Friday, November 27, 2015

Be My Guest -- A Room with a French Twist!

Bienvenue! Welcome!
It's the holiday season and that means guests.
Are you ready?

I'm excited about my first houseguest since I revamped my guest room.

We transformed the office into a comfy cozy guest room with a French twist.
Of course, it takes more than a pretty room for a guest to feel at home.

So, here are a few suggestions to help make your guests feel welcome:

Perhaps most important are fresh sheets and a light blanket on the bed with fluffy pillows. 
Having an extra blanket handy for cool evenings and fresh towels in the bathroom are appreciated.
Flowers and a lamp next the bed are a nice touch too.

Extra hangers in the closet and space in the drawers for clothes are necessities. 
And little things like tissues, a new toothbrush, and magazines say welcome.
It's always a good idea to have a trained guard dog on alert to provide security.

A clock on the wall and a big mirror are essential as is easy access to the phone and computer.

I wish I had room for a comfy chair in this room but an ottoman will do
for putting on shoes or sipping morning coffee while planning the day.

The yummy smell of homemade cookies will make your guest feel special 
while a fresh-bathed dog provides non-stop entertainment.
She also teaches yoga classes!

Make time to catch up while playing a game by the fire.
Dominoes anyone?
These are vintage ivory-colored pieces from the 50s. I think they're bakelite.

And as evening steals the day, enjoy a glass of wine by candlelight.
A toast to friends and family! Sante! To your health!

Friday, November 20, 2015

November Estate Sale Treasures

Yard sales may be winding down as the summer months fade and winter scratches at our doors 
but estate sales are still beckoning me from my jammies and hot coffee on early mornings.

TIP:  I've discovered that the best time to go to estate sales is Thursday morning. 
That's when the dealers check them out and buy all the best stuff. 
It used to be Fridays but more and more people are starting on Thursdays.

We always check Craigslist first thing Thursday morning to see 
if there are any good sales in our neighborhood. 
This Thursday we struck gold at a beautiful old Victorian not ten minutes from our house. 
The owners said everything had to go so they could renovate.
(I liked it just the way it was.)

I love to go to sales at old houses just to look around inside. 
The details in these vintage beauties are so gorgeous, 
it's worth going even if you don't buy anything.

Like this stunning foyer with original tin ceilings, drop-dead chandelier, and fancy woodwork.

And original patchy wallpaper clinging to plaster walls. 
I hope the people renovating this old place keep at least one wall intact to preserve 
the history and beauty of bygone days.

But on to the treasures. I've recently been collecting old books and found a lovely tome containing 
the complete collection of Thomas Moore's (1779-1852) poetry and melodies. 
A mere $5 brought it home with me. 
At first, I was attracted to its beautiful rich brown and gold cover.

I had to do a little research on Moore but discovered he was known as the National Bard of Ireland 
and wrote many popular folk songs. He was also a close friend of Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. How thrilling!

After I take it home, I'll pop the book into a baggie and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours to discourage any unwanted visitors that might have been hiding between the yellowed pages.

Moving into the dining room, we admired the tiled fireplace and oak mantle. 
And there, resting against the mantle, was something I'd been looking for.

An old medicine cabinet! When I asked about the price, another $5, I practically shouted, "Sold!"
But it reeked of must and had several layers of grime on the lovely old oak.

Underneath all that grime, it had a beveled mirror and curved woodwork 
and a breathtaking little dangly knob that I fell in love with.

Once home, I took the medicine cabinet outside to clean it. 
The inside smelled like something had died in it 
so I mixed up some white vinegar and water and gave it a thorough scrubbing.
Then, I opened the door and let it air out in the mile-high sunshine all day. 
I brought it in at night in case it rained or snowed, then repeated the steps again the next day.

By then, it was smelling better so I rubbed some antique improver into the wood. 
It's sold in most antique malls and contains natural oils and emollients. 
I hoped the scrumptious odor would soak into the wood. 
As I worked on this piece, I realized someone had added two curved wooden edges to the shelves, probably to keep things from falling out. But they weren't original, so we took them out.

Time to clean the beveled mirror. 
As I wiped away the grime, the silvered beauty of the old mirror shone through. 
Note the curved trim, so graceful. 

Here's a closeup of that gorgeous dangly knob that I loved at first sight.

Next, I clipped some fresh lavender and bought a "Clean Linen" air freshener 
and tucked them both inside. Much better.

Finally, I positioned the cabinet on a table in front of my wall of mirrors in my dining room
atop an old lace tablecloth that I'd found at another estate sale. 
At the time, I didn't know what I'd do with it as it didn't fit any of my tables. 
But I knew someday it would find a home.

I lined up three little white creamers on top of the cabinet. Perfect.

To balance the arrangement, I re-positioned an oval mirror across from it. 
French Country style often includes timeworn wood so the addition
of this little oak cabinet and the old newel post warm up the space.

I hate to think that magnificent old house, probably from the 1890s, 
will be scraped clean inside --  modernized with stainless steel and granite,
smooth new walls and floors that don't creak. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Delights of Vintage Travel

Do you dream of snapping photos on an African safari, experiencing an adventure
on the Orient Express or renting a farmhouse in Provence?

Me too! 

I love to travel and it's fairly easy today. But imagine what it must have been like in days gone by. 
There was a time when travel meant packing a trunk full of clothes for every occasion 
or a hard-sided suitcase with just the essentials for a weekend escape to the country.

Did you know those old hump-backed trunks were designed so no one could put anything 
on top of them, thus protecting their contents? 

I love old suitcases. 
They're great for extra storage but what I really adore is the materials they're made of. 
Old leather handles and tarnished brass. Love those.

Faded stripes, houndstooth, faux tweed and real honest-to-God leather.

I think the monogrammed suitcases are divine. Who does that anymore?

And inside, some are lined with beautiful fabric. Delicious.

Don't forget the accessories . . . a vintage umbrella, a scarf and pearls  . . .

an evening bag and gloves . . .

a hat or two in a special hatbox.

And don't forget your camera.

Oh, and outerwear.
I couldn't believe my luck when I found this vintage Burberry Trench at an estate sale for $40.
They sell for thousands new and I bet  a collector would treasure a vintage one like this.

The same sale offered this gorgeous little leather purse with the feel of a messenger bag. 
 I can just imagine the lady who wore this trench and carried this bag
with leather gloves and a Casablanca hat as she traipsed around the world. 
Maybe she was even a spy!

Travel may not have been as easy then as it is now, but it certainly was more romantic. 
Just close your eyes and listen to the clickety clack of the railroad tracks, 
smell the cigarette smoke from the attractive man across from you (it used to be glamorous), 
and sip your cocktail in the dining car while you watch the world roll by your window. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thank a Vet!

Veterans Day, initially called Armistice Day, is November 11, a day to honor and thank
all Americans, living and dead, who have served in the United States Armed Forces. 
I'm proud to display our flag every day.

A little history . . . At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice was agreed upon to 
stop hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in WWI.
This date came to be regarded as the end of the "war to end all wars." 
President Eisenhower later changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day 
to honor all those who had served in any war.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the many wars our nation has been involved in 
and my apologies in advance for any historical errors in this post. 
But, like so many in our country, Veterans Day is very personal to me. 
This is my dad, the handsome soldier. 

This day is personal to me because I went to high school with several young boys who died 
in Vietnam and I pray for the "boots on the ground" in today's battles so far from home. 
My grandfather served in the Army in WWI and saw action with the American Expeditionary
Forces, Verdun, Argonne, the March to the Rhine and the Army of Occupation.
 He doesn't look like the jolly grandfather I knew . . . so young in this official portrait.

My father served in WWII. 
Dad's the bad-ass one with a cigarette and without a helmet, upper right. 
Kind of a mix between Clark Gable and Tyrone Power. Or maybe George Clooney!

Ron's mother was a Rosie the Riveter during the war. 
Because she was so tiny she was able to climb into the tight spots of the planes she helped build. 

My father joined the Army in 1942 and served in the 811th Tank Destroyer "B" Company in WWII. He drove a tank in the Rhineland, Battle of the Bulge, Central Europe and Ardennes battles.

Like many veterans, he didn't like to talk about the war but I remember him telling me the story of how his tank was hit and he woke up hanging over the long gun on the front of the tank. I guess I get emotional about our military because I know how close we came to losing him that day. 

This photo has been damaged over time
but it's one of my favorites of my dashing dad and beautiful mother during the war years.

Dad wasn't directly involved in the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 but, like all who served, 
I'm sure his spirit was there the day Germany surrendered the French capital 
after four years of occupation. 
I can't even look at these pictures without tearing up. 

Can you imagine the glorious celebration it must have been with all the church bells ringing
across Paris and people crowding the streets to see their American liberators.

When I visited France, I noticed quite a few street signs reading "Rue de 25 August." 
Many of the people on my tour didn't know what that meant which I thought was a sad statement. 
Most of the small towns in France have a memorial in their center square 
honoring those who died serving their country like this one in Gordes.

In this country, Veterans Day is our opportunity to say thank you for protecting our freedoms. 
On Nov. 11, please take a moment to thank a Vet!