Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trim Reflections


Whilst out and about on our travels in search of vintage treasures for the website, we come across so many wonderful and fascinating finds that it is often hard to resist their appeal, and this in turn, leads us into different areas of vintage and collecting. One such area which holds a great fascination for me is vanity, grooming and beauty. This covers a vast and diverse range of pretty items, so there is plenty of scope for building collections and displays.


When I came across this beautiful Victorian Y & N Corset advertising mirror at a recent antiques fair I couldn't resist its rarity and simple beauty...

...with its delicately etched glass lettering and original heavy wooden frame. Women today have a significantly different life from those in Victorian days and one of those contrasts is in the way we dress. My research on the Y & N corset revealed it was really rather innovative in its day, being heralded as 'the most comfortable corset ever made'.

But I have to wonder just how comfortable it was. History has documented the terrible damage to women's organs, which was attributed to the long-term wearing of the restrictive corsets and ladies would often faint because they were unable to breathe properly!

The Y & N corset was revolutionary in its day and its 'diagonal seam' gave the corset extra strength and created a more pronounced hourglass figure. It featured a heart-shaped bust and was popular for evening wear and cleavage enhancement! I don't doubt it was still highly restrictive for women and having never worn a corset (honestly!) I can only imagine how it must have felt to wear one.

So, given the emancipation of today's Western women, many vintage vanity and grooming items are not only desirable and decorative objects, they are also a reminder that things were very different for our female ancestors.

A Special Thank You!

We would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who has emailed us or left a comment with regard to our new-look website. We were overwhelmed with the response and consequently have been working very hard packing and posting for the last couple of weeks! We are continuing to add new stock and are delighted to reveal that we have also been lucky enough to obtain some real beauties for the textiles section - these will be finding their way onto the website in the coming weeks. Thank you all once again and don't forget you still have time to enter the prize draw (see post below.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Served On A Siver Platter

WARNING:
Super Easy Project Ahead!


Simply print a monogram from your computer,
on regular paper (no need for card stock).
Then cut it out being sure to stay inside the black
so the white of the paper doesn't show.
Using a regular ol' glue stick, adhere the monogram
to a silver platter or china serving plate.
Of course, this is FOR DISPLAY USE ONLY.
When you're tired of the display,
just remove it by soaking it in water.
How's that for a quick and easy project?

Served On A Siver Platter

WARNING:
Super Easy Project Ahead!


Simply print a monogram from your computer,
on regular paper (no need for card stock).
Then cut it out being sure to stay inside the black
so the white of the paper doesn't show.
Using a regular ol' glue stick, adhere the monogram
to a silver platter or china serving plate.
Of course, this is FOR DISPLAY USE ONLY.
When you're tired of the display,
just remove it by soaking it in water.
How's that for a quick and easy project?

Me, me, and more me.

photo source: squareamerica.com

I have been asked to write six interesting things about me by the talented (and fellow Canadian) Design Ties ladies. You know me, I always fail miserably with the whole blog awards and tag thingies... I have never been one to be great with rules. However, something about their request/command that I take part has prodded me into action. Fear not - after this one, I will go back to my lazy ways! Because really, there is very little that is interesting about me. I kind of wear myself on my sleeve, you know?

~Sigh~ Here goes (now is your chance to click on out of here):
1. I cannot physically dance in public unless I've had a few...and because I rarely have more than a glass of wine or two, dancing and me rarely partner up. But when we do, I can dance!!


(photo credit: Anne Taintor)

The rhythm, normally suppressed within me unleashes in a fury of Eighties and Nineties glory! Now, I'm not a geek -I won't moonwalk (although I know how) or do any dances that you see groups of drunken wedding guests doing in a circle or line. No, I pull out my Madonna and C&C Music Factory moves and squeal if the DJ puts on a 80's New Wave song by Depeche Mode or the like. Am I embarrassed the next day? Heck no! I am not that girl on the dance floor who thinks she's a Pussycat Doll!!! My next dance gig? My brother's wedding in July! Get your tickets now!!

2. As much as I love babies, I have to say I am really loving the early teenage years my sons are in. Their humour and insights make them so interesting to talk to (when they are up for talking). A few weeks ago, my sons and I stayed up till midnight discussing so many topics - dating, drugs, poverty, discrimination, school, their futures...I counsel and try to advise (and impart moral lessons, of course) and I love to hear their opinions on such matters. I pray the lines of communication will remain open and that they take the best paths for them.

But not leave me. I'm kidding. I think...

That said, I am also trying to brace myself for the scary stuff.
3. I measure my success as a parent by how my children treat others. I teach acceptance, not tolerance, as tolerance suggests the individual is doing something we must tolerate. I love that my eldest calls people out for discrimination and for treating others badly. He is like everyone else, flawed, but he is someone who gets the message...truly gets it. Sometimes I think he is more mature than me. His dad and I always say: he got the best bits of both of us and cast off the rest. He guides his younger, care-free brother and scolds him as needed. It is funny to watch sometimes. Other times, not so much!!!

And they face the wrath of me if they don't hold the door for others. Seriously, it makes my blood boil when anyone does that! The next worse thing is if you don't thank the person holding it for you. Adults do it all the time.


4. I think, think, think, and worry even more. Sometimes I wish I could silence my thought processes. Ideas pop into my head constantly and I seem to look at things lately and wonder how to improve, alter, recreate them, instead of just enjoying the view. I thought that a return to writing would quiet my creative yearnings, but instead they have just intensified. Conversely, I worry more than ever. I worry about the economy, war, pandemics, terrorism, family, financial security, people. When I read that back, I guess that is not so strange at all. I am sure most of you fret over the very same things...

5. Simplicity and simple things make me happy. Going for a drive with my husband, Tim Horton's coffee in hand; watching my boys play basketball, sitting down to Sunday dinner; playing Scrabble; walking and talking with a friend; spending time with my girlie; and shopping with the women in my family (shopping with anyone, really). I love the thrill of a great bargain, making things myself, and planning birthday parties for my kids. I don't wish for millions, someone to clean my house, or fancy cars. I dislike pretention, and would rather be heard than seen. I root for the underdog and admire people but never worship them. I give compliments honestly and can spot transparency from a mile away. I am intimidated by those with tons of self-esteem, and recognize it as my problem, not theirs. Big egos repel me, and I won't stroke them for all the tea in China. I care about others' problems, but lose respect when they don't wish others well. I am the fiercest of Mother Lions, and take no prisoners if my children are threatened.

6. I am embarrassed by how much talking I just did about myself, and I have just written my final me-me (is that what they are called?). I look forward to reading others', but the pot is empty for me. We are all interesting; but it is so much more fun to draw people out with questions, don't you think?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Asked, I Delivered

***Edited to Add***
I feel so humbled that Kari and Kjisa
are featuring this post on their
"Psst...Your Creativity is Showing" segment.

Thank you so much Ladies!!!

Several of you wonderful ladies requested a how-to of the grain sack reproduction. You asked, I delivered.
First, decide how big you want your project. Next, use any computer program to make a pattern (I use Print Shop), or draw one by hand using a permanent marker.
Then cut the burlap just a bit larger than the finished project. This makes it easier to manage, as well as giving you an idea of where to place your pattern. Place the burlap on top of the pattern, and then lay both onto a light box (one of my favorite tools EVER). If you don't own a light box, then secure the burlap onto the pattern using straight pins and tape the two pieces onto a sunny window.
Using acrylic craft paint, simply paint on top of the pattern.
You can also use a store bought stencil, as I did to achieve this design.Be sure to remove your pattern while the paint is still wet so the paper doesn't stick to the dried paint. Once the paint is thoroughly dry, if you want a more aged look, you can lightly sand over the painted surface. It's just that easy to make your own personalized grain sack.
If these directions seem familiar to you, it's because I used a similar technique here and here
.

You Asked, I Delivered

***Edited to Add***
I feel so humbled that Kari and Kjisa
are featuring this post on their
"Psst...Your Creativity is Showing" segment.

Thank you so much Ladies!!!

Several of you wonderful ladies requested a how-to of the grain sack reproduction. You asked, I delivered.
First, decide how big you want your project. Next, use any computer program to make a pattern (I use Print Shop), or draw one by hand using a permanent marker.
Then cut the burlap just a bit larger than the finished project. This makes it easier to manage, as well as giving you an idea of where to place your pattern. Place the burlap on top of the pattern, and then lay both onto a light box (one of my favorite tools EVER). If you don't own a light box, then secure the burlap onto the pattern using straight pins and tape the two pieces onto a sunny window.
Using acrylic craft paint, simply paint on top of the pattern.
You can also use a store bought stencil, as I did to achieve this design.Be sure to remove your pattern while the paint is still wet so the paper doesn't stick to the dried paint. Once the paint is thoroughly dry, if you want a more aged look, you can lightly sand over the painted surface. It's just that easy to make your own personalized grain sack.
If these directions seem familiar to you, it's because I used a similar technique here and here
.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another final bow...


I am stunned.


Again.


I just discovered (while attempting to renew my subscription) that Canadian Home and Country is closing its doors.


What's next? Country Living? Martha Stewart Living? House and Home?


My mouth hung open when I received word that Country Home was no more. I didn't see it coming, nor this one.


Is this the end of all great magazines?

My Dad's Kitchen

Dagny from Beautiful Living tagged me to do a post about my kitchen...

Well, the thing is, I don't really have my own kitchen! since we're in the process of looking for homes now :) My mom & stepdad's kitchen is in the process of being redsigned (I will show before & afters as soon as we're finished!) so I'll have to show you my dad's kitchen, which we're in the process of decorating now. (I did a post on this kitchen when I first started the blog, so I apologize for the repeat for those of you who read it the first time, but I've tried to include some more details & before pictures in this post!!!)
My dad lives in our old 1920s family cottage in Antioch, Illinois, a little lake town outside of Chicago:
So, we've completely renovated the cottage & are now in the process of trying to bring back some of its old charm. (I live vicariously through my my dad & he lets me make the design decisions although we've had some battles!! Believe it or not my dad is very into Italianate, ornate, more is better type of decorating!!! ahhhh) Anyway, below is the kitchen after the house was gutted (and all new natural-finished hardwood floors installed) but before cabinetry & details were added. The cabinets you see are "temporary" cabinets & islands & that type of thing:



And here is is now:


We used standard Home Depot cabinetry & had my dad's (amazingly talented!!) carpenters from GPS Constuction add in custom details, saving a ton of money. They lined the sides of the cabinets with beadboard, added corbels to the island, built a custom stove hood and put beadboard & beams on the ceiling. They also created 2 arches & put the stove in the nook created by on of the archs.

Below, yes that is a TV in the dining room. (My dad's a bachelor.) No worries though- that baby's history!! (See pic beneath)


More of Home Depot's standard cabinetry was added into this nook & we removed the wood panels from the upper cabinets & had glass put in so we could showcase my Grandma Maestranzi's china, which has been in the house since the 50s. As you can see, adding hardware to the cabinetry is still on my to-do list. The backsplash here is beadboard and the carpenters matched it up perfectly so it continues right into the uppers:

I had so much fun displaying all of my Grandma's old china. She had a hodgepodge of different collections & over the years at the lakehouse so much of it has been broken, because it's what we use for daily use, but it all works really well together:

Check out some of the hysterical details below. Do you see above the high chair that I had hung some of my Grandma's china mid-construction?!! I am such a nut & was just so excited to get it up there. And the clock too? The truth is, my dad just got so used to his "temporary" kitchen that we never thought he's finish it, so I just started hanging things! (OCD much? haha) Even now my dad refuses to get rid of his hot pots and convection oven & all of the little gadgets he used "before the kitchen." (Thank goodness we have a ton of storage- it's all under the island now!)


Here's that area of the kitchen now (below) It's hard to tell but the ceiling is inset with beadboard and you can see in the center of the beam there's a little electrical hole where I'm putting another chandelier to match the one in the dining room.


Here's the chandelier (by Currey & Company) in the dining room & I'm sort of obsessed with it. It's a cross which is really special to my family & it's such a strong, rustic element. I love it's heaviness against all the white. It's also strong enough to handle the farmhouse table beneath.


Now, I need some honest opinions about the chair situation. These are the antique chairs we've had for years that I stole from another room for this picture. They're all mismatched but they work nicely together... (in fact I love them) BUT my question is... should I go for new ones in here (because I will have to either replace these in this room or the other room I took them from) for this room? My original thoughts were these wingchairs (below- check out the nailhead detailing) on the ends in a neutral linen-like sunbrella fabric (we are messy!) and then go with hard-backed dining chairs in for the middle chairs. OR should I keep it as it is? (A rug's going down & natural shades & linen drapes are replacing my boughs of fir but I was thinking I still probably needed some more fabric/ layers in the room... so what do you think??) Just a bit more info---- it's freeeeezing a lot of the year so I like the wingchair idea but it's also a lakehouse that sees lots of traffic in the warmer months... Has anyone used sunbrella for something like this? (And you know I want it fairly light) Any pros/ cons/ advice??

Here's a close-up of the wooden bowl I found at Volo Antiques. Fell in love with it & thought it was so unique & am seeing them everywhere now... I think because I'm noticing them now that I have one! But really, everything looks good in it (We had family over the night before I took these pics & served french bread in it & I cannot tell you how insanely happy it made me to have this finished kitchen & everything so easy & pretty)
Here's my little guy's highchair. (I love these Eddie Bauer highchairs because they're so pretty & still so functional... I have a pale wood version of it at home & my cousin has the cherry version- THE BEST! People told me my house would be all babied-out & I was so scared of all the plastic and primary colors but there are so many grat companies out there making stylish baby stuff now!) (Also, you can see those plates still hanging there!! haha)
Below if a close-up of the custom hood. I was surprised by the shape/ size (distance-decorating is not always the easiest!) but now love it:

Above, the vintage linen dosh towl is also from Volo (I promise to do a post on it next time I go!) & I framed prints & hung them over the stove for a makeshift backsplash. Below, I was having such a good time putting things on the island. I made a million arrangements I was so happy with it but this was left ovr from the nigt before. (I know those birch candles should be so cheesy to me because they go against certain principles I have, but for some reason I love them!!)

Below are some apothecary jars I found at Target to use as food cannisters:
And (below) here is a pair of wooden candlesticks I found at Volo for $5!!
Below, I set the table with my grandma's old china & mismatched silver and mixed in some pieces I found at Volo (the sprarkely glass cups, large center plates and aluminum bowl the flowers are in) and Target (mercury candle holders & linen napkins) I had so much fun doing the flower arrangement as it was the first on I'd ever done with the spongey thing -an oasis I just learned!- inside.

We're in the process of decorating the rest of the house now & I can't WAIT to show you!!!!
And here are the questions from Dagny:
1) What color is your kitchen? Home Depot's "Raffia Cream" and dining room base is "Gobi Desert"
2)Describe your kitchen. (I showed pics for this one.)
3) Describe your dream kitchen. Very similar to this one but I would love to have gray slate or soapstone or concrete countertops... No uppers & a huge window instead of uppers accross the back. Big island with lots of seating is a must. I would do lots of family dinners right there. Beautiful lighting.
4) What's your favorite activity in the kitchen? Hanging out with friends family & eating/ drinking/ preparing food... socializing
5) Name one thing this kitchen is lacking/ missing: lighting!!! Still on the to-do list is to get lighting in the glass cabinets, undercabinet lighting & also that second chandelier!!
6) Do you cook & bake a lot? Not as much as I used to when I had my own kitchen... Now we trade-off cooking nights & I find it's just not as satisfying when it's not my own kitchen :(
7) What don't you like in your kitchen/ what would you like to change? In my dad's kitchen, I would change some of the smaller details (which I'm pretty much over now) like some of the moldings used I think are too flowery/ feminine for such a simple space, the corbels were more ornate than I would've liked... (It really is hard to do some of that over the phone) oh yeah.. and that faucet is OUTTA THERE!!!! ;)
8) What do you love about your (dad's) kitchen? I just love the feeling, the spaciousness, the simplicity & how easy it is to work & entertain in it.
9)Worst kitchen activity? Definitely cleaning up.
10) Tea or coffee? "Meh" to both although I sometims get really into mint tea...
11) Chocolate ore vanilla? hmmm.... gotta be both!
12. Prepare food, or eat it? I like both too! I love to eat & I know just what I love so I guess that's why I like to cook!!
13. Do you prefer to serve your meals in the dining room or the kitchen? Really depends upon my mood/ level of exhaustion.
So there you have it, the kitchen I pretend is mine until I have my own:
Instead of tagging 3 of you lovely bloggers (because there are so many of you whose kitchens I'm dying to see!!!) I'm just kind of tagging everyone & whover wants to do this post can put a link to it in the comments section.
can't wait to see them!!!
xoxo,
lauren