Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The love of lace.....

I love lace. I love lace curtains and looking at the world through them turns things into a kind of artwork. I also enjoy making bobbin lace which was something I wanted to learn when I came to live in Holland.

I just put a jar of old lace bobbins on my bookshelves alongside my aunt's wooden knitting needles. I was given these bobbins as a gift by a friend Carolien. I was so touched that she wanted to give them to me along with some other items that had belonged to her mother. To a lacemaker any vintage or antique items are very precious. I just love seeing these on my bookshelves!

In case any of you have never seen bobbin lace on a pillow before, this is a photo taken while I was making a lace collar in 2005 for my niece. This kind of lace is called Torchon.

My mother gave me this book as a gift many years ago. It is a really wonderful little book that is a perfect thing to sit on a table with a few pieces of lace for decoration. "The Love Of Lace" is a book written by Cynthia Hart and Catherine Calvert.

Carolien had asked me, in the blog entry about my new dishes, if I had made this piece of lace with the butterflies myself. No I did not. This was a piece of handmade lace I purchased in a shop in Brugge, Belgium.

A sweet quote from the book:

"Lace is that aspect of the poetry of dress which corresponds to the poetry of life."

~~ Marion Powys

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hey's tulip time!

The things I have to put up with being owned by this cat! Dagi decided that since I wanted to take a couple of photos in the living room, it was time to pose...

Great profile, don't you think? He just jumped right up in front of the camera as I was taking a shot. I think the caption should read "They don't want to see boring old photos of furniture and flowers...take me!"

We are back from Cranberry Cottage and I stopped at a tulip farm near where we get our groceries on Saturday morning to buy a few bouquets of tulips. Yes, it is tulip time here in Holland. Not the tulips in the fields as you see in the photos as that will start in April and May. It is time for (greenhouse) tulip bouquets at florists all over the country. I love the tulips as they are one of the few flowers I can have in the house without Jos reacting to the pollen.

I purchased a mix of double petal red tulips and a two colored (red and yellow tipped) single tulips.

Remember my chair makeover? Well, we love the results so much that we are now keeping the chairs in the living room. I had to borrow a table from beside my big leather chair to set up a little corner with these chairs. Now I have to shop for a new end table.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January is blue and white month...

There is a saying that the Scottish are thrifty. Well, I am here to say that it is really the Dutch! My husband is one to be sure he gets a bargain and has no fear. We went to IKEA which is only 5 minutes from my home this past Monday evening. He asked me if I wanted to go look at the things in the 'koopjeshoek' or markdown room. Well, of course.

We found a stack of four breakfast plates which we had bought about a year ago. We had broken one of ours and another is chipped. I mentioned I should buy at least one to replace the broken one. They were only 1.50 euro per plate. He asked did I want them all. After some disbelief he asked me that, I said sure but just the dinner and breakfast plates were fine. He, being Jos, picked up the stack and marched back to the warehouse to ask them to give him them all with more discount. They did! We got all four breakfast plates for 2 euro and the five dinner plates for 3 euro.

When he came back and showed me what they priced them at, I said I should have done the pasta dishes after all for these prices. Jos' response? Do you want them and back again he went. Now the dinner plates and pasta dishes are marked down to 2 euro each. One of the guys in the back room said the other did them too cheaply and he would have to charge more. So he came back and said we could have all six pasta dishes for 5 euro. All I could do was laugh. Not that I needed new dishes but it is fun to have new things and a great bargain as well. It is a privilege to be to married to a Dutchman. *giggle*

A Christmas present arrived in the mail from Jos' company. We got five bottles of Italian wines. Time to plan a nice dinner. When can you all arrive?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A chair makeover...

I am having a busy week as I change around some furniture, do a bit of organizing in my quilt studio and work on a set of chairs we have had for many years.

When we were first married, we moved to Stockholm, Sweden for my husband's work. We bought these chairs after returning to Holland as they were a perfect reminder of the beautiful Swedish castles and museums we loved to go to. These Gustavian chairs are seen everywhere. Only one problem. They just don't go with our style of decorating.

I seem to become more daring as the years go by and I decided this week to see what would happen if I waxed the chairs. I used a dark furniture wax over the white paint and the result has just been perfect. We love how they have now warmed up in color and really match our home's interior while having the Swedish nostalgic charm.

Okay, I admit it! I am a wood and brown kind of girl. Sorry to all you cottage gals out there. I love seeing the white cottage style by others but just cannot make it work for me no matter what I try. I bought this fabric at a market last April in Maastricht. I loved it the moment I saw it. I planned on using it on a different chair. It just seemed the right fabric though for these chairs with their new color. It is a real "touchy~feely" fabric too.

One of the things I am really thrilled about it how the wax has brought out this beautiful wood carved detailing even more. Compare it to the photos of the chair before and after and you see the motifs much more pronounced.

So I will be working on the second chair now today. What are you doing around you homes? It seems this time of year inspires to start projects to make the house more appealing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Playing Arrietty once again and a some awards

I am once again playing the roll of Arrietty from The Borrowers. Do you remember that enchanting childhood book? I am moving a few pieces of furniture to various other places in the house and having fun making new vignettes. I am also working on a set chairs I have that just don't go well with my house. I will reveal all about that later...

Before Christmas, I bought this bust of a girl. I originally wanted to get it to put outside during the gardening season but I sat it up on my chest of drawers in my bedroom and love it there. I think it will stay indoors instead. I draped the pearls my parents gave me in high school around her neck which had been in my memory jar.

I have received two awards. First the Amazing blogger award was given to me by Marie. I would like to pass this award on to Nancy. I only just recently found her blog. She is so talented and her blog is wonderful.

I received the You Make My Day award from three people ~ Marie, Regina and Carolien. These are three ladies that always make my day with the wonderful comments they leave as well as the great blogs they themselves have. I would like to pass this award to Mia as I not only thoroughly enjoy my 'visits' to her in Norway but her comments on my blog always make my day.

Thank you for the awards. I feel very honored.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Childhood memories.....

Do you have early childhood memories? How far back is your first recollection of something that happened to you as a child?

I shared one of my first recollections in a previous post. At four years old, I remember very vividly ringing the doorbell over and over to play the "Little Red Riding Hood game" I invented. I remember also going to a nursery school where there was a huge pecan tree in the yard that I did not like the nuts to eat but loved picking them up. We took our rest time naps on rag rugs.

I have this box of memories which contains some of my clothes from my childhood. There are a number of my baby dresses, my first patent leather shoes, little canvas tennis shoes and two dresses from my time in England.

I was asked by my dear friend Mary about living in England. I had not told her I had lived there and she is originally from there but living in America. I lived there with my family while my father was stationed at an Air Force base. We did not live on the base. I still recall the house we lived in and was able to point out which it was when we returned once.

I attended the English Yateley Infant school. I was 5 years old and they decided to place me in first grade instead of kindergarten. I remember walking with my mother from our house to this school. I remember going out the double doors in the classroom to play outside. I remember we got a school patch to wear on our uniform the next year. I never got to wear it as we had to return to America.

This is a little knit dress that my mother bought for me then. It has always been saved in that special box.

My mother also bought me this little kilt which I see from the tag is Marks & Spencers. It should have a kilt pin in it. I remember what happened to that pin...

Years later, when I was 16 years old, my mother took my brother and I back to England to visit my English mum and dad. That became a trip we will all three never forget! The memories we made there are still extremely vivid for us. My mother and I laugh about many of the things we did on the trip regularly. One of the places we visited was Edinburgh. We went to a tartan shop and I was allowed to pick out an authentic Scottish kilt. I remember the kilt well as I picked the brown plaid. We looked up the Smith clan tartan but I did not want the bright blue pattern after having fallen in love with this brown one. The kilt did not have a kilt pin and I knew I had one in this little kilt from my childhood. I took it off and used it on my new kilt but it has disappeared sadly with that kilt.

My mother passed along her love of England to me Mary. Living in Holland, I took advantage of being close and made many visits there. I have also added to those memories returning with my mother a number of times since. We love it there and always seem to have very special times when there.

I have seen so many beautiful things and have had the advantage of being able to experience Yorkshire in a special way because of our special friends (well we consider them more family). I keep saying I want to be taken and buried in Haworth when I leave this world. Just one of my favorite places in Beautiful England!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blue and white ~ The Laundry room

In my quest to celebrate each season for what it brings, I have discovered I am having to decide what I feel I can use in my home to decorate for times when I did used to rush into a next season or holiday. Normally, I would have my pink and red quilts out. I would be decorating for Valentine's Day. I am waiting until the end of the month to do this and enjoying pure winter instead.

I discovered that I don't have quilts that simply say winter to me. I will have to work on creating one as my wall in my laundry room is currently bare while I decide which quilt will work there. This is because I decided to put out my blue and white items. Blue and white seemed to say winter to me.

This is the wall basket I had my red tulips and berries in over the holidays. It is now filled with eucalyptus, ferns and white berries.

On my folding table, I laid our a crocheted tablerunner made by my grandmother and on one side have my blue willow plate, a blue and white paperweight and a tulip vase with white tulips. This is a Delft blue vase that Jos bought for me when we visited the potteries in Delft a number of years ago.

I found a medium height cloche over the holidays and have used all three here. Under the small cloche is a Staffordshire transferware cup and saucer, the medium has a German small wine jug and the largest a French petit~four plate on a foot with a blueberry wreath. I so enjoyed having the old Singer sewing machine out during Christmas that I left it out and placed some ferns and my ivory opera glasses along with it to give it a white accent.

Have you ever heard the poem "The Willow Pattern"?

Whilst we sit around the table,
Please allow me to relate,
The entrancing ancient fable
Of "The Willow Pattern Plate."

Every picture tells a story,
Like the Willow Pattern Plate,
Where two lovers dwelt in glory,
And defied paternal hate.

By elopement from the castle
You observe upon the ridge,
Where the violent old rascal
Chases them across the bridge.

Tries to catch the rogue and whip him,
'Ere he steals the daughter fair;
But the loving pair outstrip him,
Let him languish in despair.

Thrown upon their own resources,
In a junk they emigrate,
To a splendid little oasis,
Near the margin of the plate.

Dwell in peace, whilst unmolested,
In most perfect harmony;
Till at length they are arrested,
by his Nibs' gendarmerie.

Then the tyrant lord appeals to
Law and lucre, with their pow'r;
Caught, confined, they have their meals too,
In that horrid little tow'r.

When the pair are executed,
To appease their lord irate,
To a pair of doves transmuted,
Still they fly upon the plate.

Every picture tells a story,
Like the Willow Pattern blue,
And true love will reign in glory,
To infinity! Adieu

~~ B. L. Bowers ~~

How are you celebrating winter?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Reflections on a Monday morning.....

Do you remember my half bath being renovated here ? I had mentioned that I was searching for the perfect mirror to hang in there. I have had little success and finally found this one over the holidays in a drug store up by our cottage. I loved the ornament on the top which is similar to those on the shelf unit we bought. It is made of old wood and I just felt the color of the wood would be wrong for the room.

We decided we liked it anyway and would change it by dry brushing it. We took out the mirror and I used chalk paints in antique white.

With it being old wood, it dried so quickly. I wanted to be sure that it looked old and dry brushing on old wood is also easy as the wood is very dry and rough and the paint spreads out well.

Now we have a mirror in the room. I am playing with the idea of adding a bit of terracotta dry brushing to it yet. What do you think?
Jos was feeling much better as am I, He left for his company conference even though he is a few days late. I have a week alone which I don't really like but plan to be very productive with my needlework as well as do some things around the house and spend time with a few friends. I am sure my blogging friends will keep my company too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More winter fun and a tag.....

Are you celebrating winter? I hope so even if you are not in the midst of winter weather. I sometimes wonder where winter is but I am sure it is out there lurking and will sneak up on us in the middle of February or March as it often does in Holland.

I remember winters as a girl in Ohio starting around Halloween or Thanksgiving and lasting until the end of February or into March which are the 'mud months' due to the dirty roads as the snow melts. Regardless, I feel winter even though I don't see it out my window!

As you come in my front door for a cup of tea, you are greeted by this winter scene. These are very old wooden Dutch ice skates that are strapped to regular shoes. The sign 'Let It Snow' is a find from this year. I knew it would be perfect sitting on top of my mirror. If only it would snow.....sigh.....

I have been tagged by both Kristy and Carolien for four things about myself. Here goes:

4 Jobs I have had
~ Activities therapist assistant
~ Travel agent
~ homemaker

4 Movies I watch over and over
~ Jane Eyre
~ The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
~ Little Women
~ Sense and Sensibility

4 Places I lived
~ England
~ Ohio
~ Sweden
~ Belgium
4 TV shows I watch
~ To Buy or Not to Buy (BBC)
~ Escape to the Country (BBC)
(I don't watch TV so much any longer. Between my needlework and blogging, my time is full.)

4 Places I've been
~ Haworth (a Bronte paradise)
~ The Alsace (a favorite place in France)
~ The Cotswolds (holding special memories from a mother/daughter trip)
~ The Yorkshire Dales (heaven on earth)

4 People who email me regularly
~ Diane
~ Angela
~ My mother
~ Sonja

4 Favourite things to eat
~ Dark chocolate
~ Fresh pasta
~ Dutch speculaas (cookies) dipped in hot tea
~ whatever I plan for dinner tonight! :)

4 Places I would rather be
~ In my quilt studio
~ At Cranberry Cottage
~ Oh to be in England.....anytime of the year!
~ Amish country

4 Things I look forward to this year
~ Some online stitching friends coming for a get~together in Holland
~ Meeting my new online friend Carolien for the first time
~ Spending time with Jos seeing what the year brings
~ Fingers crossed that we will get our first puppy

4 People I will tag
~ Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses
~ Margaret at A Sampler of Stitches
~ Gail at The Tattered Nest
~ Tanya at At the Honeysuckle Tree

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A winter tree

After the decorations are put away, our homes seem to slip into the January bare home blues. I decided this year in December that I would do something special this year for January. Now I always put out my antique Dutch wooden ice skates and a couple of snowmen. I will show you those tomorrow. I saw a tutorial on a blog and fell in love with the idea. This idea grew farther for me as I worked on the mittens and thought about it.

Here is the results of those ideas! A winter tree.

I used the same brown lighted branches from my Halloween tree. Do you remember that back in October? They are now dressed with winter theme ornaments.

I created ice skates with a Victorian look based loosely on the idea from a Tilda Christmas book.

I then came up with this idea of scarves. This ornament is a tutorial on needlework blog now. You can go to my other blog, NeedleNecessities, if you would like to try the tutorial. They are incredibly simple to make. Even if you feel you are not a crafty person, give it a try.

This is the ornament that started the idea for me. It is a tutorial from Dawn at The Feathered Nest and they are just so adorable! Thank you so much Dawn for this wonderful ornament tutorial.

I have made a vignette of some winter looking items including a plate I bought years ago in the Alsace, France with a sledding scene. I placed my newly started collections of cream jugs on a piece of Battenburg lace from Brugge, Belgium.

It is fun to celebrate winter in a special way!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Feeling a bit under the weather

"I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.

His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!

'One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.'"

excerpt from "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter

I am sorry to say that I have come a very bad head cold and these things don't combine well with a chronic illness so I am not very active today. I am going to go make another cup of tea and sit on the couch to watch a DVD I think. I only wish my mother was here to make me that cup of tea like Peter Rabbit. Perhaps my Miss Potter DVD will be just the medicine? In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I have a fun new decorating idea to share with you when I feel well enough to set it up and take the photos. Right now it is looking pitiful as it is only half done. I have every faith that I will feel better tomorrow...