Thursday, January 28, 2010

it's not nice to stare...

But, I can't help it! I am house obsessed. Always have been.

I have fond memories of being a child...and peeking in peoples windows.

No... its not what you are thinking.

Living out in the country it was a long drive to I had a lot of staring-out-the-window-time. I vividly remember driving home from church on Saturday nights...we had to pass through 3 small towns before we made it to our farm. I would be in awe staring through the windows of the houses where the drapes were open and the lights were on.

Is that weird?? Probably...but it was nuturing my early love of decor and architecture. I didn't want to spy on the people...just see their house. My favorites were always the big old houses with staircases. They always look pretty through a front window.

If you have been reading my blog the last few weeks, you know my mom had surgery...and it didn't go as well as planned. Anyhoo...she is getting better day by day...but is recovering at a "rehab center." I don't particularly love it there...and she spends a lot of time sleeping or at physical I spend a lot of time staring out the window. But with eye candy like this...who can blame me??

This is the house across the street from her room...I have to see it every time I visit.
And it is painful.
Because I want to buy it and live there!

Can a person be in love with an portico? If so...I am.
I want to walk through this entry

Oh, and I have to interrupt house photos with my faaaaavorite part. This would be where I have my office-slash-furniture painting studio. It has an authentic carriage house. And this one is H-U-G-E! I swear, my whole house could fit in this building.

I confess...I used to live in an old house...and I loved calling my old wood garage a carriage house. It was not...but I like to call it that because it sounded cool. A true carriage house is big...and tall. See the hay door up top? Love it. The two huge glass windows on the bottom right would be where the horses and carriages were kept. Too bad they didn't keep the sliding doors that would have been there. I have a love affair with old sliding barn doors, too.

I about died when I saw it had not just one...but TWO sleeping porches. I love the idea of sleeping on a covered porch in the summer months. They have built these in to make it more practial for the Iowa weather...but now they are so much less romantic! pretty. I can't wait to go back Sunday. You should see the old beauty next door to this one!

Am I alone in this....or does anyone else covet old houses?
And dream about old architecture?
Do you take random pictures of stranger's houses?

Seriously, am I the only one that will admit I look in people's windows at night!?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

more thrift store love...

I seem to be on a roll this week in the shopping department!

Yesterday I started my day with a trip to of my favorite places on this plantet by the way...and came out with $39 worth of groceries for $14.06! Did you know you can go onto Targets website...print their grocery coupons and then combine them with manufacturer's coupons?? If you didn't, I am hear to tell you...yes you can! I only bought what I had coupons for, but they were items I usually buy each week anyway. But that is truly another post. I could write a book on the whole coupon thing. I love the game of saving a buck.

Speaking of saving a buck...I love decorating my house...and don't mind admitting I am totally cheap about it, too! After Target I paid a visit to a couple of the thrift stores I missed the other day. Tuesday is half-off day at a couple of my of course I was there when the doors opened! Here is what I found...I hate it that I can't make my pictures larger, so click on them if you want to get up-close-and-personal.

You may remember me talking about the wire baskets in Monday's post. The one where the owner thinks I am some poor stupid girl that can only afford or want the cheap junk the store doesn't see as 'valuable'. Fine by me...and I am not about to tell him there are a whole bunch of us that actually love it! After I made my purchase, I had to ask him about these wire baskets I saw sitting in a curtained-off area. (A tip from me to you...ALWAYS peek in the area behind a curtain. That is where they keep the new stuff!) He said they were not worth making a tag for...and that I could have them! Thank you Mr. Rather Condescending...I will take you up on that!

This one is going in my new studio work space. I think it will be perfect for rolls of vintage wallpaper!

And these I have a very special project for. They will be going in my the Pottery-Barn-inspired desk my hubby just built for me! I am supposed to be painting it right now...I can't wait to show you as soon as I get it in place. Hopefully next week.

I can never have enough white ironstone pitchers. I have too many already...but I spread them all over the house and love each and every one of them!

I need to find my local chapter of Books Anonymous. They are something I just can't resist. I try to stick to titles that fit things we love or are just the right color. The two tan books drew me in because of the color...and they fact that they are from a series about dogs was a bonus. I have never met a dog a didn't like. I love them all. And the On the Beach could not have been a more appropriate find. I have a lot of "beach" in our house.

The bottom book was simply gorgeous. Who knows...this one I may put on etsy...but the graphics were just so gorgeous I could not pass it up! Just look at that cover!

My husband swears I have a built-in radar for galvanized metal. I have picked up every old piece that has crossed my path for the last 10 years! It takes the number 2 spot on my "please bury me with this list"...right after my white ironstone. This beauty is going in my office. I love pretty-yet-a-little-crusty storage.

Oh, and I can't forget my shell-motif antique picture frame...and a sugar mold candle holder for a buck!

I'm off to paint the desk I told you about...I better get to work! I have had too much fun shopping, I'm not getting anything done!

Here is my inspiration photo...lets hope mine is just as cute when I get it finished!

Monday, January 25, 2010

can you buy happiness for under $20?

Usually, I would today...I have to give it a big fat YES!

I had a day all to myself today. It was so nice...I rambled from thrift shop to antique shop throughout my city searching for just the right things that needed to come home with me!

I keep my "style" a pretty good secret around here. Not many people in my area are into the same look I I always seem to luck out with these beautiful treasures for such a small price. They laugh at me and one old man today actually said "little lady, we need to teach you what actually has some worth...and it sure isn't this old stuff!" I never correct these silly men, I just smile and play the dumb girl role to make them happy.

 I scored some lovely bits and pieces for around the house, so thought I would share my finds. I could not believe my luck today! Don't you just love it when that happens? There is nothing better than coming home with a trunk full of old stuff to make a girl feel good! You should see the wire baskets I brought home. Seriously to-die-for! The 'man' I referenced above thought I was nuts for wanting them, so gave them to me free. Not such a dumb girl afterall, eh??

I am in love with the graphics on this bottle...I can't believe what good shape the label is still in after all these years!

...and this one is *gorgeous* in, love, love etched wording in old bottles

This little tabletop thermometer makes me smile...not just because it's lovely patina is in my palette...but it reminds me of my Dad. Before he retired he was a Meterologist...aka 'weatherman' for the US Government. Ever time I hear a weather report...I think about him. Growing up in the country we always had an old radio with a button you could push that would take you directly to the weather station. I would push it every once in a while because I thought it was cool to hear his voice on the radio. When I would visit him at his office, he would let me go into the recording studio and I would sit on his lap while he taped the days report. Ahhh...I love memories like that.

Oh, and this crusty, rusty kitchen scale is perfection in my eyes. Love the the rust..but did I really need another vintage scale?? I already have 7 of them...but yes, I guess 8 is my lucky number so its joining the collection!

Speaking of scales...this was the best find of the day! And the price??? Yep, thats right...$3. Three stinkin' dollars??? I can't remember the last time I bought something I was so in love with for that little! It is a hanging scale with a dial on both sides. This baby is going in my kitchen! Oh, and I can't forget the ironstone mugs...I have a shelf just waiting for those.

I just want to give a great big THANK YOU to all of you dropped me a little note to ask about my mom. You girls are just the means so much to have you guys care! She is doing better...not 100% yet...but she is improving a little bit every day so I am happy with that.

Happy Monday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

long weekend...

Well, there have been no exciting blog posts out of me the past few days. I am at a loss for creative ideas.

I am tired.

It has been a looong weekend. My Mom had a little setback...and she is back in the hospital about a week after her surgery. Lets just say a certain "Doctor" doubled one of her error.


How the heck does that even happen??

She was so very sick. My poor mother. Survives raising 8 children, but a pill almost "does her in." (Her words there, not mine.)

But...she is recovering from that little episode I am choosing to dwell on the happy things.

I'm sharing another of my favorite "Mom" photos. It was May 1956. Mom & Dad were on their honeymoon in Florida. They had so little money when they were starting out. I love the thought of them tooling around South Florida in their old Chevy. Driving on the beach...sand on their feet and the wind in their hair.

Life seemed so simple back then.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HELP WANTED: birthday party planner

I need help! And I just know you girls will come through for me!

My sister is having a big, important, special birthday in Feburary! Shhh...don't tell her I told you...but she is turning 5-0! It is ok though, we all secretly hate her for having a bod that does not look a day over 25! There is a 16 year age difference between us, so I always tell her that I keep her young...wink...wink...she hates that!

So not fair...anyhoo...this is my sister that lives next door to me. My sister that will drop anything to help me dig a dresser out from someone's trash at midnight...the sister that does not hesitate for one second when I ask her each and every month to help me pack a 17-foot U-haul truck full of furniture when I am leaving to sell at a show. Oh, and I can't forget her kitchen pantry acting as the "store-next-door" when I run out of something...I have been over there digging around twice this week already!

 So you see...I owe her something fabulous. And I am getting a bit of a late start on planning a party for her. In my defense, I had it all planned. We were taking a plane load of girls to the Virgin Islands for a week...renting a house overlooking the was going to be spectacular! Sun, sand, surf...we could not wait to come home with tan lines in the middle of Feburary. But such grand plans came to a screeching halt when the guest of honor could not get the week off of work. Ugh!

I need ideas. No, I need incredible ideas. Ideas that will make her cry...and laugh..and get a little crazy. We are simple girls, so it needs to be casual...and nothing is off limits no matter how silly it seems. Nothing as large as the trip I was planning, we may do that later this year. She has an outrageous sense of humor, so even wacky ideas will do. If only it was summer...I could have such a pretty outdoor party for her. Those are always our favorite. But, unless we go sledding...that is out for this time of year around here!

I know every one of you girls out there has been to a fabulous party. I want to hear about it! What did you do? Where did you go? Did you have a theme? Do I invite people she works with? Do I invite her friends I don't really know? Or do I keep it family and close friends only? Did you do something special for a cake?

I can't wait to hear from you! The clock is ticking for I better get planning!

(Oh, and I thought we all needed a bit of summer these gorgeous photos are courtsey of one of my all-time-favorite websites...Style Me Pretty.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

giveaway alert...hurry the clock it ticking!

Only hours left to get in on this giveaway, girls!

My friend Anita, from the Iowa Junk Gypsies, is doing a fabulous giveaway!

For the love of all things French...get over there and leave your comment to enter!

The lucky winner will receive:
one. Entre Nous - A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl
two. Wandering Paris- vocab and guide book in one
three. TheLittle French ABC Coloring Book (training them young is best:)
four. Say it in French - a travel phrase book
five. Madeleine Peyroux- The Perfect World CD
six. Lu Petit Beurre notepad ( these butter cookies are awesome)
seven. Sabre bottle opener and cheese knife

Did you know Anita is fluent in French....and she lived in France...and she teaches French, too! She is hosting a trip to Paris in April! I am hoping to tag along with her...but if you want in, click on the link under her header for more info!

Now click on over and check out her blog...leave a comment and you just might win her bag of goodies!

Monday, January 11, 2010

a great big thank you...

You girls are the really are!

I cannot say THANK YOU enough for all the well-wishes for my Mom! She was finally able to come home from the hospital today...but I think she has a long road ahead of her, and maybe one more surgery. But, she is a strong woman, so I know she will be back to her old self before we know it!

Since I am on the subject of "Mom"...I thought I would post my very favorite photo of her and my Dad.

It was the summer of 1956, and they had just returned from their Honeymoon. My Dad was 22, Mom was 20. This past May they were married 53 years. Can you imagine?

My Mom said she dreamed about that dress after seeing it in Vogue magazine. She worked and saved until she could afford to buy it. I think she still has it packed away somewhere. I just might have to dig it out one of these days! Oh, and check out their car! How cute is that?

They had no idea what path their life would take...much like all of they were young and just had simple dreams of a home...with kids...and living happily ever after. Now, here they are, 8 children later...21 grandchildren...and they can't belive how fast time has gone.

Do you ever think about things like this?

I have such a hard time wrapping my mind
around how time goes by so fast.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

dearest darling helen...

It has such a wonderful ring to it...doesn't it?

I am so happy today.

I crawled out of bed extra early to stand at an auction all day...and did I mention is was only 5 degrees here?


But it was all worth it...because I came home with these.

92 of the most beautiful letters...lovingly written back and fourth...from Irwin to Helen during WWII.

Have you ever really read a letter from that era?

 "Dearest Darling Helen,
Twilight is gradually coming upon us..."

They are so genuine.

That is why they made my list of "99 things I love".

Notice the letter was written 65 years ago...almost to the day. Somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean that night was a ship...with a lonely young man that missed his wife.

I can't help but wonder where Irwin and his bride are today. Did they live a long, happy life together? Do they have children? If so, why would they not want to keep the letters? In one of his letters, he mentioned he had written one to her every single day before he went to sleep.

Tonight, my hubby will build a fire...and I will curl up on the couch...immersing myself in the words of Helen & Irwin.

The most perfect winter Saturday night.

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 things about me...

~ I'm blushing! ~

Janis, at White Alder Home tagged me with a Kreativ Blogger Award!

Wow!...thanks so much for thinking of little 'ol me and my take on life in blogland!
So here's my checklist of what I have to do to accept this most gracious award:

1. Thank the person who nominated me for the award.

2. Link to the person who nominated me
 check, check

3. List 7 things people may not know about me
 I'm not sure there are 7 interesting things about me!

4. Nominate 7 creative bloggers, post their links and leave a comment on each
 I love them all...I have to pick just 7??

So here it goes...7 facts about yours truly...


ONE. I am ambidextrous. I use both my left and right hand for different tasks. That must explain why I can never make up my mind on anything. My brain is totally mixed up!

TWO. I need to multi-task at all times. It is impossible for me to sit and watch TV without doing something else. Usually, I am doing laundry, reading and magazine and planning my menu for the week...all while not missing a moment of my favorite shows. It drives my husband crazy.

THREE. My parents took me on my first trip to Europe when I was 9 years old. They wanted me to see how other parts of the world lived, and decided we would take the train into Czechslovakia. There is a story between the idea to go there and the end, but lets just say one little girl almost didn't make it out of that country. My Dad ended up having to pay off the guards on the train to let me go back into Germany. The guards were trying to take me away - saying I wasn't their daughter. I guess it was all about lining their pockets with a little extra cash. My mom was freaking out at that moment...but there were many, many times she brought this up during my angst-ridden teenage years. She would tell me to straighten up or we would take a little "trip"...oh, she's always a comedian!

FOUR. I love to do laundry. Weird, I know. It is my favorite household task. It must be the part of me that likes to have everything neat and orderly. I could do it every day and never get tired of it.

FIVE. I have never had a drop of coffee in my life. I love the smell, but will not even try a single sip. I just know I would hate it. People are always amazed at that for some reason.

SIX. I have a cousin that went to school with someone we all now know as 'Princess Diana'...and yes, I am being completely serious. They were friends and she attended her wedding, and later her funeral. I will sum it up like side of our family did well in business and lives in Brentwood, Dad decided to "break out" on his own and move to a farm in rural IL. Needless to say we were not the side that did well enough to roll with the Royals. That is fine with me, to this day I can't figure out what all the forks are for on a formal place setting.

SEVEN. I was married in Las Vegas. Most people that know me have to pick up their jaw about now. For as much as I love all things beautiful, I never, even as a child, dreamed of the typical wedding...and I hate being the center of attention. I am a low-key kinda girl. A few members of our family and friends flew out for 3 days of festivities, and it was awesome! It is possible to have a beautiful wedding at a resort in Vegas...and no we did not use a drive-thru or an Elvis impersonator. 10 1/2 years later we are blisfully happy.

Whew! That was tough...I am a rather boring person, you know.

So, here are the 7 of my very favorite ladies in blogland. If your name is on my list...consider yourself tagged!

Andrea @ Faded Plains
(I am stalking her for her old truck)

Trina @ A Country Farmhouse
(Have you seen her farmhouse reno? WOW is all I can say...)

Holly @ In the Fun Lane
(She lives an all-around fabulous life.)

Jen @ Sanctuary Arts
(Uber-talented - this girl can craft like no one else!)

Martha @ Butterflies & Dragonflies
(One of the sweetest girls in blogland, love her!)

Anita @ Iowa Junk Gypsies
(She is hosting a trip to Paris, wanna go?)

Shannan @ Flower Patch Farmgirl
(She needs to bottle and sell that wit she has - I love reading her posts!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

yellow roses are her favorite...

Today, I am feeling stressed.

My mom is having surgery. A big surgery.

She is a tough lady, that I know.

So I am sure she will be just fine...but I still worry.

I wish I could keep her in a bubble and stop time.

So nothing would change...and time would not keep moving on...

(photo found here...)

Do me a tiny favor...if you would.

Send good thoughts her way.

 I'll take all I can get for her today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

packin' my bags...

I love County Living Magzine.
And I love architecture...and houses...and renovations.
And I love it even MORE when the two worlds collide and Country Living showcases a few homes around the US that are for sale!

 I look forward to the "real estate sampler", as they call it, each and every month. But in all the years I have been a subscriber, I have never actually gone further and checked out one of these houses. I do wonder how in the heck these big old houses sometimes come with such tiny price tags.

This one caught my eye this month, so for the first time I decided to check out the realtor's website and get the scoop on this old beauty. That is where I stumbled on these pics...and fell in love. I think I am packin' my bags and heading South!

This lovely Antebellum home is in Brunswick, Missouri and is on the market for only $99,000. Around here...that would be a steal! It has 4,400 square feet with a smoke-house and a barn...and sits on 2.6 acres. It has 6 chimneys and a widow's walk.

I think I just may pass out. $99,000?? Really?? It is my dream to live here. I just hope I would also find the closets stuffed with the cash I would need to fund the enormous renovation this old girl needs!

Just look at her. So majestic. So beautiful. So in need of a little TLC.

Look at that profile...gorgeous! I think for the rest of this post, I am going to dream that she is mine. She could be so much more than she is right now.

Ok, so the trim needs a little "work done"...a little nip...a little tuck...nothing I can't handle. Here is my trim-repair tip of the day...for those of you working on an old house...get a pen and paper...I'll wait.

Use Bondo to repair the wood. It is magic in a can, I swear. Oh, and if you don't know what Bondo is, visit your friendly neighborhood auto-body shop. It is what they use on rusted out old cars when they are restoring the body. Works magic on old rotten wood so you don't have to replace it. 

So lets start the inside tour. It only took me about 20 seconds to reno this home in my head.

I am crazy-obsessed with this foyer. I have dreams of refinishing the hardwood floors and painting all the trim and bannister white. I would love to take down the wallpaper, give the walls fresh paint and a lovely jute runner up the stairs. Oh, and of course a vintage chandelier needs to live here, too.
I love it so.

Now, the next picture is a bad look very close. See the middle of the photo? That gorgeous curving staircase winds up to a third story and you can see all the way down the middle to the first floor.

I love the sound of a slamming screen door. And check out how wide this one is. And yes, that wallpaper and those sconces would have to go. A couple of lovely vintage metal and crytal ones would suit me nicely. Oh, and of couse more white woodwork.

I can't live without natural light. It is essential to my being. These floor to ceiling windows would make me a happy girl!

Oooh...that mantel! This house has 3 fireplaces, all with hand-carved, large mantels. They are all begging for fresh white paint...but I have to leave that old mirror just like it is. Have I ever told you how much I like weathered mirrors?

I saved my favorite for last...I have no idea what this little shed is currently used for...maybe this is the old smokehouse...but I see my office here. A perfect little get-away. A new window. A new roof. A pretty paint color with white trim. I would wake up early just so I could get out there and do some work!

Ok, I am back to reality. Back to my house built in the 50s. Back to 8' ceilings and a 2 car attached garage.

A long way from my Antebellum fantasy...but I have to admit, it was so nice to dream.