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Serving Up Plants in Style!

 Sometimes finding the perfect centerpiece for a last-minute party or barbecue
is as simple as looking into your kitchen cabinets...

If you're like me, you'll probably find stuff that's been shoved to the back in the corner
because we all tend to think of some items in one way, for one use.
Like soup tureens.
They're for serving SOUP, right?
Well, yes... but they're not JUST for soup!

I didn't unearth these from my kitchen - I found four of them at a local thrift shop.
For two bucks a set (tureen, platter, and ladle).
They were cheap because they just don't get much use anymore... I changed that.
The white ceramic tureens now serve up color on the table!
Paired with white dinnerware, they bring  fresh, fun style
and a very unexpected & inexpensive way to dress up a tablescape.

The plants and flowers are a mix of  4" sizes from the nursery, 
planted into a plastic 6" pot that is then placed inside the soup tureen.
You could also just grab a flowering plant in a 6" pot.
[yes, you can plant directly in the tureen - just add a layer of gravel first to help drain the water]

Try these items from your kitchen to hold flowers or plants:
* a stainless steel stock pot or dutch oven
* a big enamelware coffeepot
* the wooden bucket from an old hand-crank ice cream maker
[and it already has a perfect metal container for cut flowers, too!]
* a set of metal canisters
* a cookie jar

This is also a great way to make use of hand-me-downs from mom & grandma...
Keep looking in those cabinets, drawers, closets and garages
for ways to create seasonal decor with everyday materials!


The Colors of Summer

This photo (that I snapped on Wisconsin's lovely Lake Geneva last spring) 
contains the bright, clear colors that make me think of summer decorating and entertaining....
Red * White * Blue
and a little bit of green, yellow, and tan.
 You know, for years, I've lived with a neutral palette... tan, white, cream, and silver...
in my home and also in the products I created and sold at vintage shows.
I loved the calm, peaceful mood they evoke,
 and the way that even the smallest details stand out in a pale palette.

Every once in awhile, though, the desire to create something colorful would come over me,
and the result would be a product line that looked like this:
Furnishings and decor created from salvaged materials in the summer color palette of 
 Red * White * Blue
I'd create the booth design and displays with color in mind,
and the result would look a bit like this at a show or in a store:
at our Retreat space in Poppyseeds, Stanwood, WA

At the BarnHouse Marketplace in Battle Ground, WA

sometimes one piece of painted furniture can be the showstopping accent
that will lift your home decor out of the blahs and into the spotlight!

Original products shown here were created in 2008 - 11 by myself and my late husband 
for our former vintage business in the Pacific Northwest, 'Retreat'.


Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!

 Memorial Day Weekend is the official kick-off to Summer
[and oh, are we glad it's here!]

For our first Summertime post, I offer you some Patriotic Inspiration
for Red White & Blue table decor...
and a fun way to add something special to your place settings:
use old game boards as placemats!

It's pretty easy to find Scrabble boards (nice because they are red, white, blue, and tan)
and other old game boards at thrift stores
usually, the pieces are missing from games but the boards are still in the box.

If you DO find one with pieces, you can spell out your guests' names!
Don't forget about my tutorial for making Giant Letter Tiles as coasters, too!

shared online:

A Little Claireification | Best of the Weekend

Funky Junk Interiors | Party Junk


Tutorial: Coffeepot Birdhouse

 I was looking for something in my mom's garage today, 
and came upon something that I made for her over FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.
It was a product that I made and sold in my small home decor store and at street markets...

Birdhouses made from Vintage Coffee & Tea Pots!

The perch is a silver spoon - and the lid lifts off for cleaning!
It's a simple project for a darling accent for a yard or patio, and makes a great gift.

 Vintage Coffeepot Birdhouse Tutorial

Supplies Needed:
aluminum coffee or teapot (vintage or new)
one tea or soup spoon (stainless steel)
one 18" length of baling wire
one small screw & nut
steel wool
drill with small bit and 1 1/4" hole bit
screwdriver . needle nose pliers
1. Drill a hole in the front of the coffee / tea pot body using the 1 1/4" hole bit on the drill.
Use the steel wool to sand / soften the sharp edges of the hole. 

2. Bend the spoon just below the 'bowl' so that the bowl angles down at a 90 degree angle.
From the inside of the coffee pot, put the spoon handle through the 1 1/4" hole,
place the bowl of the spoon up against the pot wall, 
and drill a small hole through both surfaces using the small bit.
Attach using small screw, with nut on the inside to secure, to form the perch.
[OPTIONAL: hot glue the spoon into place!]
You must bend the spoon before attaching to the pot.

3. Drill two small holes @ 1/2 inch apart above the pot handle using the small bit.
These should be on the body of the pot - NOT on the lid.
Feed the bottom 4" of the baling wire through the upper hole, into the pot, then out the other hole.

Use the needle nose pliers to curl the end of the wire around the screwdriver shaft to create a curlicue.
[this prevents the wire from slipping back through the holes]

4. Drill one small hole above the pot spout using the small bit.
Feed the bottom of the other end of the baling wire down into the hole, and out the spout -
this causes the middle of the wire to create a U-shaped loop over the top of the pot.

Use the needle nose pliers to curl the end of the wire around the screwdriver shaft to create a curlicue.
Bend it upward to look like steam escaping the spout!

Remove the lid at the end of the season to clean out the birdhouse - 
just rinse and dry!

You might want to name the birds who nest here
Starbuck, Peet, or even Juan Valdez...


A Garden Fence Chandelier

  A few years ago, I had some white wire garden fencing hanging around...
along with a big box filled with resin and glass crystals from various chandeliers & light fixtures,
and another box filled with glass test tubes.

I combined the three elements to create something new:
wire chandeliers for the garden

The crystals beautifully reflect the sunshine,
and the test tubes hold fresh flowers OR tall, thin tapered candles.

The white wire fencing that I used was vintage, 
but the new stuff works great, too! It comes in a roll like this at the hardware store
and is about 2 feet tall.
[ I found this image HERE where you can order the fencing, too]

 The fencing is simply cut to length, bent into a circle, 
(concentric circles for multiple layered chandies - picture O's in 3 sizes!)
and then the straight wire ends (the part that would go into the ground) are bent into hook shapes.

* The concentric circles are suspended inside the largest circles using wires,
attached at @ the middle of the larger circle so they hang LOWER.

* A cross of wires is attached to the very top edge of the largest circle,
long enough to pull upward and hang the chandy from a hook overhead.

* Hang plastic, resin, or glass crystals on each of the bent wire end hooks.

* If you want to add the test tubes / floral tubes as seen above, 
add them around the outside edge of the largest wire circle only.
I used white zipties to secure mine, but white wire will work, too.
[Remember that you need to be able to remove the test tubes to clean them]
 Then hang them in the sunshine
 from a tree branch, trellis, gazebo, or porch overhang
 and enjoy the sparkle!

[Like those embellished umbrellas in the background? See them here!]


Charming Embellished Umbrellas

I am so pleased to share that the May Issue of Creating Vintage Charm Magazine 
features one of my own spring / summer decor ideas:
Embellished Umbrellas

 Creating Vintage Charm is a PRINT publication
that inspires and shares your excitement in creating and crafting,
by featuring your handmade and repurposed creations and ideas, 
beautiful and colorful images, 
featured artists, studios, shops, blogs, galleries, 
tutorials and tips and more...

The umbrellas shown in the magazine and here in these photos
have been embellished with 'everyday' items to create beautiful effects:

 * The umbrella on the right is a 4' white nylon beach umbrella,
covered with a large white crochet lace tablecloth.
The lace creates beautiful patterns in the shadows beneath the umbrella!

* The umbrella on the left is a 6' diameter white canvas market umbrella, 
adorned with a white satin & tulle bridal petticoat!
The fullness of the tulle layers create a gorgeous ruffle all the way around!

These were the perfect toppers for a refreshment table at the Spring vintage show I hosted on my farm.

At another vintage show, I sold ribbon parasols...

I had a half-dozen regular umbrellas, and just ripped the nylon covers right off of them.
Then I used vintage seam binding, ribbon, and torn silk strips to create a new kind of cover
by tying the strips together in all kinds of patterns and configurations.
[They took FOREVER to make!]

They were very summer-y and fun, and though they wouldn't protect you from rain or sun,
they certainly added feminine charm to the setting.

I also used one in the rafters of my barn store one fall, 
and it looked decidedly spooky
Prettily embellished umbrellas are a perfect idea for photo props, 
and as event decor for garden parties and bridal & baby showers!

shared online:

Cupcakes & Crinoline | Project Inspire{d}


Create a Cloche and Dome It!

Using a cloche is a simple way to give small items presence in your decor.

Most cloches / domes are made of glass, especially the vintage ones... 
but you know I love using unexpected materials in new ways,
so I created a dome from a wire tomato cage!

I showed it covered with ivy in a past post, but of course it can be used WITHOUT the ivy...

The wire form is an industrial-style way 
to create a 'cloche' effect:
Place it over several small items to add the finishing touch to any vignette.

It's also indestructible, great for use outdoors in EVERY season...
[and at @ $2.99 per wire tomato cage, 
it's a VERY inexpensive way to get a lot of usable style!]

Another easy way to create a dome is to use a metal lampshade frame...
Simply remove the fabric, and use the bare metal frame to top a gathering of items.

Lampshades come in endless sizes and styles, 
so you can create dozens of different domes!

This is a great use for old lampshades, since the fabrics get stained and torn -
you can pick them up for a song at thrift shops and the Goodwill outlets!


Sweet Summertime Front Porch

it's time to start thinking about SUMMER!
To me, summer brings to mind front porches...

I love front porches, and dreamed all my life of having a home with one.
The swing was my favorite spot to sit on the front porch
of my island home in Washington state...

smelling the field grass and the sea air, all at once.
Watching the birds and eagles and deer and horses.
Enjoying the sunshine - and the rain - from this safe little perch.
Looking out across the fields where my antique show was held...
 I was lucky enough to have this one for just a while.
It really, truly was my Retreat ;0)
[My friend Elise of Elise Marie Photography took these two photos and I am SO GLAD she did]
I don't live in this beautiful farmhouse on five acres 
on Camano Island, Washington anymore...
but I still love the memory of it. 
 No, I didn't prop and style the heck outta' my porch for these photos - 
this is how it looked every day, all summer long. Simple.

 You may find that really funny, coming from a decorator, stylist, and writer
who is photographing her porch for a magazine story, 
but my thing is I just wanna' be REAL.
That's why I loved writing for FOLK Magazine back then...
It was all about Real. American. Living. Not photo sets.
[ then I found out more about what was going on, 

and quickly stopped writing for that publication ]

You can create a simple front porch setting, too:

* Gather up a bench or a few chairs
[check craigslist, thrift shops, and of course curbs on trash day!]

* Add a table to hold a drink 
[what about an upside-down crate, or plant pot?]
* Finish with a few pillows and colorful decor accents.

Whether it's sprawled across the whole front of your house or is a small covered entry,

your porch can become an oasis of relaxation this summer.

I had another small covered porch on the back of this house, just off the dining room.
I tucked a vintage metal folding bed out there, positioned like a lounge chair
(with the back up at an angle) piled it with pillows,

and hung curtains on the porch posts to enclose the space a bit.
It was a lovely, private place to greet the morning sunrise...

I love this photo!
If I do a decor book, this will be the cover.
The quilt on the swing was a family heirloom. 
The flags popped into a Coke bottle were a last-minute thought -
see more easy summer decor ideas like this in this post!

To change the look of the porch,
it was easy to replace these simple colorful accents with something else.
 Since we are working with a Red, White and Blue theme here today,
I thought I'd share a 'Fast, Cheap & Easy' party tip:

A refreshing and very patriotic version of flavored water
Just put layers of frozen blueberries, ice cubes, and fresh strawberries 
in an old glass jar, then fill the jar with water.
They flavor the water ever so subtly - SO refreshing on a hot day!

Below is a shot of my 'Sweet Retreats' column
that appeared in Issue V of FOLK Magazine in 2012,
using some of the images I am sharing here...
 My post is also featured in a hometalk e-newsletter!

What about you? Where is YOUR favorite place to relax and while away the summer?


In Spring, 2015, three and a half years after I moved out of my dream house
and even after I stopped posting new content here on my blog,
I came across a piece of art that I quite simply HAD to buy: 
This piece is called 'Shore House', by artist Zhen Huan Lu.

Do you see why I had to get it?
 It's very nearly the exact same setting as my own front porch,
right down to the 'stop sign'-shaped window beside the front door.