Monday, November 13, 2017

Painting pumpkins (or a nice way to while away a long winter night)

I haven't tried to do any painting for a while, in fact when I got out all of my materials I found that some of the paint tubes had dried up and a couple of brushes needed to be replaced having been used for other less lofty purposes when I was redecorating the living room last year.

 I had some nice sketches but rather than take on anything too complex while I re-familiarized myself with everything, I decided to pick a very easy subject. This I decided would be a pumpkin.

Why a pumpkin?

Well, when getting out all of my fall decorations, I thought it would be fun to have a pumpkin painting to set out for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Then for the rest of the year I could store it away.

 just a few details...

I have a a couple of frames in different sizes that I use to pop in paintings I have done. I only display one at a time. When I get tired of looking at it, changing it out for another one is easy to do. It's kind of fun.


All things considered I am rather pleased with my new pumpkin. I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to spend time involved in something so engaging as painting. It is a particularly pleasant way to spend these long, dark, winter nights.

As as for the results...the only one you have to really please is yourself!


A special thank you to my sister, a truly talented and excellent artist, who has given me endless help and advise on painting and art. 

Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fall and ornamental grasses ~

I was working in the garden last week, it was a beautiful sunny, but not too hot day, and I glanced up from trimming and weeding to noticed the Red Fountain grasses, highlighted in the morning sun. I put down my clippers, went into the house and got my camera.

There are quite a few of these scattered around the garden and they all do well. But this particular morning these in the gravel garden were truly wonderful. I think it had something to do with the clarity of the fall light, but it is also that although these have been lovely for many months ornamental grasses seem to reach their peak of perfection in Fall.

They are inter-planted here with lantana, another great fall bloomer, succulents and salvias.

The only care I give them is a little water and an annual pruning. Each winter they are cut to the ground and in the spring the dried looking clumps slowly send out new burgundy colored  blades of grass eventually interspersed with tassels.

Light filtering through the seed heads - so pretty!

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a lovely day.


Friday, October 13, 2017

The gentler side of the season ~

I haven't done a lot of fall decorating in the living room in the past, somehow the colors just didn't work. But now that the room has a completely different color pallet fall just seemed to gently float in.

The perfect place to add a holiday accent was on the coffee table. I found bouquets of eucalyptus at Trader Joe's then added white pumpkins, green gourds, berries and dried flowers.

It is very subtle, and doesn't scream but rather whispers the season. I love green accents in the room and am now thinking about a Christmas tree with touches of apple green colored ornaments.

This is my favorite time of the year, first Halloween then Thanksgiving, all leading up to Christmas and all of it's wonders and joy. It is definitely a time do some planning.

Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Simple pleasures - ghosts!

I really enjoy Halloween, probably because you can decorate for the holiday doing such goofy and silly things and somehow it all works. A perfect example of this are these ghosts.

I don't like grim and scary but I do like cute. And so all of my little ghost visitors are very, very cute...and not frightening at all.


Here is the original little ghost on the kitchen blackboard, I enjoyed him so much last year that this year I decided to add more ghosts throughout the house - in some unexpected places.

So I tucked another in the dining room mirror...

and two in the living room. One above the mantle...

and another above the credenza.

It is amazing how such a simple thing can bring me so much pleasure. Four little ghosts made out of white poster paper, total cost: $1.50. Time spent, about 20 minutes. I don't remember where I got the pattern, I think it was in a Martha Stewart magazine years ago. But it certainly wouldn't take much artistic talent to come up with one of your own.

Sometimes I can be very easy to please and as Martha always says, "That can be a good thing".

I hope you have some fun little visitors in your house this Halloween..

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A lick of paint ~

In Fawlty Towers, one of the funniest series ever created, the inept building contractor Mr O'Reilly, claims a lick of paint will take care of anything.

Well a lick of paint won't take care of every problem but paint really can make a big difference in how something looks.


You know how there are certain things that you kind of walk by and don't notice for a while then then realize one day how horrible it looks. Well it was like that with this planter and wall by my front entry. The wall had a big crack and the paint had chipped off. Over our very hot summer the plants in the planter had died and I had taken them out and never replaced them. The succulents in the swan were still alive, but overgrown and scraggly.

The whole thing was a mess! And looked terrible.

I patched up the wall as best I could, pressure washed it, and added a fresh coat of exterior house paint.

Then shoveled all of the old soil out of the planter.

 New soil was added and Liriope was transplanted from another spot in the garden. It looks a little ragged now but I think it will perk up and fill out the spot nicely. Just for fun I added some little ceramic mushrooms. They were a bit lost in the garden beds and I like them gathered together.

The swan was filled with fresh potting soil and planted with a variety of  succulent cuttings.

This isn't a show stopper by any means but it does look fresh and clean. When the new plants start to grow it will make an even bigger difference.

In this case Mr O'Reilly was right, all it took was a lick of paint... and maybe a few other things.

Thank you for visiting

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cleaning up the porch ~

My front porch had really gotten to look very shabby. The rug was stained and worn, the chair cushions were old and battered, and and the chairs themselves were begging for a new coat of varnish.

The black and white floor in the pavilion turned out so well that I decided to use the same black and white color theme on the front porch as well.

I was able to find a classic black and white stripped outdoor fabric at JoAnne's which...

...I used to make cushions and pillows for the newly re-varnished chairs.

I found a new outdoor rug at Home Depot. It isn't black and white but the natural jute blends in nicely with the  wicker color of the chairs.

It really didn't take much effort and the porch, although simple, looks so much better. 

Now I can relax a bit and enjoy the view!

I hope your days are filled with joy

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The little found chair ~

 I found this little chair on the curb one morning a few months ago - it was a throw away. I thought it was adorable even in this deplorable condition. It had obviously been sitting outside exposed to all kinds of weather. The wood was very damaged, the bottom and springs were falling out, and the handmade needle point upholstery was ruined.

I knew that eventually I wanted to use it in my living room as part of the new redecorating scheme. I took it home where it sat in the garage while I painted, wallpapered, made drapes and had the other furniture reupholstered.

I eventually finished everything else and when it was time to tackle this. I originally thought I could handle the refinishing myself, but I quickly realized it was far too damaged and needed a professional furniture restorer and re-finisher. Before I took it for restoration I brought it into the house so I could strip off all of the old upholstery, which turned out to be quite a lengthy many nails and tacks!

  My neighbor recommended a really great craftsman to do the work. Below is the finished result. I found the leopard fabric, which I love, online.

I thought is would be fun to take an 'after' picture to compare with the 'before' photo.

As it turned out this little throw away chair is a high quality piece of Victorian furniture. I found the signature of the maker after I removed the old needle point coverings.

Now back to it's original finish, with it's pretty new fabric it is a nice accent piece in the living room. 

I couldn't be more pleased!

Thank you Linda for your recommendation.

I hope you all have a creative day. Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A little cheating ~

I love having a fresh arrangement on this table in my living room...but I am lazy.

So I cheat. Not all of the time, during certain seasons when the garden is full to brimming with flowers it is easy to throw together a nice bouquet. But once the really hot weather hits that becomes more difficult.

It is during these months that I look to plant material that is long lasting in the vase and readily available in my garden. This time I used two standbys: succulents and foliage from a Smoke Bush. 
These will last in the vase for about two weeks. By then the succulents have grown roots and can be planted outside. 

Now comes the cheating part. 

I don't want to upset purist, but if my garden is really bare, I add high quality silk flowers. 

You don't need a lot, just a couple pops of color bring it all together and by keeping mostly natural plant material it is extremely hard to tell that anything is artificial.

Sometimes a little cheating isn't that bad.

Thank you for visiting.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Solution - Part II

Part II

The Solution

In my last post I told you about the problem with the floor of the pavilion which sits in the far back of the garden. Over time, especially before I added the solid tin roof, it was very exposed to the elements and in recent months I realized that the floor, which had become quite damaged, really needed to be repaired...or replaced.

Below you can see what bad condition it was in. What ever I decided to do this time I didn't want to  to use any type of decking and I did have a certain look I wanted to achieve.

So...I took a risk.

I have always loved black and white checkered floors. I almost put one in my kitchen when I last remodeled it, but my beloved french terra-cotta tile won out. Here I thought, crazy as it sounds, was a place to use it!

Black and white tile outside, yes it does seem weird, but I went ahead and did it. And, I love, the way it turned out!

First backer board was laid down to level the surface then the tile was glued down. I used plain old 12 inch commercial tile from Home Depot - inexpensive and almost indestructible, the same tile you see in grocery stores. The whole job took my handyman less than a day to install.

The next day I put down two coats of liquid wax for addition ease of cleaning and shine.

I already had the black wicker outdoor furniture and I painted two 'found' side tables black to match. I was able to find the perfect outdoor fabric to make new seat cushions - black and white with a flash of color. The lantern was brought home from Morocco many years ago, as was the brass tray. The stained glass window I originally made for a door. I think that it now has the Victorian Brighton Pavilion look that I was trying to achieve, although I would like to add a potted palm tree.

And the best far it is easy to keep clean!

I hope that you like it, I know this will not suit every taste but it's rather fun to do something a little quirky once in a while.

Thank you for visiting.

Have a happy day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Dilemma ~

I went out in the garden this morning to take some photos for a  post on a project I have been working on. I came in, edited and downloaded the pictures, then decided this time I would do  something new - this post really needed two parts.

So, for today...


Part I The Dilemma

 As I have shared with you before, in the back far reaches of the garden is what I am now referring to as the pavilion. It was built by my husband as the site for our daughter's wedding, because of this it has very strong emotional ties for me. But the poor structure has had some issues in the past few years.  First, the original lattice top was completely blown off in a windstorm. I had it replace with a tin roof which has really worked out well and looks quite charming. But now the flooring has started to rot away. 

This structure is pretty much the centerpiece of the garden.

It is flanked on one side by the pond and the other side by the gravel garden.

One of the orange trees, which must have been planted on the property at least 50 plus years ago, adds shade and definition to the area.

All things considered it really is important to keep the structure looking as good as possible - an asset rather than a detriment to the overall look of the garden.

So now the current problem: the flooring and how I solved it.  I took a risk and did something quite daring and I love it. I hope you will like it too,

I will share how I went about this with you in my next post, Part II The Solution.

Don't you love a bit of mystery...I hope you will come back.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a lovely day.