Friday, February 26, 2016

High Hopes for a Hamper

It was fun just to get out of the house after a bitter cold snap but
I was also hopeful I'd find something on my wish list
as we scouted out a little town north of Denver called Lafayette. 

I didn't have much luck in the charming town, but, as we were leaving
we spotted a little antique store and pulled into the parking lot.
It didn't look very promising on the outside but the inside was filled with lots of
tiny rooms filled with goodies. Even the basement was jammed with treasures.
I had a good feeling.

I saw it almost right away. 
I'd been watching for a vintage hamper for some time.
I knew exactly what I was looking for:  
about a foot tall, woven base, wooden lid and curved side handles. 
I didn't care what color it was. I could always paint it. 
Except for the horrid Easter-egg-green paint on the top, it was just what I'd been looking for. 

I kept going back to look at it and the owner said: "That piece is calling your name."
And it was.
Lucky for me, I get my bargaining skills from my thrifty mother
and from living in the Middle East where bargaining is the norm. 
After a short conversation, I got the price down from $32 to $20. Sold! 
I think this little beauty is from the 1940's, maybe a child's hamper. Adorable.

 I vowed to paint it the next day which was forecast to be clear and sunny. 
I thought it would take an hour at most. It took about four. 
Masking and then removing the tape because I forgot to take a "before" picture. 
Putting the tape back on and realizing it wasn't sticking so I had to put fresh tape on. 
All the little nooks and crannies took time with a small artist's brush. 
Fortunately, the cream-colored sides didn't need painting.

Finally, after two coats of white paint then sanding and re-painting the lid 
where the hinge gunked up the paint, I left it in the sun to cure. 

I couldn't wait to bring it inside and figure out where to put it. That's half the fun.
I finally decided on the foot of the daybed in the guest room. 
It's the first thing you see when you enter this room and it creates a cheerful, welcoming feeling. 

Of course, I could always use it as a guest hamper but it's much more fun to fill it with flowers!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Foyer -- First Impression of Your Home

Whether you call it a vestibule, an entryway, the front hallway or the foyer,
this little space inside your front door sets the tone for you entire home.
Since this is a blog about French Country, let's call it the foyer.
I even love the French pronunciation "foy-yay."
Seems the French can make anything sound romantic!

It's interesting to note the word "foyer" originally meant "the place where the fire is kept."
The term described an area in French theaters, comparable to the green room
in English theaters, where actors relaxed off stage.
Because they were often visited by friends during and after performances,
such areas evolved into large and beautifully decorated spaces.

The foyer provides the first impression of your home.You can create a welcoming impression
by presenting a warm feeling that reflects the style of your house.
Here is the foyer of my 1907 home.
Warm wood tones, touches of metal, and pops of red and yellow are echoed throughout my house.

I update my foyer seasonally and keep it pretty simple.
For winter, I added some vintage snowshoes, colorful scarves and a basket of lavender.
When spring arrives, I will probably switch out the lavender for some white blossom branches
and exchange the scarves for some straw hats on the antique hall tree.

A mirror positioned across from a window reflects more light into the space.

Add a bit of French Country with a French market basket,

some rusty metalwork,

or an interesting piece of art that will draw visitors inside.

A pretty light, whether a table lamp or a fancy chandy, provides a warm glow to this space.
My light is a vintage glass and copper fixture that I love but I think it is too high to appreciate.
Since it can't be extended in length, I'll probably replace it with a small chandelier
and move this light to the guest room.

If you have room, it's nice to add a chair, stool or bench to your foyer
where people can sit down to put on their shoes. I don't have enough space so we sit on the stairs.
By the way, we removed several layers of paint and carpeting from these stairs
to reveal the warm wood underneath.

At the landing is an original stained-glass window casts an old-world glow to the foyer.

It may seem insignificant but a thoughtful foyer is essential
to creating a warm and welcoming home. 
Remember what your high school counselor said:
"You only get one chance to make a first impression!" She was right.

P.S.  Only 29 days til Spring!!

Sharing with:  Shabby Fu FuThoughts from AliceOur Southern HomeRustic & RefinedDwellingsKaren's up on the HillBetween Naps on the PorchCozy Little House,
Coastal CharmCedar Hill FarmhouseA Stroll Thru LifeBella Rosa AntiquesElizabeth and Co.Savvy Southern StyleKnick of TimeMaison de PaxFrom my Front Porch to YoursHave a Daily Cup of Mrs. OlsonA Delightsome LifeThe Vintage NestRooted in ThymeAdirondack Girl at HeartHawthorne and MainCharm of HomeFrench Country CottageShabby Art BoutiqueThe Cottage MarketD.D.'s Cottage and DesignPeonies and Orange BlossomsPoofing the Pillows

Friday, February 12, 2016

French Date Night - We'll Always Have Paris

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Ron and I decided to have a date night, 
and, since winter has arrived in Colorado, 

we're staying in and watching a movie. 
But not just any movie. We're watching . . . "Casablanca."

Yes, we've seen it a zillion times but some things just get better with age. 
We both know the dialogue word for word but still have the script handy in case we miss a line.

It was actually Ron's idea to have champagne cocktails while we watch this classic love story. 
That was their drink of choice in the movie. 
He also found some interesting hors d'oeuvres at the store. Such a romantic!

Here's the recipe for our cocktails:
We prefer Prosecco to champagne. I know, I know. It's Italian but it tastes French.
Add a shot of pomegranate juice and a half-shot of brandy to an eight ounce glass of Prosecco. 
Here's looking at you, kid!

So, beverages in hand, we lit the fire and some candles, tucked our feet into a chunky throw, 
settled the dog in between us, and started the movie.

The intro music is enough to send shivers down my spine. 
Then the black and white scene begins and the narrator explains why so many people have come
to Casablanca:  to escape the war-torn countries in Europe and find freedom in Lisbon.

Ugarte (Peter Lore), the little bug-eyed weasle, starts the action when he asks Rick
(Humphrey Bogart) to hide his stolen letters of transit in Rick's Cafe Americain 
until he can sell them and then get on a plane to Lisbon.

But then she walks into his gin joint. Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is perfect--elegant, romantic, loyal. 
And, of course, torn between two lovers. 
Poor beautiful Ilsa in her understated wardrobe and fancy wide-brimmed hats. 
(How did she pack all those big things anyway?)

Oh no, not the song. Will she never learn? 
"Play it, Sam," she says. "Play 'As Time Goes By."
Ron tells me the piano that Sam plays was actually a non-working model. 
It was built smaller than normal so Bogart would look bigger than he really was.

My favorite scene, well, one of them, 
is when the Germans are in Rick's Cafe and they start to sing a rousing German song. 
Victor Lazslo, (Paul Henreid) the underground leader, tells the orchestra
to play la Marseillaise, France's national anthem. 
Everyone loyal to France sings louder and louder, drowning out the Nazis.  
I can't get through this scene without crying.

Spoiler Alert. . .  if you've never seen this movie, the ending is coming up!

Of course, there's the tortured goodbye scene at the foggy airport 
and the line that made this movie a classic: "We'll always have Paris."

Ron and I clink our champagne glasses and whisper the final line of the movie:

"This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The End.

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Long, Long Lost Cousin

It would have made a perfect French Country blog post
if I'd discovered some interesting French person in my genealogy research. 
But nope. English and Irish through and through. 
Still, I found some fascinating folk in my family tree including one really big surprise.

Here's an old photo from a family reunion in the 1920's. Rather a glum lot, isn't it?
My father is in the second row from the bottom, second from the right. 
The "bowl" haircut was definitely in.

It's thrilling when you start looking at your family's roots, 
to see who fought in what war and on what side! 
But it gets downright amazing when you can trace your relatives back 
to before this country was a country.

I started this journey when the TV show, "Who Do You Think You Are," first aired. 
I was hooked after the first episode.

My sister and I signed onto and went to work.

My phone would ring and she would shout, "Guess what I found!" 
or I would call her in Ohio and yell, "You aren't going to believe this!"
It was one of my phone calls to her that started out that way and ended with "I don't believe it!"

I still wonder if it's true.

I was skimming through some online records, tracing my known relatives back to the 1700s 
when a familiar name popped up.

Here's a photo of this person's boyhood home. Can you guess whose house it is?

Now, are you ready to see my famous relative?

Drum roll please  . . . . .

It's . . . Abraham Lincoln!!!


That's what I said!
Yes indeedy, that's what the records showed.
(Sorry for the poor quality of the picture below taken from the computer.)

My father's surname is Shipley and I was able to trace my lineage back to a woman named
Nancy Hanks (yep, seems I might be related to Tom Hanks too!)
You can see Nancy's mother, Lucy Shipley Hanks, at the bottom of the chart above.
But I digress.
Here's a picture of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham's mother.

And here's a picture of me.
Imagine me gaunt and dour-looking instead of perky and wearing a cowboy hat.
See the family resemblance? Yeah, me neither. Well, maybe a little bit.

Anyway, Nancy's mother, Lucy Shipley, was a direct descendant of our
original Shipley family that settled in Maryland in 1668. 
Nancy married a man named Thomas Lincoln and their son was Abraham. 

As in President Abraham Lincoln!!!

I was born in southeastern Ohio; Lincoln was born just down the road in Kentucky.
Lincoln's mother's line can be traced to Robert Shipley. Same as mine.

Now, I realize there is all kinds of controversy about this relationship. 
(She was definitely the president's mother
but some say Nancy was from a different Shipley line;
others claim there's no proof of her birth to Lucy Shipley Hanks, etc. etc.).

But I like to think it's true. 
Hey, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Right?

So, on Lincoln's birthday Feb. 12, I feel proud that maybe, just maybe, 
he's a long lost cousin.