Friday, September 25, 2015

Construction, Disruption, and Design Challenge

I see that it has been a while since I have posted. There are many reasons, including moving and construction. The state, because of a highway widening project, took and tore down our building which housed my business for 5 years and my husband's business for 30 years. Blogging was moved to the back burner.

The impetus to blog again came from an email I received from Holly of Chairish a curated site selling antique and vintage furniture. The idea was to take a space from white to colorful all designed around a vintage chair chosen from an extensive collection of chairs in every style imaginable. I chose a very traditional club chair. We were asked to create a style board, and write a blog around the project. I scrolled down the chair photos for quite a while before I settled on this chair.

 I am stuck on plaids lately as you may know, if you have been reading on facebook about the new line of name brand vintage clothing, Name Droppers, I am introducing to Just A Second

The fall season also influenced my choice. The nights have been cooler, the dawn is arriving later, and all in all, it puts me in a mood to cozy up. 

And so I decided on a rustic lodge theme and designed  "a room around a chair". My own personal preferences also played a part. I love red, and although it is difficult to see in the photo, the chair I picked has a red stripe in the plaid and red around the bottom. The resolution of the chair photo is not very good, and the more I enlarge it to try and point out something, the fuzzier it gets as you will clearly (or fuzzily) see in the photo of the style board.

As an aside, I have not done a style board since I took a course at our community college many years ago, but here goes:

I wanted a red rug to anchor the room and came across this natural fiber one which I really like. A red wool would work very nicely also, but I thought the fiber rug provided a very nice texture. For the walls I picked a medium grey, which is neutral and goes with the chair. In searching for sofas, this olive rustic one caught my eye. I have always loved a red and olive combination, and I have been reading that olive is making a comeback. I cannot tell for sure, but there may be an olive tone in the stone of the fireplace as well as in the wood tones, and in the plaid of the chair. I picked many natural elements, the stone fireplace which picks up the grey of the focus chair, but also brings in the rustic wood tones, the "stump" end table, hand thrown pottery, the deer head, and norfolk pine plants, plus the upcoming Christmas season's evergreen wreath.

The pillows pick up the reds, the black in the chair, and add more of the lodge element to the room, as does the buffalo check of the drapes. And of course, every woman and every room needs a little "bling", so I could not resist topping off the room with this chandelier. Don't you love it!!! 

Be sure to check out more plaids at Just A Second inside Stella & Notte, located at 1416 N. Main Street, right across the street from the North End City Market and open Saturdays from 9-3. Jeanine and I look forward to your visit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reflections on Faith's Graduation

Time has gotten away from me, and blogging has been the casualty of too much going on in our home and lives. I started this post after returning from a few days in Charleston, SC, where Faith was graduating from the Medical University of South Carolina. The ceremony took place in the Church of the Holy Communion. She earned her masters in Occupational Therapy, and so, what was said when she was four may be true of the future:  I thought she was being so kind after we watched Reading Rainbow one morning, and the story was about a grandpa who needed a wheel chair because he could no longer walk. He was still able to carve wood and, if I remember correctly, he carved a wooden whistle for her. At any rate, there were pages showing him being wheeled in his chair. When Reading Rainbow ended, Faith declared that she would push me in the wheel chair when I got old. Before I could compliment her on how kind that was of her, she blurted out, "And then we can park in those special places." But I digress.


Back to Charleston where we shared a suite with DJ and Dawn, and granddaughter Addy. John and I drove down for the event and had packed a cooler and a couple of boxes of food. We unpacked them, and the boxes were sitting empty in the common area. Addy climbed into one, and it became a "jack-in-the-box" and later, when DJ picked up the box, Addy and all, it became a rocket and an airplane, and as you can see from the photo a reading nook.

We stayed overnight in Charleston after having a celebratory dinner with David's family and a few of Faith's and David's friends. 

What a beautiful city! And so much history. We toured Fort Sumter, the site of the first shots fired in the Civil War.  Miss Addy, with her vivid imagination, turned one of the see-throughs in the Fort Sumter museum into a fast food pick up window and took our order. Later that evening, we sadly bid farewell to DJ, Dawn, and Addy and headed to Charlotte to continue our visit with David and Faith. 



And you know, that at some point, we have to "talk decorating" and here we are. Faith had purchased an old breakfront (now referred to as a hutch), and she found an Annie Sloan dealer. (That place will be the subject of another blog. What a business model!) 

She decided on "graphite", so we went to work. I apologize for the very poor photo quality. Unfortunately, I cannot redo it until we revisit Charlotte. I have yet to see it all put together and in its proper setting in their new home.
We also had packed the van with more goodies for her home, including a desk I had redone plus four french chairs.  I am sharing a glimpse of her living room and will share more as Faith continues with some thrifting and painting and rearranging and turning their house into a home. Is it possible that she shares a few of her mother's traits?

Don't you love the chairs with that aluminum table she found?!? Cannot wait to see and share (with permission, of course) her progress.

Remember, there are more "gifts and decor with a past" plus some new, at Just A Second inside Stella & Notte, 1416 N. Main Street in Rockford's Historic North End. We look forward to your visit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Morning Musings

I love the very early quiet mornings-sitting, thinking, praying, planning. As I was sitting this morning I went to look out the window and what do I see but my pop up tent. It has been sitting on our patio, blocking my view of the yard. (and that is another story).

But I could look at the window and the window sill and what lies beneath, and those things are what I am focusing on this morning - the people and moments which the objects bring to mind. 

I have been trying to redo my office in little ways and make it more personal. The "Mr & Mrs" were picked up on our return trip from Charleston a year ago last month after Faith and David's wedding. The reception was yet to be, and I always like to pick up a memory of our travels. What could be more appropriate after a wedding? So, here it sits, not only reminding me of Faith and David, but also celebrating daily our own marriage and the blessings that have accompanied that, including our children, grandchildren, purpose, struggles, victories-all that help us continue to grow and learn, and empathize with others.

And then there is the sill in its last days of Spring with bunnies and twigs and a few flower frogs. I often claim I am not a collector except for ironstone pitchers and some yellow ware bowls. I guess I need to add flower frogs. Then there is the bottle vase, one of the $1.00 exchange gifts from our Mending Club Christmas celebrations. There is also the sill which needs painting along with the 9 windows and the book cases and the rest of the woodwork. 

Finally down to the fruit crate below the sill.


Who would have thought that I would be back to using crates for tables at this stage in our lives. But, I love the crate. It is small. It has a tray top for goodies including coasters, another Mending Club gift made from ceramic tiles, and a little oval pottery dish hand painted with a bird on it, a gift from Faith when very young and shopping at neighbors' garage sales. (I wonder where she got that trait!). In it are rosaries, also gifts, from missions asking for help doing their work in foreign countries. Below are large cones of cotton yarn for knitting dish rags. I intend to make several dish rags while I am watching TV as gifts for the kids. They absolutely love the dish rags my mother made and gave to them. My intention is to continue the tradition, but I am not my mother, and they are fortunate to get one or two.

There is also a quilt which needs some repair, another TV watching project, so I can feel productive and not like I am wasting time. Speaking of which, enough morning musings and on with the day. Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Setting the Stage for Sharing

Raleigh 3 speed English racer - long ago matching bikes Christmas gift from John

A plant exchange is the perfect way to meet new neighbors and to share the earth's bounty. Our neighborhood had a plant exchange this past Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, and it was posted on a couple of our neighborhood sites - Nextdoor and our facebook page.

We hosted it in our front yard, since it is more visible, and according to some studies on building neighborhood, people feel more free to join you in your front yard than to impose on your more private back yard.  So John, thankfully, put himself in charge of bringing backyard tables and chairs, plus the sign, and the bike out front, so we could make it clear where the sale was. The table and shelves for the plants also had to be set up (not really knowing if anyone, or how many would show up.)

I was in charge of what goes where and how it should look, and what we should serve, so I will share a few of John's photos.

Crib-end Sandwich Board used at shop and for Faith's and David's Wedding

The bike (vintage, of course, but new when purchased years ago), 
was tethered to a new little tree on the parkway, with a plant and flags in its basket. The sign, my old crib end one from the shop, was placed in the middle of the boulevard. I am obviously not a "chalkboard artist" especially when it is being designed the morning of the 9:00 event. 
Bridget - granddaughter and Valedictorian Morris H.S. 2015

We left town at 4:00 PM the day before to attend the graduation ceremony of this beautiful young lady. Bridget happens to be our"favorite oldest granddaughter" and also class valedictorian. (not TOO proud:)

Fortunately, I had made the rhubarb cake a couple of days ahead of time, so I just needed to put together the coffee, and cut the fresh pineapple the day of the event.

Chippy old patio Tea Cart/Server

I tried to keep it simple, but there are still plenty of last minute details to work on. Coffee had to be placed, and plugged in. Cake had to be cut. Color scheme and accessories to cover both garden and Memorial Day had to be determined.

Matching vintage tablecloths from an aunt, floor-length on small table and short skirt on large patio table
Neighbors visiting, shopping, and enjoying cake and coffee

Neighbors came, some for plants; others for coffee, cake and a chat. Many plants were exchanged or purchased. Donations for the neighborhood association were received, and it was a beautiful sunny day for the event.

We do have quite a few plants left and gathered on the porch - FREE for the taking. There are a variety of tomato plants, including purple and black, other vegetables, herbs, and perennials. 

Garage shelves emptied and brought out front to display plants

And I have included a favorite family recipe from my great aunt, copied by one of our daughters.

The rhubarb was fresh from our neighborhood market, and the cake received rave reviews.
Great Aunt Vig's (Virginia) Rhubarb Cake Recipe

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Winter to Summer with a few minor touches

I love so many decorating styles - traditional, primitive, rustic, cottage, and to a lesser extent mid-century. We have a bit of each in our home. The room in this post is an addition we put on several years ago when the children were young and all living at home. It is a combination eating area and family room - a gathering room as they were called in an earlier era.

Changing out the decor for the season is always fun, but I decided to give this room a lake cottage look for the summer and I can actually keep out the plaid blankets and pillows and make them fit the season by adding other touches such as a rustic "cabins" sign, a picnic basket, a duck, and a farmer's market veggie basket watercolor.

This room, when all six windows are open, can actually get a bit chilly in the evenings, so the blankets continue to be put to good use.

Summer is the red, white, and blue, season, with all the summer holidays - Memorial Day, Flag Day and, of course, the 4th of July. So the architectural stars and the flag pillow plus the colors in the weaving add to the spirit.

There are so many memories in this room - my mother's high school sampler on the brick wall, the antique weaving, a gift from David's mother after Faith and he were married in Charleston last Spring. The antique checkerboard was a gift from John many Christmases ago. It had been covered in white paint and was part of a chicken coop wall before it was rescued.

The water color is one I did in one of Ingrid Dohm's classes when her studio was a gathering place in the North End, and she was an integral part of our First Thursday celebrations.

Having a booth instead of a store, where I had regular hours, is giving me more time to spend at home and more time to enjoy the rearranging, something that was a bit neglected during my five years as a shopkeeper.

Homes tell the stories of our lives, and I often marvel at how fast those stories move from chapter to chapter.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Screen Door/Window Musings

I love finding old rusty screens or screen doors with rustic chippy painted frames.  I loved the way they looked, but at first, I really didn't know what I was going to do with them.

I decided to try to paint on the screens. I looked up painting old screens and saw that it was an old folk art form in Baltimore. Supposedly, it was started by a produce merchant whose produce was wilting in the hot Baltimore sun. (Isn't that the name of their newspaper?!?)

He took his produce inside, but still wanted potential customers to know that he was selling produce, so he painted products on the outside of the screens of his store. He could see out, but others saw what looked to be display cases of his produce. 

Then others started painting their screens on the outside so they could have privacy during the day even if the windows and drapes were open.

Today there is a non-profit in Baltimore set up to preserve the art that almost disappeared with the advent of air-conditioning. Their slogan: "You see out. No one sees in."

My first projects were very simple - one color as seen in the rooster painting.

I have done a couple more, both cows, one looking in a window, the other waiting at your screen door. These are not designed to replace any screens or doors but to be art in themselves. They need to be hung on a solid wall or door so there is no light behind them. If there is bright light behind them, the art disappears.

All three of the above are sold, most recently, the full screen door one. She is now living in Colorado.

I recently found another old rusty screen door, and I am getting excited thinking about what to paint on it.

This screen is not in as bad a shape as my earlier ones in that it there are no holes in the screen. What I love are the two aqua bars going across it. I am thinking I will try to paint a horse on this one. I will keep you posted. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anticipating Mother's Day and Warmer Days

Warmer days are coming, as is Mothers' Day, and we are trying to stock with that in mind. A few of our favorites: Cherry embellished dishes, specifically, a little vintage dessert set, arranged in and around a wicker desk sorter atop a vintage wicker bed/lap tray, complete with side holder for a favorite magazine or the morning newspaper. (Remember those?)

And beneath the bed or lap tray, a few single, vintage coffee cups - fill them with a favorite treat, wrap them in cellophane, and you have a small but sweet token of love for those special moms and grandmas.  When the treat is gone, the cup remains for coffee, or to store paperclips, pencils, whatever - a memory. 

And how about these vintage perfect size little juice glasses - a set of eight painted with a traditional symbol of warm summer days, a bunch of cherries. 

And finally, maybe a touch of "glam" - a gorgeous 40's heavy and ornate mirrored dresser tray - large enough to cluster dresser items: candle, perfume, plated lint brush, or beveled and silverplated hand mirror. Thinking gift? Think vintage.  "Antiques make great Gifts", instant heirlooms.

 Also remember, coffee is always available in Just A Second's little coffee cafe corner. Help yourself, sit a while, and enjoy.

 Just A Second is located in Stella & Notte just south of the roundabout in Rockford's historic North End. We look forward to your visit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bunny Blog Post

For some reason (it must be the season), it has been bunny time at home and at the shop. It started with this bunny which is a story in itself. I was looking for cute bunnies for my booth at Stella & Notte (used to be LaDida) where my Just A Second booth is now located (by the Farmers' Market location on North Main). And most of what I could find were caricatures of bunnies, not real looking bunnies. So I picked up a couple and decided to spray paint them to look like stone. I am happy with the result as in the photo to the right.

Lenten/spring Table scape: Purple, bare twigs, touches of green and bunny

My inspiration was this bunny I had at home. I purchased it at The Pink Cupboard when I was a vendor there. One winter I left it outside, and much of the coating came off. I was able to make it good as new with a darker stone look paint similar to what I referred to above. So note that they are indoor bunnies, not outdoor.

The bunny to the left makes that point as he is on the inside looking out. I have had my bunny on the front porch in the spring and summer, and he did just fine. I think it's the winter that did him in.


I left these bunny planters as is and may still plant them with herbs because they are not Easter bunnies as are none on this page. Easter bunnies have to wear hats, carry baskets, etc. These are regular bunnies, suitable for spring and summer decorating, and I would much rather have them in the house than outside wreaking havoc in the garden.

Finally, my poor weathered wood, chippy paint bunny that stays out year round - I usually add a bow and flowers to him for Easter and add him to the front porch as part of the Easter Sunday adornment.


I am sure he will weather the snow as will the rest of us, and it will certainly make the return of spring all the more welcome. In the meantime, visit Just A Second at our new location at 1416 North Main In Stella & Notte for some Spring decor and gifts and stay a while for a really hot and tasty cup of coffee in our new little cafĂ© corner.  We look forward to your visit!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Trees falling, expletives sounding.....


 Learning is sometimes a slow and painful process. And what did we do without the internet? I can google whatever I am working on and get a blog or a video of someone who has done what I am doing and can provide the instruction I need. Unfortunately they cannot give me the practice nor the experience. I expect that by the 4th chair, I will have this relatively simple upholstering thing down pat, and I won't have made such a mess in the process.

The back of the chair started out empty. If the chairs had been covered when I got them, I would have used the fabric I removed as the pattern for the new cover. As it was, I had to make a pattern by tracing around the inside of the back of the chair onto some plain brown paper. Then I traced the pattern plus two inches all around onto the fabric I am using to put the picture in the frame (the fabric you see on the back side of the chair). A layer of cotton batting on the inside, without stapling, added some substance to the fabric, and a couple of strips of webbing stapled to the frame added support. I traced the same pattern onto the foam without adding a couple of inches and then had to cut it - no easy feat. (You see the foam roll to the right of the chair above.)

Researching further, I saw that you could buy a foam saw ($300) or use an electric knife, which I was fortunate enough to find at a thrift store. It is still not easy, but easier than trying to use scissors or an exacto type knife.

Next you spray the foam (go outside) with spray adhesive and wrap some cotton or other batting of your choice around the foam. This allows the fabric to lay nicer on the cushion and softens the edges of the foam. 

Inserting the foam and stapling the final fabric around it was the most difficult part of the process thus far. Here come the expletives! As you can see, there are some rough spots around the edges. Since this photo was taken, staples had to be removed, staples didn't grab...over and over and over again.

In the aftermath, staples were all over the floor. Foam pieces were all over the floor, fabric is all over the dining room table, tools and fabric and foam are all over the everyday eating area table.

Happy that no one else was in the house, which brings us to the title of this post: If a tree falls in the forest, (Sorry, couldn't resist) but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? I am fairly certain it does. And I am not proud of my solitary outbursts. 

Resolved: Just as you do when making a dress or whatever, cut all the fabric and the foam and the batting and the webbing first, before starting to put it on the chair. That way all the fabric, foam, batting, and web mess is done. I am so impulsive.
I want to see it done NOW! I hope I am learning patience.
Next post will show the finished chair, much different than above (I hope). 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taking on the Chairs

Quite a while ago I posted a chair on Facebook, four of which I purchased from Tina at our final sale, when Just A Second was still in our little building on North Main Street. We turned the keys over to the state of Illinois on December 12. The state took the building for the widening of North Main Street (Hwy 2).


So with the sorting and packing and moving, the chairs have sat in storage awaiting some free time - post Thanksgiving, post wedding reception for youngest daughter Faith and her husband David, post Christmas, post New Year's Day until this week. (That somewhat explains the long interval between posts.)


I asked John to bring one chair home from storage, so I can get started.


First I painted the frame white with Annie Sloan paint - pure white. Then I made a pattern of the back opening so I could cut the four fabric pieces for the chair backs.

The fabric on the seat at left is actually more grey than photo shows. That will go on chair front and seat. It has a nubby, sort of rough linen look and feel.

Below is the patterned back. It is a pale grey and pure white toile.

Since I don't have my shop work space, all is being done in our eating/family room area. It will drive me crazy more than it will bother John to have this "mess" around for as much time it is going to take to do four chairs.


This is going to be quite a process for me, and more than I have done previously to get items ready to sell. Hope I don't try your patience, as I post the step by step process.  Stay tuned.