Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Floral Centerpiece

My brief stint as a floral designer when I was younger comes in handy every once in awhile.
This year I knew I wanted to use small pumpkins with flowers as my arrangement.  Last year I was still not getting enough sleep due to the baby to even think about doing anything. So last night after the boys were asleep, I broke out the pumpkins, flowers, and plastic cups...yep, thats all you need.

First I cut out the stem and removed the seeds...holy smokes, I have never seen so many seeds.
I was very happy to roast them, and have been snacking on them all day.

I cut the top off small plastic cups, making them almost even with the top of the pumpkin.

Next I cut my flowers short, and tested the height of the stems, making sure they would reach the water even if it went down. I happen to like my arrangements tight, and grouped into colors.
I also went with a purple, orange and yellow scheme with white hydrangeas in 2 pumpkins to break it up. I used yellow Gerbera Daisies, Purple Poms, Purple Alstroemaria, and Orange Roses.

Right now, they are grouped on my serving buffet, to keep out of the way of little grabbing hands. I had quite a few extra flowers, so I was able to do a tall vase and a small vase to put in the powder room.

Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving when I decorate the table, they will be grouped with the gourds, and of course a table cloth!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I can honestly say that being a mom, has completely changed my outlook on weather, safety, and preparedness when you have children to care for and a hurricane is on the way. My husband and I got the generator ready before Hurricane Sandy was coming, filled up our cars with gas, got two gallons of milk, bread, and filled two gas cans for the generator.  My three year old helped out in the yard as we put almost everything into the garage and tied down the table and chairs. During the storm, he actually asked to go outside in the wind! He didn't seem to notice how badly things were blowing.  We lost power Monday night about 6 pm, right after dinner.  We hung out the rest of the night by candle and Kyle couldn't understand why he could watch the Toy Story movie on the iPad, but not the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, by wifi.  Books were read by candlelight and the sound machines had batteries in them. But our room, where Logan sleeps, had no sound machine and it was deadly silent.  My husband, being the greatest protector one could marry, slept on the couch in case a window blew in.  It was a bit scary that night, and I don't think I slept much.

Morning came, and it was time to turn the generator on. I still had very limited cell service, so I wasn't sure what was happening at my brother's, parent's or mother-in-law's houses.  My friends slowly texted through the week, but the biggest news came from my friend that morning when she said, "Colleen's house was lucky, it didn't burn." She texted me, "Breezy is burning." I was in shock. I had no news, no radio, no internet, no wifi on my phone, so basically in the dark. My job was only to make sure that the boys were happy and fed, sleeping well, and totally impervious to what was really going on. Both Bryan and I were stressed. We wanted to conserve the gas for the generator, so we would only run it during the day, and turn if off in the afternoon while the boys were napping. Prepared for the storm, yes. But not prepared for the way it destroyed our Island.

The images on the news don't do the damage justice. I saw today a video of the Great South Bay, the boats tossed on top of each other like they were Matchbox toys. Our beaches and the boardwalks are ruined. We were just at Long Beach a week earlier with the boys, total calmness in the water. Flat. The calm before the storm. I kept thinking prior to Sandy's arrival, "Oh, it's a storm, we will be fine." I couldn't even imagine the damage it caused. I cannot complain one bit that we lost power for a few days, I have friends whose electric boxes were ripped off of their homes. My friend Colleen who is lucky enough to say she only has to rebuild her first floor, compared to her other family and friends homes in Breezy Point and Roxbury that burned to the ground or were washed away by the storm surge.

And now today, a Noreaster. Really? I mean come on, give us a break.  It's freezing out, people have no power, more people lost the power they just got back, and people are suffering.   Once again, our cars have gas, the gas cans are ready ... I am hoping our power stays on through the night.

I feel utterly useless sitting in my house, the gas shortage is causing everyone to panic and fuel up whatever they have. It's also a matter of conservation at this point, don't go anywhere unnecessary. My friends and I have started collecting donations of clothing for my friend's families in Breezy Point. But we have to get them to the families, and this weather and gas thing is getting in the way.

I am so thankful for the family and friends that I have, and for a home that is still warm. Having two little boys puts everything in perspective.  I can only hope and pray for the families still suffering that their prayers are answered quickly, and that they can rebuild soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Distressed Custom Sign

I had the pleasure of working on this sign for a local winter sports club, called Beaver Dam.  The logo was recently updated, but they wanted an old, worn down look for the sign.  This will be hung up on a fire place mantel.

A local lumber place cut the wood in a circle, and I had a custom stencil cut to specifically fit the circle. There was no way I was free handing a painted circle!

I first painted the board black, and laid out my stencil. A custom red and beige were mixed to match the hockey jersey colors. Because I was going to be doing a lot of distressing and glazing, the colors were going to change anyway. After the stencil was completed, I did a light sanding around the outside edge, glazed over the piece with a dark brown glaze and brought it to the designers for review.  I was given the go ahead, to really distress the piece.  That's when the fun began. I literally hit the board with lots of different tools to give different marks. A hammer, pair of pliers, some weird tool that was my husband's, a nail set, a 5 and name it.  I then sanded down random edges around the lettering, circles, and artwork in center.

Then came the fun part. Crackle.  I used an antique crackle that you would find on an old canvas. One that had been laying around for 100+ years. I first spray the Damar Varnish on. Very stinky, be sure to have the windows open. Then, once it gets tacky, 2nd coat. The first one really seals the work. Once the 2nd coat is tacky, I applied the crackle varnish. This has a yellow brown tint, which adds years of age on the piece. It also smells, and is easy to work with. I used a hair dryer to force the cracks, as I tend to be impatient, I like to see it happen quickly! There they were, hundreds of crackle lines, big, small, tight, and large, and it works like magic. You can leave the piece as is, or, like I did, rub the antiquing black into the cracks and wipe away the excess.  What I like about this, even though a majority of the piece is black, you can still see the crackle on the black area. It came out perfect. I will be taking it back to the designers for review tomorrow! Hopefully it's a go!

Should look nicer above mantel then on my floor!

I love the random sizing of the crackle 
You can see the crackle even on the black areas

Extra distressing on these letters

Harvest Time

Most of my posts have been work related, but I wanted to just share what my family and I have been doing the past few weekends. October is one of my favorite months, I love the idea of driving out east, spending the day on a farm, picking pumpkins and apples, tasting wine ... fresh, crisp clean air.  I love the changing leaves, the smell of baked apple pie, and warm apple cider.  A little Captain Morgan's can't hurt either.  My husband, Kyle, and Logan all went out to Harbes Farm two Saturdays ago. I went there almost 8 years ago with my brother and his wife, and their baby boy. Now here I am going out with my family, and it made it so special.  For Father's Day, I made all 3 boys matching shirts, with 3 bike cogs on it and a Z in each circle representing each of the boys and my husband. We never got them to wear them, and today was a perfect day.  Kyle and Logan did a fabulous job picking out pumpkins, we ate delicious local corn on the cob, and brought home a trunk full of gourds and pumpkins.

You want me to pull this for how long??

My three men.

A little pumpkin for a little boy.

The following weekend we met with some friends and their boys and spent the day at Oyster Fest, a huge fair in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It's a beautiful area, the water is right there, the kids can walk on the pebble beach and there is every type of food imaginable. The boys were happy to visit the Petting Zoo and just dance by the bandstand.

This weekend was very special.  We were celebrating Kyle's 3rd Birthday and Logan's 1st birthday.  My plan was originally to have a "construction themed" party here at our house. I had these great invites made from Etsy, started ordering all the construction favors, made the banner to hang up, started printing out "Build" & "Party Zone" signs. I bought CAUTION tape to run around the house and along the fence. I had my cake all planned out. I made t-shirts for the boys with a dump truck and the numbers 3 & 1. But the forecast for the weather did not look good and I panicked. What was I going to do with 14 kids and 26 adults? I found an adorable place by us called Le Play Cafe and booked it. Wouldn't you know it the weather was perfect and sunny? Although it did pour the day before and the backyard was wet. Oh well. Next year! But it worked out so good. We were able to still use the dump truck pinata.  They let me bring in my signs, the hard hats, and we decorated our house for the family to come over after. All in all, it was so good to see everyone, but just not enough time. 

Kyle & Logan
Happy Birthday Boys!

The cake made of cupcakes! Bakery did a fabulous job!
Logan trying his first cupcake! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I finally met a Gracie!

No, I'm not talking about a woman named Gracie, I am speaking of the illustrious, highly sought after, extremely expensive wallpaper called Gracie. I have heard of these papers, and seen them on line.
Nothing can hold a candle to it, it must be seen in person! Remember the brown and white floor I did a few weeks back, well that client had custom Gracie paper on 2 of her walls in the dining room. When I did the floors originally a few years back, she also hired me to paint the remaining two walls in a soft stipple to mimic the background color of the Gracie paper. I had the time to stare at the wallpaper up close and take some photos this time around. These were taken with my iPad, as I forgot my camera.

Each area is completely different then the next, not one bird repeats or flower. 

Can you see the fine lines of the feathers?

For those of you who don't know me well, I have shaky hands. When it comes to mural painting, most of my work is unaffected by it, thankfully!  But there is no way I could ever work for Gracie.  Look at the detail! The fine lines...swoon. Sigh.  Someday, I would love to paint a version of their paper, lol, a simplified version! It's exquisite and costs a small fortune. If you happen to go to their website, flip through the gallery and they list prices per panel. A lot of talent and hard work goes into these custom papers. I am glad I was able to study them closer this time around.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Antique Sewing Machine...a new life!

A few years ago, before children, I would visit garage sales. My husband and I went to one that was an estate sale. We were able to walk through the home and check out the whole space! Pretty cool. Since having kids, I have been to 0. That's going to change now!

My mom suggested I give Kyle, my oldest a dollar and then he too could have fun shopping.  We ended up scoring 2 antique sewing table bases that had been redone to have butcher block tops. One was really pretty and round. This is the one featured here.  I knew I didn't like the pale color of the butcher block but didn't want to lose the wood character.  Around the same time, I was doing a custom stenciled ceiling for a client's master bedroom. The stencil was miraculously the same size of my table! Let the painting begin!

Unfortunately I do not have the preview photos. Just imagine it pale wood color. First, I lightly sanded down the poly, then applied a dark gel stain. Then I stenciled my pattern in a dark brown stain. Next, I applied an antique crackle system. It allows just the cracks to be filled with glaze. A few layers of varnish and it's one of my favorite pieces in my home. I set it up for the fall season, hopefully the kids keep their hands off!
The ceiling pattern where the stencil originated.


The crackle
Our fall display. 

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Miss Mustard Seed

Thursday, October 4, 2012 last!

I love me some craigslist! Who doesn't?  When we decided to move last year, we were looking for a book case to replace the one my husband broke, while transporting the oversized piece to the basement.
Well, more like I sort of asked him to try and take apart our beautiful craftsman style bookcase. If it couldn't be done, then so be it. We would have to live with it where it was. I came home to find the bookcase in very poor condition in the basement. It's new home. He said it was impossible to take apart, since it was made of mostly particle board with wood veneer. Really? I thought we spent a fortune for something I thought was all hardwoods. When we sold our house, it remained in the basement for the next buyer. Happy moving in present!

On a random bored evening while perusing Craigslist antique's section, we came across an oldie but a goodie. Just needed a little love.

I finally had time to give it a much needed face lift this summer.  I am a huge fan of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, thanks to my friend Amanda over at Suite Pieces.  I cleaned it up with TSP, and then put 2 coats of ASCP Provence Blue. Then I waxed with Clear wax, sanded the edges back and added some thinned down Dark Wax over it.  I had to replace the glass, I wanted something more antique, and found a beautiful piece. I also took out the scroll work so that it wasn't so busy.  One day, my office will have coordinating blue in the drapery treatments. As of now, my husbands been wondering why I chose this color. Someday honey it will all come together!
Beautiful Glass!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Classic Painted Floor

Almost exactly three years ago, I painted a large floor in a foyer in a brand new constructed home.
It was absolute torture. I was 8 months pregnant, it was 95 degrees, no AC in the house. Need I say more.  Thank the dear lord I had 2 wonderful assistants to help me on the floor. Flash forward about 5 months after floor was painted. "The floor is cracking".


Well, my first thought was of course it is, they installed a floor in the hot, humid house, so the wood had expanded to bust, and now with the heat on the wood has shrunk, and the floor boards are cracking.

Makes total sense to me, and I am not a floor contractor.  This poor client has lived with the floor for 2 years, last year they wanted to re-do it, but I was again pregnant with our second baby, and said it can't be done now. After the baby. Long story short, it was just re-done this past week. Now, the floor still has large cracks, and some of them almost 1/8" thick. Seriously.  The builder and flooring installer are playing the blame game on each other. My poor client was very happy to see us back, and we tried and fill in as many cracks as we could with paint.  Paint is no miracle filler though. These cracks will more then likely re-appear.

What I love about this floor is it's scale. Two foot by two foot squares, in a deep chocolate brown and white. It just seems so classic and bold. I hope you agree!

Can you see the beautiful Gracie Wallpaper in the dining room? Next post!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Ok, so I took a little hiatus..

Ok, ok....I took a long hiatus. But its better then the year long gap between the other posts! I guess my problem being a business owner, a mom, and a that there is always something else to do.  For instance, after finally getting our 1 year old baby in for a nap on saturday afternoon at 4 pm, an hour and a half past due.  I came downstairs and my husband is sitting on the couch playing on his phone. I looked around at our toy riddled living room and sighed. I said to him, "Must be nice to just sit and do nothing!!"  I said, "Now I have to scan a jersey in to the computer to make a logo, make a sample for another client, switch paint supplies for work....cook and this house looks like a tornado hit it!"  Don't get me wrong, he is a great help around the house and has crazy hours and is most of the time a walking zombie. He deserves to rest on the couch too.  Just wish I could!

I do this at least once a week, have a mini-adult tantrum. I think I am allowed.  There aren't enough hours in the day, to get all my housework done, and my business work done. Being my husband is NYPD officer, he doesn't have any work to do at home, except for all my little projects I give him.  He is great with tools, and can build me anything. We just need time and money.

Part of the reason I wanted to start to blog was to share pictures of our house projects. Since the summer, I did manage to paint one fabulous piece of furniture, which I will share later when I have a chance to get some good photos. We also just recently painted the kitchen.

Yikes, no photos of that either.  God, I am a bad blogger.

Ok so I will switch to a job I just completed in the beginning of September. This is a fabulous client who hired a designer to create a Country French apartment for her.  I got the call to do very rich old yellowed walls, woodgrain beams in the master bedroom and a faux brick powder room.  These jobs I completed in March.  I was lucky enough to go back in September to transfer the black hole in her living room, the fireplace.

The wooden mantle was not to be touched.  The inside stone mantle came with the apartment and had a lovely shade of pink, note sarcasm. So to change that we stippled a textured material to give the look of old limestone. We then over glazed it to change the coloring and antiqued the crevices.  

Bye bye black concrete!
Just one of the many layers of the stenciling process.

Done for the day. Stones tomorrow.

In this photo you can see the strange round stones on the bottom hearth. Here is where we miscommunicated with each other. Both the client and I looked at stone walls and agreed upon a random stacked stone in a horizontal pattern.  She did not like this and wanted more round stones, and much larger.  They were changed to this. But these were too clean, new and Disney"ish".  I then changed it to be heavily distressed and can hardly see any grout.  Unfortunatly I only have the finished view from far away. Oops. Next time I'm in NYC, I will grab a better shot.
You can see that the stone is almost disappeared on the hearth.

The finished room. Both her living room and library have turquoise, orange and brilliant yellow. I love her shutters on the window.