Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Puppy Piper and a cupola and weathervane for the shed

 My first kiss. 
Piper joined our family almost a week ago, and she is a pure delight! 
She is a golden retriever puppy with a sweet and playful temperament.
 She is 8 weeks old and seems to be pretty smart, in addition to being delightful.  She is doing great on her housebreaking, and sleeping through the night after the first two nights.  No whining or whimpering in her crate either, and I have to say it is because she found it comforting to join Colby.  As soon as we took her out of the car, she seemed a bit flat in spirit....maybe it was the three hour drive.  But as soon as we brought out Colby to meet her, her little tail started wagging, and it hasn't stopped.
 We put in a fence last year so we could let Colby out to do his business in a secure setting.  When we trained Colby for bathroom breaks, we used the x-pen that you see Piper sitting in.  It is the place we plop her down and tell her to do her business.  She is getting an A on her report card so far! After she does her biz, she gets to get outside the pen and play with Colby.
 This view shows the small contained yard we created for the dogs. 
 There is another gate that leads to the back yard and the courtyard.
 Last night both dogs enjoyed being on the other side of the dog yard as I grilled some burgers.
Colby is always hooked up to a long lead when he is in the courtyard side. 
 Piper got to run around and check things out.  So far we can keep up with her....
 In the meantime, it was remarkable and lucky that I located a
 golden retriever weathervane at HomeGoods. 
On the clearance aisle!! 
 Then I shopped my Facebook Yardsale groups for a cupola, and voila! 
 I found a new wooden cupola that seems
 it will look just right up on top of the garden shed.
 This is my next outdoor project, and I think it will look really cute up there.
Remember this image of my shed in Matthew Mead's UPSTYLED HOME Outdoors issue? 
Currently on the shelves, it is packed with ideas.  And I am always adding more things to my outdoor spaces, and trying to improve on the spaces we have established.  The cupola is something I wanted to do FOREVER.  I remember when I was first married to my kids dad, and we had a tiny garage.  I asked him to build me a cupola...he did.  He was busy building it in our basement. One day he came up to have me take a look at how it was coming out.  I went downstairs to see the biggest most enormous cupola I had ever seen!!! OMG.  Our garage was not much bigger than a shed. LOL.  So it never worked out, the scale was all wrong, but like I said, I have been wanting a cupola for a long time.
 Leading to the shed was this old arbor I found on craigslist.  The climbing rose planted last year is doing really well, and it has just started to bloom!  I am training the canes to the arbor and I have no idea if this is how to do it, but I think you just "persuade" the branches to go towards the arbor with garden twine/wire stuff.
 Piper is just so sweet....
I loved trying to catch her in a pose, and she granted my wish.
 She is a little soft furry dollfaced puppy!  
You will be seeing alot more of Piper in the blog.  She is already growing like a weed.
 She stands up in her pen, as if to say, hey I did my business, now let me outta here!
And she holds her own in a gentle tug of war game with Colby.  
Its all dogs around here for much of my day, and it will be that way for awhile.  
I will be lucky to get that cupola installed....but I will give it my best shot.
P.S.  Piper has her own instagram account: 
@pipers_parade if you want to see more of Piper and her progression.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Exterior curb appeal projects and our new puppy Piper

 After spending all last year working on the back of the house creating the courtyard, 
it was time to spruce up the front of the house and give it some curb appeal.  
Remember?  It is on news stands now, if you haven't looked for it yet.  
 It inspired me to address the front of our house, and so far so good!
We created some new flower beds, including a small rose alley that has my first David Austin roses.  If you haven't heard of them, they are old fashioned full blown roses with many petals per bloom.  
 The boxwoods that used to be along the fence got some boxwood blight, and so all were removed.
The narrow space along the new fence from last year seemed to be a good spot to try out some roses.
I like the idea of guests being treated to some pretty flowering plants as they approach the gate. Originally I planned to do all fairy roses along the fence, but as it turned out, the nursery only had two left when I inquired to the inventory.  By the time I walked down to the roses area, I saw a woman passing me with her cart holding a fairy rose!!! OH NO! So there was only one Fairy Rose left, which I got, and then I stumbled into a section that had David Austin roses.  I had heard so much about them and seen their photos on Instagram and Facebook, so I decided to try them as well.
 This is the Heritage Rose by David Austin.  Its a peachy pink rose, and the only one I have brought inside for cut flowers at this point.  They don't seem to to last long as a cut flower, and I had read somewhere that they last longer on the bush.  Anyone know about this?
 This pretty one is a deeper pink, The Alynwick Rose.  It practically looks like a peony!
I also have one more that isn't in flower yet, as well as the Fairy Rose, which has masses of pretty tiny pink roses on a shrub formation.  I hope they do well in their new spot...
 The other flower we added was a row of Nantucket Blue hydrangeas.  I want to create a hedge
along the front as part of our curb appeal project.  We had a Thundercloud Plum tree for ten years that suddenly got some awful black blight which killed it, so that was removed and in its place we planted a row of the hydrangeas.  The will grow to four feet wide by four feet high, and it should create a nice border, as well as great cut flowers all summer long! Who doesn't love hydrangeas?
This is the street side of our "sideways" house.  The front door sits sideways, and this side view has the lower door to our son's apartment, and a smaller deck above for morning coffee.  This weekend both doors are getting a black paint job, and so far the first coat has them looking really great!  I found some terrific faux boxwood square wreaths that are going to be hung on both doors.  
Here is one coat of black paint on the lower door, and there is the boxwood
wreath from HomeGoods.  I love the simplicity of the wreath. 
 A pair of hanging baskets were hung between the porch openings, 
and summer curtains are in the works for softening the space where the narrow posts are.  
 Our yard is composed of many different "rooms", and this one just got a new bed of Catmint, or Nepeta, along the fence.  A cobblestone border was added, and some sod to freshen up this enclosed "dog yard".  This has been a godsend, just letting the dogs out into a safe contained yard to do their business.  Walks are part of our daily routine, but this space is a major convenience, and its pretty to look at as well. My son Colin lives in the apartment, and he is always lending a hand, mowing or planting as the need arises.
Gardening and landscaping brings me great joy, and now that I am home full time, its been fantastic to get to some of these projects that I have been dreaming of doing for a few years.
 Last but not least....we are getting a new puppy!  Piper is an English Golden Cream Retriever.  The English version of the American Golden Retriever, the English Creams are lighter in coat color, and have blockier heads.  Colby is going to have a little sister, and I will be working hard at training her and integrating her into our home and lifestyle.  
Here she is at her 7 week checkup exam.  Isn't she the cutest little thing? We get her next week on her eight week birthday.  So the push is on to finish a few projects around the house so I can be free and clear to be available to being a puppy mom, once again.  

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Luscious Linen Balloon Curtains for Master Bedroom

 Romantic and luscious, these Linen Balloon Drapery Panels are gorgeous!
They add more of the European relaxed glamourous look that I was going for in the
master bedroom redecorating project.   Soft Surroundings is so
wonderful for their European and French home decor offerings.
I was delighted to partner up with them again on these beautiful window treatments.
  They have a large selection to choose from,
 but I really had my heart set on these linen panels for our bedroom. 
The panels are lined in white cotton which gives it extra weight and fullness.  
The bottoms of the panels are sewn back onto the lining and it creates a balloon effect. 
 These are not puddled and turned under at the floor, but instead are sewn with a balloon
bottom which is effortless to create a perfect cloud-like bottom that sits 
elegantly on the floor.  The top of the panel is a tie top created from a ruched and ruffled header, 
which feels like the essence of European glamour.  The color of my panels is ivory.  
The ivory is very soft, off white, not yellowy, and it looks nice with the white bedding.
The panels do come in white, but I was afraid it may be too white, so I opted for ivory.
Can I say......I am in LOVE!
The gauzy ivory linen with the white cotton lining sits elegantly on the floor.
I pull the curtains closed at night with a simple tug, and they don't get
 messed up on the bottom like puddled curtains do.  I couldn't recommend
these curtains more highly~they are beautifully made and look incredible!
My husband got in bed the first night they were hanging, 
looked up at the window and said, "Wow, these look very grand!"
Grand, indeed!
Another tiny thing we did to the bedroom was to add these simple wall
sconces.  They are not hardwired, and they have a pull chain to 
turn them off and on.  The cord is tucked behind the headboard, and it is
one of my favorite improvements in adding to the overall ambience of the room.
Since I love to read at night, and hubs falls asleep before me, they also are 
good at directing the light in a small pool towards my book.  I am reading 
Empty Mansions right now, and its fascinating!  True story about a rich eccentric 
heiress, with many mansions that she kept up, but never visited.  Bizarre! 
I lie in bed and look at my grand curtains and think maybe the heiress had 
something similar in her bedrooms~she was born in France, after all.  
The master bedroom is a wonderful respite at the end of a long day in the garden (me), 
or out in the excavation pit (hubs).  We love everything we selected, the mattress, 
the bedding (which is the Regency Tapestry Coverlet from Soft Surroundings), 
the tufted blue headboard, and last but not least, the Linen Balloon Panels!! 
Note that I ordered the curved bronze rod from Soft Surroundings
to hang the panels as they show in their online shop.  It is not the easiest
rod to install, and although I was able to do it myself, it really is a two 
person job.  Lets just say my 25 years of custom window treatment installations
came in handy on this pesky but alluring rod.  I like how the rod curves out
into the space of the room, and that is why I think hubby thought they looked grand.
Its an understated wow kind of look!  
Simply put, these panels are wonderful!  

I read a lot of the reviews on the Soft Surrounding site
and some were concerned about the wrinkles in the panels when they
unpacked them.  I had a simple solution to handle this issue:  give the 
panel a spritz with Downy wrinkle releaser and smooth the panel with your hands
after you have hung them up. The wrinkles came out right away, 
and it only took ten minutes for me to do both panels.  

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

French Provincial cabinet doors solve a design dilemma

Using cabinet doors from a french provincial china cabinet for doors on our 
bookcases was a thought that struck me just this morning.  
Why had I never bothered to take a measurement and see if this would work? 
 But I am glad it finally did occur to me, as I have long wanted to hide the 
busy looking bookcases with shutters or custom doors.  
(Here is an old photo of the french provincial dining room cabinet.
This before it was painted white and lined with fabric.)
The perfect solution was under my nose all along....
my old china cabinet, now in an upstairs room, with it's four doors and wire 
grates for that extra frenchy look, and a fleur de lis linen sheer to hide the contents.
The living room bookshelves, sans doors.
This is the beauty shot that was just featured in Romantic Country magazine.
Fifi O'Neill styled it to look absolutely wonderful.
What you don't see is the entire bookcase view. Behind the chair are all the 
books that don't color coordinate with the room.  Forever and a day I have been
dreaming about adding hinged shutters to cover three of the shelves and leave the
top three open for pretty displays.  
 The big grey chair was moved into a bedroom, 
and in its place I put my writing desk.
After the desk moved into this spot, the bookcase was more annoying than ever.
If bookcases can be annoying, which I think they can, as many people write blog posts
and articles on how to style and arrange items on bookcases because they are annoying.
They look messy, busy, cluttered...and I had to agree.
This space looks so pretty, I am thrilled with the result, even if
the photo is lackluster.  Moving one thing, leads to moving another,
and that is how adding doors became paramount (in my mind).
I am still moving furniture and tweaking things, and its coming along
nicely.  So if you have a bookcase, or open shelving with in a framework,
consider recycling old cabinet doors and place them over the shelves using the same hinges.
  The hinges worked perfectly, but I had to reverse the direction of them.  
I also hinged the two doors together, so they don't open in the middle, 
the fold out to the sides, which is really nice.  So there you have it~
a rainy day project that has me quite pleased.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

No More Pink Curtains and a new video!

So its been awhile since I last posted, and that was all about the pink linen
curtain panels I made for the dining room. I apologize.
(Even my sister Ellen called me up and said,
"You need to blog because every time I go to look, all I see are pink curtains!!")
 Believe it or not, they only stayed up for 48 hours.
 I just couldn't stand how it looked.  The pink was 
way too pink... The light coming through the fabric made them even more
pink then they actually were.  And I never did buy a sample of the fabric to 
check to see if it was the right shade of pink.  I just kind of hoped it would
be similar to what it looked like on my computer monitor.  I should have known
better.  At any rate I now have 12 yards of pink linen which one day will be 
reincarnated into some divine project I am sure.  
And the grey curtains with the pom poms are back up!  
Bye bye pink.
A valiant try, but not for me.  My husband was agreeable,
which is kind of funny~he said they really brightened the room. 
(insert smily face)
My youngest son Colin detested them. And so did I.
In other news, we did have the baby shower for Justin and Madison
and I was able to use the courtyard for the first time entertaining a crowd!
When I renovated the backyard to create the courtyard, I had only a french
daybed and some chairs for seating.  This spring I ordered an all weather wicker
set of chairs, ottomans and loveseat from the Home Decorators Catalogue, which
is a Home Depot company.  The set was by Martha Stewart ( I love her as you know)
and after reading the many reviews, I ordered it sight unseen.  I was banking on 
the reviews of it being comfortable and well made, and I am happy to report it is both!
The set is called the Lake 
The Adela Lake Collection set by Martha Stewart. 
 It comes in a few finishes, and I chose the weathered grey color with the 
sand colored cushions, seen above.  It looks right at home in the rustic
courtyard.  We moved the set into position where the day bed, 
and the daybed was moved opposite the wicker set, so we can seat quite a few people now.
We still are working on setting everything up, like the bird house vent cover, 
which is not installed yet because we are still using the fireplace indoors on cool mornings.
Colby loves the courtyard too, and we attach him to a long green lead that
we anchor in various spots, controlling where he can hang around.  
We will be spending a lot of time outdoors in this space, and it was worth the expense.
When I ordered it online, one reviewer mentioned it sells out early in the season,
so I got my order in promptly.  A few weeks later it went on sale for 20% off,
and the HD people gave me a credit for the sale price, which was awesome.
It also comes in a pretty spa blue color, but I stayed neutral 
choosing to add accents with throw pillows in Sunbrella.  
Check out the video about the courtyard, featuring an introduction
to the space with Matthew Mead on photo shoot day for his magazine,
(tip: click on the right hand corner icon to 
enlarge for watching full screen)
(It's on news stands now, as a gentle
reminder, published by Country Sampler. )
After the intro, you will be treated to the nitty gritty makings of this space
showing you small video clips that I took while hubs and sons were helping me,
and which I never intended to go public with...but they worked out well in this 
montage video.  After all, I had no idea Matthew Mead would love this space so
much that he wanted to shoot it, nor did I think it would ever grace a magazine cover!
You will see the disgusting plywood "shed" (that was literally falling apart) as it
is hoisted through the air from my mother-in-laws back yard to ours (we are neighbors).
You get to see sweaty me, shingling the shed, my son wearing a farmers sun hat to avoid the
scorching temps,  the general average ugliness of the space and how it came to be so 
fabulous.  Its inspiring, even to me, and I did the dang thing!!

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