Friday, April 21, 2017

Touring a French Chateau

I can't think of too many things I enjoy more than traipsing through old houses --
marveling at the amazing craftsmanship,
feeling the soul of the house, and wondering about the people who've lived there before, 

so, when I had the opportunity to explore the best surviving example of 
French Renaissance Chateauesque-style architecture in Denver, I swooned.
Step into history at the Croke-Patterson Inn. 


Chateauesque refers to a French style of design characterized by 
steeply-pitched roofs, elaborate towers and spires. 
Designed by architect Isaac Hodgson in 1891, the Croke-Patterson mansion was based
on the 16th century Chateau Azay-le-Rideau in France's Loire Valley. 
Don't you just love the towers?


Inside, I was greeted warmly by the manager, Michelle, who was busy preparing breakfast 
for guests. She turned me loose to look around 
but not before I snapped her picture on the grand staircase. 


The 12,000 square foot chateau was originally owned by Thomas Croke,
an early irrigation developer.
The Croke-Patterson mansion is now a luxury inn complete with 
beamed ceilings, stained-glass and an attached carriage house. 


The three-story Patterson Inn has nine bedrooms, 


and a lovely dining room


where I drifted away in daydreams of a bygone era.


Here's the grand reception hall.



There's even a cozy pub-style room in the basement. 


 Over the years the chateau has been a dance hall, a boarding house, 
a radio station and an office complex. 
What I noticed most about the Inn now was the attention to details, lending it an authentic feel.



Rumor has it that the house was haunted. 
According to legend, Croke only entered the mansion once and was so shaken 
by whatever was there, he never returned.
He sold the house two years later to U.S. Senator Thomas Patterson 
who owned the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Times. 


Incidentally, the Patterson Inn is located at 11th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street, 
just a couple of blocks from Molly Brown's Denver mansion. 
If you missed my post on the unsinkable Molly's house, you can read about it HERE. 

Oh, and by the way, no ghosts were encountered during my visit!

You can learn more about this luxury bed and breakfast at
www.pattersoninn.com.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

French Country Farmhouse

I have a soft spot for cows.
Those soulful brown eyes.
That velvety-soft nose.
Those floppy ears and knobby knees. 


A little cow creamer, a primitive painting or a milk jug. I just can't resist them.


Not to mention the farmyard adds something special to a French Country kitchen.
Since French Country originated in the country,
it makes sense to have a few farm animals in the mix.


The trick is not to go overboard with the little darlin's. 
A calf here, a chick there. 
Mix them in with your rustic baskets and your copper pots
to warm up a room of stainless steel appliances. 


Roosters and French Country just seem to go together, 
whether it's in a real farmhouse or a modern farmhouse kitchen.
(I won this painting by an elementary school art teacher in a silent auction.)


Maybe it's their bright yellow, orange and black colors.
Or perhaps it's their cocky strut that says, "Look at me!"


I've been searching for just the right ceramic rooster forever.
They're either too big, too colorful or too expensive.
But, at the recent Vintage Whites Market, I found him.
Love at first sight. Sigh.


Roosters not your cup of tea? Try chickens.
 Cuddly chicks or hefty hens, they instantly warm up a cool room.


You can spice up your French Country kitchen with other farm animals,
whether it's sheep, geese, pigs or goats.
I have a set of four of these outdoor placemats with a different farm animals on each one.
So darling!


They'll make you smile every time you look at them
or at least until the cows come home!

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Thank you!!!

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Friday, April 7, 2017

April in Paris . . . or is it?

April in Paris Denver

This lovely white-blossomed allee could easily be lining a sidewalk somewhere in Paris. 
But actually, it's in Denver, Colorado. 


Everywhere you look in the city at this time of year, these white crabapple trees are at their peak.
Puffballs of pure white against old bricks make me think of the French countryside in spring,


while this lovely tree framing a private courtyard
reminds me of some of the hidden gardens of Paris. 


Here's a little test.
Is this photo in France or Colorado?
(No peeking at the answer).


Answer:  It's actually in the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Did you guess correctly?

One need only stroll down a street in Denver's historic Baker neighborhood
to be reminded we are not, in fact, in France
but, on a quaint street in Colorado in early April. 


Lilacs are just beginning to open and share their intoxicating scent
next to this stately Victorian in Baker.


It's still a bit early here for perennials to bloom
but these gorgeous red tulips in my own garden have sprung to life already.


I have to remind myself that, although it was a lovely day for an early spring walk in Denver,
I could wake up to a foot of snow tomorrow.
And that's exactly what happened in the mountains!
This photo shows a fresh April snowfall on Mt. Evans,
elevation: 14,240 feet rising above our neighborhood.

Photo by Ron Boyd

Happy Spring!

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quiet Time - April 2017


Sending you a few quiet moments.


Water lilies at the Denver Botanic Gardens
float on calm waters like an Impressionist painting. 





"A flower blossoms for its own joy."  -- Oscar Wilde

Have a beautiful day,
Pat

Friday, March 31, 2017

French Country: Alley Shopping

I'm fortunate to live in an old part of the city that still has alleys,
and, over the years, I've found some amazing things . . .
finds tucked in next to a dumpster, sitting pretty atop a garbage can,
or even boxed up nice and neat like these old mason jars.

I'm an all-season alley shopper, whether it's on my bike in the summer . . . 


or bundled up in the winter, I'm always on the look-out for discarded treasures.


I'm not embarrassed to say I've rescued quite a few pieces from the landfill 
and given them a new life. 
After a little DIY, some sandpaper, or a touch of paint, 
I've created some unique items to add to my "Ethan Alley Collection."


My absolute favorite alley find has to be this amazing baker's rack
recently discovered while walking my dog.
I scurried back to my house to get some help loading it into my car
and prayed nobody would beat me to it.
It was a tight fit but we made it home without getting a ticket for an open hatch.
Don't be surprised if I end up buying a little pickup truck one of these days!


The baker's rack was in great condition, only one screw missing, some rust, a bit of chipped paint,
all of which made it even more desirable.
Initially, I had plans for it inside but once I saw it on the patio, I knew it was home.


It was a perfect fit!


Here are some more of my alley finds. 
This curvy ottoman got a complete overhaul. (If you missed that post, you can read about it HERE).


While out for a neighborhood walk, we spotted someone
headed for the dumpster with an old frame.
"You're not going to throw that away, are you?" Ron and I whispered at the same time.
Circling around the block, we went back to the dumpster after he'd left
and retrieved this charming framed picture.


A couple of rocking chairs for the porch didn't always look like this.
Want to read their story? Click HERE!


A painter's scaffolding found propped against a dumpster 
was the foundation for this unique garden bench.


My first DIY paint project. Want more info? Read about it by clicking HERE!


Can you believe we found this cement angel in the alley behind our house?
We gave it a new home on our patio.


These are the glass mason jars discovered in the first picture. 


Remember this fabulous find? Two matching urns for free!
Check out their makeover HERE!
I recently saw these exact same urns in a fancy antique store for $275!


This old ladder was leaning against a dumpster but not for long.
Even the cafe sign was an alley find. 


The list goes on.
We've also retrieved a pair of Adirondack chairs that just needed some support,
an iron windowbox that needed some posies,
a pair of pretty patio pillows that needed a bench,
and some chippy window frames that needed a new home. 

I hope you have alleys in your neighborhood too. 
Happy alley shopping! 

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Ten Simple Tips for Taking Great Photos

Over the years, as career, travel and family took precedence in my busy life,
 I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed photography.
But now that I have a blog, I've learned that good pictures are a crucial part of it
and the lure of capturing images that tell a story has been reawakened.


I'm always trying to improve my photography skills and
Ron, who was a professional photographer for many years,
even says my photos are good. And that's quite a compliment.


So, without getting into aperture settings and all that technical stuff,
I'd like to offer a few easy tips for taking good pictures.
All you need to do is take the time to notice details like lighting and composition,
and keep a simple digital camera handy. 
In fact, all of these pictures were taken with this camera that fits in my pocket. 



Here are my top ten tips:

1. Photograph outdoor scenes on an overcast day. 
Your garden may look beautiful in the bright sun but the camera sees the shade too and 
the picture will look splotchy. An overcast day will provide softer, more even light.


2. Pay attention to mirrors.
Tilt mirrors down a bit and make sure you don't see yourself in it or pick up a flash. 
Keep in mind the image you're reflecting in the mirror.


3. Take time to frame your shot. 
An object in the foreground will give the picture depth, scale and perspective.


4. Position your subject off center. 
The composition will look better and more natural.
Mix it up by taking some vertical shots as well as horizontal ones. 


5. Get close. 
Details are lost if you're too far away. Notice contrasting textures and shapes.


6. Look for interesting angles and how light hits your subject. 
This can make an ordinary picture dramatic like this shot of the Eiffel Tower at night. 


7. Keep it steady.
 If you have a shaky hand, take a deep breath, let it out, then click.


8. Look out!
Watch out for distractions (like this pole coming out of my head, overhead lines, trash, etc.). 
The camera will see them even if you don't notice.


9. Get up early or sneak out in late afternoon. 
When the sun is lower in the sky, it creates unusual shadows and picks up more details.


10. Tell a story. 
Make your photo personal and evocative.


And, most importantly, remember to always take your camera with you!
Have fun and good luck!

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