Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Herd of Staffordshire Cows

 I saw my first real staffordshire cow in 2004, that is, cows in the pottery making region of England.  We were driving on a country road.  I think we were the only car that had ever been on that road, as they saw us coming they all ran over to the fence.


My family teases me because I always have to take photos of sheep and cows when I travel.    I am most famous for chasing sheep up the mountainside trying to get photos


Anyway, back to cows.   Here is a photo of a beltway cow in Scotland.  Aren't they interesting!


Cows in Ireland

Cows in the Cotswolds.  They obviously have enough to eat, all laying down!
 I can't forget my trip to Germany and the Almatreib festival (driving the cows from the mountain pasture at the end of the summer)
Fabulous headresses, gigantic bells, pretty cows!

I'm always saying sometimes it is better to group collections together.  Well, I wandered all over the house and put all my staffordshire cows in one spot.  Quite a herd, don't you think!

 Below are creamers with milkmaids.
It cracks me up the way they all have their mouth open-- because that's how they look, moooo!
Here's a bunch of orange cows.  some are spill vases.  They probably were pairs at some point, but I only have one.  The bottom shelf is a cute pair.
I tend to like the figures with milk maids, as you can see below.


Every time I look at my cows, I remember a childhood story my dad would tell.  He would say:  "when I was a boy, I was a cow boy.  I had a cow, and I would take him to the pasture for the day.   He spoke with a very heavy accent "ven I vas a boy.."  Not being from this country,  a "cow boy"  was different to him than the cowboys of the wild west.  I mean, in his world, the horses were being used to pull plows, if you were lucky enough to have a horse.  Then, the young boys would take the cows to the pasture for the day.

He grew up in Ukraine and was working by the time he was 4 or 5.  His older brother was taking him to the field as a toddler and taking care of him.  As he got "older" he would go out on his own.   He is the little guy on the right.

He would talk about how he would spend the day in the fields "watching" the cow, playing in the stream, trying to catch fish and laying in the fields, watching the clouds roll by.  It sounds like some of the very few happy memories he had as a child.

I've grouped them all in a display cabinet off the kitchen.

You can see why so many staffordshire cow figures were made.  They were an integral part of daily life back then.   Now they are part of mine!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Kitchen Before & After

We finally finished the backsplash in the kitchen.

I know I had talked about using this brick product:

However the current sample didn't seem to have any color variation and that would seem rather flat to me.  The next thing that caught my eye was silver travertine split stone.  We live in Nevada and are surrounded by rocks.  I like the idea of having more natural stone in the house.


The colors look wonderful with the antiqued Calcatta marble.  To me the antiqued version is not quite as heavily brushed as leathered marble.  It has a great patina to it that I think will withstand the test of time.

The camera doesn't really capture the look, but this closeup at least shows the edge I selected for the island.  I am really happy with the final look.  It wasn't easy with all the independent decisions that were made,  

I am happy that Mark, our cabinetmaker,  built a frame around the fridge to give it a more custom look.   Isn't that crown moulding fantastic!  He did some sand-through which gives the cabinets some depth.  All white would have been a little to boring for me.
He did the same on the oven side.  It really helped balance the room.
Another detail that Mark came up with is the cutout kick plate underneath the stove.  pulling the stove forward helps break up the long wall of cabinets. Since I don't cook, this is about enough emphasis on the stove for me!



On the island, I really struggled with the size, I had to leave enough room to walk around the island and have room for a table.  The final size was 102" long (8'6") x 60" wide (5').

We had corbels placed on the ends for the 12" overhang.  My husband doesn't like hitting his knees on corbels in the middle of the island.    

The work side of the island shows the fantastic farmhouse sink.  I went with a Reinhard  because I liked the profile and the surface finish.  So far it is a dream to work with.  I don't know how I've ever been without one.  The large single interior is really great.   


I couldn't get my husband to agree to one of those fancy bridge faucets.  He wanted a sink with a single control.  (He does the dishes more than I do, so he gets a say in it....) I thought they all looked too contemporary, until I saw this faucet from Waterstone, and got it with the larger crook neck in polished nickel.
Waterstone 5600 Faucet 


I really love the faucet.  There is a magnetic pull-down sprayer.  The only thing you need to be careful of is that if you are running hot water, the sprayer handle is VERY hot.  

Some of the other details - polished nickel 9" pulls, and crystal knobs.


I know, I'm supposed to be trendy, but I like polished nickel.  It looks good with silver.   In fact so much so it is hard to tell the difference.  The big difference being no polishing!!



(Yes I love silver and silverplate....)

The best way to end is to remind you of what the "before" looked like:

"Before"

"After"
Click on the above photo to see the enlarged photo.   I am now on the hunt for appropriate bar stools.

A big thanks to Mark Bartolomucci of Sierra Wood Products in Gardnerville, NV, who had to put up with me trying figure out what my dream kitchen cabinets were--and then delivered them!   I also have to thank my husband for putting up with alot of my nonsense and chasing ideas with me. Much of this is D-I-Y.  My husband and I did the flooring and backsplash.  My husband did all the plumbing and electrical.  Next on the honey-do list:  Paint the walls (color??), finishing electrical, and baseboard.  



I am linking up to the following parties:



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ironing Vintage Linen Napkins With A Miele Rotary Iron

It's January, and there are things to do.  It's not spring, but I can't wait for spring cleaning.   I have a lot of linen that needs to be laundered after the holidays and all those dinners.


There's more.
 What can I say, I love monograms.  Check out the intricate design below!
 This M is a fabulous French Victorian monogram.  To die for.
 The varieties of script are endless!






Our holidays center around traditional dinners with everyone seated.  Using luxurious linen damask napkins only enhances that experience.  What's not to love about beautiful linen, sterling, crystal and fine china.  I especially like the older kids (in their 20's)  teaching the teenagers some table manners.  I always enlist the younger ones to set the table--it is a good experience for them.   The experience sure beats paper napkins!

When you have a big family (I am one of 7 children), holiday events can be quite a strain on the napkin department.   If you think about 32 people spending two days at your house, you need at least 2 meals a day x 32 = 64 napkins x 2 days = 128 napkins.  Oh my, that's 10 dozen napkins you can go through in one weekend.  It is pretty easy to add meals, like a friday night, etc.

That could be a problem for some people, but not for me.  I have hundreds of napkins.  I found myself spending a lot of time ironing napkins.



I don't have a maid.  I don't hire people to clean my house.   Even when I was working 70 hours a week I took pride in doing it all myself.  All 5400 square feet.  I  grew up with my mother cleaning houses and taking in ironing to make enough money to send us all to private school.  She grew up in Germany during the war and as part of their high school, she apprenticed in a mansion for 2 years.  She is the girl on the right in an apron.  How cute!
She would take in ironing and would get up at at 4 or 5 AM to  do the ironing before we all got up.  As a result, I think that is why I don't mind ironing.  It is quiet relaxation if you choose to look at it that way.

Well, my husband decided to surprise me on Valentines Day with a present that would upset most women, but not me!   He gave me a Miele Rotary iron.  It really is just a mangle, only without all that weight and rust.    This isn't just any iron!  This is my dream iron.  It takes a lot of time to press all those napkins, sheets, and tablecloths.  It is frustrating to iron on an ironing board and have marks the width of the ironing board.

In fact, I don't need as many napkins.  I could launder them one evening for the next, but I am busy visiting with my company.  I did have my 13 year old niece help iron a tablecloth.  She was quite impressed with my iron!

I've had it for a few years and can offer some tips on using it.  The biggest problem is created by running something wet through it.  That causes the rotary cover to wrinkle and bag.  I've talked to Meile about this and they say to take the cover off and wash it, put it back on and tie it.  Well, I am not a boyscout.   I don't know how to make knots on the side that stay in place perfectly, and then it continues to bag.   So I've come up with my own solution.   

 Below is what happens to the cover if the linen is too wet.  Put your dryer setting on damp dry and that will yield the best results.
 I just stitched the bottom edge to the roller and now it doesn't bag.  If I put an undried piece of linen it will bag again.  That causes creases in the item.


Check out the results below.  Putting in a damp napkin has it coming out amazingly flat and perfect.   I usually run them through twice.

.
 They are so stiff it seems like they are starched.  I know that experts tell you not to store your linen ironed because it makes them brittle, but I don't really care.  I like to use what I have.
Isn't this damask pattern pretty!   I love ones with circular designs.

When it comes to monograms, I do run them through the rotary iron.  Some of them require monogram touch-up on the ironing board in order to get them to really stand out (you know, ironed on a fluffy towel.)

Don't be afraid to use your damask napkins  regularly.  It will only enhance the experience of a sit down dinner.  Think of  all the trouble you have gone to in preparing your meal.  Why not serve it like a fancy restaurant does?   You can skip the tablecloth and go for simple placemats, they always look great when adding a damask napkin to the picture.


I felt like Martha Stewart, until I read about her laundry room at Skylands here:


She has a couple of mangles.
 These are drying racks that actually blow air through them.  The poles slide into the cabinet
 I love this ironing table.  The cord needs to come from the ceiling though.
 OK, now I'm really jealous.  She has something called a flatwork finisher.


Ok, I won't be achieving this, but I love my rotary iron!
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P.S.
Read about my use of antique tablecloths at my daughter's wedding here.