Sunday, February 26, 2017

Our Florida trip: the tale of the Venetian Mirror and saving our dog and phone from the pool.

Getting through a New England winter is easier if you can escape to a warm and 
sunny destination.  So hubs and I planned ahead last fall, and scheduled a trip to Florida.
Since we travel with Colby, we always look for rental homes or hotels that accommodate
dogs.  We weren't too picky about the area, just that it would be nice to be near the airport
at Fort Meyers, because my parents live in Naples, and we wanted to be able to see them on our trip.
Dave drove down with the dog and met me, my mother in law and our 15 year old son at the airport as we flew.  He stayed in dog friendly hotels along the trip down the eastern seaboard. 
A main requirement on our house list was that the rental needed to have a pool inside an enclosed lanai.  Colby is very good about not going through screens.  Dillon, our last dog, would barge right through them.  I imagined that all of us would recreate around the pool and the dog would be able to have free reign, without being tethered.  And that is exactly how it played out.  We had a marvelous time in the lanai, and Colby loved looking across the lawn to the water way. 
 We picked up my mom and dad from their home in Naples and brought them back to our rental home in Coral Gables for an overnight visit.  They are officially "snowbirds", as they leave the winters behind and head to Florida every year.  In their 80s now, they haven't skipped a beat.
 The enclosed pool got a lot of use.  Colby swam with his flotation vest on a few occasions, although he was wary of getting into the pool because of his first frightening experience. The first night we arrived at the house,  Colby walked out onto the pool cover, not realizing it was a body of water and he started to sink!  The pool cover started to swallow him up.  Luckily, hubs was able to grab ahold of him by the scruff of his neck and pull him out. Phew! 
Right after that, I dropped my iPhone into the pool, and watched it sink to the bottom.  
My 15 year old jumped into the pool to get it, then hubs turned it off and shook the heck out of it, water droplets spewing. Next, we put it in the oven (which I had preheated to 170 degrees for a few minutes) to dry it out. We googled advice of what to do, but we kind of came up with our own plan.  And it worked!! After leaving it in the oven for a few hours, we put the phone inside a container full of oats (you could use rice but we didn't have any).  The oats would absorb the moisture we figured.  Then we didn't turn it on for 2 days. That is key to recovery. Let it dry out. 
 Happy to say that my iphone 6 completely recovered!  
( The iPhone 7 is waterproof, but not earlier models.) 

 For the most part, our vacation was all about family time hanging around the house and the pool. However, the thought of those awesome consignment shops scattered about Florida kept lurking in my mind.  We don't have these kind of shops up North.  And when one rainy day came along, I asked hubs to take me out to look at a couple of shops for a treasure hunt.  Not looking for anything in particular, but hoping I would find something that I couldn't resist.  As I turned a corner in the shop, I spotted it.  Oh boy, look at this old Venetian mirror!!! It was beautiful and old and had gold etching in a neoclassical motif.  Tiny glass rosettes covered the screws.  The mirror had mild foxing (the term for aging and wear on the mirror which makes it cloudy or blackish), which I happen to LOVE.  Meanwhile, hubs was quickly roaming through the rooms of the shops, and I waited in front of the mirror to beckon him for a look.
 Hahahh!  I love this shot I took of him as he approached. 
 Look at his face!!! Hahahha!!
He was likely thinking, "you have to be kidding me! Another mirror?"
 Oh Dave, look at this mirror.  Its old, and its Venetian and I love it!! I told him the price was a steal and we had to get it.  No, he told me it would most likely break on the ride home (he drove down with the dog, while our son and mother in law flew with me).  Having a car meant I could bring it home!! But he was saying it might break.  "But you are the expert packer of all things"..... he was trying to suggest I find anything else but a mirror.  But I had my heart set on it.  I asked the girl in the shop  if the price was solid or discounted?  
She looked it up in a book and then said the magic words:
 What??? "Honey, its half off, that is the second sign from the Universe 
that it is meant to come home with us!!"  
And so it came off the wall and out to the car!  I loved the back of the mirror
almost as much as the front!! Squealing with joy inside, I was a very happy girl.

The first sign from the Universe about the mirror was this:
Just that morning I was looking at my phone and saw this amazing Venetian
mirror photo posted on Fifi O'Neill's instagram account.  This set me to thinking about
how beautiful old Venetian mirrors are...and I had one reproduction mirror several years
back that I sold in my shop, Maison Decor.  Other than seeing some for big money
at the Brimfield Fair, I had not run across any antique Venetians.  How do you
explain this turn of events?  I say it is the "law of attraction" or a "sign from the Universe".
This kind of thing happens to me a lot, where I think of something and then POW, it presents itself.
Does this ever happen to you?  
Anyway it does to me and now hubs is driving home as we speak 
with Colby and the Venetian Mirror.
Our beautiful home on the Cape Coral waterway, 
with the heated enclosed pool is now a fond memory in our family scrapbook.  
And where will the new mirror go?
The dining room is where I imagined it to hang, but until it arrives I 
can't be sure.  What I am sure of, is that it is going to look great where ever
it ends up.  And that every time I look at this old mirror, I will see a memorable
family vacation, with an incredible husband, son and parents.
Oh, and before I go, I saw this yesterday at Lowes.  My home on the cover!!
If you read my blog, you know I had a photo shoot with Fifi O'Neill and she chose
my home to be the covershot for Romantic Country.  Well it is still on news stands but
not for long.  I was amazed to see it at the Lowes Home Improvement magazine section.
Just a heads up in case you might want to grab a copy before its too late. 
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My ugly backyard turned dream space lands the cover!

 Oh My!!! 
Turning our ugly outdoor space into a French courtyard was a dream 
home improvement project of mine.  Even my friend, magazine editor and creator
Matthew Mead, like it so much that he decided to shoot it for his new special issue.
Upstyled Home Outdoors 
I was blown away when I recently learned it landed the coveted cover shot!
This special issue by Country Sampler will be on news stands when Spring
arrives in New England, sometime near the end of April.
Until then, here are some of Matthew's images from this splendid outdoor issue.
 When April arrives I will be more than ready to fling open my french doors
to head outside if we get an extra warm and sunny day.
Fluffing up the day bed, and putting the umbrellas back into position will be 
first on my list of things to do.
The kitchen garden will not yet have been planted, but this 
beautiful photo of our charming garden shed and simple vegetable garden
will remind me that in just a few months time, the tomatoes will be ripening
on the vine.  The weather will be perfect for sipping cool drinks and enjoying
the courtyard and the garden terrace.
In other pages from this issue, was this great outdoor feature. 
Are you like me, always wishing you had a potting table?! 
I love the simple idea of stringing lights between bamboo stakes 
to give it extra whimsy and charm.
 Harvesting lavender will be on my list of things to do as I had
planted a border along the house in the courtyard. 
 For those of you with country roads to pedal along, 
how about planning a fairytale picnic one day?
I think this would be a special thing to do with kids or grandchildren.
 Country tables in backyards and on porches are always ready to host an outdoor party.
Spiffed up with linens and garden bouquets, this one under an arbor is especially appealing.
Light wines and farm stand fruits show off
the best a summer time gathering has to offer with easy country style.
Matthew's images show how effortless entertaining in summer should be,
and how beautiful our spaces can look with just a little attention to details.
(I love that green door in the background!!)
Our courtyard was used every single evening as a gathering place
at the end of the day.  One by one we would meet outside and take in the 
soft air and enjoy the scenery as we sipped our cocktails and club sodas.
Maybe this is the year that you dedicate the time to create a gathering 
space for you and yours....or simply just for you!  
I have seen the preview of the magazine, and its truly the best!
I will be offering some as free giveaways once we get closer to spring.
(above, my photo of an everyday kind of 5 o'clock happening)
Maybe because we live in New England that I love my outdoor living so.
I try to make the most of being at home, and this new space enhanced that ideal.
The collage below shows the basic steps we took to create the courtyard.

Decide which space you want to makeover and then 
apply some of these inspiring ideas from the pages of Matthew's latest
special issue, Upstyled Home Outdoors. 

( PS. For those of you who want to order online, there is a link to do so
from the Country Sampler site.  But mind you, it could be 6-8 week delay
from when it hits news stands.  However if you are in a rural area without access to 
magazines, then this link could be the answer for you. Click here to order.)

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A cozy reading spot and an antique jaunt full of treasures

Winter time is here. Finally.  
Today is the first day of February and the
snow finally arrived in Boston.  All of January brought little if any of the 
white stuff, and last night it snowed bringing just a few inches.
Cold weather makes you want to get cozy and that is just what we do around
the fireplace every morning.  We?
Colby and I can be found in here every morning.  The fireplace heats
up quickly and so its off and on until coffee time is over.
Magazines at the ready, a place to put my cup of joe, 
lamplight if its still dark outside, and all is well in 
my beautiful world at home with my peeps and dog.
Some days even Mr. Maison Decor has time to join us, which is a treat.
This morning I found my son Colin sitting in the French chair with his
laptop before he went to work out.  You know you have a good furniture
arrangement when you find everyone wanting to plunk down and stay.
After putting away the Christmas stuff, I moved all the furniture around, and
put the piano back in the original spot.  Moving stuff around brings a new look
to an old space and its something I have done forever.  I bet many of you  just keep 
your arrangements the same, but I just can't do that!!
I am a serial rearranger.
Colby loves the snow, and I think he may have forgotten about it 
from his first winter season.  Now with the fence in place, he has
figured out how to give a check on the neighborhood before coming back
inside by perching up on the step and leaning against the fence.
Then he runs inside and plunks down in his bed by the fire.
(Colby and I have been going to dog training classes, by the way,
in addition to our daily walks around the hood. ) 
Our living room is cozy because its on the small side.
Adding the console table next to the chair is temporary as it 
is a bit too long.  I will be looking for a piece to fit here that will 
fit the wall space, which means more antiquing in my future!
I like the idea of an unpainted piece, but I am sure once I see it, 
I will know it and just buy it....thats how I shop.
Last week I went antiquing with Matthew Mead and our friend, Ellen McHale.
The pretty brass lantern came home with me, and now holds a candlestick for 
adding a little more ambience in the evening.  I was attracted to the star cut outs on the glass
and I figure it will be nice for the courtyard, come Spring.
Its also a great reminder of a fun time with special people.
The older I get, the more I find myself dragging less things home.
Things that have meaning and are associated with good times are ideally 
what I want to use to decorate my home.
If you want to tag along with us on our recent antique jaunt, click on the video
below.  The antique cooperative was at Pulaski Mills, in Peabody, Massachusetts.
You will see me find that special lantern and also what caught Matthew's eye
and the treasure Ellen found that I secretly lusted over.
 And mom and dad:  click on the box in the right corner that has the shape of a square and that will make the video go to full screen so you can see it easier!
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