Monday, December 15, 2014


Milagro's Story...

This Summer, Gracie, Napoleon our Puggle and Tallulah our English Bulldog and I were driving behind a car that was going 25mph in a 55mph zone on a road leading out of the city into the country.

 I put my blinker on and tried to go around the slow driver. He sped up and matched my speed. I tried to meet the driver's eyes and I realized he was laughing

It was so frightening! I didn't know what to do! We were fast approaching a car coming in the other direction.  There was traffic behind his vehicle and there was no shoulder to pull over onto.

Out of nowhere, a small brown fox sprinted into the road, passed in front of the car we were attempting to pass and directly in front of my car.

 He looked me right in the eye.

 I slammed on my brakes as hard as I could but I still hit the little angel. I looked up and the car coming toward us did not realize were were going in the opposite direction. 

He had just enough time to swerve around.

I was heartbroken. We parked on the side of the road and walked over to the broken body of the fox and cried over the beautiful life that had just been extinguished...and cried and cried.

Days later, I was about to drift off to sleep when I awoke with a start.

 That fox looked at me. I know it. I saw his eyes. Wild and feral animals do not make eye contact with humans. 

Also, he was running through an empty field at the speed of light, like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, as if he were late for something.

Foxes are typically nocturnal hunters.

Why was he running so fast?  Where was he going?

It may sound crazy but I truly believe that little brown fox saved our lives that day by sacrificing his own

If he had not run in front of our car, forcing me to slam on the brakes, I am certain we would have hit the oncoming vehicle.

 We named him Milagro, it means miracle.

We have also built a garden in his honor.  I will share photos soon.

Thank you, Milagro.  I will never forget you.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Crowning Touch!

Our front entry is actually a hallway.  When we were house hunting, a huge entry was on my list but the houses with huge entryways were short on other details that we I desired.  In the end, a big kitchen won out over a huge entry!
The battle to design the entry is ongoing, as you well know.

I recently came upon a stunning pair of Louis XV fauteuils with chocolate colored velvet upholstery on Craigslist for a steal!

They truly complete this vignette!
The awkward wall angle makes it difficult to get a perfect photograph!

The gold coronas in my Craigslist urns are the crowning glory!

I found the crowns on one of my favorite sites, The Kings Bay.  They also sell on ebay as purblebombauctions.  
The crowns are made to hang from the ceiling and have clips to hold photos and mementos below.

However, I only saw this...a golden crown on par with those I covet from Tara Shaw, though at prices that would allow me to stay married!

I never thought I would see the day that I was actually happy with the entryway!

I absolutely love this composition!  The chocolate brown of the upholstery is very soothing against the grey and gold, as well as the aged silver patina of the urns. The deep, rich brown brings out the rust tones in the aged iron urns.   

I feel as if my decorating has evolved since I started this blog, thanks to the inspiration and valuable input I receive from my blogmates. I have learned so much on this journey!

Thanks to all of you for helping me to make my house a home!

Your friendship is truly the crowning touch!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Louis XVI Secretary Patina Tutorial

I am finally finished with the Louis XVI secretary I found on Craigslist!

This is the original Craigslist photo.  I cannot believe I found this before anyone else did!

This is a truer representation of the finish.  It had a shiny topcoat, identifying it as a newer reproduction.  The manufacturer is Henredon, from the Villandry Collection.

I took this photo first thing this morning.  The secretary is in the Music Room.  It covers the opening between the Music Room and the Family Room.  The tapestry panels cover the "window" openings.  Everything in this room is from Craigslist except the grotto stool and a few accessories!

The finish took a long time.  It required many coats of paint and distressing.

A closer view shows the grey patina...
This is also a reenactment of what I was doing during the whole process.

The interior is painted with Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue, including the glass shelves.


It seems to be a different color depending on the light. A most desirable characteristic!

This is my favorite project so far!  The exterior is Annie Sloan Old White, followed by sanding, then more Old White, a random wash of pure white acrylic, then more Old White, Clear Wax, then Miss Mustard Seed Linen Milk Paint, followed by distressing using a hammer, scraper, chains and finally, a mix of Miss Mustard Seed Linen and Typewriter Milk Paint as a "glaze".

The Aubusson also takes on different tones in the light.  The Clear Wax brings it to life!
I painted the interior glass shelves as well.  Be certain to allow at least a day between coats when you are painting glass!  That is why this project took so long!  There are three coats of paint on the interior!
I may glaze the interior with Annie Sloan Duck Egg and Dark Wax but I am going to wait at last a month to allow the glass shelves to cure!

The Process...

First step: Annie Sloan Old White, two coats...

Sand and distress...then paint with Old White again, random pure white acrylic, followed by Miss Mustard Seed Linen.  It gives the appearance of paint wearing down, rather than being abraded by a sander.  The more random the better. However, be sure to distress the areas of higher use, such as around handles, at the feet, door corners...any place that tends to get more use.  The feet would have been abraded over time by brooms, mops, contact with shoes, etc.

I took a hammer and pounded, scraped and dragged it in the surface of the paint.  I used a scraper and a length of chain to distress it further.
As I pounded and banged I soothed the dogs and cats...
"BANG,!  BANG!  BANG!!!!"
"Sorry guys.  It's okay.  It's just Mommy."
"No, no, no...come back, Atticus, it's's okay sweetie."
I would hold the hammer in front of their noses.
"Look!  It's a hammer.  It's just a hammer".
Then I would pick up each pet individually, soothe them and ply them with treats.

Needless to say, that part took a long time.

I then applied a mixture of three parts Miss Mustard Seed Linen to one part Typewriter and five parts water to make a "glaze". I brushed on the glaze and wiped it with a dry cloth.
I call  this my "What have I done?" moment.  It passed!
As an aside, when I ordered the Milk Paint, I rushed.  I thought Curio was grey.  It isn't.  It's brown.  However, the Linen and Typewriter did the trick.  If I did this again I would buy the Trophy.  

I went over the area with a wet cloth to give a random, time-worn patina. This shows the door before I went over it with the wet cloth.
Sorry for the poor lighting. I did this at night.

The finished result is a finish that moves with the light.

I love it when things go my way!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section and I will answer them there!



Sharing with:
Kathleen at The Dedicated House, Anything Blue Friday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Better Late than Never!

While the rest of you are posting stunning images of your Autumn tables, Thanksgiving, even Christmas; I am here, just barely dusting Summer off my flip flops!
Though still a work in progress, I want to share some of my gardens with you!

I remember there was NOTHING here when we moved in four years ago.
We removed all the compacted, hardpan, clay soil, 2-3 feet deep and replaced it with garden soil in all the beds as we went...
Let's start with the backyard...

The Potager
You cannot tell but the raised beds are cut away on an angle toward the center.  I added fence post finials to the beds for a finishing touch.
I took this photo before I leveled the plinths that the concrete fruit topiary baskets rest upon.  The pedestals are mysteriously heavy.
Rest assured they are level now.

The color was of the utmost importance.

I enlisted the help of the highly trained professional at the Home Depot paint counter one afternoon...

Me, "Does this look like a green-y blue, grey-ish black to you?" 
Him, "Yes".
Me, "Is this one more green-y?  You know, like teal?"
Him, "Yes".
Me, "Four-score and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation!"
Him, "Yes".

It was at that moment that I realized I was alone.

This is the closest I could get to green-y blue, grey-ish black before Home Depot closed for the evening.

This is the first time I have ever planted vegetables.  I overdid it by a wide margin.  As in "feeding an entire Third World country with the excess" wide margin. 
Imagine my chagrin when my neighbors refused to make eye contact, lest I accost them with 30 lbs of zucchini or such an abundance of tomatoes that I had to use a wheelbarrow to bring them to their door!  
Yes.   That happened.
"These are heirloom!"  I would exclaim as I attempted to divest myself of the evidence of my folly.

Next year I will know better.  I hope I remember.

 The boxwood surrounding the perimeter of the potager will make a great frame in a few years.  I still may make a lattice fence to keep the bunnies out of the strawberries!
This year it didn't matter because I had so much I didn't even care what the bunnies ate.
Grace tried to get them to eat the broccoli but it was a no-go.

Their diet consisted mainly of strawberries and random nibbles of cucumbers. I wonder if the cucumbers made them burp?
Do rabbits burp?
If you know the answer, please leave it in the comments.

The Parterre
The parterre built itself!  I had no big plans.  It just kind of happened.
It started with a six foot circular bed filled with lavender.  I paid the neighborhood kids ten cents a stone to use as drainage in the bed, then filled it with bags of garden soil.
Then, one night, I couldn't sleep...
and the rest is history!
Here is the parterre the day I finished planting.  This is before the pea gravel and the limestone curbing.
It's just a wee hedgerow here!

Here is the parterre last month.  The angel was my Birthday present last December but it wasn't delivered until Spring.

The Limelight hydrangea in the lower right corner is part of a long hedge. The yew hedge to the lower left, is on its way to knitting itself together too!

Last Winter's harsh weather took its toll on the growth of the boxwood.  I had to clip quite a bit away.  It is filling in nicely, however. I also changed the triangular shapes around the lilac standards into curlicues.

Do you want to know something funny?
I mean, downright hysterical?

I thought...get this...I thought that a garden would be much less work than a lawn!

I thought I would actually be afrolic amongst the flowers all Summer!  Not a care in the world!  Flowers in our hair! Flowy dresses!  Cucumber sandwiches!

Yeah, well, I just finished closing up the beds.  Many shrubs and perennials are stored in the garage until Spring.  The ground froze before I got to them

I was able to plant a privet hedge as well as a reading garden surrounded by privet, though!
I had to replant all the arborvitae, over 50, that died last Winter and all the annabelle hydrangeas, and over 300 perennials in the Shakespeare beds, as well as 14 pear trees!  Oh!  And the apple trees!

That is another post for another day.
I still have to get bulbs in the ground!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grey in the Entry

I found a pair of urns on Craigslist for $15 each and was subsequently faced with the challenge of where to put them!  
Have you ever done that?  Bought something and then tried to find a place for it? 
They have such a beautiful silver patina that only comes with years of age. How could I turn away?
The people I bought them from absolutely hated them!
They said they were so cheap because they had holes in the bottom.  I didn't have the heart to tell them they were drainage holes. LOL!
In the end, we were all happy!

This is my front entry "before".  I never intended for the painting to stay.  It belongs in the Family room.  It was overwhelming in the entry. 
The space is about four feet across, from wall to wall.  More of a wide hallway than an entryway.
The ceilings are 18 feet tall and I thought the large painting would work but you cannot stand far enough away to get the proper perspective.

Here it is now!  Loving it!  The unicorn crest is perfect here!  I almost put it on Craigslist!  So glad I didn't! 

 I practically have to do yoga to get a decent photo because of the angle of the library wall!

To refresh your memory, here is the unicorn crest before I painted it!

I am trying to picture what this vignette would look like if I never painted anything?

If you recall, this cabinet was a Craigslist find, as are the side tables that I used as plinths for the urns.

Looking at this vignette, I realize how much paint I have used since we moved in.  LOL!

The crystal candle sconces were also Craigslist finds.
The pair of winged cherubs were initially purchased for use in Gracie's nursery, flanking either side of her crib.

Detail of cherub...

I use ostrich feathers, rather than tassels for the door keys.  I found a shop on ebay that carries them in every color of the rainbow.

So excited to decorate for the holidays...big plans for the entry!



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guilt-Free Gilt!

I found a Venetian grotto-style piano stool in a catalog several years ago.  You may have seen photos of it here on the blog.
I was a little intimidated by it.  I wanted to gold leaf the piece, but I cringed at the thought of all those tiny crevices.

So, like many a well-intentioned project, it sat.

Until last night...

I am in between coats of pain on my Louis XVI secretary, so I thought I would tackle this while the paint dried.

Instead of gold leaf, I chose to faux finish.  Much simpler, faster and a lot of fun!

Also, far less expensive than buying an antique Venetian gilt grotto chair at auction!

My stool, found at Van Dyke Restorers.

Inspiration came in the form of this Venetian gilt grotto chair ...

More inspiration from Christie's.

The "real" giltwood Venetian grotto chairs are very expensive.  For example, the gilt and ebonized version from Christie's sold for $5,000!

Following, you will find the steps I used to transform my dull, black piano stool into a magnificent work of Venetian art!

A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

It is pretty, though!

Step One:Pure Gold Acrylic Craft Paint.  Dab it on with the tips of your brush.  I used a large chip brush.

Step Two: Burgundy Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and wipe off immediately.  I apologize for the poor lighting.  This was done at night.

Step Three: Antique Gold Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and dab off with cloth.  You will pull some of the other layers off.  This is a good thing!

Add more Antique Gold Craft Paint, stippling, rather than brushing, it on.
Sand lightly, then add Pure Gold and Antique Gold randomly.
Then add Burnt Umber Acrylic Craft paint and wipe off, letting it settle into the details...

Sunlit patina...

You can see the burgundy details here.  So pretty!


The patina changes with the lighting...

Detail of patina on foot...

Before and after...

This is the paint I used.  Total cost was about $3.00!

All of the gilt with none of the guilt!



Sharing with:

Courtney, at French Country Cottage, Feathered Nest Friday!


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