Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Breakfast Room Toile Makeover

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time for the paper shades in my breakfast room to go.   It's been 4 years since we moved in, and Thanksgiving is at our house this year.  Below is the "before" shot.

These windows are only 16" wide.  I have a curved wall to deal with,, so it seems tough.  I went to and looked for window treatment ideas.   

The most common choice was no treatment at all.  I would go for that, except the sun is so hot there are times when you need light control.
 The treatment below of a valance was another choice.
 The shades below gives you some light control, but I'm not sure I like the windows above not covered.
The treatment below is way too formal for me.
 I do like the woven blinds, but I don't have enough time to order anything before thanksgiving.

I love the curved rod below, but I don't have enough clearance behind my table or a place to stack the drapes on the wall.

I did notice that alot of the rooms that are curved -- are like mine, a table in them.

I have some drapes here that match the family room nearby, but I don't really like them with my painting.

You can see my solution laying on the dining room table in the next room.

I went for some toile fabric, a yellow, green, and tan.  The chicken theme may be overdone to some, but I'm sorry, I still love it!  After all, we're out in the country and much of the house is formal, so this makes the room more cozy.

The colors go so well with my painting.  The frame gold is really picked up with the colors in the drapes, and my little girl with the broken arm from 100 years ago is wearing a green dress.  It's picked up in the fabric and looks wonderful!  

Yes, that is a topiary rooster in the right window.  

I made the drapes and the shades.  I made the drapes first, and then managed to line up the design in the shades.

The shades and drapes are both interlined with flannel and blackout lining.  I normally use the cheap blackout lining, but it is so stiff I used a more expensive lining that isn't as stiff.  I am happy that the folds worked out beautifully.  

I love the shade hardware that I got at Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon.  I can stop the shades at the exact same level on each window.  I thought about making balloon shades, but decided a simple roman shade would be less fussy-- there is so much fabric in this house, less is better here.

I finished just in time.  31 people are coming to dinner.  I am gathering chairs from all over.    I will share a photo later of the table.

ok, I am off to cleaning.   Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Placecards - Antique Style

Thanksgiving is bringing 31 people together at my house.  That's  a lot of china, silver, and chairs.  I decided to use placecards to make it easy on deciding where to sit.

I found some antique trade cards  from the late 1700's and used them for my base format.
As usual, I couldn't decide what print to use, so I used a bunch:

I stuck with harvest and farming themes, with some thrown in because of the period dress.
The chef, who has a huge garden and grows oranges, will get the orange grower business card.

I had to play with the sizing.  once I get the size figured out, I print them out on cardstock.

It's not the typical pilgrim/ fall leaf// pumpkin placecard you usually see for Thankgiving.  So that makes it perfect for my table.

I'm linked up to Marty's "Inspire Me Tuesdays" at A Stroll Thru Life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Antique Finds: A Silhouette & Show Towel

I have been swamped with personal stuff, but I still keep antiquing every moment I get.   One unexpected item I found recently is  a black and white silhouette.

Normally they are just  heads and really don't appeal to me.  I thought it looked very Victorian with the parrot, don't you think?  The very period looking lemon yellow gilt frame adds to the charm.  I think it was $8 or $12, (they get cheaper the longer I tell the story, according to my husband!)

I have it parked on my mantel until I figure out what to do with it.

I love my gray jasperware pitcher parked next to it.

Another item I just finished untangling is a show towel.  They are known for their luxurious fringes--and you can often find them unused.  They were so special they were often just displayed--thank goodness.

Unfortunately the one below was tangled up, so I spent the past couple of evenings untangling it while I watched movies on TV.

I tried to find out if there were tricks to untangling the fringe on the internet--but no luck.  They do say to launder, tie the bottom together to keep them from tangling, but I think I have a better idea.  I will just baste the fringe to another piece of fabric to keep them all in place.   I can do that now that they are untangled.  The threads look all smooth here now that they are ironed, but the linen is really nubby and the fringe really sticks to each other, so I literally untangled them with a needle.

OK, back to my housecleaning.... company is coming!  I hope you enjoyed my antique fix this week!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unusual Chairs - Antique Italian Aesthetic Movement

I am thinking about these chairs.   I love chairs, have way too many.  But these are different.
Are they too different?

I am not sure that I like the angular look to the chair, it is somehow unsettling to me.  They are so unusual I have to consider them.

What do you think?  Too much?  I think maybe the griffons on the chair don't help me.  A little creepy.   I shall decide tomorrow.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Memorial Paintings and Needlepoint Samplers

A wonderful form of folk art, memorial pictures definitely assure that a loved one will be remembered.   Starting in the 1700's and continuing into the 1800's, memorial pictures tend to show grieving family around a tombstone underneath a weeping willow tree.   Most common are needlepoint samplers and watercolors.

Below are some examples.  I know once you see these you will recognize that you have seen them in antique shops and shows.

Of course there is a reason I am sharing this with you.  I recently found a watercolor commemorating a little 6 year old.  I believe she died in 1818 in a fire,as in the background you see part of a city burning (on the left).  It is actually a watercolor on silk, not paper.  It looks much better in person, but I wanted to share this with you anyway.   I am hunting for a spot to hang it, to be shared later.  

This picture has a mournful willow tree, which actually represents resurrection and rebirth.

Some people may think that these pictures are morbid, but at the time, they were considered an appropriate expression of a family's grief.  They were often done by schoolgirls and considered quite an achievement by the family.  However I have never been interested in things that include a person's hair, which was common in Victorian time.    I know many of you collect samplers.  Check to see which ones are actually commemorative samplers.

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Toile or Not, That is The Question!

I am trying to decide what to do with this bathroom.  I am thinking that perhaps I need some kind of toile wallcovering to go with the pink samplers and transferware.

Of course one day I will rip everything out and put in white marble, but now is not the time.  

My leftover pink towels set the color scheme.   The antique rug goes really well with the pink towels.  My chickenwire basket holds the extra towels and washcloths.  I have a bunch of these baskets, they are so versatile in keeping me organized.

I have some great German samplers that are red on white linen.  They are turn of the century and I totally love them!

Pink transferware and red and white samplers.   I like them.  I still need to work on the wall arrangement.   I'm thinking about it.  Maybe all the samplers in the center, and do all pink plates on each side?

Before I rip out the bathroom and put in my usual white marble, I am going to think about how to make this all work without a major remodel.   

I love toile bathrooms.  Here's one I did in black and white.  I laid the tile myself, popping out white and putting in black to create a border.
 Below is a pink bath by designer Lauren Ross.
Below is a paper I think Schumacher made.  It is after a Colonial Williamsburg design called Aviary.   I know that I saw it in an entryway in a Charles Faudree book.  ( I bought two scarves from Williamsburg for projects, yet to be done.)

Or do I go the cheap route that most designers recommend:  for fast dramatic results - PAINT!

I used Sherwin Williams Visualizer tool to come up with a paint color.  No if only there's a wallpaper visualizer tool!  

I have a great chippendale mirror I could hang over the sink and get rid of the wall of mirror.  I know the wall was expensive, and it is nice to get ready with all that mirror, but I think it has to go.   If I do wallpaper, it seems like I'd need to do some beadboard, and perhaps paint the cabinets.  What would you do?  No mirror?  Paint?  Toile?

Tell me what you would do!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Festival in the Alps: Party Til The Cows Come Home

Have you ever seen the photographs of cows decorated with flowers?  I have, and did some research on it. The farmers take their cows to the upper valleys in the alps for the summer.  Then in the fall there is a festival to celebrate bringing the cows down from the alps back to their meadows in the valley.  The festival is called "Almabtrieb" in Austria and "Viehscheid" in Bavaria.   It does happen to be in September and October, but is different from Octoberfest.  There are over 190,000 cows taken to the upper meadows.  The festival we attended had 500 cows come down.

When I was planning a trip to Germany and Austria, I decided that I would try to find one.  Indeed I did!  The cows were wearing head-dresses of beautiful boughs decorated with flowers.   What an experience.

Waiting for the parade to start, the cows headed for the first available grass.  Look at all the beautiful wildflowers!

The children headed up to the fields last - so I caught a glimpse of some of them that were in the parade.
I'm not sure what the signs mean--but I think it has the farm name, and possibly milk production?

When the cows came down the road, everyone had to get out of the way!

 They carried sticks--to keep the cows in line.
As you can see, they tended to wander off.

Each family leads their own herd.
Aren't the kids wonderful in their lederhosen and dirndls!

I was delighted to see some goats and sheep.

This cow needed some extra coaxing.

However, you can see that cows are herd animals and seemed to do a great job just following the one in front.

Well, some liked to travel in packs.

Notice the lift runs year-round (above background).  These people take hiking very seriously.

 These were a little smaller, and had smaller head-dresses.
 Everyone knew each other, and clearly had a great time.
 I was on the other side of the railing, with a zoom lens.  Check out those eyelashes!

Now that's a big bell!

Of course there are beautifully embroidered bell collars too.

These guys had little bells.

These two had such huge bells they could barely move their neck!
Of course there was music.  The street was lined with people, restaurants spilling out onto the street, and in the town square, picnic tables were set up.

Yea we had the slappy dance later in the day.  Lots of accordian music.  There were booths with all kinds of  food, beer, vendors with crafts.  Be sure to stop and get your lederhosen and dirndls on the way to the festival.  Face it, you'll have a perfect costume back in the states.

When it was all over, we headed down the hill with the cows.

They were happy to get to the lower pastures where they could graze.

 We said good-bye to this beautiful countryside.  I still can't get over the beautiful flowers on the balconies.
The countryside is so beautiful!    I am so happy that I went to the festival.  If you ever come to Munich for Octoberfest, be sure to add an Almatreib festival to your trip.

I used this link to find one in the area I was traveling in.

Be sure to Google "Cattle Drive in the Alps" and you will get lots of them.  It is "Almabtrieb" in Austria and "Viehscheid" in Bavaria. I did not look to see what it is in Switzerland.

Below is a video on preparation for a drive from

Of course I also have one to share--so you can see how noisy all those bells are!