Friday, May 25, 2018

Shocking Secret to Climbing roses, Shabby French and Martha

Spring has truly arrived and Piper is enjoying it as much as I have been.  This will be the third year for my climbing rose on the old arbor.  Its the New Dawn climber and it should be doing much better than it I did some research and discovered a shocking well kept secret that may explain why my climber is not acting like a climber.  
 Its barely a third of the way up the arbor.  So what I learned was that number one, 
plant your climber practically underneath the structure you want it to climb.  
I had mine about two feet away from the arbor.  
 I had tied the branches to the arbor with garden twine almost straight up to get it going up towards the top of the arbor.  Big mistake!  Understand that there are two types of branches, the main cane and then the lateral canes.  The main cane(s) are the big branches that come from the root area and then the lateral canes are the branches that grow off the main canes and they are the only branches that the flowers grow on.  The secret is to train the main canes in a horizontal fashion with a slight angle upwards, because that is what makes the lateral canes sprout and grow and then produce flowers.
 This image from Rachel Ashwell's new book, My Floral Affair, shows an espaliered David Austin Ballerina climbing rose growing on the side of an enchanted cottage.  Look at the angle of the thick main canes.  They are more trained to an angle instead of straight up. And then you can see the multitudes of lateral canes with the blooms on them, and the lateral canes grow straight up in a vertical fashion creating a bushy full climbing rose!! 
Armed with this knowledge I went out and retrained and persuaded my main canes to go at a criss cross fashion and tied them to the arbor.  Since the bush is further away than it should be ideally, you have to allow for the canes to go vertically until you can train them horizontally.  After I trained it, I fed it with Rose Tone food and then planted another David Austin shrub rose, Queen of Sweden, next to the arbor.  That area will hopefully be filled with roses this summer.  Many people commented on my Instagram post about this secret of climbing roses, saying that they too had never heard of this, and it explained why they only had roses growing at the very top of their climbers.  See, if I had just trained the canes to get up to the top, it would only be then that the main cane would lay flat and then lateral canes would sprout and then bear flowers.  Mystery solved!
 Another one of the glories of spring is when the first flowers arrive from the lilac trees.  Lucky enough to have both purple and white, I cut a big bunch of white lilacs for mothers day and I displayed them inside of this colossal silver punch bowl I scored at the Brimfield Antique Fair.  
 Brimfield is the oldest antique fair in the country and there are thousands of vendors who set up their wares in tents along Main Street in the tiny town of Brimfield.  My favorite dealer lives in Texas and I think she has the best stuff at very good prices.  The best stuff, if you like French, Italian, Shabby Chic, Cottage, Garden etc.... Her name is Donna Corr and her booth and business is Corrabelle Rose.
I spotted my punch bowl, all tarnished, sitting on a display table in her tent.  It came with 8 punch glasses in silver plate as well.  The other treasure I took home is that huge and heavy gilded iron candelabra, which I thought would be perfect for leaving outdoors in my summer courtyard.
 Donna has lots of yummy things like tole sconces and lamps and 
wastebaskets (oh yeah I got one of those too).  And Florentine trays and tables and
 boxes (oh and um yes I got some of those as well).  She will be back in July when Brimfield
 has its summer session, so you can bet I will return as well for some
 power shopping at her delicious booth.
 There really are some spectacular vendors, and you will see the 
MOST amazing things....things from palaces and castles and chateaus!  
 This huge planter was likely the base of a pier mirror (one of those floor to ceiling type mirrors).  
I bought a few things from this vendor as well. Pamela, from Plymouth, Massachusetts, was near Donna's booth in the New England Motel lot.  
 And the entrance to a most enchanting booth, The Two Cherubs, 
featured sky high skinny shutters in turquoise that the dealer, Jenny Lunney, 
lugged home from a shopping trip to France. 
 She is also on Instagram as @jennylunney and you can see my moniker at 
the top of this photo @amymaisondecor if you want to follow us.
 Bring a folding shopping cart like this one that I use. 
 I cannot recommend it enough!  I start off with a bunch of bubble wrap
 and then a stack of kitchen hand towels for wrapping items.  
An old Vera Bradley tote bag with lots of pockets is where I stash some wet wipes, 
sunscreen, water bottles, and snacks. 
 There is my big candelabra, all tucked in safe and sound!! 
 Another shot from Corrabelle Rose.
 Parked outside of the Two Cherubs...
 If you love old things, you will certainly find something to bring home that will inspire you to redecorate or freshen up your living space, be it inside or out.
I just adored polishing up the punch bowl and adding flowers to it.
Its going to hold my mail on a daily basis so I can enjoy seeing it all the time.
 The other fun thing I did this month was to attend the Martha Stewart Prop Sale, 
with my friend Matthew Mead.  I picked up this old french bakers rack
 that you see holding my copper collection.
 It was great fun to go and see all the stuff Martha was selling from the days of her 
tv show and things she used in books.  I recognized several of the items as did Matthew. 
Watch us walk through the auction house on our YouTube video here. 
One of the marvelous things she had up for auction was a collection of opaline glasses in various forms in colors pink and yellow.  See them on the lower shelf...the upper shelf had big goblets in pink bristol glass, and hobnail goblets in white.
 As you can see, I prevailed at auction and brought home this enchanting and rare set of french glassware. 
 Some vintage lighting was scooped up for the cottage, 
at least the one on the right.  I can imagine it in the kitchen...
 Look at the Martha stickers!  So fun!!
The bottom of each glass had a label indicating what it was and catalogued
in the Martha Prop Collection with her stamp on it as well.
 Martha's sale also had a ton of outdoor furniture that was an addition from various estates, added to sell the same day her things were auctioned off.  I came home with this cast iron coffee table base to use in the courtyard and I imagined I could add wooden planks to the top, instead of glass.
 There were so many old sets of outdoor furniture! It was really a blast looking through it all.
And on that note I will leave you and prepare another blog post on the vintage patio furniture I did just find, and the outcome of a set I had lusted after since my visit to Grey Gardens.
But before I go, how about this candelabra?

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Curbside Antiquing: A French Chair

 A very basic day began....
It was another cold day in Boston. 
And it was local trash pick up day so bags and boxes dotted the sidewalks.

Baby Reeve was in the backseat, and we were headed home from a trip to Lowes. 
We had picked up a toilet repair kit to fix a pesky commode. 
 While we were out, we hit Marshall's where we scored some puddle jumpers for Reeve. 
 Exactly what I was looking for, as I imagined her in these boots as my garden assistant
this spring and summer, if the weather ever obliges.
A perfect day in our boring but happy little world,
 when all of a sudden there it was.
I spotted something in a pile of trash on the drive home.
A glimpse of a rounded back French Chair with a painted frame.  
I was driving on the opposite side of the street so I couldn't just pull over easily.  
Instead I looked at it my rear view mirror, getting smaller and smaller.
I debated turning around and checking it out. 
 I told myself to keep going, we were almost home, and the chair 
was probably pretty ratty and falling apart.  
My sensible-self talked my Frenchy-antique-loving-self 
right out of investigating any further.

And I forgot about it....
until the next morning when I had to leave the house early,
 around 6 am to drive Mr. Maison Decor to a job site 
where he had left his truck the day before.
And then it hit me!! 
The trash trucks hadn't come!! 
And my Frenchy antique-loving-self got so excited!!

Because it was a holiday Monday, Patriots Day, 
all trash pickups were delayed one day.  
That meant just possibly, that the pretty French chair,
however ratty it may be, may likely still be sitting at the curb.
The stars were aligning!!
My sensible-self was no longer in the driver's seat.
I hoped it would be in great shape, a real antique, and one I could rehab.
A quintessential Louis XVI side chair, not unlike the chairs in Sharon Osbourne's home, above.
As we drove I  told hubs about the chair in the trash, 
and that I planned to circle back to see it it was there.
My plan was to do something with it, even if it was so ratty I couldn't use it indoors, I
would rip out the upholstery and stick a big pot of flowers
 in it and use it as a plant stand by the garden shed. 
Not sure if he was even listening to my plan....
 My gas tank was near empty, so I spent crucial minutes stopping for a fillup.
I was almost there....
as I turned onto the street, my heart sank when I saw
two trash trucks 
ahead of a line of cars on the very street where the chair was put out for pick up.
They finally pulled over to load trash and recyclables,
 so I sped by and raced to my destination.  
Past the the elementary school I drove where Piper
 and I have walked a million times...
I was almost there!
just around the the chair was still there?!!

Wouldn't someone have pulled it out already? 
 Shut up.  NO!! Think positive! Ok. 
Sitting up very proud and tall amongst the trash bags.  
 She was solid as a rock, and heavy too,
which meant she was an older chair.  
Her pale blue upholstery indicated she had lived a nice life
once upon a time, as did the gilding on her frame.  
 She is safe and sound now.
She plans to live Happily Ever After now, maybe even 
getting a turn in the pages of a French magazine. 
Curbside antiquing never felt so good.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Our Courtyard Wedding in Romantic Homes magazine and more French Chairs

 The May issue of Romantic Homes magazine is on the stands and inside you will find a nice little feature on the courtyard wedding we had last September.  The cheery yellow and white cover is hard to miss, so look for it in Barnes and Noble, grocery stores, Walmart and other places like that.
Look at those darling slipcovers on the chairs!! Lots of spring inspiration inside this issue,
as well our wedding feature.
 Here is a sneak peek, and it tells the story of how I conjured up the fairy tale theme with a French twist to guide the decorating angle of the wedding.  All the advice is applicable to throwing a party as well, so I hope you enjoy the narrative as well as the beautiful photos taken by Matthew Mead.
 Our wedding had guests arriving inside the home, and then ushered to the outdoor area where a tent stood waiting for the festivities, so both images inside and outside are part of the spread.
 Romantic Homes is my go to for French inspired romantic living ideas, 
and I am honored to be included.
As with any magazine feature, a lot of cuts must be made, yet some of my favorite images and elements were not shown. If you have read the article and would like to see more, this is for you!  It was hard to tell the relationship of each space to each other from the published photos, most likely due to our spaces being small and rather nook and crannyish. 
Here the tent looks up to the arbor where the wedding vows were performed.
 We used all the little garden spaces for different purposes, as you can see on the upper level where the bride and groom are chatting in front of the arbor, where they had exchanged wedding vows, with the Boston skyline in the background, while the musicians played in front of the garden shed.
The tent sat just below, beside the house in our small pea gravel courtyard.
 My favorite element in the wedding that didn't get mentioned was the live event artist.
Sheila Foley is one of the best in the business, and happens to live in the greater Boston area.
She came early and painted the background scene on her canvas, which was the interior of the tent leading to the cabbage garden and arbor where the vows were exchanged.  I love how she included the chandelier and tulle draped from the ceiling of the tent.  As the wedding progressed, Sheila added guests and the wedding couple into the painting, while we all ate, drank and made merry.

Before the festivities  I came out to see if everything was ready to go... Sheila is at her station with her art supplies and easel.  Because it had rained, we needed to set up a table umbrella to protect both artist and artwork!  
You can see the white picket fence beyond where the bride would emerge to climb the old stone steps to the grassy terrace to say her vows.  Sheila had the background ready for adding all the details, including champagne bottles, the french settee, floral arrangements and of course all the people!
This is a sneak peek collage of the painting progression so far!
I have been able to see bits of it on Sheila's Instagram account: @sfoleyeventpainter
I can't wait to reveal the entire painting and already imagine it in a fancy French gilded frame, hanging on our walls, reminding us all of that special day.
And one last garden element that was missing....
Our cabbage garden!
White Belgian mums and ornamental green and white cabbages planted in a formal layout. 
 The urns were filled with more cabbages and then roses in florist water vials 
were tucked in between the large cabbage leaves. 
Simple.  Elegant.  And very French.    
Speaking of French~ 
I had the good fortune to land a pair of plume back gilded chairs
in the Louis XVI style.  They are truly marvelous little chairs, all hand carved with gold leaf.
Destined for my bathroom for now.  I adore old and French, and these fit the bill.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

My Pastoral Landscapes

A pastoral landscape I painted is seen in this photograph featured in Romantic Country
magazine, Spring 2017 issue.  I don't think I have shared many of the paintings I created.
So lets have a look at them, shall we?
Pastoral landscape paintings are soothing and restful.  When I decorated
my home office I decided to paint some landscapes on the wall instead of 
hanging up artwork.  I framed them out with an exterior border so it looked
like a piece of artwork, and then I painted the interior area with various 
landscape scenes that conjured up the European countryside.
These were the first paintings I created and I absolutely loved them.
I made a mini movie in time lapse photography on how I created this painting,
and its on my Facebook page for those interested to see more of the process.
(Find my Facebook link on the sidebar of my blog)
They were such fun to create, so I ended up painting three for the walls in my office.
This was the staging area, where I covered the sideboard with a drop cloth and just added all the paint I owned.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to do these scenes, and lots of water and different size brushes to get the paint to flow.  I also used rags to create a mood on the borders.
Matthew Mead photographed the office for Where Women Create magazine in 2017.
You can see how the two landscapes anchor the back wall, creating a focal point behind my desk.
This was my favorite landscape painting.  I added a small building to the landscape,
trying to simulate a structure I saw at Versailles, in Marie Antoinette's Petite Trianon.
 Belvedere I believe it was called. Not exactly the same, but my interpretation.
These were all in the WWC magazine last year. 
Now this room has been repurposed as a guest bedroom.
  But I may be taking it back as my office this year as I miss the space.
This was a painting I did directly over another store bought painting, and it fit my living room so well.  One nice thing about painting pastorals is that they seem to fit any space, and you can add the colors that work well with your palette.  Imagine a pink sky if you had a lot of pink in your room. 
Here it is in progress, I start by doing the background with the horizon line separating the blue and the green. Then I build in the trees and highlight with light and dark shading. If I wanted to add some lilac or pink to the sky, you can imagine how different you can make the painting look just by doing that.
This large canvas was a fun painting project but a challenge.  I had to paint it outside.  Because it required so much paint, I used various paints, many of which were wall paints for the house.
Doing that also kept the colors within the palette I have going on in my home.
This huge canvas actually hides a door we don't use.
The room used to be so awkward, and this large painting served to make
 the room pretty and eliminate that door! Art with a purpose!
Most recently I painted a pastoral scene inside of my white piano. 
After painting the exterior to look like blue and white toile,
the idea came to me to put a landscape inside.
I have a feeling I will be painting more pastorals.  
You might want to give them a try yourself.
creating your own artwork is very satisfying. 
Look at how different the piano looks from plain white.
I even did a mini landscape on the music stand in the front of the piano!
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