Monday, August 29, 2011

Gotta Have It

Dream Stove

So, I am walking up to the second floor of one of my favorite
Flea Markets and right at the top is this wonderful Turquoise and
Cream Enamel Stove.  I thought I was headed straight to heaven.
I love stoves!  The price tag revealed a $ 600.00 number!  Way too
big for my tiny budget and for me to use as a prop.  So, here is
a picture of my stove to look at and dream about using.  What fun
meals have been made on this!  What a statement to be made.  Thank
goodness for camera's so I can have its image to enjoy forever! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Educational Art

Antique Flash Card Wall Border

My mother-in-law passed away several years ago and after the family cleaned out all of the things that meant something to them the rest was left for trash.  This has been my favortie time to look at the things no one else deemed important.  I ran across these old, yellowed, flash cards.  My mother-in-law was a teacher in many forums besides the typical classroom.  She taught Sunday School, Cub Scouts, Grandkids, kids, and me.  She always had educational things around her house, like these, flash cards.  Her mother was also a teacher.  I wonder if they could have been hers.  This is a reminder of her love of education.

I have them in my back hall acting as a charming border at the top of the kitchen doorway.  Everytime I enter through that hall I see her smiling at me, I have a unique border, and I put my mind through the paces of mathematics.  Anyone who knows me knows I need all the help I can get. I am lucky to have had her in my life.  I miss her dearly and hope she knows how important every mundane detail of her stuff is to me.  I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Croquet Balls Revisited


Playing with Photoshop.  I am really amazed.  Look at the difference of these two pictures!  The one on the left is the original.  There is alot of amber/yellow tones to it.  My house has these tones in the evening because of the giant shade tree sitting outside of it.  The picture on the left is what they should look like under natural light.  I know there are all kinds of things that can be achieved with photoshop but being "green" about it certainly ups the wonder factor. 

Still working on a photography course, will keep you posted! 

Oh, and before I forget, this centerpiece on my table was met with lots of fun dialogue, childhood memories, and goofing around when my family gathered.  Sure beats the ordinary candle and flower arrangement! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Off my feet

Time to relax, sip tea, and dream
and create, too! 
I can't say enough about my yoga instructor, Maggie.  Without her knowledge and support I wouldn't be walking this week.  Too many years of high heels, extra weight, and neglect forced me down with a painful heel spur.  I was afraid of working my way to surgery.  After one session of stretching my feet I could walk.  After 3 days of continuing the stretching at home, the proper (ugly) shoes and heel cups I am feeling more like myself and ready to revamp the creative engine! 

Photographed here is my giant, retro, unmarked tea pot holding lemon verbena from my tea garden.  It is a reminder to all of us to slow down, put up our feet (stretching them, too!) and let our bodies and minds rest and regenerate before we are forced too! 

Have a few projects in mind to do while I am off my feet.  Can't wait to share them with you!  Will be playing with my tripod this weekend I hope, too! 
This is my beloved Maggie.
I hope she is ok with me posting this picture.
I think if it turns to new clients she'd be ok.
So if you wish to contact her about private lessons
comment below and I will hook you up!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Happy List

Been reading on Sadie Olive her happy list and that has me thinking. . .what would be on mine?  Good thing to think about today as I am lamenting over the heel spur that is keeping me off my feet.  Thinking of how I am getting older by the minute. . .so to pull me out of my funk (yes I know it could be worse!). 

Here we go with my list.  In no particular order. . .
My Tiny Bungalow and my lab,

Old books and Paper
Arts--not Crafts

My bed, it is so comfortable.
Karen Nauberger (sp) sheets.

Vintage Flash Cards

My boys and the Lake

Frances Lynn, the only other female
in my house. 

My beloved Turner,
I miss him everyday, still. . .

Friday, August 12, 2011

Croquet Balls as Art

As I spent this last week in self-imposed chaotic
remodel/cleaning of my house getting ready for my parents to visit.  I didn't heed my advice
of taking it easier on myself.  I did think about it,
though!  I realized I didn't spend alot of time
thinking of new ideas!  I was too tired from cleaning!
Crazy irony I think! 

I recently purchased these very worn croquet balls
at a favorite flea market in a huge bucket, pictured above.  They now are piled on a ironstone platter, equally worn, with a key found in my mother-in-laws stuff.  They are the current
centerpiece on my dining room table! 

I am anxious to see what conversations arise when my
company arrives today.  Heard from a "design expert"
once to have fantastic unusual centerpieces to
stimulate conversation.  I have played with this idea and
set my table with Comic Book pages, race cars, army men
and other toys!  They have always been greeted with squeals
of delight from all "kids"!  What is more fun than a restaurant
that sets their tables with white paper and crayons? 

Enjoy your weekend with the ones you love most.  Create
something wonderful and let the conversations

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Radishes and Redecorating

Freshly picked from the Garden
As the summer progresses so does the garden.  It doesn't really matter that the heat index has been over 100 degrees for over 20 days and I have been hiding out in the A.C.!  It still is growing!  These are the last of the radishes plucked and ready to be braised.  As I type this out I wonder if I should impart a life lesson or a quick recipe.  Well I am tired and in a creative funk. So we will see where this post takes us.  

My parents are due this weekend and I am busily tearing up my house to redo things instead of cleaning it!  Does any one else do that?  I constantly do things like this--then on midnight the night before they are due to arrive I throw things back together knowing they won't know that I spent a week repainting the back hallway and weeding the yard so things are "just so" when they get here.  And they are left wondering why I am so tired and haven't slept in 3 days! 

Just like the garden growing when I am busy hiding out in the A.C., life is happening while I am in the middle of self-imposed chaos.  My family is coming and they don't care about anything else but being with my house of three and three (3 people 3 pets)!  But as a child we learn early, "best foot forward" so on I go! 

When I design for people they always want me to come see the final project when it is all shiny and new and ready for photography.  To me this is not my favorite time.  While I love a pretty photograph and find it easy to stage one, it is not the time I like to see the space.  I love to be there when it is a utter mess and they are working in it.  I love to see them happily moving about their much improved space.  That is the greatest reward!  It is much like the sneak peeks we get behind the scenes in blogs and magazines.   

I have had many spaces published in magazines, won several local awards, was fortunate enough to have worked with a National Award Winning Design firm, had my spaces on HG TV and while all that is exciting it doesn't hold a candle to running into a customer in the grocery store parking lot while she shouts out across it, in the rain--because yes this actually happened, "I love my Kitchen, THANK YOU!" 

So as I act crazy getting ready for the parental visit, I will try to keep in mind that my parents are like so many of us, me included, they want to see us as we are and not the magazine picture of us that we want the world to see (remember the scene in Sex and the City where Charlotte was having her house photographed?) but I doubt it will stop the chaos I felt necessary to undertake a mere few days before they arrive. I will take note.  I will try to take it easier on myself and let my parents see my three and three living in our space as it is! 

And for the radishes, well braising them is the best way to eat them. Clean and cut off the tops.  I leave stems on them about an inch or two.  Put in a deep skillet with a generous pinch of sugar and a pat (or two) of butter.  Add Chicken Stock, enough to come up the sides about halfway.  Bring to simmer.  Cover and simmer until tender about 10 to 15 minutes.  When tender take off lid and cook off liquid until syrupy.  Serve warm.  Utterly delicious.  Braising them mellows the sharpness and you won't want them on a salad anymore! 

Recipe and life lesson all in one swoop!  Create, don't drive yourself crazy doing so, and eat something really wonderful!  Whew, who knew! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Paper Vase

These are paper strips left over from a project I have been working on.  I posted about them earlier but found a few more photographs of them on their table.  I like the way the twisted strips look and the light.  I get this amazing amber light in the afternoon as the sun sets.  It isn't a funky setting on my camera but the actual light filtering in.  Enjoy the pictures because they are only posted for you to enjoy!  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Men I Love

The men I love--the men who love me.  I need a moment to gush over how blessed I am and hope they feel the same way, too.  Don't get me wrong, there are days when I feel as if a gypsy camp was coming through town, I'd send them along!  But, and this is a very big BUT, most days I look at them and wonder, "How did I get so lucky to have these 2 men who love me so unconditionally?"  I think, as I have gotten older and more confident in myself, that I deserve it.  I am not being arrogant when I say this but am realizing that I do deserve it, everyone does.  Everyone deserves to be loved so deeply by their families and friends.  That includes me, too. 

Don't you think that too many times we berate ourselves so much that we don't think we can have it, we search and search and search for it thinking we don't have it, or that we just don't deserve it?  As I have grown older and hopefully wiser I have realized that all I need is right in front of me loving me as much as I love them!  I don't need to have a perfect house or run my kid to too many activities.  I don't need to be a text book anything.  What I do need is to be me.  They love and cheer me on even when I am painting the living room for the 4th time and they can't help but roll their eyes.  They love me when I am tired, dirty, and mean.  They love me when I am sick, sick and tired, and at my worst (and I have been at my worst too many times). But they also love me when I am at my best!  When I am covered in paint or dirt from the garden, when I am sorting, shoveling stuff, playing, laughing, cooking and just being me.  They love me when I am standing on my head in my yoga frame of mind, too.  They encourage me to explore what I want even if they really aren't interested in it. 

I wasted alot of my time searching, wondering, and not paying attention.  Thinking when I achieve this, when I finish that then there will be a big pay off.  Until I slowed down, took a big look around, I noticed that I have those things right here, RIGHT NOW and I had better not miss it!  When that happened so many doors opened up for me, creatively especially!  I am not trying to set the stage for living in my home anymore.  We are living in it now and when I repaint the walls, again, it is because I love doing it.  I love caressing the walls with my paint brush, the walls that house the people I love most in this world.  That is why I love those men more than words can express accurately! 

So now that I am done gushing, where is there meaning for you to draw from?  If you find yourself searching, setting the stage, and just not living but waiting, stop!  Stop, breathe, stand on your head and look around you.  Chances are there are people in your life cheering you on, letting you be you, silently.  There are also people in your life that you are cheering on, too.  Don't miss out on it!  If you are in an abusive situation then seek out help because you don't deserve that.  No one does. 

When you slow down, realize what is around you, you will find that you will do everything better. 

Now, why no faces, you ask?  Because my husband is incredibly private and wishes to keep his face and my son's face off the Internet, so I will respect his wishes because I love him and that is what he wants!  I often wonder when looking at this picture what they are talking about.  One of those Father Son moments I am glad I have on film.  We have spent many days on our lakes and I have many pictures of them talking through the years.  I hope that bond will remain for them for the rest of their lives.  I hope that their love for me will last for the rest of my life, too, and it will because I am not missing out on it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Limestoning and Learning

Sample wall in Back Hall

This is my first attempt at a decorative paint finish.  It is a snap shot I took of the work in progress.  First let me tell you about the process itself then about the snapshot.  Being a designer and junk store junkie, I marvel at the fact that I have never attempted this.  I love how it looks.  I love how it enhances all the old plaster on the walls.  It is soft and romantic, too.  The process is quite simple in its steps.  First I painted the base coat in a Vellum Color, flat, 2 coats.  The next color was the glaze.  4 Parts Eggshell Paint to 1 Part Glaze.  It is a custom grey color I had mixed up.  My color palette that has formed over the years is Creams, Silvers, China Whites, with punches of warm reds, vintage greens, chocolates and ebony.  You use a very dry, dry brush and create a mottled effect.  It is really fun to do this!  Then after 24 hours you dry brush your top coat on just like the glaze coating.  The only difference is you don't use the glaze so you have more coverage.  I chose my china white as the top coat.  After 4 hours of drying time you then wash the walls with a kitchen scouring pad.  This will wash down to the glaze, pull out plaster imperfections, and in some spots pull down to the base layer.  The colors I chose are soft and very natural.  You can use polyurethane in matte if it will get alot of wear, sanding between coats, as needed. 

Now the biggest "trick" of all!  The reason for the snap shot. I took this snapshot to send to a friend who is a master in decorative painting.  As I was studying (well admiring it if I am being totally honest) it on my computer I noticed that I don't have the grey edges feathered in well, it looks fake.  Since then I have taken an artist brush dipped in the top coat to lightly feather the edges in making it look more natural.  (Can't photograph the final look yet because camera and computer situation I blogged about earlier).  Sometimes your eye just doesn't catch those details until you take a photograph.  You will see professionals constantly doing this while they are staging a shoot.  Snapshots will show you details you might easily miss. I strongly suggest this when you are decorating an area or painting a decorative finish.  It can be very revealing!  It makes the difference between a professional and amateur job.

I can't' wait to show you the after photograph!  I have had lots of unsolicited comments about how pretty this "old" plaster wall is!  No one knows it is new!  I have started repainting all the walls in my back hall, yes the one I have given sneak peaks of already!  Yes I am repainting it after one week.  Yes my style has changed in one week, well I have refined it! That happens to us decorators, too!  It happens I just go with it!  I don't lament over the time I spent or money I spent (I usually am on the cheap anyway), I paint, grow, and I move on.  Think a life lesson just might be tucked in there, too! 

I should note that the prep makes all the difference.  Don't skimp ever on prep.  Make sure to tape off the areas, too! Very important when dry brushing! You are not "cutting in" like straight painting and it can get messy at the edges. Clean the walls and use TSP to knock any dirt, gloss off existing paint, grease and grime.  It makes all the difference!  I promise!  It is probably the least fun, most often overlooked, step that many people don't want to take the time to do (I understand that the desire for the finished product is intoxicating) but it is critical in achieving the best look possible.  Don't skimp or skip prep!  EVER, EVER, EVER! 

and this is the finished wall several days later, the edges are feathered in and there are decorations added to the wall. The Key Cabinet to hide all those nasty FOB's that we have. On Top a book on wire with ribbon.  The cuff keys are my father-in-laws when he was a police officer many years ago.  The aluminum stack cup was my mother-in-laws.  She carried it in her purse for many years.  The picture, on my cell phone.  Still no resolution to the computer issue!  Need to hide the screws, too.  Another thing that is easily overlooked until it shows up in a photograph!  Will post it again to show you the finished look and how all these snap shots made a difference!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

There are just some days. . .

There are just some days when the creativity is just not there.  There are just some days when comfort food really is that, comfort wrapped in a warm flour shell side-by-side with crispy hot fries.  Each bite melting away the ho-humness of the day.  This day is one of those.  No energy to be creative or reflective for that matter. 

I see no need to push when I don't feel like it.  No need to run on overdrive.  When this mood hits I have learned that pushing it leads to mistakes and sloppiness.  So I order a flour taco with a side of fries, 1/2 Diet and 1/2 Cherry Coke and sit and eat and let the food comfort me until I am ready to face it all!  This day is no exception.  No apologies, just food. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

I have this tiny, tiny room off my kitchen.  I imagine this probably made my bungalow have an "eat-in" kitchen.  It is too tiny for even the small Formica Topped Tables I frequently see at Flea Markets. 
It is now the room where my Kitchen Aid lives because it is too tall for the back splash area in the actual kitchen.  Don't tell the Kitchen Aid
that!  It thinks it has a room all to himself!   

The window treatment is a little whimsy!  I threaded the leftover silver fabric from my headboard and a favorite stick found on a dog walk years ago that never seemed to make it to the compost heap.  Quite charming, off-beat, and fun.  That personal note that makes all the difference.  Note the really DARK chocolate color on the walls!  It defies the wives tale "dark colors make rooms smaller"  which is NOT true!  It makes this room much larger simply because you can't see where it starts and ends.  The ceiling is in Benjamin Moore's Cristal Blue Semi Gloss.  It just lifts!  (the wall color is Appalachian Brown from Benjamin Moore in Matte Finish).

I love this space.  It is so luxe in spite of it's 4X5 size.  It is a wonderful place to mix up a batch of something.  My Kitchen Aid is quite spoiled! 

Personal Touches with a touch of drama make for a happy space! Using dark colors that are "taboo" for tiny spaces and an unexpected stick put my personal stamp on this space and makes my family happy, too.  This is what makes a house a home, personal touches, unexpected ones, pieces that evoke memories or invoke conversations.  I don't see meaningful conversations started over a room that is overly decorated with no personal touches and that, my friends, is why those spaces are just pretty and not comfortable places that your family and friends like to be just because "it feels" good to be there.  That is what most people strive for, a comfortable place to be.  A place to make memories and to remember them, too. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cat Napping

Niles Under the Iris Bed
Since the discovery of my dead computer last night I am forced into a cap nap of sorts.  It is an older lap top that accepts the older memory card from my older camera.  So my friends, camera phone in hand, my blog will change.  For better or worse?  That remains to be seen.  Big technology upgrade at my house coming up. 
Not to mention a huge life lesson.  Story for another day. 

Feel like taking a giant nap like my Niles.  Eyes are tired and head is swimming.  It is a giant thing to for me to loose my computer and possibly my camera in a few short hours.  I know they are only "things" but I think they represent more.  I think it represents the freedom I have to express myself and share it.  I think it gives me another avenue to be artistic with and to learn with and to grow with.  I know that things will work out and to, "Remain Calm and Carry On" and that it will be fine.  It is fine.  I am fine, I am armed with my cell phone and will be posting cell phone pictures while I create.  There is always a way to do what you love no matter what the deterrents are.  That is the lesson for me in all this as I am sure there are a few more to follow that will reveal themselves as time goes on. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Alternative Panty Storage

In the trunk of my car (another cell phone picture)
is a find of Parisia Lemonade from France snagged
at a discount grocery store for next-to-nothing. 
Since I live in a tiny, tiny bungalow (did I say TINY?)
storage space is at a premium.  My pantry is small and I run
a streamline operation when it comes to bulk items.  Many
are stored in the basement because the packaging is
ugly and the space in the basement is also at a
premium.  It has to accommodate laundry, office, my husband,
my workshop and his!  Where was I going to fit in a case of
lemonade from France?  I couldn't bear hiding it away.
Just too pretty! 

Voila!  The bucket from the Croquet Balls
I found last week.  Perfect Vessel for a
Case of French Lemonade.  Sitting neatly by
the Buffet in my dining room. 
Not out of sight, out of mind, collecting dust
and not being enjoyed until I remember I have it!
Don't they say that the first part of dining is
visual?  Well it is, isn't it?  We have served
this lemonade with freshly picked mint and
lemon basil.  Also with a fruity white
wine for a beat-the-heat wine cooler topped with
a sprig of lemon basil.  All because, and I firmly believe this,
 it was at my fingertips begging for more creative touches.
So the moral in this story, when the packaging is beautiful,
a pantry staple can be made into beautiful accessory and
no one has to know that you don't have the space to store it.

To Repaint or Not--That is the Question

Peaking out the front door
are one of my latest junk
store finds.

When I spied these sitting at the front door
of one of my favorite local flea markets
(for 10 bucks I might add).  I knew they were meant
to be.  Hauled them home with grand illusions of painting
them in Polished Mahagony with Fleur De Lis Stencils on
the back of them.  Then I plunked them on the front lawn
for my husband to see (there IS a story there!)
and love them just as they are. 
So my question is, or rather I am wondering out load,
How long will it take me to tire of the peeling paint
and start over? 
Hopefully never but my mind does change! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Still working on the back hallway. 
Going to paint the apron shelf in
Ralph Lauren Tennis Court White.
One small problem.  The Home Depot I
went to stopped carrying Ralph Lauren. 
Hoping that it is a location issue! 
Thought I'd do a dry run. 
The aprons look great here but come
fall it will hold my husbands

My favorite apron.
The black and white looks so
modern and retro at the same time.
Don't look too closely
It is dirty from wiping my hands on it! 
Would rather put it back on and bake something
wonderful than loose it to the wash
even for just one minute! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perfect Sweet Corn--Everytime

The Ingredients and Supplies
Giant Stock Pot filled with water
Freshly Shucked Sweet Corn
(I tend to leave a lot of silk)
Big Handful of Sugar

Put Stock Pot on Stove to Boil
Add Sugar

Add Sweet Corn and Bring to Boil

When at a rolling boil
Shut off heat
Put on Lid and Towel
(Towel does help--don't skip it)
and let it sit for 10 minutes

Serve up Perfectly done Corn.
This works every time with any amount.

Served my favorite way with butter.  Served in my
fancy, smancy corn dishes.
When the corn is really sweet no butter is needed.
My boys like kosher salt on it, too.  I'll pass on the salt.

We have tried all types of flavored butters (one
with Garlic Scape's and one with herbs and naturism's)
which have been really good but we keep going back
to plain butter.

Don't forget to buy extra corn and when it is cooked
slice it off the cob, freeze on baking sheet, and
then pack into bags.  Definitely worth pulling out
in February!