Friday, April 12, 2019

My dollhouse feature on The Enchanted Home and Weight loss update

Happy Friday everyone!
I am thrilled to be featured on a new series, The Style File,  at my friend Tina's incredible blog
The Enchanted Home!  She asks me some interesting questions about this dollhouse hobby
that I have been working on and you might be surprised to read what celebrity inspired me to begin
working in miniatures.  Lots of dollhouse pics that I have not posted on my blog here, so 
make sure you run over and check it out!
Also a quick update on my low carb weight loss journey. 
I am happy to report I am at 19 pound weight loss at this point, and I have 
integrated more carbs back into my diet.  Overall I just eliminate the white
stuff, potatoes, rice, pasta and bread, with the exception of the Fantini scali 
bread which I have mentioned before.  The white wine is also back, but on weekends
only or if out to dinner.  So if you think you can't eliminate certain things forever,
you don't have to....just do the hard work for several months and then you 
will be in the position to allow yourself some of the things you love.
This picture of me and Matthew Mead was taken two weeks ago when we
met at my lake cabin to check on it and to help Matthew pick up some of his 
photo shoot props.  Its still very wintery up at the lake in New Hampshire,
and it was actually kind of depressing going inside the cabin.  I will post
more about our intentions of rebuilding there and where we are in the process.
Anyway, this was the only pic I could find that shows my body so you can see I am 
looking more "trim" as my dad likes to say!  I have had many readers
share their own weight loss success stories, and it makes me so happy to 
have inspired them in anyway.  I know how much happier I feel every day going
into my closet to not fret over what will fit or what will not.  What will make me
look thinner, and what is not flattering.  So its a diet that has worked for me,
and I hear its working for many of you as well!!  Bravo!!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My Country Home Magazine Feature

 Country Home magazine's April to July 2019 issue is featuring so many great 
country homes, and it is a big thrill to have mine included!  
The story is called "Aged to Perfection" and that is because my country house
is not an old country house, but a prefab that I "aged" with vintage decor accents.
 The photography was done by Duanne Simon, who shot all the homes
in Nora Murphy's best seller, Nora Murphy's Country House Style. 
The story in Country Home was written by Deb Engle who interviewed me 
over the phone for an hour.  She did a beautiful job capturing where my sense
of decorating comes from, and how together with my husband we did the various
DIY projects that changed our house into a "country home".
I have saved Country Home magazine issues from decades ago, as it
was one of my very favorite magazines when I was a young home maker 
and decorator.  I loved the way country decor could give my home 
personal style using older things, inherited things, and unique ways to present
decorating ideas using everyday items, like the cover above illustrates.
And here is a note of personal interest....
Covers from December 2005 and 2007                          
My pal Matthew Mead was a Style Editor for years at Country Home.
He was invited to work there by none other than country decorating icon 
Mary Emmerling!
Many of the magazines I saved had covers he created. 
  Its amazing to think of the points of connection I have with him,
and this is just one more, and it was before we had even met.
Little did I think he would take me to a party for Mary and I would close
out the night sitting on a couch with Mary and Matthew chatting away.
Another super cool thing is that Matthew Mead is working for Country Home
today for a Christmas feature for them.
Its like a freaky full circle moment over here!!
Looking at the list above of Country Home players in 2007,
 I noticed other recognizable names, including talented
Sandra Soria, who wrote my story when I landed the cover of
Romantic Country magazine in the Spring of 2017. 
 Sadly this magazine is no longer being published.  
Which brings me to suggest, if you like particular magazines, 
like Country Home, then please subscribe.
This will help keep a magazine in business, and the price for issues is so 
much less than buying off the shelf.  
The current issue should be in stores where magazines are sold any day now.
Subscribers always get their issues ahead of the stores, and that is how 
I got mine yesterday.  After texting my sister Ellen, 
she went shopping for it and said she couldn't find it anywhere....
and that is why.  So give it another week sis, and you will see it
at Lowes or Home Depot, or at your local drugstore or bookstore.
Then fill out that subscription card and get future issues delivered to your door!

Read about the night we went to Mary Emmerling's party in NYC here.

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Grand Easter Basket Centerpiece

My fancy Easter Basket!
Set inside a silver pedestal punch bowl I bought last year at Brimfield,
I added various spring faux flowers, shredded easter grass and painted eggs.
I have had this twig style basket for several years now.
  I set it inside the punchbowl and then stuffed shredded paper
easter grass around the gap between the basket and the punchbowl.
They make this paper Easter grass in all kinds of colors so you can 
coordinate it with your home color palette. I used purple and green.
 Then I filled it with lots of different kinds of faux flowers I had 
in my storage bin. The more I added, the better it looked.  Fake lilac
sprigs, peonies, roses, ferns and berries on sticks.  
A garland of florals was draped around the mirror above to create a 
bigger statement featuring the basket.
 The effect was a whimsical woodland Easter.
 You could add little sheep or bunnies to the basket or the table top,
more eggs....more more more!!!
 On the table I made another vignette with a vintage centerpiece bowl. 
Filled with dried rose heads (that I have been collecting for the past several months)
I added pink blown eggs I made last year for another Easter craft project.
The eggs and roses make an easy and elegant centerpiece, with vintage style.
Mix your regular Easter decorations
with faux flowers, vines and eggs of all kinds.
using unusual containers in your cupboards. 
Its easy and fun, and best of all, it costs almost nothing to make!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Lake cottage, White kitchens and the Wedding painting

The lake house is in the beginning stages of planning!
 Our rustic unheated 1910 fisherman's shack is
going to get torn down and a year round home will take it's place.
I haven't blogged at all about the lake cottage, but that soon will be 
making its way to my blog as we get ready for the next phase of life in retirement mode,
as we plan to move into it after selling our Boston area home.
White kitchens have always been a favorite of mine. 
 I think they are timeless and 
so the new cottage will have white cabinets.  While looking for inspiration 
I found some pretty examples on Traditional Home magazines website,
so lets take a look!
Rarely do I see a French Country kitchen anymore, so this was surprising to see.
However our kitchen and cottage will likely be less "Frenchy", and
more of a blend of traditional, craftsman and cottage styles.
 Another white kitchen from Traditional Home with color on the ceiling.
This kitchen is actually on a lake, and I love all the choices I see here.
 A creamy white cabinet color with marble and butcher block.
Views to the lake is driving the design of our cottage
so we can take advantage of having a home on the water's edge.
You would never getting tired looking out of the window at the kitchen sink.
Double islands in a fun color in an otherwise white kitchen.
Our kitchen will be modest in size, but in an open floor plan
to the living space which will give it an open feel. We will have
an island and have toyed around with color ideas.
This is our current kitchen as seen in Nora Murphy's Country House Stye book.
Because it is in a contained space it feels small. 
I painted my maple cabinets white years ago and still love the look.
They say you can tell the decade a house was built just by looking at 
the kitchen cabinets.  Knotty Pine, Golden Oak, Cherry, Thermafoil...
they all have had their time being popular, and then falling out of favor.
White kitchens are timeless!  A quick change of accents and hand towels,
and you have a whole new feeling for your kitchen.  
 Last but not least,  the wedding painting!!
I wanted to show you the finished painting of my son Brandon's wedding
to his bride, Mimi.  Live event painter, Sheila Foley started this painting during 
the outdoor wedding we held in our courtyard under a tent,
and finished it in her studio and called me about a year later to say it was ready.
It was worth the wait!!
We now have a unique memento of a special day for our family, and it 
captured the wedding festivities and mood so well! 
The attention to detail, and capturing peoples likenesses was unreal!
Simply amazing!
This was taken an hour before the guests arrived for the wedding,
where Sheila had started the background of the painting.
To see more about the wedding day 
and the painting in progress click here.

For more information on live event artist  Sheila Foley, click here.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

A FANCY French Dollhouse Kitchen

 It's already the first remodel, and I only began my dollhouse pursuit a few months ago.
The kitchen needed an upgrade, when I decided to move the cooker (thats what they
call the fancy European stoves) over between the countertops.
After I moved the cooker to the cabinet wall, I moved the bakers rack I made
over to the same wall, and hung it above one of the base cabinets.
 This was the layout before, a simple country kitchen for the servants. 
 Hahah. There is always a
running story behind every dollhouse, don't you know.
The before layout had the bakers rack over the cooker.
Which in real life would be FOOLISH because all the cooking grease and 
steam would go over all the copper pans and utensils. So I decided to 
make a European style fancy vent hood to go with the fancy cooker.
 It was built from balsa wood scraps and a piece of heavy paper for the curved part. 
Store bought miniature corbels were added to the bottom for that fancy old world flair. 
 I primed the wood with gesso and then I noticed after I sprayed it with the shiny green paint
I had used for the cooker, that there were splotchy shiny areas and the paper was mostly dull.
It occurred to me that anywhere the gesso had touched the paper, that was where the paint did its proper thing and had a glossy shine.  So I went back and primed the paper area of the hood with the gesso, and then sprayed again with the Krylon seafoam green paint.  
Then I applied "brass" strips to the hood using card stock that had been wrapped
in gold metallic paper and tacky glue.  They looked awesome!!
The thing was FANCY!!! It made the kitchen way more FANCY!
 But something wasn't fancy at all....
 The hanging light was NOT fancy. 
It was a simple country kitchen light fixture. It had to go.
Goodbye tiny copper lantern.
Hello big French chandelier! 
The kitchen also finally got a refrigerator and 
another bakers rack to hold more copper and our farm fresh eggs.
One more look at how amazing it looks from EVERY angle.
The Kitchen Aid mixer got upgraded to the copper version like the one in 
my own tiny real life kitchen.  
You see that is the fun part. Making
things resemble your favorite parts of your home, and then adding 
FANCY things you WISH you had, but sadly DO NOT.
And while I tried to take a few quick pics with my FANCY camera,
a little hand snuck in while my eye was firmly resting on the camera.
As I snapped the pic, I heard her say in her little voice: 
I popped my head up and saw that she had yanked off the cabinet door.
You see the doors and drawers are false fronts and she is very intent on
opening and closing anything she can get her hands on.
I told her, "Grammy will fix it." 
And then quickly ushered Reeve right back to her own little dollhouse.
It is filled with colorful inexpensive vintage dollhouse parts I have been
finding with the help of my sister, Ellen. 
 It is everything a little girl would want.
Where she played happily for quite some time,
and only broke a few things.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Reeve's Cottage Dollhouse

 Dollhouse Number 2!  
This is going to be for my granddaughter Reeve, who is
not exactly dollhouse ready, but I had no choice.  You see, I got a call from an old
friend who was in the antiques picking and selling business.  I met her when I had my shop,
she would come to get some paint for some of the vintage furniture, and we always loved
chatting.  Well she knew my latest obsession is dollhouse stuff, and she ran across a
big pile of dollhouse 6 house kits and boxes of furniture and building materials.
 Did I want it, my friend asked? 
If the price was right...and boy was it ever! 
 This is the kit I decided to build for Reeve. A cute little gingerbread cottage with hearts 
on the shutters and rounded doors and windows.  I personally LOVE rounded doors.
Some of the things included this cute coo-koo clock and a crib with Cinderella on it...
all perfect for Reeves tiny dollhouse.
 Although I have never built a dollhouse, I jumped right in.  
As soon as I opened the box
I got nervous. OMG look at this pile of wood and all those shingles. 
 But I just followed the instructions and started snapping out the parts and pieces.
Often one must cut with an exacto knife or box cutter along the precut lines so the wood does
not splinter.  Then lightly sand the edges to make it smooth without splinters.
 This is all one needs to build a dollhouse kit.  Exacto knife and/or box cutter, pencil, screw driver to help poke out the smaller pieces through the wood, ruler, masking or painters tape and a cutting board or a cutting matt, like I have above.  The yellow miter box is optional and I only used it to cut a few pieces I could have cut otherwise with the exacto knife, but it was easier.
 By the way, look at the stuff that came with the 6 dollhouse....all these things!
I personally do NOT like the look of people in a dollhouse, but I knew that for a little girl,
that is essential to the play of the dollhouse.  There was a village of people haha.
 After two days I got the house mostly assembled and was working on painting most of it white
so that it would be a blank slate for Reeve to do with whatever she wants when she is older.
Also, a lot of the furniture came in red check and yellow and lots of bright colors, so I think a white
interior is the way to go for now.
 Yesterday I set it down on an ottoman in the living room so she could have a crack at it.
The roof still needs to be put on permanently and lots of other things done.
But she ran right over to it.
 She played for a good FIVE MINUTES. Lol. 
Then threw some of the furniture on the ground and walked away.
 Today I have begun adding the shutters with the Swedish blue paint and white hearts.
It is so darling. I will add some flowers to the window boxes too.
The masking tape (or painters tape) comes in handy for helping things stay in place while the glue dries.  In the meantime, I am still losing weight on my diet, today marks 18 pounds lighter since Thanksgiving!  That is just totally amazing, and it has not been all that hard.  The hardest part was deciding to do it, and not giving up.  And I do cheat, I am human after all.  But try not to cheat for the first two or three weeks.  Now I can have a grilled cheese sandwich, or a slice of pizza and then the next day I just go back to low carb rules.  Hope you can get in the mindset and "just do it" if you have been thinking about it, or your weight has been making you unhappy with yourself, like it was for me.  I will return with the finished dollhouse soon, I hope!
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