Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Tour of Our Kitchen

Welcome to the Kitchen at Eastlake Victorian!

When the house was built in 1873, there was no kitchen. The owners probably had a small stove in the one-room house for both heating and some cooking. Maybe they cooked in an out building, but there is no evidence left for me to know for sure. The kitchen was probably added around the turn of the 20th century. There are no rooms above our kitchen, but there is a full basement below. Several years back when workmen were replacing all our roofing, they found a gaping hole in the kitchen roof, covered over with only tar paper and several layers of old asphalt roofing. They determined this was probably an old stove pipe location, improperly covered over in later years. There were 5 layers of old roofing that needed to be removed, including the original wood shingles from 1873!

Here's our kitchen as you enter it from the parlor. The back door leads to the basement and to an outside door to the yard. The round table was my grandma's. Nothing fancy here. No granite countertops, nothing special about the cupboards, and just a plain old double stainless steel sink. You can see our recycling bins in the far corner under the counter. We keep our garbage can outside the back door so the cats can't get into it!

Kitchen Overview 3

There are some things I like about this kitchen, and a lot of things I don't like. What I dislike most of all is the ugly vinyl floor covering. It's old, yellowed, and worn out. It really must go! That being said, let me show you the rest of the kitchen. (Try to ignore the floor in the rest of the pictures!)

Ugly Kitchen Floor

The refrigerator and stove came with the house. They are a light beige color, probably from the late 1980's. They still work great. I know a lot of people like new appliances, but as long as these items remain in good working order, I don't see the point of buying new. I'd rather spend that kind of money on something else in the house. Notice the weird shelf over the stove? It's lined with sheet metal, it's ugly, but I haven't taken it down because it's a great place to store the toaster, pot holders and plastic storage containers!

Kitchen Overview 4

Above the Stove

Here's a view of the light fixture I bought a couple years ago. I really love it! It replaced a very ugly neon light fixture. We put in a dimmer switch so that we can turn the light down when we're eating, but turn it up to clean or to prepare foods (we have no under-cabinet task lighting).

Light Fixture

I like the fact that the window over the sink overlooks the garden. It's fun to wash dishes and watch the birds, butterflies and squirrels and see the pretty flowers in the summertime! I put some fake stained glass "stick-on" material in the upper window, then found a cute piece of wood gingerbread that fit the window nicely! It's a bit much, but I'll probably change that out someday. I don't like the casement windows that are in some of the rooms. I'd like to replace them with double hung instead.

Kitchen Window 1

Here's how it looks with the morning sun coming through.

Kitchen Window Morning

Not much counter space, but I've never really needed any more. I usually prepare food on this side of the counter...

Kitchen Overview 2

while this side is for some of the appliances such as the coffee maker and food processor.

Side Counter

I bought this creamware pitcher years ago and I use it to store my most used cooking utensils!

Notice the fake brick wall. When I bought the house I thought this was quaint, but I have since come to loath it. It's very hard to keep clean because of its textured surface, and the paint has chipped where I've had to clean it the most. I can't wait to tear it all off and get something easier to take care of.

Utensils in Cream Pitcher

A peek inside some of the cupboards...

Dish Cupboard

Spices Cupboard

Our mug rack.

Mug Rack

Here's something I really love about the kitchen: Our antique kitchen cabinet! My mom gave us this cabinet about 10 years ago because it really wasn't working in her kitchen anymore. She has a pantry, but we don't, so this has given us so much more storage! We keep all our canned goods and most of our dried goods in here, as well as all my cookbooks!

Tall Kitchen Cabinet

Cupboard Shelves

Jars In Cupboard


The bottom part of the cabinet is great for storing all my odd-sized cooking pans and casserole dishes!

Kitchen Cabinet Side View

This is the cats' favorite window. In the summertime, we attach a cat perch, and they soak up the sun and smell the fresh air. An old rug beater hangs on the wall (yes, I do use it to beat rugs!).

Kitchen Overview 1

I don't know the reasoning behind this high, long casement window. It's too high to look out of, so I hung a nice old piece of stained glass in it. It does bring a little more light into the room, but it's definitely not part of the original kitchen.

Stained Glass Window

This little cabinet holds all our teas and pastas!

Tea Cabinet

I love my antique kitchen clock! I love the sounds that old clocks make. I prefer faces with regular numerals rather than Roman numerals. This clock has beautiful Eastlake/Aesthetic cranes painted in gold on the glass door!

Kitchen Clock

Eastlake Aesthetic Clock Decoration

Back when bakers racks were all the rage, I bought this mini version. It's great for displaying some of my kitcheny knick-knacks.

Bakers Rack 1

Bakers Rack 2

Bakers Rack 3

Here is where the kitties eat!

Cat Mat

I love the sound of our shopkeeper's bell that I attached to the back door!

Shopkeeper's Bell

And finally, my little old recipe box, filled to the brim with old recipes, some typed on an old typewriter and yellowed with age.

Recipe Box 2

A couple years ago, I compiled all our favorite recipes and had them bound into a book. Now my very own cookbook is the one I use most often! Most of the recipes have been tweaked, and some are my own interpretations of foods we were used to eating before we became vegetarians. I go through cycles of experimenting with new recipes, and I'm at a point where I have enough new recipes to fill another volume!

My Cookbook

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Eastlake Victorian Kitchen. Please, if you have any suggestions, let me know! I value your input!

I have so many plans for this room. Here are my ideas so far:

1) Remove vinyl flooring, sand the old wooden floors, and varnish.
2) Replace the window over the sink.
3) Replace all the woodwork.
4) Replace the back door.
5) Add beadboard all the way up the 2 walls near table.
6) Add some narrow open shelving to replace the baker's rack.
7) Remove shelf over stove.
8) Replace the fake brick.
9) Add a fake tin ceiling (can't afford real tin!).

Remember my inspiration picture from way back in October 2009? Even though this kitchen is bigger, and I'll never have a stove like this, I think I can get a similar look. Wish me luck!

Souders Country Kitchen


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bradbury & Bradbury and other Fine Wallpapers

From time to time, readers have commented on my blog background and wondered what it was. When I started this blog, I had ordered samples of fine historic wallpapers from companies like Bradbury & Bradbury and Aesthetic Interiors to see what I would like to put up in my house someday. That inspired me to piece together a blog background out of my favorite wallpapers!

owl wallpaper

Well, Stephen J. Bauer, owner of Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers, commented on my last post, noting that I was using one of their wallpapers in my blog background! Mind you, I would not use these two wallpapers together in real life, but in separate rooms.

My Blog!

The bottom half of my background is called the "Iris Frieze," part of Bradbury & Bradbury's Fenway Roomset. In taller rooms, I've seen it used as a frieze near the ceiling. But I've also seen it used as a dado, on the lower part of the wall. That is the way I want to use it in my library, in the Aesthetic Green colorway.

Fenway Iris Frieze, Bradbury & Bradbury
Fenway "Iris Frieze", Bradbury & Bradbury

The top half of my background is called "Nocturnal Owl" by Aesthetic Interiors. It is an Anglo Japanese style pattern in the Olive Ochre colorway. It is so typical of the Eastlake/Aesthetic patterns from the 1870's-1880's. My home was built in 1873, and I'm trying to stay within the 1873-1885 range in my choice of decor.

Nocturnal Owl wallpaper, Aesthetic Interiors
"Nocturnal Owl" wallpaper, Aesthetic Interiors

Bradbury describes their Iris Frieze as being adapted from the work of Walter Crane, one of my favorite Victorian illustrators, whose illustration My Lady's Chamber I discussed in an earlier post.

Frontispiece, "The House Beautiful" by Clarence Cook. Drawing by Walter Crane

I do follow the Bradbury Blog, and Stephen pointed out that his company has a new roomset out called "Persian" that has a different kind of exotic feel than the Japanesque feel of the Eastlake/Aesthetic patterns I tend to lean toward.

Persian Roomset, Bradbury & Bradbury
"Persian" roomset, Bradbury & Bradbury

This wallpaper set would look great in a Moorish or Turkish room, with large tufted ottomans, tasseled draperies and Persian carpets. If you like rich jewel tones, lots of tassels, and decorating with multi-colored scarves and pillows, this wallpaper is for you! Turkish rooms were a craze in the United States after the Centennial Exposition of 1876, which exposed Americans to the "Oriental" decorating sensibilities.

1891 photo of Turkish room
from Life Magazine online

I am still in the wishful-thinking-stage. It will be the icing on the cake when I can finally do any wallpapering! Did I mention that I intend to add some built-ins and replace all the molding and doors in my house? This will not be cheap, as I am using oak. But it must be done. Somewhere along the way, this house was stripped of all original molding and doors. It was replaced with cheap stuff. And since I do not like painted molding, oak it must be. I am designing the built-ins and building them myself (yes, I'm the one that wields the power tools, NOT my husband!).

So, the wallpaper will have to wait. Until then, I can dream!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Before the Tea

I took a few pictures before the guests arrived for our Winter Tea this past Sunday. We set out all the teacups and the teas on the kitchen table.


The tea serving station was on the counter. Guests could add cream, sugar, stevia, lemon or honey! I used our antique sugar bowl as a spooner, which worked out quite well. I use butter pats to hold used tea bags.

Tea Prep Area

I placed a variety of cookies on our 3-tiered tray. Included are shortbread, ginger snaps, Meyer lemon and some buttery bakery cookies dipped in chocolate.


The bride's basket contained the scones, served with blackberry jam, lemon curd and devonshire cream.


Two cakes were served, including a store bought lemon pound cake and a homemade tomato pumpkin cake! I've included the recipe for Tomato Pumpkin Cake below. It's very moist and delicious, and a great way to use up green tomatoes at the end of summer.


I used my large serving tray to serve chocolate-covered strawberries!

Once our guests began arriving, I got caught up in the conversations and completely forgot about taking more pictures! But you get the gist. Just imagine most of the desserts gone and several teacups and saucers to wash.


Tomato Pumpkin Cake

2-1/4 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup pecan pieces (or walnuts)
1 cup raisins
2-1/2 cups diced green tomatoes (red works fine, too)

Preheat oven to 350º.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, canned pumpkin, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

In another mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Gradually stir into pumpkin mixture.

Add the tomatoes, nuts and raisins. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. If serving with tea, slice into small squares.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

"A loving heart
is the truest wisdom."

—Charles Dickens

May your day be filled with love!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tea Preparation

We are having or annual Winter Tea this Sunday! Terry and I have been working all day cleaning, baking, and getting things ready.

Library looking north

Our teas take place in the library. The furniture is arranged around my grandma's old early American coffee table. I usually keep a TV on this table in the parlor, but it's just the right size for tea, so we always remove our center table and replace it with this. Tomorrow, it will be covered with a tablecloth and lots of sweets!

Library looking west

Needless to say, that scratch post will be banished to the upstairs, along with the cats.

Scratch Post & Settee

The silver has all been polished. The sugar bowl, for those who like their tea sweet...

Silver Sugar

the brides basket will hold the freshly baked scones...

Bride's Basket

the silver platter will hold a variety of cookies...

Silver Platter

and the castor set will not be used, but is always on display on the sideboard.

Silver Castor Set

I keep all the teacups in our side-by-side. Tomorrow, I will take them all out and display them on the kitchen table. Each guest will choose a cup and saucer, a tradition everyone seems to love!


The curio cabinet is stuffed with our angel collection and old valentines. I think they work well together!

Valentines and Angels


Angel asleep

This little box I got from Victorian Trading Co. I know it says 'For You,' but I took that to mean it was a gift to me, from me.

Valentine Box

This is our parlor. The stove is not old, but it was there when I bought the house. The inspector said it was illegally vented, so I've never used it. Usually for our teas, people gather in the library or the kitchen, but sometimes they end up in here.

2 Rockers & Potbelly

The sun is setting and there are still chores that need to be done. We are expecting nearly 25 people to drop by for the open house. I'm so glad that the weather will be in the 30's and most importantly... NO MORE SNOW!

Kitchen Window

I'll try to remember to take pictures before everything gets eaten!

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