a winter wonderland.

Good news!  The q is for quandie IT department (ie. Mr. Q) came through with flying colors.  When I got home from the day job on Friday he had a new computer all set up and ready to go for me.

I’m up and running with no need for a stiff drink.  I took a quick hour or two on Saturday morning to give all of my functions a test drive.  Since we basically woke up to a winter wonderland here in the Twin Cities with another 5″ or so of fresh snow, it was a great opportunity to take some photos and then run through my entire blogging process from start to finish (when it doesn’t involve actually painting a piece of furniture) to make sure everything was running smoothly.

As I said to Mr. Q , it was nice that it was only 4 degrees on Saturday morning because that meant the snow was really light and fluffy (which makes it easy to shovel).

And the sun just coming up lent the perfect light for taking a few photos.

Poor Cossetta, she is thigh-deep in snow these days.

I hope her feet aren’t too cold.

Looks like we won’t be grilling steaks any time soon.

I really wish I had a piece of furniture finished because it would be so fun to do an outside photo shoot in these conditions.

Remember this one?

Of course, that was a ‘before’ instead of an ‘after’.

But alas, my furniture painting has been on hold lately while I work on revamping my living room and piano room.  I’m itching to get something painted though, so I may take a break from the revamp and paint a dresser this coming weekend.  I still haven’t worked up the nerve to tackle my piano.

In the meantime, I’m just going to go get a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy this gorgeous snow.

Check back on Wednesday to hear about the final port of call on our Adriatic Cruise, Venice (ie. one of my favorite cities, but then I say that about most of the cities I’ve been to).

a french farmhouse fan.

Are you a fan of the french farmhouse look?  I know I am.  But today I’m talking about an entirely different kind of french farmhouse fan!  It’s a french farmhouse ceiling fan.

I know, I know.  Ceiling fans are no longer ‘in’.

If you are lucky enough to live in a house with central air conditioning, you really don’t have much need for a ceiling fan.  However, we live in a 1904 farmhouse with hot water heat.  In other words, we have radiators and we do not have duct work.  And we have a boiler rather than a furnace.  Putting in central a/c is a bit more complicated if you don’t have existing ducts to deliver the cool air throughout your house.

So, we don’t have central a/c and ceiling fans can make all the difference on hot summer days at our house.  Especially in the room that I call the piano room.  This room is right in the center of our lower level.  It’s also the room where we install a window a/c unit in the summer, so we need to move that cool air around and a ceiling fan is the best way to do it.

Our old ceiling fan still worked quite well, but it was dated.

I can’t really remember how long ago we put this particular one in here, but I suspect it was at least 15 years ago or more.  I thought it was fabulous at the time.  I thought my tomato red walls were pretty amazing too, but they didn’t last nearly as long as the fan.

Anyway, not only was the fan dated looking but those wicker fan blades were difficult to clean.

I began my search for a new fan online and found some gorgeous options that were priced in the $400 and up range, like this one …

But I didn’t want to spend that much.

When my sister and I were out shopping for furniture a couple of weekends ago, we stopped off at our local Menards store on the way home and I found this fan.

It was on sale for $149.99, so I nabbed it.

I liked the fact that the globes sort of look like canning jars giving it a bit of a farmhouse feel.

It wasn’t until we had the fixture installed and I was washing up the globes before putting them on that it occurred to me that it would be pretty easy to add a little more personality to them with some rub on transfers.  Plus, I just happened to have a couple of remnants from my IOD Le Petit Rosier transfer that would perfectly fit the three globes.

This was definitely a bit of an experiment.  I wasn’t sure if the transfers would look good on the glass.  So I started with just one.  I figured if I hated it, it would be easier to scrape a transfer off just one globe rather than three.

But I loved it.  Of course I did.

The transfers added just a little bit of extra personality to an ‘out of the box’ plain ceiling fan.

Now, I have no idea how well the transfers will hold up over time or whether or not the heat given off by the bulb will cause them to deteriorate in some way.  But worst case scenario we have to swap out the globes down the road.  That’s fairly easy and cheap.

I will also admit that this little detail isn’t earth shattering and I suspect a fair number of the people who visit our home won’t even notice it.

But I get a kick out of it every time I walk through the room.

And it was a super simple and inexpensive way to add a little french-ness to this farmhouse fan.

By the way, if you look really closely at that picture above you can see how high the snow bank is on the side of our driveway.  It’s almost all the way to the top of our privacy fence.  Can you see it (look just above the plants on the ledge)?  Ha!  This stuff is going to take forever to melt if it ever does warm up.

Anyway, if you’re keeping track, that’s the 4th item on my magic wand decorating list checked off.  I still have to paint that piano and the walls in this room.

I’m not gonna lie, I really keep procrastinating when it comes to painting the piano.  That’s going to be a big job, and will probably be last on the list.  But like the little engine that could, ‘I think I can, I think I can’.

In other news, eeeeekkkkkk!!  My computer died.  Since techie stuff like replacing a computer drives me to drink, I’m not sure how quickly we’ll get a new one up and running.  I’m sure I will be spending a good chunk of the weekend on that (the computer, not the drinking … well, maybe both).  So don’t panic if I don’t have a post on Monday.  Or Tuesday.  Or all of next week.  Hopefully I’ll be back up and running soon though.  Wish me luck!

ravenna.

Oh my gosh you guys, we are down to the 2nd to last port of call on our Adriatic cruise from last November.  Today we’re visiting Ravenna, Italy.

We woke to find a beautiful sunrise that we could admire from our balcony.

This is yet another place that I had never heard of before.  The main draw in Ravenna are the churches and their Byzantine mosaics, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

You can buy a combination ticket to visit the top 5 sites, and the route between them is easily covered on foot.

One thing to note if you ever end up in Ravenna via cruise ship, the port is quite far from the city center.  This was also a rare occasion where there were no taxis or other locals waiting just outside the gates at the port to take passengers on tours either.  There was absolutely nothing nearby.  Fortunately our ship offered a shuttle to town for $26 per person.

Once off the shuttle it was an easy walk to the ticket office to purchase the combo admission ticket.

Now, I have a bit of a confession to make.  Our visit to Ravenna was over 3 months ago and when I look at my photos and the map … well … I’m not sure which place is which and they all look rather similar.  So rather than give you any specific details on each place I’m just going to say that if you ever find yourself in Ravenna you should definitely visit all five of the top sites (and more if you have time, because there are more).

Some say the mosaics in Ravenna are the finest examples of Byzantine art outside of Istanbul, and they definitely were stunning.

The colors were so vibrant, and the magnitude of scale was incredible.

The level of detail is mind boggling.  Remember, these are made with tiny, little tiles.

There are also several painted ceilings.

And finally, when your neck has had enough of looking up at ceilings, you can head back outdoors and admire the architecture … but, oh wait, that mostly requires looking up too.

Well, not entirely.

You could just wander the cobblestone streets and admire the buildings too.

Or you can do a little shopping, there was plenty of it to be found.  In fact, this is the spot where we saw so many ‘Black Friday’ sale signs which totally took me by surprise (since Thanksgiving is not an Italian holiday).

I guess the moral to my story is that a visit to Ravenna may also require a visit to your masseuse to cure your stiff neck afterwards.  But it was well worth it.  Next week we’ll be visiting our last port of call, Venice.  Although I already shared our morning tour of the velvet workshop, I still have more to share from Venice.  So if you are enjoying these Wednesday travel posts, be sure to check back next week!

my new exercise room.

Did I mention that Mr. Q and I were adding an exercise room to our house?

Just kidding, because of course we aren’t.  Obviously if I really had that much extra square footage it would be devoted to a furniture painting studio not exercise.  But we had the living room mostly empty in anticipation of our furniture delivery on Saturday, all that remained was the TV.   Seeing so much space in the room, I said to Mr. Q ‘hey, this would make a perfect exercise room now!’  Plenty of room to stretch out while doing my favorite Leslie Sansone Burn to the Beat video.

One of the downsides of an older home, the rooms are all fairly small and there isn’t a lot of space to spread out.

Before we bring in the new sofa, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you what we’re working with.  Our living room is about 11′ x 14′.  Those three windows above face north (and onto the front enclosed porch) and the single window faces east.  The west wall is mostly open to the front hall, and the south wall where I’m standing taking the photo is mostly open to the piano room.  The cable for the TV is in the southwest corner, so the TV is pretty much stuck there.  Not that I can think of a better location for it.

That pretty much leaves me with the space shown above for furniture placement.  During the first decade of living in this house I was determined to re-arrange our furniture on a regular basis (I just love the feeling you get from a freshly arranged room, don’t you?).  There are only two possibilities for a traditional sofa, in front of the radiator or in front of the single window.  As much as I wanted it to work, putting the sofa in front of the radiator just made the room feel long and narrow, like a bowling alley.  That left just the one spot that really worked for the sofa, on that wall to the right.  Adding a chair that faced the sofa meant that the chair had to be rotated for watching the TV.

Factoring all of that in, we decided it was time to consider a sectional.  It seemed like the most functional way to use our limited space and layout.

We can comfortably fit four people on this piece, and now that my sister and niece live in Minnesota we need to have seating for 4 much more often.  And when it’s just the two of us, we can both stretch out comfortably and watch TV.

This sectional came in umpteen bazillion different configurations.  In fact, I think “Popular Configurations:  217” means you can use the available pieces in 217 different ways.

We went with the smallest version, a right angle with a 87″ section on either side of a square corner.  We could have used a ‘wedge’ section to connect them but that added another 13″ in length to each side.  In other words, it would have left only about 2″ to spare on the east wall.  So, while it would have added a spot for a fifth person to sit, I think it would have overwhelmed our space.

For a visual, here is a picture of a configuration using the wedge in the store …

You can really see just how big that wedge is.  I have to admit, it was super comfy and I would have loved it for that reason.  But not only did I think it was too big this way, but I thought that wedge made it look kind of ’90’s sectional’ if you know what I mean.

Here is the store example with the square corner.

It felt a little more tailored looking to me, and it was still plenty roomy for two, and even four people.

We paid an extra $100 to get the white glove delivery service from Macy’s.  But then we got $100 off for opening a new Macy’s charge card (even though we already have one, which seems odd to me but my sister tells me that you can have up to three different Home Depot cards too, so go figure).  Anyway, that made the extra delivery charge a bit of a wash.

The white glove delivery was pretty much amazing.

These guys obviously knew what they were doing and were in and out of my house in less than 30 minutes.  And you should have seen them backing their giant truck down my narrow driveway with 3′ snowbanks on either side.  They took their shoes off, which I totally appreciated.  Then they unwrapped everything, set it all up and took the packaging away with them.  They even offered to wipe up the bit of wet floor by the door, but I sent them on their way.  I could handle that part myself!

For now we are going to try going without a coffee table or ottoman in front of the sectional.  I like how open it makes the room feel.  Plus, although I was joking about the exercise room, I really do exercise in this space so it will be nice to not have to move a piece of furniture every time I want to do that.

One side of the sectional has the entire shelf above the radiator behind it, and I stacked some vintage suitcases on the other end so we have somewhere to set drinks.

I also replaced two of the matching throw pillows that were included with my favorite Restoration Hardware pillows.

The sectional itself is very neutral and has very traditional lines.  I’m adding my own personality to the room with things like throw pillows, the items on the shelves and the stack of suitcases.  This way when I get tired of my Black Locust walls and want to lighten up or just completely change colors I can do that without having to change out the largest and most expensive item in the room.

 I also added a couple of new lamps from Target to the room.  We mounted this one to the bookcase and it will allow me to read while sitting in the corner of the sectional.

I’m a little on the fence about the other lamp.  It looks good, but it’s another lamp that just works for task lighting.  It doesn’t light up the room.  I’m probably going to swap it out for something else.

As a reminder, here was my ‘magic wand decorating‘ plan.

  1.  repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room
  2.  repaint the living room walls
  3.  replace the living room furniture
  4.  paint the baby grand piano
  5.  replace the ceiling fan over the piano
  6.  repaint the piano room walls

I’m officially halfway through!

I still have a little tweaking to do in this room.  I need to find something for the wall behind the TV, I will probably switch out that lamp, and I need to draw something on the chalkboard hanging over the sofa.  But for now we’re going to sit back on our new sectional, binge watch season 3 of The Tunnel, and enjoy the feeling of making progress on the list.

 

 

the mariner’s chair.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my living room redecorating plan in the past week or two.  Going in I knew that the next step in the plan was going to be the most challenging for me.  It’s the step where I had to buy new stuff.  Living room furniture to be precise.  You guys know I love buying used furniture at thrift stores, garage sales, or from Craigslist.  I’m not particularly queasy about most vintage pieces.  But I draw the line at two things; sofas and mattresses (well, and also shoes, but seriously, have you ever seen the selection of size 11 shoes at the thrift store?).

Is it a fear of bedbugs?  Is it the fact that at some point I know I am going to wake up with my face smushed into that mattress or sofa cushion and I just want to be sure that some stranger’s hind end wasn’t resting on that same spot in the past?  Is it simply the fact that these items can’t be refreshed with a simple paint job (although I know some of you will argue that you can paint both fabric and leather upholstery, I’ve tried it on chairs and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to tackle a sofa)?

It’s really a bit of all of the above.

So, shopping for new furniture was in order and thankfully my sister agreed to help me out with that.  Last Saturday we headed out to a few different furniture stores and I found a couple of options that I liked.  I took Mr. Q back later and we pulled the trigger on a new sectional from Macy’s.  Since it was President’s Day weekend they had some sales going on that made it the perfect time for buying furniture (for my foreign readers, for some reason President’s Day is a very popular day for furniture stores to hold big sales).  I was also shocked to find that the sofa I wanted can be delivered tomorrow (because I didn’t customize the fabric)!  I was sure I’d be waiting months for something, but no.

So, all of that by way of saying, my plan is going full steam ahead and next week I’ll share the progress I’ve made.  In the meantime, while we wait for the new sofa to arrive, today I’m sharing another little chair that I painted.

This particular chair has been in the lineup for a while now. I actually painted it once already.  I should back up and point out that this chair was already painted red when I got it.  Last summer I decided to just give it a fresh topcoat of red paint and call it good.  So I sanded it a little to rough up the surface, cleaned it well and then pulled out some Homestead House milk paint in Barn Red and gave it a fresh coat of red.  Then I gave it a coat of hemp oil.

 Although I’d used Barn Red before on a pair of faux skis, this shade of red just wasn’t doing it for me on this chair.  So I put the chair on the back burner for a while.

Today’s q-tip:  Paint won’t adhere well over a freshly hemp oiled surface, however, you can paint over it if you give the hemp oil a good 30 days or so to cure and then sand the surface lightly before re-painting.

The 30 days on the back burner somehow turned into something more like 200 days with this chair though.  I finally pulled the chair out of the carriage house one evening last week because I was really in the mood to paint something.  It was too dark out at the time to take a ‘semi-before’ photo, so you’ll just have to imagine the chair being red.

I sanded the chair lightly, cleaned it with a damp rag and then added two coats of Dixie Belle’s In the Navy.

Next I pulled out a stencil and added it to both the seat and the chair back.

After the stencil paint dried I sanded the chair well to really rough it up and reveal some of that red layer underneath.  I wanted this little chair to truly look aged.

The theme of the stencil, ‘drygoods & sundries for mariners’ seems to tie in well with the paint color, In the Navy.  The red, white and blue combo has a nautical feel too.

I finished the chair with a coat of clear wax.

If it doesn’t sell to someone who sees it here first, this little cutie will be headed to Reclaiming Beautiful.  I’m sure someone will be irresistibly drawn to it, what do you think?

split.

Today’s port of call from our Adriatic cruise is Split, Croatia.

If you aren’t familiar with Split, it is the 2nd largest city in Croatia.  Many people enjoy Split for its beaches, but we were much more interested in the fact that Split was built on the remains of Diocletian’s Palace, a Unesco World Heritage site dating back to A.D. 295.

Diocletian was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305.  He was the first Roman emperor to ever voluntarily give up the position and retire.  In fact, only 20 of the 70 Roman emperors died of natural causes, the rest were assassinated, died on the battlefield, were executed or forced to commit suicide (check out this link to read more about the demise of various Roman emperors).  Anyway, Diocletian built his palace in Split to serve as his retirement home.

It took 10 years to build and Diocletian spared no expense, importing marble from Italy and Greece, and columns and 12 sphinxes from Egypt.

They call it a palace, but in reality it was more of a military fortress with an imperial residence and a fortified town within its walls.  There are 220 buildings within the walls.  One thing that Mr. Q really wanted to find when we were there was a small model of the walled complex that he could buy, and lo and behold, he did find one.

That gives you some idea of what it would have looked like in Diocletian’s day.  Back then the waterline would have been at the front door (it no longer is).

Our ship docked just a short walk away from the Silver Gate, or the eastern entrance into the walled city.

The walk from the port to the Silver Gate takes you past a bus station and a strange gauntlet of luggage storage kiosks.  I’ve never seen so many people who want to store your luggage for the day.  Apparently travelers come to Split by ferry or bus just for the day and need to store their luggage somewhere while they hit the beach or explore the town.

But, more importantly, our walk also took us past an ATM machine.  Croatia has its own currency called the Kuna.  We withdrew a small amount of cash just in case we needed some, and lucky thing because the public bathrooms in Split are not free of charge.

We spent a bit of time just wandering around Split and admiring the unique look of ruins within a thriving city starting with the peristyle.  A peristyle is an open colonnade surrounding a court.

Here is my handsome husband with the peristyle behind him.

As you can see, this particular location was a tourist magnet.  How many tourists with cameras can you spot in this next photo?

We had sort of entered the peristyle through the back door.  The front door would have led into the Imperial Audience Hall with its oculus, which is just beyond that arched opening directly opposite in the above photo.  I’m sure the hall was designed to impress visitors as they arrived at Diocletian’s palace.

The building to the left (which is not at all visible in my photo of the peristyle) is the Cathedral of Saint Domnius.  The structure itself was built in AD 305 as the Mausoleum of Diocletian.  According to Wikipedia, it was later consecrated as the Cathedral of Saint Domnius at the turn of the 7th century AD and is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure, without near-complete renovation at a later date (though the bell tower dates from the 12th century, and was totally reconstructed in 1908 after it collapsed). By the way, Saint Domnius was martyred by Diocletian.  Hmmmm.  Such irony.

That bell tower is stunning, don’t you think?

Finally, off to the right when looking at my photo of the peristyle is the Temple of Jupiter.  However, this dude on display inside the temple is not Jupiter …

Instead this is a modern day bronze statue of St. John the Baptist, and I have no idea what he is trying to convey with that hand gesture.

But you have to look up to see the real treasure inside the temple.  It’s this vaulted ceiling which is original to the 300 A.D. structure.

Each of those 64 panels has a face in the middle representing a particular human emotion.  Let me get you a close up so you can see them …

Slightly freaky, am I right?

After visiting all of these spots we just wandered the town for a bit.  I simply had to snap a quick photo of this impossibly chic woman as she walked by …

I felt like I had literally stepped into the pages of a fashion magazine.  European cities simply have the best people watching opportunities!

After exploring for a bit, we came upon a coffee shop and the smell of rich, dark coffee brewing drew us inside for a coffee break.

Comically enough, shortly after we sat down with our coffee the skies opened up and it poured rain.  Honestly, we hadn’t even seen it coming.  It had been a lovely sunny day up until that moment.  Seriously, check out all of my photos above, the sky is blue!

So, what was only going to be a quick break for one cup ended up turning into a 2nd cup (and the use of a complimentary toilet) while we waited for the rain to subside.  In the meantime a lovely young couple ducked inside with a small baby sleeping in a baby carriage.  They sat at the table next to us and we struck up a conversation.  I have to tell you guys, this is Mr. Q’s favorite part of traveling.  He loves to meet people and just talk to them, he is a true extrovert.  The young man was from California, but his wife was from Split.  They lived in California, but had brought their young baby to meet the family in Split.  They told us that they actually got married in the Cathedral of Saint Domnius.  I bet that was a beautiful wedding.

The rain eventually passed and Mr. Q and I said goodbye to our new friends and headed out to stroll around some streets that were a bit more wet now before eventually making our way back to our ship.

We stopped off at a little kiosk along the way to spend the rest of our Kuna on some pop (FYI, that’s Minnesotan for soda for those of you not from around here) and a bag of chips (or as the British say, crisps).

By the time we got back to the ship the sun had come back out.

So we were able to sit on our balcony with our feet up, relax and enjoy the view before our ship once again set sail.  Next we are headed back to Italy, this time to Ravenna.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday to learn more about Ravenna and its beautiful mosaics.

tiny cupboard update.

As you know, I have a fondness for tiny pieces of ‘furniture’.  I purchased this little cupboard at a garage sale quite a few years ago.  It was actually the first piece I ever painted in Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint.

That color is Eulalie’s Sky.

But then a little over a year ago I decided to unify all of my tiny pieces by painting them all white using Homestead House milk paint in Limestone.

I managed to break the glass in the door when I did that, so I replaced it with window screening.  I have to say that I kinda prefer the screening.

Then recently I swapped out the metal knobs on this one for some small glass knobs from D Lawless.  More for practical reasons than anything else, those metal knobs were sort of cobbled on with glue and they kept falling off.  I keep my chalk in the upper drawer of this little cupboard, so I need the drawer to be functional.

So that brings us to ‘before no. 2’.

Then recently I became slightly obsessed with one of the Iron Orchid Designs (IOD) transfers called Le Petit Rosier.

For those of you who are confused when it comes to IOD transfers, here’s the scoop.  Originally IOD partnered with Prima Marketing to design some transfers such as my absolute favorite, the Seeds transfer …

So there is an entire line of Prima Marketing transfers that were designed by IOD.  But then IOD branched out on their own and now have a line of transfers that are not from Prima Marketing.  Le Petit Rosier is one of them.  When you are searching for a place to buy IOD transfers, make sure you specify if you are looking for the older Prima Marketing line designed by IOD, or the newer IOD line of transfers.

After trying to resist buying any of the new IOD transfers (because I have a backlog of Prima Marketing transfers to work with), I finally caved a couple of weeks ago and ordered a few online.  La Petit Rosier comes in two sizes, so I ordered two of the smaller ones and one of the bigger ones.  Then I did this goofy thing that I tend to do, I ‘saved’ them for ‘just the right project’.  I call it goofy because obviously I could always order more when ‘just the right project’ comes along if I’ve already used these.  It’s not like I can’t ever get any more of them.

So rather than wait for just the right project to show up, I wandered around my house looking for something I could put one of these transfers on.  That led me to my tiny cupboard.

Only about half of the smaller sized transfer fit on the front (which explains why I originally felt it wasn’t quite ‘the perfect project’ for it).

But dang!  It’s adorable!  And I can always use the bottom half of the transfer on something else.

I love how the glass knobs allow the transfer to be the star of the show.

I did have some floral scrapbook paper lining the inside of the cupboard and the drawers before, but I switched that out for some French papers.  My friend Terri gave me this set of French ephemera for my birthday a few years ago.

Once again, I was ‘saving’ it for the perfect project when I could have been using it for any number of things.  What is wrong with me?

When I went through the things included in the packet of ephemera I found this French religious medal, so I hung that from the cupboard door.

After adding some little pieces of ironstone on the shelves, my tiny camera added the perfect final touch.

For now this little cupboard is on the shelf over the radiator at the foot of the stairs where I can admire it every time I go up or down.

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  Not that I didn’t love it before, but sometimes it’s fun to switch things up.

What do you think?