Friday, May 26, 2017

Perfect Timing

Do you believe in perfect timing?
When you're at just the right place at just the right time?
When everything falls into place and something wonderful happens?


Well, I do.
It happened to me at an estate sale, where else?
We had checked out a recent sale, taking in the few offerings quickly, 
and were about ready to move on when an old mantel clock caught my eye.

"It's pretty banged up," the elderly man pushing a walker said.
"It's going to need a lot of work," his wife echoed.

"It's only $5," I whispered to Ron,"and I just love it." 


It looked as if it had been dropped. 
The wood trim across the top of the clock was missing and the sides were loose.


But the thing that caught my eye was the pretty hand-painted Victorian floral design 
on the front lower glass. The design is actually painted on the reverse side of the glass. 


The original top metal dial also had painted floral designs in the corners.


And, in the middle of the clock face was a peep hole into the brass gears.
I felt like I was peering into the past. 


I didn't care if it worked. I had to have it.


On the way home in the car, I cradled it on my lap,
listening to it twang every time we hit a bump in the road.
It was as if it was thanking me for taking it home.

As we drove I thought about my vintage alarm clock collection.
Something about old clocks has always spoken to me; 
maybe they're a metaphor for the passing of time and the history they've seen,
something I appreciate. 


Once home, we took a closer look at the mantel clock and were pleasantly surprised
to find all the missing parts inside the clock case, including the broken wood trim. 
I loved the brass pendulum and the two fancy keys inside.


Then we started researching the history of this clock.
And it got even more interesting.

Because the old paper labels were faded but intact inside the clock, we had a good starting point.
We saw it was a Waterbury clock and it was about 19 inches high by four inches deep. 
The case, we learned online, was rosewood with two key winds. 
By examining the details on the label, we were able to place it around 1870 -- Civil War era! 
Can you imagine what this little clock may have witnessed?

Waterbury trademark c. 1870 paper label:

Ron was able to repair the case issues with a little glue . . .


. . . and a picture frame clamp.


I gave it a revitalizing rub with Howard Feed and Wax wood conditioner
which brought out the natural beauty of the wood, making it even more beautiful.


We are deciding whether to take it to a clock repair shop. 
I don't really care if it works (at least it's the correct time twice a day!) 
I just want all its parts and pieces put back together again.
What do you think? Fix it or leave it alone?

***

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Little FarmsteadDwellingsBotanic BleuBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal Charm,
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Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson21 Rosemary LaneAdirondack Girl at HeartFrench Country Cottage



Friday, May 19, 2017

Simple Pleasures of May

The French are well known for taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life 
whether it's food, family, home or garden.


My simple pleasure? 
Stepping outside in the early morning, a cup of steaming coffee in hand, 
still in my pj's and robe, to stroll around the garden. With my sheepskin slippers quickly getting soaked with dew, I sip my coffee as I listen to the birds waking up around me.

(This photo, which shows the cottage garden, was taken before I created Cafe' Bleu in the corner).
If you missed that post, here's a link... Cafe Bleu Reveal.


As the sun peeks over my rooftop, I love to see what has emerged overnight --
a peony bud about ready to burst open or a daffodil in full bloom.
This time of year everything changes so quickly, I can almost watch it grow.


Have the pansies I potted a few days ago made it 
through the harsh weather we've been having lately?
Yes! They're fine but, sadly, my bleeding hearts and hostas
took a beating in the latest hail storm. 


Has my little dog damaged anything in her enthusiastic patrol of the yard 
or has she found a new bed for an afternoon nap?


Perhaps I'll hear the steady drone of a small plane overhead. 
I see the same plane fly directly over my garden every day at the same time. 
It's probably some kind of business commuter plane 
but I like to imagine it's something more romantic.

Do you remember the plane in Out of Africa that flew over Karen's farm 
and dipped its wings in a friendly wave? Wasn't that was Robert Redford in the plane?



Or the plane to Lisbon in Casablanca cloaked by heavy fog as Rick said goodbye to Ilsa?


Maybe my little plane is searching for something or someone. 
In any case, I look forward to seeing it fly over every morning.

Still waiting for Robert Redford to fly by and say good morning.
Or maybe wash my hair. Ha!


Early mornings in the garden are a special time when it's quiet and dreamy. 


I might hear an occasional car door close as neighbors head off to work 
or squirrels clawing the fence as they chase each other back and forth.


But, usually, it's a time for reflection and planning my day.


The French have the right idea . . .
slow down and notice the simple pleasures of life in the month of May
whether it's a garden filled with birdsong, a warm croissant with hot coffee, or a cold dog nose.

P.S.
Yesterday Colorado got slammed with a late-season snowstorm
(more than three feet in the mountains)!
Here in Denver, we received only a few inches of the heavy, wet stuff.
Still, I had to race around, bringing all my potted plants inside.
So my new Simple Pleasure of May is
reading a good book in front of the fire! 

***

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Cafe' Bleu Reveal

There's a little corner in my back yard that's kind of wasted space. 
It's too small to sit comfortably, too shady to grow anything, too boring
to want to spend time there. It was barely big enough to accommodate my bistro set.

Here's the "before" picture.
Tiny, but I could see the potential. 


Except for a lilac bush, a nice shade tree, and a cottage garden 
on two sides, the corner itself wasn't much to look at. 
Although my little dog liked to explore the raised area behind the table, 
we didn't make much use of this space.


That's when I decided to make some changes. 
The first thing I did was look at the space for a long, long time. 
This appeared to be a back-breaking project and I debated if I really wanted to take it on.

Several years ago, I'd built a low brick wall defining this small corner 
but it merely took up valuable space. When you live in the city, every inch counts. 
So I took a deep breath and decided to dig in, so to speak.


I removed all those bricks, every single one, down to the ground level, stacking them
in little towers. Then I outlined a new edge with an ax and started digging. 
I chopped off a bunch of dirt from the raised area and threw it in my wheelbarrow,
pushing back the wall about a foot.
A foot may not seem like much but it made such a difference in the available space.


Next I relaid the brick wall in a semi-circle under the tree and topped it with a paver capstone. 
A layer of fresh gravel gave it a French feeling underfoot
and some river rocks expanded the existing dry stream bed on one side.


After all that work rebuilding the brick wall, it seemed a shame to cover it up.


But when I snugged a weathered garden bench up against it,
I still had space for a small bench that I could put my feet up on. Yippee!

Then came the fun part. 
Blue cushions, an old quilt, a farm chair I spray painted blue,
a blue enamel bowl on the fence, and a few shade-loving plants.



I couldn't believe my luck when I found a vintage, circa 1960s, blue bicycle
at an estate sale this weekend. Just what I'd been looking for and only $10!
We removed the shiny metal gears and wiring and added some daisies in a basket
(also found at another yard sale).


I hung a faded blue cafe sign on an old ladder against the tree . . . 


and christened the space
Cafe՜ Bleu.



Now I have a cool private corner where I can retreat during the heat of the day 
or sip a glass of wine in the evening.
From this quiet space, I can watch the birds visiting the feeders and birdbath,



or admire the garden as it explodes in a Spring frenzy.


Definitely worth the effort.


Come on over and put your feet up.

***

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DwellingsBotanic BleuBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal CharmCedar Hill Farmhouse,
A Stroll Thru LifeSavvy Southern StyleA Delightsome LifeHave a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson,
21 Rosemary LaneAdirondack Girl at HeartFrench Country Cottage

Friday, May 5, 2017

Surprise! It's a Spring Snowstorm

It happens every year.
I thought spring had arrived, 
with warm days, pink blossoms, and fresh young green things poking up through the ground.
I had the urge to go to the nursery and fill my shopping cart with colorful annuals.
But, once again, Mother Nature fooled me.


I'm so glad I didn't give in to that urge.
In the Rockies, the weather can change drastically overnight.
And that's exactly what happened.


I woke up this morning to about six inches of wet, heavy snow 
with more coming down throughout the day. I bundled up, grabbed my camera,
and headed out to take a few pictures while it was still fresh and white.

My poor allium blooms look so sad as they hang their heads. 


I took a broom along to knock off some snow from the trees and shrubs
but ice had formed on the branches and wouldn't let go.
I hope none of the limbs have snapped.
Sometimes, it's best to just let the ice melt slowly. 


Still, it's always magical to see how the landscape changes when it snows.
These pink bleeding hearts really pop against their fluffy white blanket. 


And these watering cans look so fanciful,
with their stoles of white faux fur.


This chandelier is festive with white "snow candles."


I bought this old bicycle at a yard sale to use as a garden decoration,
then intentionally left it outside to rust.
I think this wet snow might speed that up a bit.


Thank goodness I brought my few potted plants inside last night.
I'm sure they'd be shivering this morning in the frigid temps
but here they are in the sunroom, basking in the sunshine
while the winds howl outside.


Hopefully, this is the last snowstorm of the season
and we can all go shopping soon.

***

CHECK THIS OUT!
I was so honored to share a tour of my home on Stacey's Poofing the Pillows blog.
The tour went live today and here's the link if you'd like to check it out.
http://www.poofingthepillows.com/2017/05/french-country-style-from-foot-of.html


***

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French Country Cottage

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Garden Transformations


This giant allium is one of the first bulbs to bloom in the spring,
tempting me to visit the nursery and come home laden with annuals.
But I know it's too early, the ground too cold,
and so I look for some fun garden projects while I wait.


For now, three DIY garden transformation projects await!

This metal salesman's sample of a headboard was painted silver when I bought it at a yard sale. 
It's a scaled-down bed measuring about three feet high by one foot deep.

These small salesman's samples were made to scale and appearance
so customers could envision what they would look like in their home . . .
and they were probably a lot easier for the salesman to carry. 

 Here's the "before" picture.


Last year, I painted it white and displayed it on the front porch.


I thought about putting it in this year's yard sale; I didn't really have room for it on the porch.
Then I realized it would look nice in the garden but the white was just too glaring. 
So I spray painted it Stone Gray by Rustoleum. The softer aged look looks perfect in the garden.


The base has a one-foot open area (for a teeny tiny mattress?). 
I positioned the headboard so the bleeding hearts would grow up through that open space.


I'm so glad I didn't put it in the upcoming yard sale pile. It's a keeper.

***

Another garden accessory I've been transforming is this cast iron lion fountain. 
It was painted a bright creamy yellow color which I thought looked too new.


So I painted it the same Stone Gray paint.
Then I mixed the gray paint with a little black 
and dabbed it on with a terrycloth rag to give it a weathered look. 
  

I also used an artist's brush with the black paint to highlight a few areas
like the edges of the fountain and the raised areas on the lion's head. 


It's now about the same color as the stone of the house so it feels like it's always been there. 

***

The last project I've been working on is transforming this little bricked space by our storage shed.
I dug out about a foot of the dirt surrounding the ash tree 
and replaced the space with old bricks found in the alley.
I like using old bricks because 1) it keeps them out of a landfill and
2) the aged appearance complements an old house. 


We made a brick border by cutting bricks in two and laying them lengthwise along the edge.
We used a brick chisel and a shop hammer to make the cuts.
Sweeping dirt over the bricks filled in the spaces between the bricks.


I also moved some rocks from the garden to make a border around the tree.
This gives us a little more room to access the shed and it looks nicer too.
Hopefully, the vinca transplants will fill in the space.
So far, so good.


Apparently, it 's dog-tested and dog-approved.


So, what's on your garden to-do list this spring while you're waiting for the ground to warm up?

***

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Rustic & RefinedDwellingsBotanic BleuBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal Charm,
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Adirondack Girl at HeartFrench Country CottageLittle Farmstead