Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Night.........................

Have a spooky evening!!!
The candy treats will be here on the front porch....
come on over if you're brave enough!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Hallows Eve is coming..............................

I took the liberty of having a little fun with one of the 
photos I took of the old country house last weekend.....
turning it into my version of a 'haunted house'.
We are readying for Halloween here at the haunted 
cottage ........hopefully tomorrow
little goblins will be showing up for candy treats.

Click to enlarge for more detail. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Farmhouse floors.......................

The day dawned and I got a little nervous about my dream floor when the guys came so late to start the installation.......was it going to be a rush job because they were behind? Bob was upset.....waiting around when all and sundry has collapsed around you is not easy. Everyday life was piled upstairs, downstairs, on the beds, in the spare room, guest room, on the deck and porch. The potting shed was locked up with semi-valuables stripped from walls.......and we were relegated to hours in the gazebo, unable to get into kitchen to even make a cuppa - bad planning on our part. The painted armoire slid in there ahead of us, followed by the sofa and several other items. We were ousted from domesticity, all the while listening to banging, scraping, sawing, wondering if our little cottage would survive or collapse in a heap to the strains of hearty Spanish love songs performed along with the radio by three smiling, hard-working men. I always feel good and know a job is proceeding well when workmen sing or whistle, don't you?

The good - the sun stayed out and the temperature reached 72F making the gazebo would have been better though with a nice cup of tea at 4 o'clock. I did complete my new address book, and Bob read his huge backlog of magazines that had stood next to his ratty old chair for almost three years! His prize, a handsome new leather recliner will be delivered later this week, my early Christmas gift....for the next ten years!

It's after 5 o'clock now, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.....I'm peering in through my own windows like a would-be burglar trying to see if I have a 'farmhouse' floor instead of the squishy, dusty beige carpet now bundled up on the driveway waiting to be hauled off. I think it's going well......tomorrow, when another dawn arrives I'll know for sure. This evening, once alone, we'll eat, drink, fall into bed, and think about all the cleaning ahead tomorrow, the next day, and definitely another after that.

Later: I love it - they did a super job and cleaned up well. Mike, the company owner, stopped by and sat in the gazebo with us - we were embarrassed we couldn't offer him a drink as the sun went down, the kitchen was still off-limits! He's lovely, and coming back tomorrow with a special floor cleaning package.  

Oh yes, the bad? Quite honestly, I don't see any tonight - will double check in the light of dawn tomorrow.  
Nighty night.

Insanity and Armoires!

Armoire before its state of undress - papered in old 
French pages from an 1800's book.

Today, hopefully, the flooring guys will arrive. They just called to say they have to finish yesterday's installation first so won't show here up until noon! It's a dry, cool day, OK for hefting furniture outside, perhaps even sitting in the gazebo and doing something constructive while they work.............I could fill in the new waiting (for two years!) address book, start on Christmas cards, catch up on back magazines, or even blog.........anything will be better than sitting here inside looking at my now totally empty of decoration home! But actually in a way I like it this way too. It's a clean slate awaiting lovely floors, followed by a good deep clean, and then the decorative layer can be reinstalled in a fresh way.....and soon the holiday decorations added. Like moving but not moving...........I haven't moved in so long I've forgotten what that's like, but hope I never have to do it again. 

So, after yesterday's packing up everything - and let me tell you 'everything' was a awful lot of stuff - what did I decide to do at noon?  Well, with the old pine armoire emptied of shelves, books, china, glassware, ancient bottles of things we no longer imbibe in, more glasses, and what appeared to be 50 lbs. of English tea stashed in case I never get back there, which is highly unlikely...............I painted.

The pine armoire. Love it, hate the color. 
As you can see we have stained woodwork - Bob's 'baby' 
which I've agreed to let him love forever as long as I 
have carte blanche with everything else!

The lovely can of Annie Sloane's Chalk Paint in Paris Grey was hiding in the corner on that lower shelf - it has been waiting there for well over a year. With sliders it was so easy to move this behemoth away from the walls and make the most of the day. Another plus, a huge one for me, my arms and hands are still pain-free due to the recent shots, so everything was in perfect alignment for the makeover. Bob thought I'd lost my marbles starting a big job the day prior to putting in floors - I thought it the perfect time as it didn't matter if I dripped paint on the carpet, hey I could even trip over the entire can and IT WOULD NOT MATTER! I could even drink red wine and spill it if I wanted.......of course I didn't do that but was tempted later!

On the way to loveliness.  Second coat applied and not quite dry so looks a bit blotchy. I do not want a rustic look or a factory finish paint job, more a full coverage (and how well ASCP covers) which I have lightly distressed to simulate wear and patina on the's getting there.

Paint still drying last evening - I put another light coat on upper doors after sanding a few paint drips. This morning it looks fabulous and I'll be sealing and finishing with Annie Sloane's clear wax in a few days time when I can put my lamps back in the room for more light - we have no sun in this room as it faces north into the back garden.

What do you think? I know many of you do not paint your natural or stained wood pieces which is fine......I will probably never paint my pine farm table. As my cottage is small and needs a lighter look, my larger pieces are now just about all painted and my upholstered furniture slip-covered in cream or white. I do not really do 'shabby chic' any longer, more an eclectic mix of French/Nordic. 

OK I'm off now...........hopefully when I return here I will have more to show you and will be jumping with joy ON my 'farmhouse floors'. Keep your fingers crossed please.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vienna - then on to Prague..............

Throw on a pair of comfy shoes or boots and take a 
little walk with me around the beautiful Austrian 
city of Vienna.

As always, click photos to see lovely architectural details etc.

Vienna's Shops......offering everything you could want, or need, 
if you had plenty of spare Euros....and an empty suitcase!

The Vienna State Opera House.

We enjoyed our short stay in Vienna. Despite mostly cloudy 
skies, some of my images are still interesting. 
It seemed there were immense buildings - many palaces, 
at every turn, exquisite statuary and plenty of elegant 
Cleanliness was definitely noticeable......the only 
'graffiti' being perhaps on the roof of the cathedral!

Yes, not the best weather, misty and damp, 
but we still traipsed around the streets, 
overwhelmed by the huge buildings and 
throngs of people....and managed to get lost.
Our full day was a Monday and we were unable to 
view the famous Lipizzaner Stallions on that day 
which was disappointing. These royal horses 
perform at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Reminders of the great Mozart were abundant.....and
having watched the movie Amadeus just before coming 
to Vienna, we enjoyed seeing him around every corner 
on flags and chocolate boxes!

Soon it was time to leave this special city and head 
for the Czech Republic - but we opted for the comfy train 
over a good looking Viennese scooter!

The trains in Central Europe run on time........
in fact across most of Europe trains and other 
modes of public transport seem to be able to keep 
to a scheduled timetable, unlike here in the USA.

They were economical, quite comfortable even in second class. 
Toilets were gigantic and clean, with plenty of paper 
goods and safety handles. 
Our first train from Budapest to Vienna was fine, a large open coach with a table between us shared with another couple. The Vienna to Prague coach was a compartment which could be closed off from the corridor - shades of the Orient Express without the glamorous bits - and we shared with four delightful young Chinese ladies on their first European adventure. Two were sisters - both engineers, the other two had equally good jobs. One sister was married, the others still single. They all spoke quite good English and we enjoyed their company.

More coming on beautiful Prague soon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Country Homes....................

We decided, as the day was perfect yesterday, to take a country ride to celebrate my birthday. Perhaps look for pretty things to photograph in the clear sunshine and cool light breeze.....hoping to find trees changing color - not many were - and bucolic scenes of North Carolina's farms and barns.

We weren't house-hunting but we were wondering about the history of this beauty......left with it's crumbling wood and peeling paint, not so old icicle lights still dangling from the pretty porch. 
Oh my, the stories hidden in those walls, behind the slamming storm doors on Summer days, through wood smoke twirling from the double chimneys through the Winter months. Who made their country home here? Where did they go? If only I could have peeked inside.

...........and me, turning seventy here in the countryside.
Enjoying a simple day, enjoying all the good wishes you, 
my dear readers, left in comments, and thankful for 
my Bob who brakes and continues to make U-turns when 
I yell out........ "please STOP, I want to take a photograph".

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let's celebrate quietly............

It's nothing that important. It's just another birthday. 
Just an October day on the calendar. My mother was happy - 
she wanted a child very much. She had me on this day. 
My only sibling, my dear brother, came along eight 
long years later.
I was away on distant oceans for my last two birthdays - first 
sailing between the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand and
Australia, then last year crossing the Adriatic Sea from 
Venice, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
This year I'm right here in my own back garden and, 
although not as exciting as adventuring on the high seas, 
it feels good to be at home with DH, family, good friends, 
and neighbors close by.

All birthdays make one stop and think a bit...reminisce...recall others such as the fun ones of childhood with cakes, candles, wishes and games. Being Autumn and usually wet in England, neighbor kids sloshed through soggy fallen leaves up the garden path, in wellies and mackintoshes, leaving them dripping at the back door. Everyday clothes, no party dresses. The typical English games were played, musical chairs and such. No fancy smancy parties in rented hotel ballrooms with girls in frilly dresses, embarrassed boys in suits, as some of my wealthier little friends had. Mine were always at our small bungalow with a few best friends crammed around the dining room table. We tucked into dainty cucumber, cheese and watercress finger sandwiches, made on thinly sliced Hovis brown bread, and white bread that was healthy in those days, and as always for party fare, the crusts were trimmed off and the garden birds shared the celebration. Colorful bowls of wobbly jelly and cream (jello here in the US), and Mum's beautiful home baked birthday cake, iced fresh that morning, and decorated with the correct number of candles, followed later.

Turning fifty was a big one, a half century and all that silly girlfriend stuff. Black balloons delivered to my office, a few drinks after work with co-workers who all seemed so much younger, and the feeling one was now well on the way to life as a senior citizen. Sixty, a little more traumatic, you actually were a senior citizen, with the AARP sending mountains of mail to your mailbox, driver's license renewal rules changing, plucking grey hairs, chin hairs......wondering why there seemed to be new wrinkles every morning in the mirror, and your eyes still looking tired after eight hours of rest.

But this one is monumental by comparison. Three score years and ten. Seventy sounds really old..........but old is better than the alternative! I can't believe I've reached this number but I'm certainly grateful that I have. There have been ups and downs along the way, issues such as most of us deal with in our younger years, some serious health problems to battle and survive, but so many wonderful things - far too many to even list here, but I assure you they happened and they still do.

So bring on 70 - there I've said it! Happy 70th birthday to me. I'm going to grasp it close and enjoy each day of my new seventies decade.............after all it's a long ten years 'til eighty and I'm not even going there today!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Footsteps back in time....................................

Always changing...........

.......but always the same.

When I look about my small home - usually described 
here as 'my cottage' - I'm very happy for the most part.
Of course it's not a true cottage like those I grew up
around in England, just a comfy, compact house that works 
for the two of us. We are doing our best to stay here
while many our age are moving on to condos and such...and 
in truth we sometimes consider doing the same.
We love having the garden, although we gripe about the
work it brings - yes the annual trillion Autumn leaves are 
starting to fall, the rakes are ready - and we have
enough rooms and storage, if we're tidy and the mister 
stops hoarding! Our bedroom is downstairs - that 
bathroom now has a walk-in shower which makes life 
easier, and safer, for the coming years.

The decor? Nothing is posh or over the top, it's more just 
an eclectic collection of things I love, little treasures
which speak to me in some way....have followed me home 
from near and far. I've never used a decorator, but always 
enjoyed input from special friends with 
whom I've scoured antiques malls, thrift and vintage 
shops - you special gals know who you are. When visiting 
England and France I've searched for small treasures 
such as linens, antique books, silver items which
fit in my suitcase - or can be packed in a little box 
and mailed later by family members. 

So, what am I up to now with no distant travels on the 
horizon and time to address home issues?
My floors have become bothersome, especially downstairs
where most of the traffic flows. Sadly our '80's home was 
not constructed with beautiful hardwood flooring. Under
the fitted carpeting are just plywood boards. We've 
re-carpeted a couple of times but are loathe to do it 
again. Keeping up carpet, even with annual professional 
cleaning, is a miserable job, and becomes physically 
painful as one ages and has problems pushing a vacuum 
cleaner - I've learned this over the past year as I 
 deal with polymyalgia rheumatica. 

Next week I hope to have floors I love (sample board above)
and can clean more easily, in my entry, dining and living 
rooms! These pics below are the look I'm going for - 
farmhouse, cottage, rustic, textured, not precious or formal.  

Wish me luck please.......hope it will be a project 
I'll enjoy sharing with you following the upheaval.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Santos dolls and cottage floors.............

The Antique Tobacco Barn in Asheville, North Carolina has a great number of fabulous Santos dolls each waiting to find a home. They are reproductions, but usually hand carved and hand painted, and ranging in price from around $95 - $250. Original antique Santos figures can top several thousands of dollars and are hard to find. Go HERE to learn more of the history and to find dolls to purchase.

I've had the Santos cage doll (left) for a few years. For the holidays later in the year she displays a beautiful pair of golden wings. The articulated Santos mannequin, also with removable wings, was the one I brought home from Asheville recently. They make a great pair.

I've never been a doll collector, though I loved sewing clothing for my childhood dolls. Since seeing and learning more about Santos after several visits to the historic missions near San Antonio, Texas, these speak to me in a special way and I enjoy having them as part of my decor.

Speaking of decor............

Right now I'm in the midst of packing up everything in my 
dining room, living room and entry/hallway.
The cottage is going to have a big makeover in
these areas next week.........think country, farmhouse, 
wide plank floors. Life is a bit crazy and I may be
missing for a while. Look forward to showing you
how it all turns's going to be different!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The last rose of Summer................

...........was a perfect Peace Rose

This lovely yellow and pink rose seems is one of 
few that grace my garden year after year. It's not 
easy growing roses here.....they need constant TLC  
in the hot and very humid south.
As beautiful as it is when fresh, smooth, and soft, 
I almost prefer it when its petals sharpen, dry, and
and delicately age.

Playing with a perfect rose image, via PicMonkey and iPhoto.

Do you grow roses?