Monday, July 25, 2011

The New Old Bed

I didn't find any good daybed solutions in Maine but on the way back I stopped at the Cambridge Antique Market to pick up a little mirror that's been on my mind since my last visit.

And there it was.

Not exactly a daybed but an antique spool bed.

The headboard and footboard are fairly close in height and it's a twin size so I can use a standard mattress.  It's almost a daybed.  It's painted a color that almost makes it look like natural wood.  The original paint underneath is almost the same color as the walls.

Spool beds were first introduced about 1840.  I thought the fact that it was a twin size made it a newer piece but it turns out that twin beds became the rage in the 1890s.  They were sold as a sanitary solution to couples sleeping side by side.  You can read more about the fascinating history of twin beds at the Edwardian Promendade blog.

Apparently they're still desirable.  A twin bed at Garnet Hill is $3,368.

This spool bed at Newell Antiques in New York is listed at $950

Mine?  $110.

I'm not sure if I'm going to paint it or not.  It might just need a glaze to tweak the color a little bit.  I'm proceeding with caution so, for now, it needs a good cootie cleansing.

The past week's hot temperatures were brutal on the garden, particularly the hydrangea.

Update:  Since so many people have mentioned them, the pillow covers came from etsy seller PopOColor found here.  She does really nice work.  She's one of the only people I've found on etsy that tapers the corners of the covers so they don't dog ear.  But don't be gettin' my pillows.  Get your own!

I thought I'd bring a few inside to enjoy the air conditioning.

We all enjoy having a few flowers in the house.  If you do too, you're invited to Jane's flower party.

Stay cool!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Extreme Antiquing

Ever since I saw Artie's post on daybeds, it got me thinking.  My middle bedroom has always been one of those rooms you leave off the home tour.   I'll bet a lot of you have one too.  I've been thinking I should change that.  I've always called the room my "studio" but I haven't done any painting or used the large desk I set up since I moved into the house.  It's really a wasted room.  

When my mom and sister-in-law visited, I slept on the floor in the dining room.  

Of course, the cats thought the bed was for them.

If I had a daybed in this middle bedroom, the room could be another dual-duty room.  It could be a second guest room or a private den for a guest since it's attached to the other bedrooms.  A guest den.  Since the upstairs is always warmer than downstairs, this also might be a place I hang out in the winter.  A winter lounge.

It might seem odd that these three bedrooms are all connected but if you've been following for a while, you'll remember that my house was a two-family about the turn of the century.  (1900, not 2000)  The front door to the upstairs apartment was the door to the guest room (seen in the distance).  The master bedroom we're standing in was the kitchen.  Eventually I'll add a door to the middle bedroom from a hallway (where the rag rug runner is) but I'm having a hard time with the idea of closing up all the rooms.  I really enjoy the openness of the space.

On Thursday I thought I'd escape the heat of the city and head up to Maine to see if I could find a daybed for my new den.  I pulled over on Memorial Drive in Cambridge so you could see the hazy view of Boston across the Charles River.  During the 1600s, the marshes along the banks of the Charles were plentiful oyster beds.  During the Revolutionary War, George Washington's fort not far from this spot provided protection from the British.

Today, these banks provide spectacular views of the Boston skyline.  The gold-domed State House sits at the top of Beacon Hill.  I wonder if it's cooler in those sailboats?

I've driven by this spot hundreds, perhaps, thousands of times and I'd never noticed this intricate wrought iron work on the MIT Sailing Pavilion.  How cool is that?

But let's hit the road.

It was 97 degrees outside Withington Antiques in York.  Withington's antiques are usually a little too fancy for my humble house but it's always nice to poke around.  I was expecting the store to be a respite from the heat but I was wrong.  The heat slapped me across the face when I walked in the door.  The place was like an oven, at least 120 degrees inside.  No joke.

This isn't going to be a leisurely shopping day.  This is EXTREME ANTIQUING. 

I love these old signs but they've all gotten so expensive. 

I nice collection of mercury glass.  I'm not sure if I like it or not but it's pretty to look at.

You could cook an egg on this table.

I buzzed up to Snug Harbor Farm... pick up a perfectly aged terracotta pot for one of my topiaries.

I want some hydrangea for the front and along the side of the house.  I like these.

And, as always, I had to check out the topiaries.  Notice the yellow-green ones in front and big red ones in back are coleus.  Did you know you can make a topiary out of coleus?

I also stopped by Corey Daniels Gallery to see Tim Wilson's show. 

I really like his work.  And it's perfectly framed in vintage chippy molding.

Don't they feel like the have a history?

But on to the next steamy place to find something for my new guest den.

Check out these turquioise Chinese pots.  They remind of the ones in Joan's bedroom.  Sorry.  Not telling where they are.  I might have to go back and get them.  I like the blue and white ones in the back too.

I've found a few good anchor pieces for my new guest room/lounge so I'm going to whimp out and head back to Boston in the comfort of my car.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Doors and Windows of Salem, Mass.

It's too hot to do anything around the house so I thought I'd show a few photos from when mom was in town that I never posted.  These are all doors and windows from historic homes in Salem, Massachusetts.

In the middle of downtown Salem was this driveway lined with mature trees that just really took me to another place and time. 

I love this door.

I'm in love with this house and I'm ready to move.  It overlooks a beautiful little park.

The last few are at "The House of the Seven Gables."

It's a beautiful historic city and I can't wait to get back there to explore some more.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tabouli Recipe

About a hundred years ago when I was in college, I worked at a place called ArtPark in Western New York.  ArtPark is a state park dedicated to the visual and performing arts.  It was there that I was able to see operas, ballets, musicals and artists such as Alberta Hunter, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea and Victor Borge along with a cast of visual artists that took residence in the park each summer.  It opened up my eyes to a big creative world.  

My wonderful boss and early style guru, Joan McDonough, started a food service project at the park that provided fresh, healthy food for two different food cafes in the park, as well as prepared picnic baskets for theater goers and catered events within the park.  Seeing some kind of potential in me that I didn't know I had myself, she put me in charge of the newly built kitchen.  

We made vegetarian sandwiches on pita bread which most people had never seen before (avocado, cream cheese, sliced radishes, scallions and alfalfa sprouts was one of my favorites) and salads that were very innovative for the time and place.  Never having seen many of these foods such as humus and tabouli, before, I wasn't sure how they were "supposed to be" so I used interpreted recipes and created what food that I thought tasted good.

My tabouli variation became a cult phenomenon.  People would call from all over Western New York and Southern Ontario saying they were visiting the park that day and wanted to make sure that we would had tabouli.  Our food was reviewed in the Toronto newspaper and my tabouli quickly became known as "Steve's Tabouli."

Today I'd like to share my tabouli recipe.  Many of the ingredients are optional so if you don't like one of the ingredients, just leave it out.  The thing that is critical is bulghur wheat.  

Bulghur wheat is whole wheat that's been cleaned, parboiled, dried and then ground and sifted so it's all uniform in size.  If you can't find it at the grocery store, you should be able to find it at smaller natural food stores.

I always just wing the recipe but I made it yesterday and wrote everything down so I could share it.  This would make enough as a side dish for about 8 people.  Here's how it goes:

2 cups bulghur wheat.
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic
1/4 olive oil

Add water and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  While the water is boiling, crush the garlic into a small bowl and cover with olive oil.  This allows the garlic to infuse into the oil.  Once water is boiling, turn off heat, add bulghur, stir and cover for about 20 minutes until all water is absorbed.   Stir in the garlic and olive oil and allow the bulghur to cool.

Once the bulghur is cool, add the following:

2 medium carrots, shredded
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
5-6 scallions, chopped
1 packed cup of chopped parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
Stir in juice of 1 large lemon, about 1/4 cup

Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.  

Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

The tabouli keeps for days so it's great to make a big batch on the weekend and enjoy it on summer evenings when you don't want to cook.

I hope you enjoy my own version of this classic vegetarian dish.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Double Duty Closet

When you live in a small house, it's great to find places that can serve more than one purpose.

Remember my dining room closet that had many layers of wallpaper?  That closet normally holds my vacuum cleaner, a few vintage suitcases that act as storage, a few coats, and my freshly laundered shirts until I have time to iron them.  

And remember my post on Wallpaper in Your Closets?  Well, when I did that post, I already had something up my sleeve.

I fell totally head over heels for this 1940s Fox Hunt wallpaper.  I don't think we had this exact print but I remember the den in my childhood house having wallpaper similar to this.  I was lucky enough to snag the last double roll of this fun print.  And I've been champing at the bit (pun intended) to find the time to finish this project for a few months.

I had assembled a bunch of things as inspiration for the dining room a few months ago but I couldn't show them because it would have given away the surprise of the wallpaper.

First, I had to trim off the selvage edge.  When my grandfather taught me how to wallpaper, I remember that we used to overlap the edges, but I don't recall him trimming these off.  Perhaps he spared me the agony.  I used my four-foot level as a straight edge and a razor blade to carefully trim off the edges.  Thankfully I only needed only three strips.  What a pain!  I can't imagine trimming enough wallpaper for an entire room.

This ain't no prepasted version.  I had to mix the paste -- yeah, that's a mixing bowl and a big old paint brush -- apply it to the back...

...and book the wallpaper to let it absorb into the paper for several minutes.

The smell of the paste and the wet wallpaper took me right back to an eight-year-old boy wallpapering the downstairs bathroom with my grandfather.  I don't think I've experienced that smell since that time.  It's amazing how an odor can be so instantly connected to a memory.

It was tough working with this old paper, probably due in part to the paper's fragility after 60 years.  I ripped the first piece but since it was off to the left of the door, I pieced it back together and prayed the glue would hold it tight while it dried.  It did.  The other two pieces went pretty smoothly.  The whole thing took about two hours.

The wallpaper is still wet but I couldn't wait to start setting up the closet.  I took the bench from my bedroom upstairs and stacked the vintage suitcases.   I love how the original paint on the upper shelf pretty closely matches the color of the bench.

One of suitcases holds files, papers, bills, receipts, tax documents, etc., and the other holds hats, gloves, gloves and umbrellas.   I've recovered the bench with a brown plaid RL fabric.  I was planning to use the vintage box on top but when I went shopping today, I found the perfect tray.

And here's the final product.  Since I don't have the space for any kind of sideboard or serving table in the dining room/study, the closet is the perfect place to set up a little bar when friends come over.

I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  The wallpaper seems perfectly at home, like it's been there for many years.

And I think it's the perfect little surprise that makes a house unique.

I had a lot of fun doing this...and it's another project I can cross off the list.