Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pink, Silver and White

As the ranunculus started to show signs of fading, I trimmed their stems and gathered them up into two small arrangements. I just love, love, love the combination of the pink, silver and white on the kitchen shelves.

I also love how their centers look like the little bum of a bumble bee.

What I love most about flowers is their heavenly power to completely embrace you with their intoxicating beauty.

I left the milk glass vase arrangement on the kitchen shelf...

...and placed the mint julep arrangement on my nightstand so that I may open and close my eyes to their mesmerizing beauty.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Water, Pure and Simple

Shortly after our indoor plumbing was updated, I sent a water sample out to be tested. Although the test results were good, we felt more comfortable taking the cleanliness of our water one step further.

Our concerns were centered on the old water lines that supply our house. Despite updating our all of our property's water lines, the main line that runs to our house is old, very old. And old pipes aren't the cleanest.

So Hubby installed an under counter filter. It is plumbed into the cold supply line under the sink so now every time we get a glass of water, fill up the tea pot or steam rice...the water is filtered. Even our little Lucy will reap the benefits of cleaner water.

We opted for this model here, from Best Filters.

I like that this model allows you to have the benefits of filtered water without the visible hardware that usually goes along with it. We prefer sparse and simple in our kitchen so using an under counter filter was the perfect solution for us.

Filters are replaced once a year.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


My Mom always planted ranunculus in my Grandmother's garden every spring. I always think of the them oohing and ahhing over these full feathered flowers whenever I see them.

They make me smile...them and these.

I wish they'd last forever.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Marble and Alabaster Lamps

It's funny how collections can sometimes begin. You purchase something because perhaps you got a good deal, or perhaps it's just that you're in a particular mood. Then suddenly, you're out and about again and see another one of similar nature but beautifully different...and your collection begins.

The above marble lamp was the first piece of my new collection. It had been at this particular antique store for awhile and finally, when it was marked down to $36, I thought perhaps I'd give it a try. And so my collection began...

It sits on the dresser in my office and has a wonderful three way light that is able to illuminate the small room. I love its skirted detail.

With this lamp, my collection grew to two. The tag in the antique store said it was marble but it could possibly be alabaster, I can't tell. It rests on the old writing desk in the den, which required a lamp base that was small enough to sit on the folded desk top.

I love the sweet carved detail and its wonderful creamy color.

Marble and alabaster lamps can be hard to find in good shape. I see a lot of them with broken necks that have been glued back together and/or badly chipped bases. Even with damage, prices are usually between $95 to $169.

This one sits on our bedroom dresser upstairs. I like the contrast between the white marble body with the veined marble base.

This one is the latest addition to my collection. It is by far the heaviest, and the tallest. It's waiting for a lamp shade, something I'll need to drive into the city to get. It could also use a good rewire -"Joan, help!!" Or should I say, "Dan, help!"

So what collection did you stumble upon?

Pray tell.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Office Notes

I picked up an oversized cork board recently after realizing that the old one just wasn't big enough. The new one is much BIGGER. It extends about a foot past the edge of the photo. BIG.

My handy dresser is providing wonderful storage space, especially for the one billion inspiration photos that I've been tearing out of magazines for...oh, ever. But I thought a cork board would help me actually look at some of the photos I love, instead of having them sit in the drawer all the time.

The stack of antique gold frames leaning up against the wall are 'in waiting.' Waiting for me to find something perfect to put in them.

Now that I've lived with my sisal rug for awhile, I have to say that I'm quite pleased. Not only does it not show the wheel marks from the castors on my chair, but it's a tight weave so it's easy to wheel to and fro, here and there. The downside to all of these wonderful features is that it's scratchy to walk slippers are recommended.

Behind the white chair is an old lawyer's bookcase. The bookcase comes from the same Great Great Grandfather that the desk belonged to (he was a doctor and both these items were in his office). The case is not big enough to hold all of our books (I'm working on Hubby to build us a big built-in for those), so I thought I'd use it for all of my home and garden design books. Look, room to convenient.

The top case is reserved for my collection of birds nests. xo

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Farm Cut Flowers

I stopped in at the flower farm yesterday. I thought for sure they would be open by now as I could see the the bright yellow daffodils smiling so happily out in the fields. But they're still busy with their spring yard work, getting ready for opening day the first week of April.

Nevertheless, the owner greeted me with a smile (I'm a loyal customer you see) and insisted that I take a pail (I happened to bring one along) and cut as many daffodils as I'd like (I had my clippers too). As she put it, she'd rather see them enjoyed than fade away out in the fields all alone (me too).

The fields felt so quiet compared to the time when all the flowers are growing here in the summer. But seeing the eager daffodils all bright eyed and bushy tailed against the slowly awakening landscape was a a good sign that more flowers are soon to these and these.

I love the bonnet-shaped face of this variety of daffodil. And there were lots of them...lots of smiling faces basking under the soft late winter sun.

The owner of the flower farm joined me out in the fields to pick a pail of her own so I was able to get some clarification on cutting daffodil and tulip stems for arrangements.

The gooey sap of the daffodil flower contains calcium oxalate crystals. When their stems are cut, the sap starts to flow and is poisonous to other cut flowers. If you'd like to mix daffodils with other cut flowers, you should soak the fresh cut daffodil stems over night (this makes the sap stop flowing). The next day, rinse the stems under water before putting them in the vase with the other flowers.

Also, the information I was given previously on not cutting your tulip stems was false. Tulips do not have the same toxic sap as daffodils and therefore are fine to cut and arrange with other flowers.

Since I've been in a tulip craze for the past several weeks (yes, more white tulips!), I did a little more research when I got home. I found that you should always re-cut your tulip stems. Cutting the stems opens up the flowers uptake channels allowing them to take in the water they need and therefore extending its vase life. It's also suggested that you refresh or change the water daily.

By far, the most fascinating realization I unearthed during my tulip research is that unlike other flowers, tulips continue to grow after they've been cut. They also tend to grow towards sources of light, which is why tulips seem to arrange themselves (they're interior designers at heart) in the vase.

Another way of looking at it was explained by David Caras of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Center in New York City. As he put it, tulips prefer to "dance in the vase." Unlike other flowers, "they refuse to stand still."

I just love that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tending the Grapes

It's time to start thinking about our grapes, which is a wonderful feeling. It's the first sure sign that winter is happily behind us and that the warmer months are sure to come.

Every year about this time, Hubby enthusiastically sets out to prune the grape vines. Since taking over the neglected vines four years ago, he's been experimenting with various pruning practices and we're feeling pretty good about our first true crop this fall.

Here's a quick glimpse of a prior year's harvest.

We're more eager than ever for an abundant crop this year because we've finally decided what to do with all those grapes! We're going to make our first batch of Concord grape wine, grape juice and grape jelly to give to family and friends for the holidays.

The following are just a few examples of wine label templates I found online here.

I like the rich warmth of this gold label.

I also like the softness of the pale green.

This green and fuchsia label would be especially festive for the holidays.

While Hubby patiently pruned, a certain someone wasn't far from his side.

Both were out until dusk.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Portrait of a Woman

I came across this portrait of a woman in an antique store recently. It was unframed and a little tattered but I think it's nicely done. I'm often drawn to portraits. It's hard not to imagine who the person was, or perhaps if still living, where they are.

I also like that a portrait is like looking through the eyes of the artist who painted it. You know that they knew the person, perhaps just briefly, but nevertheless their depiction captures one brief moment of an entire lifetime. And I think that's where the fascination's like reading a book that starts in the middle and has no ending.

I happened to have an antique frame that fit her perfectly - both in size and in style. As you can see in the first photo, it has a lovely floral detail that I think complements her quite beautifully.

I bought the painting for $44. The frame is something I picked up last summer for $20.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sauna Turned Gym, etc.

We're at a stopping point with our renovation of the old sauna. Left to do is paint the fir floors grey - glad some of you like the unfinished look! We're holding off on this task until summer when we won't be using it as much...when we reconvene our evening walks.

Go here to see before pictures!

I am so excited about the new shelves! Hubby recycled these from the old sauna benches he removed. The old table, which weighs a ton, is a gorgeous handmade table that came with the property. It's been tucked away in the barn so we thought we'd finally put it to use.

I'm really happy with what Hubby did with the table and shelves as it's going to provide some much needed storage for a project I'm working on!

I dug out this great old basket I had down in our basement. I picked it up several months ago but found it to be a bit over sized to use for laundry.

And oh yes, the gym!!! Not all that pretty but serving us very well now that the place has been spruced up a bit.

The large wood mirror is something I bought at an auction in Maine many years ago. It was one of my very first antique purchases. I've strategically used it to cover up the hole from the old medicine cabinet that was there.

Here's the outside facade. I'm really anxious to get a new door...which style do you like best?

Option A, except in white, is a classic style French door. I think this would be a more casual look.

Option B, also in white, is more of a traditional front door and I'm wondering if it would make this little outbuilding look more like a sweet little cottage.

What do you think?

Patricia Van Essche

The amazingly talented and very beautiful Patricia Van Essche from pve design has featured A Country Farmhouse on her blog today!

Go here to visit!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Drinking Glasses

When we were at the coast last weekend, we stopped in at an antique store (this wasn't by accident, I wrote the address down so we'd be sure to find it). It was my favorite kind of antique store with lots of booths by different dealers. I find that these stores (known as antique malls) often have, by far, the best prices and the best variety to choose from.

I wasn't disappointed as I found these glass drinking glasses. They were priced at $20 for eight of them. I knew this was a good deal because I had purchased the exact same glasses several years ago - except I paid $15 for just four.

Finding them was perfect timing because recently I decided to get rid of our old drinking glasses. They were glasses from Martha Stewart's line at K-Mart, so they were pretty (and of course cheap). But I liked them, I didn't love them (sorry Martha, you know I adore you)... so why keep using them?

The vintage glasses I love. And if I love them, then why not use them every single day? Well, I know the answer to that because I have a tendency to save the things I love most for 'special occasions.'

But then you go years not using something that you love. So I decided to break from that bad habit and, that's right, make everyday a special ocassion. Sounds corny but drinking water from these glasses would seriously offer me more warm fuzzies than drinking from the safe, I only like you, not love you glasses.

And besides, I had to ask myself, what's the worst thing that could happen? They break. But there are other beautiful glasses out the worst thing would that I'd have to replace them with some other beautiful glasses.

Okay I admit, the fact that I now have twelve of them, makes this a whole lot easier. I have nine up on the shelf and three down in the cupboard - for safe keeping. ; )
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