Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ten Ways to Use Old Windows

     We are a throwaway society.  If an object is broken or worn, it goes in the trash without thought.  There is a movement, however, back toward the mindset of the Great Depression when people reused items over and over again.  One of my favorite old objects to repurpose is a window, regardless of pane condition.  Most of us have a stack of old windows leaning against a wall in a shed or garage. 

Here are ten ideas to give them new life:

1.      Adhere photos behind the panes and use the window as an unusual collage frame.  These look great on the wall or on an easel for a wedding or graduation display.  If the pictures are too small to fill the pane, back with decorative scrapbook paper to add color and style.

2.      Hang the window from a beam or ceiling to divide a space.

3.      Build a box along the bottom of the window, hang from an outside wall or fence, and add plants.  I recommend placing a plastic liner inside the box to prevent rot.

4.      If one pane is broken, add a branch, greens, flowers, and other enhancements such as seed pods or a nest to create a floral display.  Hang on a wall.

5.      Build an end table, using the window as the table top.  You could build a shadow box-style table top by adding a wood bottom to the table top.  Place hinges and a handle on the window resting on top, and you can open it to place different items on display inside the table.
6.      Use the window as a cabinet door by adding a handle and hinges.  If you have several matching windows, you can create an entire kitchen island or several cabinets in a laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom.

7.      Paint the panes with chalkboard paint.  Add a box to the bottom of the window for the chalk. 
      Broken panes?  Add cork board and create a message board.

8.      Like to garden?  Use the window as the top of a cold frame for early spring starts.  Cold frame sides may be made from wood or hay bales.  Add a handle to the window for easy access.

9.      Build a potting table and use the window as the back above the work surface.  Add hooks to the tops or sides of the windows for tools.  Add a box across the bottom for seed packets.
10.  No glass left at all?  Add chicken wire to the back of the window, hang it from the wall, add tiny clothes pins and use the window as a jewelry display.  It’s great for keeping necklaces untangled and earrings paired together.

Be sure to wear gloves when working on your windows to avoid injury from splinters or broken glass.  Be cautious of old paint as well, in case it is lead-based.  Once you start looking at objects in a new light, you will find yourself repurposing all kinds of things.  It may be windows today, hubcaps tomorrow!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Vintage Green Thumb

     Spring is just around the corner, and if you are like me, you have started to receive seed catalogs in the mail.  It’s time to dream about sunshine, soil, and flowers!  One of my favorite gardening traditions is finding interesting vintage pieces to repurpose as planters on our patio, in my gardens, and as window boxes.   Flowers can be a perfect accent if showcased in an unusual setting.  Here are some ideas that might liven up your garden spots:

·         You can literally create a “bed” of flowers by burying an old headboard and footboard in the garden and planting several bright flowers as the “quilt”.  A lacy iron headboard is perfect.

·         Attach wire baskets to the front handlebars and behind the seat of a vintage bicycle.  Line with basket liners from a garden center and fill with flowers and draping greenery.  For a colorful statement, spray paint the entire bike, including tires, a bright color.

·         Take the seat out of an old chair and balance a pot of flowers in the hole.  The chair can sit anywhere you need an interesting accent.  The chair will look great with chippy old paint or with a fresh coat of bright color.  You can also hang chairs/pots on fences or walls to add flower power.

·         Use a dented, aged washtub, copper boiler, or bathtub as a planter.

·         Does your old canoe or boat have holes in it?  Place it in a border, fill with dirt, and then add a flower garden!

·         For an interesting potting “shelf”, paint old dresser or kitchen drawers, then hang on a wall or fence with the handle pointing upward and the back of the drawer against the wall.  Set pots of herbs or flowers inside.  Use several at varying heights to create a vignette.

·         Find three old garden implements with long wooden handles approximately the same height.  Arrange them in a tipi shape in the garden with the handles pointing upward.  Tie the handles with twine and anchor the iron parts with tent or awning pegs to keep it from blowing over.  You now have a bean or sweet pea tower.

·         Make a trellis out of an antique screen door.  Again, a fresh coat of paint will brighten up an old piece and make your plants pop against an outdoor wall.

·         Nail several brightly colored children’s rubber boots on a fence and fill with soil and flowers.

·         Upend an old wheelbarrow in the garden with the handles pointing upward and mound soil in and around it to make it look like the soil is spilling out.  Plant flowers in the mound.

·         Attach a window box to the bottom of an old garden gate and hang on a wall for a fun flower display.  Add salvaged items to the front of the box like old faucets, door handles, or keys to give it visual interest.

        This year I’m adding an antique Emerson seed sorter with metal gears to my patio.  Nasturtiums and vines draping over the weathered red sides will look great.  What’s hiding in your garage or shed that could achieve new life in your garden? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Soup for a Winter Sunday

It has snowed six inches in the night, and the clouds are low and gloomy this morning.  Frost lines the windows, but the fireplace is snapping merrily inside, and my craft room is full of projects for the day.  I'm going to make one of our family's favorite winter meals for supper:  baked potato soup.  Pair this with warm biscuits dripping with butter, and winter won't feel so dreary!

Baked Potato Soup

12 slices bacon
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
4 large baked potatoes,  cooked and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar or cheddar/jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

  • Place bacon in large, deep skillet.  Cook over medium heat until browned.  Drain, crumble, and set aside.
  • In stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour until smooth.
  • Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. 
  • Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. 
  • Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper.
  • Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.
This will yield six generous servings.  Yum!