Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween and My Dining Room

Ok, so I hate goulish Halloween stuff, but here is something autumn-y and lovely from my favorite Bowman's Garden Center.

I thought I'd share a shot of my dining room with you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Kitchen

There's a word in architecture which I like better than "junking." The term is "adaptive reuse." Adaptive re-use is repurposing a school into an elderly assisted living apartment building vs. repurposing a chicken coop into kitchen decor.

Here is a picture of the adaptive re-use of a chicken coop. This is the type of contraption that one uses to bring chickens to market for sale. I have filled it with my collection of ceramic and fabric chickens and it hangs in my kitchen. I bought it at a junk store in Los Angeles while at a conference. My co-workers were not especially pleased that this very authentic coop, chicken poo and feathers to prove it, sat in the back of the Red Cross van. I scrubbed it off and had it sit in the San Diego sun for a week before bringing it inside.

While I'm at it, here's a picture of my kitchen hoosier cabinet that my mother bought as a house-warming present.

We ran out of funds in the kitchen renovation when we got to the spice cabinets. Our version is craft crates from Michael's which were on sale. Restoring an old house can be pricey. You have to improvise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Field Trip - McDonald's Garden Center - Now is the time to plant pansies

I love McDonald's Garden Center. It is right next door to the more familar McDonald's, the Golden Arches in Chesapeake VA. McDonald's is a small chain of three stores. They decorate magificently for every season and it is soothing the the soul to browse among the fruit trees, herbs and roses in the Spring. My favorite time, though, is Autumn. You can see why in the picture above. McDonald's staff is very knowledgeable and generous with suggestions and advice. It is one of those places where I feel happy just to walk in the door.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Junk Sophisticate

I love reading blogs. From time to time, something in another girl's blog really inspires me. I recently stumbled across Junk Sophisticate and found some inspiration for my front door from her. Just to give credit where credit is due. It isn't that I copied her autumn front door display, but she gave me the idea to run out grab the antique ladder for the loft in the detached garage.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Annie of Chincoteague

This is where I had lunch today, one of the best crab meals I've ever had...on Chincoteague Island. Chincoteague is on Virginia's Eastern Shore, about a 90 mile drive from my house. Bill's Seafood is one of those places which doesn't look terribly impressive from the outside, but it was just wonderful on the inside. Bills is located at 4040 Main Street, Chincoteague Island, Virginia, 767-336-5851.
I had a hard time deciding between Sugarbaker's and Bill's. I loved the show, Designing Women, so I found the front window and the name of Sugarbaker's charming. My choice was made easy when I realized I was too late for lunch at Sugarbaker's.
The building with the goose out front pictured above is one of the charming shops on Main Street, while the square white building with the patriotic bunting and cobalt blue stained glass is the Chincoteague Public Libary.

This statue commemorates a beloved book from my childhood called Misty of Chincoteague. Chincoteague is home to wild ponies. Misty was an actual pony whose descendents still live on the Island to this day. Each year on July 7, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department rounds up these wild ponies for sale to benefit the department and to keep the pony population under control. It is often covered on the national news. Misty of Chincoteague was written at Miss Molly's Inn, which you can see in one of the top pics.

This is one of the lovely bed and breakfasts available on the island. Chincoteague Island is also home to many beautifully restored private Victorian homes.

Many of the shops are decorated in honor of the Harvest. I thought this one was a lot of fun.

This is the marsh area of the national wildlife sanctuary on the Island. I shot it from a moving car and was delighted with how it came out.

Another bed and breakfast in a restored Queen Anne Victorian home.

The detail on the Victorian home pictured is called "fish scale" for obvious reasons. The cat silhouette is a more recent addition. Many of the old homes in this little village show this detail, which commemorates the residents' links to fishing as a way of life.

This is Chincoteague Island's vintage 1930's two-screen theater. I like these much better than the 24-plex monstrosities at the mall.
Though I was only 90 miles from home, I felt like I had stepped into another world. Some of my favorite childhood books were The Lonely Doll, Hide n Seek Fog and Misty of Chincoteague. Just seeing the statue and the actual spot where Misty was written brought back the kid in me. The quiet beauty of nature is everywhere you look on the Island, the kind of quiet waters that do indeed restore the soul.
Here's some information about Misty
and here's some more info about the Island

My Daily Walk

I am really blessed with all the sights and sounds during my walk along Crawford Bay and the Elizabeth River. There is one thing that makes me smile every time I see it and it is the picture above. The round sign up high on the on the pole (which you may not be able to see without double clicking on the pic) says, "Swimming Point." Swimming Point is a tiny, exclusive enclave right on Crawford Bay in Portsmouth. The black and white sign to the left reads, "No fishing, crabbing or swimming. No one else finds it as silly as I do, that there is no swimming at Swimming Point.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bowman's Is A Magical Place

Sarah Sparrow supervising while Nora Spotted Dog checks a price for me. Any business with a resident dog is tops in my book.

Bowman's Garden Center is one of those magical places that makes me feel happy every time I step across the threshhold. Bowman's used to be a 7-11. I'm not a big fan of 7-11, apologies to all those Slim Jim and Slurpee fans out there. Bowman's magic took over on Green Street years ago, so all you can still see of the convenience store is the brick facade. There isn't a Slurpee in sight and you can't buy lottery tickets.

Behind Nora Spotted Dog in the top pic is one of my favorite people on earth, Sarah. My friend Pat calls her Sarah Sparrow. That isn't her last name, but I like it better than the one she has, a leftover from a husband who was very cruel years ago. However, Sarah is quick, darting and British, so Sarah Sparrow suits her,. Sarah designs exquisite floral arrangements, particularly the ones she lovingly prepares for the church altar each week. One Thanksgiving she decorated with artisan breads, fruits and was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

As you can see, the colors in Bowmn's are wonderful, as are the display fixtures. Rich Bowman, the owner, has a careful eye for staging and detail. There are no metal stands of any kind leftover from the old 7-11. Rather he uses things like old shutters, armoires and chippy white painted shelving to display things to their best advantage.

I'm bananas for this blue background.

This bureau with the vintage mirror is also to die for.

These Mardi Gras mummers mask owls speak to me. I'm not sure what I'd do with them, being a little old to go out Trick or Treating... I think they might startle Bruce.

Here's a Bowman's spot which invites me to just pick up a book and sit and read for a while. The staff might think it odd, however. On the other hand, I think the staff already knows that I'm odd.

Please note the invitation for "free broom rides." I don't know about you, but aren't there certain times when you're in the car fighting traffic that you think that a broom might be a more appropriate mode of transportation...just based on your witchy disposition alone?

I think the sepia tones in this area of Bowman's are just lovely. This isn't a color which I typically gravitate to, but in this case, it just makes me think, "Harvest."

If you are in the Portsmouth, VA area, drop by Bowman's, 315 Green Street, Olde Towne, Portsmouth, 757-393-2070. You'll feel happy just walking in. Perhaps Rich will offer you a cucumber (yes, I said cucumber) soda or a latte. That special gift of hand made jewelry for a dear friend may be waiting for you. Sarah Sparrow will be happy to wait on you, just tell her Annie sent you.

Autumn in the Front Hall

I change the items on and around my antique marble top chest in the front hall for each season. This chest is wonderfully carved in the front, has many drawers which I store linen in and little brass rings that serve as drawer pulls. It belonged to my maternal grandmother, who left me some lovely Victorian things, but I have no other information about it. I wish I knew.

The cloche (or bell jar) to the left and the apothecary jar to the right tend to stay, but the garland around the mirror and other items change from shells to Christmas ornaments to fruit to candy corn to pine cones, depending on my mood. Right now, you can see some friendly scarecrows and fall leaf garland. I don't care for gruesome Halloween decorations.

The doorway leads to my kitchen. I adore the transom window over the top of the door. The wreath in the transom is made from feathers. I bought it from a magical place called Bowman's Garden Center in Olde Towne, Portsmouth. I'll have to do a field trip there soon so you can see.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Old Mirror from Ghent

Ilove to restore or reuse old things. One night when I was walking in Ghent near the Donut Dinette, I found an old mirror left for the trash. I'd rather fix something that was trash picked than have someone give it to me new. It is also "green" and re-cycled... just think, the old mirror isn't in a land fill. The mirror reborn as a chalkboard sits over a cedar-lined built in storage "locker" that I just love.

Also trash picked is the pie safe you see at the end of the hallway. It was apparently an old chicken coop and had the chicken poo poo on it to prove it. I cleaned it, sanitized it and Bruce lined the doors with chicken wire. It is one of two real chicken coops I have in my house. Bruce finds this odd having grown up around the smell of chickens. I grew up around the smell of the subway, so I find him odd because he knows how to milk a cow by hand. That reminds me of a funny scene from one of my favorite movies, "Witness," but I digress

I've had a passion lately for chalk boards/slates. I think I first saw Kim at Daisy Cottage writing little messages on slates. I love them because when I see little quotes or things I want to remember, I have my own little soapbox to say what I will.
We pulled out the broken mirror, leaving the frame and spray painted it white. I traced the outline of the mirror's inside and used chalk board paint on the wall. I leave little notes for my husband or what have you on this little framed chalkboard.

The rest of what you see is my long, dark, narrow hallway that I painted a sunny yellow. It is also a TALL hallway, the ceiling is 11 feet high, so you can't even see the vintage lamp. The pic looks odd at that angle, but it is the only way to include most of the elements in the hall.

Autumn Fresh Flowers

I love this primitive yellow tool box with the "Fresh Flowers" on it. I've filled it with pansies and fall mums and put it on my front porch. If you look closely, you will see that the handle of the tool box is made of a spindle from an old staircase. The handle still has traces of wonderful old green paint on it.

The white you see behind it is mosquito netting that we use when eating outside. I don't like the look of screening on a front porch. I think it makes the front of the house look kind of blank. The netting looks prettier, I think.

Another one of my odes to Autumn.

Peeping Tomasinas and Keys

Did I ever tell you that I'm a Peeping Tom...or I guess a Peeping Tomasina? My goal is not to see naked people or even people at all. I want to see people's decor. I want to see their wall colors, their window treatments and how they hang pictures on the wall. On my evening walks, I'm always delighted with the people who leave their blinds up. That's why I love some blogs so much, because they are another way of peeping into someone else's house. So here's a peep into mine.

I've always been fascinated with keys, particularly skeleton keys. My grandfather, whom we all called "Father" to distinguish him from my own father (a man who I assure you could never be referred to as "Junior," though he is one) was an attorney. As an aside, you can see my father's sepia colored graduation pic in the round frame on the left hand pic I've posted.

Father had acquired a large number of skeleton keys from estates he had settled. They were kept in a canvas bag in the wonderful old pantry my grandmother had, third drawer down. How I'd love to have that pantry now! When I worked at the old church, we re-keyed after renovation and happily, I ended up with all those old keys.

I also have a precious key from "Pop" my other grandfather. You can see this key in the first pic, it is the one that hangs down lower than the others. My Pop had a kind, smoothing voice and sparkling blue eyes. He looked like Jimmy Cagney. He worked in at a pub called "the Hub" (which according to the key chain, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1959!) after teaching all day so that my mother and Uncle Jimmy could go to college. The wonderful old Bakelite owl key chain with the key to that bar in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania was found amongst his things after he went to Heaven.

So many keys found their way to me that I decided to use them in my decor, as a sort of chair rail border. You can also see an ancestor's old pocket watch. I also used some old things that I found in the yard, like a big old hook I found when digging a garden. You can also see my homage to Tina at Cherry Hill Cottage, in the little teapot with the flowers. She did something similar a few weeks back.

Jesus said that he gave us the keys to the kingdom of heaven, so I'm glad those hundred of keys hang there to remind me of that.

The Donut Dinette

This is the Donut Dinette in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, just 4 miles from my house through the Midtown Tunnel. This tunnel takes me underneath the Elizabeth River which separates our two cities, something I contemplate as I frequently drive through it.

I often wonder what size of ship is actually navigating through the harbor right over my head there as I drive underneath. It could be a dear red tuggie, a Navy ship, a coal barge or even a Mickey Mouse ship, the Disney Magic, which was overhauled in the Titan drydock last month.

Ghent is an eclectic, trendy area of lovingly restored old homes, gorgeous apartment buildings from the the turn of the century with names like "Princess Anne" carved into the lintels, a bird sanctuary and all the hip restaurants. Ghent is so cool it has TWO Starbucks and and an independent coffee shop, too.

The Donut Dinette isn't contrived retro. It is just the way it has always been, with a vintage Coke signs that aren't just old-LOOKING, they've just been there for over sixty years. Authentic old-timey is so much better than "let's try to make this look old."

The "Donut" has only vintage stools inside and what used to be called a lunch counter. It is tiny and there is no room for any booths. These are the kind of stools I used to spin around on to make myself sick as a kid at Shady Glen in East Hartford, CT! In the temperate months, they have tables and chairs out front. However you have to go inside to step back into the past when it almost seems as though you could look down at the Virginian Pilot paper to see where Tommy Dorsey was playing live and learn that Mrs. Roosevelt was visiting in West Virginia to inspect working conditions in the coal mine.

The Donut is one of those places I've passed about a bazillion times and thought, "how cute, we should go there." One night, Bruce and I went for a walk in Ghent. As we passed The Donut, I noticed the that someone was inside the closed restaurant making donuts with his dog; a white dog with a big black patch over his eye curled up on the black and white tiled floor. Okay, the Health Department would have freaked, but I considered it perfection! I had to go.

The Donut's staff are perfect, too. In an age of sometimes surly serice, they are friendly and talkative. They seem to be throwbacks to another time, too. Customers come in, cheerfully teasing each other and staff, reading the paper and "talking story" (as they say in Hawaii. Is that pidgeon English term not a perfect word picture?)

The cooking grill is right out in the open, behind the counter. Two can have the breakfast special and coffee for under $20 with tip, which is A-okay in my estimation. Last time I was there I had eggs over medium and rye toast (no grits for this transplanted Yankee, read a vintage decorating magazine, spun around on my stool just a little, held hands with Bruce and thought of how sublime life can be.