Saturday, February 6, 2016

LOOK WHO'S COMING TO DINNER!


 

 Welcome to our home, Mr. Flicker.


  

We're so glad you could make it.


  

Come on in and take a seat.


  

Enjoy your meal!


With winter in full swing here in North America and a blanket of snow on the ground, I'd like to remind everyone to do what they can to provide food and water for feathered friends. Ideally they should be offered a variety of foods at any of the “big four” feeding stations: ground, table or window shelf, free-hanging feeders, and feeders fixed on tree trunks or posts. 

Now, how about a recipe for a yummy and easy homemade treat for the birdies? 


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POPCORN BALLS FOR BIRDIES

 
Ingredients:
2 quarts popped corn 
¾ cup chopped nuts, any kind 
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup 
¼ cup shortening or butter 

Grease a large shallow pan and spread with the popcorn and nuts. Combine sugar,  syrup and shortening (or butter) in saucepan and heat,  stirring,  until boiling.  Set to med-low and cook without stirring until 250 degrees. (Or test by dribbling a few drops boiling candy into cup of cold water. Pinch the sample with your fingers and if firm then its reached the right stage.) 
Remove from heat and add baking soda; pour at once over the popcorn and nuts. Toss rapidly with wide spatula until pieces are mostly coated. Let cool to touch and form into small (golf ball sized) balls. When balls have cooled completely,  tie and hang from trees with string using strong thread and large needle.

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The photos above show an example of only one of the many species of wild birds that visit my feeders here in the Shenandoah Valley. 

And they obviously provide an enormous amount of inspiration for my paintings and pottery! From creamer pitchers, platters, mugs and bowls to tiny ceramic clay goodies like pendants, needle minders and buttons.

Painted Pottery and Miniature Bird Ornaments
Ceramic Garden Signs
Ceramic Porcelain Clay Bluebird Necklace
Donkey Sculpture with Tiny Bluebird
Blue Bird Needle Minder
Hand Built Pottery Bowl
Tiny Blue Bird Ceramic Clay Buttons
To see more of my porcelain and stoneware ceramic goodies please visit Cynthia Crane's Pottery on Etsy. And for my prints and notecards please visit me here Cynthia Crane's Art on Etsy.

Thank you my friends for stopping in today. I hope you'll remember to feed the birdies, too!

 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Even More Homespun Goodness: Faux Woodgrained Sideboard

I wasn't kidding when I said in an earlier post that I accomplished a lot on my long break from my studio this past winter! In my last post I showed you how I fancied up a plain mirror for my dining room, and I promised to come back and share my method for applying a faux woodgrain treatment to the top of my sideboard. 

So here 'tis in all its simple glory!

Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top (click to enlarge)

But first a little background on this lovely sideboard ('cause I know y'all are dying to know more about it aren't you?!!!) Some time ago I worked in a furniture store and this piece was part of a Broyhill line that was supposedly reproductions from some furniture that came out of an old castle in Ireland. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds pretty good to me! 


Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top (click to enlarge)

Anyhoo, it was wood stained when I got it and over the years I've painted it black, then white, then brown with burnt umber glaze to make it look like wood again (can you tell I don't like stripping....furniture, I mean!), and then for my current home, white again. 


Nice, but a wood grain top was in its future.

Its lovely enough with the white top, however, I have some dark stained furniture in that room and elsewhere in my home so I thought it really needed a woodgrain top. 

Now, this next part might make you really unhappy with me. The product I used as a basecoat on the top was from American Traditions called WOOD TONE BASE COAT, and it is no longer available. HOWEVER, its really just a flat paint the color of unfinished pine, which shouldn't be difficult to reproduce. You can undoubtedly use a satin or glossy paint for your basecoat, but you most certainly need to rough it up a bit in order to give it a little "tooth" because you're going to be applying a gel stain over this basecoat.

Here is what my "unfinished pine" basecoat looked like:

Wood Tone Base Coat (flat finish paint)

 After the base coat was thoroughly dry, I then applied a coat of General Finishes Gel Stain and the color I used is called Java. I had read great things about this gel stain on the Internet, and a lot of folks have used it right over the finish on their dated wood cabinets with great success. 

General Finishes Gel Stain and Gel Topcoat

I applied the gel stain using a large foam brush and then lightly wiped it back off with a soft cloth, which created a little streaking resulting in a natural wood grain look. Most importantly, I worked in small sections at a time. Gel stain is not the easiest product to work with and I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for the uninitiated or the faint of heart. You have to work quickly because it dries quickly and then gets tacky. But General Finishes brand is among the best out there and has a very yummy consistency with a lovely degree of depth. They have great videos on the Internet and I suggest you refer to them as I found them very helpful.

Here's what the sideboard top looked like after one coat of the gel stain:

Sideboard Top - Faux Wood Grain - General Finishes Java - First Coat

After the first coat thoroughly dried I added a second (and final) coat to give the faux woodgrain top more depth. It helped that my sideboard top already had some nooks and crannies which enhanced my desired faux woodgrain look.

Sideboard Top - Faux Wood Grain - General Finishes Java - Second Coat

Then, once the final gel stain coat has thoroughly dried, I highly recommend applying a coat of protective finish, and General Finishes has a few from which to choose.

Another Close Up - Faux Woodgrain Sideboard Top

I think the new faux wood grain top is a lovely improvement, don't you?

Tada! Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top finished!

Now, if you've made it this far without falling asleep your reward is a sneak peak at my new dining room! I won't even call it a makeover because it was not ever really "made" in the first place. It was just a very bare room left undecorated while working on the kitchen and den. You can read about that rather extensive remodel here, and once I get the window treatments finished, some artwork up and some pretty pillows for those Parson's chairs, then I'll share more on the dining room. I promise!

Ok, next post is going to take us outside. After all spring is finally here so, well, you know what that means....

My screensaver!


Thanks for stopping in my friends!