Saturday 31 December 2011

A Clean Slate

As the old year fades to the new, I look back on a year of great changes. February brought us adoption day and four dear children became my grandchildren!  I can't even imagine them not being part of my life and I'm thankful, everyday, for the gift of seven truly lovable grandkids.  I'm learning to cook big batch again and I'm kind of liking the hustle and bustle of a big family.  I grew up in one and it feels comfortable to me.

My sister and business partner had some health issues and decided she couldn't keep up the pace of a decorating firm any longer.  That has led me to some tough decisions and an experiment in managing, financially, while taking on fewer projects.  Not doing so great on that one!

I started this blog and a world of friends and ideas opened up to me.  I've stretched to learn computer skills and photography.  Maybe the photography isn't coming along as I'd like and my poor, ancient 3.5 pixel camera is completely inadequate for the job but I know I'll get there if I keep on trying.

I love this quote from Anne of Green Gables:

  Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

The "yet" tagged on the end is the important part.  Sure, I will make mistakes but I'll know that tomorrow will bring a clean slate and I can start all over again.

Our family has struggled with my eldest daughter's medical condition these past two months and she is improving every day.  We did what good families do and pulled together to do whatever she needed.  We've seen how loving and caring people are and how much they will give in times of trouble.  It isn't the good times that do the most teaching, it's the tough ones that make you grow.

As I enter 2012 ~

I'll hold the words of St. Francis of Assisi in my heart:

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible!

Whatever your starting point on January 1, 2012, I wish you all a world of possibilities!  Happy New Year dear friends!

Images compliments of                               The Graphics Fairy

Friday 30 December 2011

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Since this little blog had it's first posting on August 31st, I've let it just follow along wherever I am going that day.

As the year draws to a close, I thought I'd look at my Google stats and see what you guys liked the most.

Hands down, the winner for readers was All That Glitters Is Not Gold.

I changed this $2 Dollarama pail ~ 

Into this ~

You loved it and it is still circulating around Pinterest and crops up regularly in Google searches.  I have to say, this has taken me completely by surprise!  To see how it is done, click  Here.

The second most viewed, was Three Ladies And A Great Idea. I was so excited about making my own chalk paint that I had to share it with you!

I took a little of this ~ 

And made this ~

To find out how to make your own chalk paint and where I found out about it go Here.

The third most searched and commented on post is Citrasolv Fabric Transfer or Who Thinks This Stuff Up.

I'm in love with being able to print script and images onto fabric and this was my first tutorial. I sure hope everyone could understand it! ~

To get hooked on transferring images to everything from tea towels and table runners to bedding and slip covers, go Here.

I'm so glad I had some ideas to share with you this year!  It has also meant a lot to me to have you with me through some of the more difficult times that have arisen this year.  Your kind comments and patience with sporadic posts, since November, are truly appreciated!

If there are any questions I can answer for you as a decorator, feel free to ask.  I've run into pretty much every decorating dilemma there is, over the years, and I'm happy to share the solutions with you.

I look forward to showing you tons of great ideas in 2012!

I'm sharing this with:


Monday 26 December 2011

I'd Rather Be In Tuscany Today!

I really do want to visit Tuscany some day and that is, in no small way, influenced by my love of the book and movie, Under A Tuscan Sun.  That's not all that surprising with a theme of single woman, starting over and the metaphor of transforming an old house. Throw in beautiful scenery, old world culture and great food and I'm hooked!

Instead, I created this vignette with a pair of old, leaded glass windows and some frameless art. ~

When I'm in my back entry, I'm looking out on Tuscany!

When I'm in my kitchen, I'm looking at this. ~

On the twenty-third of December, my brother in law came to replace the dimmer switch in my dining room.  It was refusing to dim and I didn't want my guests to feel they were eating in a cafeteria.

He wanted to put my new light fixture up in the kitchen that day as well.  I declined because I knew there was a problem with the anaglyptic paper on the ceiling and it would all get done in the kitchen redo.  He insisted and I didn't want to look ungrateful for the offer.

Down came the light and we stood there in shock, staring at charred paper and bubbling paint. That light was on the verge of setting the ceiling on fire! ~

When he took a piece of the paper home to show my sister, she thought I was doing some kind of intricate paint design on the ceiling.  Nope, that's burn marks!

The good part is, the house didn't burn down.  The bad part is, there is no electrical box in the ceiling or anything standard to hook things up to.

I guess the first house project I'm undertaking is the kitchen.  I don't want to do the kitchen!  It will be too much work and I'm tired just thinking about it!

On the other hand, cooking an evening Christmas dinner without an overhead light was a leeetle bit difficult!

Soooo - Welcome to my kitchen reno on a non existent budget!!!   


Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve At The Farm

I've spent the day with my children and grandchildren at the farm.  It was everything a Christmas should be - family, food, laughter , excited little ones and good times.  Well, until the goat died, it was all of that.  I'll get to the goat later.

My daughter picked up a guitar to sing to one of her nieces ~

That brought my grandson to the piano ~

And that brought more players and singers ~

We all had to laugh ~

When baby joined in by using a cookie tin for a drum ~

Of course, there are chores to be done on the farm and I thought I would take pictures of all the animals with their Christmas treats.  The kids had given me a list of appropriate gifts for each type of animal.  There are two kittens secreted there tonight in answer to a Santa letter from the kids.

I was getting ready for my photo shoot and noticed the oldest goat wasn't moving.  Heck, he wasn't even breathing.  I'm pretty sure my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders when I asked my daughter if there was something wrong with her goat.  Ummm - I think something wrong is a bit of an understatement!

It's never boring at the farm!

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope your holiday is everything you hope it to be and all your goats are well!

I'm sharing this with ~

Funky Junk Saturday Night Special

Thursday 22 December 2011

What's So Great About Blogs?

Oh my, where to begin?  I admit I am a blog addict.  I love reading them!  Writing them stops me from talking to myself.  Well, not entirely, but it certainly cuts it down to just being odd and not certifiably crazy!

I get inspiration and tons of how to info from endless numbers of truly clever people on everything from cooking to design, crafting to finding bargains.  I can peek inside their homes and get a glimpse of who they are are what things they care about.

I've met people in South America creating English cottage homes and Brits creating Canadiana in their homes.  From Greeks that are in love with Southern colonial to Americans thrilled with the vibrant colours of India we are all on the quest for an environment that most speaks to us. I, of course, copy anything that says old world Europe.

Occasionally, I get a lovely award like this one from Wendy at Her-Ballistic Garden ~


Thanks, Wendy!

I love that blogging has led me to so many wonderful people around the world!  The Leibster award gives me an opportunity to introduce you to five of my favourites.  I know you will love them as much as I do. Here's my list of up and coming stars! ~

Rukmini lives in India and has created a wonderful Shabby Chic home.  You also get to see India through her eyes.  I feel like we are friends and can't wait to see what she is up to in each post!

The Vintage Chateau

She has my style down pat! The pics are beautiful and everything she touches has a wonderful element of elegance.

Eclectically Vintage

The name says it all here.  This is a really fun site and Kelly is full of ideas!

Sweet Girl Expressions

This young mom is full of more great ideas!

An Anglo In Quebec

Here's you chance to poke around a wonderful chalet and soak up some of that style.

Those are just some of the friends I visit regularly.  You will love them as much as I do when you check out their sites!

If they accept the award, they link back to this site and go on to nominate five more up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  I know none of them will be in this category for long, so add this award to your sidebars, ladies!

Thanks to all my readers!  It's been such a thrill to have you with me on this terrific journey!!!

Sunday 18 December 2011

Delectable Dining!

I've had two whole days at home and I'm scurrying around to get this house in shape for some Christmas entertaining.  I love to get together with my girlfriends for a little pre-Christmas coffee, tea and desserts! It's just to keep our strength up for the busy season ahead, of course.

There are no turkeys involved in this soiree!  It's all about sugar, sugar, sugar!  The idea is to get so hopped up on sugar that we can go like energizer bunnies through all the slicing, dicing, stuffing, washing, etc. that the big day can throw at us.

I started by making a runner for the table from a simple piece of white cotton. I chose the words, Silent Night and Holy Night and printed them in parchment text.  You need to invert the words and print them out on a lazer printer.  I used parchment text since it looked like an old German style of font.  I also downloaded two images of deer heads from The Graphics Fairy.  Using the Citrosolv transfer method I showed you on my DIY post, Citrosolv Fabric Transfer, I transferred the images to the centre of the runner.  The edges were to be frayed and I added a simple line of stitching to control how far the fraying went. I added a ruffle to either end for a bit of girly as this is for a ladies night.

Here's the transfer ~

And the ruffle ~

I'll fray the sides until they are equal with the ruffle.  The runner is layered over a black table cloth that has a bit of sparkle woven into it.

Start setting the table for the sweet treats! ~

Since the good old days of being able to feed people anything short of ground glass are gone, I'll use the place card holders to identify what is in each treat.  That handles allergies well and doesn't force the person to ask about each item.

Since this whole season started in a stable, I like to tuck farm animals into the scene.

How cute are these Fitz and Floyd ceramic pigs, on a bed of burlap?  I tucked them under a cloche on a white pedestle ~

Since my theme is snow and ice in this room, I have added chips of ice to the table top and snowballs, white pine cones and snowflakes to the high lintel.

A quick and easy embellishment is filling a tall vase with white beads, pine cones and Christmas bulbs. ~

All that is left to do is fill the table with tons of yummy sweets, pots of coffee and tea and maybe a few nice bottles of wine!

Have a really sweet day!

I'm sharing this with ~

Keeping It Simple
The Graphics Fairy
Making Monday Marvelous Linky Party

Tuesday 13 December 2011

There Is Love In Every Stitch!

Nothing is quite as special as something decorated with fine handwork.  It takes skill and experience and hours and hours of work to tat, embroider, cross stitch, candlewick, etc. on things we want to make beautiful or personalized.

The delicate stitches say that this is something that is not made by a machine.  It's made by one human to enhance the lives of other humans.  The stitches say that someone cared enough to sit patiently and work to create something lovely.

Cross stitch starts with a pattern, a hoop, needles and thread. ~

You count and stitch, count and stitch until the pattern comes to life on the fabric.  Thousands of stitches later, you know you will have this ~

This is work that cannot be hurried.  It is precise.  One miscount and the pattern starts to go off.  Sure you get faster at it with practice, but the hand will only move so fast and there is a limit to how much you can accomplish.

What, then, do you do when you have made cross stitch Christmas stockings for your first two grandchildren and you suddenly have four more grandchildren that desperately need to feel loved and important in the family?

You start stitching!  You stitch in every spare minute you have.  You stitch for thirteen hours straight one Sunday.  You stitch into the wee, small hours when you have to go to work in the morning.  You cling to your determination and your belief in miracles.

And your belief is rewarded!  Your sister comes and takes one of the stockings to do herself.  You didn't know your dear friend, Liz, could do cross stitch.  "Are you kidding?", she says.  "I'm Greek. We have to do all that stuff as little girls and do it well, too!"  She's a busy, single mom but she takes one stocking to do.  

There is only one month to get these finished and it is such a busy time of year for all of us!  But, now it seems much more possible with three of us forming an old fashioned sewing circle.  

Then, it was just one day before Christmas Eve and all three of us were in a panic!  We got together and stitched like mad!  We made decisions about what was extraneous to the pattern and could be deleted.  We gave it everything we had to give and then some!  

By, 10 pm the last stitch was in place and my sister (the fastest seamstress of us all) had sewn them into stockings. 

At noon on Christmas Eve the first thing the kids saw, when they walked through their new grandma's door, were four stockings with their names across the top.

This is the second Christmas they have hung beside their brother's stockings. ~ 

Every stitch says something about family.  It says sisters always are there when you need them.  Every stitch says something about friends.  It says good friends care about your concerns and will do whatever they can to help. Every stitch talks about the value in learning a skill and being able to do something extraordinary.  (Thank heavens for Greek moms!)

I hope these stitches, also, always say, "Grandma loves you!  You are all loved and important in our family!"

Thank you, Lynn and Liz, from the bottom of my heart!!!

I'm sharing this with ~

Jenny Matlock


Friday 9 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

The November/December life of an interior decorator revolves around Christmas trees. What can I do that is different?  How big a tree, how glitzy or rustic a tree, what colour, what theme, real or artificial?  The next questions are more like: how many scratches will I get, will it fall over, is it pre-lit, can I reach the top from a ladder...?

 Image compliments of The Graphics Fairy

I'm a big fan of pre-lit, artificial trees! They make my life sooo much easier!  Sure, I love the smell of a real evergreen but I do not like struggling with tree holders, uneven branches and pine gum in my hair.  In most things, I am a nature girl but this is the exception.

I think it all started when I trudged through a northern Ontario forest looking for a perfect tree with my dad.  It was -30F and we were on a mission to find a tree to take south to my grandma's for the holidays.  When you live in the bush it should be easy.  Nooo - the trees in the forest all seemed to be towering out of reach!  Nobody trims the small trees in the forest to make them nicely uniform.  Around the time frost bite had set into my toes, my dad started in with an axe to fell a huge tree.  The top was perfect and he intended to lop it off.  Right about when I could no longer move my frozen hands, the tree toppled over and snagged on another tree.  That's when we gave up and headed (treeless) for home, while frozen tear icicles formed on my cheeks. We did show up at Grandma's with a tree and she never knew he bought it at a roadside stand!

Here are a few trees that have given me far less trouble!

This is one of my favourite Christmas trees. ~

How gorgeous is that Peacock topper?  I used emerald green, purple and peacock blue ornaments, with real peacock feathers and a shimmery blue/magenta sheer fabric instead of ribbon.  The same fabric is pooled at the base for a tree skirt. ~

A palm tree in the same room gets a touch of magic with a sparkling butterfly on Spanish moss.  ~

My own tree comes with a wooden box base, is pre-lit and black.  Hey, you get tired of green when you work with it all day!  It's a narrow tree and doesn't require many ornaments.  On one super busy year it wound up with a simple garland and three decorations.

Last year it got a hit of purple just for fun. ~

This year, the theme is all about ice in my library.  I've added silver picks and clear bead garland. Some Faberge eggs are airy and elegant. They're not real Faberge eggs -  that would be silly.  I save the real ones for my breakfast in my other home, The Castle. ~

A diamond studded spire (again not real diamonds in this home) is set in a white bow with silver ice dots.

The clear balls have scraps of book pages inside.  I'm pretending it is a library in an ice castle.  Too fanciful you think?  A sparkling penguin stands guard over a bird's nest and angels fly in the sky above. ~

When the lights are turned low, I  have a magical world of ice and snow! ~

Whatever your choices, the best trees are decorated with love!

I'm sharing this with:
  Thrifty Decor Chick  christmas tree party