Monday, November 30, 2009

Okay, Pull Yourself Together - Stop Laughing...Stop It!!!

I am still bustling shouldn't wear black velvet pajama bottems, and black top, when one is working with A. Glitter and 2. Corn Starch (corn starch is our friend...I use it as snow for some of my vigenettes). These are Belscnikels (sp)...okay, this is the laughing part...I went to my tool bar, and I went to "update toolbar", and it says the Spellcheck is on...don't count on it. I have no clue. Once I get the house decorated, I am calling in the Computer Geek Squad..lots of issues...I have no clue. Until then, put up with me, please. Back to the Belscnickels. These are some I put out last year. I have been collecting them over the years and love them. I did Google about the, and some guy in the Appaliachian Mountains (I do have a dictionary right next to me) gives them a bad rap. Says they dressed in rags, and threw candy on the floor, so the poor, little kids would have to go diving for it. I have decided I don't like this one....But then, Kris Kringle supposedly was Turkish, and would throw coins over the walls of harems in order to help women escape...who knows?

My Christmas tree is up, as is my wreath. They look suspiously like last years, as my husband requested I do a reinactment there. My mother-in-law was supposed to come for Christmas last year, but had injured her back, so she didn't get to see how I did last year's tree. I did switch out the toppers, and used some pine cones my friend, Juannell gave me on the wreath. Now, I am in full bore...

It is noon, and I'm a mess...I have glitter on my face, and I have splotches of white all over me...I have decided to put on a coat (it's cold today), slap my hat on my "bedhead" and dare to go to the supermarket. Of course, this will be the day that when I walk through the door, sirens and bells will go off, announcing that I am the 1,000,000 customer, and here's the newspaper guy and the television camera person..just my luck.

More later.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ladies (and Gents), Start Your Engines!

These shoes, and the bracelet are all I want for Christmas, Santa...really...I've been very good (okay, I haven't been good, but may I have them anyway?)..They are from Vivre, and on-line, totally out of my financial grasp! It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I know that many of us have already started unraveling Christmas lights, and are rummaging through the totes in the garage (okay, that would be me), "fixen" to "Deck the Heck out of the Halls". In fact, my husband looked like one of those poor, tired ponies, that walk round-and-round with a large child on it's back..looking tired and haggard...but, he had volunteered yesterday to help me wrap our trees in the front with lights..Big mistake on his part, but they turned out lovely.
These are some photos of holidays past...I try to make things fresh every year, but I've fallen in love with this wreath I did last year, and other than replacing some burnt-out lights, I don't want to change it...It's so lovely, that it will remain the same.

After I had glazed the niche over her stove, my client asked me to decorate her kitchen for Christmas. I got the sleighs at good ol' Hobby Lobby, and the rest I pieced together from what she had, and what I had...

You may have heard of "Hertz Rent a Car"; well, this is my angel ("Jessica's Rent an Angel") , and I can't part with her...she did preside over the party she had, and then, I brought her home, where she is as we speak, guarding my kitchen.
Don't worry, this isn't one of my mantles, nor one of my designs...This poor creature presides over the bar in the Driscol Hotel, in Austin, Texas. Poor thing....The legend is Driscol won the hotel in a poker game back in the 1800's. I don't like dead animal heads, but you sure see alot of them hanging about in Texas.

This was our tree (blurry, of course) from last year, and again, I am pleased with it, and probably will add some ornaments that I plan on making (remember the angels - gold-leafed)?
I woke up this morning, trying to figure out how to make the corner work, since I did the window treatments, added the chair and side table...I moved the chair to the other side of our ugly tv, and the side table to the end of the sofa. The new lamp is in the dining room. We have a giant ficus, that we have to roll inside around this time of year, so it get's lit up in the dining room.
This was two years ago, when we had our first Christmas in our new home. I always put our tree in this urn...(which served me well in my garden in Wisconsin), which makes a five-foot tree an eight-foot tree, and keeps cats from knocking off ornaments, and occasionally, climbing into the, I just like it. I put a large, plastic bag in the urn, put a large stew pot (which my husband then searches for in the kitchen in vain) in, add lots of water, pop in the tree, and "viola", no crawling around under the tree on my belly, trying to straigten it!

This is another wreath I made, and will always pull out of resides in the dining room, even as I write this. I did go to a wonderful, little town on Wed. called Salado, and bought three, beautiful silk and velvet pointsettias for $1.00 each!!! I will make another wreath today.
My poor bottle brush trees are a bit worse for wear, and I've glued the white elk's horns back on several times, but they are also a tradition...I have a lovely cake stand, and I use powdered sugar for the snow...if you don't have powdered sugar around, try cornstarch..they both work.
The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times; I get to "play"....I can't wait to see what ya'll out there in blogger world do to decorate your homes.......
I know I throw those Texas phrases and words around; like "fixen" and ya'll (I was actually brought up in Oklahoma and Kansas), and as my friend, Juannell, who is a Texas gal through-and-through sent me a wonderful "Grits" - "Girls Raised in Texas" thingy, reminded can't move to Texas, and become a "Texas Gal" fact, it says, "Just because a cat has kittens and moves them to the oven, that don't make them biscuits"! So true, and so funny, but I still am going to talk like that! (You should have heard me when I lived in Boston)...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a day of Thanksgiving....we all have our very own lists of things for which to be thankful, and I especially am thankful to the people in our Armed Forces and their families...many will have an empty seat at the table this year.

I encourage all of us to embrace one another and give thanks....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Once I Had A Gallery In Paoli

Isaac Denison (also known as Karen Blixen), wrote in "Out of Africa"; "Once, I had a farm in Africa". I had a Gallery in Wisconsin - I also had a farm, but I'll talk about that later. I mentioned the gallery yesterday, and became nostalgic for, I've pulled out the photos, and decided to give us both a tour of yesteryear.

I shot so many Civil War reinactments, and I also became familiar with hand-colored-black-and-white photography, that I learned the technique, and opened a gallery in an 1853 Schoolhouse, in a little town, called Paoli, in Wisconsin.

I couldn't afford to rent, let alone fill the entire space, so I convinced my friend Debbie to open Cottage Gardens, and brought in two other shops. She now owns the schoolhouse, and it is known as the Paoli Schoolhouse Shops. Here is the link to her . (for some reason, if it doesn't come up..."Google her"..shoot)
My space was small, but people referred to it as, "the little jewelbox", and it was chock-full of photographs, handmade vinegars, gifts, floorcloths, jewelry, etc. My life has been one, big ETC..
If you double-click on the image, you can see the photographs clearly. That was when I was using my Nikon 35mm, and the images were crisp. I took the photographs, developed them in my darkroom, printed the images, sepia-toned them, then, hand-painted them with special oil paints. I did all my own matting and framing. That was back when I had energy!
To get to my gallery in the back, one had to pass through "Cottage Gardens" (Now, Debbie owns the entire schoolhouse, and it is so different...but, wonderful. You must visit her on-line.
I did her merchandising for her, and many of the wreaths and florals. We shared much of the space during the holiday season.
These are my "Widow's Weeds, the grieving attire of a Civil War Widow on a dress form in the corner. Sometimes, I would "suit up", but I had worn them so much when I was doing reinacting, they are pretty much retired. I do still have them.
We did have wonderful holidays in the School House; with a giant tree (16ft ceilings), which only fell over once, and nothing was broken! A true miracle.

Whoops, twice posted...oh well

I have sold all my photographs of those days except this one, entitled "Grace", I just can't part with her. I also made the hat box and the dried florals

When I lived in North Carolina, I contributed photos to a book, entitled, "Out on The Porch", which I believe is still in publication.
This darling bunny is resting under a topiary I created...She's made of panty hose..really.

The first photograph in this line of photos was perchased by the actor, Tom Beringer (Platoon), and given to his wife. I still haven't washed the spot on my cheek, where he kissed me! Again, if you double-click, you can see some of the details (if you wish, that is)

I sold a great deal of my herbal vinegars, and the pansys on the labels were from my garden...Also, more of the hand-painted glass.

This was my beloved garden....I loved it so, and hope that, one day, to have another. However, here in Texas, I think I have to rethink my methods.An antique carriage seat holds two of my pillows, along with one of the hats I would "dress" and sell. If the cherry fabric looks familiar, it's because I just made the last of it into "shoe sachets"...I never throw anything that might be used later away, which can be a problem...
So, that was my life for four years...I then became too busy as a designer to make the photos, and all that went in the gallery. It lives on fondly in my heart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pamper Me Jessica

Thought of the title because of "Tickle Me Elmo"...don't know thoughts are all over the place this morning. Yes, that's moi - Woke up this morning and thought, "today, I am going to pamper myself". Why today? Why not? It's been a difficult few months, and I sold a floorcloth, and by golly, I'm going to go on a "spree". No, not diamonds, but a pedicure would be nice...then, ink and paper for my computer (it's very expensive, and I love printing out my photographs as cards, and, of course, I have a six-color printer, and have to use the best paper or why bother).

I have a quilt, which I bought (nope, didn't make it - and I probably should make another, but have other priorities right now) when I was photographing babies and small children...the quilt would go on the grass, the babies would pee on it, and I have washed it about a thousand times in the past twenty years. It has so many holes in it...I have duvet covers I did make, but the quilt is to put over the duvet in the guest bedroom on chilly nights. Anyway, this quilt has so many holes in it that it's looking like Swiss Cheese. So, off to Tuesday Morning (they have great quilts at great prices). My mother-in-law is going to visit for the holidays, and she deserves a better quilt (that's my rationale).

Time to "stop and smell the roses"...even by candlight. I took this last Saturday, as I lit the scented candle in the powder room. It has that wonderful effect of light and dark...the Italian's call it "chiaroscuro"...Rembrandt was a master of chiaroscuro.
I made this frame from velvet, which was once an Eileen Fisher top (it died, after a million wearings-I can't afford her clothing new, but have had great luck in resale shops), and then, made the roses from ribbon. The lilac sprig is vintage, and yep, that's a photo of one of my subjects - you can't see it, but she's standing on the quilt. The frame, the roses, and the pitcher are in my powder room.

This photo (the larger one) is of my Mama, who was so beautiful...taken in the 1940''s one of my favorites. She passed over twenty years ago, and I think of her every day...she was younger than I am now, and I remember vividly, as she lay on her deathbed, saying, "I wish I had done more, traveled more".....I don't want to go like, I refuse to feel guitly about a pedicure, or a quilt, or a good lunch with a good friend. I'm not trying to be maudlin nor defensive..just reminding myself - and you, to drink in life to it's fullest. (you're probably thinking, "I thought this was a design blog"). Some days it's just my ramblings..

My friend, Kelly, has the best blog "Much to do With Nothing", and she's the queen of slipcovers. I have hesitated showing this chair and ottoman, which I did before her tutorial..I sure could have used some help on it. It's faux leather (no animals were harmed for this chair and ottoman) and linen. The pillow was a fabric sample. The ottoman was tapestry, which I got at a garage sale for $40.00. The only thing I really dislike about it, are the Queen Anne legs..not quite right, but maybe someday I'll find one with more rustic legs, and replace them.I took this photograph at a Civil War reinactment...I once had a gallery in Wisconsin, which was in an 1860's schoolhouse. It was called "Widow Weed's Gallery", as I dressed as a Civil War widow, (the grieving attire at that time was called widow's weeds). This was my political statement against war. I traveled from reinactment-to-reinactment, all over the South, and we lived in an Officer's Tent, where I set up a "parlor". Once I was through with that, I opened the gallery - one of these days, I'll put up some photos of it...

This is the floorcloth...I liked it so much, I painted an extra one for my powder room.Yes, this is me..."Widow Weed"...I've been fortunate to be able to follow my heart, when it comes to my various "careers" throughout the years. I truly pity people, who have to drudge though life...(I'm sounding very "Auntie Mame" today, aren't I?)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gave up on Waiting for the Light

They say the sun shines three hundred days out of the year in Texas....I think we are getting sixty-five days in a row of no sunshine, so I am going to post the photos of the window treatments sans sunshine. I know everyone (not) is out there, holding their breath for these breathtaking photos.

I think I should not drink two cups of coffee before taking photographs. I loved my big, ol' Nikon 35mm, for it had "heft", and compensated for my shakes. My Canon digital camera is eight years old, and cost $800 when I bought it, and it only has 4.0 mega pixels, but it is still working well, and I cannot justify buying a new one...
We have lived with this empty corner in our living room long enough. I wanted to make window treatments long ago, but my husband was afraid it would make the already dark living room (we have a porch, then a grove of Live Oak trees out the backside of the house, for it is Texas, and three hundred days out of the year, the sun beats down without mercy. I tell my clients to live in a home for at least one entire season in order to see how the lighting changes. Well, two seasons have passed, and it is time.

It only took me four hours to put up the rod - I have abused my hands and have wrist injuries (don't wear stilletto heels in Ft. Worth - long story, took a fall, and injured both wrists). So, that is my excuse...power drill or no power drill, it still takes alot of force to drill the six holes, hammer in the plugs, and then, screw in the screws. My husband is not a handy man, and I've spent years installing window treatments, so I don't even bother to ask.

First glimpse, shot from the foyer (they are on the left)....tilted camera and blurry. Did I mention I was a professional photographer for many years? (Notice the centerstone of the fireplace is shaped like the great state of Texas. I personally wouldn't have chosen this, but here it is, and here it will stay. There's even a fossil, marking where Austin is. Gotta love Texans.) This pillow, which I purchased, along with several like it in different shapes (some rectangular, some square) from the Goodwill in Austin (I know where the rich people drop off), was still in its plastic wrapper, had a zipper, is silk, and cost $3.00..swear to God, was my inspiration for the window treatments. I stole three of them - there are two left, from my husband's office day bed. I don't think he's noticed yet.

I've gone on-and-on about piecing together window treatments, but I love the texture of this diamond patterned cream silk. Also, by "railroading" the fabric, which is traditionally 54" to 58" wide (that means running the fabric sideways, as opposed to up-and-down), I don't have to buy as much, and can have more fullness in the drape. I deliberately don't line these types of window treatments -besides, there is a porch overhang behind them.
The second tier is russet-colored silk, that was a bear to work "crawls" when sewing, so there was alot of swearing going on. I use flat-felled seams - which means instead of right sides together when making a seam, you sew wrongsides together..the seam is in the front - I use one-inch seams, press them open, cut one side of the seam to a quarter of an inch, fold the other seam over that one, and press it down. Then, I top-stich it over. Think of a seam on a man's shirt looks like that. That way, both the front and the back have a finished look.
The third tier is black moire', and invisible in this photo, as is the gorgeous trim I hot-glue to the bottem, and the second tier, to give it more weight, and to hide the fact that I couldn't get the two, separate panels to line up properly when the curtains are closed (due to the "crawly fabric"). Necessity is the mother of invention...If it doesn't show it doesn't count...
Got the lamp at Hobby Lobby (40%) coupon, and I had the elephant finial...I love the shape of the shade, and when the light is off, it is less apricot, with a bit of taupe thrown in...
I got the mirror at Kirkland's - $30, beveled - okay, the frame is plastic, but you'd never know to look at placing it next to the windows, it reflects light into the room, and by placing the lamp on a couple of books, it also reflects light. Also, during the day, I can stand all the way into the end of the house, and all the arched doorways are reflected...infinity-well, almost..
I had a couple of self-covered, three-inch buttons (in gold silk) as I never throw anything away. I wanted to finish the first tier, and to hide the fact that the braid trim doesn't quite line up, so I cut out the center medalions of two of the Goodwill pillows, and hot glued them to the buttons, and glued them on. (Glue is our friend).

So, it's dark, but the sun will come out again (tomorrow?), and I'll take one more shot, and then shut up about the window treatments, already! The room feels so much cozier, and as soon as I can macrame a television armoire, it will be finished...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Piece on Earth

Okay, stupid title, but it's early, and I've much to do today...friends are coming for dinner...Ribs, garlic smashed potatoes, almond and apricot salad, and Key Lime Pie!
I did finish my window treatments for the living room, but the light is terrible today, and I really don't have time to photograph them, but I will tomorrow... meantime, I realized that I like to "piece" window treatments...a trick I picked up while doing Parade Homes, where one had no budget, no time, and I found myself sewing them at three am. Thank God for painters, who could see well enough to thread my machine needle for me. (Now, I have a sewing machine that has a "self threader", or I'd be in real trouble). I have a giant box of bits and pieces of fabric...some larger than others, some quilted, some very expensive, some not so much, and by piecing them together, I could come up with unsual, but interesting window treatments.
I intentionally didn't line my dining room window treatments, as the western sun shines in in the afternoons, and creates a "stained glass" effect. I am aware that, in time, the sun destroys the fabric, but I didn't pay much for it (even though it is pieced together in silks), and being the Gemini that I am, I will probably be tired of them and make new ones by then. Mondrian was my inspiration.

This dining room was a Parade Home, and privacy wasn't an issue (I later did some for the people who bought the house, so they weren't feeling as if they were dining in a fish bowl). The "valances" are silk, which I trimmed in crystal beads, and just hung sheers. The sheers are now in my bedroom, hanging on my French doors, which open out onto our porch...we are on a few acres, and I have a large Ficus tree in front of them (in which our Cardinals nest), so I don't worry about privacy. The valances are in the guest room, where we have very tall windows...I hung them on tension rods, and then, hung aubergine, velvet curtains for privacy. The sun shines in in the morning, and the crystals create dancing light on the walls and ceiling...
I made these curtains for a client, who's sunroom not only needed protection from, well, the sun, and for privacy. Top-down, bottem-up blinds were the answer. I did alot of photostyling for Graber/Springs Window Fashions, and they loved "on location" shoots, so the client got the shades for free, I got paid for styling the shoot, and Graber got their shots...everyone was happy.

This is one of my Texas clients, who wanted to feel "swathed and pampered", so I did the window treatments and pillows...she did the valances...That's a Candice Olsen headboard...I love her show, "Devine Design"..

And so, as the sun sets in the West, I will leave you, and go make my "keylime pie". My mother-in-law gave me the receipe, and it's so easy that I'm almost ashamed to share it...but, if anyone wants it, I will....