“Fixin’s” is one of the longest-running projects I’ve completed, it was many years in the making for reasons that will hopefully become clear a little later…

Gloria loved watching Ree DrummondThe Pioneer Woman an American cooking and lifestyle show on TV, she used to mimic Ree’s accent and talk about cooking lunch or dinner in the style of the show regularly.

One day we were sitting on our newly finished patio (that was one of mine as well) about to barbecue when, in a terrible American accent, she said “Doggone it, I forgot the Fixin’s” and toddled off into the kitchen. She reappeared a few minutes later with a tray laden with salad, coleslaw, mayonnaise, relishes and cutlery, and promptly missed a step and dropped some of the cutlery on the lawn.

Once she’d safely delivered the tray and recovered her composure (and the cutlery) she said that what she really needed was a nice deep tray, like an old fashioned seed tray, that would hold the various Tupperware containers we used for the salad, coleslaw and the like when eating in the garden, with a bit of extra room for cutlery and condiments.

To this day I’m still not 100% sure this wasn’t a put-up job, a roundabout way of telling me she wanted me to make something especially for her.

When I asked about “Fixin’s” she said it was American slang she’d heard Ree use meaning “all the assorted side dishes that accompany a particular main dish” – almost like she’d read it in a dictionary and had been practising saying it. From that day forward barbecue  always  came with “Fixin’s”.

That afternoon I rummaged in my scrap-wood bin and found some offcuts of larch from a previous fence panel repair that were ideal. Later, after finding an old length of sash cord and spending some time with a tape measure and the Tupperware boxes I had a plan, another day or so fiddling about cutting, glueing, sanding and varnishing resulted in the trays in the image above (without the stencilled text).

Gloria loved them, especially the “rope” handles, they were always put to good use when we ate outside.

Sadly, she never saw them “totally finished” because I couldn’t find a stencil the right size for “FIXIN’S”, and wasn’t overly happy with the finish I got with a hand-cut one.

It wasn’t until much later, after losing her, when I was spring-cleaning the conservatory, saw the trays again and smiled to myself about “Fixin’s”, that it dawned on me that I had the “Stencil” font on the PC and a 3D printer, why not just print a stencil the right size…

I could almost feel her “beaming” as I sprayed the Matt Nato Green Paint! (Oh, come on! It had to match the green striped material we used making the parasol, table cloth, cushion covers, summer house and shed roller blinds etc. and Nato Green was the closest match I had to hand…)

The text is split in two to allow it to fit on the printer bed, but “put together” it is 189 mm wide and 40 mm high.

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