Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where's Waldo.....bdw Part 1

I'm back on the road this week...a quick visit but will give you all the scoop in a bit.

In the meantime here is a little hint as to where I have been....

Wandering on my way to the airport brought me here.  Can you guess where?

I'll give you a little hint...east coast city

Full details coming so check back :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gold to Chalk Chapter 2...The Mirror

A hundred years ago (well really probably  more like 7 or 8 years ago but you know how time flies) I was at an Andrews & Andrews auction in Northport Maine (I originally told you about Andrews & Andrews in this post) and picked up an end lot of goodies…some linens a couple of glass pieces and this little lovely…

All for a total of $5 (plus the 12.5% buyers premium the auction house charges).  This was for sure a bargain by anyone’s definition.

The mirror was definitely “aged” but that look worked perfectly in my old Marblehead apartment with its rustic wood beam ceilings.  Sorry I don't have any pics of said rustic was long before I started to think to photograph everything for the blog so you'll just have to use your imagination here.

It still worked in my 1929 bungalow but…..

I needed a change…I used to start packing when the need for change impulse hit me…now apparently I paint….probably a healthier way to manage an aversion to commitment so apparently I’ve experienced some personal growth ha.

The During...painters tape & brown paper protected the glass

So, I pulled out my Annie Sloan Ochre Chalk paint, but knew I wanted a pop of color for the stripe inside the frame.  I have this fun picture on the wall in my dining room so thought pulling the red into another piece might be a good look.

All chalked up and ready for some milk

After much contemplation and blog surfing I decided to give Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in tricycle a try.
It was not my first experience with milk paint but was my first time trying Miss Mustard.  I don’t really think this small stripe was enough for me to really have a strong opinion yet but I have another project coming up that will definitely give me a better idea (stay tuned).

Initially I used a sponge "brush" to apply the milk was a little messy & clearly the wrong applicator
So I went back with a smaller art brush & free handed a much crisper line.  I have a pretty steady hand so have
more success free handing than taping where there isn't the clean edge that the glass provided
 Once I had it painted and put on the clear wax it definitely didn’t quite have the depth I was looking for so I added the dark wax and we’re much closer for sure.

Waxed with the clear wax and ready for a coat of dark wax.  I read it was better to apply the clear under the dark but
I'm not sure I noticed a big difference in application.  But this is a very small piece so I'm not sure it's a fair test

But…I’m still not totally sure this ended up where I wanted it to go…

Finished & hung...for now

I have a strong feeling we aren’t quite there yet.

What do you think…maybe a Annie Sloan Provence Chalk Blue stripe instead?  Maybe a pretty paper decoupaged in to create a patterned "stripe".  Maybe some silver or bronze or even copper rub-n-buff?  So many more possibilities to contemplate…

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidential Sites Part 4: Lincoln's Summer House

In honor of today being Presidents Day I thought I’d share my visit to President Lincoln’s Summer House.  This seems particularly timely given all the Oscar chatter about the film Lincoln.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?


I went a few weeks ago with one of my good pals and both enjoyed it…mostly.  It was a bit long and did drag a bit in places but the acting & dialog was just magnificent!

Well, back in December I was in DC on a business trip and (check out my visit to Julia Child’s kitchen in the Smithsonian here) decided as I often do to stay a couple of extra days and site see.

My meetings were scheduled for all day Thursday & Friday morning so....Christmas in DC…of course I was going to do some site-seeing.  My Aunt happened to be there at the same time…she was on the committee to decorate the White House for Christmas…how exciting is that???  So, I was looking for something fun that she probably had not been to a million times already and I stumbled on the Lincoln Summer White House.

The Front Entrance
The Back...Lincoln spent much of his time socializing with Veterans here

It’s newly opened and just on the outskirts of most of the major museums so it hasn’t picked up the same traffic as most of the more known DC sites.  I had visited many of the president vacation white houses....Truman’s in Key West, FDR’s in Warm Springs & Campobello, LBJ’s in TX….and they often tell more about the men and their families than the libraries do so the Lincoln Cottage definitely caught my interest and my Aunt was definitely in.

Isn't this iron work just magnificent?  

The windows on the first floor opened into a door sized opening for access to the porch. 
The bottom wall/door opens inward and the window sash lifts up..
photo from National Historic Trust Booklet - Eric Uecke 2009


The Lincoln cottage is a 34 room gothic revival style house on the grounds of an estate that was bought by the federal government in 1851 for the sole purpose of housing retired veterans.  The Soldier’s Home still houses veterans today.  In Lincoln’s time during the sweltering summer months of DC he shared the property with 300 veterans and commuted the roughly 3 miles to the capitol every day.

This site has been well used over the last 160+ years but was not made a National Historic Landmark until 2000.  It underwent an 8 year renovation and officially opened on Presidents Day in 2008.

Pre & Post Restoration Front Door 2004 vs 2009
photo from National Historic Trust Booklet
23 layers of paint were removed from the Library as part of the renovation...yes 23!  photo from National Historic Trust Booklet 

There are not a ton of furnishings in place and all of those on display are exact reproductions of the Lincoln's furnishings but the tour is a guided one so you get a story filled view of Lincoln’s time here.  The architecture is fully American and well-crafted if not entirely grandiose. Also on display is the original document of the Emancipation Declaration.

photo from National Historic Trust Booklet - Carol M Highsmith Photography
Gorgeous floor from the Entryway
photo from National Historic Trust Booklet - Gaston Lacombe 2009

The Lincoln Cottage is a couple of miles out of the center of DC so it’s doable by cab (which is how we go there) but take my advice and arrange for your return transport ahead of time because finding a cab to return…not so much.  Luckily my DC savvy Aunt knew the public transport systems so we just hopped a bus to a train that would drop us back in the vicinity of our hotel.

PS:  Little trick for those not taxi savvy when travelling...if you are in a city and need a cab but can't seem to locate one head to the closest hotel. Cabs are generally fairly available ready to squire hotel patrons around so they are happy to pick you up.  This is particularly helpful to remember when you are "lost"...not that I have personally ever had to resort to this trick... :)

sharing this week on:  Cozy Little House, Savvy Southern Style, Elizabeth & Co, Coastal Charm, Jennifer Rizzo

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Brief Winter Break in Charlotte

As you may have seen on the news here in Boston we have been directly in the path of a “weather event” over the last couple of days…wow did we ever get hit!  We got walloped with a massive 2 feet of snow overnight on Friday and are still trying to dig out.  Luckily we did not lose power at my house though so no complaints here.

My driveway seemed to be perfect for catching the drifts...the snow was well over 3 feet...My front doorsteps
were also buried beyond recognition.  It sure is pretty though...
This was definitely a wake up snow after my week last week where I was not unhappy to leave the very cold temperatures of Boston for the much more temperate climate of Charlotte for a couple of days.  Two days of over 60 degree temperatures was very welcome plus I love Charlotte…it really is such a wonderful city and the people are so darn nice.

The majority of my first day was spent in meetings but I did manage a couple of hours to do some exploring.  There were a couple of places I had discovered on my last Charlotte visit I wanted to refresh my memory on.

The first one is Classic Attic and is well worth the time to pop by.  This is kind of a cross between an antique store and a consignment store…some old, some new, all pretty.

This tole chandelier is almost worth adding a new ceiling light to somewhere in my home..if
I only knew where...

They have a back room FULL of custom drapes.  I’m not sure but they look like they are custom made for sale at this store.  I also didn’t really check prices but judging from everything else at Classic Attic I would guess that they are fairly priced.

Custom curtain many choices...all lovely and beautifully made

I ended up toting this lovely back to Boston.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a piece of pink depression glass that called to me and was priced reasonably.  Sometimes I can’t believe how much this stuff goes for!

My second stop of the day was the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall and let me tell you I could spend hours in here…and probably would have if my feet were not rebelling from being in heels all day (cement+heels = NO).

This tin cabinet is so cool...I love the nautical look

This place has EVERYTHING you can imagine both newer and old and very old.  Full disclosure here though, I personally think some of their pricing leans on the high side…but that being said there are bargains everywhere and I fully believe pay what you think something is worth to you and you will never feel like you overpaid.

Just imagine all of the fun things you could display in this...would be just beautiful with sparkly lights inside

In any case, Sleepy Poet is a great place to spend some time and see every kind of thing you could ever want.

The before to the left and the after to the right....looks very similar to my bedside cabinet facelift

Oh my, I love this!  I don't know what it is about orange it's just such a fun pop of color.

Just one of several walls of antlers...kind of cool

Day 2 was totally full of work but was fun none-the-less.   I was lucky enough to tour a coffee plant and learn all about roasting, packaging & shipping coffee.  It was interesting and wow did it smell awesome!  Kind of like Hersheytown for adults (the aroma of coffee permeated the neighborhood in a very awesome way).

The coffee cupping...they do this several times a day on many, many lots to ensure consistency in taste & quality

Sharing this week at Cozy Little House, Elizabeth & Co, Savvy Southern Style, Primp

Thursday, February 7, 2013

From Gold to Chalk...The Table

I’m not usually one who falls victim to every trend or must have of the moment…but….I keep reading about Annie Sloan’s chalk paint and all of the fabulous things you can do with it so…..

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old Ochre

A few months ago I gave it a try on my old “seen better days” bedside table (check it out here) and more recently gave my entryway built-in chest a face lift (check this out here) with a little rouge & wax.  Both were painted Provence blue and added just enough of a pop of color.

Well, last week with proof of my addiction taking hold I looked at a sweet little old table that my grandmother had painted gold and was forever in her bedroom and knew I had to go neutral and up the ante with a dark wax to give it some depth.

The Before...I just love the detail on this table

Yes, apparently chalk paint is merely a gateway DIY product meant only to suck you in to the hard stuff…wax & washes (yet to try but I do have a Martha Steward copper wash sitting on my project table just taunting me).

So down to the basement I went to dig my table out from under a plethora of paint accessories (yes, I’m one of those who can’t get out of Lowes without a new paint pad, roller, brush, ect).  I had just the perfect place for it.

The real before...yes this mess really did exist in my basement.

Up two flights it went to my office/project/hang out room (officially my 2nd guest room but since I hardly ever have 2 guests at once I've taken over) and off I went with the paint…yup you've heard right Annie Sloan’s chalk paint does not need a primer or any real prep other than making sure your object is clean.
Two coats of paint later and the table was looking pretty good.

In process - this is the first coat...look how great the coverage is.

Fully painted just waiting on me to get some time to add the wax

But in the spirit of never leaving well enough alone, I went at it with Annie Sloan’s dark wax…I had never used it before and really had not done much research on how to use it.  I’ve used enough wax products though to know to brush wax on, rub into the crevices, and rub excess off but this was definitely going to be a bit of an experiment.

It sort of looks like shoe polish when you first brush it on

Half waxed - rub as you go before the wax dries too much

I did give a test run on a board I had painted with the same color as my table just to get a feel of how much to add and how much to rub off.

It was a quick maybe an hour or so to finish this up.  Looks pretty good huh?

Finished product in it's new home in my livingroom

And a little doesn't look quite this dark in person but I do love how the dark wax highlights the
crevices in this piece

Meanwhile, this week I have been in Charlotte on business and was visiting a huge antique mall (more on that later) when I happened upon a booth full of Annie Sloan paint and a couple of half done projects (as well as several finished) with some “helpful hints” tacked to the WIP’s (work in process for those non-production folks out there) and one of her hints was to ALWAYS add a coat of clear wax before a coat of dark wax.

Hmmmm, I didn’t do that…now I’m wondering if maybe I missed a very important step…

I think I’ll have to settle for next time…I’m not starting over on this one.

Sharing this week at:  Savvy Southern Style, Cozy Little House, Beyond The Picket Fence, The Charm of Home, Coastal Charm, Jennifer Rizzo, Elizabeth & Co., Primp,The Cottage Market

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Presidential Sites Part 3: James Buchanan's Wheatland

Do you know who our only bachelor president was?

How about who was president when South Carolina seceded from the US?

I’ll give you a hint…

Yup, it was our 15th president James Buchanan and if you’re wondering why on earth I would care to share this with you, well I’ll tell you.  

Last summer when I was in Lancaster PA for a few days off with some wonderful friends we decided to swing by James Buchanan’s home and take a tour.  There is no question I am the “house tour” junkie of the group but I somehow convinced my pals to go along with me on my tour….miracle in itself since my friend’s husband is not so much of a history buff (I think he’s secretly coming around though…).

James Buchanan moved to Wheatland in 1848 so you might expect a 19th century version of a bachelor pad for our bachelor president but you’d be very wrong…there were no beer light signs or pin up girl paintings anywhere in site.  

Wheatland from the front
photo source
The back entrance of Wheatland...the tour starts from here.

Wheatland is a magnificent Federal style house on a country estate. It is presented in such a livable way you can almost imagine him welcoming his cronies in his library.  

James Buchanan wrote the story of his presidency from this desk.  All of the furnishings in this room are original
to Buchanan and the flooring is copied from documented etchings of the time 

One of the terms of Buchanan agreeing to run for president in 1856 was that Wheatland would be his campaign headquarters so he could remain on the estate he loved so much…as a result the home was well documented in newspapers of the time so the interiors today are decorated as they were in James Buchanan’s time.

Pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert hang in the parlor...they were sent to Buchanan by the Queen

Since James Buchanan was never married he designated “first lady” duties to his niece Harriett…you can definitely feel her presence in the furnishing choices at Wheatland…can you imagine a President of the 19th century selecting this fabulous pink china pattern?

Wheatland changed ownership a couple of times after James Buchanan’s death but luckily it underwent no major renovations and in the 1930’s was bequeathed to the Lancaster Junior League for preservation and eventually opened to the public.  

James Buchanan's bedroom

One of the things I liked best about Wheatland was while this is a museum in the sense that today it’s open to the public and honors the life of an American President this home really is true to presenting Buchanan’s home life not his presidency.