Tuesday 26 February 2013

A Bit Of The Emerald Isle

With yet another winter storm blowing in, and the skies a depressing grey, this house needs a bit of colour and sparkle!

I also need to do some St. Patrick's Day decorating or my dead, Irish ancestors will come and haunt me. Oh yes they will!  Why people think the Irish are a merry lot beats me.  My mom's family were melancholy and superstitious.  And that was on their happy days!

Let's dress up the dining room table. ~

Start with a fine, Irish linen tablecloth.  Emerald green is the hot colour this year and I just happen to have a length of sequined, emerald green fabric.  I bought this as a remnant at a place that sold fabric for skating costumes.  Actually, I was buying drapery fabric for a client and the store threw this piece in for free.  Bonus!

It makes a great table runner and all those sequins grab every bit of light this February day will give it! ~

The sweet set of napkins came in a box of linens I bought at auction.  They are hand embroidered with tiny shamrocks.

The centrepiece is in a bowl from an Irish art pottery that has a scene of a farmer ploughing his field with his draft horses.  A dollar store spray of shamrocks sits inside with a bit of moss to fill in the spaces.  I can't use the live shamrock that I've had for thirty years because the contrary thing decides to go dormant EVERY SINGLE MARCH!

The little book is titled Irish Wit And Wisdom.  I guess they couldn't find enough to fill a regular size book.  Now I'm looking up and mouthing, "Sorry" to my dearly departed ancestors.  I can feel my mom's frown all the way down here!

Now I need your suggestions for decorating the last dining room ornament.  Weeks later, Utah refuses to give up this bubble pack filled box that Miss Kopy Kat send her kind gift in.  If Maeve even looks inside the box he gives her the evil eye and she slinks away.  Luckily, she has decided she loves sleeping on sequined table runners!

It can storm away as much as it likes outside and I'll just think of this bit of Irish wisdom.

Life is like a cup of tea.
It's all in how you make it.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Distressed Paint Without Sanding

I'm all for cutting out as many steps as possible when I'm painting furniture.  You can call me lazy but I prefer to think of myself as economical with my time.  Since I'm not fond of sanding, I've developed a way of getting the look without the effort.

At auction, I bought a pair of cabinets for $30.  I suspect they were some kind of antique store cabinetry but they've been altered more that once and are a mishmash of woods, finishes and hardware.

The back has a high gloss paint. ~

To disguise replaced sections of the original pine, someone has given it an Old Master's treatment.  It's a paint kit, popular in the 60's, that is the bane of furniture re finisher's lives.  The system had a white base coat that welds itself to the wood, a couple of layers of 'graining' paint and a shiny sealer.

The end result is this. ~

If I want to paint this baby without sanding off the shiny finish (and I do!) I'll have to go to chalk paint, which adheres to almost anything.  I make my own version by mixing 2 parts latex paint to one part Plaster of Paris,  mix thoroughly and thin to a good painting consistency with warm water.

To prove that there is no end to my laziness ingenuity, I paint some areas of the cabinet with a rusty red coloured craft paint.  Normally, you would paint over the red with the main colour and sand back to let bits of red show through.

As I paint the first coat of matt black paint, I only let the brush touch the red painted areas very lightly. ~

Use your artistic eye for this method.  Don't tell me you don't have one!  Every five year old is an artist and every one of you has your five year old self inside.  Let the child out and see through their eyes!

Wherever I felt wear would naturally occur, I used a light touch with the black paint.  This is after two coats of black paint. ~

I had a tube of gold artist gouache that I applied to a raised band at the top of the piece.  Before it dried, I rubbed it lightly with a paper towel to make it a little less new looking. ~

I painted right over the hammered brass hinges with the chalk paint.  The drawer pull was already distressed so it didn't need anything done to it.  A modern knob on the door was replaced with one I bought at Mary Maxim for $2. ~

Chalk paint does need something applied on top to protect it.  I'll let the paint settle for a couple of days and then give it a good coat of Treewax.  That will give it a bit of sheen.  You could use a matt finish Varathane if you prefer.

There you go.  No priming, no sanding and I didn't even take the serving pieces out of the cabinet! ~

Ta Da! ~

I have the matching cabinet to do and an idea on how to give the glass doors a bit of pizazz.

Give it a try.  It's easy.  Your five year old self will love you!

I'm partying this week with:  Monday Funday Link PartyCreative Bloggers Party & HopClever Chicks Blog HopKnick Of Time TuesdayTransformed TuesdayBudget Decorating PartyTweak It Tuesday, Make It Pretty Monday, What's It Wednesday, Thursday Favorite Things Blog  Hop, Transformation ThursdayWildly Original PartyA Crafty SoireeShare You Cup ThursdayLink It Up ThursdayCreative Things ThursdayOpen House PartyFeathered Nest FridayA Favorite ThingOld Time PartyThe Creative HomeAcre HopMarch Before And AfterPower Of Paint Party

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Look What Came In The Mail!

Nothing brightens an icy, cold winter day than finding a parcel in the mail!

When Jaime from That's My Letter ran a contest for a Ramsign enamel house number sign, I really, really wanted to win.

Just this summer, when I was touching up the front porch paint, I realized I still had the stupid, stick on numbers that were there when I moved in.  Do you ever have something that's been there so long that you just don't see it any more?

As soon as the weather warms up enough to not turn into an icicle out there, all that is going to change.

I won!  This beauty came all the way from Denmark! ~

I wanted to see how sturdy it was before I added to my win by ordering the house name.  It's a really substantial piece of enamelware and completely surpassed my expectations.  Thanks Jaime!

How great will Kells Water look on one of these?  I could swoon at the thought!

Friday 15 February 2013

George & Emily Johnson: A Love Story

A couple of miles down the road from my house is the Chiefswood National Historic site. ~

This is the birthplace of E. Pauline Johnson, famed Canadian poet and recitalist.  The modest, Georgian mansion was built in the 1850's as a wedding gift by her father, George Johnson, to his bride, Emily Howell.

I believe it was the love story of George and Emily that made it possible for Pauline to bring unfamiliar worlds together in understanding and beauty.

I'm entranced with the tale.  George Johnson was the son of a Mohawk Chief.  His mother was a hereditary clan mother, with the sole right to choose one male from her line to be one of the chiefs of Six Nations Confederacy.  George was given a formal education and showed a gift for languages, speaking all six Mohawk languages, English, French and German.  He became an interpreter for the Anglican Church ministry on Six Nations territory.

Emily Howell was the daughter of an Englishman, who brought his family to Ohio and started a number of schools.  He is reputed to have been a man of contradictions;  ardent supporter and instrumental in the establishment of the Underground Railway, aiding slaves escaping to freedom.  He was also a cruel and abusive parent.  Emily's sister married the Anglican minister in charge of the mission at Six Nations and rescued her little sister from the parental home, bringing her to Canada.

The interpreter, young George, lived in the mission house with them as part of the family.  He was clever and refined, handsome and athletic.  Emily was a pretty, shy girl and had the perfect manners of a British lady.  The young couple became fast friends from the start and love followed.

This was shocking to local society and both families.  The match was vehemently opposed on all sides.  Mixed marriages were not acceptable.  George's children would be mixed blood and he would be giving up all rights of one becoming a chief.  His mother was appalled.  Emily's family, for all their abolitionist views, would not accept a marriage with a man of colour.

The couple dated secretly for five years.  George was, by then, an official government interpreter, a chief of the Confederacy and an important liaison between Six Nations and the government.  Wealthy enough to build  a fine house for his lady, the couple announced their intention to marry and defied all social convention.

They determined to make both cultures equal in their home.  Victorian style furniture had traditional native motif carvings.

The intricate porcupine quill top on this table was done by Emily herself. ~

The house has identical front and back doors to greet those that came by canoe, on the Grand River that flows behind the house, and those who came by horse and carriage, on the road that ran from the white settlements, as equally important guests.

Those guests eventually included chiefs, governor generals, lords and ladies, Alexander Graham Bell, artists, Prince Arthur and Princess Louise.  Everyone who was anyone came and everyone remarked on the refined living style of George, Emily and their four children.  All were fascinated with the blend of cultures.

The children were taught to be proud of their heritage and E. Pauline Johnson thrilled her audiences as she recited her poetry and read from her books wearing first this costume ~

and then finished the concert in evening dress. ~

George worked tirelessly to facilitate understanding between natives and whites.  He was also insistent that the illegal trade in liquor, by a gang of white thugs, be stopped and the illegal lumbering of prime timber by white businessmen, with consent of a sector of natives for their personal profit, cease on reserve lands.  He had the culprits arrested and fined.  The liquor dealers waylaid him one night and beat him so severely that he was unconscious for five weeks.  He recovered and went right back to rooting out the lawlessness in his territory.  The lumber men attacked him next.  They beat him, fracturing two ribs and a finger, shot him and left him for dead.  Again, he recovered. 

Public outrage at this second attack was universal.  White and native people came together to take up the cause.  They drove out the liquor dealers and the lumbermen withdrew under public pressure.  

Someone had shown them the better way.  George and Emily had lived a life of love and respect, walked right over the barriers to their happiness, raised four fine children, given Canada a national treasure in Pauline and brought together two cultures to battle for decency.

Every Canadian has read 'The Song My Paddle Sings', by E. Pauline Johnson.  My favourite lines are at the end.  I can paddle a canoe from the back of my house, right up to George and Emily's river door. ~

Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe!
The reckless waves you must plunge into.        40
Reel, reel,
On your trembling keel,
But never a fear my craft will feel.
We ’ve raced the rapids; we ’re far ahead:
The river slips through its silent bed.        45
Sway, sway,
As the bubbles spray
And fall in tinkling tunes away.
And up on the hills against the sky,
A fir tree rocking its lullaby        50
Swings, swings,
Its emerald wings,
Swelling the song that my paddle sings.

For information on visiting the Chiefswood National Historic Site click here.

Monday 11 February 2013

Cleaning White Ironstone

I've made a few mistakes with antiques over the years and one of the biggest was trying to clean ironstone with bleach. With vintage pieces, there's always some crazing (fine crackle) of the glaze and that allows entry into the clay underneath and damages it.  Ironstone is not made with a high fired clay like porcelain and the porous clay is very susceptible to damage.

Although I don't mind some marks on vintage ironstone, this plate is used to serve food and always looked dirty. ~

I could have soaked the plate in straight 3% hydrogen peroxide, found in groceries and pharmacy stores.  It would have taken several bottles to cover the plate and that gets rather expensive.

Instead, I used denture cleaning tablets.  A box of ninety tablets was about $4 at Giant Tiger.  In a 4 X 8" by 1" deep plastic container, I dissolved 3 of the tablets in hot water.  By the time the tablets had dissolved, the water had cooled enough to not open the crazing more and I submerged the plate in the solution. ~

I left it in there for about an hour.  You can see the stuff that came off the plate in the water. ~

I could give the plate a second soaking to see if the last bits will come out, but I think a few marks are charming on a piece that dates back to the early 1800's.

Here she is after her Sunday bath! ~

I've safely used denture tablets on transferware, crocks and porcelain.  It works really well on removing water/foliage marks from the inside of flower vases, too!  I suppose you could actually use it to clean dentures but how much fun would that be?

Don't pass up those badly marked ironstone pieces when you are out thrifting.  They can look almost as lovely as they did when they made their debut in England in 1813!

I'm sharing at these parties:  Monday FundayTweak It TuesdayMake It Pretty MondayA Return To LovlinessTransformed TuesdaysNifty Thrifty SundayClever Chicks Blog HopFrom Dream To RealityWow Us WednesdaysLink It Up Thursday What's It WednesdayFeathered Nest Friday

Saturday 9 February 2013

A Little Help From The Neighbours

Let's add my neighbours to my Valentine loves!

A big snow storm hit Ontario overnight.  I wouldn't agree with the forecasters in calling it the storm of the century, but I was greeted with this view this morning. ~

By noon it had reached 11 inches and 15 inches by the end of the day. ~

Slug through knee deep snow to reach the chicken coop.  Dig the gate out to open it.  Dig the doors out to open them.  The ladies are having nothing to do with coming outside in this! ~

It's time to do some serious shovelling!  I'd better clear off the car. ~

Seriously, Maureen, why bother?  Are you going anywhere on those roads?  ~

For you warm weather folks, this road has just been plowed an hour before.  It's noon and you can't even see the sun!

I'm working on the porch and stairs and one neighbour is coming with his snow blower to clear the sidewalk for me. ~

Another neighbour heads into my driveway with his snow blower! ~

And, he plows all the way to the chicken coop! ~

It's going to be a whole lot easier to reach the chickens tomorrow morning and I'm loving those two guys and their awesome machines!

My Valentine list just gets longer and longer!

I'm sharing my gratitude with: Gratitude Sunday 

Thursday 7 February 2013

Just When You Thought I Was Single

I've been keeping my man a secret.  He's just too gorgeous and I didn't want any of you to be jealous.  I admit to a bit of an obsession with him.  Okay, it's a lot of an obsession!

But, when some of the girls started this linky party. ~

I just knew I had to share him.  You've seen those Ryan Gosling pins, where he says all the things a girl wants to hear.  In this link up, we do the same with our own man.  Get ready to meet mine!

I love him when he looks like this! ~

He always is sooo concerned about my health and plies me with food day and night! ~

And this is how we spend all our evenings at home! ~

I know what you are saying.  He's just too good to be true!  Well he is true and he adores me and I'm never ever, ever letting him go!

To see some close seconds to my Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth head over to the hilarious link party HERE!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

They Know The Sound Of My Heart

It's not all about grandkids in my Valentine Lovefest.  The great loves of my life have always been my daughters.  Farm Girl and City Girl were a true delight to raise!  They weren't perfectly behaved ALL the time.  They occasionally fought with each other, broke the odd thing around the house and on more than one occasion mentioned hating me.  That usually revolved around me making them sit together on the couch when they were fighting.  I'd hear them whispering to each other about how mean I was and how much they hated me.  That effectively ended their dispute with each other and deflected it my way.  I was a big girl and I could take it!

Most of the time, they were sweet and loving, did well in school and never got into any serious trouble.  Not that I know of anyway!

A cloche is a cute way to show off my girls.  I took a picture of them as little girls, scanned it and sent it to Pic monkey.  How cute are they with their little purses!  They're on their way to their first wedding shower this day.  A few roses, hearts, a cupid and the frame were added. ~

This picture had been framed, under glass and some of the surface pulled away when I removed it.  This is a huge problem with photos from the 70's and eighties.  They stick to the plastic pages of those magnetic photo albums and  I now realise they stick to glass.  I'll have to clone the missing pieces to restore the photo.  I've also noticed that the same era photo fades quite badly.  All of mine were printed at reputable photo shops so I'm giving you a heads up on saving yours now.  I see some serious scanning in my near future!  Thankfully, I can clone the missing parts in Pic monkey.

On to the cloche.  On a base of red tulle, I put a sprinkling of diamonds to show how highly I value my girls. Baby identification bracelets and necklaces from the maternity ward go into the cloche. ~

This was such a simple way to have a little love reminder on a cabinet in the dining room! ~

Cottage Sign Shoppe, on Etsy, does a beautiful nursery sign that says it all for me. ~

You get to give your kids extra hugs and kisses this month!

Sunday 3 February 2013

There's A Whole Lot Of Loving Going On!

Frank Loesser must have been talking about you guys when he wrote those lyrics for Guys & Dolls.  You never cease to amaze me with your love and support, your creativity and knowledge and your honest desire to share ideas and techniques to make life a little (or a lot) nicer for us all!

I defy anyone to show me a closer or more tight knit community than the world of Bloggers.

On Friday afternoon I trudged back home, through deep snow, after babysitting a neighbours cat.  It was a horribly cold and grey day and the inspiration I'd been looking for was nowhere in sight.

But wait, what's that parcel sitting by my front door?  It's a pretty big box and I didn't order anything. Utah thinks the box is perfect, in and of itself! ~

It's come all the way from sunny Alabama and here's the dear lady who sent it. ~

You may know her as Miss Kopy Kat, the one with the great blog where she shows you how to get a high end look for a down low price.

Make your own faux coral?  She'll show you how! ~

Miss Kopy Kat

Dress your candles up with cute sweaters?  You don't need to knit for this one. ~

She's a busy lady who's an RN in a neo natal intensive care unit.  When she's not saving baby's lives, she dresses up a home with stunning beauty.  I've followed her for more than a year and she never disappoints in giving me the best copycats in blogland.

So, what was inside the box?  Remember that flow blue plate I broke on Christmas Eve?  Remember how awful I felt about breaking an antique and my very first piece of flow blue?  It was made in the town where my grandfather served his potters apprenticeship.  It dated somewhere between 1891 and 1900.  It was a  Non Pariel pattern in the scenic/romantic style and was Middleport china.  The village I live in is Middleport.

This was in the box! ~

It's the identical plate!  She hunted it down and shipped it all the way from Alabama to Canada! ~

I cried a teeny weeny bit to see my plate back.  I cried a whole lot more at the kindness and generosity of spirit that went to so much trouble to do this for me.  The original was just a plate I bought.  This one is a thoughtful gift from a friend and means so much more to me!

I wanted to save this story for Sunday evening so you could all have a feel good moment before you start into your busy week.

You'd be doing me a favour if you popped over to Miss Kopy Kat and made yourself one of the nicest friends you could ever hope to meet!

Thanks, Gayle.  Love ya!

I have to share this with My Happy List

Friday 1 February 2013

Love Is Everywhere

There was a time, oooo let's say about a decade ago, when I hated Valentine's Day.  In fact, it triggered a huge pity party with all it's jewellery store, perfume and roses ads.  The whole world was full of happy, smiling, oh so deeply in love couples and I wasn't one of them.

I was only four months into the divorce thing and quite convinced that no one suffered like I did.  I'm a firm believer that you are legally insane for the first twelve months of divorce and NOTHING CAN BE HELD AGAINST YOU from that time.

Fast forward a few years and I look forward to February and the chance to show everyone how much love is in my world!

I'm starting my decorating with some hand made Valentines for my grandkids.  If any of you are in need of unconditional love, I'll loan you these seven sweethearts for a day.  From the eldest, who promised to be my boyfriend forever and sent me a Valentine every year until he was in his teens, to the youngest who mail me drawings to hang on my fridge, they are love personified.

I took some scraps of dropcloth and dollar store tulle left over from Christmas decorating and set in to make a heart banner.  Each heart has a child's name and a cupid with bow and arrow.  I scanned a blank piece of paper and sent it to Picmonkey.  In Picmonkey I added the script and the cupids, inverted the images and printed it out on a laser printer.  A little rub with Citrosolv and I had customized fabric.  Click here to find out how to do the transfer.

The girl's hearts have a tulle tutu. ~

The boy's hearts have a zig zag stitch. ~

I frayed the edges of the fabric and added a tulle loop at the top of each heart.  Some twine from a hay bale was braided and used to hang the hearts. ~

One of the gifts I'm trying to give my grandkids is a clean and healthy world, so I wanted these Valentines to have some use after the holiday.  They are stuffed with lavender and can be hung in their closets or tucked in a drawer to deter moths.

For now, they hang on my chippy door.  A little closer to Valentine's day, I'll package them up and mail them off to the kids.  They love to get mail and the little ones love anything with their names on it.  Oh heck, don't we all! ~

Bring on the month of love!

Come on over to the parties at Saturday Nite SpecialSimply Creations Link PartyOld Time Party And GiveawayA Favorite thingSilver Pennies SundaysWildy Original Link PartyThat DIY PartyMore The Merrier Monday,Valentine's Day Link PartySunday's Best Par.tayCreative Bloggers' Party & HopMonday Funday Link PartyClever Chicks Blog HopMake It Pretty MondayThe Creative HomeAcre HopSalt Tree SocialKnick Of Time TuesdayNifty Thrifty TuesdayBudget Decorating PartyTransformed TuesdaysTweak It Tuesday