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.
And....
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: 
"Broken"
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 stuff....like 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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Sunday, February 17, 2019

A miniature French harpsichord for my birthday


A miniature French harpsichord made from following plans in a miniature furniture making plan book, was how I spent my big 6-0 birthday.  That wasn't the original plan, but then hubs and I got sick with some kind of strange bug and my birthday plans were dashed.  It felt kind of odd not to have anything fun or exciting or special to do that day I woke up, so I decided, sick or not, I would make it memorable and do something I truly enjoy~so I looked through a book of plans and decided to make this elegant looking harpsichord for my dollhouse.  
 The plans are in a book called the Mott's Miniature Furniture Workshop,
and it has black and white schematic drawings of all kinds of furniture to make.
 The Mott's were a family that built miniatures in California, and they were the first people ever to have a miniature shop.  They put all their miniatures in a museum in the Knotts Berry Farm and it was there from 1958 until the 1990s.  Sadly they had to pull out, and all their miniatures were eventually sold off at a Beverly Hills auction. I myself went to Knotts Berry Farm in the late 60s as a child but have no recollection of going into the miniature museum there.  
 Anyway, this book has difficult and easy projects to build, 
and the author said this was not a difficult one, and because it was French,
 I decided to make it.  The other thing I liked was that it included the art work
 inside the book that is used for doing the decoupage on the tiny harpsichord 
to look like it is handpainted. It was a bit trying, but not terribly hard,
made from two pieces of wood and the rest mostly cardboard, and store bought legs.
I didn't follow it exactly, and some of the details I left out, thinking it was good enough.
After painting it with Annie Sloan Olive Chalk Paint, I pasted the appliqués on the piece.
After it dried, I applied some French gilding wax 
in Venetian Gold to the piece to jazz it up. 
 As with a real house, anytime you get a new piece of furniture you must make room for it.
So I did some rearranging but am not sure this is going to stay like it is now.  
 My pretty balloon shaped Porters chair used to sit by the window,  
and it looked quite nice there.  But since the harpsichord had no place to go,
 the chair got moved upstairs to the informal living room.  
The downstairs living room is the formal room, where 
visitors to the Maison are entertained.  
The upstairs living room is just for the family, just like they do in the White House, 
and I suppose all the palaces and fancy chateaus in France.
This informal living room is taking some time to get itself together.
Mostly because it is turning into a room with castoffs and bargains,
much like one could possibly have in real life.  These neat little vintage pieces
of miniature furniture have been finding me by way of antique shops and thrift
shops, and I can't pass them up.  For example the drop down desk.  It is 
a very nice dignified piece, as is the corner bookcase.  Still in a dark wood finish,
I have yet to decide if they will remain or get switched out when something better comes along.
 My sister Ellen has been finding lots of vintage miniatures at vintage shops for me!  
Its been unbelievable how lucky she has been running across such treasures.
Look at these handcrafted electrified chandeliers at $5 each!
 And then she found a bunch more for me....
and that is great because I am about to start making another dollhouse for baby Reeve.  
Reeve's dollhouse will be  a Marthas Vineyard gingerbread cottage that has furniture painted as if Peter Hunt, the Cape Cod artist, painted it all himself!
She loves my dollhouse, so its time for her to have her own sturdy little cottage
where her little hands can get busy rearranging the tiny things to her hearts content.
In the meantime I am making miniatures and making way for the recent
vintage finds in my Maison.  As usual, I find myself way 
more interested in the decorating part than the wood trim, flooring 
and all that carpentry stuff, that I still must do.
It will get done, but until then I will keep decorating of course.
And as far as my big 60th birthday goes, my kids had taken me and hubs
out to a lovely place, Eastern Standard in Boston the weekend before as we had planned to be away.
I am so thankful for that night, it was very special. 
Between that wonderful experience and crafting the 
harpsichord, I will remember turning 60 for sure!


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