Monday, June 30, 2008

Canadian Pride...Happy Canada Day!!

By sheer good luck, we ended up in Canada when we emigrated from Northern Ireland over thirty years ago. It could have been Australia or South Africa, but Canada accepted us first. I will never forget stepping off the airplane in Moncton, New Brunswick and having a small Canadian flag thrust into my hand by a virtual stranger - albeit a kindly aunt - and despite being so young, I was struck by the enormity of change I felt encroaching upon my insulated, young world. I remember little else of the actual journey to a foreign country, but I remember quite a bit about those early days when all seemed confusing and strange. I remember smells distinctly, and June bugs; and my unaccustomed immune system reacted badly to all the mosquito bites.
I didn't like the early days at all...I longed to be in our own home, and not staying with family I knew little of. I wanted a sense of normalcy, and I happily found it when we finally settled in Saint John, New Brunswick where I grew to adulthood and my family still resides.
This country is breathtaking in its beauty, and the freedoms afforded us are ones I don't take for granted. Nowhere is completely safe, but I feel as protected in this place I live as I could ever hope to be.
I am proud to call this country home...

Design 101

Hooray for the red, white and blue!
I've been decorating for the fourth of July holiday.
I thought I'd share some of my design philosophy with you. (Doesn't that statement make me seem important and very knowledgeable? Hee! Hee!) In the last few years I've tried to incorporate two tricks into my displays. The first is to "go big". It's better to spend your hard earned cash on one big item that will have a lot of impact, than on a lot of small items that can appear as clutter. This was a hard one for me to learn because I literally like to get the most for my money. I want to show a lot for what I've spent. But I've learned that if I buy something big, it will fill up the room, catch my eye, and make me smile, much faster than a bunch of smaller decorations.
The second trick is to layer your design. An extra layer gives the display more dimension and depth. Store displays always use the layering technique. Layering finishes the display---you don't wonder if there should be something more. But, beware not to add so many layers that the display appears too busy. You need to know just when to stop.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me show you how to incorporate these techniques:
This over sized flag really makes a statement
on it's own.
Adding another layer with the candle light and stars
the display look finished,
and now it really "pops" (4th of July pun).
The large letters and flags look great. . .
but with the addition of stars and vine balls,
the display appears more finished.

The stars repeat the colors in the flags and
the vine balls repeat the black in the letters and candles.
And everyone knows that good design repeats itself.

Okay, the design philosophy lesson has concluded.
Now, your homework is to go try these tricks
in your home.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Best of Design Inc.

Sarah Richardson (in white), and her team of designers.

For those of you who are unfamiliar (gasp!) with Sarah Richardson and her talented team on the hit HGTV series, Design Inc., I thought I`d give you a Cole`s Notes version of the unparalleled talent that Ms. Richardson possesses. I remember fantasizing once, that if I was ever to win the lottery, I`d pay Sarah to be part of her team (unpaid, of course) and intern with her and her crew. Just imagine what you`d learn under the tutelage of someone like her! The only thing that would beat that in my opinion, is to work with Matthew Mead. Oh, and if you aren`t sure who he is, well...just plug his name into my blog search and you`ll be barraged with heaps of posts about him. Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows I`m not kidding! Right??

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Here is a sampling of the best of Design Inc. and the my opinion, at least:
Best laundry room:

Best commercial space (and use of chandeliers): Mr. GreenJeans...Toronto, OntarioBest use of "white", in all its shades:Best use of colour in a room:paint colour above plate rail: Teresa`s Green: Farrow and Ball

paint colour below picture rail: Cooking Apple Green: Farrow and Ball

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Designing Woman?

Well, I think I've just heard it all. I opened up my Saturday newspaper to the lifestyles section and saw the latest celebrity indulgence announced: Cindy Crawford has just brought her furniture line to Canada via The Brick. Now, perhaps I have been under a rock, but Cindy Crawford is a furniture designer?? Blecch!! Sure, she is beautiful, a great model, and a savvy business woman (with her own skin care line and exercise videos, among other endeavours), but come on...she suddenly knows enough to design furniture?? I think not. I was okay with her attaching her name to a variety of child related accessories and furniture, because she obviously has experience as a mother (she actually really gained my admiration after birthing both her chidren at home). But this endeavour leaves me cold.

Cindy's kid's furniture line...

Why don't we just call it as it is. Cindy obviously has a team of real furniture designers and thus we should refrain from deeming her an actual furniture designer. Apparently, she "plays an active role in suggesting and approving designs". According to Cindy, taking the leap from model to designer was, "...not a natural jump. Obviously everybody has a home and I've always spent time decorating mine -- especially when you travel a lot, your home is really your refuge. And a couple of my homes had been photographed for Architectural Digest over the years," she explains. Yeah, yeah...and there was no interior designer behind those homes?
I know I sound cranky, but I am growing weary of overpaid and over-valued celebrities being paid exhorbitant amounts of money to lend their name to everyday products. Sure, it is the nature of the beast; but aren't we getting tired of lining these people's pockets, when they are largely just figure heads? Isn't it enough that we pay to go see their movies or purchase the magazines they are featured in? Honestly, there is a difference between Martha Stewart developing a furniture line and Cindy Crawford. In my opinion, this reeks of the Kathie Lee Gifford clothing debacle of the nineties... What is your take on celebrities being dubbed "Jacks of all trades"?? Does their endorsement "up" the desirability level in your eyes of certain products??

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Splendour of Summer Florals

I recently bought a large quantity of textiles and have been slowly sorting through them. There are all sorts of wonderful old linens and barkcloths and some super patterns. A few of them have been added to the Vintage Home website and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you. Those shown here are all English fabrics as I am yet to sort through the French ones! Above, is a close-up of a bold and beautiful barkcloth door curtain.
This is a close-up of a stunning floral linen fabric, with a gorgeous blue background.

How about this for a cheerful fabric? This is a large piece of a boldly patterned 60s towelling - perfect for a retro bathroom!
This is quite stunning; a 1940s printed linen, covered in a wealth of pretty Spring flowers.

We were really lucky to get hold of some pretty eiderdowns - alas, they had seen better days so we re-used the fabric and made lots of patchwork cushions, these look lovely layered on a bed or garden bench.

These sweet trailing roses are a delight...

This is one of my favourites; cameos with tulips and pretty paisleys.

Briar roses, trailing roses and paisleys.

As well as sorting the textiles, I have a few projects on the go; I am re-upholstering a large footstool and re-vamping an old cupboard. Then there are 'new' curtains to be made for the living room (from old fabric naturally!) and a very 'vintage' tandem (a recent quirky buy!) which needs some tlc - photos will follow soon!

Enjoy the rest of your week and the coming weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A "Summer's Here" Pool Party...

Summer pool parties...what could be more fun? Throw in some grilled hotdogs, fruit punch, crunchy potato chips, and a yummy ice cream dessert, and you have all the fixings to ensure your pool party is a hit with the younger crowd! As I did last summer, I hosted an "end of school" pool party for Sophie and a few of her school mates. I vowed to keep it easy and stress-free (for me), and kept the food simple and the guest list small. I had picked up some great party suppplies a while back at a dollar store in a neighbouring community, and the pink flamingo theme inspired me to have another pool party to kick-start summer.

Sophie licking her lips at the thoughts of that first bite...

Using pretty flip-flop invitations (Sophie loves delivering invitations!), we set about planning the party the night before. I thawed some frozen punch and took another trip to the Dollar Store to get the supplies I needed to make these pretty flower pot ice-cream cakes. I saw the idea on The Pioneer Woman's website, and decided to give them a try. If you want the recipe, click on the link and it will take you there. Basically, it involves cutting out poundcake using a circular cookie cutter, placing said pound cake in the bottom of each pot:...spooning in some softened ice-cream (I used French Vanilla), then a couple of gummy worms, some more ice-cream, and...this is the important part...placing a straw down through the layers (centered, of course). Then freeze over night, and in the morning spoon some Oreo cookie crumbs over the top for the "dirt". To finish, trim the straws to "soil" level, place a flower (real or faux) into the straw and voila! Perfect, ice-creamy, easy individual desserts that every child will love!

Love them they did...once I was able to convince then that the dirt wasn't real! So... lots of swimming, junk food, and a pretty dessert is all it takes to plan and execute a great party for little girls!! A good time was had by all!

Next up: my son's pool party for the very same reason!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marvelous mudroom lockers!

I just had to do it. Considering it is one of the top google searches that lead new people to my blog - running head to head with those googling Matthew Mead, robin's egg blue, and re-doing campers - I felt it was time to deliver some more photos of mudroom lockers. It goes without saying I have shown my own mudroom locker photos more than enough. Still, for those who are new to my blog, I dutifully offer them up again:

...made by my hubby!

I love the functionality of those lockers more than it is reasonable to love any inanimate object. But, with three busy kids and a husband who works in the woods (read: muddy work boots and jackets humming of the essence of wild raisin - sooo not nice), I really need the containment of disorder that my serviceable mudroom offers me. With easy to reach hooks and baskets, things actually get hung up and placed in their rightful home.

For those of you dreaming of adding mudroom lockers to your own home, by all means go ahead and take the plunge if at all possible. You will never regret it; and you, too, can join the leagues of homeowners seeking "a place for everything, and everything in its place!" Take inspiration from the following photos, and enlist a handy person in your life (perhaps it's you!), and just do it!!

The following are all photos from Better Homes and :

Well, there you have it. If you can't find a style of locker here that you like, perhaps you are seeking the traditional metal lockers of our youth. Try scouting around your local schools for cast-offs, and certainly attend any sales that feature discards from school closures and/or tear downs. Your local flea markets might yield some vintage varieties as well, so put your feelers out! I will also feature some great photos soon of alternative ways to carve out a mudroom space... without actually having to build a whole new home! Yep, just call me your ``go to gal`` for mudroom ideas and inspiration!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh happy day!!

Monday was a good day.

A very good day...

And not for any big reason. Just a whole lot of little ones.

It is hot. Finally! which means one thing: my pool is finally going to heat up a bit!! We do not have a pool heater (too expensive), and I do not have it in me to wrestle with a solar blanket at the end of the day. So, heat is good.

I went to Halifax. Halifax is our nearest big city. Not only did I get to go, but I went with one of my dearest friends, who makes me laugh out loud more than I can count. A comfy ride, good laughs, a perfect cup of coffee, and life is good.

We shopped. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to put the life back in me and give me that dose of kryptonite that only a good day's shopping can bring!!

Bargains aplenty...$10 bathing suits for Sophie at Old Navy (when you have a pool and a little girl, you need a lot of bathing suits!). I also got a few little things for the money pit/play house. I found the most adorable birdhouse that looks old and quirky and it made my heart sing when I laid eyes on it!

My kids. I especially enjoyed them today. The main reason for going to Halifax was to keep an extra eye on my son while he swam during his class trip. Water slides and deep water require a mother's extra attention. Later, he told me he was glad I came...not embarrassed like some of the other kids whose mums were also there.

Girl time. Sophie and I went with a good friend and her daughters to see the graduating high school kids in their prom attire. They call it the "Grand March", and it was so much fun to see all the beautiful dresses and kids. It brought back memories of my own prom. I hope those kids enjoy the lives that are stretched out in front of them. If they only knew how quickly time will pass. On a funny note, I was surprised at how little the dresses have changed since my own graduation! Indeed. my 20 year high-school reunion is coming up this summer. I am not going. Strangely enough, as sentimental as I am, I don't look back. Reunions mean very little to me...
Our air conditioner. My over-worked hubby was making noises about not being able to get around to installing it until the weekend. Well, that wouldn't do. Everyone knows I am as unbearable as the heat when I get too hot. I don't like to sweat. Period. It's gross. So, like any impatient woman would do, I wrestled that 4oo lb (or so it seemed) air conditioner into the window myself! Well, that's a bit of a lie, of course. At the last moment, before I dropped the stupid/wonderful thing on the floor, my husband swept in and saved the day, my back, and the floor! Men...who needs them!?!

Ice cream and McDonald french fries. Yep, I ate both today. My shopping trips don't typically allow much time for leisurely lunches. Hot summer nights watching pretty,young, thin girls parade by you in beautiful dresses leads to deep sighs of self-pity; and ice cream seems like an ironic, yet somehow fitting, remedy. Which brings me to the end of all the goodness. I guess I had better run a good distance tomorrow. As if that will make any difference...!

Patio Project Pictures

I'm happy with my patio makeover.
It's been a fun project.

All it took was spray paint, thrift store finds, and
a few quick building projects to make such
wonderful transformation!
The reds and yellows really brighten up the area.
It's a cheerful, comfortable place to relax and enjoy.

We've eaten out here more this summer than several summers combined (there's the remnants of the burnt dinner left on the wall behind the grill as proof).
We have enough comfortable places
for the entire family to sit.

I used my unfinished projects to create
a privacy screen.

Our new table adds the perfect touch.

I'm looking forward to making
many happy memories out here.

One Last A-door-nment

After an entire week of posting bits and pieces of my backyard patio, you would think that I would finally show the finished project. That was the plan. However, my plans tend to change and include some additions. I decide to do "just one more thing." I had a contractor call it the "since you was up" syndrome---you know how when you get off the couch and someone says, "since you was up, can you do that too?"
On Saturday I was doing some rearranging and decided that I needed one more outdoor surface to decorate, but it also had to be functional. I went into the garage to look at my inventory. I came out with an old door (doesn't everyone have an inventory of old doors?), pre-painted stair balusters, leftover crown moulding, and a few pieces of lumber. Then I enlisted the help of my husband, who fortunately, was very willing to cooperate. He's such a good man!
We made a frame and attached the balusters.
We cut down the door to the right size
and nailed it onto the frame work.
We nailed the crown molding on flat against the frame.
I painted and distressed the door and molding.
And this is the finished project:
A tall sofa table/sideboard.
I promise that tomorrow I'll be ready
to show the finished porch project. . .maybe.