Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Neat Old" stuff...

Old restaurant sign off a bldg in St. Louis
I am absolutely intrigued by "neat old" stuff!  Antiquing is something that I enjoy...it's like  treasure hunting.  You just never know what you'll find or what you may want to bring home!  As February rolls in, it's one month closer to the Warrenton Antique Fair, also known as Round Top. Picture farm fields transformed into a tent city of antique dealers.
I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it.
czech rocking horse...i have a thing for horses
My rummaging buddy and I am always looking for deals, so we head to Warrenton a week early for preview week.  Now when I say "antiques", don't picture your Grandmother's high end family heirlooms.  I'm talking pieces that have a story, but aren't necessarily costly.  I like pieces that have character...things that I like or can see using in a unique way.
salvaged pediment   
I've gathered items throughout the years and took some pics to show you some of my favorites that I have around the house. The last week of the Antique Fair, you can visit Marburger Farms. It's a show that has grown over the years into numerous tents filled with dealers who showcase their style and particular finds. I always leave with ideas on displaying or decorating, and often a unique piece!
vintage luggage and trunk
2 piece

This piece is a favorite. I needed something very narrow for this wall in the breakfast area. The interior color is a duck egg blue, and the outside patina is crackled, peeling and chipped....perfect!
The last pics show the before and after of my most challenging item to load and bring home.  But, I think it was worth it in the end...:)    I placed the car front (actually my husband and our neighbor had to lift it, after cutting out alot of the extra metal and weight) above the window in our bonus room...which is now retro and groovy with a pool table and other fun stuff. Here's a peek below...
Oh, and for fun, we figured out a way to get the lights to work...we strung Christmas lights through the headlights and behind the front grill, then wired a switch for it to the right of the window.  Soooo fun!!

I love interiors that mix the old with the new!  Wouldn't you love to hear the stories these "neat old" pieces could tell....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Remembering Rouen, France

This past September, my husband and I went to England and France for 12 days, and yes, we ditched the kids...they had school, so that worked!  We do hope to take them in the near future.  Since it was my very first visit across the pond, I wanted to hit the big cities of London and Paris, then venture out for a few days in each country to get a feel for the culture, food, etc.
Call it brave, or stupid...but we rented a car in Paris and drove to see the #1 sight in France, which is the monastery Mont Saint-Michel.  This piece of history (since 6th century) is perched high on the edge of the Normandy coast.  That's a post all it's own.  As we plotted our trek, we chose the city of Rouen as our historical spot for lunch.

We were picturing this quaint little village, because that's what we saw online...but it turned out to be quite the industrial city and much larger than expected.  This beautiful church was in the center of town and so thrilled to have found it.  We joked that we were on the road to "ruin".  Even though the French pronounce it "Rahww"...basically leave off the ending.  The maps, and highway systems were not the best or easiest to follow.  The google map on my phone we were counting on, was not accurate.  That made my husband Blake very nervous, and he's never nervous (it's usually me!).
Thankfully, not too far off the highway, we found a cafe.  It was cute, quaint, tables out front...typical French cafe.  Did I mention that Blake and I don't speak French?  We had a book of phrases, that proved NOT to be helpful at all.  We thought we ordered water, and got red wine instead.  Not complaining, just letting you know how bad our French really was.

The menu had lots of choices and we each figured out something to order.  I chose the Salades Poulet Caesar....ahhhhh, chicken caesar salad!  I do think it was the BEST  Chicken Caesar salad I have ever eaten!  As you see in the first pic, it was topped with 2 poached eggs, huge chunks of parmesan cheese, roasted chicken pieces, halved red potatoes (which I'd never seen on a salad like that before).  The lettuce was tossed lightly with a Balsamic viniagrette, and the traditional Caesar dressing was on the side.  DELISH!

Blake ordered some type of ham that came with French Fries!!  It was served on a slate platter, which was too cool!  Just one of the many surprises we stumbled upon.

So....for dinner, I recreated the Chicken Caesar Salad...all but the potatoes, because I didn't have any, and it wasn't worth another trip to the store...:)

Rouen's Chicken Caesar Salad
deli roasted chicken, deboned
cucumber, skinned and seeded
parmesan cheese
Romaine lettuce
poached eggs
boiled red potatoes
Balsamic viniagrette
Caesar dressing
homemade croutons

I'm including my quick and easy way to make your own croutons.  I bought a loaf of French bread in the bakery section of our grocery store.  Cut it up into cubes and tossed with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Pour on some more olive oil for good measure. (you want each cube to have some oil)  Spread out in a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with 1" edges) and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Stir, to prevent any burning and bake for another 10 minutes or until pieces are toasted.  I store them in a ziploc bag and they keep for weeks!

Au revoir,

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Emboss Furniture DIY

I completed this project a few months ago, and have loved it, so I thought it was blog worthy!  It also qualifies, since it is simple and quite easy to do.

Embossing can be done on any piece of furniture, or in this case, an existing built in buffet. 

This is what the cabinet looked like before I embossed it.  When building the house, I knew I wanted this piece to look like a piece of furniture, hence the Queen Anne legs and the hardware I chose for it.  

To get started, you need:  Painters tape, a stencil, putty knife (or knife I use for icing), and wall spackling paste.  

I found this stencil online at Royal Design Studio.  This Micah design fit my cabinet size, and I did modify on the drawers.  I taped off the center medallion so it would fit on either side of my drawer pull.  This one measures 4.7" X 21"  and is priced $25.

Wipe down your furniture piece with a wet rag.  When dry, center and secure your stencil to the cabinet or drawer.  Load your knife with spackling, and evenly glide it across the stencil.  If needed, you can go back and add more to areas that are uneven.  

I did a small section to show you...Now, I would go back over it with the knife, scraping excess spackling into stencil design, but off the surface of the stencil itself.  This helps keep the spackling even when you peel off stencil. 

Once you've filled in the stencil with spackling, carefully lift it off.  Clean off any excess spackling, and secure it to next section.  Let the spackling cure and dry for 24 hours.  I lightly sanded the edges that were sharp, or slightly uneven.  Next, I painted the stenciled sections the same color as the piece and let that dry for 24 hours.

Last step is to antique it.  This is my all time favorite go-to Antiquing gel.  It's a deep brown gel that I water down.  (Any acrylic dark brown paint will work as well, just water it down quite a bit)  My rag of choice, is the cloth diaper!  Still have some of those hanging around the house.  (14 years ago they were burp rags! Ha!!)  Anywho...dip the rag in the watery paint and wipe on piece.  Make sure to get it into the crevices, then wipe off excess until you like the look.  You can wipe on and wipe off as much or as little as you like.  

And, it doesn't have to be perfect.  If you notice, in my final pics, the antique finish is varied.  Once the antiquing process is done, just let it dry.  I have not put on a protective coat of poly.  It seems to be holding up fine without it, but certainly could if your piece needed extra protection.  

Would love to hear about the pieces you emboss!  Have fun!!

Find me at this link party French Country Cottage