Thursday, 30 May 2013

Outdoor Curtains Tutorial

I've had quite a few questions about how I made the sheer curtains for my front porch.  These were so simple to do, a novice sewer wouldn't have any problems with it at all. ~

You could certainly use sheer curtains that you want to re purpose or were found in a thrift shop.  I bought new fabric and it cost me $40.  It wasn't such a large investment that I would freak out if they only lasted one season, but these have been used for four summers now.

I started by making a simple hem at the top and bottom of the fabric, joined fabric down the middle for the long side of the porch and hemmed down the outer sides.  It becomes a big, hemmed square of fabric. ~

To make life really simple, I'm going to Velcro these curtains to the wood valance on the porch.

This is the soft side of Velcro.  The kind I bought has draw strings through it that you can pull to make gathers.  How clever is that!  It's available at fabric stores. A simple line of stitching attached the soft sided Velcro to the top of the curtain panel. ~

You won't have any puckers in yours until you start pulling the strings.  Fabric has memory and mine refused to lie flat and forget that it spent four years in gathers, no matter how much I told it letting go was emotionally healthy.

Here's what it looks like at this stage on the front. ~

Start pulling on the strings and form your gathers.  ~

Keep pulling and adjusting the gathers across the top until you have the degree of fullness you want. ~

This amount of gathering allows this much view. ~

Because the porch is in shadows, I'm not visible from the street while being able to see out quite clearly.

Tie off the ends of your strings and trim them.  I left extra string on one side of each panel in case I wanted to change the amount of gathering at some point.  ~

To attach the hard side of the Velcro to the wooden porch valance, I used a staple gun.  Actually, I used No More Nails first, even though it said not for use outdoors.  They weren't kidding about that.  It didn't work.  But, a staple gun was quick and simple and did the job just fine. ~

The hard (or nylon) side of the Velcro stays up permanently and is impervious to weather. Make sure the fabric store has sold you both the hard and soft sides of the Velcro.  It's sold separately. ~

I know I should have washed the aluminum before I took the shot but it's really hot here today and you'd be waiting a long time for this tutorial if everything has to be spic and span clean!

The one thing I will change when the time comes to make new curtains, is have each side separated into several panels so they are easy to tie back when it is windy.  Those sheers billowing across the porch make Maeve crazy trying to bat at them from the window! ~

For a $40 investment and about an hour of time I've created a lovely and private spot for sitting.  The sheers, soft Velcro and all, go right in the washer and dryer when they need a touch up.  Mine only need to be washed at the end of the season before packing them away.

By early evening, the porch becomes a magical retreat;  my secret reading nook! ~

I'm sharing with:  What's It WednesdayMake Bake Create PartyHome

Monday, 27 May 2013

Old Fashioned Summer Porch

It's time to dress up the front porch for summer.  Here in southern Ontario, we are still dealing with wildly fluctuating temperatures and frost through the night but I simply can't wait any longer!

My sister was doing some refurnishing and asked if I wanted her vintage wicker furniture.  Do I? Oh, yeah.  You have to understand, Lynn and I have passed household items back and forth so many times that we honestly can't remember who they originally belonged to!

Let's start building a setting around the old door from my parent's general store, that I salvaged from the dumpster.  Eat you heart out all you rusted hardware and chippy paint lovers! ~

Love this 7 Up couple telling me to pull! ~

The other side of the door says to ... wait for it ... push! ~

Up go the sheer curtains. They cut the glare from the afternoon sun on the west side of the porch. ~

From the shade of the porch I can see everything outside and no one can see me.  Total privacy!  ~

There's a wicker plant stand that comes with this set and a full size couch if I can figure out some way to squeeze it in there.  My poor fern, that barely survived the winter in the house, is getting a second chance at life and my shamrock looks forward to it's move out to the porch every summer. A bit of colour with some silk flowers and driftwood fill out the planter. ~

The vintage basket came from my Auntie Kay and always held dollies that my girls played with when they visited her.  The crock and folding camp chair are auction finds.  A $3.99 thrift store mirror hangs happily above the plant stand.  I gave this mirror a paint treatment to give it an aged look last year.  To see how it's done click here.

The farm egg sign I painted last year has moved back outside and sits on an old, wooden cheese box my neighbour gave me when he moved away.  ~

The best part of setting the porch up for summer was having help from a cherished friend.  We've been through a lot together over the last decade and nothing is dearer than a friend who has seen you at your best and  worst and stays true blue! ~

So here we will sit, sip lemonade or wine and watch the world go by! ~

Come on summer, I'm ready for you!

I'm sharing this with:  Budget Decorating PartyTweak It TuesdayA Favorite ThingFlaunt It Friday 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Queen Victoria & Family Life

The 24th of May is Queen Victoria's birthday and last weekend was the Canadian long weekend to celebrate.

As I pulled my Union Jack pennant banner out of storage and strung it along the porch ~

I got thinking about how much influence Queen Victoria had on family life, as we know it today.  Her 64 year reign saw the emergence of the middle class and a whole new set of values.  Home and family was raised to a level of importance never before experienced by western societies.

Victoria and her beloved Albert seemed the embodiment of all the values the middle class held dear.  She was obviously and unabashedly in love with her prince. ~

A little research shows Victoria wasn't quite as enamoured of the children but the couple did spend more time with theirs than was usual with monarchs.  ~

Portraits of a relaxed and loving royal family made children lolling about on the furniture seem adorable and entirely to be desired.

How many Christmas cards we receive each year are somehow based on this image of Victoria and Albert's Christmas portrait? ~

The one that really breaks me up is this one! ~

What could be more homey than a couple and their hunting dogs?  All those dead birds lying around and that cute, little baby playing with a dead duck is beyond adorable!  I think she's making the dead duck talk to the other dead birds. "Is that blood on your tummy White Bird.  You have a boo boo.  Let me kiss it better.". Can you tell I'm laughing my fool head off?

I think I'll pay homage to Victorian style by recreating this painting next time Baby comes to visit.  Any chickens that pass on to the great coop in the sky are being frozen to use as toys!

Sorry, I just couldn't carry on with my original serious post when I saw that painting!  I'm still laughing.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Playing With The Stars & Stripes

My daughter, City Girl, has been missing her beloved Brooklyn.  Her husband has dual citizenship and can work on both sides of the border but City Girl can only be there for a few months at a time on a visitor visa. She's back home in Canada right now and pining for the city she fell in love with when she was 11 yrs. old.

City Girl calls her decorating style 70's meets Zen so I thought it would be fun to take a $1, plastic lazy Susan and give it 70's Op Art style.

Andy Warhol would have done it like this. ~

I'm going to stick the good, old red, white and blue.

Because this was plastic and kind of shiny on the top ~

and some kind of composite material on the bottom ~

I gave it a coat of primer to make sure the paint would stick.

I gave the whole thing a coat of soft white.  I'm going for a hippie poster look here and most of this is done free hand. I did pencil in the funky stars to get an idea of sizes and placement.

Painting around those stars got mighty tedious.  The Union Jack and the Stars & Stripes are the nicest flags out there but they are murder to recreate!  The top got a coat of spray, acrylic sealer.  This is for the kitchen table and will need to be somewhat washable.

Here she is all done. ~

Maybe you need to be smoking some wacky tobaccy to appreciate this.  City Girl liked it and she looked perfectly straight to me.

I swear this is my last flag unless it's French. Theirs is just a bunch of stripes!

I'm sharing this with:  Funky Junks Party Junk  Clever Chicks Blog Hop  Inspire Me Monday  Transformed Tuesday  Knick Of Time Tuesday Rustic Restorations Weekend  Thrifty Things Friday  Feathered Nest Friday  A Favorite Thing  Anything Blue Friday  Flaunt It Friday  A Peek Into My Paradise

Monday, 13 May 2013

He's A Good Old Cat!

City Girl brought her husband and Baby with her for our Mother's Day visit this weekend.

Baby's eyes lit up when she saw old Utah taking his afternoon catnap. ~

Utah belonged to my daughter, City Girl, until she became engaged to marry someone allergic to pet hair. So, the old cat moved to the country where he has happily resided for the past six years.  We know he is over 20 yrs. old and he pretty much gets to do whatever he wants in his golden years.

One of the nicest things about this old boy is his patience with children.  Baby is fascinated with animals and City Girl doesn't want her to be nervous around them just because they can't have any in their home.

Utah lets Baby explore his tail. ~

They have a little talk to get to know each other better. ~

A little pat on the head after a talk about treating old cats gently. ~

Look each other over very carefully. ~

Mommy says he likes a tummy rub.  Very gingerly give it a try. ~

We're cool! ~

I love your kitty Mommy! ~

Next stop was the chicken coop where those cute, silver party shoes got covered in poop.  Should have stuck to the cat!

Friday, 10 May 2013

I Can't Believe They Want Jell-O!

Mrs. Patmore here, from Downton Abbey.  As head of all the cookery at The Abbey, I'm quite accustomed to preparing twelve course meals for the lords and ladies upstairs and keeping the huge staff, this place requires, fed well enough to handle the long days and hard labour every one of us downstairs puts in.

Daisy and I can turn out souffles, pheasants, wedding cakes and trifles with never a bit of your modern day appliances!  There's nothing wrong with using a little elbow grease and a whisk, let me tell you.  Idle hands are prime for the devils work, I say.

So you can imagine my horror when the craze for this latest food hit the gentry!  Nobody was interested when Peter Cooper filed his patent in 1845.  It was sold several times and still no interest.  But, this is 1923 and a slick advertising campaign and a couple of fancy, French chefs in London have made this haute cuisine.

What is the world of the upper classes coming to! ~

The dowager duchess, Lady Violet, is said to take hers in a crystal footed bowl, on a Coalport Indian Tree under plate. She won't have it dressed up with any more than a little dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of fine sugar on the rim of the bowl. ~

I'll be doing a bit more than that for Lord Grantham's dinner!  My poor pudding mould is reduced to setting powdered crystals and water. ~

Turn it out on the Waterford crystal tray, Daisy, and don't be slow about it.  Since Lady Sybil's shenanigans with the Irish chauffeur, I'm afraid Lord Grantham isn't as fond of this Irish crystal as he once was. ~

But, it is pretty with the colour reflected in the prisms and the whipped cream roses and blueberries give a bit of the good, old Union Jack colours.

I'd better up the ice delivery if I'm to include this concoction with every meal. ~ 

Those bells never stop ringing ~

and, now Danni at Silo Hill Farm has shown you all how to make your own Downton Abbey service bells, there will be no peace for Daisy and I! ~

Thank heavens they haven't invented powdered whipped cream or Daisy and I would be out of a job!

I'll be joining the other Downton Abbey fans at A Return To Loveliness.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A Country Kind Of Day

I was feeling a little more country than rock and roll today, as I was tilling the garden and planting peas.

What could be more country than some blueberry pocket pies cooling on the windowsill? ~

I wonder how many pies have sat on that sill in the 200 years this house has been here.  This is the original farmhouse for the entire county.  Those early cooks will have baked theirs in the hearth.  Did they wrap the pies in cloth to be eaten at break time? After pulling stumps and urging the horse to pull the plow through the soil, it must have been wonderful to rest a bit and pull that pie out a pocket for a pick me up.

Eventually our cooks would have looked out on the little Anglican church, built by the men in the growing community.

My method won't be much different from our early bakers.  The pastry is made from scratch and the blueberries came from a local, organic farm.  A little extra flour added to the berries makes the filling less runny and easier to take to the fields.  A sprinkle of sugar on top would certainly have been a luxury 200 years ago.

I needed a break from my own pioneer style work today.  I've been busy breaking up and hauling away a huge old stump.  It has finally rotted enough for me to start the next phase of the back yard reno.  I've scoured the property for rocks to begin terracing the hill beside the patio.  ~

I wouldn't mind having that good, old horse to help me with my work, right about now!