also have my tea steeping in the teapot covered by a tea cozy I made.

 Another view.

This is another small kitchen helper. I have a 3" spice rack in the tiny section next to my sink.  I LOVE this.

 Closer up. The spices are on the top and second shelf and then all those little cans are various types of loose tea. Do you think I have a tea problem?

 I have a vintage tea pot just like the one my mom used to use to make my Dad's tea. Ebay is amazing sometimes! I put a little mesh basket in it so I can use my tea leaves.

I cover with a tea cozy and wait till it is done.

 You may wonder what I did after that? Well, because I am a bit of a pyromaniac, I put more wood in the wood stove, opened the damper and relaxed. You can see the windows are open because it was too warm for a fire. That usually doesn't stop me though. 

It was a great weekend. And, when I got home and opened the mail, there was a package from my sister Gail. She had been working on a quilt for Bob and I for a housewarming present.  It has a castle on the inside corner with our name and the date.

The perfect end to a perfect weekend.
Oops! I forgot to mention that you don't have to live in Kentucky to have David as your personal blacksmith. You can  email him and he will work with you to make just the piece that you need. He can ship it to you, so your personal blacksmith is as close as your computer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Top Seven Reasons to Homeschool...

The Top Seven Reasons to Homeschool...

Through the years I have been asked and  nearly interrogated with the question...

"Why do you homeschool?" or "Why would a person want to homeschool?"

So, this year I decided to have a shiny laminated post card made telling the top reasons to homeschool. I came up with seven great reasons, worked with a veteran graphic artist and we put together this card that you can proudly display on your fridge or carry in your purse.

 It conveys seven great reasons to homeschool and is a high quality card that is  laminated on both sides so it will stay nice for a long time.

If you would like one, just let me know. Send me your name and address and I will be glad to put one in the mail for you.

Take care,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bookshelves and a Pantry..

In the past few weeks I have talked about caulking, closets, pegs and Packers, but today I want to share with you a wonderful pantry that Bob made for me under the stairs. The space under the stairs is usually wasted or stuff is chucked under them, but I wanted a nicely organized pantry. One reason is because I have a very small kitchen at the cottage, and the other reason is because I like to keep food staples on hand.

First off, we finished this lovely set of bookshelves which were built into a recess in the basement wall. We planned and measured and painted and this is the end result. We are pretty happy with it since it was wasted space. I am sure we will fill them up fairly quickly.

So, over the course of a couple of weekends, we cut painted and mounted enough shelves to keep me happy. Besides the bookshelves, we made this lovely pantry.

This is the door under the stairs. As you can see it is not very wide and you can also see the bookshelves on the right.

Once the door opens,  it looks  like this: It has a tall thin shelf on the right with a wire rack, a plastic bag holder and wide wooden shelves below. I also put a little hook back there--no telling what I might like to hang.

The left side has a rack to hang towels, aprons or maybe even a bag of onions or potatoes. We put up another wire rack and were thankful to hit studs.

I am thinking I might get a narrow wooden bin for onions and potatoes and put it under the wire rack on this side.

The back is wonderful. There are three deep shelves that fit in the angled ceiling line where the stairs come down behind. The wire racks were some old nasty looking racks Scotty picked up somewhere years ago. They were from an old freezer and the thought I might like them. He was right.

I scrubbed them down and they fit perfect on the shelves. I am thinking things like bags of rice, beans, chocolate chips and so on would fit in them nicely. I can see what is in them and pull them out easily to see what is in there.

On the right side of those shelves, in the area that doesn't pull out, I think I will put my canned goods, like applesauce, spaghetti sauce and so on.

The thing that was important to me was to have something that had a lot of shelves and storage potential and still have enough room to move around. I had a closet once that had racks on both sides and I cannot tell you how many times I got poked in the head or shoulder because they middle area was just too narrow.

I figure we can also add another four shelf wire rack on the left if we want to. I want to live with it a while and see if I think we need it, or maybe another type of shelf will seem more important.
I liked this plastic bag holder. I stuffed it with old grocery bags after I took this picture and they stuff in easily and pull out easily too.

Bob took the photo below after the work was done. I needed a little rest. I can hardly wait to fill my pantry will all sorts of great groceries.


On a totally different note, I have two adorable granddaughters. Here are a couple of photos you might enjoy.

Allison and Uncle Scott, a couple of weeks ago

Bob and Elinor

Allison ready to go home in hat and scarf knit by Aunt Kari.

Eli chewing on wood toy. She is really trying to get some teeth.

Take care,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Cheeseheads...

If you know me at all, you know that we are Packer fans. I mean, it is so well known that I was walking last week with my hoody on with only my face peeking out and the Fed-Ex man stopped, rolled down his window, and wished me luck for the Superbowl!

I was thinking I hadn't really been a fan that long, after all I really knew nothing about professional football till I got married, but since I said "I do," I have been a Packer Fan. And, since that was in 1975, I guess I have been a fan a good long time.

 We actually made a couple of trips to Lambeau Field during the off season. Went to the Packer Hall of Fame, toured the stadium, raided the pro shop, stood outside the locker room waiting for Packers at a mini-camp to sign stuff for Scotty and attended Draft Day the year Aaron Rodgers became a cheese head.

There was some booing then because the Green Bay fans wanted to believe that Brett Favre would reign forever.

Scotty  with Lombardi Trophy.

Then, a few years ago, Chad bought us all tickets to go to an actual Green Bay Packer game in Lambeau Field in December. Ahh, Packer weather. We could tell it was Packer Weather because Kari sort of got hypothermia and scared us all.

Back when Scotty was seven [and the other boys 19, 16, and 14--Kari was 10] the Packers won the Superbowl. Since he was about five he never wanted toys for Christmas, just Packer clothing. That was back in the pre-internet days when getting Packer clothing was not easy. I remember giving a seminary family who was going back to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving $30 and asking them to get some clothes for Scotty, whatever they could find.

Years ago when our American flag that hangs on our front porch  was getting ratty I asked for a new flag for my birthday. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package from Scotty to find a Packer Flag. He had NO IDEA I meant an American flag.

Eating Klondike bars after Sunday's win.


 So, this Kentucky family, transplanted from Michigan and Florida, had one of our most memorable nights this past Sunday when the Packers became the World Champs. I usually don't get that into a game, but I can tell you I had an upset stomach most of the second half.
There was great rejoicing as the final seconds ticked down and the ball was intercepted. There was jumping, yelling, laughing and a few tears were shed as the Packers won!
As Coach Vince once said,
Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."


Monday, February 7, 2011


Pegs in main room, we added valances later
My name is Jill and I am addicted to pegs.

OK, I said it. I LOVE Shaker Pegs and Bob and I have gone rather wild installing them in our cottage.

For those of you who don't know about the Shakers, they were a progressive religious group that prospered in the 1800's and had a large settlement about 15 minutes from our home. It is now a restored living history village, well worth visiting if you are in the Lexington/Frankfort area.

Two rows of pegs in small bathroom.
They were known for their rather wild dancing during worship, their commitment to celibacy, the equality of sexes and races, being the first to sell garden seeds in packets, the first to sell flat [rather than round] brooms, their oval boxes, simple-yet beautiful architecture and pegs to keep workshops and living spaces neat.

But what I want to talk about today is the pegs. Bob and I love Shaker pegs and have  them in our bedroom at home and have painted our home the same blue and white that is used in the Meeting House at Pleasant Hill Shaker Village.

We extended them all the way left from the window. Great for hanging coffee cups on.
In our cottage, which is about 580 square feet, we used 180 pegs! We were pretty amazed ourselves that we could use so many.

Making the most out of the space inspired us to put them in every room and I even have them in my closet!


I have some right under my clothes rod on the both sides so that I can hang up my nightgown in the morning and any clothes I take off and want to re-wear the next day, like my jeans.

Shoe pegs. My shoes can hardly wait till the glue has dried in the freshly made peg rails.

Pegs for coats when you come in the door.

I can also hang my purse on a peg so I will be able to find it. We also put pegs around the inside of my closet 12 inches from the floor so that I could hang my shoes on them. Bob thought I was a bit over the top with all these pegs in my closet, but he decided to put 6 in his too.

Now, if you are thinking this looks like something that might make your house, or maybe a room in your house, more functional, I am here to give you the benefit of our experience in the best way to make peg rails.

First off, we buy the pegs. We have used different types over the years, but I have been most impressed with the ones we bought from Shaker Workshops this year. We bought the hard maple pegs and they are the finest quality we have ever used. I highly recommend them.

OK, first off I paint all the pegs. I put one coat of primer and one coat of the finish paint on top. I got my primer tinted to be the same color as my finish coat, but my friend Linda reminded me that if you buy Benjamin Moore Aura paint, you don't have to prime and one coat does the trick. I will remember this next time I do pegs.

I used to use a regular 1" paintbrush  but this year I used a small foam roller and it worked fantastic. I use egg cartons to hold them while they dry. It is a bit tedious, but it went faster than I thought it would. I do all 100 pegs at one time.

Next I paint 1x4 boards, priming first, then putting on the top coat. You don't need to paint the backs because these will be screwed or nailed to the wall. Then we measure the size we need for the different walls, saw to the right length, and label the backs with the location. We don't do the whole house, but try to measure and cut several boards at one time.

After this, we decide how far apart to put the pegs. On a long wall we usually do 11", but for shoe pegs only 5" and about 5" for towel pegs too. It depends on what you will use them for, but those are our basic measurements. If our board is 38" and we want them 11" apart, we figure 3x11=33 so we will have 5" left over.

Then we measure 1/2 that distance [2.5"] from the end and drill our first hole. This way, the pegs will be centered. Bob has a drill press, which makes it easy, but you could use a regular drill. Make the hole big enough to be able to pound in your peg. For the pegs we used, we made 1/2" holes.
Bob makes a template that has a beginning hole and then another hole at 11" so that he can match up the beginning hole with the last hole he drilled and easily drill the next hole exactly 11" away without measuring. This makes for accurate spacing, quickly.

 Then  he glues each peg and puts each one in a pre-drilled hole. We use a carpenter's wood glue. He pounds them in. Usually we use a rubber mallet, but I think the boys had our with the sport's equipment so they could pound in Cricket wickets, so we used a hammer with a sport sock over it.  It worked great.

After he is done gluing and pounding them in, I use a warm wet rag and wipe the excess glue off from around each peg. 

Now this looks rather precarious [below], and it was, but this is the only photo I have of Bob screwing them up. He uses drywall screws and tries to hit a stud and we always check to be sure the rail is level before we screw it up. You could nail it too, but we use the drywall screws. Bob pre-drills every hole before he drives the screw in, so it is time consuming. Here he is balanced on a narrow ledge that runs along the top of the stairwell to the basement. It was a bit tense for a few minutes. 

The secret to success is to have a great stud-finder and this one is amazing--the best we have ever had... We have no idea where we found it, but you can find this type on Amazon for about $10. It has a really strong magnet and actually sticks to the wall when it finds a nail or screw under the drywall. No batteries, just a great hard-working piece of equipment.

After we finish putting up the rails for the day, Bob goes around and patches over all the screw heads [he sinks them into the wood] with some wood-fill. The next day he will lightly sand and I go around with a small paintbrush and paint over all the wood-fill and over any glue that you can see or any place that needs touch up. It goes pretty quickly and really finishes the job up nice.

And that finishes the job.WE eventually put two rails on this wall because it was so high and boring looking. I intend to hang some family photos here and will probably hang them from the pegs.

In our bedroom Bob made a little Shaker shelf [something like this] and we have the alarm clock on it. He has made bookshelves that hang from the pegs too. They are quite versitile.

Well, I guess that is all there is to know about pegs. If you have questions, feel free to email me.

Take care,