Friday, January 30, 2009

I Scream for Eames

Eames chairs are synonymous with modern style. Charles and Ray Eames adapted molding techniques developed during World War II to mass produce this classic design. The fiberglass stacking shell chairs were particularly popular.

The Eames fiberglass shell chair was really the first affordable plastic chair. Conceived in the late 1940s this chair design has endured to remain very popular today. Originally offered with a range of bases, including basic tubular legs, trussed Eiffel tower legs, low lounge bases, as well as rockers, the variety trailed off during the middle years with Herman Miller only offering the basic tubular steel legs. As a result the original chairs with the alternate legs became very valuable collectors' items.

We have about 100 fiberglass Eames chairs in our corporate museum, as seen in the photo above. The chairs had been used by Sullins College and we inherited them when we purchased the campus of the bankrupt school and moved our headquarters there in the late '70s. The beauty is in the stacking feature, so they take up considerably less room.

We use them for meetings and parties. They are surprisingly comfortable. Ours are "Red Orange" (we also have a few in "Greige"), as seen in this color swatch from a 1962 Herman Miller illustrated price list) and tentatively date from the 1960s, although they could have been produced a little later.

Eames stacking fiberglass shell chairs can be found on ebay in a variety of colors and would be great for a desk chair in your home office. Or buy a few and stack them in your garage to use for your next party!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lake Bedroom

You may start to notice a pattern about our paint colors at the, blue and more blue. Specifically turquoise. That's the color of our master bedroom and it was painted with a linen technique.

The armoire and bed came from a Bassett Furniture Direct store that Al and I used to own. I replaced the hum-drum knobs on the armoire with some yellow, pink & green swirly knobs that I just couldn't pass up at a store in Roanoke that has since gone out of business.

That's another Greg Osterhaus painting hanging on the wall; this time it's a cow. I love his cows as much or better than his landscapes. They always have a friendly look on their faces and cute ears that make you want to get a few for your own backyard. I don't have to go that far...we already sort of have some in our backyard (on the other side of a fence) and they've gotten loose a few times and pranced around our yard. The same thing happened at the house I grew up in...maybe that's why I started collecting these cow paintings!

Chaise lounges seem to be a favorite in my family. My mom and granny together have had no fewer than 5, one of which we sold at a yard sale for something like $20. We soon regretted our decision to make a quick buck when we learned the new owner had it covered in an adorable leopard print. We're still wishing we could get that one back.

The chaise lounge here belonged to the former owners and was covered in a rather questionable white, pink and green floral pattern. I had it covered in two different fabrics-one for the seat cushion in a royal blue velvet, and another for the skirt and back in a green and blue checked taffeta. The cushion is trimmed in a blue and green fringe.

This summer I'll have a chance to add to the lake pictures from each room. Until then I'll have to rely on the few photos I have while I head out to milk the cows.

Logo How-To

I love doing computer projects. All of the logos you see below were made on my computer (a couple of them were existing logos to which I added elements). With a little practice, it's an easy project and more economical than hiring a graphic artist to do the work. I'll show you how I did the Martha Jane logo.

Step 1: Working in Microsoft Office Publisher, open a Blank Publication. Next, click on the oval shape in the left vertical toolbar, then drag it out to the size you want (you can also draw a rectangle or other shapes by clicking on the AutoShapes icon just below). You can resize it by clicking and dragging on any of the circles on the outer edges of the shape. Note that in order to keep the same proportions when resizing, you must hold the shift key down while dragging the shape. The shape will automatically have a black line around it.

Step 2: With your cursor inside the oval, right click and choose Format Auto Shape. Under the Colors and Lines tab, click on the dropdown menu next to Fill Color. Choose the color you would like for the inside of the oval and click OK.
Step 3: With your cursor inside the oval, right click and choose Format Auto Shape. Under the Colors and Lines tab, click on the dropdown menu next to Line Color. Choose the color you want for the outside line (do not click OK yet). Next click on the dropdown menu next to Line Weight. Here you can make the line thicker or thinner. I set the weight for this logo at 6 pt. Click OK.

Step 4: Under the Insert menu at the top of the page, click on Text Box and drag the invisible text box to cover the width and height of the oval so that you can write your text inside it. Note that in Microsoft Office Word text boxes automatically have lines around them (which can be removed by right clicking on Format Text Box); however, in Publisher text boxes do not automatically have lines (again, this can be reversed by formatting the text box). Inside the text box, write your company name or other text. For this logo I used the font Amore, which I purchased from My Fonts and installed on my computer.

You can find lots of free fonts on the internet in addition to purchasing them as well. A couple of good sites for free fonts are Abstract Fonts and Daily Font. Another site that sells fun fonts is Font Diner, which specializes in retro fonts that you may have seen on menus and diner signs from the '50s and '60s.

Step 5: As a final step, with your cursor inside the oval, right click and choose Save As Picture. From there you can decide where on your computer you would like to save the image and whether you would like to save it as a jpeg, gif or other type of image. This will enable the entire logo to be used as one piece and be propery translated by other computers on which that particular font may or may not be installed. The same steps above could be carried out in Word. However, Word does not give you the ability to save the drawing as an image file; therefore, it must be done in Publisher or another similar program if you intend to save it as an image.

Special fonts are a fun way to jazz up invitations, labels and anything else you want to print. Much better than the standard ones that come on every computer.

Don't be afraid to try new things on your computer. As long as your documents are saved, you can't really hurt anything. I learned by literally clicking on every menu and every toolbar in the programs I use until I figured out what I needed to do.

Happy printing!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sneak Peek

We're in the process of building a new home, less than a mile from where we live now (which is great so that I can check up on things every day).

Here is a sneak peek of our house as of today. The style is sort of a cross between Arts & Crafts and Cottage. The simulated slate roof is nearly complete and the shingle siding is appearing from the top down. Electricians and plumbers are scurrying about inside. The sound of power saws is music to our ears when we stop by for a visit. Our builder says our move-in date will be late fall (but of which year?). I'll be posting about our progress from rough-in to decorating, so check back in a little bit...


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coat of Many Buttons

Another inauguration has come and gone and I'm paying for the snacks I ate while planted in front of the tv watching it. I don't know about you, but when I weigh myself I don't exactly want to be wearing my heaviest coat. I mean, those extra 2 pounds would just put me over the top! Wear this politically correct jacket and you really would have an excuse for tipping the scales. It weighs about 50 pounds.

Sporting every Republican political campaign button from Nixon to Jack Kemp to Reagan, this jacket belonged to Robert "Yogi" Price and he wore it when he was a delegate at the Republican National Convention years ago. I'm not sure but I think he had to be helped up a time or two due to the sheer weight of the thing.

Covered in buttons both front and back, this jacket is a collector's dream. It would take months if not years of searching to find even some of the buttons in antique stores or on ebay. We were lucky enough to have it donated to our corporate museum by Yogi's wife. Yogi was a long-time friend and employee who passed away several years ago. At top you can see him in the photo in the background, wearing his prized jacket. He had a cowboy hat with buttons too (also in the photo), but his wife couldn't find it.

Who knows, maybe he's wearing it with hopes of converting a Democrat or two up there.


Please Pass the Pepper

For a while I was obsessed with painting glass of every type. Wine glasses, plates, vases, and...salt & pepper shakers. Their surface is so smooth, it's irresistible to a paint brush.

I painted these s & p shakers (from Bed Bath & Beyond or a restaurant supply store) in colorful patterns with glass paint and then baked them (yes, in my regular kitchen oven) according to the instructions on the paint. There are some glass paints that do not have to be baked and instead call for painting a coat of varnish or other sealant on top. I would not recommend these, as they are not long-lasting and will start to chip after the first (hand)washing. Unfortunately I speak from experience on the matter!

Baking glass paint enables you to put the item in the dishwasher. The paint will not chip and it's also food-safe.

These are so easy and inexpensive to make, why not do a bunch so that everyone at the table can have their very own? No more boarding house reach for your guests.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kitty Kat Caravan

Why should humans be the only ones with fashionable luggage tags? Before my kids came along I obviously had too much time on my hands. I wanted only the best for our furry friends and that included preppy identification tags so that they wouldn't get lost during a vet visit or when we had to board them.

I found oversized cardstock tags at an office supply store. The tags already had strings on them so they were easy to attach to the cat carriers. I cut different ribbons to size and glued them onto the tags, then wrote each cat's name with a Sharpie (Kit & Kat always rode together). On the back I included our address and phone. They could be laminated at a copy shop for longer use.

Not once did we come home with a dog named Spot.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Supper at the Lake

I love to set a memorable table even when we're at the lake. All of our colors there are bright so I like to keep the place settings fun. I'm a huge fan of bandanas. There are just so many uses for them...for example, dinner napkins. They are much prettier than paper napkins. I know, some of you will say, "but I have to wash them!" Bandanas are easy to wash, they don't need to be ironed and the colors don't bleed. Plus, after washing they are super-soft. On a practical note they actually work better than paper napkins. Your table will look much more stylish AND you will be doing the environment a favor while saving money too! For the same reason, I'm not a big user of paper plates (don't get me wrong, I love all of the cute patterns of paper plates and napkins...but that is a story for another posting).

For the lake I bought yellow, lime green, turquoise, pink and hot pink bandanas (at home I have red, black and navy). Wal-Mart usually has a good selection for less than $2 each. If you don't see the colors you like there, try a craft store like Michael's or search online.

The napkin rings have different colors of silk flowers (I picked these up at Pier One a few years back). Each place setting has a different color plate in vintage Fiesta Ware, which I have collected from various antique stores. If you purchase plates like these at an antique store or flea market, be sure not to buy any with chips or cracks, especially if you plan to serve food on them.

For drinks I used handpainted wine glasses (no two are alike) that I either painted myself or purchased for my collection (more on that later). I think it's fun to use these even if you are just serving water in them, and a great alternative to the wine glass tags that are so popular these days. Of course some merlot can be poured as well!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lake Living

Tranquil. Peaceful. Quiet. Gray. That's what our lake house may look like on the outside but on the inside it's anything but. I just couldn't help but decorate with the vibrant colors of the lake, sky, sun, grass and almost every other color you can think of! You have to pull out all the stops when it comes to color at a lake or beach house.

The walls of our family room are painted a turquoisy blue. The ceiling is painted a few shades lighter. All of the outlets and even the speakers in the ceiling were painted the same color so they just disappear from view. The yellow sofa provides a nice contrasting pop of color. On the coffee table I put some silk tulips in a pretty blue wine bottle from a local winery, Chateau Morrisette. Fake, I know, but they serve the purpose of tying in the color! In season they can be replaced with the real thing.

Over the fireplace hangs a painting by local artist Greg Osterhaus that we purchased at The Little Gallery at Smith Mountain Lake. We love his work, depicting barns and landscapes around southwest Virginia, and the gallery is our favorite place to shop. The owners are kind enough to allow me to sell my jewelry in their store. In another post I'll show you our coffee table, which was made out of reclaimed ceiling tins. On the side table there's a glass bottle that I found on the beach in Bermuda in 1982 and filled with the pinkish white sand that defines the tropical island. I've had it ever since and it's a great conversation piece!

Just around the corner from the family room is a BLUE leopard powder room! I have a picture frame with this pattern so I asked our faux painter (Nene Roe from Roanoke) to copy it. The result is wild, crazy and totally unexpected. The finish was done only on the wall of the sink so that it wouldn't be so over-powering. The other walls were done in a coordinating soft blue wash.

Now our kids have a reason to be animals when they go to the potty.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Cream!

We awoke to a couple of inches of snow this morning! This is such a rare occurrence around here these days...not like the feet (or what seemed like it) of snow we used to get when I was growing up. We would miss school for weeks at a time, sledding through the neighborhood, carefree in the knowledge that we could sleep in the next morning...but I digress. This morning I was intent on introducing our kids to snow and harnessing what little of the white stuff we would have for the day. My first thought was to make snow cream, even before breakfast. Anyone who has ever eaten this delicacy knows that you have to make it from the very freshest snow, lest you want dog tracks, bird droppings or worse, in your concoction. My mom made snow cream for me all the time and she only used the purest, whitest, most beautiful snow.

I ran out on our deck in my pj's and scooped up a tiny bowl of flakes. Back inside, I scurried around to add my ingredients before it melted.


1 mound of fresh snow

vanilla extract



Add the ingredients to the snow sparingly and eat quickly before you end up with snow slush.

Everyone took a bite but I'm not convinced that they fell for the stuff as much as I did in the olden days. It's true, the photo doesn't live up to the taste. Maybe it would be better with a cherry on top.

P.S. Since posting this I've heard from a couple of readers about the ingredients they use. One friend said to use evaporated milk instead of milk; another suggested using half & half. Any other suggestions for this tasty treat?

Monday, January 19, 2009

One World One Heart Giveaway


I'm pleased to participate in the third annual One World One Heart giveaway. Last year there were over 300 participants and there are giveaways going on all across the world. To see them all click on the One World One Heart logo above for the huge list of amazing crafty bloggers who are participating.

One lucky winner will receive this pair of gold-plated earrings featuring beautiful blue quartz beads, handmade by yours truly (others are available on my website, Martha Jane). To enter, please leave a comment on this post (and only this post) stating that you'd like to enter the contest. If you have a blog and would like to enter twice, you can get two entries by posting about the giveaway on your blog and then having a link back to my blog (please indicate this in your comment).

A random winner will be chosen from the comments on February 12. My giveaway is open only to contestants in the contiguous US.
Thanks and good luck!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Roses Are Red, Hydrangeas Are Purple

These hydrangeas are right outside our front door at the lake. When we first looked at the house the stars must have been aligned for the seller because the flowers were in full bloom. Who could resist a house with these beauties staring you in the face? They remind me of Nantucket, one of my favorite summer (or fall, winter, spring!) places to visit.

Over the years, the flowers have bloomed in different colors, ranging from light blue to dark purple. The colors depend on the acidity of the soil at the time. I've been told that you can control the color by putting pennies in the soil but some brief research on the internet would lead one to believe it's just an old wives' tale. I'll have to try it and find out...after all, the whole project would cost less than a dollar!

In the photo above the blooms had gotten so plentiful and heavy that they drooped down over the porch. Many times there is just a sliver of walkway remaining to get to the front door. Some well-meaning friends have questioned why I don't cut them back to make more room. I don't believe in cutting back! They are too pretty to sacrifice for a pathway.

Of course, I will, on occasion, cut some blooms for our dinner table. But you'll have to walk around the rest if you want to eat.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Summertime's Callin' Me

One of my very favorite places in the world is Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. It truly is a little mountainous slice of heaven. Nothing fancy, no dressing up. Not. a lot. to do. But that's why we love it! (although What About Bob was filmed there, so there are some Hollywood connections, however tenuous). We've had a home there for about 10 years now. If I have any say in the matter, our kids will be water skiing, wake boarding and swimming in the lake all summer, every summer from here on out.

There's nothing better than grabbing a book and a beach towel and heading for the little red gazebo, where you can read, nap and sip chardonnay while gazing at the breathtaking lake and mountains.

I plan to post much more about this, my ideal vacation spot, along with all of my bright, quirky decorating ideas from our lake house. In the meantime, kick back with a beach read and dream of summer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bowling, Anyone?

A few years ago I headed up a project at my dad's business to do a corporate museum chronicling the company's 30+ year storied history. The company headquarters are located on the former campus of an all-girls college that closed in the '70s and the grounds are quite beautiful. We used the second floor of the main building on campus to house the museum. It was a labor of love that my friend and co-worker Julie and I undertook over the course of about 2 years (along with lots of help). We had to be very cost-conscious and come up with inventive ways to decorate the space. We also wanted to utilize all of the historical items we found as much as possible.

Another building on campus had to be demolished so we salvaged materials from it. I spotted a door from a girls' bathroom that had lots of graffiti etched into it. I found some old bowling pins on ebay and had them attached upside-down to the door to make a coffee table for the game room in the museum. I left the door stopper and latch on the table just for kicks. Girls' musings from years gone by scribbled on a bathroom stall door provide a conversation piece for anyone who comes along to sit on the sofa and perch their drink on the table.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friends

I've been a cat lover all my life (much to the dismay of my parents in my earlier years), despite being allergic to the little fur balls. Not too long ago we had 5 cats: Kit, Kat, Kaboodle (such original names) and Bogie & Birdie (a nod to our love of golf). As things go, one by one they started getting older and sicker (Kit had to have chemo; Bogie, my Granny's cat, had radiation).

Try as we might we couldn't save Kit or Bogie. Then Birdie was hit by a car. Now all three are buried over in the mountains at our family cemetery (in the pet, not people, section). Kat & Kaboodle live on, their tails pulled and prodded by the little fingers running around our house.

I wanted my special friends to have special headstones to commemorate their short, sweet lives. My uncle David is a self-described "rock hound." He finds all kinds of interesting rocks and quartz in the mountains. So he gave me these nice, smooth rocks in great shapes and I painted each of them with the kitty's name, along with some flowers, using water-based acrylic paint. I finished them off with a coat of Krylon spray varnish so that they can withstand the elements.

Rather than put the rocks at the cemetery where I can't see them, I've decided to give them a home on my kitchen windowsill for now. When we move into our new home later this year, I'll find the perfect spot for them in our backyard.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shopping at Scott's with Eddie Ross

On Sunday my mom and I were thrilled to meet Eddie Ross and his partner Jaithan Kochar when we signed up for one of their exciting shopping trips at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta. Eddie, a former senior style editor at Martha Stewart Living and former contestant on Bravo's Top Design, was incredibly gracious and helpful as he led us through the myriad of vendors at the market. Eddie and Jaithan may be New Yorkers, but you'd swear they were home-grown in the south because of their down-home friendliness.

Unbeknownst to everyone, Scott's didn't open until 10:00 am on Sunday, so we were all there a little early. The security guard wouldn't even let us in the front door at first. We were a tad chilly! Mom and I had arrived by taxi so we were at the mercy of everyone else to find warmth. Two sweet Atlantans invited us to sit in their car (each of us promised the other we were not axe murderers!). Come to find out later that we were with southern fiction author Mary Kay Andrews (of Hissy Fit and Savannah Blues fame) and her daughter, Katie! Such nice people and great timing.

A little later mom and I actually ended up sitting in Eddie and Jaithan's car for a while. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Several other bloggers shopped as well, including The Newlywed Diaries, Better Together, Layers of Meaning and Southern Hospitality. Eddie was so nice to give me a little plug on his blog in his post about the Scott's junket!

The great thing about Scott's not opening earlier was that we all got to spend extra time with Eddie as he told us about his vast work experiences and gave us tips on everything from decorating to making good finds at a flea market. There was even someone there from Daily Candy (one of my daily reads!) chronicling the adventure!

We learned so much from Eddie about tables, chairs, linens, china, sterling...the list goes on and on! I spotted a big green wine bottle and Eddie immediately knew that it would be perfect for a lamp and even told me how to go about doing it.

I actually ended up buying a clear wine bottle that's pictured on the left in the photo below, since I don't have much green in my house (although it would have made a great statement). Watch for my post later on the lamp-creating process!

View this video to hear a little tip from Eddie on purchasing antique furniture.

Check out and subscribe to Eddie's blog. He has fantastic ideas and is always an inspiration. And such a nice guy on top of everything! Expect great things from him in the future!