Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Writing and a Productive Day

I have always loved writing:  contemporary fiction to short stories to free-verse poetry to historical fiction.  I've always written.  Over ten years ago, I happened upon fanfiction of my favorite television western.  I love westerns; have loved them since I was a kid.  I clearly remember at two or three years of age a page out of a coloring book I chose to color.  It was a cowboy hat and boots.  So with that said, stumbling across stories written about my favorite television show at the time was a wonderful discovery, a great gift.  I decided to try my hand at a short story and then I was hooked, writing story after story.  I have written stories in The Magnificent Seven fandom (not available online), The Lancer fandom and The Big Valley fandom.  I've also dabbled in a few others, but the western fandoms will always be my first love.  I'd like to share a few of them now.

My Stories

A Mother's Boquet

For If They Fall

A good start to my morning

A handsewn teddy bear's head in a #27 red bucket from Lucketts. Can't wait to finish him!
Used the twine from Lucketts today to make a Fall banner --  brown cards and  Sunflower and letter stamps.  (This is difficult to make out, so I will try again in the morning. Very sorry.)
Daughter's music books.  Love to listen to her play: Music of the Night, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Raise You Up, Swan Lake ... just lovely! Actually posted this pic to point out the Spool of Twine and Scissors from Lucketts. Useful and decorative. I am addicted to that store. lol

I stripped the fabric off the rocker today.  First black & white toile, then Laura Ashley fabric I used in my daughter's nursery (Cow jumped over the moon ...), then another fabric and then another my sister had put on and then some very, very vintage fabric of my grandmother's or perhaps older. 
I was this close to keeping it as it was vintage fabric, but it was pretty threadbare and I tore it a bit.  I decided to use the ticking I bought today. I have a deep and abiding fondness for ticking and I just love this rocker so much now!  The porch has a beaded board ceiling in white and the wood floor is grey, but both need painting.  Windows need painting, too, hopefully the glaze is in decent shape.  My gambrel colonial needed all new windows because the glazing was falling off in pieces.  Old houses need such tender loving care.   
xo Kim

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Vintage Music Sheet Wreath and Vintage Photographs

An interesting photograph
Great Uncle helping with costume 
Great Uncle in performance costume

In my great uncle's photo album

 I came across a wonderful, crafty wreath project on Miss Mustard Seed

I found old music books of my grandfather and great uncle's.  My great uncle had taken piano lessons when he was a boy and had a gift for singing.  He ventured to New York City to fulfill a dream of being on the stage.  Above are wonderful vintage photographs of my great uncle in costume, cast in the chorus of an opera.  My grandfather's family were from New York City and had a thriving mill.  I was told my great-grandmother was an editor for a German newspaper, a great-great uncle a judge and another in a high position in the New York City police department.  Geneology is next on my to do list. lol  My grandfather would tell stories about New York (the one of the opium dens is forever entrenched in my mind) and I have an amazing photograph of my Grandad on a yacht on the Hudson River.  My great-great grandparents also had a farm in Nyack along the Hudson River.  Crossing the Tappenzee this summer on our way to the Outerbanks, I longed to explore the town and the gorgeous hills bordering the river.  It looked idyllic.  All these memories surfaced as I thumbed through the books, setting aside many of the vintage piano books for my daughter who has been playing piano for over seven years.

I came across a wonderful, crafty wreath project on Miss Mustard Seed who referred to and 

I decided to use a paper plate for the ring/wreath form.  (Not the flimsy kind.)  I cut a small circle in the center of the paper plate, placing it bottom side up, and then began to make cones from the sheets of music.  I initally used masking tape to hold the cone in place, but then decided to just get on with it using a glue gun.  As the music sheets were old, they were quite fragile to the touch.  Manuevering the cone and glue gun was a bit difficult, but I have to say the burning fingers from the hot glue was the worst part of the process.  My daughter called me a wimp. lol  I used large sheet music and found a smaller book of hymns, a bit more aged.  I place the large music sheets first around the paper plate ring and then I added 8 of the smaller sheets on top of the large sheet music and 8 on the bottom.  I did this because I ran out of sheet music, but I have to say, I like it.  I like the symmetry and the two tones of the sheet music.  I had one last sheet of music left and decided to cut a circle in it and place it in the center of the wreath.  It had the title Sanctus which I believe means Holy in Latin. I think it will make a wonderful Christmas Wreath. Now, to make a long story short, you can see the wreath below:

A day late and a dollar short ...

Delving into this blog world of decorators, crafters and their ilk, I find myself feeling as if I have come to the party a tad late.  So many women have or are now benefitting from the fruits of their labor, having been blogging for years.  I haven't yet come across the fledgling blogger, decorator, crafter, only those with flourishing Etsy shops, stores or the like.  Many travel to France to scour the flea markets, have their homes featured on all the home decor magazines -- so very different than what I imagined to be a community of women creatively managing a single income while creatively making a unique and pretty home.  Their drive, their ambition is commendable, but at what price?  Does the family benefit or suffer?  I am certain it is just my poor time management skills that make me wonder these things as I read in amazement of their day to day accomplishments.  I'm lucky to fit in a twenty minute workout three times a week.  With a labrador/retriever mix puppy (rescue dog), my house could and should have a vacuuming every day, but some days I just say screw it.  (I suddenly forgot how to spell vacuuming. lol  I hope that's correct.)  Didn't sleep well because my daughter had first day of school jitters last night.  I digress.  I didn't enter this blogging world with a clear objective, but merely to keep a journal of sorts and to showcase my house with all of its worts and imperfections. Oh, and since I'm on the subject, a little color in a home can be a wonderful thing. I am hard-pressed to find a home on these blogs that isn't stark white.  I do like the look, but I sometimes feel individuality is lost.  Now take this month's Country Living's cover shot.   The green, black and white just pops off the page.  Wow!  And how daring those men were to paint their walls black.  I understand the beauty of white. Ethereal, serene.  With industrial touches and vintage wood pieces, it is beyond fabulous and I feel torn.  But I need more; I need color.  I guess my daughter and I have something in common in our worlds:  jitters.  I told her she'll be just fine because she is both beautiful and bright.  Self-belief is the key.  Mom needs a dose herself.  ::grin::

My sad little darling.  lol

Have a great day! xo  Kim

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Little More Chippiness or is it Chippyness?

Great grandmother's victorian rocker and Ethan Allen Chest painted with Black Milk Paint.  I really love how aged everything appears in this shot.  Very Vintage!  Very Cool! 
Pennsylvania Pear Crate from Terrain, Westport,CT, wicker basket vase/bottle from Lucketts online store, bud wreath from Mark's Gardens, Watertown, CT 

Love the chippiness of the panels
As I said, I wasn't completely happy with the black chest I recently painted with black milk paint.  I am slowly getting used to how to apply it and when not to overdo it.  I sometimes forget the adage, "less is more", and can overdo things.  I felt the small door panels weren't taking the paint well and went over the area several times without waiting for the first coat to dry.  I need to "trust" the paint more to do its thing.  It's a learning experience that really hasn't rendered anything unusable.  Thank goodness!  I have to look into the whole waxing thing too.  I like simple and easy.  So far the process of painting with milk paint seems relatively easy.  But it might be because I'm not doing things correctly.  I like the end product so I guess that's all that matters for now.  Below is a before shot of the Ethan Allen piece.  It was in great shape and looked quite nice, but it seemed too neat, too perfect for the look I wanted. 

The Ethan Allen piece before the milk paint.  I'm loving the transformation of taking a newer piece of furniture and aging it with milk paint.  I am a happy camper now.  ::grin::

xo  Kim

Friday, August 24, 2012

Front Porch Makeover

As I mentioned in another post, I always wanted a porch swing and this summer my husband fulfilled that wish for me.  As my son became more involved with caring for his room, he began to do his own decorating.  To my chagrin, he decided many years ago to remove a wonderful Ethan Allen piece from his bedroom.  It ended up on my front porch, not wanting to part with it.  I tried my hand at painting it with black milk paint recently.  I liked the results, but I didn't love it.  I find I have a very critical eye when it comes to my own work.  I have a hard time being objective.  I often wondered what I would have thought on inital viewing if it had been someone else's piece of painted furniture.  Probably covet it. ::head desk::

I also painted an old white bookcase in bayberry green milk paint which I liked a lot better than the black chest.  I haven't touched the antique rocker yet.  Need to give that some thought.  I placed the burlap wreath in the window.  It looks very sweet hanging there.  All in all, I like how the porch evolved.  I love the swing in the evening and tonight I spotted deer in the cemetery across our road.  As the highway is closeby, I pray the deer are safe in their travels. 

Favorite places
View from interior of house
View of front door with wreath from Terrain (Westport,CT) and Pineapple Welcome flag from Mark's Garden in Watertown, CT
View from front door
Pear crate from Terrain, rose bud wreath from Mark's Gardens in Watertown,CT, Wicker holder and glass vase from Lucketts.  Milk painted chest and victorian rocker. 
I have a few more pictures, but I think that gives an idea of the porch.  I love this space and spend many hours on the porch.  I remember as a child when the thunderstorms blew in, the family would gather on the porch and watch the storm.  I now watch the storms with my own children, remembering ...

A Bird's Vignette

Glass oil lamp, miniature cast iron bird bath purchased in East Dennis, Cape Cod, MA, black bowl from American Vintage Furniture, Naugatuck,CT

Wire basket from Terrain, nest and bird from American Vintage Furniture, husband's great-grandparents oil lamp

I love nests and little brown birds and moss and wire baskets and old cast iron pieces.  The two oil lamps are in working order and have been in my husband's family for many years.  One was brought to the United States from Poland and the other Russia.    
Candle and bird from American Vintage Furniture
Another view
Of course when I saw this bird wire cloche online at Lucketts, I had to have it.  I purchased the smaller cloche as well.  Small sunflower garland from American Vintage Furniture.
Glass oil lamp, wood bowls and sunflower wreath from American Vintage Furniture, small iron birdbath from Cape Cod, MA 
xo Kim

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Master Bedroom Makeover

 The most neglected room in the house has been the master bedroom. I'm not certain why, but I think it was too overwhelming for me to shuffle around large pieces of furniture myself, as well as, contend with my husband's ever increasing "junk" pile. He claimed he didn't have enough storage space as I had taken over the entire closet. Thinking of putting the house on the market, we decided enough was enough and with my son home from college went to work removing an old dresser from the room (I am going to paint it) and rearranging the furniture. The heavy headboard was never attached to the bedframe and would bump against the wall, driving me to distraction. I was seriously considering getting a new bed, but couldn't find what I was looking for and all of them were far too expensive for not being quite right. I am almost positive my headboard is a Charles P. Rodgers. (I think I have the name correct.) I've had it close to twenty years. Unfortunately, I don't have any "before" photos, but I consider the wallpaper a before, not removing it. I decided to work with the paper and found a paint that I felt complemented it well. It's Martha Stewart's Tobacco Leaf. Little touches here and there brought the room together.

                                                           Photos in random order

Great-grandparent's dresser painted in Bayberry Green Milk Paint.  Wall painted in Martha Stewart's Tobacco Leaf.  Large gold picture frame painted with white glossy paint and lightly sanded.
My great-grandparent's dresser painted in Bayberry Green Milk Paint.  View of wallpaper, closet painted in Martha Stewart's Tobacco Leaf paint.  Pine flooring original to house (1917). 
Hitchcock chair (so sad when Riverton,CT factory closed), old floral print, edge of bamboo script mat bought from Lucketts online store, floral pillow from Marshall's and Family pillow from American Vintage Furniture in Naugatuck, CT
Ikea Chifferobe with old wicker basket.  Side view of bed.  Old painter's stool belonging to my husband's late grandfather against Chifferobe
Drapes from Ikea, Liz Claiborne quilt at foot of bed, Postes France pillow from Lucketts, Tommy Hilfiger ticking pillow, Ikea brown pillow shams, Ikea blue striped pillow shams and blue striped duvet cover.  Wreath from American Vintage Furniture in Naugatuck, CT, bedside lamps from Christmas Tree Shops

  I will add more photos soon.  xo

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Eagle Scout

Taylor with his sister and cousins
My son achieved his Eagle Scout ranking last August, but due to the timing (starting his freshman year at Gettysburg College) we weren't able to have a ceremony for him.  He and a friend were presented with their Eagle Scout pins last night and my husband and I both received our pins.  It was an intimate gathering as my son is not a fan of pomp and circumstance, but he is very proud of being an Eagle Scout as I am of him. 
My pin

Taylor's Eagle Scout pin/badge

Monday, August 20, 2012

French Merchants

A dear childhood friend of mine has a wonderful online business called French Merchants.  The URL is

*photo from French-Merchants
She offers wonderful French soaps, textiles, et al.  Read all about her vendors and about Nancy and her family.  Lovely stuff!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Magazines, vintage lightbulbs, and networking

glass cloche with nest, vintage oil lamp, and sunflowers

I have an addiction--magazines.  My eyes train on the racks in front of each checkout register as I walk the length of the store.  Home Depot, Lowes, Target, Walmart, store after store, I am a woman on a mission, hoping my favorite of favorite magazines will be waiting there for me. Tonight I bought 2 -- Country French and Cottage Living Fresh Ideas, which contains already published material I am certain I will remember.  The night before I bought another -- Traditional Homes.  I can't help myself.  Having read every magazine I own for the umpteenth time, I decided to check for online sources.  What about blogs?  I wondered.  Lo and behold, it was everything I had hoped to find.  So now I have another addiction . . .  lol

I started my own blog before that, but haven't really ventured out to connect with other bloggers.  I'm not certain about anything right now; I need to figure out what I want from this whole blogging thing.  I want things to just evolve slowly, a discovery of sorts. No pressures.  No need to count hits or comments of which I have none, so no worries there.  ::face palm::

Sunflowers and wire bird cloche from Lucketts

Still working on the house and purchased a neat clear glass pendant light fixture with a filament bulb, very vintage, for the kitchen.  My 19 year old son loves it! The light is not very bright, not very practical, but I think it's pretty cool myself.  Again pictures are on my to do list.  I really have a need to have halfway decent photographs on this blog.  If I am going to do this thing, I'd like to do it right.  Oh, well getting late.  Signing off now.

Vintage style pendant lamp with "Edison" lightbulb from Home Depot

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Daughter's Room

Pretty in Pink and White

 {I have to say I love how the painted floors turned out after being apprehensive about the project.}

Ethan Allen dresser with Pier One drawer pulls, Pier One rug, Ethan Allen mirror, Ikea lamp, Pier One Monkeys, Colorful throw knitted by Babci (grandmother in Polish), daughter's favorite old television

My son and I are pretty much exhausted.  We have been working on my daughter's room for two days straight.  It isn't a huge room, but my oh my, the things she collects and the things I don't want to part with make for very full closets and bins.  I have storage bin after storage bin overflowing with stuffed animals.  Many I gave to my next door neighbor who has two little girls. Others are going to Goodwill.  Parting with Baby Dumbo and the softest stuffed Teddy Bears and Rabbits and Puppies, well, really it's ridiculous on my part, but knowing they are going to children who will cuddle and love them makes it okay. lol  One thing, I won't part with are her American Girl dolls and all the furniture and accessories. Her Playmobil will go to my nephews and I am giving my sister who is a Kindergarten teacher all the playschool doll houses, as well as, the huge bin of furniture and dolls for her classroom.  This child was overindulged.  ::grin::  Of course, it is all my fault.  I still need to get to her closet.  Her bitty babies' doll collection takes up most of it.

Ikea Daybed, Pottery Barn Wall Shelf, Pottery Barn Pillow Sham, Tommy Hilfiger Comforter, Pier One Monkeys

Well, between gathering up her dolls and toys, I told my son I would like to paint the pine floors with white paint.  The house is old and the pine floors are original to the house.  My dad had sanded and polyurethaned all the floors in the house, but pine is soft and with a family of six (four girls), it has taken a beating.  Moving the furniture from one side of the room to the other, painting that area and waiting for the paint to dry and then moving back the furniture carefully, to continue the process on the other area of the room, worked out well.  And I do love how the paint looks on her bedroom floor and with the large Ikea wardrobe and her white Ethan Allen chest of drawers and it's white round mirror, it really looks lovely.  The wall paint is pretty stand-out, quite bright, but the white furnishings and white floor tone it down a bit.  She loves her bright colors and her bling.

{The cast iron white Scottie with the pink bow was purchased at The Rose Victorian in Yarmouth, Cape Cod, MA, years ago and the large M was made by my daughter in her freshman Art Class.}

Ikea Chifferobe, Ikea Wicker chair, Target pillow, Pottery Barn Chair Cushion, Ikea Chalkboard, Walmart curtains, Pottery Barn Makeup Case and Pottery Barn Lap Desk. Longaberger whitewashed basket.

{Below: pottery barn decal calendar peeking out behind door, backpack (urban outfitters) ready for first day of classes and Above: another view of dresser and eminem}

 Now, it's time to put my feet up and relax.  Tomorrow I am going out into the world as I was holed up all day today.  I'll post pictures soon. Updated with photos of room.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Milk paint and a simple project

Well, it's Monday and school will be starting soon in these parts and that means my daughter's sophomore year of high school and my son's sophomore year of college will be beginning in a few weeks. My son opted for apartment living which meant a trip to Ikea for pots, pans, glasses, dishes and silverware.  He will be headed back to Pennsylvania to a wonderful college on beautiful and historical grounds.  One lucky boy, but hard-working, too, achieving several scholarships!  I have always rewarded my children's scholastic achievements, hoping they can realize their college dreams through academics.  I have always asked them to just try, to do their best and I would be happy for them.  My children are humble, at times uncertain, which keeps them grounded, keeps them striving to work harder. I had always hoped through hard work, the rewards would come.  I was skeptical at times, certain it only happened for others, but I never stopped cheering, rewarding, hoping.  One step at a time, one year at a time. . . 

With the beginning of the school year, there are fresh starts, new beginnings.  I have been having thoughts of leaving this cozy nest, stretching my wings, as well.  This means finishing up projects.  One idea I have been toying with is utilizing counter space for an eating area.  I bought inexpensive bar stools at Target on sale for $18.00 a piece.  They work well with the cabinetry which is all wood-- oak.  The cabinets give the kitchen a glow and when the morning light pours into the dining room it lights up the yellow walls and both kitchen and dining room have such an amazing hue of gold.  I love it! I was in pursuit of a beech or birch counter top at Ikea, Lagan, but was informed it was discontinued.  Very disappointing, but the Sales person suggested Ikea Works might have something. I came across a pine desktop for $50 or so and thought that might do the trick.  I was looking for brackets to attach the pine top to the cabinet counter, but when seeing them, Capita, the height wasn't going to work. My hubby found shorter ones, table legs.  I like the idea of them, giving us the flexibility of removing the pine top if we choose to do that without damaging the counter top.  I am painting it the same color as the beaded board to blend.  I will add before and after pics.  I also am going to edit the pictures on other posts as I was using my iPad.  I need to buy a camera, but nothing too expensive or complicated.

Kitchen counter "before"

Close up of counter add-on

Counter "after"

Long-winded post. 
Oh, and here is one my great grandparents' dressers.  I used bayberry green milk paint on it.  One coat to date, but will touch up the drawers.  I love it and it has a bit of that chippyness on the top and on the sides of the mirror.  I, also, painted white paint (porch paint to be exact. lol) on the large picture frame and sanded it a bit to distress it.  I found the smaller frame at Joann Fabric.  I think it complements the frame I painted quite nicely.  I am pleased with how the dresser and the frame came out on my first attempt using Milk Paint.  I can't wait to try painting other pieces.