Monday, July 30

Monday's Make-Overs

Catherine from Freddy and Petunia combined this random lion face with a simple dresser turning it into a cohesive work of art! JUST AMAZING! Catherine is certainly talented and we are the benefactors of that wonderful creative mind of hers. Take a peek:

I had a dresser, but I needed a bookcase.

This was the instigating dresser! Something I found many years back and gave to a great niece. When she outgrew it, I traded with her for a bigger dresser. I forgot just how cool this one was but I really didn’t need another dresser! What I needed was A Bookcase! Parts of her were rough and needed repair, especially a back leg. But in making the repairs, I learned how it was originally made, and can recreate parts of the design in some future projects!  Serendipity– !?

I found this decorative “header” in Atlanta. The story was that “they” were moving this grand sideboard/buffet in the back of a pickup on the highway....and didn’t secure it good enough. Yep it fell off, got run over by a bunch of vehicles and was destroyed except for this header piece. And I knew I could do something with it!
This was one good-sized window rosette bought in a ReStore. I bought 2 each of 2 designs thinking they were interesting & “I could do something with them!” They were too wide, but this design had a natural center so I cut it in half. A great size now, with a natural left & right side!

Here’s the carcass. Dresser gutted, repaired, the interior re fitted with old pine boards, and the shelf installed. Hutch top roughed out, header attached. Doors are next, and I’ve made a decision on the hardware!

The back leg now repaired, and the doors finished and installed, with the chosen hardware. The doors are inset with 3/8″ brass chicken wire found in another ReStore for $7.50! I was going to order it from one of my design catalogs, same piece $89. Visit your local ReStores and donate too! I still haven’t decided on the lower back panel.....more tongue & groove boards like the top, a solid wallpapered panel–?

Since the dresser was already painted, and it’s such a big piece, I decided to stick with a “white’ish” color, using Farrow & Ball’s Clunch, and “age” it with an over-glaze. Even with the top shelf missing in the hutch, can’t you just see all the storage potential?! A real workhorse!

I just love this new piece of furniture that Catherine designed. I'm ready to hit a few flea markets and estate sales myself. When ever you find a discarded unloved piece of furniture look past the grimy peeling paint and see it's true potential. What COULD it be? Give it a try.....'ll be glad you did.
Don't forget to check out Catherine's Blog.


the domestic curator ~ ronda

An Enchanting Strawberry Cake!!

Seriously, isn't this the most delightful cake you have ever seen? It is pleasingly simple and quintessential of a natural rural life. I ask you, who could say NO to a slice of this cake??
Decorate a Strawberry Wedding Cake
This anjelic cake was inspired by the sweet strawberry cakes that Swedes bake during their holidays each year. It's just the BEST! What a wonderful cake for Summer Dining. It's perfect for an outdoor party or rustic wedding. You can make the cake yourself {link to strawberry cake recipe}, or simply embellish a store bought cake using this picture as a guide.....just cut strawberries in half and stick them to the frosting. How's that for EASY? It's such a unique idea that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Try'll be glad you did and so will everyone else!


the domestic curator ~ ronda

Sunday, July 29

FLORALS: A Trendy Centerpiece

This centerpiece is stunning - mainly because of the vibrant blooms!
I just LOVE it!
The flower recipe:
10 red, white and pink anemones
5 mini daffodils
8 orange, red, and white ranunculus
Ranunculus greens and buds
English daisies in pink and white
You will also need a container of your choosing, vase, rocks, and clippers or sturdy scissors.
 First, fill the vase with rocks half way up the vase. Fill with water. Start filling the vase with stems. The rocks will keep the flowers in place and help you create the shape of your flower arrangement. Keep adding to your arrangement.......
Try to create an "s" shape with greens and lighter flowers cascading to the right and diagonally across at the bottom of the vase. Keep adding florals and greens to your base.....keep adding....
Place larger blossoms at the bottom of the arrangement
and your lighter smaller buds and greens towards the top. Keep adding flowers and greenery....keep adding....AND
VOILA! You now have a beautiful arrangement for your bedroom, dinning room table or the coffee table. BEAUTIFUL and OH SO EASY! Remember to make it yourself and save that money for your children's college education....believe me, it ain't cheap!

 To make this arrangement more budget friendly, you can substitute more greenery for flowers. There are times when I have used only greenery in a vase....packed in. An arrangement of greens is very serene and refreshing somehow. I like them very much. I try to keep them fresh and on my bed-side table. This floral recipe is made up of spring flowers. For a summer or fall version substitute with: dahlias {the single petaled varieties would look great}, Iceland poppies, garden roses, peonies, California poppies and daisies.

Give this floral arrangement a'll be GLAD you did!
Get busy creating and...


the domestic curator ~ ronda

Saturday, July 28

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

True barbecue is pit-cooked; low and slow and spiced with smoky-sweet sauce. A busy, growing family does not have time to stop and smoke ribs and pork. This recipe doesn't even require for you to be home! How's that for easy? Use your favorite barbecue sauce on this EASY crockpot pork roast recipe. This is a basic recipe for pulled pork using a boneless shoulder, a Boston Butt. Make sure your pork shoulder will fit in your crock pot, allowing you to put the cover on tightly. I can smell it cooking NOW! YUM!

Thursday, July 26


Dorm life: It’s a trademark of the college lifestyle, a world unlike any other. Decorating a dorm room can be challenging. It's more than just a place to's a study hall, an all night diner, a game room, a space in which to socialize and sleep. Most universities provide students with a bed and mattress, desk, chair, dresser, and if you're lucky.....bookshelves, a blank slate. This can be somewhat intimidating to students and their parents, but not to worry. There are ways to spruce up your dorm room, inexpensively, so that it doesn’t look like a cell from Sing Sing. You can not only make it livable but quite charming. Turning this space into a 'home away from home' will help you feel more at ease while you are away at college. Each university has very specific rules about what a student can or can’t do to his dorm room, so make sure to find out what they are before you get that paint brush out.
Living in a dorm room …. What can I say? It's a rite of passage and I loved every minute of it! Here are a few ideas to make your transition from home to college a bit easier.
  • Space is limited in a dorm room, you may sit on your bed when you are studying and using your computer. Invest in a nice set of sheets. Buy pretty ones. That way, when your bed is unmade (always?) it will still look pretty. Buy a reversible comforter for your bed. When you get tired of one side, flip it over and you will have an entirely different look going on. You are getting two-for-one!
  • Affordable decorative throw and floor pillows are an easy way to add color to a drab room. They can also be used as seating or lounging for friends.
  • Lighting is essential because you need to see all of those words that you are going to be reading. Get a desk lamp that provides good functional lighting. String some rope lights around the room, it will really help your room look bright and cheery.
  • It's a safe bet that your space will be limited so make the most of your tiny area. There are different ways of popping-up your bed and creating extra square footage below. You will save space and gain quick access to whatever you need.....when you need it.

  • If you have access to some cheap carpeting....USE IT! Placing carpet in the room is going to make the area cozier and warmer. You and your friends can sit on the floor and visit, eat or even study, comfortably.
  • Hang a mirror on the wall. Mirrors reflect light and give the illusion of there being more space than there actually is.
  • Peel and stick wall decals require no tools and are easy to hang. These budget-friendly dorm decorating accessories come in a wide range of styles. Assorted picture frames, the New York or London skyline, even erasable chalkboard and so many more. What a great way to liven up your space and make a statement about yourself.
  • Add some live plants, remember to water them, or maybe some artwork – your own? You can take a favorite photo and have it blown-up to poster size. How about cheery curtains? It is cheaper to purchase an extra set of sheets and make your own. They will match your bedding and look more uniform.

Although you may not be thrilled about sharing a small space with a roommate, you can make the most of the situation by creating a homey, cozy atmosphere. Get your roommate on board and create an area that you will both love and can be comfortable in. Create a room where you enjoy living, laughing and socializing with good friends and most importantly study.

Make it memorable! You'll be glad you did.


the domestic curator ~ ronda

Wednesday, July 25

THE COTSWOLDS: Storybook England


As far as vacation spots go, I have a few personal favorites. But I can take that one step further, I have favorite spots 'with-in' our vacations. We did the whole Disney World/Orlando vacation with the kids {let me just stop right here and say that Disney World is NO's hard work!}, we followed that up with a week in the Florida Keys. I spent one whole day in Islamorada doing nothing more than walk from the beach to the pool, it was sheer heaven after the chaos of Disney. That is definitely on my favorite 'spots' list! What else tops my 'favorite' vacation spots list? The Cotswold District of England is VERY close to the top. Lower Slaughter being the ultimate hamlet with Bibury coming in a close least for me. I just love it!
Beautiful thatched roof houses cover the countryside.

Less than two hours north-west of London lies a region that is crisscrossed with ancient hedgerows, stone walls and 'kissing gates'. The landscape is dotted with storybook villages built by medieval merchants enriched by the wool trade and fields sprinkled with delightful sheep. The rolling hills of the Cotswold region is quintessentially rural England. They couldn't proclaim their heritage anymore if they shouted, "here I's me, quaint England." They truly are a sightseeing treat not to be missed....showing you just how 'English' England can be.......really!
Isn't it GORGEOUS?


The Cotswolds are sandwiched into a triangular shaped piece of land boxed in by the M40, the M4 and the M5. To the north lies Stratford-Upon-Avon, to the east lies Oxford and to the southwest lies that rare English beauty, Bath. If you have rented a car you will have the freedom of NOT sticking to a timed schedule. The back roads of the Cotswolds are a dream to drive, meandering along even getting lost can be a joy. This is going to be one of those times you wished you had rented a car. If you are just day tripping out of London on the rails, Moreton-in-Marsh is the only Cotswold town with a train station. Not to worry, two of the region's coziest villages, Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold, are but a few miles from Moreton-in-Marsh. Chipping Campden, Stow, or Moreton  ....any of these villages make a great jumping off point for exploring the 'thatch-happiest' of Cotswold villages with a bike ride, a rambling walk or a drive down unmarked roads to little known places. 

On the river Eye in Lower Slaughter. The 16th and 17th century homes in the village were built using the honeyed colored Cotswold sandstone. Many adorned with mullioned windows and  other embellishments such as projecting gables. Thus, animating this storybook village to life.
The mill on the River Eye in Lower Slaughter.
Copse Hill in Lower Slaughter.
 Cotswold SHEEP!
St. Marys, the 13th century Anglican parish church, in Lower Slaughter is a GEM!
The 19th century water mill on the banks of the River Eye, Lower Slaughter.


The Cotswolds are walking county and the English love their walks and vigorously defend their age-old right to free passage. If you have never taken a self-guided walking tour before, the Cotswold  Hills is one of the best places to try. The gentle and welcoming countryside offers you peace and tranquility and you are never far from a village. The paths are well marked ensuring you never lose your way. The Northern Cotswolds have more hills than further South, so pick your walking area according to your personal effort and ability. There are a wide range of accommodations here, ensuring that at the end of the day, you will have somewhere comfortable to stay.
Walking among sheep, ancient stone walls, wooded paths and hedgerows. It's idyllic....
This path was not on our map. Having no schedule to keep, Mr.P and I just couldn't resist!

Mr.P and I carry a map, along with a compass, a standard guidebook for walking the Cotswolds, a good camera and bottled water. We do not find it necessary to be with a group or 'tour'. In fact in our travels we have never taken a tour, I guess we aren't happy within the confines of an organized itinerary. We have mastered wingin' it quite well! I'm the navigator and Mr.P is the guide. If we see something interesting we STOP. You can't always do that when you are with an organized tour. Gotta stick to that schedule. There are wonders to see! Like.....
 How about looking over and seeing this, Broadway Tower. On a clear day, the view from the Tower encompasses as many as 13 counties. Footpaths run around, and up to, the tower....entry to the tower is around £4 and well worth the extra time spent.
How about kissing your honey at this 'kissing gate'?  A Kissing Gate is a small gate giving access through a wall or fence that swings and 'kisses' its posts. Allowing you to pass but not the sheep.

Contours offers organized walking or biking tours. They provide you with refreshments along the way as well as a few lunches and dinners. During the day as you walk or bike, they relocate your bags to the next hotel so your things will be waiting for you upon your arrival. Your guide will include history and the background of  places you pass on your walk. Wouldn't you love to pass by this church door? Maybe slipping in a back pew to listen in on the chorale's free and somehow magical!
The enchanting north porch and its two flanking yew trees of St. Edward's Parrish in
Stow-In-The-Wold. The trees have become apart of the doorway making it like something straight out of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings.

Overall I'd advise you to leave your big bags at a hotel from which you can set off on your own. Grab a good map and guidebook for walking the Cotswolds and off you go. If you don't feel the need for extra handholding you just might enjoy going it alone. You never know until you try.....Perhaps the greatest treasure in the Cotswolds lies within the people who live there. The locals will gladly stop and talk to you along the way; giving advice, directions or just a simple wave hello to encourage you in your journey. The locals seem immensely proud of their beautiful landscape, and rightfully so. Glad that people like us come to enjoy it in the best possible way; on foot following the winding paths through their woods and fields.
I ask you...does it get any better than this? A thatched roof cottage in Chipping Campden.



One of the most memorable walks, and my personal favorite, in the Cotswolds is between the two idyllic villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter.  A well-worn footpath, Warden's Way, meanders beside the edge of the swift-flowing River Eye, and it's only 1 mile. You will pass quaint cottages, antique houses, stately trees, footbridges, and old millponds. You can extend this walk another 1 1/2 miles to romantic Bourton-on-the-Water. A very easy walk that passes some of the best loved scenery in the Cotswolds.
Walking in this tranquil setting brings a wonderful calming peace. Something we all 
need in this crazy-busy world in which we live.
Cozy little cottages can be be rented for your stay in the Cotswold Hills......charming!



The Cotswold Round is a circuit of the best-loved villages of the Cotswolds. Beginning in Moreton-in-Marsh with its large market square surrounded by handsome former coaching inns, the trail takes you through Broadwell to Stow-on-the-Wold. Then heading through Upper and Lower Slaughter to Bourton–on-the-Water, where several elegant bridges span the crystal waters of the River Windrush as it flows through the village. The trail then heads upstream to Winchcombe, an attractive little town of stone and half-timbered buildings with a fine church adorned with 45 gargoyles, each representing a local citizen from the 1460's. Leaving the town you will head to Stanway, Stanton and Chipping Campden, before returning to Moreton-in-the-Marsh through Broad Campden, with its rare 17th century Friends Meeting House.  This walk is 51 miles and takes 5 days, whereas the self-guided was 1 mile and could easily be accomplished on a leisurely day. Again deciding which schedule fits into the larger scheme of your overall vacation.

A delightful cottage garden on the edge of Bibury.

After a well-planned visit, you'll remember EVERYTHING about the Cotswolds as quaint: the walks, the churches, the pubs, the B&Bs and country houses, the thatched roofs, the kissing gates, the sheep and most of all the people. If you visit England without touring the Cotswold Hills you will look back and realize what a wonderful opportunity you missed out on. So whether you take a guided tour or wing it with the P's, carve out some time to walk a bit in the'll be glad you did.


 The Domestic Curator ~ Ronda