Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't get enough...

I painted a few more this afternoon...blond pumpkins with copper paint.

Trimming Topiaries

Above: The Shaggy Bush

I try to trim my cypress topiaries in the fall at the end of the growing season. These topiaries have been replanted into larger pots, rotated and loved on enough by me. I fear they are on their last legs as they are now only green on the front and have lots of dead matter.

I usually wear leather gloves to garden work, but it's hard to hold scissors with a glove on. I eyeball the plant and look for the linear line and just start hacking away at all the new growth. I try to hold the shears at a 38 degree angle. Then I try to trim out the dead matter to clean it up a bit.
Better than it was...I'm going to leave that big lump on the side to let it fill in a hole and then trim it when I put Christmas lights on them in Dec. Aengus is my faithful companion and suns himself on the stoop.

Halloween of Yesteryear...

Let's get this straight...I LOVE Halloween. I was absolutely nuts about it as a kid and simply adore it as a parent and adult. There's not ONE THING I don't like about it. Hmmm, well, the only thing I didn't like about Halloween as a kid was finding out that one of my brothers or sisters found my hidden candy stash and stole the "good stuff" like the chocolate candies or the wax lips...and, of course, having to go to mass the next morning for All Saint's Day. That was a real killjoy. And there's no doubt about it, I was probably the worst of my siblings in finding their bag of candy and stealing the M&M's and Butterfingers. But I always gave my Dad a few of my Butterfingers...those were his favorites. So, I've been checking out vintage Halloween decor of my youth and found a few things to share. I still have my first Halloween costume in a box in the attic. Judging by the size of it, I must have been 3 and my sister was 2 when we first went trick or treating. It is a yellow cotton felt get up with a blue and white striped cording that was a clown outfit. No idea where the mask went but I do remember it!

My Mom used to decorate the house with cardboard jack-o-lantern cutouts and a witch one, too. I had the classic orange molded pumpkin head candy container that I carried until I was 11 and my neighbor told me that was stupid and you should carrying a pillowcase was cooler 'cause you can get more stuff in one. He also told me about Santa Clause that same night and I was ruined for good! If you were a child of the 60's, them you will remember these simple cupcake decorations...that was about as magical as it got!

Hey! I found a mask kind of like my old one!

And those goofy tin noise makers some people would give you!

Now, we did have one SPECIAL decoration in our attic...I'm sure my Mom and brothers and sisters will remember this one...ohhhhhhhhhhh!

I love to decorate my house for Halloween and don't go overboard...just add a few things to the pumpkins, gourds, acorns and leaves that are already around the house. When I was a kid, I could not wait to design and craft my own costume...rarely did we buy for me because I would rather make mine. My favorite was when I made a police car costume out of cardboard boxes. I had received a red flashing light for my bike one birthday and thought I could stick that on top of my squad card. Must have been during my Adam 12 years...I was a weird kid and still am!

Autumn Yard Art on Slate Tiles

Today is too good to be true...47 this morning and now at noon, the sun is blazing and it's 72. Glorious! So, I've got my deck door open and letting in all that sweet air. It's time to get a project started.
I'll put out the Halloween decorations this weekend and have really wanted something to put in the flowerbed to go along with the season. I have a few scraps of leftover wood from previous projects and was about to spray paint them black when I remembered my slate! Last year, our church had to replace the old slate tiles after a bad hail storm and I asked the roofing company if I could have some of the tiles. It will be perfect!
Here's the slate all scrubbed and clean. Welcome to my workshop...it looks amazingly like my kitchen!

I love using foam brushes and use round and flat ones on this project. There are no rules, no perfect shapes and sizes...we'll start with a plop of copper paint.

I paint on a "frame" of copper paint and then carry it out to the edge of the slate.

Here are the paints I'm using...
With a vibrant shade of orange, I paint on my tall pumpkin with a round foam brush. You are going to put on a few more coats on this and in brighter and darker shades...so while that's drying...
paint on your black "checkerboards" with a 2" brush.
Remember, this does not have to be done perfectly.
For the stem, I used a putty colored paint for the base, then added "metallic taupe" on the left to highlight, and a darker "mushroom brown" on the right to lowlight. I used a regular brush for highlights.
Maybe checking out my pallette will help in figuring out the colors. So high tech!
I use a gold leaf pen and embellish with a few polkadots and squiggles...
Ok-so I can get carried away with a gold paint pen...love to add polka dots.
The final product! This was before I sprayed it with a sealer to bring out the slate color.
You can do this on any type of board...not just slate. Spray paint it black for a base. Add your street number to it or your name with GOLD LEAF PEN!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Playing house" in my sister-in-law's kitchen...

I can't wait to start up a little chaos in my sister-in-law's kitchen! After a recent visit to see Angie, I so boldly offered to return to "freshen up" her very dated kitchen. I told her that I am the queen of decorating on a tiny budget. Amazingly, she said yes...I guess she's not as attached to those old cupboards as I thought! Above is the idea board I made for her to review...it's pretty fuzzy, but you get the picture. Angie is French American and I thought we should give her a clean, classic French look. She has several treasures she has brought home from visiting with relatives in Nancy, France and I think she needs a place to celebrate them!

Here's the plan...we're going to lighten up the walls with a soft gold that will complement the color in her den and her flooring. She will recover the floor at a later time. The bottom cabinets will be painted black, the top will be painted cream. We will replace all of the hardware with updated brushed nickel drawer pulls. We will also replace the lighting and I love the look of using outdoor lighting in ordinary places. It's fun, unexpected and much less expensive than costly chandeliers.
Won't this look sharp hanging over the sink! And this one below on the ceiling.
We will also spray paint the hardware on the ceiling fan in a brushed nickel finish to flow with the rest of the room. Angie is getting a new stove and it will be smaller in size...so we need to come up with something to balance off the space that will be freed up on that wall. We will hang a larger shelf over the stove and clean up a lot of the clutter in the kitchen. Angie has promised she will go through her cabinets and donate to the poor what she has not used in three years. The goal here is to get rid of a lot of her old stuff from her younger years and "grow up" the room. I will also make some window treatments to use along with her beautiful French lace curtains.

There are two elephants in the room...Angie doesn't like the washer and dryer in the middle of the kitchen. She would also like some way to display her china that she keeps in the cupboards. I am going to repurpose my old cream and black toile window treatments and duvet cover and stitch up a cover that we will velcro onto the sides and front of the machines. The second obstacle is the free standing cabinet in the corner by the window...what that builder thinking? We are going to take it off the wall and come up with a small cabinet to display her china, cookbooks, and treasures.

Stay tuned for the after pictures...we'll tackle this the weekend of Oct. 22-24th.

Floral Therapy!

I'm on day five of recovery from my surgery and just itchin' to get outside and see how much my flowers and herbs have grown since I was last in the garden. We have had another five inches of rain since then and everything growing out there is fat and happy!

Looks like I'll be making LOTS of pesto and drying basil.

I couldn't resist grabbing my scissors and started snipping away. A "touch of pink at the sink" always makes washing dishes and emptying the dishwasher easier chores!

Though I'm not a fan of the smell of marigolds, they sure pack a lot of colorful punch!

Ahhh! A little pampering for her highness, the patient. Hope this makes you want to go outside and see what you can bring indoors to make you smile!

A Lifetime Achievement...

September in the Scouting world means means three things in this household...popcorn sales begin, there will be a great campout at the end of the month, and another advancement ceremony showcases hard work from the spring and summer camp efforts. We are so proud of Patrick in achieving the Boy Scout rank of "Life" scout. It has taken him three years to work his way up and make the requirements to this level. The last and final rank of "Eagle" is what he will begin working on and this will take some time.
Boy Scout Troop 380 Leader Chip Marrin presents the "Life" rank patch and pin to John at Patrick's Court of Honor ceremony on Sept. 21.

Chip talks about what Patrick will now commit himself to in achieving his "Eagle" rank.

Momma puts her official "Life" pin on her Scout sash. A scout's parents receive a pin for every rank he earns. The olive/red side is for Patrick's Boy Scout achievements, the gold/blue side is for Michael's Cub Scout rankings. Michael is now a Bear Cub. Now we just need to stitch the patch to his uniform shirt!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doodling while I recooperate...

I have been recovering from surgery these past 4 days and have spent the last two organizing my digital photos on my laptop while lounging in bed. I have looked at thousands of pictures and decided some of them needed to be tossed away, created new files and categories for my art and family so that I can find them more easily. I created this collage above of me with all of my "mothers" (my mom, grandmothers, greats...you get the idea.) I think it is interesting to see the similarities in our eyes, faces, etc.

The women on my right are my mother, Mary Ellen Rich Howley, her mother, Margaret Lucille Flanagan Rich, followed by her mother, Ellen Murphy Flanagan, and finally, her mother, my great, great grandmother, Mary Donovan Murphy. To the left of my picture is my father's mother, Anna Doran Howley, her mother, Ann McCann Doran and lastly, my great grandmother Maggie Fogarty (my father's paternal grandmother.) I swapped out my photo with my sisters faces and sent them a copy of them. For my mother, I put her three daughters along with her mother and grandmother. Sure wish I had some photos of my Italian great grandmothers for this project.

Then I unearthed this cute pie...my husband in his prime...age 11? Look at that hair and smile! Hubba, hubba! Here I am in my scratchy wool uniform from St. Judes Catholic School in Atlanta. It was taken in 1969...I was in the second grade and seven years old. I can still feel the slick coating of Aqua Net to keep my cowlic from kicking up!

I love this photo...my mom looks so young and refreshed! I'm sure that was a fun day getting three children under four years of age ready for a photo shoot and making sure you all look spic and span! My guess is this was taken in the late summer of 1965. My sister Ann was 3, David was 6 mos. and I would have just turned 4.

I run a desktop slideshow on all of our computers in the house with all of our photos running on them. It is like getting to flip through old photo albumns all day long!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When it rains, it's time to get creative!

The Queen's gilded pumpkins...and regal pup!
Hmmm...the top is zebra, middle polka dots and bottom oak leaves

This pretty acorn was my inspiration to gild more around here

Love my urn collection with mini pumpkins

Wall table...maybe my next gilding project??

Our entry table with a punch of color from zinnias and handcrafted vases

It has been raining for six days in a row now and feels more like fall is really here. I decided to haul out the "Autumn" decorations from the attic and got to work. Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. I love the muskiness in the air, the cooler weather and cracking open the windows at night, baking treats with lots of cinnamon in them and watching my husband cook up a big pot of Gumbo before LSU games. It's a "cozy" time and feels like something exciting is just around the corner!

As I set out all my pumpkins, gourds and candles, I thought about how these things will be out for a few months...better give everything a good dusting while I'm at it.

Last year I was inspired by gilded pumpkins I saw on the Country Living http://www.countryliving.com/homes/gilded-pumpkins-1008 web page and thought I would give it a try. I have a trio of large gilded acorns that I bought years ago and treasure them. I am attracted to the subtle coloring of the leafing on the smooth surface of the fake pumpkins and then aging it. So for the last two days, I have been painting base coats and sticky sizing onto my old pumpkins and then pressing on the gold leaf. I gave it a good coat of acrylic sealer and it brightens my doorstep.