Saturday, May 31, 2008

Old windows and flower boxes... a match made in heaven....

Window boxes... Flower boxes... Whatever you call them, few things equal their instant cottage charm!!!

We live in a split entry where the windows (hence, any window boxes) are well above watering level, so I've had to create my own at ground level by pairing flower boxes with some of the old windows I've collected in the past.. (another great way to recycle those old windows!!).

It's hard to believe that by by mid-summer these impatiens should be tall enough to meet the windowpanes.... (By the way, Mr. & Mrs. Wren have accepted the fact that I must water the flowers behind their cottage each day. Although they still keep a watchful eye on me, they have at least stopped their loud chattering, aimed at driving me away!)

This is the girls' old tree house, which is actually a free standing fort that hubby built for them when they were little (they're now ages 19 and 22 so, needless to say, they don't use it anymore!). We dressed it up a bit with an old window and flower box ....

This garden window is attached to the fence along the backyard, right next to the patio we put in last year. It is also the one that the squirrels like to rip apart on a daily basis... Vinca vines and impatiens are always strewn on the ground below in their attempts to bury/find/rebury/refind their favorite stash of nuts. Darn good thing for them that I think they're cute!!

Now if you read yesterday's blog post about patience, this is where I need to remind myself that it is indeed a virtue, because I sooo want these little guys, planted in the windowboxes of our shed, to look like the ones from last year (see sidebar photo!)... Granted, that photo was taken late in the summer... Patience, Donna... patience!!!
I promise I'll do an "inside" post one of these days [soon]... but the weather is just fantastic, as anyone from New England can attest to... and I'm just loving being outside and planting and having fun with the flowers and birds and critters!!

Comments Update: The shed came with its own flowerboxes, and we didn't make the ones on the fence (but I did paint them that bright green! ha ha)... I bought them at The Christmas Tree Shops last year. I was just there the other night and they have them this year, too. My husband screwed the windows and the planter boxes into the cross rails/support rails of our "oh so old" stockade fence and they seem to be holding really good!


Friday, May 30, 2008

May I introduce Patience...

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Allow me to introduce Patience. She was nameless until I recently purchased her new flower hat. I'm afraid she wasn't too pleased, and she let me know that she would have preferred a larger, more 'fanciful' hat... I told her that both she and I need to remember that patience is a virtue, and that good things come to those who wait. I'm happy to say that our little talk made all the difference as she's now in a much more agreeable frame of mind. Forevermore she will be known as Patience...

Update to comments: I bought Patience last year at a Christmas Tree Shop, which is a chain here in the New England area. She is actually an inexpensive resin planter, originally a dark brown/bronze color. I wanted to make her look more like a stone or concrete planter so I used light grey acrylic craft paint to sponge paint her, allowing the dark brown/bronze to show through in crevices. (Had I been blogging last year, I would have taken 'before' photos!) I also saw a very similar "lady head" planter in Home Goods last summer.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

My mistake... There are TWELVE!!!

In yesterday's blog post I said I had 7 or 8 birdbaths around the yard. When I filled them today, I kept count and I actually have TWELVE! If you want to take a stroll around the yard with me, I'll show them to you... It's a beautiful day here in New England!

1) This little bath hangs from a tree branch next to our deck. It used to have 3 birds, but over the years 2 have gone missing... Perhaps they flew off one winter day in search of warmer weather! This is by far the chickadees' favorite birdbath, probably because they're about the same size as the stone bird.

2) This is the fountain I picked up at Wal Mart a couple of years ago at the end of the season (gotta love clearance prices!). It sits on the deck and you can hear the water trickling from inside the family room.

3) This is a little mosaic style birdbath that I picked up last year. I seem to be drawn to birdbaths that have little birdies perched on them... For now, this one sits on a table down on the patio...

4) Now this is probably the most unattractive birdbath in the yard. It's just a huge green plastic drip saucer from an old plastic plant pot. But it's a favorite with the birds, so I can't get rid of it. For one thing, it's deep so the robins love it. It's also at ground level which means it provides water for the possums and skunks that occasionally visit our yard at night... (they get thirsty, too!)...

5) This is just a little two-tiered gazing ball birdbath. The chipmunks like to drink from it.

6) Shhhhh.... This little cherub birdbath hangs from a hook on our front fence, right next to Mr. & Mrs. Wren's house... so I have to be very quiet when I fill it so as not to disturb them...

7) Tired of perched birds yet? No? Good, because here's another. I've had this little guy forever and a day. His beak is half broken and the sides of his bath have chipped off so that it hardly holds any water at all anymore, but I still love him!

8) I got this 'waterfall' fountain at Wal Mart at the same time I got the other fountain (also on clearance!). We were building a patio at ground level and I really wanted one fountain for up on the deck and one for next to the patio. The squirrels and chipmunks love - love - love this one!

9) This birdbath is attached to our deck year-round. In the winter it gets plugged in because it's a heated birdbath so that even in our sub-zero New England temperatures, when everything else is frozen solid, my little squirrel and birdie friends can get a drink. The mourning doves actually use it as a 'sauna' in the winter months; they often gather around it toward sundown, and you can see the steam rising off the water... Smart cookies, those mourning doves!

10) Ahhh, the "secret garden" birdbath... This birdbath sits in a somewhat 'au natural' section of the yard, next to our shed (overgrown is probably a more accurate term). I'm tempted to move it more into the open because it's so pretty, and I may do that at some point in time, but the squirrels and birds (at least the modest ones) seem to really like the fact that it's tucked away behind some branches and such... It gets a lot of activity and use!

11) This is the numero uno choice of the robins. Robins bathe with reckless abandon and this birdbath has it all ... it's wide and it's deep... they can dunk and dip and frolic to their heart's content. I oftentimes have to fill this bath several times a day because they splash so much of the water out during their baths! Right now it sits on a huge UFO saucer-shaped, grassless section of muddy topsoil. We are in the process of filling in the crater that was once the bottom of our above-ground pool, taken down last summer... Yes, I have many plans for this part of the yard!!

12) And last but not least, this little lagoon birdbath hangs from our cherry tree, another small bird favorite because it is shallow.

So that's it... They're all filled and ready for whatever feathered or furry creatures feel the need for a drink - or a bath!! Thanks for coming along!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When is a birdbath not a birdbath?

When it's a plant pedestal instead!

Several years ago my husband bought this beautiful little birdbath for me at a somewhat pricey little gift shop. Unfortunately, the basin section rusted pretty badly within the first year so I didn't feel safe having the birds drink from it. But what a beautiful pedestal it made for last year's petunias! (This is a great way to use hanging plants with the hooks removed... Instant gratification because they are so big right from the start!) This year I have it out in front of the house with another big hanging plant sitting on top... I'll have to be sure to get a picture soon...

Last summer I found this cute little birdbath for just a few dollars (that's why I love junktique shops!)... It wasn't anything special - just white plastic - but it served its purpose and the birdies definitely appreciated the fresh water during those hot summer days...

I started filling my birdbaths on a regular basis a month or so ago, and was quite disappointed to find that my (cheap) little birdbath didn't survive the bitter New England winter. The center had cracked and it no longer held water...

Just as well though... I had been trying to figure out what table or planter to use for this beautiful verbena, and the cracked birdbath was the perfect solution! I don't think the birds will mind. I must have at least 7 or 8 little birdbaths throughout the yard for their drinking and bathing pleasure!!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Appliques... The Finishing Touch

Over the past couple of years, I've been on a painting frenzy. I've painted most of our dark stained furniture a creamy cottage white. Since most of the pieces were originally primitive in style, they aren't very fancy. The lines, for the most part, are straight and simple. That's why I've enjoyed using appliques as "the finishing touch." It kind of dresses them up and takes them from a primitive to a "shabby cottage" style.

This is the applique that I used on the drawers of my dining room hutch and my corner TV armoire. (Yes, I am a drippy, messy painter! ha ha)

This is the applique that I used on the four cabinet doors of the corner TV armoire.

These little cherub heads were used in the three sections of my jelly cupboard door. I wish I had used the larger sized cherub heads. But once these guys are on, they are there for life!

This little flower basket applique is on the pull out door of our recycling bin.

And there are two of these cherubs on the bottom doors of my dining room hutch. (And yup - there's a couple of more drips!!)

The only major pieces of furniture in my house that are still crying for a cottage transformation are in the bedroom... Our king sized pencil post bed, nightstands, armoire, bureau, and mirror. All of those pieces were bought at an unfinished furniture store back in 1989 and promptly stained with dark brown Minwax (Jacobean)... It's hard to believe we've had that set for almost twenty years now! Actually, our whole bedroom is in a time warp straight from the 80's, so hopefully we'll tackle that project sometime in the near future. And, of course, I'll be sure to share the transformation every step of the way. Hmmm... I wonder what kind of applique would look good across the top of the mirror??

Updated note to Michele (and anyone else who would like to see the entire furniture pieces)... If you just scroll down through my past posts, you will find photos and posts of all the pieces mentioned above, with the exception of the dining room hutch. I just realized I've never posted photos of that, so I'll do that soon!

Update #2: I've purchased appliques from several places on-line (some on eBay and unfortunately I don't remember the seller's name(s) because it was years ago!!). I can, however, recommend Rachel & Pia's Cottage since I have purchased appliques from them (click on the DO IT YOURSELF tab in their shop). In addition, The Bella Cottage and Do It Yourself Chic also carry furniture appliques. All of those shops are listed in my "Favorite Shops" sidebar.

Update #3: I do use various shade of white when I paint, but for furniture, the one I keep coming back to most often is Wal Mart's "Color Place Interior Latex Semi-Gloss Wall & Trim, Country White 5435." It's a great creamy white shade rather than a bright white (although bright white is what I chose for my fireplace).

Update #4: Rachel & Pia's has the cherub head appliques, The Bella Cottage has very similar full figure cherubs, Do It Yourself Chic has some other cherubs as well as a similar flower basket applique...

Update #5: I don't use any wax... just the latex semi-gloss paint. The appliques are either white or clay colored so I paint them black or dark brown once I have applied them to the furniture; then when I paint the furniture white, I leave some of the dark basecoat showing through here and there in the crevices of the appliques or I sand away a bit of the topcoat here and there to distress the appliques..


Monday, May 26, 2008


All we have of freedom, all we use or know...

This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Garden Surprise...

One day last week I came home to a most curious sight. When I walked through the back gate, the yard was a carpet of pink blossoms...

I've been aware of all the courting, cooing, and wooing that's been going on around here as of late, so I must admit, I wasn't very surprised to see such a romantic setting.

There was a sea of flower petals in the bath....

...And I even caught this little fellow dropping petals, one by one, into another bath, but he stopped as soon as he spotted me...

There were even petals leading straight to the honeymoon cottage! (The newlyweds must love "It's a Wonderful Life" because this little place looks about as run down as the Bailey Honeymoon Cottage!)....

....although it did have its own private jacuzzi!

I turned around just in time to see her coming down the garden path... The bride was absolutely glowing!

(photo courtesy of Sugar Bush Squirrel)

And I ask you.. have you ever see a more handsome groom? So bright eyed and bushy tailed! And just look at the size of that ring he got for her!

(photo courtesy of photoshoppix)

I was able to watch as the bride and groom exchanged vows in front of the chapel window. There wasn't a dry eye in the house...

Now if they had only given me a bit of notice, I would have ordered this BEAUTIFUL butterfly and rose cake made by the very talented Joanne at My Little Cottage in the Making! It's just perfect for a garden wedding - and it's all my favorite colors!!!

Don't you just love spring weddings??


Update - Okay, my two daughters (ages 19 and 22) just read this blog post and the three of us are sitting here laughing hysterically, although they are laughing at me rather than my squirrel wedding post... They are convinced I'm walking a dangerously thin line between being hilarious and being just plain "nuts" (pun intended)! LOL And they may be right!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Fonz!

My daughter got to meet her "first love" in person! Back when she was 11 years old, Nick at Nite was always showing reruns of Happy Days and, I mean, who could resist The Fonz? (And he's still so cute, isn't he??)

It just so happens that the week before she graduated, Henry Winkler made an appearance at one of the book stores in Cambridge, MA (doing a signing for his "Hank Zipzer" book series), so Amanda was finally able to meet "The Fonz" in person!! Happy Days indeed! (I asked if she told him about the huge crush she had on him when she was a girl and she said NOOOO!!!)


Friday, May 23, 2008

Paint by Numbers

Oh how I wish I had some of the paint by numbers that I did as a child in the 50's and 60's! Of course I only painted horses back then... in every color, shape, size, and pose!

If you've ever visited my blog, you've most likely seen the vintage floral paint by number that hangs above my fireplace...

And in the dining room, I have this vintage PBN of swans. (There's one just like it up for auction on eBay right now!)

I just love the colors in this hydrangea PBN that I purchased several years ago. I knew as soon as I saw it that it would be perfect over the fireplace.

And just look at the colors of this roses PBN that hangs in my hallway (as an added bonus, it's signed & dated)! Some of the paint has lifted off, but that just adds to its charm. Some of the old frames for these PBN's are just gorgeous, too... this one has the perfect amount of wear and tear...

This is the swan painting that hangs in the dining room. I think swans are so graceful, and the colors in this were perfect for our little cottage. This didn't come with a frame, so I had to purchase one.

I bought this PBN of Mary for my daughter as one of her college graduation presents. She loves the paint by numbers that hang in our house, so I thought I would get her started on her very own collection for when she (eventually - no rush!) moves out! And again, this old frame is just beautiful even though two of the corners are a little out of kilter. (I even told her if she didn't like it, I would gladly keep it (ha ha), but she told me she LOVES it!).

... and I bought her this vintage dog PBN (even though he's a different color, he reminded me of our beloved Mr. O'Malley). And after all, you can't have a collection of just one! I think it looks pretty good in this frame I picked up at Wal Mart.

Yes, I just think these old paint by numbers add the sweetest cottage charm to a room!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love is in the air....

This is the view from the dining room window. If you look closely, you can see a wren house hanging from the oak tree branch that extends over the fence... and if you look really closely (easier if you click to enlarge the photo), you can see Mr. Wren, right above the garden angel, checking out the neighborhood...

This is the view from the front yard...It appears that love is in the air, and Mr. & Mrs. Wren have indeed chosen to settle down and raise their family right here in our yard...

For the time being, Mrs. Wren is content to keep the eggs warm while Mr. Wren (seen here in a most unflattering pose) dutifully checks on her to see if she is comfortable... (Do you think she's having any strange cravings?)

Every once in a while Mrs. Wren pokes her head out for a breath of fresh air... Oh, Mrs. Wren, you relax all you can right now because once your little babies break through their shells, you won't have a moment's rest!

Ain't love grand???


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The little dorm room...

I made it through graduation just fine, but I lost it on move-out day. Apparently I'm one of those overly sentimental people who, for whatever reason, can get all nostalgic and teary-eyed without any warning whatsoever...

For me that time came when Amanda and I went back on Monday, the day after graduation, to finish gathering the last of her belongings and to clean and vacuum her dorm room. This was her home away from home for senior year, a 3rd floor walk up in an old Victorian home, right in the Harvard Square area of Cambridge (the most perfect place for any college student to live during their first years away from home, if you ask me!)

September 2007, move in day...

Her prized possession was this cheerful yellow "ice cream parlor" chair that we picked up for $5 at a junktique store over the summer.

My love of birds has clearly been passed to the next generation (as well as my love for cottage blue!)...

The shelves, on that September day, were stacked with anticipation in the form of favorite books, DVD's, CD's, and even little pink and blue ice cream cups, promises of all the good times her senior year would bring...

To borrow a very clever 'imaginary photo insertion' technique used by Sherry from Edie Marie's Attic, this is where dorm room photos taken sometime after move-in, but before move-out, would appear (if I had the courage to show them!!), soooo, use your imagination and....

[insert images of a typical dorm room throughout the college year... add an extra dose of clutter and chaos if said child occupying the room is an art major]... 'nuff said.

Fast forward, and I do mean FAST forward, to move-out day (this year flew by)...

The sweet little room that was her home for the past nine months was once again just an empty shell, stripped clean of any personality. The echoes of laughter and good times that once permeated this room, and the hallways in general, are but a memory.

As my daughter headed down the three flights of stairs with the last load, I turned to look back at her room one last time. The excitement, the laughter, the smiles, the crowds, the cheering - the very 'busy-ness' of graduation the day before was such a stark contrast to today's events. The silence of this once energetic, exciting, buzzing dorm house was deafening. And in the quietness of that moment, the tears started...

And here I thought I'd made it through the whole graduation process without the need for tissues! I should have know better!!!