Monday, October 24, 2011

Playing Hooky

So this past weekend started a little earlier than most for me.  A couple of my closest friends and I decided to “play hooky” on Friday and have a girls day.  It had been a while since we had all been able to catch up so it was overdue and such a great idea!  Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative for much outdoor activity but luckily we adapted…..and went shopping.
Once & Again
45 Bridge St., Salem MA
photo courtesy of Kate Nolan-Denham
After a beyond yummy breakfast at the Pilgrim Diner we headed toward Ipswich to see what mischief we could find.  Ipswich is such a picturesque little town it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon on a nice day plus there are some lovely little shops on the way. 
The Pilgrim (Deb's) Diner
4 Boston St., Salem MA
photo courtesty of Yelp
The first shop we hit was a revisit for us – Once and Again in Salem MA.  We were immediately greeted by this friendly face.  Her name is Cookie and she is such a love…having a shop pet is just part of the charm of a locally owned/run shop.
Offical Once & Again Greeter
I did remember from our visit last year that Once and Again had wonderful chandeliers but let me tell you they had so many more than I remembered - great options from all design styles.  I can’t imagine anyone not finding something they loved here – I know we all found several fixtures we loved.

Just one of the many rooms of chandeliers and a rare moment
with me in the photo
photo courtesy of Kate Nolan-Denham
One of the other things I love about Once and Again is that most of the items in this shop are “retro” antiques not “serious” antiques.  I always think the “retro” finds are much easier to live with and actually use.  I’m always worried I will do something to destroy either the integrity or value of super serious antiques. 
Love the color of this cabinet.  The green
depression glass & Fire Kingware is just
a bonus!
Looks just like any other dresser but it's
really a bathroom the
repurpose!  If I only had a large enough
bathroom to accomodate it...

After we left Once and Again we meandered up the road for a bit and hit a couple of not really blog-worthy consignment shops (although perfectly lovely they didn’t offer the spectacular array of goodies I usually love to pass along). 

Mid-afternoon we landed at Wenham Tea House and let me tell you this was such a gem of a find.  We had so much fun sipping their delectable blueberry tea and enjoying scrumptious scones.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Wenham Tea House….they host private parties too!
Simply Delectable!
As a bonus there is a tea shop where you can purchase the yummy tea and beautiful cups and teapots.  
The Exchange at Wenham Tea House
4 Monument St., Wenham MA
photo courtesty of
We had such a good time meandering we really didn't get to Ipswich before closing time.  That's ok, it was such a fun day playing hooky - we will have to do it again soon girls!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Sew Or Not To Sew

Have I happened to mention that I don’t sew? 
Well, perhaps I don’t sew but I do have this genetic defect that allows me to think I can do most anything if I try hard enough (with the exception of major plumbing and electrical of course).  Now that doesn’t mean I actually can do everything that I think I can but I will generally at least try.
So with that in mind shortly after I bought my house I purchased fabric to make curtains with.  I had looked at custom window treatments (or more accurately drooled over them) but couldn’t justify the cost for something I could “do myself”.  So off to Zimman’s I went.
The window in it's original dressing
when I moved in - don't you just love the
window shade that matches the wallpaper?
Well, fast forward a couple of years and I ashamed to admit curtains were not still made - fabric was still sitting. 
I had no pattern (and why would I make this any easier on myself by buying one?) so decided to take a look at some curtains I had to see how they were constructed to see if I could copy them.  I had a custom valance as well as a ready-made valance that I had used in previous houses but neither of which were just what I wanted for this house. 
Old ready-made was perfect for measuring
I measured & drew out a plan, then realized I hadn’t bought any fabric to line the curtain so headed out to Freddy Farkle’s Fabric Outlet to find just the right khaki.  Can’t have unlined curtains, right?
A couple of weeks ago I vowed to finally get this done, laid out all of the materials and realized I hadn’t purchased enough trim so back I went to find more.  After visits to several fabric shops I couldn’t find the trim to match my original selection so ended up going a different route.  Note to self, next time measure twice, cut once.
Pinning in the trim
This past Sunday evening I finally sat down and pinned everything together and last night got down to business with the sewing machine.  I have a very basic sewing machine that my Mom had picked up for me a few years ago at a yard sale – a new swanky (i.e. expensive) model would be lost on a novice non-sewer such as me.  I’m sure if knew how to use a swankier model it would have made sewing that trim on easier but my basic model worked just fine!
It took me a total of about 3 hours and luckily I had thought it through enough that it wasn’t too stressful once I actually got down to it.  I somehow knew that ironing as you go makes all the difference in your end product so pinned, ironed then sewed and it went fairly smoothly. 
Before the final stitching - the trim is stitched in but that
was all at this point
And here is the finished product:
Not totally perfect but not bad for a novice who doesn't

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shop Around the Corner...Maison de Mer

Maybe a year or so ago I happened to notice a new little shop not far from my house…it’s on a strip near the beach that is mostly populated with salon’s & restaurants so a home goods shop isn’t necessarily expected here but you know my radar is going to hone in on a window full of beautiful furniture & accessories.
Maison de Mer
222 Humphrey St, Swampscott MA
When I first visited Maison de Mer it was a very little shop but full of wonderfulness - French country ooo-la-la!  It is a small single proprietor business – the kind where your dollar really matters in its success (or failure) and feels like it when you enter to a warm greeting from the owner.  I have been back a couple of times and have purchased some really fun trinkets for friends - but it had been a while since my last visit. 
Love, love, love this tray!
A few weeks back I had been driving by on my way somewhere with no time to stop and this picture was in the window just calling me but I had no time to linger so I begrudgingly kept moving.
So fun - retro reproduction painted on
Well yesterday I happened to be out on a couple of missions – spray paint for a new bamboo headboard  I recently bought (struck out yesterday) and trim for that bathroom curtain that just doesn’t seem to be sewing itself.  As I was passing on my way back home that picture called me again.  Little did I know that there were more inside…
now I just have to decide which one I can't live without
and where it will hang in my house..I'm thinking bathroom?
As I mentioned it had been a little bit since I had last been in and to my pleasant surprise Maison de Mer had expanded and doubled the space!  I’m so happy to see she is doing well enough to expand…certainly gives hope that small local business isn’t dead here on the North Shore! 
What could be more inviting than a farm table?
Love cool to mix the feminine of
a teacup on such a very rustic display
Maison de Mer is more than just retro pictures - toile, florals, transferware they have it all.  This is also one of those shops that mixes vintage pieces with new pieces.  I love that!  It’s so reflective of how to live with vintage pieces without it becoming throwback.  I love vintage (obviously) but definitely want my home to feel modern and comfortable.  Dare I say livable?  Well, Maison de Mer is perfect for mixing old with new for livable results.
I couldn't help it....she was having a 25% off sale

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shining A Little Light

I think I may have mentioned a couple of times when I moved into my 1929 bungalow 3 years ago it was kind of like moving into 1972…you know what I’m talking about, gold cabinets & trim, gold & green linoleum flooring, pineapple wallpaper EVERYWHERE..  I’m sure on trend for 1972 but not really so much in 2009. 
Just as outdated but I would say predating 1972 were most of the lighting fixtures.  Some vintage fixtures are so cool and if they had been closer in style to the age of my house that would have been so fab….but that was not to be.
This is one of the few I decided to keep...from my
upstairs hallway.  And there is the 72 gold...
So I was faced with replacing most of the light fixtures in my house and I really wanted something that was a little more unique than what I was seeing at my local Home Depot or Lowes.  I also have a real aversion to what I call the ubiquitous “boob lights”.…they’re everywhere. 
The Ubiquitous Boob...
So I started venturing into the lighting specialty shops and was literally sticker shocked by many of the fixtures that I found and loved….sorry I didn’t have several thousand dollars to spend here.  I also did quite a bit of online shopping but I’m a visual person and I was really struggling picturing the generic photo’s that I saw online in my dining, kitchen, bathroom and entry.  I know there were many options that possibly could have been perfect online – I just couldn’t get my brain there.  I finally struck gold in tax-free New Hampshire at The Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric as well as finding two fixtures at the massive discounted Home Depot Expo that was going out of business.
Old Kitchen fixture...after I had taken
it down (forgot to snap a pic while
it was still up...)
New Kitchen light Kichler 42155BPT from
Rockingham Electric in Rockingham NH

Old Dining Chandelier - I like milk glass but maybe
not so much with brass on my chandelier

Fancy New Dining Chandelier - Elk Lighting 2396/5
from Rockingham Electric
I replaced the dining, entry & kitchen fixtures myself – since the electrical was in place and it was a simple swap out no problem right?   After a small issue with the bracing for the dining room chandelier (the junction box from the old one dropped when I removed the old fixture so I had to put a new box in and make sure it was supported properly to hold the weight of the new chandelier) up they went.  I am definitely not an electrician but I’m here to tell you as long as you remember to turn the power off and pay attention to how the old fixtures come down - swapping an old light for a new light isn’t difficult.

Old Fixture from Entryway - the delivery
guys actually knocked it off the ceiling
when delivering my new couch.  Good
excuse to replace ASAP.

New Entryway Light - vintage from Ebay.  TJ also installed
an electrical outlet so I can plug my lantern string lights in.
Now the outside fixture & bathroom fixture were another story.  I definitely know my limitations when touching anything electrical and these two required more complicated installations – the outside fixture needed new wiring and the old bathroom fixture was mounted on the ceiling where the new one was a wall fixture to fit over my sink & mirror – so I called in TJ the electrician. 
Old Bathroom Light - there was a twin installed
in my basement as well...I traded that one in for
recessed lighting (will show soon - I have more
work to do)
New Bathroom Light Hampton Bay 499 549
from Home Depot Expo
Old Front Entrance Light
New Front Fixture  - Murray Feiss OL4400PBR
From Home Depot Expo
My neighbor at my old apartment is a carpenter so whenever I need someone to do work on my house I give him a call for a referral -TJ was a friend of said neighbor. TJ spent the better part of a day at my house and installed the new fixtures as well as some recessed lighting in my basement and a few new electrical outlets.  Referrals are definitely the way to go if you’re looking for someone to do these kinds of jobs.  He did such a great job and I am so excited to finally have everything installed.