Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ready to Sew Curtains? Or not.

Sewing curtains is not really that hard. Not compared to, say, making a tailored suit. It's just making large flat rectangles, in most cases. That's what curtain panels really are.

So why do I have to think about it so much?

I just do. I think thinking about it too much is really an underrated step in any sewing project.

At this point, I know I want to take this fabric:

And create curtains out of it to hang on this window:

Really what I'd like to do is somehow hurl the bolt of fabric AT the window and have it magically hang itself on the curtain rod and done, so I can pick up my glass of wine and admire the results. Sort of like how the birdies made a dress for Cinderella in the Disney version, but less annoyingly cutesy-like. Because I can hurl things like nobody's business.

Sadly, neither hurling nor animated songbirds are going to get this thing done for me.

It's going to take some scratch paper, some measuring, and some figuring out. Isn't this diagram neat, tidy, and exhaustively precise?

Yeah. I'm not any of those things. 

Here's what I know: 
1. I'm not washing the fabric. That was one decision where my innate caution (it's wool fabric) and my innate impatience (are we done yet?) merged nicely. 

2. I'm sewing it with a liner, with the idea that it can cut some drafts (winter) or block some sun (summer), and reduce sun fade. This is where my innate caution and my innate patience did NOT merge nicely. 

3. The fabric is a coarser weave, thick, and heavy. It's also a really busy and bright fabric design-wise. So, this is not the time for showing off. No pleats, ruffles, or fancy stuff. Two plain panels. Plain is simpler. Another score for that impatience thing.

4. Because of 3, I also don't need bunches of fabric gathering up on a rod pocket. I'll be using ring clips on a cafe rod, and I am toying with the idea of using 1.5 times the width of the window for the total width of curtains, instead of the usually advised twice the width. But I'm on the fence about that. 

5. There are several options for length of curtain:
  • Just skimming the top of the sill, good for areas which might be construed as a domestic combat zone, like over the kitchen sink, or in a child's room. 
  • Just covering the bottom of the apron, which still keeps the curtain from being in the way of furniture/pets/radiators, but covers the entire window. 
  • Just skimming the top of the baseboard, which makes it easy to vacuum, but dooms your curtains to perpetual nerd-dom, like the guy in too-short pants. 
  • Just missing the floor, which looks classy but is also good for picking up pet hair and if you have small kids, makes a handy living room napkin.
  • Pooling on the floor, which is for people who have no children, no pets, and don't do their own housekeeping. In fact, this isn't even a real category, except for magazine pictures of Houses Where Real People Do Not Live. 
Floor length in a kitchen is nuts. But I also want to cover up the window completely, because the wood trim is pretty ugly (and right there is a what a copy editor would call a "deliberate oxymoron." Enjoy!) So, I'm going to the bottom of the apron.

So, after measuring up all these different dimensions, doing the math several times in that great "measure twice, cut once" tradition, and after spreading the entire length of the fabric out on the floor and staring at it several times..... I fold it all up and put it away. Seriously. This kind of thing needs to stew.

Step one to sewing curtains: Measure your windows
Step two to sewing curtains: Measure your fabric
Step three to sewing curtains: Stew about it for a few days.

I'm hoping to be done stewing by the weekend, when I'll have both time to sew, and daylight to shoot decent photos. Check back next week for progress.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Furniture History Sleuthing

Since I've worked as a reporter before, I'm a bit of a snoop. I'm also a history nut, so being able to investigate history means I'm in my full geek glory.

Last week I showed off my new find, the Colonial Revival style kitchen table and chairs I discovered at a consignment shop.

But I also found a manufacturing stamp underneath the table which read "11/67. Cochrane's Bay Colony. No. 936.

Here's what it looks like:

Forgive the crappy photo/flash but remember, I was under a table, for pete's sake:

What I thought this told me was that in November of 1967 (I was a newborn!) a furniture company named Cochrane's made a style of furniture called Bay Colony and the product number was 936.

I have to tell you, I just frickin' love Google when it comes to these things. Really.

I found a registered trademark (expired) filed in 1963 for the furniture brand "Bay Colony," along with this logo:

Now, I don't have this logo on any of my kitchen furniture pieces, but perhaps they only used it in advertising and displays. At any rate, the dates lined up with what I knew about the age and style of the piece. "Bay Colony" is a great name for a furniture line with American Colonial styling. 

The absolute best part of this furniture history sleuthing is without too much trouble at all, I found a great, red-white-and-blue tale of American manufacturing, and now I own a little piece of it. 

Cochrane's was a furniture company located in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and began way back in the 1850's, when the Cochrane family's great-great-great-somethin' grandfather was making church pews. In 1905 they began making furnishings for homes, and by the 1930s they were selling primarily dining room furniture made out of oak, pine, and maple. The family grew the company successfully through the Depression, World War II, and the 1950s and 1960s (when my set was built). 

In the 1990s, the company was sold to the Chromecraft Revington company and production was moved to China. You can still see the Cochrane name on furniture being built today, but it is made overseas. 

However, the Cochrane family has recently reopened a new family-owned furniture business in Lincolnton, and is now operating under the name of Lincolnton Furniture Company, employing a lot of their former workers, and concentrating once again on high quality solid wood dining room furniture: 

Lincolnton Furniture's "Declaration" Maple Dining Set
Not only am I personally happy to read about this, so are a lot of other people. Lincolnton Furniture and the Cochrane family are getting lots of good press, including from no less a place than the White House, about reversing the trend of outsourcing American manufacturing jobs to insourcing them instead. You can read a bit about the Cochrane family's business history here, and I've linked to the best news story I've found on the internet, an Associated Press feature posted by the Joliet, Illinois Herald-News on April 7, 2012. 

The only word I can think of to describe this information is "enriching." I loved this table and chair set when I purchased it, without really knowing a thing about it other than the fact it was solid (the teenage son had to put his back into getting the table in the house-- it's HEAVY) and exactly what I was looking for. Now that I know it represented one family's livelihood, I feel even better about owning it. 

I felt the same way about another history investigation for my birch kitchen cupboards, which were manufactured by another American company, Haas Cabinet, in Sellersburg, Indiana. They are still in business, and you can read about that discovery in my blog post here. 

It gives me a deep sense of place and satisfaction to know I've got manufactured items with a history and a story in the room where my family lives, eats, and spends time. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January Garden Daydreaming

It's January. The garden magazines are appearing in mailboxes.

Yep, I'm a classy broad. I put advertising coffee mugs on beer coasters. But Cliff House Inn in Jasper, Arkansas? Shout out to the best biscuits and gravy in the world. Holla!

Thank goodness. We've been hit with a long stretch of sub-zero wind chills and gray skies around here, and I say to hell with it.

I can curse it all I want (and do), but it's not going to go away. I live in a state where even May snow storms aren't unheard of, and in January winter sometimes seems more like a prison sentence than a season. I get cranky, sluggish, and my hands and feet are never warm.

For that reason, I really relish the fantasy gardens of flowers and vegetables that get dropped into my mailbox.

I'm facing a summer spent scraping and painting my house, because it simply can't go another season, so I'm feeling a little pessimistic about getting any real progress done in the yard. Last summer, we started with this:

Which I believe is what my farming kin would refer to as a "poor piece of land."

My son Grant built me a new retaining wall along the driveway in March 2012: 

And we gradually got to this point, where I could begin to see some order and promise:

Below you can see day lilies, shrub roses, and purple coneflower finally settling in, June 2012:

And we saw some mighty fine sights in small places here and there:

Like this purple coneflower with painted lady butterflies:

And this day lily, courtesy of my sister's fabulous Georgia garden.

I need to at least finish the front yard so that it looks presentable to the neighborhood. I have to go the rest away across the front of the gable end of the house with planting beds, and plant some shrubs. 

The little boys have said they want a vegetable garden. So do I, but I don't even have beds prepared. That's a lot of work too. I'm trying to figure out a way of doing some easy container vegetable gardening instead, until we get something more permanent figured out. In my fantasy life, I also keep chickens and bees, and have apple trees and a green house!

Are you already dreaming of spring? What's on your list of things to dig, plant, and grow? 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lamp Love Link: Pretty In Pink

Today's lamp is actually a find from back in October while on the Junk Jamboree shopping tour. I completely forgot about this photo, and it came in handy because I was just not seeing a lamp out there on the internet that was Lamp Love Link worthy. Isn't it cute? The price was cute too, so I hope it found a good home.  I also note the odd shade. I'm not sure if it is missing some fabric or fiberglass off the bottom wiring? Also, the wires you see sticking out of the top went up to a point in a sort of pyramid or cone shape. Again, I have no idea if it was intended to be a frame for additional shade, or if it was stand alone. Either way, the lamp had a lot going for it: cute, intriguing, pretty color, bargain price.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kitchen Surprise: A New Table

Sometimes, I don't even verbalize the sense that something isn't quite "right" about a room or a renovation project. I just mull it over for months, inside my head. 

That was the case with my kitchen table. I liked the kitchen table we were using, and I still do. It's a chrome and gray "crackle ice" formica set from the 1950s, in good condition, and at the unbeatable price of free from a family member.

Here's a crummy photo of a crummy "before" the kitchen renovation.

However, the table is an oblong in a square room. We needed the leaf to make it large enough for the five of us (and often six with Mr. Man), and it seemed to cut an already boxy space in half.

Of the four original chairs, one was broken, so we were always having to sub in other chairs from around the house. (You can see two of them, from another era, hanging out with the mid-century stuff in the photo above). We were constantly schlepping chairs around, and it was annoying.

The chairs aren't the most comfortable for adults. They are just a tiny hair too low, and since I am a tallish woman (5'8") I was always feeling a bit squatty and off kilter in these chairs unless I perched at the very edge, like a nervous child in a strict teacher's room.

I'd begun to get the sense that I needed some more comfortable, proportionate seating. It had also come to me, in all my musings while I held a paint roller in that room, that a round table would be a better use of the space in the eat-in area, and still seat us all.

I'm not really a person hung up on matchy-matchy either. So while I was perfectly aware that my 1950s table didn't really "match" with the 1960s-70s vibe I was shooting for in this room, I didn't really care.

Really, we have a serviceable table, I like it, and it has that vintage flair that I love. What was I complaining about?

I wasn't complaining, especially not out loud. I never really was seriously "looking," and I never announced to myself or to anyone else "I need a different table."

Nevertheless, I stopped dead in my tracks when shopping at a local furniture consignment shop and I saw this:

It's Colonial Revival style (just like my house) and maple. The set has six chairs (one with arms) and two leaves; the table without them is 48" in diameter. 

It looked perfect. It felt perfect. The price was very affordable. And I left without buying it. 

I know. Sometimes I have trouble leaping even when it feels right. 

In the cramped store, the table looked huge. I measured it, and at home Grant taped a 48" circle on the floor with painter's tape to make sure it would work. 

I made myself wait past Christmas. And then past New Year's Day. By the time I got back into the shop, I was half-crazy-scared it would be gone. But it was still there, and had been reduced in price too. 
That time I brought it home. 

I love the warm color of the wood in my kitchen. It looks good with the green walls, and will look even better with the bright floral curtains I have planned. 

The chairs are sturdy, and comfy: 

I love how my favorite colors look next to the pretty wood grains:

I also love how it contrasts both with the color on the walls and my free-standing cupboard. (Yes, I have a chicken problem). Picture, if you can, the curtains on the windows. It still looks a little bare. 

Just for bonus, the placemats on the table are quilt and applique made by my mother. Yes more chickens. It's perhaps the only downside of the pretty little table: it's not as bomb-proof (boy proof?) as formica, so we will have to be more conscientious about tablecloths, placemats, and coasters. With handmade things like this, I don't mind at all. 

The formica table is still part of our family. It's going to the basement, and will become the study/craft table for the kid's lounge area when we start putting it together. I'm glad that it will still have a place in our home. But I'm also glad that I followed my instincts on the kitchen. It's beginning to look like the space I had pictured in my mind's eye.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Plans: Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom

If you're thinking to yourself that you didn't see my List of Get Skinny and Be Perfect Ideas for 2013 this month, well, you're on to me. I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I think they stink for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that in January I'm not much in the mood to do anything except drink hot things and scowl out the window at the winter weather.

However, with my kitchen painting project (finally, for crying out loud) reaching its end and no other projects in full or even partial sway, it's time for me to start thinking about what comes next.

1. Over the next few weeks I'll be finishing up the kitchen, which includes hanging decorative items and making curtains.

That crooked outlet still drives me bonkers, just looking at this picture. 
"Finish" is a relative term here. Big ticket items left on the list include replacing the flooring, the rusting dishwasher and the leaky 1970s era windows. I hope to do the windows this spring, funds permitting. 

2. I need to pick up where I left off in my bedroom, which still looks like a construction zone. For starters, that will include sanding and painting the alcove window trim, and painting and stenciling the floor. While I sometimes feel guilty that I left the bedroom in the midst for so long, we did a lot of heavy dirty work in there going from this: 

To this: 

I think I needed to walk away for awhile. I got to the point I was sick of being in one place, physically, for so long, and I think it's bad to feel that way about a space that is supposed to be your refuge from the world, a place of rest. 

3. I'm going to tackle some upgrades to the downstairs bathroom, but will do it in a series of small jobs rather than one big project. At various times I plan to paint, upgrade the cabinet hardware, replace the shower curtain bar (a tougher than the usual challenge-- it's an L-shaped one that needs mounting on two walls and a ceiling) and replace the counter top/sink/faucet. I also have serious toilet paper holder issues. Is that a first-world problem? 

This pukey mauve color and the landing strip lighting fixture have GOT to go. The half-acre of 1990s mirror is on my nerves too. Nobody needs to see that much of anything. 

Already I feel my list to be too ambitious, considering how sideways life got over the last few months and trying to just. freaking. finish. the. kitchen. But I hope the way I've planned it, it can be broken down into smaller parts and tackled in smaller packages of time. 

The best part about this list? There isn't a single diet plan or resolution to be found. Whew. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lines of History: An Old Newspaper

One of my goals for this year is to delve more into the history of this house.

And by delve, I mean do some actual research. Our community has a local historical society and I'm hoping to find some traces of this house there. But with the two jobs I haven't had a lot of time. It will happen in March after my temporary job ends and life calms down a little.

In the meantime, I'm happy to share the little bits of history that simply fell into my hands. Here's a little story that I know:

Early in the morning of Feb. 22, 1948 (the house at that time was 9 years old), a fresh copy of the Des Moines Register hit the snowy doorstep of my home, most likely by a paperboy who was also a neighbor. When the owners were done with it for its original purpose, "The News Iowa Depends Upon," it was laid aside for reuse. Newspapers weren't some sad little tabloid size fold-up back then. They were full broadsides, 16-by-24 inches of heavyweight, useful paper. This particular edition, or parts of it anyway, became a handy shelf liner for the upper shelves of the linen closet in the first floor hallway. Decades passed.

Fast-forward to June, 2011, when the new owner (that would be me) found a leak in the upstairs shower supply line that rained moisture through the floors, through the ceiling inside the linen closet,  onto the upper shelves, and onto the newspaper. In addition to being thankful there were no linens in the closet (I hadn't moved in yet), this newspaper geek was thrilled to find the old (if damp) newspapers, and instead of tossing them out, hung them up to dry.

I find newspapers to be incredibly telling snapshots of daily life in a certain time and place, and I think the advertisements are almost more telling than the news stories.

We got our milk delivered:

Though it was Post-war America and the economy was booming, we were still looking for thrifty meals: 

We were still sewing our clothes, and worrying about looking our age. Don't be dowdy now, girls!

Things were still traditional, but we were starting to see the modern styles and clean lines that would dominate the next decade. Check out the tradition wallpaper and frilly slipper chair next to the modern cube table, updated armchair, and Chinese kitsch lamp! 

And Younker's, the department store in Des Moines, offered several Philco brand radios for sale. In 1947 there were an estimated 40 million radios in the U.S., but only 44,000 televisions, according to the Early Television Foundation. It would be a few years yet before televisions started showing up in every middle class home: 

If you're thinking that little Philco in the lower left hand corner is a bargain at $19.95, consider that in real terms it cost the 1948 purchaser a little over $192. 

I also love scanning the lines of newspapers to find stories that connect with our present. Of the chunks left of this paper left over (most of it classified and sales advertising), I found this: 

The Main Library at what is now the University of Iowa in Iowa City still stands today, though its facade was overhauled in later decades (and not for the better, in my opinion). The article is historical evidence that large public projects, stalled or slowed by wartime frugality, were now picking back up again. 

Have you found old newspapers, clippings, or other items that tell a story about your house? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fabric Advice: To Wash or Not To Wash?

I am perfectly and painfully aware that my kitchen painting project began in August of LAST YEAR, and here it is January of a new one. I'm irritated but not really apologetic. In between then and now a second new job in addition to my regular one, two birthdays, and three holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) ensued.

Rolling, rolling, rolling, get those rollers rolling....
But I have been plugging away in little fifteen minute intervals when I have the time. The ceiling and three out of four walls are painted. I am assembling decorative items. There is even an upcoming reveal on a surprise purchase for the room (A surprise for me. Can we talk about completely unplanned?) which really brings things together.

Now that I've dangled that in your face, I do need help with a fabric. Since my kitchen walls are in avocado green and a french-vanilla-y ivory, I wanted the curtains to provide colorful contrast and another cue to the era. Yes, I'm about to get out my sewing machine.

I picked up several yards of vintage fabric from Etsy that I love:

Bright and rich patterns that mimicked crewel work were popular in decor fabrics from the 1960s and 70s, and this fabric is no exception. It's large scale too. The largest flower motifs range in size from 4 inches to six inches across, and they're grouped in even larger clusters. I love that this fabric is unapologetically colorful-- orange, yellow, mustard, bittersweet, green, avocado, brown, tan, ivory, periwinkle blue-- there's a lot going on up in here.

This is an upholstery or heavy drapery panel fabric in a wool and nylon blend weave. The selvage edge printing says it's made by Cohama Fabric and the pattern is called "Bradford." It also says it's "Scotchguard treated."

Therein lies my dilemma. Do I pre-wash this fabric, or not?

Arguments in favor: 
1. Conventional sewing wisdom says you always wash fabric before making something, so the fabric doesn't pull, pucker, or shrink along seams later.
2. I tend to favor washable curtains in any room where life is going to get dirty, like kitchens, bathrooms, and kid's bedrooms.
3. Washing would help get rid of a slight stale odor.

Arguments against: 
1. If I wash the fabric, it removes the Scotchguard protection, which considering it's planned location in the kitchen, is a plus.
2. It's wool AND vintage, both of which makes this unpredictable as far as washing will go. Could I stand it if I wrecked it? I'm not sure. I'd be out about $50 and have to start over again searching for fabric.
3. It's huge. Wool is heavy when wet, and this is 4 yards of 72-inch wide fabric. "Handwash in cold water," the preferred method for washing vintage wool, would be almost impossible.

My instincts say NO, don't wash this fabric. The curtains would be in the eat-in area of the kitchen, away from the "business end" of the appliances. There are home dry-clean kits, Febreze, vacuuming, and other ways to freshen these curtains without running the risk of of ruining vintage wool fabric. The weave is such that I'm afraid fibers would pill and fuzz with washing.

But that instinct is warring a bit with my genetic German hausfrau, who insists that every surface in a home be washable, scrubbable, and if possible bleachable.

Which way would you go?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lamp Love Link: Cool Roosters

A pair of black ceramic rooster lamps for sale on Etsy by PickersParadise.
This pair of lamps had me at hello. They are (duh) lamps, and I love lamps. They are roosters, and I collect chickens. They are cool because, just like Johnny Cash, they are dressed all in black. How could you go wrong?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Do I Have To? Organize the Basement

Here, my readers, is your next installment of the "Do I Have To?" series, once-a-month annoying tasks that, whine or not, need to get done.

That said, I think this entry is really super-ambitiously titled. Probably untruth in advertising, really. Organize my basement? Well, a part of it. All of it? Not even close. You'll probably get "Organize the Basement" in sequels running through part 14 or 15. Seriously, it's that bad.

I have a small pantry cupboard in my kitchen, but it isn't quite big enough to handle all my groceries. Secondly, I have some kitchen equipment that is either a) big enough or b) seasonal only or c) both, that I can't have taking up room in my kitchen year round.

In the basement we have a centrally located utility room, which has the furnace, water heater, the deep freeze, and a bit of open space. I bought one small metal shelf and put it down there a few months ago, but it took no time at all to become a disorganized mess.

(my apologies for the cruddy photos. The shelves are in the one room in my basement with no windows, only a few bare bulbs for light, and these "before" photos were taken with my cell phone camera)

Yeah. It was a jumble. To make matters worse, there was some weird contraption left by the former owners to the right of this shelf. It was made of particle board, which had absorbed the moisture from the basement air and sagged:

Notice how it's supported by a triangle of particle board on the left side underneath, and on the front top corner by a hook and a chain from the ceiling on the right? I'd like to nominate this one for a "what were they thinking" award. It also didn't help that I'd piled it full of random junk from the move-in......a year and a half ago.

My son Grant and I had it ripped out in about five minutes, which makes me wonder how it was holding my boxes up.

I spent another hour finding other places for the boxes (trash, goodwill, other storage areas, about equal parts).

Grant assembled the second shelf, and I spend about another hour cleaning, organizing, and tidying. We ended up with this:

Left shelf: The groceries and supplies. The bin for the small tomato paste cans on the second shelf and the bin for the onions on the bottom shelf are ones I already had. I'm not really much on purchasing extra organizing gadgets and containers unless I absolutely have to. This time, I didn't have to. What surprises me is that for a family of five, I don't have as much in stock as I could. I have about the same amount again in the pantry cupboard in the kitchen.

Right shelf: kitchen ware that I don't have room for in the kitchen.

The containers have popsicle molds (top shelf, left) and Christmas cookie cutters and sprinkles, food coloring, cake decorating supplies (second shelf down, left). You can see some grill tools hanging on off the shelf on the left too. That little crock pot liner on the left on the third shelf down? Where the outer warmer is for that is beyond me. It's MIA, even after organizing this space. No hot dip until we find it. Bummer.

The bottom shelf finally has all of our insulated coolers rounded up into one place. I have no idea why these things end up scattered all over the various shelves and closets in our house, but now they have a home.

The only thing left is a rack contraption above and to the right of the two shelves that I believe used to hold lumber. Except that it also has a metal rod affixed to the front of the bottom shelf. For hanging clothes? The heck? Another one for the "what were they thinking" files.

I would like to add a third shelf system once that lumber rack thingy comes down. In a corner opposite this wall, I'd like to set up a gift-wrap command center. For some that might seem a bit silly, but for me it's a luxury of organization. It's too bad I couldn't have had it set up in time for Christmas, but with any luck it'll be up and running for the next holiday.

What's on your annoying list of things to do? Why are you avoiding it?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Three Things To Do After the Holidays

One thing I know from my employment in the media world is that lists get readers. That's why they're ubiquitous. And frequently gimmicky.

I debated even doing this post for that reason. When I sat down to write I even tried to expand it to five or ten or more, to make it some all encompassing list of things to do after the holidays. I stopped myself.   Partly because I'm lazy. Partly because I don't do all those things, especially if they have to do with resolutions or organization.

Honestly, these are the three things I do religiously every first week of January. Two are kitchen related. I do sometimes wish the list also included "a thorough dusting" but I'd just be lying to you.

1. Clean the refrigerator

You just KNOW there's a container of fuzzy green beans at the very back from Thanksgiving. Anyway, there was at my house. With all the extra cooking and company, it's easy for the whole icebox to get out of hand. I always want a fresh start in January.

2. Wash the potholders

This also comes along with all the extra cooking and baking during the holidays. I know a few scrupulous people that wash their potholders weekly, but I'm not one of them unless one gets particularly messy. After Christmas, they all go in the wash. In the interest of artificial blog beauty and showing off, the ones pictured are not my floury, scuzzy-looking ones, but new ones hand made by my mother (top) and my sister (bottom) as Christmas gifts. I'm glad my family is talented!

3. Repair Christmas ornaments

If you keep Christmas ornaments forever like I do, you're bound to have a few mishaps here and there. There always seems to be more time to fix ornaments after the holidays rather than during. I find it to be contemplative work; I think about the repair of items we love, and why we love them. In the photo above, a stained glass ornament given to me by a pen pal years ago had a dried rosebud that finally aged to the point of shattering into dust. I'll be replacing it with a rosebud that I dried from a bouquet that Mr. Man gave me. I like that the ornament will now hold even more sentimental value because of it.

What's at the top of your January list?