Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Evening My Dad Became a Time Traveler

The best gift my dad ever gave me was teaching me to tie a half Windsor, but I couldn't have known it at the time. 

It was several years ago and the night of my son's first high school dance. As luck would have it my husband was out of town so I was in charge of helping him get ready for his big night. He hung out around the house all day and around 5:00 casually said that he should probably take a shower. I imagined the frenzy that had been going on all day at the girl's house and laughed. I'd pressed his clothes already and after he was dressed he came downstairs to borrow one of his dad's ties. He stood in front of the full-length mirror and studied himself. He held up the tie he'd chosen. After years of wearing nothing but t-shirts, the moment had come when he had to put on a coat and tie.

 "Mom, do you know how to tie a tie?"

I stopped in the doorway and time stood still.

I heard my dad's voice. "Let me teach you how to tie a tie."

I stepped into the room where my son stood and said: "Let me tell you the story of how I know how to do this."

I adjusted the tie around his collar. "This is the half Windsor knot. " Start with the wide end of the tie on your right and extending a foot before the narrow end. 

"I was just your age and I was getting ready for church on a Sunday morning. As I passed my parents' bedroom my dad said 'Hey come here a minute."

"I'm trying to get ready!"

"I know but I want to show you how to tie a tie."

Cross the wide end over narrow and turn back underneath.

 I said "I'm a girl. Why do I need to know how to tie a tie?"

 Bring it up and turn it down through the loop, Pass the wide in from the front, from the left and to the right.

"Because someday you are going to have a son and you will need to teach him how." 

"Won't my husband do that?"

"What if he isn't around for some reason?"

 Then, end up through the loop, and put it down through the knot in the front, tighten the knot carefully and draw it up to the collar. 

"And here we are. I know how to help you because my dad imagined a moment just like this."

"Wow. You never told me that."

I realized I had forgotten it completely until this evening. How like my father to teach me something I'd need long after he was gone. Teaching someone something is a way of reaching into the future.

I straightened my son's tie and stood back to notice how tall he had gotten the year before. How much like his grandfather he looked. I tamped down emotion and smoothed over freshly unearthed pain.

"Thanks, Mom."

I smiled at the son I'm so proud of and wished my dad was here to see this moment. My son is so like him in looks and personality. They would have loved each other so. I hate that they missed each other in time.

"Thanks, Dad," I whispered to myself as I left the room. I silently marveled at what had just happened. Through whatever means; premonition, fatherly foresight, dumb father had managed to show up just at the moment I needed him and be part of a special event for his grandson.

Thanks again, Dad.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Frame Makeover Part 2: From Somber and Serious to Fancy and Elegant.

antique painting

In the end, this frame did not want to be dark and serious. It wanted to be fancy and light. You can see that the dark frame just didn't suit the room. Thank goodness I propped it up to see what it would look like before reframing the painting. Read about how to recreate this look. 

It wouldn't have been terrible, but the gold is so much better in the space. The solution to the final finish was Modern Masters Metallic Paint in Pale Gold. 

metallic paint pale gold

I just brushed it on around the gold-leafed details and then went back and hit the high spots of the embellishments to give it extra shine. I had darkened the gold leaf significantly by going over it with the stain previously.  It needed a little pick me up around the edges to tie in with the new finish. 

Any trepidation about going over the stain was dismissed as soon as I saw how fantastic the gold looked! This was definitely the right look for this frame.  

acorns and oak leaves

I mean, yall. I seriously almost couldn't stand how beautiful it was and it only took me about 20 minutes! Although I do think the look benefitted from the layered process I did. The depth and dimension are from all those under layers that show through here and there. 

gold leaf frame

Oh my gosh. Oak leaves and acorns are my favorite motif! 

It was all I could do to let the paint dry before putting the frame back in and hanging it up! This painting is so cool. I wish I knew the history of it. I don't see a signature anywhere. 

I doubt it's worth a million bucks but it sure looks like it is hanging up in the dining room.  I looked for a blog post about how I switched the dining room and living room and couldn't find it. But if the rooms in your house aren't working for you, then switch 'em up! Do we need a post about that?

Meanwhile here are some photos of the current state of the dining room with the painting. You'll notice I didn't say completed or finished dining room. I have a couple more projects up my sleeve for this room.


I love a sideboard or bar that looks like it's set up and ready for an impromptu party!


This beautiful lead crystal decanter was a recent estate sale purchase for ten bucks! I'm afraid to use it but it's stunning! 

lead crystal decanter

Second-hand silver is a real weakness of mine.


Now let's step back and see how it all works together.

living room as dining room

Read about my free dining room makeover from last summer. 

Also, one last thing. Who thinks this loveseat wants to be deconstructed? 


You don't have to have all the answers when you start a project. Just know the direction you want to go and get started.

XOXO Y'all!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Frame Makeover How-To: The Somber and Dramatic Version

This is a two-part post showing the same frame done in two different styles. 

This oil painting is one of the nicest things in our house. My husband found it on the side of the interstate 40 years ago. Those two pieces of information kind of sum up my decorating style. It was the ultimate roadside pickup! Since part of the detail was chipped off, my mother in law chipped off the rest of it and finished it with one of those antiquing kits that were popular in the seventies.

We've come a long way, baby. 

It's bothered me for the 27 years we've been in this house. I love the painting and always wanted it to have a frame worthy of it, but wasn't quite sure how to make that happen. Can I just say this is a great time to be a person who loves projects? If you can envision it something exists to make it happen. So many great products. I feel like I used them all on this piece. You'll see. 

Let's start with a before.

The first step was to try and decide what the frame originally looked like. My husband said it was dark wood and I could see that the details had been on each corner, top, bottom, and sides. So there was the precedent. I knew where details should go but what should they be? Flowers? Swags? Rope?
I focused on the tree that is prominent in the painting and decided on acorns and oak leaves.

Okay, y'all. If you don't know about Iron Orchid Designs products you are in for such a treat! They make these fantastic molds and paper clay that air dries. I created all the oak leaves and acorns plus glued them on using Tacky Glue in about an hour! It took no time at all and was super fun.

Watch a how-to video from IOD here. 

None of the products I used has any odor. I was working outside because It was too beautiful to be indoors.

Once everything was glued on and the glue was dry, I painted my base coat of Jolie Terra Rosa because, first, it's a color I had on hand and second, I wanted layers of depth and color. Third, I also wanted to create a uniform surface for the gel to go on. It looked kind of scary for a minute. Every project has that moment. Cry if you need to then just get on with it. 

As the clay continued to dry it shrank so there were areas that pulled away from the paint.

This is just the way the clay works and this is supposed to happen. It won't matter as you'll see. Next up was applying the General Finishes Gel Stain in Java. I used a medium chip brush for the frame and an artist brush to squish it in around the details. I wiped back the excess stain as I went.

A word about the stain: I did this during a rainy few days and it took a long time to dry. Be patient. Remember when doing all kinds of projects the temperature and humidity may be a factor. 

See? The shrinking didn't matter at all! As soon as I got the stain on this piece started to look like carved wood. I was super excited!

As soon as the stain was dry (24 hours later it was still tacky but the details seemed drier probably due to being porous) I started adding the gold leaf.

It looked pretty rough but so many layers were going to go on top that I didn't panic. My gold leafing skills are pretty sketchy, As you'll see though, it makes absolutely no difference.

Let's take a moment to talk about your project attitude. Y'all. You can play. It's okay. I hear so many people talk about making mistakes or messing something up. Yes! That's what happens sometimes! Where did this fear and need for perfection come from? Some of my best work comes from something that didn't go the way I meant for it to. Relax. It's all supposed to be fun. PLAY! 

When I got all my gold leafing done it felt too stark. Too much shiny goodness against the stain. I started to rub it with dark wax but decided to go with the stain over the gold leaf for even more drama. I wiped it back hard as I went. Then I mixed up some Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Grain Sack to make a wash to simulate aged dried out wood.

I just swished it on with a brush in sections, wiping it back immediately as I went. I especially wanted it to gunk up in the corners and around details to look a million years old. I just kept wiping it back as I went.

Now we're getting somewhere! This layered crusty goodness is what I'm after!

Just look at how gorgeous it looks next to the painting!

I have to say I was a little impressed with myself. But it wasn't my skills it was the incredible products that are available to create whatever your little decorating heart desires. There is literally zero skill required and even a beginner can create this look as long as you are willing to dabble, experiment, and play.

I could have stopped here if the setting for the painting had been different. We'll cover how it all turned out in the next post.


NOTE: In the Memphis area all these products are available at Me & Mrs. Jones. 

  • Remove painting
  • Clean frame. 
  • Mold and glue on clay details. 
  • Paint with base color - Jolie Terra Rosa
  • Apply General Finishes Gel Stain in Java wiping back excess as you go. 
  • Let dry 24 hours. 
  • Apply sizing and gold leaf to details
  • Brush on Miss Mustard Seed Grain Sack watered down and wipe back. 
  • Brush stain over gold leafed areas and wipe back. 
  • Let dry 
  • Either leave as is or seal with Jolie clear and dark wax. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Power of a Fresh Start

I'm having a little do-over. By the way, how are those resolutions going? I know. Right? But here's the thing, we don't have to wait until New Year's Day, the first of the month or even a Monday although all those days are times I use to reset. You can start over any time. Today's as good as any day.

I was all charged up after Christmas to start my year strong but I was sick all of January, worked myself to death (well at least a case of tendonitis) in the garden in February and in the cottage in March, then April was the month of dental problems.

All of that meant that I fell into a habit of eating convenient super carby food, not drinking enough water and not walking. I wasn't even reading let alone writing much.

Don't you hate it when life happens and you don't realize how off your goals are until you start to feel tired or unorganized or you realize how much you spent last month? That's why I'm reminding you that you can start over, reboot, refresh, or just tweak if that's all you need at the end of May! You know, just in case someone needs this besides me.

Resolution refresh coming right up!

Making better food choices.
Drinking at least 75 oz. of water a day.
Reining in spending.

What does the life you want look like? Vision board, anyone? You can change directions and head toward it any time! Read about how to create a vision board here.

This post is specifically about gardening but it works for any area of life. Remember energy follows focus! 

Let's do this! You know unless you are crushing it in which case, carry on. But if you are struggling, you are my people! Fresh start coming right up! 

XOXO Y'all!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Upcycling a Cheap Plaster Thrift Store Find for Outdoor Use

Sometimes when thrifting you find something that is almost what you want it to be.

I found this classic pinecone (or pineapple depending on who you ask) shaped plaster piece.

 It wasn't terrible at all, but it was chipped and since I wanted to use it outdoors I decided to try something new.

A concrete wash.

I don't even know if that's a thing but I loved the shape of this piece and wished it was concrete. Not wanting to lose the detail I decided to water down even more of that premixed concrete from this project...

and this project...

to give it a concrete surface. I also toyed with the idea of buying some concrete, mixing it up and filling the hollow interior, but that seemed like a lot of time and expense. Y'all know I adore a "use what you have" project. 

I used a little of the concrete and some water then added a bit of Jolie Legacy to the mix to give it a bit more age than just the plain concrete color. Why even have anything that doesn't look like it's a gazillion years old? 

After a thorough mixing, I used a brush to apply it to the pinecone in a thin coat. Remember I loved the detail and didn't want to lose it by being too liberal with the concrete.

After that was dry to the touch I used a bit of Miss Mustard Seed Boxwood with a little of the concrete mixture and made it into a really thick chunky paste. I wanted this to mimic some ancient mossy goodness in all the nooks and crannies.

This little project literally took minutes apart from drying time and covered up all the places where the plaster was chipped. I still don't know how waterproof it will be.

I'm currently debating whether to seal it with a waterproof sealer, but for now, it's on the porch.

Side note: This makes the third project I got out of one tub of the premixed concrete. I'll use the rest of it to reinforce some weak spots in the salvaged bird bath. If you pay full price anything can still be a really good deal if you use all of it. Now if I could only apply that to my refrigerator situation. 

Also, are we loving this Marie Kondo trend or what? 

XOXO Y'all! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Let's Take a Peek Inside the Hives

Last week I did inspections of six of my eight hives, five that overwintered and one swarm I caught a couple of weeks ago. Here's a quick peek inside the hives!

After smoking the girls with a cool smoke and giving it a minute to waft throughout the hive I remove the top and inner cover. In this case, I also removed the honey super I'd put on when the honey flow started. Those flat brown circles are called "capped brood." They are baby bees waiting to emerge. In the picture above it looks spotty. That's fancy beekeeper talk for not a solid brood coverage. 

This frame of brood looked a little better. See the glistening white in some of the cells? Those are larvae. If you think your kids are wearing you out asking "what's for dinner?" these larvae eat 1300 times a day! They are fed by nurse bees, royal jelly at first and then a mixture of honey and pollen called "bee bread." At just the right time the worker bees seal the cell with the tan and porous beeswax you see in the photo. At that time the bee spins a cocoon around itself. We can't see that part because it takes place under the capping. Inside the cocoon metamorphosis takes place. At the appropriate time a fully adult bee eats through the wax covering and emerges to begin her first task in the hive, cleaning out her cell so it can be reused.

In the picture above you see a really beautiful brood pattern. This queen is doing very well. The holes in the middle of the brood pattern are where bees have already emerged.

Read about how I caught a recent swarm. 

In this picture you can see the bees building out the honeycomb in the honey super. If you look closely you can see that they've already started putting honey up.

I love it when the honeycomb is new. It is snowy white. Notice how the bees line up on the left frames to look at me and see what I'm up to.


I didn't see any of the queens on this inspection day but here's a picture of a purchased queen from last year. Notice that she's marked. When you buy queens they are marked with a different color for each year. It helps beekeepers keep track of how old their queens are.

Next time I try to remember to take my good camera to the bee yard. But it's just so easy when I'm holding a frame of bees to say "Hey Siri, activate camera."

Hope your week is buzzing along!

XOXO Y'all!