Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Faux Farm

Sometimes a house dictates what it wants to look like. My ranch house told me it wanted to be a farmhouse more than a cottage. I think in my heart I wanted a little farmhouse too - one full of cottage style with a touch of whimsy. I think I've achieved my goal on the outside. At night when I drive up - the solar caps on the fence posts lining my driveway wink at me as if to chuckle about the house's new look. A neighbor stopped by last evening as I was watering my plants. She wanted to know if I just moved in the neighborhood. I refrained from laughing. I've lived here thirty years. She loved the girl pulling the cow and wanted to know where to buy one. Shhh. I'll never tell. I don't want to ruin the neighborhood with too much silliness. My house has enough for all to enjoy.

Below are some photos of what we look like with our facelift!

Street view
Garden Lady

One of five Knock Out Rose bushes

Lady on wall by front window
Crusty metal flower hung on chimney

 Front door - new awning
Back gate, outhouse shutters, hen house, and egg sign!
And just as you were saying, how tastefully whimsical - Elsie appears in front of my gas meter!
I think I'll stay put for awhile!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Cozy Fireplace Mantel Can Warm Up The Bedroom

Antique tin ceiling tiles in old pink paint make up the center of the fireplace mantel.
My old bedroom had a huge amount of charm. When the sunlight filtered in the room, the apple green chest of drawers sparkled. Ice cream colors made for a happy room. One day I looked at all the sherbet colors and realized it was just too much. Too many odd pieces of furniture directly across from my bed. The green chest, an aqua book case, vintage hampers, and other sweet pieces appeared disjointed. I wanted something that was colorful, but restful. I sold most of the bedroom pieces to purchase the old chipped paint sea foam green Victorian mantel. I'd loved it for over a year in a shop in Monroe - then decided it would be the perfect piece to tie the room together.
The mantel had to be anchored above the baseboard. It looked as though it was floating in air. I took out my acrylic paints and added an 'extension' to the bottom, over the baseboard.
My old book case was placed before the mantel, but it didn't give the charm I wanted. A few months ago I purchased twelve antique ceiling tiles, in the sweetest old pink paint. I decided to fill the inside of the fireplace with the old tin tiles. I used my E6000 jewelry glue to adhere the tiles to the white wall. Tape held them in place while the glue dried. Next I cut one tile to place around the light switch. When all was in place, I grabbed my acrylic paints again and filled in around the tiles with grey paint to pull them together. Most had grey edges, but some of the white wall peeked through. A quick line of paint took care of that problem.
I put the book case in another room and brought in an old pink paint bench to place in front of the mantel, piled on a few books, a plant, and an old chippy pink paint watering can. I love the results.
Below are photos, before and after. I will post pictures of the entire room tomorrow.
The original look across from my bed. Just too busy.

Mantel with old bamboo bookcase. Still not quite right.
Mantel with old tiles and bench.
The finished product. I love how it turned out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Something To Moo About!


"To laugh is human to moo is bovine."  Author Unknown
My old shop sign has found a new home! The reproduction tin sign of a girl pulling a cow is now on my roof.  The remains of black ink giving hours of operation have faded softly. I love the bit of whimsy it adds. 
The pieces of the puzzle for the outside of my house are coming together, but the final picture is not complete yet. Below are the parts that will make up the whole!

My Ebay purchase, en route as I write. Every cow needs a moon! or ten!
Sitting patiently to see what develops in the yard.
A large rusty metal flower waits to be hung on the house.
A vintage cement maiden dreams of the day she finds her perfect resting spot.
The cottage in my mind is full of whimsy and touched by beauty.

Monday, May 20, 2013

When In Fear Of A Dog Bite Always Buy Pink Roses

The face of a guilty dog.

A dog that intends to bite does not bear its teeth.  Turkish Proverb

If I had read this proverb two days ago, I might not have bought more pink roses for my yard. But Bertha showed me her teeth and I went out on a spree.

I think in reality the rain had gotten to all of us. Me, Bertha, and the other five hounds. I saw more teeth this week because of dog boredom. Teeth not in my direction, but my normally well behaved pups got testy with each other. Then a set of pearly whites did gleam at me.

It was raining again and the only thing to do was take a nap. The old cantankerous Annabelle was asleep on the bed. I tried to crawl in next to her and she refused to budge. Then Bertha flew into the room, jumped in the air, and landed smack dab on Annabelle's front paws. That woke Annabelle up, who proceeded to snarl at Bertha. A mean snarl that said "don't do that again if you know what is good for you."

Bertha cowered by the pillow. I was amazed she didn't growl back. I was pleased she was learning her manners. Bertha was the last dog to come to the pack and her social progress was slow.

Within minutes the room was full of dogs. It doesn't help I cry out "dog party" as they all make their way to my king-size bed. We snuggled down for a nap, the rain pounding on the roof,  the sound of it dripping against the window was a sad reminder it was time to clean the gutters.

Chloe my seven pound Chi was under the quilt when I turned and squashed her. She did not take it kindly and poked her head out to let me know she was quite annoyed. I ignored her. After all, she is only seven pounds. No matter how sinister she tries to be, I can only smile. She twirled around and scooted back under the quilt.

Bertha sat up and started to shake her head. I had been worried she might have an ear infection earlier in the week. The movement she made only convinced me I was right.

"Come on, girl!" I eased off the bed and she moved to follow me. She stepped on Chloe under the quilt, mashed Annabelle's paw again, and bumped into Rascal as she jumped to the floor. Three dog heads shot up, but they kept silent. April and Bray were unfazed. Does that add up to six dogs?

I reached over to Bertha's head and touched her ear. She winced and growled at me. Her teeth were close to my hand, her eyes looked at me for an instant, then she dropped her head in shame.

For that nano second I saw her teeth I panicked. Her nose flew up and she smelled my fear. Then she became contrite. She did nothing more than any of my other dogs would do if I'd grabbed an ear that hurt them. But because Bertha is still an unknown it worried me more than I liked.

Between the rain and my concern over Bertha my day felt bleak. I put on my jeans, grabbed the car keys and headed out. I drove around the shopping center and passed Kroger.  In the grey drizzle of rain I saw a soft pink. Roses.

I couldn't park my car fast enough. Did I need more roses? Is that a question a rose lover would ask. There are never enough roses.

I purchased three rose bushes at Kroger and gently placed them in my van. The sun did not come out, but my mood elevated back to its normal happy self.

My little cottage garden is filling up. The roses will be planted in the next few days. I am waiting for the sun to shine so I can find the best spot for them. I've already planted roses by my picket fence.

In the meantime, I placed the roses by the front window, next to the old tin girl and cow that was my sign at the shop. It may be the decoration over my awning later this month, up high on my roof line. For now, it looks lovely framed by roses.

The dogs were happy to see me as I entered the house. I uncrated Bertha and she butted me with her head. Her thick muzzle had the velvet feel of a horse's mouth. She pranced over to the sofa, jumped up and rolled over on her back. Belly rubs were called for. She has an appointment with the vet for her ear on Tuesday.

I love my dogs. I love my roses. Simple pleasures.  Roses have thorns that will prick you if you are not careful. And just maybe a dog with a tender ear will bear its teeth if you touch it wrong.

Life lessons learned and a great excuse to buy roses for my yard.  While I am still waiting for the sun to shine my life is full of light.

Kroger. Could you drive by and not stop?

The companion next to me on the car seat.

More roses on the front seat.

Waiting patiently.

My old shop sign.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

My hen's nest on the fence leading to the patio.

     I now have a hen's nest hanging on my fence to remind me to take a breath before I hatch an idea. My dreams are always way ahead of my reality. I've never gotten the answer to what came first, the chicken or the egg? So I do things out of order. Some days I run around like a chicken with its head cut off. An example is my latest purchase. Money spent for something I didn't need. My nest egg is pretty much gone with my silly spending. But I don't worry too much. I've learned to keep my sunny side up.
     The purchase came about because of two words. 'Urban Farming'. The phrase is so hot, you could fry an egg on it. Friends of mine in metro Atlanta have hens in their back yard and fresh eggs for breakfast. I didn't want to be left with egg on my face, I wanted to be part of the movement. The cottage in my mind could be a tiny city farm. I decided I'd have chickens too.
     Another idea that could label me a bird brain.
     I drove home from a day of shopping in Monroe, Georgia, with a huge old hen house in the back of the van. I strutted my stuff into the driveway and unloaded my vehicle, only then realizing how large the hen's nest was. I had to drag it across the driveway up to my privacy fence by the patio. Since I was no spring chicken, I huffed and puffed until I got it in place. The sound of metal grating on concrete ruffled my feathers. It also alerted the pack of hounds I was home. Six dogs howled from the kitchen wanting out in the yard.
     It was at that moment I realized I'd laid an egg. My grand idea was not everything it was cracked up to be. How would I have chickens in a yard that was full of dogs? I felt like a dumb cluck.
     There was no sense to brood over it.
     Quit your squawking! I chided myself.
     While I couldn't have an urban farm, I could decorate farm style..
     My ideas had a pecking order.
     I set about to feather my nest.
     First I hung the hen's nest on the fence wall that leads to my patio. It won't hold chickens, but I can plant flowers in it.
     That made me as happy as a rooster in a hen house.
     Next I pulled an old peaches sign from the pile of things to go to my shop and hung it by my front door.
I was fussin like an old hen with my decorating ideas.
     There is one final egg in my basket, but I will surprise you with it later, after a bit more work is done on the place.
     Yes, this is a bit of a cock and bull story, but I am excited about my farm accents and feel I have something to crow about!
     Next time I worry I've jumped into something too quickly and the sky is falling, I'll remember what Oscar Wilde said: "People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately."
      Perhaps going off half cocked is not such a bad idea after all!

Farm style peaches sign. Old and rusty. Perfect by my front door.

The original lady chicken farmer - a romantic notion for sure in her white dress.

Waiting for a Margarita!

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now ...Revisiting My Back Yard


On April 25, I posted about my back yard nightmare! You can visit the post here. The back of my house was a jungle I didn't know how to tame. Several years of neglect sprouted small trees and Privet in all my beds. What you can't see here is the tall wrought iron garden cart to the left and the five foot tall iron angel to the right.


Well take another look now!

In my book The Unfaithful Widow I talk about my garden. It is a garden full of memories more than one I plant in each year. Some of those memories were uncovered yesterday with the help of two great workers. A tree service I've used before came to clean my roof and gutters and get my yard back to where I can work in it again. There is still much to do, but a great start don't you think?


My vintage garden angel taller than I am.

There she is, my angel Anne, named for my late husband's cousin. She left here a year after he did. I found this angel at an antique store and knew I would always remember her when I looked at it. She has been hidden too long! Morning, I heard her voice in a soft whisper that brushed past me when I took this photo earlier. She was a psychic so you never know!

Garden cart and trellis topped with a huge rose bush ready to bloom!

The tall garden cart came from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens gift shop when I worked there part-time my first year alone. It was black, but a coat of pink paint made it perfect for a cottage garden. The back wood trellis was built by my husband over twenty-five years ago. Both are covered in roses that are ready to bloom. The bush came from a small plant purchased at the grocery store, grew out of control in its pot and was transplanted into the garden. With all the neglect, it comes back and blooms every year. Now I can see it! Look for photos when my roses take off.

Brace yourself for the next change. It gives me the willies actually, but everyone says Crepe Myrtles grow back. The one in my center back yard was cut back to the nubbins! I cringe on that, but it will be beautiufl again. Down my street the county has done the same with all the Crepe Myrtles that bloom there. I see new sprouts on them and it has only been two weeks since they were chopped down! My butterfly bushes grew into the top of the Crepe Myrtle, now are trimmed back and shaped. I can see the side chain link fence. The dogs love the freedome to run through the beds now! I feel like the world can peek in my yard and see me. Actually, beyond the fence is the rest of my property and a right-of-way that goes down to a creek. Visually it is so open now I feel exposed but there is a huge buffer between me and my neighbor!


After. Ouch!

Bray can't hide in the butterfly bushes anymore!

A few more after shots of the yard!

Another Crepe Myrtle trimmed painfully. Trellis built by my husband many years ago. Remains of a David Austin rose bush by bottom window. One tiny pink bud on it! I bought that rose from a catalog as many years ago as the trellis was built and on occassion it blooms. It is amazing to me it is still alive.

Annabelle checks out the yard from my deck.

Annabelle prefers the view from the patio. She is my oldest dog (as in age) and the second rescue dog I adopted.

The Lady Of Lilburn has a clear view now that the Privet has been cut away. Small statues in the bed by the pea gravel patio are for Foxy and Jake, my old German Shepherds that lived a great life.

Another old iron piece in the yard and doesn't everyone need a plastic Flamingo, this one faded from the sun. End of the bed with the pink cart facing the outbuildings.

Rosemary for Remembrance
My Garden of Memories will bloom this year!

I see a party in the future! Perhaps I too am a psychic.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Kitchen - A Pinch Of This And A Dash Of That...The Perfect Recipe

The end of my kitchen a month ago.

     The end of my kitchen has held many different antiques over the years. Two years ago I put the old paint mantel against the wall. It gives a bit of character. My heart stood still when I found it at a favorite shop. Someone painted the flowers, but the black paint is old and chippy. The gateleg table and Victorian folding chairs came in last fall when I needed a spot for my Italian exchange student to grab breakfast before school. Now that she is gone, the room seemed crowded. The old green roll-up shade was there when we bought the house almost thirty years ago. I think it held ten year's worth of dust.
     My biggest beef with the kitchen was a huge fluorescent  light that dominated the ceiling. It did give out great light, but it was full of dead bugs most days. I couldn't lift the cover off by myself, so night after night I looked up and saw bugs fly in to the light and fry.

Old ceiling light.

Other end of the kitchen. Ceiling fan was nice, but brass, I changed for one in chrome 

curtains and new ceiling light

new ceiling fan

The baker's table that got me in trouble! Sweet old robins egg blue paint chairs.
All came from Davis Street Antiques in Monroe, Ga.

      With limited funds, I opted to change the feel of the room with a new ceiling fixture and fan – both in chrome. I put in the faux tin ceiling tile backsplash behind the stove and across the back of the sink. My handyman took care of repairing the holes in the ceiling from the old fixture and then put up a new coat of crisp white paint. I plan to repaint the walls and doors white to make the room sparkle.
     The green shade came down, replaced with a Martha Stewart chrome curtain rod for under $30. My valance is a long curtain turned lengthwise. It came from the thrift store for $1.99. A matching valance is over the kitchen door.
     The light fixture and fan came in at about $60 each at Home Depot. The back splash under $30.
     My big splurge was the old baker's table with pale blueish-green paint and an old zinc top for $225 and two chippy old blue chairs that cost $39 for the pair. I think the room has an English cottage feel to it.
I rarely cook, but I love my old cottage furniture. You can tell where I put my dollars!   Below is my kitchen now. Still waiting a coat of cottage white paint.