Sunday 30 October 2011

All Ready For The Ghosts And Goblins!

I do believe I'm ready for all the pirates, princesses, witches, ghosts and Lady Gaga's that will roam the streets (all two of them) in my village.  The farm kids will come for the easy pickins in the village and we have a couple  dozen kids who live in town.  I can hear the sighs from those of you who have to stock up for many, many more.

Here, we will pretend we don't know who is inside the costume.  The little ones don't seem to notice that we visit with the parents like old friends.  When a girl I've known most of her life brought her little girl here to trick or treat last year, the tiny princess took herself on a little tour of the house.  She turned to me at the door and said, "I like your house.  I really like it!"  Any pre-schooler who is more interested in the furnishings than candy just has to grow up to be a decorator!

The fall wreath is spooked up with the simple addition of a sparkly spider ~

Luckily, I had a visit today from my crafty niece Camryn and she cut out silhouettes I downloaded from The Graphics Fairy.  Click the button on my sidebar for tons of free images.  Camryn glued the images to paper bags to go on the porch with battery operated candles inside.  Let me know if you need to borrow my niece for your last minute decorating. ~

I showed her how to make her own witch's wand (see DIY post Witches Ball) and she didn't burn herself with the glue gun.  That's more than I can say for myself!

The candy is bagged and in bowls ~

My pumpkin crop was a true failure this year and only yielded one sad, little green specimen.  I bought a larger pumpkin and cut off the top.  The little green pumpkin sits on that and is the head.  A couple of sticks are the arms.  He's sort of a cross between a Jack-O-Lantern and a snowman.  Snumpkin?

Now, all I have to do is rake a path through the leaves to the door!

Before they get here though, the trick or treaters must pass by my neighbour's place and that is the real scary part!

Happy Hallowe'en from the country!

Friday 28 October 2011

I Promised To Tell

 The rainy weather is sure making it difficult to finish the outside Hallowe'en decorating and I'm knee deep in leaves.  Tomato cages are tilting drunkenly in the garden and a hard frost last night left the herb pots looking forlorn.

Sometimes though, you just have to go with the flow.  I can't change the weather so I might as well settle in with a hot mug of tea and a good book.  I read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  

The story of three American women during WW II, it is nostalgic and thought provoking at the same time.  The central question is, "what needs to be told and what should be held back".  I found the answer to be a little less clear than I'd thought.  This is the kind of book you think of long after you have turned the last page!

The sunny spot in the day was Michelle of Shabby Love featuring my bucket, from the All That Glitters post, on her lovely site.  It's quite an honour to be there with the beautiful furniture pieces that are featured as well!  Pop over there and soak up some inspiration!

Part of the deal with accepting the Versatile Blogger Award is telling you seven things about myself.  The very nature of blogging means you already know quite a bit, so I had to really think about what might surprise you. Here we go ~

1.  For 14 yrs. I owned and operated a recording studio that worked with artists like Emmy Lou Harris, U2,   Gordon Lightfoot and David Sylvian.
2.  My dad re-enlisted during the Korean War and I was born on Trenton Airforce Base.
3.  I was the kind of kid that would bring anything home for a pet - mice, snakes, a duck and a weasel. ( I didn't get to keep the mice or snakes)
4.  I was a dental assistant in the 60's.
5.  I have a college degree as a law clerk.
6.  I can't ride a bicycle.
7.  I know pretty much everything about wells and pressure systems.

Now, if that didn't confuse you, I don't know what would!

Now, I get to nominate ten of my favourite Versatile Bloggers.  Here they are ~

Herballistic Garden
You Could Make That
Heaven's Walk
Normandy Life
Musings From A French Cottage
The Vintage Farmhouse
The Lavender Tub
Make The Best Of Things
Shabby Love
Real Housewives Of Buck County

Just click on the names and you can take a peak through their houses.  Isn't that neat?  You'll find them as varied as my list of things you didn't know about me is!

Have a kick back and relax kind of Saturday!

Thursday 27 October 2011

Cheerful Friends ~

A cheerful friend is like a sunny day spreading lightness all around. ~ John Lubcock (English Astronomer)

Lucky me to have spent yesterday with friends!  My sister Lynn (bestie for ever!) and my dear friend Liz joined me for lunch before we made up a little work party to finish projects in the workshop.

Lynn worked on some drapes for a decorating client of ours.  This fabric is going in a dining room with black walls and creamy white built in china cabinets.  I'm so in love with this apple blossom fabric! ~

I sanded an end table I had painted with home made chalk paint.  I was sure I had before pics of this piece.  Oops!

This end table was a reproduction piece that was shiny, brown and completely covered in scratches and gouges.  At $5.99, in the Salvation Army Store, the price was right and it had nice lines.

I downloaded a French advertising label from The Graphics Fairy.  She's listed on my sidebar.  I rotated the label to invert it in the Lexmark printing wizard and printed it in landscape to fit an 8 X 10 piece of paper.  Liz had finished putting a coat of paint on the tray table I bought at auction and volunteered to transfer the label to the table. ~

We were all busy yakking away about the usual girl stuff and we gave her the wrong directions.  She should have covered the ink side with Mod Podge and stuck it on the table.  Then, you smooth out any bubbles and let it dry overnight.  This is the same process as in my DIY on Mod Podge transfers to clay pots.  When she asked if she was to coat the outside with Mod Podge we said yes.  Wrong!  When we came back this morning to complete the process, we realized the mistake.  As usual, we soaked the paper and started to roll it back with a thumb.  After the first 1/2 inch or so, the sheet just lifted up and came off in one piece.  There was a bit of paper left that had to be re soaked and rolled off.  This was way faster and the result was great!

The entire table was polished with paste wax to protect the chalk paint.

Here she is done ~

The graphic is set to the front to leave ample room for a lamp or accessories.  The original hardware was reattached.  I think she looks very French ooh-la-la!

We had such fun and I'm always so grateful for the company of kindred spirits.

I'm also grateful for new friends in the world of blogging.  To my utter surprise and delight Kathe of Kathe With An E nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Tomorrow I'll have to tell you seven things about myself and do my own nominations to comply with the rules.  I'm getting on it the first spare minute Kathe.  Promise!

I was speechless to find out the humble pail from my All That Glitters post was featured on the Inspiration Friday Highlights at At The Picket Fence!

I'm am so very honoured and thankful for the attention and help of such wonderful and established bloggers.  Please drop by their sites and I guarantee you will find tons of inspiration!

To all my friends, old and new, thank you for spreading lightness all around my life!

I've linked this to Simple Home Life

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Now This Is What I Call Versatile!

 In the interest of thrift, I have dyed my own hair.  I was expecting a warm shade of chestnut brown.  Instead, I have managed to turn my hair black.  While this may be quite desirable for the upcoming Hallowe'en festivities, I don't think it is really a good look for me.

I sure wasn't going to attempt cutting my own hair after that fiasco and headed off to the hairdresser in the closest town to me.

The hair salon is across from the dam on the Grand River.  The fast flowing water is a great fishing spot and anglers come from miles around to fish.

Across from the dam is the Caledonia Bait and Tackle.  So far, there is nothing unusual in the set up.

My hairdresser and her husband own the bait and tackle shop.  Her hair salon is in their house next to the shop.  Hence we have Perms And Worms. ~

I think that is a little unusual.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I bumped into the hairdresser at our local Salvation Army Store.  She had been watching a Nate Berkus show on working with thrift store finds and decided to see what was available.  We pointed out a large picture frame with a particularly hideous print and suggested turning it into a  message board.

Today, she showed us her handy work.  All her clients love it! ~

She left the frame original and painted, with chalkboard paint, right over the "artwork".  The total cost was under $20.  This is hung right across from the styling mirrors so no one will miss her notices.  I love it!

That's one girl who's not afraid to think outside the box!

ps ~ Wouldn't this be great hung the other way by the freezer?  You can add and delete items easily and always know what is stored inside!

Sunday 23 October 2011

How Did The Auction Go?

Now that we been to a preview, let's go to the auction!

To me, it's like a giant poker game. You have to know what you are betting on, bluff a little sometimes and be prepared to lose a bet.  Here's how it shook down.

Remember the Victorian mahogany bed with the upholstered headboard?  I valued it at $1,000 and said I'd take it for $200.  It sold for $240.  That's a beautiful piece of furniture for less than Ikea prices. ~

The box lots went a little higher than I wanted to pay.  Oh, and the signed Harlem Globetrotter basketball sold for $42.

The gas pump went for around $300 ~

Then, there was the baby cart and sleigh!  The cart went for $60.  It broke my heart when I pulled out of the bidding and the baby sleigh went for $180.  Oh, what I could have done with that at Christmas!

So, what did I buy?  I bought my daughter an English saddle, in good condition, for $35. ~

I think I'll use this lovely crock to store bleach.  I paid $7 for it.  My local Home Hardware store is accustomed to me coming in for corks.  Sometimes, I wonder if they stock them only for me! ~ 

Another $7 won a table with detachable tray and another tray.  These will be fun to rework! ~

A large stool for $60 will get a slipcover and serve as a coffee table that won't hurt the youngest grandchildren if they boink their heads off it! ~ 

By the way, the antique couch in the pic and the matching chair were bought at an earlier auction for $450 and had been newly, professionally recovered.

I told you I wanted this hat box but would have to haul off all the other stuff with it. ~

I bought it for $2 and managed to give all the rest away!  

There was some gross black stuff on the top that wiped off with diluted bleach and no musty smell inside.  If it had been musty, I would have used a few drops of rosemary essential oil to get rid of it.  That's a tip I got from a British antique dealer years ago.  If anyone has to deal with the effects of humidity, it has to be the Brits! ~ 

I googled (I do know that word is not a verb) Fortnum & Mason and took an armchair tour of a wonderfully posh shop!

This dandy $5 wagon will have to compensate me for the loss of the baby sleigh ~

And, anyone with as many pony loving grandchildren as I have, couldn't pass up this $14 rocker! ~

The icing on the cake was my sister finding this shell motif vase in one of her box lots and giving it to me for my spare bedroom! ~

Everything stayed outside until I could wash it down and check for creepy, crawlies.

As you know, I'm trying a year of living very frugally.  If I'm to work less and live more, that's the way it has to be.  How long it will take me to recover from not getting this absolute steal of a 17th century, oak mule chest for $800 is anybody's guess!

Ahhh, need and want are not the same thing!

Thanks for coming to the auction with me!

Friday 21 October 2011

Everyone Needs An Auction

The best way to find everything from food processors to furniture to fine art is to learn how to work an auction.  I know it seems scary and we've all heard stories of people getting stuck with a white elephant or who scratched their nose and had to pay for a grandfather clock.  Those are really folk tales and auctions aren't as difficult as they seem.

I started going to them in the late seventies to pick up furniture for my little girl's rooms.  Scandinavian Modern was in fashion and no one wanted Victorian dressers and beds, so I could pick them up for a song.  I refinished so many pieces I lost count.  When I was broke, I'd buy more furniture and sell the refinished pieces.  Without intending to, I became an antique furniture dealer.  During a stint as a flea market vendor, I became familiar with "smalls", pottery, silver, housewares, linens and decorative items.

I've made lots of mistakes.  That's usually because I didn't go to a preview or show up early enough to look  items over carefully.

Let's take a little tour of an auction preview.  This one is at my favourite house The Old Town Hall Auctions  in Paris, Ontario.  I've been going to this auction for over twenty years.  The auctioneer, John Runnquist, is knowledgeable and honest.  Yes, there are honest auctioneers!  This auction has a printed programme and if something is found not to be as stated they will make a full refund.

It all starts here ~

Assume the artwork, furniture and accessories grouped around the podium are the best goods offered that day.  I've learned more about fine art from listening to the descriptions and watching art dealers, museums and collectors bid on these items than I would have in any course on the subject.  John will start auctioning items at 10:30, and go without a break, until late afternoon, when all is sold.

I look over some furniture ~

The bed will probably go for around $1,000.  If a freak thing happens (and it sometimes does) and it goes for $200, I'll buy it. 

Here's a table of "box lots" ~   

The box in front has everything from a barometer to a jigger shaped like a golf club.  Oooh, is that a glass desk set in there?  Clean that up, add a pen and ink bottle and it will be lovely!  If that lot goes for $2, it's mine.  I'll probably pass on the signed Harlem Globetrotters ball and go for the kids books beside it.

The old gas pump is neat to go beside the garage ~ 

I don't have a garage, so pass on that one too.

Bingo! ~

The sun dial and gazing ball are nice if they go in the $50 range.  But, the baby sleigh and stroller are wonderful!  Please, let those go cheap!  It's near the end of the auction and the crowd will have thinned out. Maybe.

John will go like stink to sell the last of the stuff at the back.  Anything here will be a bargain.

Those are antique ice skates on top of the photos and roller skates ~  

Pass on the interesting wringer washer but might go for the ice cream parlour set ~

I'll go for the wooden crates if they are under $10 ~

I'd like this wicker for my front porch but it has to be under $100.  Pass on the brass bed that has rickety joints and no side rails ~

Let's pray there are no toy collectors there and my sister can buy these wonderful items for her etsy shop, 2 Be Cherished, at a reasonable price! ~ 

Ahhh, the sleigh and wagon will polish up beautifully and look fab for Christmas! ~

If I buy this lot just to get the hat box from Picadilly, remember I have to take everything here ~ 

I'll buy a $4 catalogue from John's wife, Winnie, to be sure I know what I'm bidding on.  I'll go an hour early and look everything over again before the auction starts.  I'll figure in a 10% buyers premuim (fee to the auction house) and sales tax on the maximum amounts I will pay for something.  

If you are sitting beside me, I'll gladly answers some of your questions.  Please don't ask too many, talk too much or too loudly or let the baby wail through it all.

Remember, you have the advantage over all the dealers.  You are looking for a good buy. Dealers have to be able to get double for the item when they retail it.  You can always outbid us!

Start small, learn as you go and be ready to get hooked!!!

Welcome to all the Herballistic Garden readers who are picking this post up from Wendy's site.  It's an honour to be "guest posting" and I'm so happy to be able to help her while she looks after her personal commitments!

Thursday 20 October 2011

All That Glitters Is Not Gold ~ Wm Shakespeare

Sometimes we want things to have signs of wear and tear; the patina of age.  We rummage through second hand shops and bake or freeze at farm auctions just to find a rusty old bucket.  The minute we see one, the wheels start turning!  How fabulous this will look with ???? tucked inside.

If you aren't lucky enough to find one, don't despair.  You can age a new galvanized pail and turn that vision into a reality!  I found a shiny, new, galvanized bucket at Dollarama for $2.  It measured 9" tall and 9" across the top, a nice size to hold a small Christmas tree. Galvanized metal is steel with a thin layer of zinc oxide on top.  I just google  know these things!

 But, it was soooo shiny! ~   

I started working on this before it occurred to me others might want to know how it's done. The right side hasn't had any treatment in the before pic.

Since, I was on the phone with my Internet/cell phone provider for the longest call in history (1:30 to 5:10!!!) I had time to complete the aging process (both on the bucket and myself).  I graciously accepted the rep's compliment that I was the nicest customer ever because I hadn't raised my voice once.  Was there really any need to tell her I was doing a craft the whole time?

Galvanized metal reacts to vinegar and an oxidization process starts.  This will also work on silverplate.  Vinegar doesn't hurt stainless steel so I did this in my kitchen sink.  I put about two inches of vinegar in the sink and lay the bucket down in it.  I rotated the bucket every half hour or so.  The longer a section is in the vinegar, the more it ages.

I'm liking the streaky effect and won't try to even this out ~

Look at the great rust on the handle ~

It's not easy to take pictures with a phone wedged between your shoulder and ear, a camera in one hand, while you  hold the bucket in place.

My blogging friend Wendy at Herb-ballistic Garden suggested I stop taking pics on my stove but it's often the only good light I can find here.  Her site is listed on my side bar. Pop on over and give her a boo.  Don't tell her I took another stove pic though. Shhh ~

Oh my, the first sunshine of the day!  Run outside and try to get some shots! 

The surface is dull enough for paint to adhere if that is what you are going for.  I'm going to use mine as it is.  Maybe I'll glue an old label on the side.  Hmmm.  What kind of tree will I put inside it?  Hmmm.

The wheels are turning!  Heaven only knows what I can make the next time my Internet and Blackberry go down and I have to talk to customer service!

You'll find this post at the linky parties at ~ At The Picket Fence
                                                                 No Minimalist Here
                                                                 The Shabby Creek Cottage
                                                                 Somewhat Simple     
                                                                 French Country Cottage
                                                                Finding Fabulous
                                                                Debbiedoos Newbie Party

I'm really happy to have this post be a guest blog on Herballistic Garden and be able to help Wendy out.  She has a week of huge family commitments!  What a treat to connect with all her super nice followers!

Update to answer questions ~
  If your metal is not reacting to the vinegar, check that it is galvanized steel.
  Aluminium foil, making contact between your metal and the vinegar speeds up the process.
  I use cheap white vinegar but a reader has suggested apple cider as having a higher acid content.