Friday, February 28, 2014

Pots, pans, paint and hair………………

I may be absent for several days because I'm up to my ears in all kinds of things.

What in the world is going on in my kitchen?
I'm so short of cabinet storage space - because my dearest insists on bringing home Le Creuset baking dishes - he finds amazing bargains at HomeGoods and TJMaxx! I do love them but I don't have a pantry, so have just been tearing my hair out (more on that later) as to where I can store them. I saw a wonderful French kitchen island in a magazine and the light bulb went on. Like that rustic island in an awesome French kitchen, why couldn't I make use of the wasted space under my own much-loved portable island? A slatted POT RACK would be perfect for my large soup pots and saucepans, freeing up their cabinet for other cookware etc.

My lovely friend Jeannette has a great hubby who's all handy and helpful, and enjoys small wood working commissions. He made the pullouts in some of my cabinets last year - they have made a huge difference in my kitchen and bathroom life - so when I ran my idea, and the French magazine photo by him, he agreed to help. Thank you dear Jim.

Jim made the framework and cut the slats and I'm busy 
with my brush and paint can getting the components 
ready for installation.
I'll share it with you when completed. 

More painting ahead starting Monday…………not by me thankfully. The professional Bruce will return to completely rehab an upstairs bedroom which morphed into DH's home office for 7 long years.
It's a disaster now BUT I promise will be better than new soon.

After the textured ceiling is removed, dings and cracks repaired, and a lovely new coat of Swiss Coffee (a warm white as in my dining room) covers the walls………………I will be doing my best to vamp it up a bit. It will continue to be our office/sewing/workroom but, after a visit to IKEA perhaps, it will look neater, and less of an embarrassment when people visit and want a 'cottage tour'.

Following painting, new carpet is being installed in bedrooms, 'office', landing and staircase. I picked a color a few shades darker than our present carpet, more greige than beige, and with a small diagonal cut and loop finish for a change. Hopefully it will look good and Mary will be happy. Bob too of course!

You wouldn't believe how many yards of electrical cords coming and going from old desktop PC's, printers, phones were hidden behind the office furniture upstairs, it was alarming! So very alarming in fact that I took a break yesterday and headed to the salon and actually agreed to allow the lovely Suzi, my stylist of 18+ years - yes, she who cuts my blunt bob and keeps it radiant red and shiny with her magic potions - to cut my hair SHORT!!! 

After a calming cup of herbal green tea whilst my grey roots were being decimated, I thumbed through W magazine and showed Suzi a pic of how I'd want my hair if/when I decided to cut it. It was a young, hip model in a Chanel ad, hair redder than my red, long on top, short on the sides, full bangs, surely easy to maintain. Suzi agreed it was just the style she would pick for me with my type of hair, offered me a glass of wine and said "let's do it"! Well I passed on the wine, too early for me, driving home later etc.
Suzi grinned, "Would you rather wait until next time?"
No, I was ready for a change.
It's modern and I can do things with it.
I suddenly have texture, no curls but body. 
I love it. 
All who've seen it thinks it's great.

OK enough of this…………pieces of wood are calling for their second coat of paint, I must leave you now. Will return when workmen are out of my (short) hair - perhaps sooner if we have Internet.
Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are………
and many thanks for the lovely comments you left on my 
previous anniversary post. 
You are the best friends ever.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

An anniversary - and thoughts on the changing ways of reading…………

James Frances Day - Undated ~ Elsa Kaji 1922 ~ Jessie Willcox Smith 1909

I've been thinking a lot about reading lately. Today is the seventh anniversary of my starting a blog. My initial blog was titled Across The Pond and started in 2007 - still accessible if you click on my sidebar. Some of you dear readers were following me even back then, seven long years ago! Thanks so much for sticking with me and reading of my comings and goings around this vast and wonderful world. 

I had no idea what to illustrate this post with - it's quite an auspicious day, all anniversaries usually are no matter the reason. Celebrations are fun and memorable, but no horns are tooting here, no fancy cakes being cut, no packages being unwrapped. Instead I'm thinking about reading, beloved books, and many wonderful blogs. I'm wondering if artists are now painting pictures of children sitting at computers, tapping on tablets, notebooks, e-readers and even phones………makes one think doesn't it? I do believe a huge percentage of my generation still love books. The children in the paintings here became our grandparents, our parents………and they read real books to us. How fortunate were we. 

Jemima c. 1860 ~ Florence & Margaret Hoopes 1933

Thank you for visiting here. You are all very special 
friends with whom I hope to continue sharing the 
everyday, the simple, sometimes the complicated, and 
every once in a while, possibly the spectacular. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strolling around Budapest.................

I've just discovered I'd not published this final post 
showing more of my visit to awesome Budapest, Hungary 
last October, so am sharing now.

Beautiful things catch your attention on the 
old streets of Budapest.
Take another little stroll with me here through Pest, 
the low side of the city on one side of the Danube.

Bronze devilish fauns, symbols of artistic spirit - at  
The Boscolo Hotel now occupying the beautifully renovated 
New York Palace building.

The New York Palace building - commissioned by the 
New York Life Insurance Company, opened in 1894. 
It was nationalized during the communist area then, 
after the collapse of socialism, purchased later
by Italian Boscolo Hotels in 2001, totally renovated 
at a cost of 80 million Euros, and reopened in 2006
as a luxury hotel.

Up until World War II, when the building was damaged and fell into disrepair, the magnificent cafe on the ground floor was a meeting place for 20th century Hungarian writers, poets and journalists, and was known as "the most beautiful cafe in the world". The renovations are amazing and I think it should 
still be called the best even today.

Although the structure is ornate, in the lobby the floral displays were contemporary and quite lovely.

Strolling along some of the side streets we noticed several 
antiques shops offered extremely ornate merchandise.


 The following images are of the Budapest Opera House......
magnificent both outside and in.

Whilst taking the tour we were able to see the stage being set for the production of Verdi's final opera Falstaff. 

As I mentioned in my earlier posts here on Budapest
this is a stunning city.  
I would love to return again some day to see more.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Spring is busting out all over......................."

Today I'm doing a little garden work.
Today I'm cutting the first Spring blooms.

Oh my, how they brighten the room!

Yes, Spring is coming so hang in there - wishing 
everyone blooming bulbs and bursting buds soon!
I'm headed back to the garden now....sun shining 
and quite warm. 
As they say, "make hay while the sun shines" and 
next week will turn cold again.

Edited - Monday: today I went out and found plenty more 
golden daffodils.
I've noticed the leaves appear much shorter than the 
stems this year. Another weird unusually cold southern
Winter quirk perhaps? 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Getting started………………

Painted sign at Two Old Birds at Vintage Village.

Mark Twain got it right with this quote didn't he?
If you, like me, have painting projects awaiting, 
perhaps this should be our mantra.

Remember this cabinet I shared with you some time back?  
This has continued to be my inspiration piece.
I'm still hoping to tackle my smaller sideboard (below) 
in the dining room, turning it into something similar -
very blue, a bit bashed about, and beautiful. 
Dilapidated decadence comes to mind!

Most of my decor has become very neutral over the past 
several years. I still love it but feel I need to bring 
back some color here and there. Perhaps it's the cold,
seemingly endless, Winter that has made me crave color.

These beautiful painted pieces are at SuzAnna's Antiques 
and painted with Annie Sloan's Napoleonic Blue 
Chalk Paint with the dark wax finish.
I now have a plethora of little pots of dark blue paint, 
samples I gathered when deciding on the wall paint for the 
entry. I admit I also have one of these, the very same 
Napoleonic Blue. 
I'm hoping all these should make it possible to reproduce 
finish similar to my inspiration piece!

By the way, there was a HOLD tag on this lovely chest, 
with great French style hardware, when I saw it last Sunday - so 
by now it's probably gracing some lucky gal's home. I just 
know she's loving it!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spring awakening...............

I'd no idea that Spring was out there this advanced on this very morning! The snow left, the sun shone brightly, and the temps. reached up into the 60's the last couple of days. It was a busy week for us - doctor appointments for check-ups, garage visits because silly me left my map reading light on in my car for five days (the snow covered the windows much of that time until it melted so didn't notice until I tried to start the car) and killed my old battery big time so had to get a new one. Also away from home for lunch and supper engagements, grocery store stops etc. In other words, I didn't even stop to look at the garden thinking it was still totally in a deep sleep!
Then, knowing a big storm front was heading our way with possible damaging high winds, I trotted into the garden to batten down the hatches and stopped in my tracks. Then I ran in for a camera so I could catch the budding daffodils and tips of the bluebells, all pushing through the brown oak leaves.......breathtaking touches of emerald and gold.

Sharing these quick pics with you........especially if you're up north and wondering what's hiding under all that snow. You will see Spring but until then I just thought I'd encourage you not to give up!

The storm? It seems to have passed now. We had a soaking heavy rain for about half an hour, and some distant thunder, but thankfully no high winds bringing down trees or causing power outages.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A little bit of France in North Carolina!

A fifteen minute drive west from my home to Cary, North Carolina
takes me to La Farm Bakery. 
There, for many years, a Frenchman and his American 
wife have worked diligently to make La Farm
what the 2012 Saveur magazine called, "One of the 20 
Great American Bread Bakeries".

I was there today for lunch in the bakery's 
busy cafe area, all the while surrounded by the 
fragrance of the many beautiful breads and pastries for sale. 
Lionel Vatinet's story of his journey from Paris to Cary, 
via many countries throughout the world as he learned 
his craft, is very interesting. 
His first book, A Passion For Bread was published in 
November 2013. It tells his story, offers seven 
steps to successful artisanal style bread baking at home, 
plenty of how to photos, and loads of fabulous recipes. 
If you bake bread, want to learn how, or just love 
great cookbooks, you need to get this one.

What's in the bag? Two of the most delicious almond 
croissants we brought home for later enjoyment. 
They were fabulous!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February Note Card Party………

A few garden shots taken a couple of weeks ago during 
our first snowfall here in the southeast. Since then 
we had another stronger storm bringing much 
more snow and ice………………thankfully now melted.

These could be all occasion cards to share before our 
thoughts turn to Nature's more colorful kaleidoscope to 
welcome Spring.

Joining in Vee's February Note Card Party. Hope you'll stop by and join the fun over at A Haven for Vee

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A brighter February weekend at last ………

SuzAnna's Antiques is already dressed for Spring. On 
Sunday afternoon it warmed up, the sun was bright, 
and almost all the snow was gone, gone, gone! 
Colorful displays outside and in were drawing the 
crowds anxious to get back into 'treasure hunting' mode 
after the long winter.

Love that small painted table………

One of my granddaughter Jasmin's vignettes - she likes 
to keep busy in between serving customers, perhaps she needs 
to come over and rearrange my treasures! 

3 Generations Design - the newest shop at the 
Vintage Village has opened.  

Seen at the lovely little gem of a shop Two Old Birds
lots of great painted pieces. Owner Susan is an 
Annie Sloane Chalk Paint dealer and gives classes. 
Soon the shop will expand into the building next door, 
more room for classes……I must take one perhaps this Spring.

Wow, what about this combination!  
Annie Sloane's Chalk Paint in Scandinavian Pink and Olive. 
Hard to get a pic showing the true color of the green due 
to the bright lights, it's actually somewhat duller - such 
as at the left side around the drawer.
 I thought these colors spectacular on this beautiful 
very old piece - thoughts of Swedish painter 
Carl Larson came to mind. Just visible, one of 
the huge clawed feet. 
Susan of Two Old Birds painted this piece and it is awesome.

My visit to the Vintage Village was special in another 
way too. My dear, lovely friend Vanessa came back from 
Charlotte and we had a few great hours together visiting
the girls and shopping. A great Sunday!