Last week, I hosted the annual holiday book club party. Here is 2014 and here is 2015. In the past, I've just done snacks and treats, but this year, I thought it would be nice to have a sit down dinner.
Since we have the new space, I was thrilled to have a chance to use it. Plus, the book club ladies are a nice group, it is good to have a night where we can kick back and chat about things other than books.
The new space is ideal for entertaining. I picked up a small, drop leaf table that I keep in the hearth room by the door, and we carried it to the dining area, slanted the main table and added the drop leaf one onto the end of it.
Originally, I thought I'd get a gigantic, rustic, farmhouse table to fill the space, and to seat my large family.
But then, I saw the price tags.
So, I bought a $60 drop leaf table to create more seating instead.
The drop leaf fits nicely, and solves the problem when needed. It is wonderful to have plenty of room to seat everyone without bringing in a folding table. In the past, I'd have to move the island (I built it on wheels), set up a folding table from the studio, and cram in a few extra chairs.
Now, all of the guests fit comfortably without having to move the island.
As much as I like the look of a farm house table, I think I prefer having a more flexible set up. My dining table has 3 leaves and expands to 110", the little drop leaf adds space for 5 more people. We had 11 for the party, and I think I can probably make three more fit if I got creative with where the chairs go.
Nothing on my table matches, and all of it is from garage or estate sales. Sometimes, I think, maybe I should go buy some matching silverware, or glasses.... but honestly, I don't think anyone minds. The lights are dim, the candles are lit, there is plenty of wine.
For this party, I used white dinner plates, table cloths and napkins, clear and gold salad plates, floral bread plates, and clear glasses. I added a string of battery power lights to a bowl of painted pine cones topped with Shiny Brite fruit, and put some sparkling branches with lights, a pink glass garland, and gold Shiny Brite balls.
My local grocery store has $1.99 flowers on Mondays, and just happened to have some perfect ones for the party marked down and waiting for me. Pink and green, with a touch of red for the holiday.
I was going for a white on white look with a splash of color.
I made vegetarian lasagna, and stuffed shells with chicken and butternut squash a week ahead of time, then pulled it out of the freezer to bake up that night. I always believe in as many short cuts as possible when planning a party. Everyone brought wine to share, I baked some bread, bought packaged salad, and kept the dinner part simple.
Add a nice bunch of ladies, and it was a very nice party!
Our cottage is feeling festive, even though the decorations are slightly streamlined from previous years. I spent a good part of a whole day setting up trees and little holiday vignettes like these reindeer figurines on moss. The day included a lot of breaks, plus a trip to buy a few strands of lights, so it was a lite work day, but I'm happy with how much I got set up.
It was exciting to have a new room to deck! I bought a flocked, white tree (half price at Hobby Lobby) that is the perfect height for the nook by the fireplace. Sugarwings did the math to see how tall it would be while sitting on a table (to keep it above the danger zone from Honey's exuberant, but destructive, wagging tail.)
It is not only the ideal size, it is a happy compromise on color scheme for the kids and I.
They want colorful lights, I like white.
It has been a dilemma for years.
This tree has a button to push that changes the lights from rainbow to plain white! So the grandfairies can enjoy all of the colors during cocoa parties in front of the tree, and I can have my serene whites when I want them.
I have to admit, the multi toned twinklies are a nice option to have. I love the white lights, but this look is fun.
Of course, I always wonder just how long those built in lights will last. On my old tree, I had to add extra strings as the permanent lights proved to be not so permanent after all.
I hadn't planned on keeping my old white tree this year, since I had a spanking new one to set up. But I realized that I had plenty of space (we LOVE the new addition!!!!) and I decided to toss the bottom section of the old tree, and keep the top part to create a table top tree for the living room.
The small table between the rooms is our cocoa party area. It is perfectly located with a view of both white trees, as well as the TV, so we can watch Frosty or the Grinch as we sip our cocoa and stir it with a candy cane.
We made our own cocoa mix with baking cocoa, organic sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla beans in the blender. It's so creamy and rich when we stir it into warmed milk poured from a floral teapot, that we hardly need marshmallows. But we throw a couple in anyway because it's all part of the ceremony.
Around here, tea parties and cocoa parties aren't just about the treats. We love the traditions of getting out the good teacups, setting the table pretty, using the silver spoons from my mom and Great Aunt Caroline, then passing the dishes of toppings around the table while practicing our best manners.
Well, Dewdrop still is in it just for the treats, but she is only in kindergarten, she'll learn soon enough that it is the holiday traditions that make the season special. Sugarwings and I are teaching her.
I'll leave you with a few more pictures around the house.
When the new room was finished, I decided I wanted some of my favorite family pictures hung in it. This one is from our big getaway to Siesta Key a couple of years ago. I printed it at 8x10, but wanted it to be more prominent to show off the darling, but so fleeting, proof of sisterly love.
So, I framed it in an oval, vintage frame and attached that to the center of an ornate clock frame that I had. I'd taken out the clock and painted over the brass frame, then painted the oval frame to match.
Recently, I read one of those posts that pop up here and there, you know, those lists of the Top Ten this or thats, often about decor or fashion? This one was about decorating trends that make your home look dated. And one of the things listed was having displays of family photos. Their point was that a bunch of pictures was grandmotherly.
Well, as often as I get sucked into reading all of those lists, they aren't something I believe in our care much about. They are slightly addictive to me, just like the TV show, Naked and Afraid. I'd NEVER be a survivalist, but I am glued to that series and can't turn away when the bugs start crawling on the starving people who can't build a fire. I follow those lists just like I follow that show. They are hardly ever ideas that I use, but I sure am hooked on reading them.
I do like it when I see a photo from my own home pop up in one of the lists, though! (hopefully on a positive list)
So, not caring if my gallery wall made my home look dated according to a very important top ten list on the internet, I went ahead with collaging and framing some of my loved ones.
This one is not flattering at all to a single member of the group, but I still think it is a great pic. A photo doesn't have to be perfect. This one is full of emotions and that beats perfect any day.
Ryan seems to think I have an over abundance of grand fairy shots. He could be right.
Here is how they all look, puzzle pieced together on the wall. The glass block window is the backsplash behind my kitchen stove on the other side of the wall. This used to be the cottage's exterior, and I liked that window, so we kept it with the remodel.
The fabric is the silk from the circus apparatus that hangs from the ceiling, and we need a pulley, so it can be fitted into the corner without it swagging as it is now.
All of those photos might be a little busy with so much going on right now, the top of the buffet is full of Halloween decor. Normally, it is more demur. At Christmas, it will be fantastically, over the top, so for that, I'll probably take the family pictures down and replace them with a stained glass window or some mirrors.
Until I get a pulley for the rope on the silks, this is how we hang them up after use. Who needs a ladder when you have circus kids? I wonder if she can reach the ceiling fan blades to give them a dusting while she is up there too?
While I was setting the table for a dinner party my husband was throwing for co-worker friends, I thought I should get some pictures of our new space while the area was cleaned up. (You know how fleeting that window of time can be with a houseful of kiddos!).
This is from the new room, looking into the kitchen.
From the new front door in the hearth room looking through the space into the living room.
And from the kitchen into the living room.
From the kitchen into the new room, with a view of the mantel.
I can't wait to have a Christmas tree set up in there! I'll be counting down till the holidays just like the grand fairies do.
This one is taken from the stairs.
And here are the stairs. They are covered in rose pattern wallpaper, that I glazed over to blend in better. The bold, rose pattern stood out too much before. Now, it is subtle and muted.
The ceiling is 15', and my son put in the pine floors, with my husband's help. In front of the fireplace and both new doors, is a pebble mosaic that I did. Ryan hung all of the shelves and curtain rods.
It is nice that we all had hands on in creating something for the space, even though the big job of it was done by a contractor and his crew. It feels good to have a part in doing some hands on work ourselves.
I had planned on putting curtains on the doors, but Honey voted against that. She prefers being outdoors for most of the day, but likes to keep an eye on what we are up to. Recently, she learned how to open the door knob, so she comes in whenever she feels like it.
Now, if she'd just learn to SHUT the door behind her. You'd think she'd been raised in a barn.
This is from the living room looking into the kitchen. I still can't believe how wonderfully open it is, and also, how well the new floor matches the original 90 plus year old floors once all were sanded down and re-stained. I beat up the new floors with crow bars and hammers to help the aging process a bit.
This party was also in celebration of finishing the room. That very day, the last of the construction items were crossed off the list. What a good feeling.
You know what will be an even better feeling? The first day we light a fire in that new hearth and cozy up by the flames to read a good book. I'm a Spring/Summer person myself, but this redo could be the impetus to switch me into becoming an Autumn gal.
I'd been hoping to add some old trim to the new room, to age it up a bit. There were quite a few options I'd seen, but I kinda knew what I had in mind and didn't want to rush a purchase just to have something on the wall, I was willing to wait for ideal, not just okay.
Beth was setting up a booth at Sandy's annual show in Lee's Summit, and I went to help her. I was standing in her spot and said, that I'd bet this show was a good place to look around for trim. As I said it, I saw these pieces directly across the aisle in a booth by some Good JuJu ladies. I ran right over and snagged them before the show even opened. (if you are ever invited to help a friend set up a space in an antique show, jump on the opportunity for some pre-show shopping! Better yet, volunteer your services so you know you won't miss out)
Normally, I'm not driving my husband's truck. The show was over an hour away, it wouldn't have been easy to run home to get the truck, but luckily I'd taken it that day to pick up some chicken feed. The trim is very light weight and was too long for me to shut the tail gate. It was lucky that I had that chicken feed back there to use as an anchor to keep the trim from blowing away on my way home.
This is probably the only time I'd ever gone to the feed store on my own, my husband always picks up the bags, so yes, this was a very lucky happenstance to have both the truck and the heavy bags of grain in the back of it so I could take these perfect strips of tin home with me.
See what I mean??!! Perfect for the spot. Rustic and old, but with a pretty design. Ryan and I used tin snips to cut them to fit and then hung them on screws. We didn't have a drill bit for metal, so we simply put screws in the wood wall and hung these onto them. Someday, I'll get the right drill bit and put them up better.
For now, I'm happy with them as they are, and I doubt if they will fall down.
One of the things we splurged on for the new addition was having a concrete patio in place of a wooden one. It wasn't that much more, but a few hundred dollars here and there add up if you aren't watching your invoices while remodeling. There are some areas that we went cheap on, and others that we didn't. Over all, I think we made some good choices. (although, the ceiling fan is a different story, more about that later)
While the 8'x4' porch with two steps was still wet, I picked up a nail and added some flowers, along with "Welcome."
Earlier, I'd sketched out an idea that I wanted to use, kind of in a chalkboard style, with the words, "Welcome to our Home" on the porch part. Then, I realized that my ams weren't long to accomplish that, and I could only draw along the steps and corners, the porch itself was out of my reach.
Wet cement has a very short window of opportunity to draw in. No time for planning, I just started drawing. It is far from perfect, but it is cute. There were only a few minutes to get it done before the material started to set up and I had to stop.
I'm happy with the choice of concrete and gravel for the front of the building. The cottage is not fancy and this seems to fit it just fine.
Beth gave a brass door knocker to me for my birthday last May, and I had not used it yet. When I was finishing up little things for the new room, and painting outlet covers and switch plates to match the walls, I decided to paint this too. It is now on the bathroom door, and gives the little grand fairies a lot of pleasure in BANGING it when the room is occupied by one of the sisters.
On it, and on the vintage brass outlet covers, I used a spray bonding primer in white, let it dry, and then washed the pieces with the "sandcliff beige" color I'd used on accent walls. Afterwards, all got a spritz of clear polyurethane.
Nowhere I looked had a vintage 3 toggle switch plate. So, I glued a little bit of old, metal trim onto a wooden plate, and painted it in the same way. Not many of my electrical covers match, I have a few different styles, so it seems to fit in just fine. I think it looks much better than the white plastic one that came from the electrician. That was way, way too shiny and new in our old house. I did what I could to make the new addition look like it belonged with original the house.
Like using vintage curtain fabric on the windows.
And re-using this old, iron shelf that had previously been in the kitchen. I debated hanging it up again (it is made from a chippy, iron porch rail and two rusty brackets, the rail is probably from the 40s and the brackets are new, but look old- plus they are birdies!!). It had been over the dining room window for ten years or so, and I thought maybe I was over it. But I realized that I'd enjoyed it for that long and still did, I was glad to add it back into the new room.
When I was a full time, antique dealer, my home felt like it had a revolving door on it. Things were constantly changing and I was always finding something better than what I had before. Stuff had stopped moving around as much as it used to, mostly it gets shuffled, not replaced anymore.
I figured I might be getting boring. And I shouldn't just reuse the same stuff over and over.
Then, it dawned on me that I'd found pieces that I really liked keeping and there was nothing wrong with having some forever pieces. Why get rid of them for the sake of change? I think I'd settled on these items because I loved them. And they all mix and match with other things I love in my cottage.
Also, as I unpack belongings, I am being picky about setting things out. Just because I own it, doesn't mean it needs to be out, right? I can have goodies stored away to play switcheroo with when I feel like a change. There still is a revolving door with stuff moving in and out, but now it is into a storage cabinet, not gone forever.
One thing I really wanted when we planned the new room was a coat closet for odds and ends, jackets, and a vacuum cleaner. But, we decided on generously sized windows that left no wall space for a closet. As a substitute, I added a wardrobe to use as a closet in the kitchen since we had removed an old wood stove durning the remodel and with some shuffling, had extra wall space there.
This one was $119 at the Old West Bottoms last month, and the wood was a little beat up, but it was a solid piece.
And was made in London.
The wood was too dark for me, so I painted it. I almost went with white, then thought I had too many white pieces and decided I'd try tan with white over it.
I painted it the base color after priming with a bonding primer (no sanding, no stripping) Then mixed some white paint with clear glaze and brushed it on in small amounts at a time.
I wiped off the white glaze with a washing motion using a damp rag.
I really liked the way the white glaze accented the ornamentation.
I lightly distressed it with sandpaper too. No top coat was needed, I'd painted it with semi gloss latex paint, that is pretty durable.
The interior was in good shape, except where a huge hole had been cut to make space for the previous owners to use it as a TV cabinet. Plus, it was dark inside. I didn't want to paint the whole thing, so I covered the back in vintage wallpaper to match the paint and then covered the hole with a mirror.
The wallpaper is lazily tacked up, not glued down, and I didn't even bother to match the pattern. I just wanted to lighten it up. Don't you hate looking for something in a dark closet? This brightened it up nicely. And the piece is perfect for hiding boxes of Shopkins, Playdough, and princess dolls.
I hope I can squeeze in a few jackets and a vacuum cleaner like I'd planned on. Seems like toys take over pretty fast.
In this photo, the room is close to being done. I still need a large, ornate, white frame for the smaller painting. Once it is on, I'll be leaning it against the mirror as it is now. Unframed, the scale is a bit off, it needs to be larger.
I have a mosaic planned for the floor, pics as it gets planned and completed.
The old mantel that a dear family friend gave to me 20 years ago and had been saved thinking...someday. Sadly, it didn't fit the space after all. But we saved it! The builder cut it in half, added a center block to widen it, then built up two blocks to heighten it.
But, in doing that, we lost the old trim on the piece. And the shelf board thing on the top had to be removed.
But I found a rough, piece of oak still with the bark on it that was long enough to use, and I stained it dark like the floor.
As the contractor was putting the boxes that would support the mantel together, I thought it would be sweet to turn one into a time capsule. I wrote on the interior with a Sharpie and grabbed a crystal heart button that fell off of Sugarwings' cape. The cape was one of the four Aunt Terry made for the girls for Christmas, and it represented a meaningful family moment for me. (I can pick up another button to sew back on the cape later.)
All of the wood was painted pure white, semi gloss after the pieces were assembled and I'd replaced the ornamentation on the mantel with some reproduction pieces.
After that, I painted a dark walnut glaze over the paint and wiped it off with a soft cloth to take some of the "new" away.
Next up, that mosaic floor and searching for a large frame for that leaning painting.