Le Petite Parlor

Hello friends, I hope you are enjoying the wonderful brisk air and the glorious scent of fallen leaves. Oh how I love fall! I have found myself involved in somewhat of a dilemma with my mudroom (of which I have renamed) these past two weeks and have not been able to enjoy the outdoors as much as I would have liked. What first seemed like a simple furniture swap turned into a full out makeover that had undertones of a nightmare. I actually have scars on my hands to prove it. I wonder if you can relate with me? Have you ever brought one piece of furniture in a room only to realize that while you love the piece of furniture it does not really go with the rest of the room? Most people would not proceed to do what I have done over the past two weeks when this circumstance arose. Those that are far more intelligent then I would simply move the piece to another place in the house. That is what smart people do.

Let me show you what I started with before I lost my mind.

The pictures are not going to be the best quality in this post because most of them were not intended to be seen (and were taken with my ancient ipad so that I could send them to my sister in hopes that she might pity me) but they happen to be what I have on hand. As you can see I started with an antique armoire, limed blue walls and a rug that matched the room perfectly. Nothing was wrong with this room at all. I actually liked it. I liked it a lot until I painted something I had intended to sell….

I had purchased this armoire over a year ago but had lacked inspiration for what I wanted to do with it. I always paint my furniture after European antiques. I guess you could say my motto is something like “if you can’t go to Europe then bring Europe to you.” I found a picture of an antique blue and gold cupboard and decided I would attempt the same scheme. I was not planning on liking it to the point of keeping it but of as you can see, there it sits. The problem was that it didn’t match the limed blue wall behind it. Or the white one. Or the blue one. Or tie dye one.

Let’s meet some of the failures shall we?

The white wall was bound to fail for many reasons. One being that it doesn’t look old at all, two being that it was so incredibly boring and three that the finish was horrid since it was painted on top of many coats of lime. I stared a this wall so many times thinking inspiration was bound to come to me. It never did. After a few days I decided I would not be able to tolerate this look and so I began looking through my old paints to see if I could maybe mix something up that was closer to the blue shade of the armoire. I didn’t want to spent another fifty dollars on a paint shade when I was not really inspired by anything.

Blue, a comforting color indeed, except when half of your drywall paper came off with the roller you used to paint it on. I was not feeling comfortable about the new strange textures I was seeing on my walls. I didn’t bother to take a picture of it so I can’t show you how positively unelegant the walls looked. I think because of all the lime that was under the paint there was some sort of reaction since I had not primed over the lime before putting the latex on. Who knows? I had placed the purple velvet cushion on the chair to see if I would like the blue oddly textured walls better after adding a bit of glam since I had more of the fabric. I didn’t…

Here is a very ugly picture friends of a tie dye wall in harsh lighting. This was definitely not taken for the blog! However, this was my reality. It stayed this way for a few days as my husband advised me to stop. Defeated by a neat armoire and hideous walls I agreed with what he said and stopped. But I have problems guys, major ones in fact. Because those days that I lived with the tie dyes walls my mind kept whispering the words lime plaster to me. A job that has left me with many scars!

Here is a close up of my plastered wall.

Lime plaster is made by mixing one part lime to three parts sand with about one part of water (usually a little less). Then with the strength of an ox troweling it onto the wall. I have used a plaster adhesive and I have also used wire mesh as a base. I like the wire mesh better other then that it’s incredibly sharp and hazardous and you have to cut it to size. However, you don’t have to work as hard to put it on and not as much falls off. The entire room took me about 12 hours to do and while it was not fun at all, I do love how it looks. This is the third room in our house I have plastered and I never regret doing it (except for when I am putting it on the walls).

I got tired of the name mudroom which we always called this room so I renamed it “Le Petite Parlor” because that doesn’t sound like a room you would expect to see gross muddy sneakers and boots lying around on the floor. What could I expect when we called it a “mudroom?”

In the one corner resides this sweet English pine corner cupboard that I bought at an estate sale this summer for thirty dollars. It seems quite happy in front of the plastered walls.

The room still has some things that need wrapped up. I took a pair of green shutters down that concealed our window bookshelf so I will have to figure what type of doors to use to cover it. I also need to finish painting the trim as the picture above reveals. At this point I’m just thrilled to be done with this room.

If you’ve ever experienced a decorating/painting disaster comfort yourself that you are not alone, there are those who can be a shoulder to cry on like myself.

Until Next TIme,


Liming 101

Lime has been used for centuries both in the United States and abroad as an easy and affordable option for covering masonry surfaces, plaster and bare wood. It was only a few years ago that I discovered much to my delight that it can also be used on drywall with the correct primer. In this post I’m going to show you how we limed my sisters walls to give them a subtle depth that cannot be achieved through paint.

If you desire to give liming a try, you will need these supplies to get you started: a bag of Hydrated Lime Type S, a five gallon bucket, a large paint brush, and if you desire a color then you will need pigment. If you do not use a pigment, you will get a bright and vivid cool white.

Lime is unfortunately VERY tricky with pigment because of its high alkaline PH. I have been successful mixing a Prussian blue when I mixed Activated Charcoal with lime, a buff with instant coffee and a beautiful pale blush when I added cinnamon. For my sisters living room we mixed up a lovely lavender shade by mixing Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Curio and a few pinches of Turmeric. We were not expecting to get lavender but that’s what we got and since she liked it that is what we decided to use.

The consistency of the lime wash should be somewhere between milk and cream. You will start by putting your lime into the five gallon bucket, somewhere between a quarter to half full and then adding water till the bucket is nearly full. If you’re adding pigment you will want to add that before the water. Then mix away! I always test the color on a paper plate before I begin and use my blow dryer to see what the color will be dry since the wet lime is ten times darker then the dry…that’s a big difference so do not skip this step.

The first step in liming is having the right surface so that the lime will adhere. If you are liming drywall you will need to first prime with an acrylic primer (a water based primer) or a homemade milk paint. We chose to use the acrylic primer as it can be rolled on rather quickly. I have used both with success.

Lime is applied by making a quick criss cross pattern. Don’t worry about uniformity as the strokes look best on the finished wall when they are somewhat random. This is not as daunting as it may seem because the lime is very thin and applies easily.

Continue until the whole wall is covered. It is best to work in small sections going from floor to ceiling so that you always have a wet edge to work off of, this keeps a seam from forming.

As you can see we were not concerned about a perfect pattern!

The first coat may have you wondering what you have just done! Do not worry friends, the second coat will usually even things out, but sometimes three coats will be necessary if you’re using a medium to dark shade. Grab a cup of coffee and reassure yourself that your walls are about to be really really neat!

Here is the second coat.

And at this point we are noticing we are going to need three coats which is not very exciting as our arms are a bit sore.

Here is a close up of the wall after three coats, it’s just so lovely! You cannot achieve this with paint and though we are suffering with sore arms now, my sister and her family will enjoy the beauty of this room long after the soreness wears off!

Here is a view from her kitchen and it is just perfect! Oh how we love making things look beautiful! There’s lots to be done in this room and there will be plenty of posts coming with updates on her living room.

Have a wonderful week friends!

Until Next Time,


Mirror Mirror on the Wall

A few weeks ago I came across the most wonderful windows ever made. They were for sale in someones barn and I went to look at them with a dear friend of mine who knew the owner. I was instantly in love. It’s so rare to find arched windows like this and with the glass perfectly intact I knew these were a once in a lifetime find. Slowly the reality of the size of the windows dawned on me, they were nine feet tall. My ceilings are not nine feet tall and so I left feeling rather disappointed.

I forgot about the windows over the next week but was reminded of them when my sister told me she wanted to make some changes in her living room which happens to have a cathedral ceiling. I showed her the picture and within a few days the windows were at home in her shed awaiting their makeover. The goal was to make them into mirrors. Preferably old antique mirrors that have crazing and not a lot of clarity.

And so the project commenced.

Here is what we used to create the look of an old antique mirror: Krylon Looking Glass spray, white vinegar, a fine spray mister and black spray paint.

The first thing we did was lay the windows flat so that the vinegar spray would not run. The back of the mirror is what you’re going to be spraying so that it will be reflective on the other side.

Use a spray bottle with a fine mist setting and add white vinegar and water. I did not measure but I had mostly vinegar in my bottle, I really wanted crazing to occur. Please note that the looking glass spray will NOT create a brand new looking mirror even without the vinegar, it will still have an aged look.

After you have sprayed the glass panes with the vinegar, you will need to begin spraying the looking glass spray immediately so that the vinegar doesn’t dry. You should spray three to five coats on each pane. There is no need to wait for the spray to dry between coats although it does dry very quickly. We ran out of paint after three coats and were pleased with the results as it had the aged look we desired.

Here is a photo of the glass crazing as it dries. It is so lovely!!

This picture is the reason I wanted to coat the back of the glass with a thin coat of the black matte spray paint. Without the black behind it, you will not see any of these details from the front side.

We left them to dry outside before we brought them into the living room, make sure you do this as the paint still has a tendency to run if the vinegar has not dried.

Here sits the one mirror, it will end up getting attached to the wall behind it as she doesn’t feel it’s safe to have it leaning with her small children playing around it.

And the other!

These turned out so perfect. You would hardly know that they only became mirrors today! The black spray paint really helped to bring out all of the beautiful imperfections we hoped for and they appear to be many years old.

Next time you see an old picture frame or an old window that you really love, remember that you can easily transform it into something even more lovely!

Stay tuned for more on my sisters living room transformation in the next coming weeks. Next week we are going to apply lime to the walls to make it look like her walls are aged and transported from Europe!

Until Next Time,


Dreamy and Affordable Fall Design

With fall in our midst and the leaves dancing all around us I thought it would be nice to bring a touch of color to my doorstep. In years past I’ve used burgundy mums and white pumpkins which have always looked nice against our limed stucco. This year however, I decided to really jump out of my comfort zone and choose a vibrant orange color scheme. I was up for the challenge! 

There was more then just one challenge as well. With my husband halfway into building our garage, I was not willing to spend a lot of money. And so I went armed with twenty dollars to the produce stand determined to get something that would make me smile everytime I walked up the pathway to my front door. In all honesty, I was unprepared to find that twenty dollars does not get you many “neat” pumpkins these days. Do you know what I mean when I say neat pumpkins? The ones that are flatter and stack and come in lovely colors. Sometimes I wish I were a bit simpler of a girl, then I could have just brought five dollars along and bought five normal, round orange pumpkins. But alas, I am a bit more complicated.

My pride was also beginning to get in the way of me getting more roadside goodies. In case you don’t know what I mean check out my Autumn Cottage post. I have a weird compulsion to drive very slowly down hardly traveled back roads looking for things to quickly snip away at with my pruners. Unfortunately, I had wandered one too many times down the same road and was beginning to feel a bit uneasy about what the few neighbors that live on these roads are thinking. Typically a slow moving large van with a driver who is searching for things beyond the road is considered to be at the very least concerning. Such a shame too, because I saw so much that I could use!  My humility led me to the trail beside our house to see if there were items to cut within walking distance. Thankfully there was. 

The bittersweet that would enable me to make the free wreath of my dreams was growing just beyond the hill. This was indeed a very sweet find. I didn’t even have to waste gas or take a shot at my reputation to get it. Plus I already had another wreath form that I had gotten free at a sale. I guess you could say it was a win win situation. Bittersweet vine grows in the wild and starts off green as you see in the pictures above. It then bursts forth into orange and yellow and creates the most delightful fall decoration. I remember my mom going to great lengths to get it when I was a child. She would put it on top of her old cupboards and add lights. I remember it looking so beautiful. Isn’t it natural to want to replicate beautiful free things when you have the opportunity?

I added fairy lights to the wreath so that it shines at night. It is what you might call a bit rebellious as it is far from manicured. The bittersweet was simply wrapped around the twig form and then secured with wire. At first I thought it was too crazy but after hanging it on the door I determined it was actually quite perfect.

It only took two days for the bittersweet to reveal its true colors.

In an effort to make things a bit more interesting I gathered up the few white pumpkins I had bought previously and placed them into the birdbath. This is such a simple way to make a statement. I also added some dried astilbe as I wanted something that would appear to be flowing over the rim. A few lovely fall leaves finish the design.

With my free wreath and my twenty dollar pumpkins I have reached the goal I had set out to accomplish. I smile on the way to my front door. I am happy because beauty is not costly, it is often found in the simplest of forms, even a wild vine. 

Until Next Time, 


DIY Fall Chandelier

Today I want to give a fun and creative tutorial on how to make an easy and super affordable outdoor fall chandelier. Much thanks goes out to my amazing mom who kindly let me cut away at her coleuses.

Here is what I had when I began the chandelier. I used an old wreath for the form but a wire form would also work. I wanted deep purples so I chose coleus, dried pokeberry and green bittersweet to complement. You can use whatever you can find, be creative! You will also need candlesticks, wire, string, 4 tiny pumpkins, scissors, a knife and wire cutters.

I began by tying my gold string to the ends of the wreath, the string is what will be used to hang the chandelier. Make sure it is knotted. You will want to have two different strings that are the same size, one for the one half and one for the other. Also, please note that while I did not use a drop cloth under the plants and berries, you might desire to if the surface you are working on is to be kept nice.

Now use the second string to tie up the other half, make sure that the form hangs straight.

I used pumpkins for my candle holders. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the pumpkin out in the middle so that the candle will fit snuggly.

This is when things became a bit challenging. I wired my pumpkins to the wreath form making sure that they were secure. If I were to do this over again I would also use toothpicks to poke into both the pumpkin and the wreath. The wire becomes far less noticeable once everything is added to the chandelier.

It was hard to keep everything balanced at this point but the goal is to get all of the pumpkins evenly spaced.

Now that the pumpkins are in place, it’s time to begin attaching your stems. I used thin wire and began by twisting it around the plant stem. When possible, attach to an area where a stem branches out for extra security by placing the wire below the stem as well. Please excuse the not so pretty nails, the pokeberries I was handling earlier stained them … at least it’s purple!

Next, you’ll need to wrap the wire around the wreath while also wrapping the stems at the same time and securing them together. I alternated all three of the coleuses that I had to give it some interest.

Continue until the entire wreath form is filled in.

After trimming the tops and bottoms of the coleus with my kitchen scissors to even things out a bit, I began wrapping the bittersweet around the wreath. Use wire to fully secure it to the wreath. I was able to get long branches of bittersweet so most of the time I could simply wrap and tuck the end into something else that was already there. I then simply tucked the pokeberries into the stems of the bittersweet.

And Voila friends! Light your candles and you have yourself a beautiful fixture over your table.

Enjoy the first week of Autumn!

Until next time,


The Autumn Cottage

It’s hard to believe that the splendor of Autumn is nearly upon us. In a few weeks the leaves will do their yearly dance as they fall from the trees and sprinkle the ground with a wash of color. During this lovely season, I often sit on the porch with a cup of coffee in hand and watch the show before me. The smell of the leaves brings back childhood memories of our family going to the cabin every fall. It’s funny how a smell can bring the past back to life.

And so it is with the last few weeks of summer that I begin to get a bit antsy to decorate for fall.

I refuse to spend a lot of money on seasonal décor and much prefer the natural to the artificial. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that this season brings with it a strange addiction….back road driving. I prefer nearly abandoned roads so that no one will see me exiting my vehicle and quickly running to whatever has captured my attention. You see, I like to get my fall foliage off the side of the road with my handy green pruners. We have an abundance of Goldenrod and Pokeberries in this area and I just can’t resist. I know most people view pokeberry to be a nuisance but I have a special love for it in nearly all my fall arrangements. I even used an abundance of it in my sisters floral arrangements for her wedding. Can you blame a girl for liking pretty, free things? Please keep in mind it is somewhat poisonous and should not be eaten!

Adding fairy lights brings a bit of whimsy to the décor and is very romantic in the evening when the lights are dimmed.

I usually buy a few cream pumpkins to place on the mantle. Nothing too crazy. I did find the most charming little bright orange “things” on a brown stick at the local farm stand the other day. I was not sure what I was buying at the time but it turns out that it is called pumpkin bush or pumpkin on a stick.

The dining room buffet is kept simple with an urn of dried flowers.

The master bedroom is adorned with a few spray painted hydrangea blooms that had already dried on the stalk. Yes, you did read that right. The flowers were originally green but now, thanks to Rust Oleum they are a perfect shade of moody purple. I nearly jumped for joy when I saw how natural they looked. I may post more about this as I have plans for a DIY floral chandelier in the upcoming weeks. I will certainly be visiting the local hardware store for more spray paint this week. I was also pleased with how nice and practical my fifteen dollar French rattan chest looked at the edge of our bed. Bargains are so becoming.

I set up a table with a mercury glass display and more of the wonderful spray painted flowers in the living room this year. I’ve collected numerous pieces of mercury glass over the years and prefer them displayed en masse. However for this table scape I chose just three. A little sparkle can go a long way when you add candles for reflection.

In the family room a large basket of dried flowers hangs over the mantle in salute to Nora Murphy whose French grape harvesting basket has become somewhat of an icon in the design world. I was horrified to find out such a basket was upwards of five hundred dollars. I quickly settled for a basket I already had and after hanging it immediately began stuffing it full of dried flowers. It’s not exactly the same thing but I think my basket was somewhere in the five dollar range. I can sleep at night with that number.

I recently covered the pillows with a mustard linen which complement the plum velvet bolsters quite nicely. It’s fun to change your pillows for the seasons and if you make the covers yourself the cost is minimal.

And lastly, a simple branch of bittersweet graces a Florentine plaque which hangs on the bookshelf.

Fall décor can be as easy as a drive down an old road with pruners at your side. I am not advocating for anyone to go on private property but if you have the ability to pick some lovely weeds off the beaten path and use them to grace your home then I wholeheartedly encourage it! And if you happen to see a strange woman hiding among the weeds with a large van close by, feel free to stop and say hello, it just might be me:)

Until next time,


Elegant Evenings at Home

When was the last time you and your husband had the privilege of getting all dressed up and going somewhere special on a date? A month ago? A year ago? For my husband and I, it’s his annual Christmas banquet which is hosted in a lovely ballroom with candles and music. I just adore the few days before the occasion, picking out an outfit and choosing what my hairstyle will be. It’s reminiscent of what our dating was like when we were still teenagers, when every opportunity to see each other produced a thousand butterflies and you held your breath while you stared out the window waiting for his old beat up car to pull in the driveway. Where I wouldn’t have gone for the opportunity to ride in it with him.

But life has become rather chaotic since that time and while I still run out to greet him when he comes home in the evening it is not usually followed by our quick departure to a romantic restaurant. Life is busy. Being a mother of 5 is hectic and in this blessed season the words “date night” can seem rather archaic. I determined several years ago that we would need to get creative if there was to be any hope of a formal occasion during these years. We would need to do something else, something that at one time left me with little excitement …a home date night. And thus the rules formed in my head. This would not be a quilt spread on the floor with sandwiches from the local gas station. The words romantic and elegant would need to fit hand in hand in what I desired this priceless time to be. It would need to be simple and affordable so we could do it often. I dreamt that it might even be somewhat perfect.

It first started in our living room, where I placed a small table in the corner and dressed it up on our date nights. As our home grew in space, I moved our dating area to our small mudroom and strung icicle lights off the ceiling. When the weather became nice, we moved our romantic space outside and adorned it with candles. Who can honestly say that candles and stars do not marry perfectly together? No matter inside or out, your lighting should remain dim just like a fancy restaurant, and be mainly lit by low wattage bulbs or candles … or of course both! There is nothing that screams unromantic like bright lights during an elegant dinner so it is best to avoid those.

Since the children are home as well on these evenings, we have to keep them occupied. To ensure that these nights are also special for them, we let them have a popcorn and movie night in the family room. Something longer then usual and of course highly entertaining. This is not a good night for the short episodes of Little House on the Prairie though the show is a family favorite. We kindly remind them if they come out to us that we are on a date and that they must return to the family room. Most of the time our evenings go pretty smoothly and I love knowing that our children see how much we love to be with each other. In a world where marriage is so often disdained, I know my children’s perspective on marriage will be a positive one. Depending on the ages of your children, you may not have the opportunity to get outside alone but you could always do a late night coffee and dessert after bedtime or just keep it inside while they are young. Regardless, you can create priceless memories too.

The cost of your evening is completely up to you and can be as affordable or extravagant as you desire. My place setting looks expensive but in reality has cost me less then twenty dollars as everything was either free, from my garden or bought at the local thrift store. The gold “tablecloth” is actually two curtains layered on top of each other and pinned. The chairs I humbly picked up off the side of the road and dressed up by spray painting them and adding some old pillows for cushions. I even buy my candlesticks at the thrift store. A little creativity and a reliable thrift store can save you serious money.

I usually begin setting up our table in the afternoon so that I have plenty of time to get ready for my husband and still cook if we are not going to be getting something in. This has offered me the freedom of experimenting in the kitchen with new and exciting dishes that the children may not be thrilled about. Sometimes I stick with a theme and other times I simply search through the cookbooks I don’t use on a regular basis. I struggle with desserts so that is almost always something I buy at the store. I do not want to ruin a perfect evening with burnt brownies or a sunken cake. If all the prep work seems daunting then simple take out works just as well and will allow you to spend more time being creative and getting ready.

A home date night is truly a joy. It is not terrible as I once thought nor dull unless that is what you make it. It can be whatever your creative mind wants it to be. I am no longer envious of my friends who often go out with their husbands but am content to find myself at home looking at my husband over candlelight with Andre Rieu playing softly in the background. We are making memories and keeping the flame burning even in the busiest season of our lives. It is a joyful thing and I am loving every moment of it.

What are you waiting for friend? Perhaps that pretty dress and your grandmothers silverware need to make an appearance. Might you have the time to plan a home date night with your love this week? You certainly won’t regret it.

Until next time,


For the love of a Garden

View of back garden

The garden is a place of solitude. A place one finds herself after a long day when the cares of this world are more then can be handled. The garden speaks of the love its owner has bestowed on it by watering, pruning and tending to the plants that make it so lovely. A place where hard work is most often rewarded with beautiful blooms, heavenly fragrance and the sweetness of butterflies and hummingbirds.

A path around our Cottage

Our gardens here at the cottage mostly consist of hydrangeas and roses. Several years ago my mom kindly gave me a tray of 24 hydrangea cuttings that were the size of saplings. There were several years where the delicate plants needed to be caged to preserve them from the dreaded little tyke lawn mowers that my children would merrily push around as they desired to be our helpers. It’s a miracle that any survived for surely the odds were against them.

Hydrangea border

And yet, all but two survived. I’m greeted by the abundance of cream, green and eventually mauve flowers for several months throughout the year as I exit my front and back doors. Our bedroom overlooks what has been officially named hydrangea courtyard, a project recently completed earlier this spring in an attempt to make the western lawn more usable. Until that time it had been uneven and sloped with moss and a failed herb garden. Who knew that moss and herbs don’t mix? Thankfully hydrangeas don’t seem to mind.

A view of the courtyard

What would life be like without flowers? I’m so glad that God has given us the privilege to tend to his beautiful creation and that our toil is not in vain. The beauty of hard work eventually always shines forth and even as I sit here looking at the mounds of white flowers surrounding me, I am so thankful that the holes were dug, the plants were planted, food was given and water was poured. For surely if those things had been neglected the sight before my eyes would never have been seen.

What are your gardening dreams? Do you have a place cut out within your property that you can rest from a weary day and smell the sweet fragrance of blooms? It is surely work to keep it lovely but it is rest that we find within its borders. Perhaps you do not have a place where gardening is even a possibility. Have you considered the many options of flowering houseplants, say, a gardenia tree or a lavender tree?

Hydrangea Courtyard

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer friends.

Until next time,