Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Married Adventure

In a corner of my living room I have a little space that I call the adventure corner..although I just now realized that it's no longer in the corner so I might have to come up with a new name.

It contains items that are precious to me and reflect my interest in travel and my love for a couple of filmmakers/photographers/adventurers/conservationists from the 1920s and 30s - Martin and Osa Johnson.  If you've never heard of them, and I don't imagine you have, go Google them right now, they were awesome.

They were a couple of kids from Kansas (birth state of my daddy) that spent their whole married life on a long adventure - first to Borneo and all over Africa. They photographed and filmed everything they saw and provided some of the first moving images of Africa. Part of me thinks it would be amazing to live life like that and part of me is happy just reading about it.

Osa wrote several books about their adventures. The books are really interesting but these days they are sought after more for the zebra and giraffe print covers than for their contents. I think they're beautiful too (that's why they are displayed proudly in my living room) but I wish the decorators would read them in addition to displaying them.

A famous purse designer liked the idea of the zebra print cover so much that she stole used the design for a purse a few years ago. I hate the fact that the Safari Museum, the copyright holder for the book, isn't getting to benefit from sales of the purses but I do love my purse and carry it often. When people comment on it, and they always do, I bore tell them all about Martin and Osa.

Osa's book about the four years she and Martin spent living near Lake Paradise in northern Kenya has inspired my love of giraffes.

Seriously, I LOVE giraffes.

This is Lance. He has nothing to do with Martin and Osa, Africa or giraffes, I just like him. Mr. French bought him for me for Christmas 20 years ago although it took almost a decade before he made it home to me because he was having an extended vacation with my sister. Now I've had him with me for a decade and I love seeing him in my living room. He's part of the family, I even decorate him for Christmas. He looks hot in a Santa hat.

Martin and Osa Johnson with their plane Spirit of Africa, 1920s.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Bench, part 2

My lovely bench was all ready for color but what color would I choose? Originally I had wanted to paint it a soft pink and stencil something on top (yay, a future project) but then I saw a turquoise bench on a favorite blog and I knew how I was going to proceed. I adore the finished product!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bench - my first painting project

It has long been established that I'm not particularly good at crafting projects. I long to be an artist and CREATE but somewhere between my head and my fingers that desire gets lost or confused. The fact that I might suffer from a wee bit of laziness probably doesn't help...not that I'm admitting to anything. I really want to make things but I want to know that what I'm doing has a purpose or can really be used in some way. I don't want to use projects as busywork.

You may remember the big kitchen cabinet project of 2013 (here and here) and you may think that was my first painting project. You would be wrong. I did a lot of sanding on those cabinet doors but Mr. French, the perfectionist, did all the painting. He did a great job so I'm not complaining but I was kinda looking forward to painting and I've been itching to get my hands on a painting project ever since.


Pretty, ain't it? It's been hanging around our yard for years now, left behind by the previous owners. I've always considered it a bit of an eyesore with all that moss growing on it and cracks here and there. But then I looked at it with new eyes and realized 1) it could be a thing of beauty and 2) it wouldn't be the end of the world if I screwed it up since we didn't pay anything for it. Yes folks, I had that much confidence in my ability.

I first had these thoughts about the bench back in August and I was so excited about the idea that I waited 7 whole months to get started. But one day it just hit me that I really, really wanted to paint something so I might as well go ahead and give this a try.

Step 1 - clean and sand  I really enjoy sanding and I got lots of experience with those kitchen cabinets so this part was fun...actually the whole project was fun but I really did enjoy seeing all the moss and dirt come off the bench so all that was left was rustic beauty.

Step 2 - primer  Since the wood was quite weathered, I figured it was a good idea to put a primer coat (leftover kitchen cabinet paint) on to see how the wood reacted to the paint. I also figured it was a good way for me to get some practice. I fell in love with the distressed look that I got with the first coat of white. At that point I actually wished I had started directly with the final color because I didn't want to accidently put too much paint on the finished product and cover up the distress. But I also knew that having some white show through would add texture and dimension in the end. Mr. French has never been a big fan of the distressed look (once when I bought furniture in a distressed style and it was delivered when only he was at home, he called the furniture store to complain about the dings and scratches and they had to explain that it was done on purpose which was a concept he never could wrap his head around) but he loved the way the bench was turning out at this point.

Step 3 - pick a color  I already had a basic color in mind but wow, there are a LOT of turquiose-y blues out there. I visited more than one paint store and had a bunch of color cards but in the end it came down to these choices.

At this point I had to wait a week to finish things up so this gives me a good stopping point for today. Tune in next time to see the bench in all its glory!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fifi, part 2

Last week I got the chance to share a preview of Fifi O'Neill's upcoming "Prairie Style" magazine with you. After I wrote that post, something really exciting happened - Fifi O'Neill READ MY BLOG! Not only that but she sent me the sweetest email and offered to do something that confirmed that she's the most amazing person ever. I was walking on clouds the rest of the day!

So I was extra excited when I found the new issue of another one of her magazines out in the stores. I love this mag but this issue is the best one I've read so far. So many houses that speak my language!

I'm kind of filled with inspiration these days, so many projects running around inside my head.

Even Shifu wants to get into the act and paint something. He's my best helper.

Did you notice the blue bench in the pictures. It's my very first painting project, just finished it up last weekend and I can't stop looking at it...or taking pictures of it. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Here's a little sneak peak of the before and after to tide you over until I can tell the whole story.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Prairie Style

Since I came late to the "shabby" party, I missed out on the first issue of Fifi O'Neill's first Prairie Style magazine last year. The ironic (head banging against wall) thing is that I SAW it out on the newsstand and, of course, with my Laura Ingalls Wilder background, my eye was drawn to the word prairie in the title and I even picked it up...but I was skint at the time and put it back without buying...big mistake. Of course it sold out and can't be found anywhere anymore.

So I'm not making the same mistake twice. Fifi (editor/founder/contributor of some of my favorite magazines like Romantic Country and Coastal Living) has a new Prairie Style magazine coming out and I want everybody to know about it...just as soon as I reserve my own copy.

Behold the beauty of Prairie Style

Beautiful, right? Doesn't it make you want to rush right out and buy it when it hits newsstands on May 1? Of course it does. And it'll be ok for you to run out and buy up all the copies because I'm not taking any chances this time, I'm pre-ordering a copy to be sent directly to me...right now...before you read this and do the same thing and it gets sold out and I miss out...again.

Here's a picture of Fifi. She was born in France but now lives in Florida. She's got style and she's from two of my favorite places - what's not to love?

Au revoir for now!