Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birds, glorious birds!

One of the things I love best about my home lies outside the walls. It's the abundance of birds that visit my yard. I wish I could say they were here to see me, but they're just visiting the feeders. Today, they came in droves. Well, I guess "flocks" is a more accurate term.

Whether it was the cooler weather, or light rain, I can't be sure - but the birds were plentiful.

At one point I looked outside, and saw common sparrows, mourning doves, a pair of Eastern bluebirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles, a pair of cardinals and several goldfinches - all sharing among the four tree-hanging feeders at the same time. It was heaven. And I observed them closely with binoculars.

Just moments later, I passed by my front living room and saw wings fly past the window. When I approached I heard the insistent peeping that can only be baby birds. There they were - two small, but well-developed mockingbirds. Their notoriously aggressive parents were flipping about, and when they noticed me at the window, the mama or daddy (I can't tell them apart) abandoned the babies and took flight. So, I snapped a photo and left the room. I'm happy to report that when I went back an hour later, all were gone.

Here's those little babies on my front sidewalk:

And here's the a photo of the most American Goldfinches I have ever seen in my yard at one time. I counted fourteen in this picture!

And just as I am sitting here writing this, more wings fluttering past the window caught my eye. (I might be part feline the way birds have a way of getting my attention) When I got up, I was surprised to find a red fox in my yard! I ran to grab the camera, which was connected to my computer. When I got back this was the best photo I could snap as it was running off. Do you see it? I've circled his bushy tail. The wings I had seen belonged to the mockingbird parents. They were dive-bombing that fox! I've seen them do that to crows before - but this was pretty ballsy!

In other bird-related excitement, another pair of Eastern Bluebirds are making a nest in our outdoor abode. A pair made a nest in the newspaper section of my mail box both last year and this past Spring. The babies did not hatch in either instance. Last year I could understand - it was extremely hot - with days in the 90's and above. We assumed the eggs just fried in there. This year I don't know what happened. One day the pair just stopped coming. I haven't seen them for weeks. So, today when I saw a male and female popping in and out of my son's hand-painted birdhouse, I was delighted!

Other birds that make regular appearances in the winter include woodpeckers, the adorable tufted titmouse, nut-hatch (those gravity-defying birds that literally walk down tree trunks) and black-capped chickadees. Other spring and summer birds include the red-headed little house finch (which I saw on my front porch today - I swear, I'm not lying, this was a good bird-watching day!), and when we're really lucky - the indigo bunting, the brightest, all-over blue bird I have ever seen.

If you live in Northern Virginia like I do, you can see all of the birds I mentioned in your own backyards, or on this great website, where I go regularly to identify new visitors to my yard:

I love sharing my space with these little feathered creatures, and get so much enjoyment from watching them chase one another, eat, and splash around in the bird-bath. Even Saxon is starting to know their names. Now if I could get the image-capture feature on my binoculars to work, we'd really get some awesome photos!

Happy birding friends!

Friday, April 27, 2012

DIY Lamp Makeover

I bet you all have an old lamp somewhere in the attic or basement that isn't being used because you think it's outdated, ugly or doesn't match your decor anymore. I had one of those. In fact, it sat by itself for so long, I almost forgot it was even there. Today that lamp got a face-lift, with a technique I've been dying to try - stenciling!

Here's how I did it:

Oh, can't forget the "Before" photo. Plain Jane cream-colored shade, and gold. Gold. I don't even know why I ever bought this.

I chose to use ASCP in French Linen. I used a small brush and quickly painted a base coat over the entire black base and gold center. Nothing tricky here - just slapped it on. No primer, no prep beforehand. Just paint.

While that was drying, I moved on to the lamp shade - the part I was most excited about, yet still a little nervous to attempt. I hadn't stenciled before and worried that if I screwed it up, that was all she wrote. There were no other lamp shades to take its place. But, my worries quickly faded as I discovered how easy it was.

First, I taped the stencil in place on the lamp.

Next I dipped the flat end of my stencil paint brush into the paint. The directions on the stencil said I should wipe the excess paint off the end of the brush onto a cloth. That is an important warning - too much paint and you'll see it spread underneath the stencil. So take heed - less is more here!

After you've dipped and wiped, then start dabbing at an open section of the stencil, applying the paint in a circular motion. I had to dip and wipe several times just to complete each swirly shape.

An important note to bear in mind as you are working - gently keep your stencil in place with just the tips of your fingers. If you apply too much pressure, you'll inadvertently move the stencil. I found it slid around easily.

Once I painted the sections of the stencil I wanted (in this case, the whole thing), I removed it and marveled at how good it looked, and thought, "dang, that was easy!"

My next step was to turn the shade slightly and start working my way around. I chose to slightly turn my stencil, so the swirls would not all be facing in the same direction. And in some sections of the shade, I had the swirls running off the edges.

You can see a few of the places where the paint was too heavy (I got lazy and stopped wiping the excess on the cloth) and it spread under the stencil border. But, I was so anxious! I had to tell myself to slow down. Once I got one side of the shade completed, I set it aside to dry. Then I went back to the lamp again.

I applied a second coat of French Linen. Once it dried, I started to distress lightly. Since I was working with metal, I chose to not use sand paper, but instead used a wet rag. I lightly rubbed the rag over the paint, until the metal beneath showed through. Like the edges on the base here.

See the gold peeking through in spot...

After that was complete, I went back to the shade and finished stenciling the other side.

And here it is all done! Doesn't it look pretty nifty on top of the dresser, which just so happens to be in the same shade - French Linen!

Talk about an easy way to give an old Home Depot lamp new life! Doesn't she look all custom, boutique-chic now!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Items for Sale

Scroll down for a running list of items currently for sale. If you are interested, please email me: or call 717-424-8788. Currently I do not ship. It's pick-up only, please.

Thanks for giving my beloved work a new home!

French Country Coffee Table - $125

Bombay table newly painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old Ochre and Graphite, with clear and dark wax. Lovely legs! 45.25" wide x 23.5" deep x 17" high (from floor to top)

French Country End Table - $100
Bombay table newly painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old Ochre and Graphite, with clear and dark wax. Lovely legs! 23.5" high x 25.25" wide x 16.75" deep

The Hayden - Vintage Desk/Vanity Table - $175.00
Vintage desk or vanity table painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White with a base coat of French Linen. Drawer fronts also painted in French Linen. Distressed and aged with dark wax, and sealed with a top coat of clear wax. 40" wide x 29" high x 17.5" deep

The Surprise - Storage Cabinet/Chest - $150.00 -SOLD
Heavy duty storage piece with 2 doors, an interior shelf and drawer. Painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paloma and Old White. Aged with dark wax and sealed with clear wax. The doors open up to reveal aged, decoupaged decorative paper. 25" wide x 30" high x 15" deep

The Ida - Tall Vintage Accent Table - $75.00
Beautiful table gets a paint job with ASCP in Versailles with light distressing and clear wax. The round top is 13.75 " in diameter, and it stands 31" tall.

Pinky - Accent Table - $60.00
Little accent table painted with ASCP in Scandinavian Pink, distressed and aged with dark wax. Sealed with clear wax. 23" high x 13" wide x 13" deep.

Vintage Shutters turned Memo Board - $20.00 - SOLD
Painted with Old White and dry-brushed with French Linen.

Pedestal Table with 4 Chairs and 2 Leaves - $450.00 - SOLD!
Painted with ASCP in Duck Egg Blue. Distressed and sealed with clear wax. The top has been stripped, sanded and stained a light walnut color allowing the grain to show through. Sealed with polyurethane.

Shaker Style Peg Rack - $15.00
Painted with ASCP in Versailles. Distressed and sealed with clear wax.

Shadow Boxes - $25 for the pair
Small and large shadow boxes, ready to hang, are painted with ASCP in Old White, distressed and aged with dark wax. Sealed with clear wax.

Bird Prints in Distressed Frames - $30 for the pair - SOLD
Lovely bird prints framed in newly painted wood frames. Old White, distressed and aged with dark wax, and sealed with clear wax.

Decorative Glass Dome with Newly Painted Base - $25.00 -SOLD!
Previously an old cheese serving tray, this gorgeous glass dome gets new life as a decorative table ornament with a painted wood base in ASCP Old White. Distressed and aged with dark wax. Sealed with clear wax. (Not to be used for serving food)

Vintage mirror, ready to hang, painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Arles with Old White dry-brushing, distressing and clear wax. Dimensions when hung in Landscape: 33"wide x 21" high

"The Chloe" - 6-Drawer Dresser in French Linen - $300.00 - SOLD!
This beautiful 6-drawer dresser was transformed with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen, with 2 coats of clear wax and light distressing. The drawers are dovetailed, and the dresser was constructed completely from wood. The drawers are made with wood-cut tracks - no metal. I am not an antiques expert, but my guess is that it's pretty old. The brass drawer pulls are exceptional, and are original to the piece. Dimensions: 45" high x 36.5" wide x 19" deep

"Little Ben" - Child-Sized Bench - $60.00
This small Amish-style bench, perfectly suited in size for kids, was painted in  Old White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, with clear and dark wax. It's got an aged patina, and heavy distressing. Dimensions: 33.5" wide x 25" high x 13" deep

"Sad Sally" - Accent Table - $25.00 SOLD!!
This poor little table has a crooked leg, and a slightly bowed top, but with a beautiful new coat of paint in Annie Sloan's Duck Egg Blue, those imperfections only add character to an old piece. Shabby chic for sure! Dimensions: 15" wide x 29" high x 15" deep

"The Buster" - Display Box - $20.00
Buster is a small 2-door display box, perfect for highlighting your collection of miniatures. The outside is painted with a base coat of Annie Sloan's Old White, and topped with French Linen. It's been distressed and coated with clear and dark wax, for an aged appearance. The inside is painted in Duck Egg Blue.

"The Diana" - Stenciled Lamp - $100.00 SOLD!
This fun, working lamp is painted in ASCP French Linen. The lamp shade was stenciled in the same color paint. A lovely companion to The Chloe dresser! 

"The Annie" - Frenchy coffee table -$125.00 SOLD!!
This beautiful, curvy coffee table was painted with a base coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paloma (warm grey/taupe color with a hint of lavender). Old White was dry brushed over the legs and base, and then aged with dark wax. The top was accented with french damask and vines, distressed and clear waxed. Lovely carved shell and finial designs.

"Miss Lovely" - Bench and Pillow - $450.00
This bench project included a paint and upholstery transformation. I gave it a new tufted seat, and painted the frame in Old White, with clear and dark wax, for an aged patina. I also made a coordinating little pillow.

If you have a piece of furniture you would like to discuss, please contact me. I am happy to come out and take a look and provide a quote.

The Dresser - Before and After Photos

For all my neighbors who have seen me working in the garage day in and day out on the dresser - it's done! Finally! But, I must say, I love how it has turned out. I think its just a thing of beauty. In fact, I am tempted to keep it. But, I really don't NEED another dresser. And goodness knows, that I hope to keep finding diamonds in the rough like this.

So, here's the new and improved dresser in French Linen (Pardon my make-shift staging in the garage. It's just too heavy for me to get into the house by myself.):

Remember what it used to look like? Heavily stained, majorly dinged up, with pulls covered in years of grime, and probably the same stain on the wood.

Now the beautiful curves and carved sides are accented with light distressing, and sealed with clear wax.

I chose not to distress very heavily on the fronts of the drawers and did not distress on the top at all - except along the edges. Where you do see distressing, it was done to intentionally accent areas that were already imperfect - like scratches or dents.

And the drawer pulls got a good cleaning with  Brasso. They had been heavily stained with the same wood stain that was on the old dresser, and covered with years of dirt and grime. Look how lovely they are now - they shine and you can really see the intricate metalwork.

I had so much fun watching this transformation happen before my eyes. As soon as I started painting the drawers with the first coat, I was amazed at the difference. Amazed!

This dresser is for sale, along with a few other pieces I have completed lately. Click here to see my inventory: Items for Sale

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gold pictures frames get a makeover

Yesterday I worked on my powder room. It wasn't a big renovation (although I would love to take out the mirror, replace the lights, and add glass tile down the vanity wall - but that's for the future). All I did was paint a few pictures, a small little table and hang a fabulous shelf I found at a consignment shop.

First things first - I had to remove pictures I had hung in there when we moved into this house. They're about 10 years old, and each were framed in gold frames. I like the botanical prints inside - just have outgrown those gold frames. In removing them, I had a few little holes to patch in the walls. A quick slab of joint compound, some light sanding and a coat of our original wall color (another thing to change sometime soon), and we were back in business.

The picture frames got a coat of in Old White. Just one coat and no wax (Why no wax? There's very little potential for the frames to see any touch of water, so a seal isn't needed). To distress, all I had to do was dampen a cloth and rub over the raised edges. The paint came right off. We actually worked on this technique at the Annie Sloan workshop I attended in Leesburg. They provided us with a gold, gilded piece of trim work. My frames were very similar with their detailing, so I pulled out my notes and proceeded with the same steps.

Next I quickly painted a small little table I keep in the bathroom to hold toilet paper and tissues. This got a coat of Duck Egg Blue, clear wax and distressing. I went with the blue, as I want that to be my accent color in the tiny little room. I hope to pick up some pretty little hand towels the next time I am out in that same color. Shouldn't be too difficult - since summer is upon us it seems every retailer is pushing nautical and beach decor themes and gorgeous shades of blue are in abundance.

After everything was painted and my bathroom wall was dry - which took all of 5 minutes because the space, which is about the size of a catholic confessional, heats up like a sauna when the door is closed - I hung the shelf. This was no small feat. Each iron bracket is heavy and had 6 screws to anchor them to the wall. I had to measure the wall, measure the distance between the two brackets and figure out how to space it smack dab in the middle. That required math. MATH.

After 20 minutes of thinking and making pencil marks on my wall I was ready to drill anchor holes. Slapped in those plastic wall anchors, and used hubby's big boy electric screwdriver. I felt so Holmes on Homes!

Here you can see what the largest frame used to look like.

And here's the "before" for one of the smaller frames...

Here they are all finished up! The white gives them a softer, more feminine feeling.

And here's the shelf hanging happily in the powder room.

And the small pictures on the back wall.

And a close up of the iron brackets. Love the chippy paint! I did not paint these - found this shelf with the included brackets at a consignment shop. It's from Pottery Barn, so I'm sure you could grab the same thing off the internet.

There ya have it. Another project checked off my to-do list!