Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unique Uses 2

I spotted a few other unique uses for items last week. First are these old windows grouped together in an interesting art form at Roanoke C0-Op. I love old windows and this innovative use of them suspended from the ceiling makes quite a statement. The windows could also be hinged together to form an outdoor screen for a patio or greenhouse.

You might just walk right by this next piece of "art" (like I did) if you didn't know its new purpose. I found it at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke. It's an old gas tank for a torch welder.

The tank has been suspended from a rusty iron ring. The fun part is that there is a wooden stick perched on an attached stand and when the tank is hit a wonderful bell sound emerges.

My grandfather owned a mining machinery business and I remember seeing what seemed like hundreds of these gas tanks everywhere in bright colors (mostly orange). My uncle still has them in the old shop building.

So of course this find held a bit of nostalgia for me and I couldn't resist it when I heard the bell ring. I decided it would be perfect for us to put in our backyard and call all the kiddies to dinner.

We will be living on a golf course though, so I'm not too sure how thrilled the golfers will be with the gong. I think I'll wait until someone hits a particularly bad shot to ring it just for fun.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Countdown Week 4

Time for countdown week number 4...shouldn't I have gotten more done in a month's time? Worked out more, slept more, spent more time with the kids (not necessarily in that order!).

I'm really hoping that by next week I'll have something more exciting to show you from the inside. Flooring will be started (reclaimed heart pine) and maybe some tile too.

Here are the tile selections for the master bath...

The guest bathroom...

Our daughter's bathroom...

And our twins' bathroom...

The little white tiles are called "penny rounds," but I'm quite sure they don't cost 'round a penny.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Vintage Daffodils

Are there such things as vintage flowers? I'm sure of it. My mom's mom's mom (that would be my great-grandmother!) planted beautiful daffodils around her house decades ago, long before I was born. They're still blooming there today, even though the house is now gone. She died in 1967, so I'd say that's quite a green thumb.

Even more amazing is the fact that some of the same daffodils were transplanted in my mom's yard and are thriving (in fact, multiplying). They look so cheery in the photos I took this spring. My uncle, who now owns my great-grandmother's property, brought some to my mom years ago. He gave me a few as well and they look bright and colorful. I plan to have him plant even more when we move into our new house.

I've always wanted to go to the Nantucket Daffodil Festival, held every April. Apparently over three million daffodils bloom on the island in season. That's roughly 300 daffodils per resident of the tiny island! The festival's main event is the parade, during which 100 antique cars are bedecked with daffodils.

As much as I'd love to see those three gazillion daffodils, I think my great-grandmother's vintage flowers are special enough for a festival of their own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Unique Uses 1

I'm always spotting unusual ways that people are using vintage items so I decided I would start a new series called "Unique Uses." There are lots of ways to repurpose an item. Here are a few ideas...

This drum is being used to hold magazines and other brochures at JJ's restaurant in Bristol, TN. The front was opened up and a shelf installed in the middle, with a chain to hold the front "door" open. The restaurant has a music theme, so this is a perfect little accessory for the front table.

The next two items are hanging at Rockfish in Roanoke, VA. Above, they took an old stair railing and simply added some hooks. It's hanging near the front door for patrons to store coats and hats while they're dining.

This one is an old door turned on its side. One of the panels was removed and a mirror was put in its place. A small ledge was added to the top for lights or other decorative trinkets.

Think twice before you throw something out! You'll save money and it's the green thing to do.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Countdown Week 3

I can't believe it has been 3 weeks since I started our move-in countdown. I must say the house is moving pretty fast now. The outside is really taking shape.

Our front door is still plywood...when the permanent door is installed things will really come together.

Here are the windows for our laundry room (on the left) and my craft room, or "studio" as I like to call it (sounds much cooler, although I know in reality it truly will be an arts & crafts room for the kids!).

I'm hoping that starting with week 4 I can feature more photos from the inside. Flooring starts next week! We're buying it from an old friend of mine from high school...yet another great use of Facebook!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Before & After

You don't have to spend a lot of money to transform a piece of furniture. All you need is a willingness to dig around in antique stores or flea markets and a little elbow grease.

I purchased this loveseat (I say "loveseat," you say "settee") at an antique store for about $60. The woven cane back was a shabby tan before but I spray painted it gold. Spray paint can be used for so many projects and comes in great colors! I've used it to paint our outdoor wrought iron railing, our mailbox, wicker outdoor furniture and more. You can even get chalkboard paint that you can spray right onto your wall!

I also gave the arms and legs a lift by first painting them gold with a brush, after lightly sanding. Over top of that I painted everything a dark umber color. In between those two steps I rubbed certain areas with wax, areas where wear and tear is likely to occur and where I wanted the gold to pop. After the top coat of paint, I then lightly sanded the waxed areas and ta-da! The gold glittered through the brown. To finish I put a sealer on the wood.

A few yards of relatively inexpensive fabric took the bench from blah to wow, with the help of two pillows in a coordinating fabric and fringe trim.

This loveseat cost about $40 at a second-hand store and it simply needed a few yards of fabric to make it spiffy.

Just about right for two lovebirds.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Antique Roadshow's Ken Farmer

Exciting happenings for me last Thursday...I met Ken Farmer from PBS' Antiques Roadshow! Not only that but I had a one-on-one chat with him and asked him to look at an interesting artifact from our corporate museum.

My hometown's library, the Bristol Public Library, brought Mr. Farmer here as part of its 2009 Discovery Series and I was fortunate enough to be invited to a wine and cheese reception at a friend's house prior to the public gathering. Later that evening, the library was hosting Mr. Farmer (who hails from Radford, Virginia, where my grandmother graduated from college...an anomaly for a woman born in 1914, but I digress...) and anyone could come and bring one item that they wanted him to look at and give a quick appraisal. Knowing that I couldn't attend that event I decided to be rather bold and seize the moment during the wine and cheese. Of course, my husband tried to talk me out of taking anything into this private reception, and of course, I didn't listen.

I did sort of hate to impose, but...Mr. Farmer (is it ok if I call you Ken?) was so cordial and approachable that it seemed perfectly fine. Plus the other guests were interested in what he had to say, and after all, it was a private "showing!"

The item I brought was one ledger of a set of several from the early 19th century. Our company inherited the ledgers from a company we had purchased back in the 1980s that was located in Orange, Virginia, about 25 miles from Charlottesville.

The set of ledgers itself is extraordinary, and details the accounts of customers who traded with the company almost 200 years ago. The covers of the ledgers practically turn to dust if you simply look at them; they are so fragile. One particular ledger itemizes the account of Thomas Jefferson from 1823. It shows various "merchandise" and "sundries" he purchased for the sum of $114.38 (the account on the following page, for the Porte Republic Store, shows purchases of $9092.79, an astronomical amount for the era).

At first there was some question among our group as to whether Thomas Jefferson was still alive in 1823 (so we're not history experts, or even novices, it appears!). Was this even the same Thomas Jefferson? It was the same time frame and geographic area. Through modern technology Mr. Farmer was able to surf the internet with his Blackberry and discover that Jefferson was in fact alive and well in 1823 and did not pass away until 1826. The ledger with President Jefferson's account has quite a bit of value, according to the Antiques Roadshow guru, although the value would have skyrocketed with T.J.'s signature.

That's one John Hancock we don't have.

Friday, March 13, 2009

O' Danny Boy

In celebration of St. Paddy's Day next week, here's a favorite drink recipe of my dad's (and several friends): Danny Boy. So named because of my dad's extreme (and I do mean extreme) fondness of the song and also because our ancestors emigrated from Ireland (by way of Scotland), the country of origin of the song, to our current stomping grounds in southwest Virginia (due to the strikingly similar terrain).

Danny Boy

Jack Daniels (single barrel preferred, regular ok)

Sprite or 7-Up (note: diet not allowed)

Orange slice (not wedge; and in the drink, not hanging off the side)

On the rocks

Somewhat of an unusual drink by some standards. So many friends and family (husband included) have adopted it as their signature drink that it's the norm around here now.

May the luck o' the Irish be upon ye!


Countdown Week 2

Another week closer to our move-in date and a few things have happened in the last seven days. The sheetrock upstairs is completely finished! We took our 3-year-old over there the other day and he could actually see what his bedroom will look like. He just kept saying "wow" over and over. He loved his future playroom too, which has a secret room on one side.

Here's our front porch, without the front door, of course, which is in the works. Who knows, maybe we'll just keep the plywood. It seems to do the job and would be excessively cheaper. The arched window on the right is our dining room. The copper over our porch will turn over time. I just learned that you can seal it if you want to keep the shiny copper look but we opted not to go that route (and we saved quite a bit of money with that decision).

This is the window over my bathtub (no peeping Toms, please!). Since I took this photo a couple of days ago, the green cedar shingle siding by Shakertown is completely installed on this side (how much do the DuPont Tyvek people pay to delay the installation of the siding?). I like the combo of the Eldorado Stone, siding and dark brown Pella windows. The stone was modeled after that of our favorite hotel in Laguna Beach, California (where my father-in-law lives), the Montage Resort & Spa. I hope we can go back there one day and stay a week or three!

A view of our soon-to-be screened-in porch. I've always wanted a screen porch, and this one has a fireplace, where we plan to have lots of marshmallow roasts and story telling with our kids. Our roof is a clay tile by Ludowici that looks very similar to slate.

This is a sliding glass door leading into our bedroom. A patio will be poured (it will extend to the right from the current patio) where you see the rubble, which I suppose will be buried underneath, along with candy bar wrappers and other lovely items the workers leave us on a regular basis. I think I'll enjoy going out there to catch a few rays from time to time!

Finally, here's the roof line over our back porch. And our blue chimney, which will soon be covered in stone. For the longest time our entire roof was this color and I have to admit that I grew quite fond of it. Not sure why we couldn't just have a turquoise roof. It sure would come in handy during a blizzard.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vintage Theatre Curtains

We stumbled upon a great find for our corporate museum. On the college campus where our offices are located, there was a theatre (circa 1972) that was used for community productions. Sadly, it had fallen into disrepair over the years and despite our asking around, even the city couldn't take it over, due to high maintencance costs. Alas, we had to tear it down. So we set about salvaging every last item from the theatre that we possibly could. What a fun project (at least I thought so!)!

I have to say I was the only one of our "salvage group" who thought twice about saving the stage curtains. "Too musty," "too dirty," everyone said. Nonsense! They were beautiful velvet and simply could not be thrown away for such trivial reasons! There were two layers of curtains: red velvet and royal blue velvet. The red curtains were in much better shape; while I desperately wanted to save the blue, it just wasn't possible.

We took the curtains down on a sunny day and spread them out on one of the long driveways on campus. We had decided that they would serve as valances on some of our larger museum windows, and they needed to be cut to size. Astonishingly, the curtains had seams in the exact spot where we needed to trim, which made our job infinitely easier. They did not even need to be hemmed! We laid them out, sprinkled carpet cleaner and Febreze on them, and spent an entire Saturday vacuuming them.

The uses for the curtains proved to be much more abundant than we had first predicted. Not only did they yield wonderful valances for all of the major museum rooms, they also produced skirts for underneath the bathroom sinks, a tree skirt for our annual Christmas tree and long curtains for other rooms. We even tacked fabric on the ends of the curtains for makeshift trim (the fabric was pinned on...see this post for another idea using crazy quilts).

Next time you're not sure if you can salvage something, just remember it's never too late for another curtain call.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

It's no coincidence that my favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. Just like Dorothy, I've been known to click my heels together and chant "there's no place like home." I can get homesick going on a half-hour trip to a neighboring town for the day.

It's not that I don't like to travel, and I do quite frequently (or used to before the little ones) but I'm always so happy to come home. I'm sure I inherited this trait from my grandfather, who never wanted to be far from home (despite traveling extensively) and who lived the entire 91 years of his life within 5 miles of where he was born.

In lieu of crafty projects, today I'm just sharing some photos of the place I call home, the area where my family has lived for generations.

What one person calls home may not be a place another person even wants to visit (just ask my husband!).

For some, "home" might not be where you grew up but where you live now.

I think a good test of "home" is whether you get a lump in your throat when you leave and/or when you return.

I know it's sappy, but I can't even watch movies about my area without getting choked up (Coal Miner's Daughter (my Granny and Loretta Lynn were born in the same place) and October Sky to name but two).

I'm sure I'll pack my bags again soon and strike off somewhere fun, but I'm also certain I'll be anxious to head for the hills at the end of my journey. My feet may land me somewhere else but my heart will always be in these mountains.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Real or Fake?

Are these flowers real or fake? That's what my mom and I were wondering when we spotted them at a wedding celebration this weekend. They are so gorgeous they couldn't possibly be fake, right? I just had to touch them to see for myself.

The answer is: both! The pink flowers are silk and the rest are real! Normally I wouldn't imagine putting such an arrangement together but these are over the top beautiful. Can't wait to try this idea (on a slightly smaller scale!).