Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Kiddie Christmas Craft!

I'm home from helping my daughter at her farm for a few days and catching up with all of you!  Of course, caring for her six kids, two dogs, cats, pigs, goats, horses, ducks and chickens has taken all the elegance out of me!

It has, however, given me lots of ideas for Christmas decorating that are doable for moms with small kids.  When I arrived on Sunday evening we got in the Christmas mood by watching The Polar Express.  The youngest two had never seen the movie and it's so magical watching their earnest faces as they declare they would get on the train!

The craft we made was simple, not too time consuming and educational.  I had cut out pennants from a leftover piece of painters cloth.  The kids chose Merry Christmas as the words they wanted to display.  I had alphabet stencils from the dollar store and magic markers.  The kids had to count how many letters we needed and find the stencil letters to spell the words.  This was a pretty big accomplishment for grades SK to four. Christmas is a tough word!

Then they taped the stencils on the pennants and coloured them in with the magic marker. ~

Don't I have this wonderfully under control?  No matter how many times they say, "Grandma is this - can I - I need - he took my, etc.", I am completely calm and relaxed!  They jiggle and jump and squeeze in closely to watch me hot glue gun the pennants to the hay binder twine we brought in from the barn.  We proudly show my daughter the first word and can't understand her confusion until I turn it around. ~

YRREM?  Okay, so it's a little harder to concentrate when you are working with very young children!

I reheat the glue to melt it and start again.  More jiggling, jumping and squeezing and we have a banner to hang in the sun porch to greet Daddy when he gets home from his conference in a few days.  He says it is the best Christmas decoration they have and the kids were thrilled!

I'm not even going to apologize for the photography!  Between meals, lunches, laundry, homework, baths, racing for school buses, doctor appointments and barn work, it's a miracle I picked up a camera at all!

Have a simply wonderful day!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I Am So Thankful!

The great part about having a different date to celebrate Thanksgiving from my American friends, is that I get to be thankful all over again!

With my daughter being seriously ill, it should be difficult to feel thankful but the kindness of others has made my heart sing!

My daughter has devoted her life to helping other beings and her causes are so many I can't keep track of them!  The December issue of Reader's Digest has an article about some of the charitable work she does.  It seems as if she just gives and gives and never expects any kind of reward.

She has a barn full of rescued abused and abandoned farm animals.  Her home is busy with six children. Her husband works long hours as a cancer researcher and university professor.  How is everything to be done while she tries to regain her health?  Who will take care of her?

The answer is ..... almost everyone who knows her will!

I am thankful for the neighbouring farmers who bring her horses in from the paddock. The volunteers who come to clean stalls.  The neighbours who pick up medications and are on call if she needs someone to stay with her.

I am thankful for the youngest grandchildren who try to stay quiet and help set the table for dinner.

I am thankful for the two eldest grandchildren (far left and far right) who are taking over barn chores and do a great job of caring for the youngest children to help their dad with all he has to do.

I am thankful for my other daughter who drives several hours to stay with her sister and keep the house running.

I am thankful for the university grad students who took up a collection and bought a freezer full of pre-made food.  And, also, for my daughter's dear friend who hired Molly Maid for five weeks to keep the house under control.  I'm thankful for the children's Principal calling today and saying the teachers and some parents wanted to help and could he bring the food they have all made for her freezer.

I am thankful for Wendy at Herballistic Garden who is caring for my cats while I am away at my daughter's place.  She is already taking meals to my sister who is recovering from surgery.  She says, "take my car with the four wheel drive, can I take a turn with your daughter so you don't get too tired, can I make food, how can I help?".  I might add that four of the grandchildren are adopted and had never been swimming until Wendy and Dan offered their pool to get them used to water.

I am thankful that the world is full of loving and caring people!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I wish we had one every month!!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Little Coastal Christmas Style

I like to do a little decorating in the back yard at Christmas.  The Grand River runs along the back of my property and beyond that is a heavily wooded section. I do, however, have one neighbour who is situated to the far back of my yard so it is my patio area they and their guests see the most as they travel their lane way.

I love to bring nautical elements in and I use the river as my excuse to get beachy.  Okay, so it's not Hilton Head but I do have water and a bit of muddy beach.

Last year, I picked up a large wreath and garland at the floral wholesalers on deep discount.  I'm thinking the market for bright blue Christmas decor was smaller than they anticipated.  I used a hot glue gun to attach shells and tucked in some white picks and wired stars.  A small feather wreath fit perfectly in the centre and didn't even need to be wired.  As always, I had feline help with the project. ~

I strung clear lights through both the wreath and garland and set them around the potting table on the patio.  A few large shells, a birch limb and some driftwood and I'm at the beach! ~

My daughter and two eldest grandchildren lived in beautiful Nova Scotia for five years while her husband finished his doctorate in Halifax.  I know they miss it and I wanted to bring a little of that time into the scene.  I added a clothes peg piper and rustic ornament to the wreath. ~

For the final touch, I wove a piece of Nova Scotia tartan along the garland.  Welcome to the Maritimes!

Have a day that's just plain fun!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Rusty Bucket Christmas Tree!

Do you remember the dollar store bucket I aged by setting it in vinegar?  Check it out, now, as a holder for a tiny Christmas tree! ~

I posted about this technique on my DIY, You Can Age Metal.  It started out all shiny like this ~

A few hours in vinegar turned it into this ~

I downloaded a lovely Victorian Christmas image from The Graphics Fairy.  Actually, I was out of coloured printer ink, so I ran down a couple of doors to Wendy from Herballistic Garden and she printed it out for me.  It's sooo handy having a blogger friend close by.  I worked for it though, because her dog was loose and I had to help chase it all over the village!

The image was applied with outdoor ModPodge in case I want to use this bucket outside next year.  Just glue it on with the ModPodge, smooth out the bubbles with a credit card and put another coat of ModPodge on the surface of the paper. ~

Wendy also turned me on to rolls of burlap garland at Michael's.  A 10 yrd. roll is $6.69.  I made a bow and attached it to the bucket handle. ~

What a helpful cat Utah is!  Then, I potted up a Euro Tree (whatever that is!) from Home Depot. and added a dollar store bird.  The total cost for this arrangement is about $10 and I love it! ~

The final resting place is the dresser in my bedroom. ~ 

This is Shabby Chic Heaven!!!

Have a day filled with simple pleasures!

I'm sharing this project with ~


Keeping It Simple


Beyond The Picket Fence

Making Monday Marvelous Linky Party

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A Little Rush Seat Chair

Today, I've been working on a darling, little rush seat chair.  I picked up three closely matched ones at an auction some time ago.  Two of them had replacement seats and all three were painted a startling shade of yellow.

Although the use of rush (bulrushes or cattails) dates back to antiquity, these chairs appear to be from the mid to late 1800's.  Around that time, the great designer William Morris re popularised rush seating as beautiful in it's simplicity and craftsmanship.

I love to think of the history of the furniture pieces I handle.  These chairs were being crafted at the time Toronto was being incorporated into a city, Andrew Jackson was president, Charles Darwin was setting out on his voyage, slavery was being abolished in England and William IV was King.  It's also the year sandpaper was patented and I use a lot of sandpaper!

There are no before pics as I sold the first two chairs pre blogging.  All three chairs received a coat of black paint which would have been the most usual colour for them originally.  They also had rings of gold painted on the backs as was usual at that time.

The last chair retained the original rush seat and it was in reasonable condition.  A few pieces of rush had broken on the top layer and I glued those down with No More Nails.  I consider that stuff a wonder product!  

A little scuffing with sandpaper (Aren't I glad it was invented or I'd be scraping paint off with my finger nails!) and a coat of clear wax and the chair is renewed.

I wanted to add a simple cushion and took apart an old one to use the stuffing and as a pattern.  A left over piece of drapery lining fabric looked like the simple muslin from that era.  I downloaded a wheat sheaf graphic from The Graphics Fairy and used the Citrasolv transfer method.  (You can see the tutorial on my Citrasolv DIY post).

I think this little chair feels right at home in her new/old makeover!

Best of all, the first two chairs paid for the third.  Since everything else was on hand, the cost was zero!!!

Here she is all finished ~

Imagine having a warm enough day in November, here in the frozen north, to do this outside!!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Hanging Picture Groupings

Before you get into serious Christmas decorating, you want to finish up those pesky, little jobs you have been putting off because you know they will not be fun to do.  My least favourite thing to do in interior design is hanging a grouping of pictures.  It is time consuming and requires precision to achieve some sense of order to a grouping.

We had left a client with instructions on how to hang a large number of vintage family photos.  Realizing she was never going to get it done before the holiday season, she called my sister and I in to do the job.

We have learned a few tricks along the way to simplify the process and I'm happy to share them with you.

These pictures are different sizes and frame styles and have different types of hangers attached.  We started by laying them out on the (protected) dining room table and playing around with the layout. ~ 

The client told us she wanted some room left, within the grouping, for small pictures that hadn't been framed yet.  In the meantime, she'll fill the spaces with interesting embellishments.  We suggested hanging a set of skeleton keys, old pocket watch, etc. that she already owned.  

We use a dollar store tarp for a template.  Cut the tarp to the exact dimensions of the space you want to fill on the wall and lay the pictures out on the floor, in the chosen design. ~

I'd hoped the marks would show up better.  Dang!  I couldn't spend a lot of time taking close ups or the client would have been suspicious concerned about the time I was wasting.  Anyway, we mark all four corners of each picture, in marker, on the dropcloth. This allows us to replace the picture if it slips when we reach underneath to mark the hanger position on the dropcloth.  

The outer edges of the grouping form a rectangle or square.  That symmetry allows random placement of pictures within the rectangle to have a sense of order. ~

Move the frames off the tarp, keeping them in the same layout so you don't get confused when the time comes to hang them.

The tarp is rigid enough to hang straight on the wall and soft enough to be easily pierced by a hanger.  I didn't get a pic of the template hanging on the wall.  That would have been pushing it with the client for sure!  We hung the tarp on the wall with masking tape and checked the placement with a laser level.

The nail part of a hanger was used to puncture the tarp wherever we had a magic marker mark for a hanger.  Remove the tarp and start putting in whatever kind of hanger each frame requires.  ~

The centre piece is a family tree that still has to be filled out.  It's a biggy so good luck with getting that done in the next few weeks!

We hung another two pictures in an odd nook in the same room.  When we decorated this house we turned this area into a butler pantry by having a server made to fit the space.  ~

The tarp folds up nice and small and the client keeps the template.  If she repaints the room at any time, she can easily recreate the grouping.

Double check everything with the laser level and say, "thank heavens that job is done"!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing ~ Charles Wesley 1739

I have been working on some angels that were made by angels.  I started thinking about this project a couple of weeks ago.  Actually,  for the last few years, I've been looking for a way to display my daughter's kindergarten angels.

They get propped up on bookcases and mantels and look very limp and forlorn each Christmas.  ~

This is not a very nice way to showcase something that was made, with such love, by two of the sweetest daughters any mother could be lucky enough to have.

When you work in interior design, Christmas is a hectic season of charity show homes, client Christmas decorating and racing to finish projects before seasonal shut downs in manufacturing.  This year I have looked forward to, finally, having time to enjoy the season.

But, life has a way of throwing you curve balls and one of my daughters is very ill.  She needs my help.  She's a tiny woman but very large shoes to fill.  Her farm is a sanctuary for abandoned and abused farm animals.  She partners with a social service group home to provide farm therapy for "at risk" boys.  My daughter does all of that and still, she and her husband, had room in their hearts to add to their family of two boys by adopting a family of four children.  The December Reader's Digest has an article about her farm and all the healing it accomplishes.  For a peek at the article go to Readers Digest Open Kitchen Food Blog.

I looked at the paper angels and thought this was the perfect place to start decorating for the season of hope and miracles.  I picked up a thrift store vintage frame for $1 and painted it with chalk paint.  Then, I rubbed on some Modern Masters Metallic Paint in soft silver for a bit of sheen.

I covered cardboard backing with a shimmery, organza fabric that looks like a night sky.  A sprinkling of dollar store rhinestones are stars and a large one is the Star of Bethlehem. ~

The angels aren't attached to the fabric in case I want to do something different with them next year.  They are held in place by the glass.

Look at the adorable faces!  Awww ~

By using a rectangular frame, this display can replace an existing framed piece, over the Christmas season, and be the right proportions.

These restored photos come down now ~

And the Heavenly Host can preside over my home. ~

This angle makes the piece look huge, but it's just big enough for three little angels.

I feel better already with them looking over us!

The angels are flying over to ~
                                                     Debbiedoos Blogging And Blabbing Newbie Party
                                                     You Are Talking Too Much Meet Me Monday Linky
                                                      Show Off Your Cottage Mondays
                                                      Motivate Me Monday
                                                       Sweet Little Gals Turquoise Lovin
                                                      No Minimalist Here
                                                      Time Travel Thursday
                                                      Show And Tell Friday

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Letting Go Is Not Forgetting

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day.  I will pause and think of all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for me.  I'll think of my mom and how proud she was of working as a riveter on Lancaster bombers when she was only 15.  I'll think of my dad going overseas at 17 as a tailgunner on those same bombers.

There will be a slow flight over my house of one of the two remaining Lancaster bombers, in the world, as it leaves it's hanger not ten minutes from where I live.

This will be the first year I will not have the medals, press clippings and photos that belonged to my Aunt Molly.  Dorothy (Molly) Mulholland and Wyn Pitkeathly were the first two nursing sisters to arrive on Juno Beach, Normandy, twelve days after the invasion.  They pressed forward with the troops into unsecured territory, digging their own foxholes and operating in canvas tents.

A third nurse joined them and they were the darlings of the press photographers.  This photo, taken in Flanders Fields, was famous.  My aunt is on the right ~


After the photographer took the picture, they were all told to stay very still as they had accidentally gone into a field full of landmines!

Here they are having a bit of fun for the photographers ~

The reality was more like this ~

My mom kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.  She was so proud of her older sister! ~

During the Battle Of The Bulge, Aunt Molly operated for seventy two hours straight, in canvas tents, while bombs rained down all around them.  For that act of selfless courage, she was awarded the Royal Red Cross First Class, one of only two awarded to Canadian nursing sisters in World War II. This medal is very rare and certainly prestigious.  Queen Victoria awarded the first one to Florence Nightingale!  Aunt Molly's medal was given to her by King George VI in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.  For those of you who loved The King's Speech, she said he was friendly, asked what her first impression of England was and laughed when she said it was covered in chimney pots.

The other side of the story is that Aunt Molly suffered from post traumatic stress for the rest of her life.  She suffered nightmares about the ones she couldn't save.  Loud noises had her ducking for years.  She turned down the position of Head Nursing Sister for the Canadian Airforce and returned to her small hometown to become a factory and high school nurse.  Her fiance had been killed as he parachuted from his plane over Algiers and she never married.

Molly Mulholland passed away on November 10, 1985.  Her sisters held a quiet funeral, no fanfare or press were intended.  But, the people she served with had their own farewell to say.  In stunned amazement, we watched all the members of her local legion march to the casket and place hundreds of poppy pins in the lining.  Their gratitude stays with her forever.

After my mom passed away this year, the family had to decide what to do with hundreds of press photographs, the medals, compass, silk aviator map scarf and news clippings.  The collection was large and in perfect condition.  It was important to the family and certainly had monetary value, but we knew it was also important for future generations to be able to see the contribution nursing sisters made for their country.  My cousin's son, Jamie, contacted the museum at Juno Beach, by e-mail, and asked if they were interested in having any of it.  He sent photos of a sampling and the response was immediate.  The director answered, herself, and they would definitely want it all.  Jamie and his wife delivered the collection to the museum, in person, to ensure it would arrive safely.  It is the largest donation of memorabilia they have received and included many pieces that they were unable to acquire by any other means.

This year, the Juno Beach Centre did twelve passports for guests that followed a particular service person from birth to death.  Aunt Molly was one of the twelve passports.  We are thrilled to see her honoured and remembered.

It is only by being able to let go of our keepsakes that we ensure Molly Mulholland will never be forgotten.

Because of all the sacrifices made on this beach, her great nephew can stand there today. ~ 

Sorry about the quality of some of the photos.  You see, I don't have the originals, now, and have to pick them off the net!