Saturday, September 24, 2016

An old planter and a spectacular fall porch

Welcome to a southeast Texas fall front porch! 


This slightly over the top seasonal display began with a wreath created from what I call the "faux flower hoard wreath making project"...which is me creating seasonal wreaths for Nellie's Cottage & my home from the boxes, and boxes, and boxes of faux flowers collected from events and seasons over the last 20 years. Creative people have a tendency to hoard a teeny bit...all be it is usually highly organized:)


Still not sure if I wanted to go "all out" for my fall porch,
I went to Walmart for spray paint, saw the chrysanthemums out of the corner of my eye....and was toast:) After a trip to Home Depot for pots, and another trip to Walmart, my fall flower "need" was satisfied. Rounded up a few more containers from the pool patio, added a few pumpkins, these metal corn stalks and Viola...a spectacular ballad to autumn! 





This "grape" cement planter above has been around since the 90's (I was obsessed with grapes!) It has been cream, copper, rose gold, and black. The paint was so bad that it had been banished to the "garden tool corner" behind a tree. My plan was to spray it black again but as the hose washed a few more spots of paint away it captured my "object lesson" loving heart. I reflected that life is much like this pot. About how the years of experiences, joys, sorrows, & lessons are much like layers of paint. Life beats us up a bit, the "paint" peels but the effect is a beautifully distressed container with character and charm. Perfectly painted new pots aren't nearly as interesting, as with perfectly painted people. I worry about the effect social media pictures are having on our image of real life. I wonder if we are losing some of our character with the flow of perfect images parading before our eyes. My favorite pictures of people are the "out-takes", the real expressions and quirky poses:) Newly painted things are best paired with distressed objects...kind of like grandchildren pair perfectly with grandparents! it occurred to me that I like being the distressed planter. It's more comfy to stop the relentless race to be prefect at everything. I am more merciful to myself and others which makes me softer and more loving with lots of peeling paint:)
And yes, I got all of this from a peeling old planter!


Love fall, love my blue door, love chrysanthemums, pumpkins and beat up old planters!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The rehabilitation of a brass candlestick

I simply cannot part with anything decorative...therefore I paint everything! Brass was the best thing on earth in the 90's...I know because that is when I built my house! Now 20 years later I am painfully changing out fixtures and knobs when they break or when I can sneak it past the thrifty British "what's wrong with what we have" hubby! So in a creative effort to be a good wifey, I re-do most decorative items from a bygone era...like this candlestick!


The re-do began with a brushed on coat of metallic rub in smokey blue from Inka.

Next I thought a creamy cackle finish was just the ticket but did not account for the fact that this crackle paint had lost it's crackle:-}

I then decided to sand off most the creamy paint hoping to see a fair amount of the blue...but quickly discovered that the so called crackle paint was tenacious in it's application.

Since I am a firm believer that any foiled re-do can be saved, I now "rubbed" on another layer of the blue metallic paint with a cloth (plastic gloves essential)...
viola...a newly rehabilitated brass candlestick perfect for my fall mantle!




I feel quite pleased to have saved the world from one slightly obnoxious brass candlestick!


p.s. One thing to note is the difference in color form the candlestick to the pumpkin because I used the same blue metallic rub over different colors!








Monday, September 19, 2016

Mason jars and autumn decor

The idea for my fall tablescape began with a 4ft wooden trough, which is the perfect length for our dining room table. Michael didn't even originally build it for this purpose... I am lucky in design that way:) My autumn decor has had a bit of a make over this year with the addition of creamy pumpkins and sunflowers, and turquoise added to each vignette and display. Our southeast Texas fall is sadly lacking in the deep reds, oranges and golds, so those colors of my decor stash will live in the attic until Thanksgiving time. Truthfully this "make-over" was really just an excuse to buy a few creamy white pumpkins!



Mason jars are the bomb! My 90 year old Aunt Betty recently called me to come pick up a dozen boxes of jars in her attic. I was pleased to be the recipient of such a gift...who doesn't need more mason jars? As a result of this delightful windfall, the jar design fairy has been spinning ideas in my head for each holiday and season. Fall is arriving many places in the world (although not my corner) so the first mason jar project was for my fall table. 

Step 1. Blue chalk paint (Hobby Lobby) in escape blue was brushed with a fairly think coat on the entire mason jar.


Step 2 was "dry brushing" a metallic gold in imperfect strokes over the entire jar. "Dry brushing" is simply putting very little paint on the paint brush and lightly and quickly brushing the object till desired coverage, while letting the last color layer who through.


Step 3 in this mason jar make-over was "dry brushing" an Inka gold metallic rub in "smokey blue" over the gold paint, again only brushing quickly and lightly so that the original blue and gold can be seen. I love the effect from a layered dry brush finish! The metallic rub is meant to be polished to a sheen when dry. 


Setting a seasonal or holiday table is like layering clothing for a great outfit....just keep adding layers till it looks right and don't make it too matchy-matchy like the 80's!
I began with copper vinyl leaf placemats, grey round straw mats, brown textured chargers, turquoise plates, pale blue salad plates, gold and grey floral napkins with a red & gold jeweled napkin rings for the place settings. Vintage gold glasses that belonged to my grandmother Nellie, and gold silverware hubby bought at an auction completed the settings. 
A burlap runner was placed in the center of the table under the wooden trough. The newly painted mason jars, gold berry garland, and finally the white sunflowers and pumpkins were arranged in the trough and then......I stood back and smiled and took pictures and smiled and took some more pictures! I found myself taking the "long way" around to the kitchen from my bedroom every single time just to admire my table again:)










After all this decorating effort (it's such a burden, haha) a dinner party was on the agenda for Michael's birthday. It's fun to mix up the company for different dynamics, and to get to know others better! With that in mind we invited a different combination of friends to celebrate this festive occasion. I hired daughter Brittany to cater (which I highly recommend!) so I was able to relax and enjoy the night! 


Mississippi mud cake was served on this day for the 35th straight year. By the way...Mississippi mud cake recipe link at the bottom of this post...you are going to love me and hate me:)



Who knew that painting a few mason jars would lead to such an enjoyable night with friends celebrating the momentous occasion of a beloved husband?!?



Painted mason jars, white sunflowers and creamy pumpkins....and a happy fall to you!

Mississippi Mud cake
https://nelliescottageretreat.blogspot.com/2011/09/never-tired-of-that-mississippi-mud.html

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Georgia with my girl

Georgia is on my mind these days since Danielle & Jonathan moved there for grad school the end of July. Danielle invited me back for a visit while Jonathan went to a friend's wedding out of state. I teased her about coming to babysit:) It was a glorious girl's weekend with my girl. Athens has a charming & eclectic downtown with the kind of shops you usually find close to a university. There were lots of mother & daughter duos shopping...well the daughter's were shopping the mother's were waiting and paying.....why is that?




The Athens farmer's market was on the Saturday morning agenda. Quirky vendors with handmade everything and homegrown small farm shops filled the space with local musicians providing a festive atmosphere!



I was the most excited about the peach soap, ancient grain bread, and this beautiful handmade pottery platter. 

Proud Texan Danielle made quite the statement at this Georgia market with her cowboy boots, & Texas necklace!



After the farmer's market I had my very first shopping experience at Trader Joe's. I had heard family members rave about this fabled grocery store but I thought such accolades about a mere grocery store were silly! Not so...I was so impressed and in love with this store that the manager actually gave me flowers to celebrate my first visit:) I was in awe of the interesting variety on each shelf and isle...and I hate grocery shopping! 

As part of my visit I actually "babysat" Thor the Great Dane who is only 8 months old...can he get any bigger? Yes he can and will. He is a sweet giant puppy who is treated like a baby by his doting "parents"...



These were the prettiest sunflowers I have ever seen! Straight from the farm to Danielle's table...I can't appreciate the beauty of the earth in a more real way:)


Church on Sunday is our best family practice & "tradition"...it keeps our family grounded and headed in the right direction. It was nice to sit with my sweet girl on a beautiful sabbath!


And just like that my visit was over and back to reality...time to plan my next trip to Georgia!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Painting pumpkins and my fall mantle

I love re-doing, re-making, and mixing up the decor every few years! These paper mache pumpkins were practically begging for a new make-over. Orange is good...but at my house teal and turquoise are better:)


Chalk craft paint in "escape" blue (Hobby Lobby) was the first transformation step. I did want a bit of the orange to peak through so I "dry brushed"--very little paint on your brush with quick strokes all with the idea of a distressed look. 


After the chalk paint was dry (very quickly) I then "dry brushed" Inka gold metallic rub from Viva in "smokey blue". These metallic rubs are a great last finish on any project!  


The whole reason for painting these pumpkins was for this mantle display...I could see it, therefore I needed to do it:) I wanted this years fall decor to be a bit lighter, less orange and red like deep fall, which makes more sense in my southeast Texas pine tree laden fall! The velvet pumpkins (Hobby Lobby), metal pears (Tuesday Morning), and mini wooden pumpkins were perfect companions for my newly painted turquoise beauties.


Every seasonal mantle display revolves around our newest family photo (December 2015)....everything else on this mantle is an accessory! Here in this photo lies my heart, my efforts, my deepest joy, my time, and my greatest accomplishment.


The fall floral arrangements are a new creation for this year. Found the buckets in the garden center of a local building supply, the field sunflowers came from a local wholesale florist, and I already had the wheat and grasses! Again, I am "lightening" up this early fall decor. In my attic are beautiful autumn red and gold arrangements that will show up in November.


I wanted a banner or garland of some kind to finish the mantle off so I used this great hemp bullion trim which is actually for some lamps upstairs:) Next year I will make a banner...or maybe I will buy different trim for those lamps!




Oh how my turquoise tile bowl can make me smile:) This is has a permanent home on the coffee table. A find at Tuesday Morning years ago...it keeps surviving the grandchildren...so far!


And there you have it...my fall mantle which began by painting a few pumpkins:)




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Thoughts from the plane

I was tired, not just any old tired but the kind of "deep in your bones but happy I did it" tired from baby-sitting the mini Crossley mob for 5 days which is a whole other story to be told!


Home was a couple of hours away and I was waiting in the plane on the tarmac for more than a few minutes. Most of the time this type of waiting involves a bit of impatience, but not today.


I began watching and really observing what was going on outside my little world of waiting. There was a hive of activity out there... people coming and going, driving and loading, checking engines and fueling planes. I have been feeling a bit discouraged and overwhelmed with the politics and challenges of our country but in this moment it occurred to me that we, the average, regular Americans make life work every single day. That thought gave me comfort. All of these airport workers weren't just doing their job, they were helping me get home safely to Michael. They do this every day with an average wage, in heat and cold, storm and sunshine. This is the America I love, each of us doing our job, making life better for all of us.
I submit that humanity is mostly still good. I watched a luggage handler set aside a bag as he was loading the others. The cynic in me thought "I wonder if he is stealing that bag" but he carried that bag back to the now disconnected terminal bridge, called someone on his phone, got a tag, put it on the bag and walked that bag back to the airplane loading it just before the plane taxied away. Someone needed that bag and this man went the extra mile to make sure it got to it's destination. Faith in humanity restored!
This taught me a lesson. We would do well to take our noses out of those "smart devices" and do more observing, more interacting, and more learning to be thoughtful, grateful and therefore smart:) Airplane workers...I love you, respect you and am profoundly grateful that you do your job the best you can so I can visit and get home to those I love....

And I just thought I was taking an ordinary plane ride home:)