Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving + Black Friday Vintage Sale

We left our snowy mountain Tuesday afternoon and headed to Boston for the holiday. It was 59 degrees in the city yesterday, and after a week of "high of 21, low of 4" in Vermont, Boston felt like a tropical vacation. On my walk through town last night I wore nothing but workout pants and a light jacket, and the simple fact that my face wasn't numb made me so incredibly happy. It really is the small things, folks.

In other news, I will be holding a 20% off sale in the vintage shop for Black Friday tomorrow. I hardly ever hold sales in the shop, but wanted to give it a whirl this year and see how it goes. If there's anything in the shop you've had your eye on, tomorrow would be the day. Enter coupon code BLACK20 at checkout.

A very happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US! Hope you stuff yourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie like I am about to do...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Etsy Favorites, Holiday Edition

Hello all! Sorry for the radio silence since last week. I have been busy with orders and bulking up the shop for the holidays while Josh has been finishing up his chiropractic/nutrition counseling website so he can get back to work. The good news is that after a year of planning and DIY remodeling at our house, the downstairs space is finally ready to be a treatment office. The bad news is I still haven't finished the final touches needed for the "After" photos, so sadly those will probably wait until we return from five days of Thanksgiving and family hang out time in Boston.

But moving on...

It's been a while since I've posted an Etsy Favorites list on the blog, but there have been so many beautiful holiday items on the site recently that I felt inspired to pull together at least a small collection. I find myself drawn to the folk art and Scandinavian themed holiday items, as they remind me of the decorations used at my house as a child.  My mother collected East German handmade holiday items similar to the Christmas carousel below, and we always had lots of twinkling string lights, advent calendars and Christmas crackers, vintage and antique folk ornaments on the tree, and blue and white English china on her red table cloth. This is the first time in 31 years that I won't be home for Christmas, so this list is a little bit of an ode to my childhood home during the holidays. Mom and dad, I will be missing you like crazy this year!

Handmade Wind Chimes $25 Christmas Cracker, $18 Swedish Dala Horse, $52
. . .

Pleated String Lights, $224 Handmade Menorah, $18 Vintage Table Runner, $58
. . .
Festive Washi Tape, $3.50 Custom Family Illustration Greeting Card, $250 Vintage Erzgebirge Christmas Carousel, $152.50

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Before & After: Covered Porch Entryway

Although we are still finishing up the last details inside the covered porch (we work at snail pace, I know), the outside entry leading to the porch is now complete! Let's get right to the shameful "before' photos. We had chicken wire covering open window holes, a chain link entry door, and junk everywhere. There were times we could barely walk through the space because of all the tools, supplies, and clutter. Sometimes it felt like we were one bag of clearance merchandise from Pic-N-Sav shy of a feature on Hoarders.



What we did in the entry area:
  • Poured a cement step
  • Installed bluestone pavers on the concrete patio and step
  • Sanded, primed, reglazed, painted, installed, and trimmmed out salvaged windows
  • Sanded, primed, painted, and installed door
  • Installed weatherstripping around door
  • Added a fresh coat of red paint to the exterior
  • Built a railing
  • Wired and installed new wall sconce at the start of the patio (not shown in the photos)

You may be wondering what is happening to the left of the step where there is currently dirt. We are planning to add a few bags of gravel to that spot, then perhaps some nice potted plants or larger flower boxes on stands. All of that will wait until spring.

The inside of the covered porch needs a few pieces of furniture and some tweaks before it will be ready for photos. We also painted our boards for the house foundation eyesore mentioned here, but have yet to install them. Hope to make that happen this weekend.

All in all we are pretty pleased with how it turned out. It seems to flow with the style of the house, and you can bet we are glad to have one more piece of this remodel puzzle in place. Yahoo :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Deru Origami Animals

Yesterday's flea market produced a curious little find in the form of a leather sheet folded into the shape of a bull. My eye was drawn to it immediately and I snatched it up. After researching the DERU, GERMANY mark on my bull's back leg, it turns out I have a nice little find on my hands.

Deru was a German company that made beautifully crafted animal figures folded out of leather during the 1960s. They used an origami-like technique to create poses and expressions. Today their animals are coveted art objects, fetching prices of $100 to well over $1000.  There is currently a baby giraffe for sale on 1stdibs for $900. Yowza.

photo: 1stdibs

A little more searching turned up these handsome folks.

images: 1stdibs

Don't they just make you smile? I find the likeness and expressions Deru was able to capture simply by folding leather quite amazing. Each animal has a personality and the construction appears effortless and never overworked. This is the kind of art that looks simple enough to make, until you try it and realize it's absolutely an art.

image: trippytrunk on Etsy

image: EUCTG on Etsy

Hope you enjoyed browsing these little creatures. Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 15, 2013

More Covered Porch + What's Next?

We didn't get as much done as we would have liked yesterday, but I still have a few more tidbits from the covered porch project to share. The ceiling is wired up for a new light.

I ordered the below ceiling light from I've had my eye on star pendant lights like this one, but our ceiling is not really high enough for something that hangs so we needed more of a flush mount fixture.

The bluestone turned out better than I thought it might at the start of the project. We had a hard time lining up the edges and getting the pattern to look uniform due to the fact that these stones are natural and have slight variations in size and thickness, but after a few rows we got the hang of finessing it. If we had it to do over, we'd definitely use a two over one pattern, but all things considered it turned out quite nice. It's very neutral and seems to blend right in. (I will share more pictures of the full space once the power tools and construction supplies are moved out of the way. With all the materials hanging around it is still hard to get a sense of how everything flows together. For now a close up shot of one of the few clear areas was the best I could get!)

Once this space is complete, Josh will be using it as an entry/waiting area for chiropractic and nutritional counseling patients who come to the house. We are planning to add seating, a Keurig coffee/tea machine, plants, and maybe even a small trickling fountain. One of the first "finishing touch" pieces was added to the space this week when Josh mounted his brochure rack.

When the space is finally "open for business" the next phase of our life starts. We've been working so hard on the house to make it not only functional for us, but also a home practice for Josh. Once patients start coming over I imagine there will be a more lively vibe around here, and I'm certainly looking forward to that. I can't wait to have people coming and going. Just a little more action, you know? More noise in the house, more faces to see. It should be a very good thing, indeed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Covered Porch Reno Home Stretch

The insulation has been installed, the ceiling boards have been primed and painted, and the ceiling is now IN. Earlier this week it was warm enough to finish sealing the bluestone floor pavers, so we are truly honestly in the home stretch now. Our electrician came this morning to add a ceiling socket inside the porch as well as a wall light outside the porch, and this light has been ordered for the ceiling.

Tomorrow ceiling trim and baseboards go up and we may even bring some furniture in. Exciting stuff! More pictures to come soon of all the progress, maybe even tomorrow. Can't wait to share the final product!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter Begins

Well, here we are at the start of winter. I must admit this snow has got me down. Little case of the winter blues going on. I was always excited about the start of winter when I lived in the city. I honestly loved the snow and by November it felt good to pull out comfy boots and sweaters. But winter out here is just harder. I could go on, but I will leave it at that. Anyone else have snow yet? How are you feeling about it?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It Gets Worse Before it Gets Better

While we attempt to finish the final projects under the covered porch (grouting, sealing and insulating the ceiling, etc.) we've covered the exterior in tarps to block rain water from entering the space. It's a classy look, this whole house-wrapped-in-a-trash-bag thing. After we put the tarps up, Josh and I turned to each other and said, "We should just leave it like this."

I am hoping to have the porch ceiling installed, foundation facade up, and bluestone sealed by the time the tarps come down, so that once they do it will be like a grand unveiling. Imagine the final scene at the end of a What Not to Wear episode where the shockingly fantastic makeover executed by a team of top notch hair, clothing, and makeup stylists is finally unveiled. It will be just like that, except with stone pavers, whitewashed ceiling boards, and a foundation facade.

Until then, you may see a few more pictures like this:

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Week in Instagram

Images above:
1. New bluestone patio under the covered porch getting a coat of sealer. We are rushing against winter now to finish the last bit of grouting and add a second coat of sealer.  Josh has been waterproofing and insulating the ceiling this week as well and the electrician is scheduled to add more sockets for lighting. More pics of that soon.

2.  First snow came way too soon for me.

3.  Brussel sprouts from the garden. I read somewhere they could only take a few frosts and promptly cut the stalks of 5 plants. Came to find out the next day that I could have left them in the ground through January or beyond. We will be eating and pawning off brussel sprouts on friends and neighbors all month.

4.  Requisite picture of me holding brussel sprouts.

5. Vinyl skirt board to cover the house foundation waiting to be painted. Thank you all for the suggestions on this project! I wold have loved to plant a garden or build a little wall here, but this spot is  the drip line where snow falls heavy off the roof and piles high every winter. Any plants/low walls would be crushed/knocked over in no time. Plus, this area gets plowed frequently and we didn't want a flower bed or low wall in the way. A skirt board painted a neutral grey and nailed to the foundation seemed like a decent fix for now. We can always update to masonry work later if the board doesn't feel right. The vinyl, while not my favorite, is completely weatherproof and has a wood grain texture. Hoping it will not look completely faux once installed. Fingers are crossed on that one. We'll install it later this week or next week.

6. Fun mid century chairs spotted on Sunday a junk shop outing.

Use Instagram? Follow me @claireferrante if you are so inclined!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Clouds & Light

For a few brief moments each morning, the yard looks like this if the cloud conditions are just right. I run to grab my camera but often the moment has passed by the time I return to the porch. Yesterday I made it just in time. Good morning from Vermont!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our DIY Retaining Wall Garden, Start to Finish

An added bonus from the wedding was getting a few nice shots of the house from the photographers. Now that we have decent "after" shots of the long toiled over retaining wall and kitchen garden, I'm posting the full process of building the retaining wall, garden, and fence.

Some of you may remember photos of the house from last summer that looked like this:

The deck wood was weathered and the space under the deck was awkward and non-functional. While the sloping grassy hillside next to the house had nothing wrong with it, per se, we thought it would be the perfect spot to plant a little kitchen garden. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into when Josh started measuring and digging the plot for a "simple rock retaining wall."

Throughout an entire year we hauled rocks, stacked, became frustrated, then kept going.

 Along the way we painted the deck and added lattice to hide the foundation and create an enclosed area to store sand for winter, shovels, trash barrels, and general yard supplies.

Eventually we began to have something to show for our work.

Once the wall was done we filled in the back with dirt dug up from another part of the yard, then set to work painting the lattice and putting up a fence around the garden plot.

The top of the garden had completely grown over with weeds by this point, so we set to work turning the soil and pulling out the weeds. Next we measured and installed hemlock boards that we coated with with linseed oil (to protect against rot and moisture) to frame out the garden beds.

By this time it was late September, with the wedding a few weeks away and winter coming soon. There was no time to plant a real garden this year, so we mulched the beds with hay, spread wood chips on the walkways, and planted some mums and decorative kale just to have something there. And here's where we're at right now.

There is still work to do. The fence needs a gate and either an electric wire or rabbit wire backing to keep critters out, but that will wait until next spring when we plant our seeds. For now we are just happy with all that we have accomplished. It's a different feeling driving up to the house now. The vision we had when we first saw the place is starting to take shape. And it feels good that, for better or worse, we did it all on our own.