A Little Autumnal Sprucing

We’re enjoying some beautiful weather here and I’m attending to my fall menus.  I have to be honest and tell you that I’m a little uninspired.  I’m such a visual person that I really need to feel visually invited in my kitchen.  I want it to be warm and welcoming.  Casual and comfortable.  So…I challenged myself to do a little kitchen sprucing.  No purchasing.  No shopping.  No major time investment.  I was hoping to make things pretty, autumnal, and inviting in just an afternoon!  I hoped it would be just the kind of kitchen you’d want to settle into with a cup of tea to enjoy a visit.  I’m so pleased!  Take a look…

Above is my cranberry red cabinet (which has undergone quite the transformation).  It does sincerely make me happy to look at my pretty (thrifted) collection of whites and blues juxtaposed that deep, rich cranberry.

In addition to re-working my menu plans, I’m doing a total overhaul on our “kitchen routine”.  We spend a lot of time in here and lately it has trended towards the more chaotic.  I’m missing my morning prayer routine.  Since life for me starts in here – in the kitchen – moving my favorite chair and a little table with my basket of prayer books made sense.  I’m trying to be intuitive.  This is where I am first thing in the morning…so this is where my chair and prayer books make sense and this is where I will find myself starting the day…in the soft glow of the early morning.

I tossed a thrifted blue and white gingham blanket over my rocking chair to pull the blues around the room.  And, I brought in my favorite little yellow table adding a soft lamp and my basket of prayer books.  It’s a cheery corner of the room.

And…just because it makes me so happy…here are more autumnal pictures of my cranberry cabinet with touches of blue.  Doesn’t that look pretty with the rich orange of those pumpkins, which are volunteers by the way!!  We always have volunteer pumpkins in our compost bin every year and these jewels have lasted here since mid-August!

I just love seeing pretty linens peeking out of this part of my cabinet.  Laces…and linens…and ginghams…all welcoming and just waiting for someone to spread them out on the table.

Well, the sunshine was just begging to come through my kitchen windows and I wasn’t about to turn it away…but it does wash this picture out a bit.  Doesn’t that blue gingham throw look cheery on my rocking chair?  Don’t tell anyone…but that’s really a vintage tablecloth!  🙂

I did want you to see my new/old/creative/cottage style window treatment.  Remember, I just went rummaging through drawers for things to try to pull something fresh and new together.  I was really lacking enthusiasm about my window treatments.  Do you ever feel like that?  Just un-enthused and tired of looking at the same old tired valance?  sigh.  I found these cranberry panels and hung them on curtain clips (I love those things, don’t you?  No panels needed – just clip and go!).  I think they warm up the space a lot and bring the rich cranberry color around the room.

I still wasn’t sure where to go next so I pulled out a favorite book to flip through with my cup of tea yesterday afternoon, Creating Cottage Style, and found great inspiration to think outside the box…which is exactly where the rest of my window treatment came from…outside the box!  LOL!!!  I had an old bed skirt tucked away that had the prettiest eyelet lace on it that I liberated from its bedskirt shaping and tacked a measure of it temporarily to my window sill (I’ll probably sew a pocket onto it and put it up properly now…I just wasn’t sure if it would look…silly…you don’t think it looks silly…….do you??)

And then, for whimsy, I added some vintage linens that my Granny embroidered years ago and just draped them over the curtain rod.  I love the touches of blue and gold and they remind me of my Granny…which I hope and pray will bring renewed inspiration in here!!!  Sheesh!  If I could just cook like my Granny cooked I wouldn’t have ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!!!!!  

Lastly, I traded out the decorative plates above my windows with these simple Italian bowls I found in a thrift store one time.  Again…more touches of blue around the room.  I think it works.  It makes me smile anyway.  It’s just a little different – feels warm and inviting.

I did do a little bit of practical work!  I tidied up my spice rack – remember how we reclaimed that?  I did that a couple of days ago and I can’t tell you how much more efficient it is now!  I found smallish Mason jars and glass jars to contain all my frequently used bulk spices and I labeled EVERYTHING!  Ahhhh!!!  I can find spices again!  Delight!

Finally, I tidied up my bake center.  We polished the wood surface with a homemade blend of mineral oil and beeswax – it smells and looks so rich.  I wiped down all of my most frequently used appliances, and I had restocked all of my bake goods and flours…but by the time I got around to taking this picture I can see they need attention again this weekend.  Let’s see – from top to bottom and left to right here’s what you see on the bake center:

Top shelf:
  • Oats
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Bread Flour
  • Sugar (which really gets used up frequently during hummingbird season!)
  • Bronze Chief Wheat Berries (ground whole wheat stays in a Mason jar in the fridge so it isn’t pictured here.)
  • Prairie Gold Wheat Berries (I love these Anchor 2 1/2 gallon glass jars with screw top lids for wheat berries.  They’re so pretty and functional!)
Middle shelf:
  • Recipe basket with red gingham liner from Peterboro Baskets
  • Favorite set of white nesting mixing bowls from Williams-Sonoma
  • Mortar and Pestle from Lee Valley
  • (various mixes in small glass jars hiding behind mixing bowls and unseen)
  • Other favorite set of nesting mixing bowls
  • Basket of breads
 Surface of the bake center:
  • Kitchen Aid Mixer – Ole’ Reliable!
  • Cuisinart Food Processor (this is an old model from back when the motors were still heavy duty and the Sabatier blades were super sharp!  I hunted and hunted used sites like ebay and finally found a very nice inexpensive one in my own backyard!  I love this kitchen helper!!  It’s a model DLC-7 if you’re curious…and many folks can find them at thrift stores so keep your thrifting eyes open!)
  • Zojirushi Bread Machine – my dear faithful friend!  Nothing smells better than fresh bread on a cool afternoon!
Bookshelf below the surface:
  • You surely don’t want me to list every.single.cookbook I have do you???  Needless to say, I have…ahem…a few.  My favorites you ask?
  • Barefoot Contessa cookbooks…including her newest cookbook, How Easy Is That?, which isn’t pictured because it’s in my menu basket as we speak!!!
  • Cooks Illustrated Magazines – while some of these recipes take way longer than I have to give in my kitchen right now, they’re super instructive and I learn so much.  My dad follows these recipes TO-THE-LETTER!!  I, however, take liberties at will!  LOL!!  Even so, I made an amazing adaptation of their “Best Stew Ever” the other night!  We all loved it!
  • Stay tuned…I ordered some new/used cookbooks for my fall menu inspirations…I’ll let you know what I think of them in my next post!
Bottom shelf:
  • Favorite set of extra large enamelware bowls for mixing up large batches of yummy goodness!  I just don’t know how I ever got along without these big bowls!  They’re so practical!
  • Metal colander

There you go!  My Autumn sprucing in anticipation of hearty fall menus!!!  Watch for a Fall Menu post soon!

I hope your Autumn has been lovely so far…and that you find some menu inspiration for your Fall menus and aren’t as behind as I am!!!

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  1. WOW!! I'm not sure if I should feel inspired by your baking center or like a complete and total failure in the baking department!! (you know I'm kidding) – definitely INSPIRING!!! I love your new window treatments! I never would have guessed how you pieced it together from seeing the first picture. It all works together very nicely!

  2. You did a great job, Jen. It is amazing how you can give something a little thought and create something so cozy and wonderful. I love your kitchen area…it reminds me of the kitchen I had back home. We seem to have the same tastes. And I am certainly ready for the fall menus as that is the weather we are currently having in our neck of the woods.

  3. Jen,
    I was so reminded of “The Kitchen Madonna” in the first part of your post. If only all kitchens were built with a little Mama's prayer corner in mind ! SIGH!

  4. I'm so inspired by your kitchen. I have been wanting to do some sprucing up in my own nest, but I just don't know where to start. I love how cheery your kitchen looks. And it's so organized!

  5. I would love to have my books out like that, but I would be afraid of the kids spilling flour all over them…do you have that problem?

    Your kitchen looks so cheery! I would think that it would inspire you during these dark autumnal days!

  6. Hi Donna Marie! 🙂

    Sure – the books meet up with flour on a regular basis when they're out on the counter. I just blow the flour off and move on. LOL!!

    There isn't usually a problem with flour spilling on them while the books are lined up on that low shelf because the flour is way up high on an upper shelf. If the flour is out, my older daughter or I am usually right there!

    So go ahead, set out your favorite cookbooks!!!

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