Saturday, April 27, 2013

Over My Head In Tin Ceiling Tiles

 photo from the web

     I am in over my head with tin ceiling tiles. The thought of a cottage with a tin kitchen ceiling makes me swoon. The truth is I probably would not like it for my kitchen ceiling. But that hasn't stopped me from thinking of how I could use the look on something else. A trip to Home Depot got me in trouble. Then a few minutes on Ebay got me in more.
     Yesterday, I ran in Home Depot to look for a florescent light fixture. The one under my counter had finally called it quits. A new bulb did not help, the fixture had died. As I zipped up one aisle trying to find my target purchase, I was side tracked. A bin of faux tin tiles stopped me dead in my tracks. My brain went into overdrive as I reached for the flyer and, afraid someone would come up and take the remaining tiles while I was reading about the product, I grabbed them all and plopped them in my cart. Then I took a close look at everything.

One of the sheets after I aged it.

     The faux tiles are thin plastic sheets that can be applied to walls either with adhesive or double sided tape. I put the sheets back, all except two, reached for a roll of tape and, in my excitement to pay for these items and get home, forgot to buy my light! It's fine. I am going back today for more faux tiles.
     Up on the wall, as a back splash behind my stove, they look like the real thing. Made by Fasade, the thin sheets are 24” x 18”.  You can cut the sheets with scissors to the size you need. I am toying with my two sheets to decide how far I want to go with this look. Behind the stove may be enough. I may want more on the opposite wall by my sink. Right now I am in the planning stages and we'll see how much trouble this leads too. Each panel costs $19.95.
     Below are photos of my stove before and after. The after is not final, but close to it. The panels look great, but they seemed too bright, too new for me. So I grabbed my paints, Patio Paint, Old Brick Red, an acrylic paint with a color that makes me think rust. If you like things worn and weathered like I do, rust is good! I won't buy metal patio furniture, unless it looks like it is caked in a fine rusty crust over the old paint. Fellow antique dealers, you understand my thought process.



Getting ready to muck it up with paint.

    Using my fingers, I rubbed some of the paint gently over the faux tin tiles. Not everywhere, but in places to kill back the shine and make it looked weathered. I think it worked. Can't age plastic by leaving it out in the rain, so paint was my answer.
    One thing lead to another and I decided to look at old antique ceiling tins on Ebay. The first picture was of a 12” x 12” ceiling tin with old pink paint. Doesn't get any better than pink in my book! And that is the color in my bedroom. I purchased ten different pink tiles and should have them the end of next week.  I wonder how these tiles will fit in? Trust me, my brain is already at work and I have a few great answers. Stay tuned.

Sample of the old pink tin ceiling tiles purchased on Ebay!

     I jump from one project to another, without total completion of any! Fragmented. It's how I live and how I work. But things are happening and moving forward. My ranch is in transformation, ready to blossom out of its shell into the cottage in my mind. Just you wait and see!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Back Yard Nightmare


Bray on the patio

      My back yard scares me. The grass (if you can call weeds grass) sprout up within two days of being mowed. My shrubs reach up so high it is hard to tell them from the trees. Even my dogs hate to walk off the deck into the lawn, as I loosely call it. Chloe, my little Chihuahua, disappeared in one area this morning. All I saw was her tail bobbing in the distance. Is it the natural fertilizer with six hounds stepping out to do their business that is the magic ingredient that makes things grow so fast? I head out after the dogs and think, today is the day I'll cut the shrubs back. After I poop scoop, I am too pooped to garden.
     The cottage in my mind has a lovely yard, with flower beds and art at every turn. I could have that cottage garden if I could find the energy to deal with it. Some days I still wonder if I should move, find a house that is smaller, one I can maintain better by myself. Those are the days I look around at all that needs to be done on the inside and outside of my house and want to crawl back to bed with a quilt over my head. I love all the changes that are happening here, but I still cheat on my ranch house late in the still of the night. Yet I wake up in the morning happy to be home in my house. Maybe I just need to pace myself better and not look at the entire picture, but each little part that will add up to the wonderful whole I'll call my cottage. Just maybe, I need to go to sleep before 2 am and I'd be more rested! But I am a creature of the night and love to write then.
     Today is yard day. The Reverend will be here at lunch. It costs me ninety-five dollars every two weeks in the spring and summer to try and maintain some order on the property. The right-of-way, that gives me the privacy I love, is expensive to keep up. It is a huge yard to mow.
      “Please cut the weeds in the back lower to the ground!” I whine every time he shows up.
      “No ma'am, the heat will kill the grass if it is too low.” He wipes he brow with a bandana as we talk. He is seventy plus years old and has been taking care of the houses in the neighborhood since he was sixteen. He also preaches on Sunday at a charming little church down the road I have visited on occasion. Yet for all his work, within a few days my yard looks as bad as ever. I am not happy with that!
      Reminds me of when I used to have my hair cut at a beauty salon. I paid big bucks only to go home and wash and restyle it. I gave up having someone else do my hair when I was in my thirties.  Is it time to do
the same with my yard? At least the back yard. Take control of it myself.
      I have to go to Home Depot today to order the tin for my front awnings. Perhaps I'll slip into the garden center. There may be a little lawn mower purchase in my future. I'll get back to you on that. This nightmare has got to end!

My Back Yard This Morning. Last Mowed Three Weeks Ago.

Can't tell the weeds from the shrubs.

A sea of weeds in the yard.

I need a blower. All the debris from pollen and rain.

View to the basement door.

Bertha passing over the hidden pavers. She is the brave yard dog in these conditions.

Walkway to the back shed. Can you find it?

Please don't make me go out in the yard again today!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Every Cottage Garden Needs A Muse

Lily at Vintage Village in Snellville waiting to come home with me.

     Every cottage garden needs a muse. I found mine yesterday at a favorite shop,  Vintage Village,  in Snellville, Georgia. She is now in my van, waiting for my handyman to place her by the picket fence when he comes back to work in a few days. I have a good friend to thank for her!

      This week, I am trying to decide what to plant next to my new fence. Something that will thrive in the shade, come back each year, and have a touch of green in the winter months. Most of the trash shrubs along the fence line were cut down or dug up. Two plants remain that have a bit of history.

      There is a lone pink rose bush that surprises me each year when it blooms. It was planted before I moved to this house, and comes back despite years of neglect.

     A hydrangea bush, I planted eight years ago, and forgot about, still grows despite being covered by weeds and small trees that sprouted while I ignored the front yard.  My handyman was careful not to dig it up after I warned him the bush was there.

     While I am not sure what I want in the way of plants, I knew I needed a garden lady to tuck in the nook of the fence. My garden needed its muse. I have a love affair with vintage garden statues. They are in my back yard, they are highlighted as art inside my house. The really old and fragile ones sit on dresser tops, while sturdier ones are allowed to venture into the gardens. 

     All my friends know my passion for old cement. They keep an eye out for me and let me know if they find something special.

     A call came in early Sunday evening from an antique buddy.

    "I'm at Vintage Village and the most wonderful cement lady is here in another booth. Thought about you." My friend rents space at the shop under the name My Vintage Heart.  The shop was closed, she was dropping off treasures for her space, but the timing was great that the statue was still there.

     Vintage Village is located in Snellville, Georgia, about twenty-five miles up the road from my house. It is on my way to Monroe, where I rent a spot at Hodge Podge Art, Antiques and Interiors.  I usually stop in there when I make a run to my booth. It always feels like home when I visit and I rarely leave empty-handed.
     "Sending a text with her photo now."

      Within a minute the photo arrived, and I was beside myself. This was the lady of my dreams for the cottage in my mind. She is beautiful, weathered perfectly, and tall.    

       "OMG! I love her. Just what I wanted. I'll be there tomorrow to buy her. Leave a note on the front desk!"

      I called the shop first thing Monday and then ran out to pick up Lily, as she had been named.

     Lily will be placed inside the fence, facing the house. I will smile at her with delight when I sit in my living room. Look for photos when she makes her appearance!

Photo from the test message my friend sent me!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Simply Said "I Must Have A Picket Fence!"

I'd like to invite you for tea but I think we both know it's Margaritaville!

     Ranch house. Picket fence. Are the two compatible? As hard as I searched online I could not find my style ranch house surrounded by a picket fence. My late forties ranch with its large sweeping front yard, wrought iron rails and original metal awnings, screamed out “do not fence me in!” At least, not with a picket fence.
     There once was a split rail western fence across the front yard by the street that had fallen in decay. OK, I also knocked into the fence one rainy night going out to meet a bad date. I whacked it with the rear of my car and it tumbled to the ground. An omen I took to heart that my date was not going to work out. While I never saw my date again, I got to look out my front window at the fence remains for a few years.
     The problem with my yard and a sweet picket fence is the size of the yard. The land is not all mine, but part of a right-of-way that I maintain. Those charming fences I loved would make my house look ridiculous. Like when I shrunk my already tight jeans and went out to dinner with my jeans about three inches above my ankle. Laughable, but not funny. I didn't realize how silly I looked til I caught sight of myself  in the full length mirrored doors as I entered the restaurant. Proportion counts. In jeans and in fences.
     “I want a picket fence!” Simply said. But not quietly so.
     My handyman and I went through pictures I'd printed out.
     “I like that railed fence. You could do that.” He tried to be helpful.
     It was lovely. I actually saw one like it on a farm I passed as I went antiquing the week before. White. Charming. But I was not looking to buy the farm, I wanted the cottage in my mind.
     “Nope. Picket fence.”
     Driving an intown neighborhood a few days later a different kind of picket fence caught my eye. Three trips around the block I positioned myself to take a photo. Never mind the few cars behind me honking as I came to a complete stop at rush hour. I got the photo. I also found my fence-style.
     “This!” I flashed my cell at my handyman. “What do you think?”
     “That will work!”
      And yes it did.
      Two inch pickets, forty-eight inches high, with four inches between the pickets, gave the openness and height that was needed to frame my yard. Simple, elegant, timeless, and charming.
     A trip to the lumber yard provided the supplies. Two hundred and forty pickets, two inch rails, and posts totaled over $740.
    Visa don't fail me now. I pulled out my worn credit card and handed it to the cashier. For just a second my heart raced. I had not put a cost to the fence.
    “Here is your receipt. Take it to the window in the first room and the guys will load your lumber.”
     Work started that afternoon and a few days later my fence was in. Most of it. The far corner on the other side of the drive goes in the end of this week. Towards the creek and right-of-way the only remaining portion of the old split rail fence still stands. You can barely see it. It has not rotted. I left it to show where the original fence boundaries were. It also reminds me of an earlier time in my house, when a man I loved would have cringed at the thought of a picket fence. It is part of my roots after all.
      I am dreaming flowers and garden statues. I love my picket fence! Come on over. I'll have a pitcher of Margaritas waiting!

Poor pitiful split rail fence!

So that is what a fence looks like fresh from the lumber yard.

And so it begins....

Looking mighty fine!

Finished, complete with solar caps on the side going up the driveway. Perhaps I'll see better at night when I back out!

Needs some flowers!

A long stretch of pickets!

Details. See how the pickets angle to one side at top.


Friday, April 12, 2013

A Bee In My Bonnet

Photo from the web.

    “Watch out!” I screamed at my handyman as the bees buzzed overhead. I have a morbid fear of being stung and I didn't want him to get zapped while working on my new picket fence.
     “I see them.” He swatted at the air above his head with his old cap. “Geez. I hate bees!”
     Nobody was stung, thank goodness. But I had a problem to address. While the fence in front of my house was near completion, the side corner that frames the driveway was buzzing with bees.
      We stood there looking at the area he had to work on next.
     “What do you think?” I looked at him, concerned, but somewhat disgusted there was a problem to solve.
     “Don't know. I guess I could dig out the old fence, like I did on this side." He turned back to where he had all but completed my picket fence. "But there weren't bees there. Bees and I don't get along.”
     The remains of the old split rail fence were covered with plants and shrubs. It had once been a flower bed, but years of neglect turned it into a jungle. I wanted flowers again, framed by my new fence. The only thing I planned to save was the sweet pink rose that managed to thrive over the years.
     “Wonder what kind of bees they are?” I thought about all my old Victorian paintings with their honeybees flying over roses and lilacs in baskets.
      I watched as the bees seemed to play in the air and soar above our heads, only to disappear back into the thick shrubs. They hardly noticed us.
     “I'll bet they are honeybees.”
      I called the county extension services and was put in touch with their master gardener.
     “Not time for honeybees, nor yellow jackets. You say there is a wood fence there? Probably carpenter bees. April is the month you start seeing them.”
     “Do you know someone I can call to get rid of them?"
     “You can buy spray to kill them. But that could also annoy them. They really aren't aggressive, unless provoked. Do you have a tennis racket? Try to chase them away with that.”
      Her remark brought back a flood of memories!  My husband used to keep his old tennis racket by the kitchen door. He'd take it outside to deal with the carpenter bees when he saw them at the back of the house. I tossed it away a few months ago in a house cleaning frenzy. My timing was off on that one. But I didn't really picture my handyman or myself down by the fence swinging a racket."
     “Do you have someone I could call.” I repeated myself.
     She gave me the name of a guy, a beekeeper, who might help. “Tell him you know you can spray, but wanted his help to do it. Most likely he'll say no.”
     Not to be discouraged I called him.
     “Don't want to take your money for something you can do yourself.” I had a good old country boy on the phone.
     “I'm pretty sure they are carpenter bees, and I know I can spray, but I'm scared. And so is my handyman.”
     “If he is a handyman, he's not afraid of bees. Ask him. Never met a handyman who couldn't handle a few carpenter bees, unless they are wasps or something else. But with that fence there, they most likely are carpenter bees. Can't take your money for that.”
     Please take my money, I silently pleaded.
     “I'd feel better if you could come and take a look. I'll pay for your time.”
     “If you're that worried, I'll  come in the morning. Want to be sure you know what you're talking about. Wouldn't want you to hit a wasp nest. But most likely them carpenter bees. Can't take your money for that.”
     It rained liked the heavens opened up that night. By morning it was bright again. My handyman showed up, but the bees did not.
     An old pickup truck pulled up into the driveway just as I was assessing the bee situation. A man in his late forties jumped out and walked over to introduce himself.
     “Do you think the rain chased them away?” I looked again at the quiet bushes and worried they were gone for now, but would be back, and my beekeeper would be gone.
     Then a bee flew out of the bushes and circled us.
    “Yep. You got carpenter bees.” He bent over and pulled back some limbs to see the split rail fence. “You can see the holes.” He thumped on the fence and more bees appeared. “Won't hurt you. Unless of course you bother them.”
     Wasn't that what he just did thumping on the fence? But the bees just flew about. One brushed against my hand and took back off. They did not appear to be concerned with us like I was with them.
     “Your handyman ain't afraid of those carpenter bees.”
     “Yeah, I think he is. Let's ask.”
      I called him over. He eyed the bees circling.
    “Think you can handle this?” I looked at my handyman. Someone had to get that fence out of there so we could cut down the shrubs and get my picket fence in. "He says you can work around the bees."
     “I hate bees.” He gave me a crooked smile and went back to the other side of the drive.
     “Something wrong with him?” The beekeeper shook his head. “Never met a...”
     “Can you help?” I cut him off mid sentence.
     “I'll pull that old fence out if you like.”
     Before I could answer he jerked out the two posts and the two rails and tossed them by the trash can. Then he bent over and grabbed the longer rail and held it out to me.
    “Yep. Look at them holes.” He took a stick and poked in one of them. “Got that bee.”
The holes could not have been more precise if they had been drilled.
    “Wow. That's amazing. Are there more bees in there?”
     My fear was gone. This was pretty awesome.
     He held the rail close to his ear then handed it to me.
    The rail buzzed with activity. I wondered how many bees were still in there.
    “They'll be out when it warms up a bit.” He dropped the rail back by the trash.
     I was thrilled. The fence was out. I could trim back the shrubs myself now.
    “Can I pay you for your time?” He didn't have to drive far from his house to mine, but I did cut into his morning.
    “A few bucks for gas would be fine. Can't take your money for anything else.”
    After he left my handyman and I made a quick run to Home Depot for caps for the fence posts. We stopped for burgers and drove home to eat in the driveway.
    “I can see bees down there.” He was looking in his rear view mirror.
    Just at that moment, the garbage men pulled up in their huge truck. They loaded my trash and started to leave.
     “Did they take the fence rails?” I didn't want to turn around and look.
      “No....wait, they just backed up."
     “Are they taking it?” I couldn't believe my good fortune.
      I did a quick spin in my seat to see them load the fence remains, bees and all, into the back of the truck and drive off.
     “I can't believe that. It's all gone!” Then we both started to laugh so hard I almost snorted up my diet coke.
     Scratch one bee in my bonnet! I spent the next hour cutting back the overgrowth, except for my lovely old rose bush.
     The rest of my fence goes in next week.

     Bee in hole. Photo from the web.

Perfectly round hole by carpenter bee. Photo from the web.

Overgrown corner with old split rail fence - home of the caprenter bees.

My afternoon work. Fence gone, area almost cleared.

Info about carpenter bees. Link here.  
Carpenter bees are large, black and yellow insects about 1 inch (25 mm) long. They closely resemble bumble bees. The thorax is covered with yellowish hairs, and the abdomen is a shiny black color and hairless. Male carpenter bees are territorial; in the spring they are often found guarding potential nest sites. They discourage intruders by hovering or darting at anything venturing into the nesting areas. The female carpenter bee, like many other bees, can sting, but it is uncommon for her to do so; the males do not sting.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sunshine In My Window

Sun on my floors, a welcome sight!

     Today I will just enjoy my house, my yard and the world outside my front door. The final work on my bathroom, if you can call it that – decorating – can wait until tomorrow. There is reason to celebrate this Saturday... the sun is out! It looks and feels like spring. It is about time.
     The bleak weather has carried on too long. My dogs are restless. I am stir crazy. The basement leaked again from the rain the other night. My handyman is waiting for a few days of sunshine to dig out around the foundation and fix the problem. Scarlett would say. Today I am all about fun!
     I love the sun. I am at my best when it shines. It fills me with excitement, hope, energy, and possibilities. I am a Leo, ruled by the sun, so I am almost giddy in its presence.
    This morning the sun blinds me as I sit at the computer! Its rays pick up every bit of dust and dog dander on my floor. I don't care. And I am certainly not going to clean today! Soon I will be outdoors doing whatever sparks my imagination.
     The dogs had a huge romp in the yard and now do what they do best, sleep! All six are out cold, spread across the room on chairs and the sofa. Rascal takes full advantage of the sun's rays. Her head is aglow with light and her tiny paws sparkle. Her head begs to be kissed, but I don't want to wake her.

Sweet Rascal loves the sun too!

     The cottage in my mind has huge windows that draw in every bit of light from Mother Nature. My own ranch house is full of sun. I couldn't live in a house that was dark, no matter how charming it was in other ways. The bones are great in my ranch, it is missing those things I dream about in a much older cottage, but the basics are there and I can create my own little charming space.
     I came across a quote by the artist Edward Hopper that sums up my feelings about sunshine.
What I wanted to do was paint sunlight on the side of the house...Edward Hopper
(1882-1967, realist painter of twentieth-century America)
Seven A. M., 1948

High Noon

Light House

     I want to paint sunshine in every room of my house! The cozy cottage paint I used in the bathroom allows the room to explode with the light from outdoors. Maybe that is the shade for the rest of my rooms. Time will tell.
Enjoy your day! Back to work tomorrow as I share the final bathroom photos.

Links for Edward Hopper articles.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Paint Called "Cozy Cottage"

     Who falls in love with the name of a paint color? Well, I did. I knew I wanted an off white paint for my bath re-do, and worried how I would find the perfect shade? Yes, there is more to white paint than meets the eye. In my case, the actual color was not the deciding factor, the paint name stole my heart. When it comes to decorating I am ruled by romance rather than reason.
     My handyman and I were in Home Depot to pick up my bathroom fixtures and paint for the walls. What I thought would take hours, and much teeth gnashing,  was done in a matter of minutes. It took longer to get the items on our cart, than for me to decide what I wanted.
     Our first stop was the bathroom section. Like a kid in a candy store with no adult supervision, I ogled the pedestal sinks for a moment and picked my flavor. One sink, and only one sink, stood out. It was the largest one they had. Tall, with a huge basin, and a rimmed backsplash. Very old fashioned looking, it was so large, it became my tiny bathroom's focal point. It had style and presence. The backsplash would also cover the two holes in the tile where the old oak sink cabinet my husband built, twenty-eight plus years ago, had been drilled in to the wall.
     “The toilet has to be high like the one I've got now.” I smiled at my handyman. It took a few moments longer than my sink decision to pick out a toilet. 'Chair Height' caught my eye. “Is this about the size of the one at home?” I knew I didn't want a low sitting toilet, or one with an elongated bowl, just a simple white toilet to tuck next to my glorious sink. He took the measurements and pulled a big box off the rack.
     I had my Home Depot charge and I charged forward like a maniac. I've never picked out my own bathroom fixtures. For years I've lived with the manly bathroom my husband installed when we first moved into the house. The bathroom was so small, he custom built the sink cabinet, wall shelf, and medicine cabinet to fit the space. Back in those days I liked oak, so I was happy with how the bathroom looked when it was completed. The old tan and black tile stayed, and glass shower doors were put up. It was more a man's bath, and not the cottage style I now so wanted.
     I've disliked my bathroom so much the last few years, I hated to clean it. Between the yellowing paint, dust, a bit of mildew, and Talcum powder everywhere, the bath was a mess. No matter what I did, a thin film of powder stayed on the shelf, in the old caulking around the tub, and sprinkled on the floor, turning my black rug, with its cabbage rose pattern, grey. I questioned how so much powder could go into the air, when so little went onto my body.
     The old grout around my tub/shower was also disgusting. Tiny specks had worn away and grime filled the crevices.  My old bathroom was the biggest eyesore in my house. I'd had several occasions of sheer embarrassment when someone asked to use it, but company was rare, and I rarely cleaned.
     Now it was about to transform into the girly bathroom I'd always wanted.
     While I picked out my light fixture, my handyman went to get other supplies I had no interest in.
    “I'll meet you in paints!” I waved him off and gleefully looked at chrome fixtures with milk glass shades. My final choice was in a Martha Stewart box.
     We caught up in the paint department.
    “I think that is enamel on the walls. Do we have to prime the room first?” My thoughts went back to the primer that was used throughout the house the last time paint hit the walls. It stunk up the place for hours.
While I was not the one doing the work, I wanted it done quickly, and without a lot of disruption to the household and dogs. It is hard to keep six dogs calm with all the excitement of renovation going on. I would find out later I had to move the dogs from room to room, to let my handyman in and out of the house, and into the work areas.
     We asked the guy behind the counter. The paint he recommended was BEHR Premium Plus, they mix a primer in with the tint. One coat would do the job.     
     “Look at the charts and samples on the rack.” He pointed behind us.
     I grabbed a few cards from the section with varying shades of white and turned back to my handyman.  I liked the off white, with a hint of taupe. I liked several shades, in fact. But my decision was made based on the name of a color that said it all.
      “This one!” I giggled, like a silly school girl. "Cozy Cottage. I love it!”
        We headed back home and by the end of the day my sink and toilet were installed. I had not realized how dark the oak had made the room. Now it was bright, lively. For a moment I worried all that light might show my wrinkles, but I was smiling with excitement. I tossed that thought, with the rest of the debris on the floor, into the trash and out the door.
      The antique window purchased from a friend, with its large mirror insert, would replace the medicine cabinet and add more of the old vintage style I'd hoped for. There was plenty of storage in the narrow closet next to the sink.
      My dream started to take shape. I could hardly wait for the next installment. The cottage in my mind would be a cozy cottage indeed!

Getting ready to remove the old sink and built in cabinet.

Remains of the old toilet.

Medicine cabinet...gone!

Shopping at Home Depot.

My new sink and toilet.

Antique window with mirror to replace medicine cabinet.