Sunday, March 31, 2019

Looking is not the same as seeing

Hi my bloggie friends,

Long time no see.  I hope you've been well.  I have been busy, but no complaints.  I had a desire to put some thoughts to paper, so I hope you will indulge me in this non-art/decor/antiques/diy post.

Have you ever thought about the difference between looking at something and really seeing it?  For almost 20 years, I have been doing laundry in the creepiest 110+ year old house basement I've ever seen, complete with spider webs, bad lighting, and crumbling plaster walls-someone's attempt at making a decidedly uninviting space habitable.  Maybe 80 years or so ago, it wasn't so bad, but these days, it is a place to get in and get out of as quickly as possible.  And it is NEVER on the home tour, I assure you.  The crumbling plaster wall is the worst right above where we have an old counter which we use to fold clothes.  Yep, so before you fold, you usually have to brush off the counter or deal with the consequences of a rough sand ending up in and on your clothes.  Delightful.   I guess it probably was a bad plaster job to begin with and it didn't get better with age.

I have been looking at, and silently cursing, this wall for  nearly 20 years, always wishing that I had the time and money to dedicate to making a proper laundry room, sans crumbling plaster, or that perhaps HGTV would call and offer to come help me out.  Yes, I realize that's not how those things work, but this is my laundry day fantasy, so just work with me.

Anyway, for whatever reason, today I actually SAW this wall as I was preparing to do my folding.  I don't know if it was the light coming in from the bulkhead door or what, but it struck me that it was like a piece of art-house art, if you will.  I noticed the layers of paint, revealing  the 1940-50's green which had been painted over the earlier peach, which was over the sandy undercoat (the part that crumbles pretty much constantly).  I noticed the pits and textures and the way that it had gradations in the colors.  I took the shop vac out and vacuumed the spidery webs and the fuzz that had stuck in the wall (I apologize to the squeamish for that visual!).  Then, I went upstairs and fetched my camera.  I played with taking pictures of THE WALL and then came upstairs to my laptop and did some cropping and was surprised at how much the photos looked like some cool piece of abstract art.

I even caught myself thinking, "I wonder if we could somehow preserve the wall for its aesthetic appeal, but keep the plaster from crumbling on our clothes?".  Wait, what???  I guess it was just one of those fleeting times of actually living in the moment and appreciating the beauty that is already around me that made me want to pause, enjoy, and then write about it.  After all of this time, I finally SAW the wall instead of just grumbling about how awful it and the whole basement is.  I SAW the beauty in the crumbling imperfection.  I think if you Google decayed elegance, you might find other images similar to this.  I SAW the wall and pondered about the first person who tried to spruce up an otherwise unassuming basement with some plaster and paint-were they just looking to add some living space, maybe for their kids to play in?  Were they happy with the results?  Were they happy living in this old house?  Did former residents cry happy tears when WWII ended?  What about the people living here when WWI ended?  Did they lose any loved ones?   What effect did the stock market crash of 1929 have upon the people living here then?  I could go on and on.  It's thoughts like this that make me love my old house and allow me to overlook the fact that there is a decided lack of proper closets, I share a bathroom with my whole family, and there is always something that needs to be fixed or spruced up.  ALWAYS.  At least for today, I celebrate the layers of history that this old wall in the basement represents and just maybe, I have found my appreciation for what is.  MAYBE next time laundry day rolls around, I won't groan when I see that wall.

Now, if HGTV called tomorrow and offered to fix the place up, would I take them up on it???  I did discover a new appreciation for what is, right?  Oh heck, let's be real:  I'd say YES, faster than you could say FIXER UPPER!  I do appreciate the wall and the history it represents, but I'm not CRAZY!  LOL!!!

Until next time, try to really see the people and things around you and enjoy the experience, transient though it may be.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Little Studio Time for Myself

Hi Bloggie Friends,

It has been so very long since I've done any creating just for myself, but this weekend was a break in the cycle.  A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this fun little frame at my local thrift store.  It was made in Italy, was VERY gold, and did I mention, it was PLASTIC.  EEEEOOOOWWW!  Anyway, I thought it had potential, and went ahead and purchased it, even though my husband rolled his eyes at me.

I'm terrible at remembering to take "before" pictures because I usually just want to get to work, but I did find this image on Pinterest that is what my little piece looked like except mine was a really garish gold.  I saved the little cherub for use in another project sometime.

A little chalk paint, a little wax, clear, followed by brown, and then adding back a little gold with a wonderful French gilding wax gave the frame the look I wanted.  I covered over the worn red fuzzy backing with a nice damask paper and finished the back (not pictured) with a similarly styled vintage wallpaper.   Then, I added a pretty lady and some gorgeous old French silk ribbon work trim.  After putting her all back together, this was the result.

Beautiful details...

Love me some beautiful old ribbon work any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

And here she is, hung on the wall in her forever home (well, okay, maybe just her "for now" home, but whatever).  I'm so pleased at how it turned out. 

Thanks for coming along for the show and tell.  It's been a long time, hasn't it? 

Until next time,
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Happy Birthday to my Momma

An FYI:  this is a very personal post with nothing to do with home decor, art, or antiques, but I needed to write it.

Mom, stylish, as always

February 25, 2018.  Today, my mother would have been 97 years old.  She would have hated that ("that's too old!" she would have exclaimed, unapologetically).  She's been gone 18 years now.  Most years, the day passes with just a perfunctory nod to the date on the calendar and a quick "Happy birthday, Mom" text to my 2 brothers.  This year though, feels different.  It hit me harder this year than in many years, for reasons known only to the universe. My only guess is that the 3 month old baby (my first child) that I know saved me from experiencing the depths of grief I might otherwise have experienced upon her passing is now 18 years old.  As he prepares to embark on the rest of his journey through this old world as an adult,  heading to college in the fall, I suppose I am beginning to feel that loss as well.
Baby Boy, 2000

Baby Boy 2017

But let's get back to my mother...

Mom and Dad, 1940-something

Lullein, or Lucy, as my dad nicknamed her when they began dating their senior year of high school, lost her own mother as a 1 year old.  She and her older sister spent their young childhood living with their mother's younger sister and her family.  My grandfather did the best he could to visit the girls regularly and he sent them gifts when he could afford it.  After 7 or 8 years, my grandfather remarried, and shortly after, the girls got to come live with their father and his new wife, Una Mae.  Mae never had any children herself, but in her own way, she embraced my mom and her sister and gave them a loving, stable home.  She was a tall, lanky school teacher with a keen mind and a quick wit.  She wasn't super touchy feely, but I know that she loved my mom and my aunt and they loved her right back.  She taught the girls many practical skills, one of which was sewing, I'm pretty sure.

My mom really took to the sewing and it was a huge part of her life.  She loved fashion and she made all of her own clothes.  Once she had kids, she sewed all of our clothes as well.  Now before you think "homemade clothes" and create a picture out of The Waltons in your mind, let me clear something up.  My mom loved Vogue patterns, even though they cost at least twice as much as the patterns from other companies.  She was a perfectionist with her sewing, matching stripes and plaids, using beautiful fabrics, tailoring garments to fit like a glove, and creating outfits that would rival anything Neiman-Marcus had to offer.  She knew which direction the hemlines were heading in any given year and could always tell me what color was going to be THE color of the next season.  She was an introvert by nature, but she had enough pride to always want to look her best, even if she did shy away from truly being the center of attention.  This pride involved being well dressed from head to toe. Now about her collection of shoes...

You see, although my mom loved to sew, I think she would have rather enjoyed buying a few things off the rack.  Problem was, at a petite 5 foot 2 inches and not many "petite" sections in the stores, even if she bought something ready made, she would either spend the money to have it altered (almost never) or bring it home and alter it herself; always another step before she could actually wear the item in question.  When my mom died, I took home a pair of rather new pajamas she had so that I could wear them for myself.  I wore them FOREVER because they reminded me of her and since she had worn them, too, it made me feel close to her. After MANY washings, a shoulder seam on the pajamas popped, and I learned that my mother had actually altered her pajamas 1/4 inch in the shoulders to make them fit perfectly.  WHO DOES THAT??? So, what's a girl to do?  As she told me once, shoes just fit and you can even wear them home from the store if you wish!  So, she really loved shoes because, in addition to being pretty, she could just buy them and then they were good to go.  I guess my love of shoes is something that I came by honestly.  Sadly, my feet bypassed hers in size rather quickly, so all of her beautiful shoes that she had when she passed away went to strangers with smaller feet.  I hope they appreciated them. 😊  So, in acknowledgement of my mother's birthday and our mutual love of shoes today, I decided to go ahead and wear the pair of pink velvet heels (pink being my mom's favorite clothing color).  I love those heels, but haven't worn them much since their purchase.  My day job in a clinical laboratory isn't exactly a high heel kind of gig.  Since I wasn't working, I rocked the heels, in my mom's honor, despite the fact that I only had the most pedestrian of errands to run.

Me, in my pink velvet heels

What else did my mom love?  Margaritas.  But usually only half a margarita, because...well, because she was a lightweight!  I could digress into a discussion of my younger self "helping" her drink her Margarita, but let's leave that for another day.  Suffice it to say, that, in addition to getting myself put together and sporting some of my favorite heels for the day, I had a Margarita for her.  Since she couldn't join me, I did have to drink her half as well as mine!  I think she would have been OK with that, even if I did take the liberty of making mine as I prefer, on the rocks, rather than her favorite frozen version. A toast to the birthday girl!

I should tell you, if you haven't come to the conclusion already, that my mother was my best buddy.  I was a late life baby who brought her joy and kept her young, according to my dad, but she was equally important to me and I followed her everywhere, including the bathroom!  I was with her when she hung the clothes on the line to dry, when she cooked and cleaned, and I sat on the floor of her bedroom and played by her feet while she sewed.  She couldn't have shaken me off if she'd wanted to, but, lucky for me, she didn't want to.  She seemed to enjoy our togetherness as much as I did.  When I got older, we traveled in the summer for weeks at a time in our R.V.  We played a lot of games of Yahtzee, in addition to making craft projects, reading, and sight seeing all over North America with my dad.
Mom and her constant shadow, circa 1967

The family helping me celebrate my 8th birthday.  My eldest brother was taking the photo, so missed getting in the shot. The next month, my very pregnant sister-in-law on the right would give my parents their first granddaughter.
Most of all though, what my mom loved was us. Her family and her home were the most important things in her life and I have no doubt she'd have given her life for ours. She seemed to love her role as a mom with every fiber of her being.  She showed me what unconditional love looked and felt like.  She'd have done anything for her husband, children, or grandchildren.  She worried like crazy about us when things weren't going well and she prayed for our souls when she thought we had strayed from our paths.  She lit up like a firefly when we came to visit once we were grown.  Nowadays, deep in my middle age,  I occasionally think I see a long haired version of her in the mirror when I cast a random glance as I walk by-it's a little disconcerting, actually.  I know I feel her  presence when I look at my own children, in awe that they are actually mine.  I can still remember looking into her eyes as she stood by my bedside when I was in labor with my 18 year old son as though it were yesterday, and it gives me great comfort.  As a child. she was my whole world.  Now, many years later, my world is much larger, but I know that without her, I wouldn't be the person that I am and I feel so blessed to be her daughter.  Mom, today, on the occasion of your 97th birthday, I just want to say, "Happy birthday, Lucy!"  I love you with all of my heart and I miss you more than you would have ever guessed.

Thanks for sticking with me this long, gentle readers.  I needed to share this today.

Until next time,
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Where on Earth Have I Been???

My oh my, my bloggie friends,

Where, you ask?  Well, right here, living life, just not blogging.  Are any of you still out there or am I deluding myself?  It's been SOOOOOOO long (nearly 2 years) since I fired up my Blogger account.  WHAT?  How does this happen?  I've missed blogging so much, but the whole full-time job thing and trying to juggle 2 kids and 2 Etsy shops (didn't do so great on that, more later on in the post), blah, blah, blah, you get it.  I have started doing Instagram a small bit, but nothing like the blog-more personal, no real theme, just a real mish-mash of whatever strikes my fancy on any given day.  It's great for short attention span lookey looing, but not like the blogs are. 

The reason I wanted to pop over to say hello was to show you what I spent all of last week doing...reviving my sad, neglected little Etsy shops.  I actually just let them whither on the vine for a while.  Also sad, but apparently, what I needed.  After a few months of nothing new being put on there, I finally decided enough was enough.  I asked for a week off from work and got busy.  I photographed and measured and cataloged.  I got several new pieces up in each shop and I am now postured to be able to add more pieces much easier since I did the hard work up front.  I thought I'd make little photo collages to give you an idea of what's new.  I call this one "Rhapsody in Blue and Gold"-okay, just kidding, I didn't name it that, but it does kind of work, don't you think?  LOL!
These lovelies can be or will be found soon along with many other beautiful treasures at The French Laundry

My other shop, Elegant Farmhouse, has also been revamped. If you aren't familiar with Elegant Farmhouse, the aesthetic is different than The French Laundry.  More simple items, cleaner lines, less fancy.  Funny, but this seems to coincide with my split personality when it comes to decorating.  Part of me LOVES all the fancy French antiques, the more gilt the better, while another part still digs the painted primitives that I came to love when I lived in New England.  Hence, 2 shops.  Or, if you are Marion of Miss Mustard Seed fame, you can blend both into a wonderfully cohesive decorating style.  She is so sweet and so very talented...but I digress.  Back to my photo collage.  We'll call this one "Study in White and Tan". I plan on adding more items every week to both shops, so pop by whenever you get the chance and have a look around. You just never know when something is going to strike your fancy. 

I'll try to circle back around and share more photos when I get the chance. 

Until next time,
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My New Not So Old French Vitrine

So I've been looking for an antique French vitrine or curio for some time now.  I never have found one that I liked that was for sale prior to the end of last year or at least not at a price point I felt I could afford. Then a couple of months ago, my husband and I visited an estate sale on the 3rd and last day.  Just went for giggles, no big expectations because all of the "good stuff" was probably already gone, right?  Then, what to my wandering eyes did appear but this little cutie.  It was not terribly old, maybe only 20 or 30 years, but it had all of the right lines, beautiful curved glass, and since it wasn't really old, it was in great shape (read NOT a project and a half).  The only reason I could figure it was still there was because it was not a great finish.  Not horrible, just not inspiring.  I asked the lady running the estate sale what she could do on it and it was less than $200.  I snatched it up posthaste and knew it was going to be painted creamy white when I was done with it.  It took a few weeks before I got "a round toit" for the redo, but I finally did it.    This first collage is of the "before". Pardon the messy studio, but it is a work space after all! :-)

First, I painted her inside and out with Annie Sloan's French Linen.  Already I was starting to like her better.  This color is so yummy and rich, but I wanted it to be white at the end of the day, so I pressed on to get the look I saw in my head.

After it was completely dry, I painted on a layer of plain white Elmer's All Purpose Glue, working in sections.  Just before it was completely dry, I painted Annie Sloan's Old White over top.  After letting it get good and dry, the paint exhibited beautiful crackling, showing off the French Linen underneath.  I lightly sanded a few spots where a piece would show some wear with time.  I kept it pretty subtle since I wanted an authentic look, not overdone. I gave the whole piece a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and then wiped it down with a damp paper towel.

I then sealed the piece with A.S. clear wax. I resisted purchasing Annie Sloan's wax for years due to the cost, but my local stockist had a small can that allowed me to try it out without shelling out QUITE so much money and I have to say, it is well worth the money.  It goes a long way and is SO soft and creamy. When hardened, it yields a very nice and durable finish.  I also hit a few of the crevices and lightly on the body with some dark wax.  I actually had Miss Mustard Seed's Antiquing Wax on hand, so I used that rather than buying yet another thing to store.Next came the addition of French gilding wax purchased from the A.S. stockist, although the brand is not Annie Sloan, it is actually a product by the French company Pebeo. I used the classic gold.  I wanted to highlight all of the beautiful carving but also saw that is would be prettier if it had some gold around the top.  I just applied it with my finger and got in the tight spots with a small artist paint brush.  This stuff goes on like "buttah" and makes such a nice accent-it also takes VERY LITTLE to get a great look, so although the price for a tiny jar is somewhat off putting, it is more than enough for many projects . Make sure you apply it AFTER any final clear wax coat you want to add since clear waxing over the gilding wax will remove the gilding.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  Here it is, in all it's glory, holding many of my beautiful ribbon work treasures.

So many pretties.  And now I get to gaze at them all of the time.

Speaking of ribbon work, if you'd like to see the article I wrote for the Journal of Antiques and Collectibles but hadn't had a chance to get it, here is a link to the online article. Enjoy...

Until next time,
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Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, New Stuff in the Etsy Shops

I hope you all had a lovely New Year's Eve.  I can hardly believe it is 2016!  Like many of you, I have high hopes for all of the things I hope to accomplish this year and it is always fun to feel like you have a blank page to start with.  One of my things I hope to accomplish is to keep up with my shop keeping on my Etsy stores.  First accomplishment is to load new treasures today over at The French Laundry.  Put a big ol' CHECK on that one.  Head over and see my new goodies, fresh this morning.  I'll be loading a few more throughout the day and perhaps will even get some new "merch" added to my other shop, Elegant Farmhouse this weekend.

Don't you just love these vintage images?  Karen over at The Graphics Fairy always has something fun for all of those projects you know you have on your list...check her site out if somehow you've been under a rock for the last several years and have missed her vintage awesomeness. (wink)

Until next time,
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A New Year and New Treasures Coming to The French Laundry

Hello again Bloggie Friends,

Once again, the calendar is about to turn over to a new year and it is time for me to get serious about stocking my Etsy shop, The French Laundry.  I've spent the last part of 2015 buying some awesome things that speak to my soul, a few of which are shown above. Some new pretties are listed now and a New Year's listapalooza (translation: lots of stuff for your perusal) will go live at noon Eastern Standard Time on January 1st, 2016.  Come join me in between the Tournament of Roses Parade and your "Good Luck" black eyed peas for a little retail therapy.

Until next time,
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