Sunday, January 30, 2011

new york snow storm!

This past week I was in New York City when they got hit with one of the many snowstorms that have pummeled them this winter. 
It was beautiful!  It is so amazing to see this "city that never sleeps" literally shut down.  
No taxis, no cars.... silence... if for only a few short hours.
They got 15 inches of snow over night and it was almost impossible to get around. 
....Especially if you were planning on riding this!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

seed time!!

It's that time of year!  Time to start thinking of SPRING!!  I cant wait!  They say we are going to have one of the snowiest February's ever - Worst than last year!  How can that be!
So its time to pull out the many many seed catalogues that have been filling our mailbox and start making the list of what all we are buying.
(I would rather pick out seeds than work on my taxes anyways!!)
The list always includes the following:
3-4 types of lettuce
3-4 types of zinnias
(we already have the asparagus patch, strawberry patch and the raspberries)
We usually get several types of sweet corn (my favorite!)
Indian corn
and the biggest portion of our order is PUMPKINS!  We love our pumpkins.  In the past we have bought 40 + varieties of pumpkins and gourds.  I hope there are some new varieties for us to try this year.  The majority of what we plant are Heirloom.
I have always been the gardener in the family.  A master gardener in the past.  It wasn't until we started pumpkins that my husband got into gardening.  They are like his babies.  He walks me through the patch in the evenings showing me his favorites. He points out how they grow. Like a proud papa!
Oh, I cant wait for those summer evenings!

Monday, January 24, 2011

two in one!

This is a great idea for a gift for a friend or for yourself.  In fact it is two gifts in one!
It is a charm bracelet and with an added extra chain that makes it into a charm necklace!

I collect charms, new and old; charm bracelets, new and old; and put them all together.

Add a piece of pretty chain to make your bracelet the length necklace you would like it.  Add a clasp onto one end.

Here are a couple examples of these great gifts.  I will be listing these on my Etsy this week.
I always finish them off with a special hand made with love charm!
You could do this with any bracelet that you love.  Just find some complimentary chain, add a clasp and you can wear it two ways!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

jewelry organizer

Here is another fun idea to do with old frames.  Create a beautiful framed jewelry organizer that looks like framed art!
Pick a frame that measures tall enough to hold your jewelry.  Depending on what you have, you can do one level or two.  You could hang necklaces from the top, bracelets from the bottom row, etc.
Once you have your frame.  Measure the back inside.  We cut a thin board just slightly smaller than these measurements to allow for covering with velvet.  About a 1/4 in smaller all around.
We then cover the board with velvet.  I like to keep the colors neutral, but you could choose something that goes with your home decor.  I use cotton velvets.
Pull the velvet tight and staple the back side.  Similar to when you recover a chair bottom.
Decide the placement of where your knobs are going to go.  For knobs I use vintage knobs.  You can also get a good selection of pretty knobs from Hobby Lobby.
With a small drill bit carefully drill through the front of the velvet through the board.
Stagger your knobs placement from the top to the bottom so longer necklaces can hang down between your bottom knobs.
Put knobs on and secure with a nut - you may want to cut off excess - or sometimes we cut a little extra block of wood to put on the back where the knob comes through for extra strength.
Insert your velvet covered knobbed board into the back of the frame and secure.

Hang on your wall, add your jewelry...instant art!
You now have a beautiful jewelry display, as well as a beautiful framed art piece. 
I have made these for gifts too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

resolution # 2 completed! website is done!

I have been working with the wonderful Sara from Sadie Olive Design. 
She has been doing my website and has done a wonderful job!
Please stop by and check it out!
Here is one of the collages from the new websites photo album.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Addictive Turtle Treats!

Here is a treat -that my sister makes- that my family loves!!!!

Please be warned - if you start eating these- you can not stop.  
They are addictive.  
(As are most of the things she makes...more Becky recipes to come...)
For those of you who have today off (lucky ducks!) , they are quick and easy to make!

Turtle Treats


  • 20 small mini pretzels
  • 20 chocolate covered caramel candies - becky uses dove caramel candies
  • 20 pecan halves


1.     Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

  2.     Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet (if you don't have parchment you can  use wax paper). Place one chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.
  3.     Bake for 3 1/2 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

     When done, you can drizzle with melted chocolate if you want!

     Enjoy - but remember I warned you - you can not eat just one!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

mission accomplished! ETSY!

Well I finally did it!  I listed my first items on ETSY.  I no sooner placed my first item, and I went back to my home page to see what it looked like and it showed that I didn't have anything listed?
I was so confused until I figured out I had sold it almost as soon as I posted it.  Literally, less than two minutes after I posted it!!  I guess I must have priced that one too cheap?! lol!
here is the one that sold right away...
A vintage French embroidery sampler.
Here are a couple of other items I have posted...
a couple vintage French legal documents from the 1800's.
and some really cute vintage sock monkeys!

It takes a little while to figure it out, but once you do, it is pretty easy.

So for those of you that want a fix between Barn Sales visit us on Etsy!  We will continue to add to our Etsy store.
First New Years resolution completed!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

new years resolution... french charm bracelets

One of my New years Resolutions this year...(among many) is to get things listed on Etsy.
I am going to start with some of my past finds from the wonderful French Flea markets that I have visited over the years.

I am going to be making charm bracelets from these...old french key chains.....
 I will be transforming into these....
Fabulously French, one of a kind, fun charm bracelets made from the cute bottoms of the french key chains!
There was a booth in Clignancourt that had walls of these old key chains.  I looked at them and thought "what could I make out of those?"  I had walked by and came back trying to think of what I could make.
There were some really cute ones, some weird ones, but they were all French.  
Surely I could figure something out.  So I bought bags of these.  Bags and bags.  Wasn't the smartest thing to do, as I then had to carry these heavy bags around the market.  I thought my arm was going to break off!
I think they are really fun, and fabulously French!
I will be sharing some of the other goodies I will be putting on Etsy later this weekend.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

fun fireplace

A fun thing to do with a fireplace that is no longer being used, is to fill it with wood!  Literally!
We live in an old house that had quite a lot of fireplace mantles, but they originally had oil stoves in front of them, so no fire, just the mantles.  I have covered them up, put painted panels in them, among other things.  But this is the idea I like the best.

This is also a great idea to do if you don't have a fireplace but want the look of one.... Find an old mantle at a flea market.  Put a piece of 3/8 plywood onto the back of the fireplace as a base for your wood fill.

It is then really quite simple.  Find an old tree that needs to be cut down - or get unsplit firewood from someone.  In this instance, we used a birch tree that had died on our property. 
I had my husband cut the logs into slices between 1" and 2" thick.  Make sure to cut even the smaller branches, as you use those to fill in.
With a nail gun, start in one corner and just start filling in the open space. One nail per log piece should do.  
Here are a couple shots of some freestanding mantles that I did. 

They make great decor pieces.  This larger one could also be used as a headboard.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Potato Sausage Corn Chowder

The perfect fix for a snowy cold day is my friend Andrea's recipe for Potato Sausage Corn Chowder.  It's not just a soup it is a meal!  My kids LOVE when I make this - I usually have to make a double batch!

1 lb sausage
1 onion - chopped
6 cups cubed potatoes
3 cups water
1 can cream corn
1 can regular corn
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
 1 tsp marjoram  (I put in ALOT more than the recipe calls for of this!)

Saute the onion and sausage in a skillet until cooked.  Drain grease.  
Put sausage and onion into a soup pan.  Add water.
Cut up potatoes add to soup.  Allow to boil until potatoes are done.  Turn down heat.
Add both cans of corn and the can of evapoarated milk.  Stir. Add marjoram.
Let warm. (make sure not to heat too hot as milk will stick to bottom of pan).
Serve up with crackers or your favorite bread!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photo Collages

Another fun project to do with your photos is create a photo collage using vintage photo mattes.
While I was looking for vintage photos, I started noticing how beautiful the mattes were that photos were put into many years ago.  Sometimes I wasn't crazy about the photo but I was in love with the mattes.  So again, a pile starting mounding until I came up with something to do with them.  I picked out some of the prettiest ones and set them aside.  If I could pull out the photos I would, if not I just glued right over them.  
I chose some photos of my own family and on the computer I changed them from color to black and white - or sepia tone if you choose.  I sized them to fit into the opening of these mattes then cut them into the right shapes.

Again, I used one of my many chippy frames and a piece of matte board.  I played around with layout and mounted the new/old photos onto the matte board to create a gallery of family photos that fit better in my homes decor.
You can cover with glass if you choose.

Monday, January 10, 2011

creating artwork collages - part two- assembling your artwork

Once you have your collection of things you want to put in your collage, there are a few things you need.
You need a frame.  I of course, love vintage, chippy frames and keep a collection of them on hand at all times!  
Measure the inside back of your frame to get the dimensions of your working space.
If your frame doesn't have glass you will need these dimensions to get glass cut.  
No big deal, your local hardware store will cut you glass for cheap.  You also need matte board in your desired color.  I usually chose a black or a neutral color - chose yours depending on what you are displaying and where you are displaying.  It could be fun to use a pop color too!
Cut your matte board to size - you can do this with an exact-o blade and straight edge, a matte cutter , or have your art store cut it (easiest way:)  You will also need glazier points to keep the matte board and glass in place, picture hanging wire - get these when you are at the hardware too.

 This one is a combination of pictures, stamps an old funny story and some rippings from books.

 This one is some old advertising, a state fair ribbon and some things that had inspired me when we named the farm.  I like the pop of red from the old school milk ticket and I like to add a four leaf clover to most of my artwork.
 This is just a collection of four leaf clovers my kids found - they have "the eye" to find them.  They can walk outside and come in with handfuls.  They learned it from a friend of mine.  
I paired it with a ripping of an old ledger dated March 13, 1837.

 One of my favorites.  This was a vintage photo of a pet cow.  I bought it on etsy.  I paired it with a children's game piece from piggeldy wiggeldy about a cow!
This was one I made for my husband from things from his grandfather.  This was his grandmothers high school dance card.  I think this might have been the beginning of their courtship.  He is listed just as his first name Joe - 4 times.  The others have first and last names.  
How sweet is that !???

So, lay your matte board down and start playing with layout.  If you don't have enough stuff, look around you, rip a page from a book, add a piece from a newspaper.  Anything goes.  Scraps become part of the presentation.  The mundane becomes art when it is paired with things that mean something.   Allow spacing around all four edges to "matte frame" your artwork.  I usually use rubber cement or an archival glue to set these in.  That way if you want to retrieve them out you can.  If you get your glass and matte board tight enough you may not even need.  Some of these that I don't want to glue I just place in.
With glass, artwork and matte board in place push glazier points all around the matte board into the frame to hold securely.  Add picture hanging wire to the back and you are ready to display your artwork.
They look really pretty grouped together like an art gallery.  I also like mixing vintage and modern frames together for an eclectic look. 
Have fun!!!

We might offer a class on creating artwork collages this spring.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

creating artwork collages - part 1- collecting

Another thing I collect is vintage ephemera.  Again, like the chandeliers, I collected and collected but had no means of displaying the wonderful things I had found in my treasure hunting.  So I started creating artwork collages as a way to display all the things I love.

I started with an obsession of old handwriting.  This is a beautiful art form that has been lost in this day and age of technology.  People used to practice over and over their handwriting skills.  I would find old spencerian handwriting tablets and study the handwriting.  I then got into old french handwriting.  I have boxes and boxes of that (soon to be selling on my etsy store!)

I also love old letters.   I once found a box of old love letters.  The woman had kept them all in order by date from her love that was serving in the armed forces.  I bundled them up into 5 or 6 per pack tied with a pretty ribbon and put them out at one of my sales thinking no one would buy them.  I had ladies coming back all weekend looking for more and certain dates wanting to know what happened next in this woman's love story! 
They were so beautiful and such a wonderful piece of history.  I saved a few bundles for myself, so no one will ever know how the story ended!

Another piece that I absolutely love is this piece.  I know you can't tell what this is, so I will tell you.  What this says, in the tiniest of pencil writing is :
 "I, Dora Jean Platel, am the most discourteous girl in the whole Aurora School district"  Written over and over again, hundreds of times.   This was a teachers punishment of a little school girl.  But Dora Jean was quite the ornery one - she wrote it all on one piece of paper- as tiny as possible and even up the side of the paper and gave it back to the teacher!  I wonder what that teacher thought when she got this back! 
I researched to try to find Dora Jean or a family member because I thought they would love to have this back, but I came up with nothing.
I laugh and think this is something my young daughter would do! lol! 

Other things I collect is children's artwork, beautiful stamps, flash cards, vintage packaging and advertising.  I love handwritten music, old photographs, state fair ribbons, old movie tickets, pressed flowers, button cards, bits of lace...the list goes on and on.  These are things I find in the bottom of a box lot at an auction, that others would throw away.  I keep.  
(husbands translation :pack rat!)

What is the most fun is pulling a collection of things that mean something to you.  I know everyone is always organizing their homes in January so as you find these bits a pieces, set them aside in a box.
Pictures, a letter, a child's drawing, a grandfathers state fair ribbon, a grandmothers dance card.  
This collage can be your family's collage - or it can just be some cool things you collected.  I have a few of each. It can be vintage or new, or a combination of both.

On my next post I will show you how to put together your collections!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Anyone who has been to one of our barn sales knows about my obsession with chandeliers.  I started collecting them years and years ago.  I had no where to put them.  So they kind of just piled up in boxes in the garage.  I would get them out and look at them and figure out how many parts and pieces I needed to find for each one. (mind you these were all broken up discarded chandeliers that no one wanted!)  I drove my husband a little crazy and he told me to stop buying them because we had no where to put them. Then my husband started putting bars across our garage ceiling so I could at least hang them and admire their beauty as I worked on them.  Every time I pulled my car into the garage I would smile when I saw them. But again, this is in an ugly garage.  
When we bought the surrounding property around us and we decided to build the red barn so we could start our christmas tree farm, pumpkin farm, produce farm... we were challenged with doing most of the work ourselves after the structure was built.  My dear husband did all the electrical work.  Lighting a space this large was a bit daunting.  Then I thought about how beautiful the chandeliers in the store ABC Carpet in NY look.  If you haven't been there, it should be on your list of places to see when you go to NYC!

I told my husband we would be lighting the barn with the chandeliers.  He thought I was a bit crazy.  We had to hire an electrician to come in and hang the ones in the loft.  Of course they thought we were a bit crazy too.  I directed the electrician to give each chandelier its "own space"  some slightly higher, some slightly lower.  Here are some examples of our collection.

My husband does all the rewiring.  I do all the repair and cleaning.  The barn has proven to be a lovely place to showcase my collection and  work on my incoming treasures.  Our collection continues to grow.  We sell them at our barn sales (the ones that aren't hard wired to the barn!)
The lighting in the barn is now nicer than the lighting in my home!!

(some of the above photos courtesy grogan studios)