Friday, March 27, 2015

Finished and Out the Door: The Grey Dining Hutch

This grey dining hutch was hanging around our house since early last year.  I bought it at Goodwill.  It was filthy and reeked of cigarette smoke, but it was in good condition otherwise ... perfect for a makeover and a quick resale ... or so I thought.


Dorothy and Alice think that they're helping.


The filth and stink was remedied with a good scrubbing and sitting it in the sunshine for a few days.




I discovered while I was working on the hutch last winter (in my dining room, using the dining table as a workbench, because it was too cold at the time to paint in my basement workshop), that it is a perfect match for our Blue Buffet ... except the hutch is oak and the buffet is maple.


The  hutch and buffet were both made by Cochrane.




The body of the hutch is Annie Sloan's 'Paris Grey', and the inside is 'Old White' ... very lightly distressed and clear waxed.  I stripped the oak top and refinished it with clear oil-based polyurethane for durability, and replaced the colonial-style fake brass hardware with brushed nickel knobs and bin-pull handles.








This hutch was one of the stars of my booth at the Lucketts Fair last May.  I wish I had kept count of how many people were lured into the booth and ooohed and aahhhed over it ... saying that the hutch was beautiful, my price was fantastic, then walking away.  My husband is an expert salesman, and even HE couldn't convince anyone to take it home with them.  At the end the weekend, the hutch came back home with us.  (To be fair, I wasn't the only one with this problem.  There was very little actual buying going on at last year's fair, according to the other vendors that I talked with, and a lot of us took home pieces that we had been certain would sell quickly.  Live and learn.)


That little vanity with the Bakelite handles is still available, too.


The hutch was stored in the living room before the Fair, and it returned to the same spot afterward ... and there it sat for months and months ... and I went on to other things.




Last month, in the spirit of continuing to work on finishing what I start, I listed the hutch on Craigslist to see what would happen.  In about a week, I received an email from a nice lady who was very interested in buying it.  Bad weather and scheduling conflicts got in the way for a while, but we remained in contact via email and telephone and we finally worked out a day when she could come by.  She loved it, of course, and she told me that it is exactly what she has been looking for!  It's a small world, because this little hutch now lives in the same neighborhood as my parents, around the corner and about two blocks away.

I still have a lot of leftover stuff in the basement and garage from when I was painting and selling.  Getting a large item like this hutch out of the house is an accomplishment ... baby steps, one thing at a time, finish what I start ... I'm working on it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Way Back Machine ... The Year 2000

In 2000, we had just moved to a new home ... 4000+ square feet of boring beige, builder-grade fixtures and finishes.  One of the first things that I tackled was designing and building bookshelves around the fireplace in the family room.

Last week, while I was sifting through photo files on my computer looking for something else, I came across this photo.  Two of our daughters appear to have been keeping themselves occupied by using a crimping iron on each other's hair ... then they took photos to document the very-crimpy results.  Look who's background ...




There I am, screwing drywall onto the frame of one of the bookshelf sections.  I finished these off by adding casing molding and corner blocks to the face of the units, and installed a three-piece crown molding above.

Those built-ins were a real booger to design, because the self-contained, ugly-ass fireplace stuck WAY out into the room and the window you see was only about six inches from the corner.  Inspiration struck one day as I was staring at the problem, and I designed pairs of bookshelf towers that started a few inches away from the side walls and stepped out into the room.  The wall above the fireplace itself was built out eight inches or so from the wall, to better blend the fireplace into the space.


This is what the built-ins looked like when we lived there.


This is how the next owners styled the shelves, as seen in a listing photo from when they were selling the house in 2013.  (more listing photos in THIS post.)


I finally did find the photos that I had originally been digging through.  It took longer than I thought, since I got distracted by my little trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ready .... Get Set .... SPRING!

Spring is my busiest season.  This is to be expected, since it's the time when I work to get my garden cleaned up from winter and prepared for its big 'show' in early summer.  Hollywood Cemetery is my other garden, and last Saturday's volunteer day was a big success.  The roses at Hollywood are definitely ready for their close up!

This is also the time when garden clubs want programs about roses ... did one last week, and I have another one to do in April.  These require at least a few hours of preparation.  I always spend an hour or two (or more) going over the PowerPoint portion of the talk, refining it and doing what I can to make it better.

In addition to garden things, I slave away at my sewing machine to stock the inventory of handmade collars for Greyhounds Rock.  Our first booth at an event will be during this coming weekend (March 28 and 29), at the Fredericksburg 'Rites of Spring' wine festival.

With all of this going on, it was particularly appropriate the other morning to see a sunbeam illuminating one of my favorite needlepoint pillows.




Believe it or not, this IS a more simplified life for me ... as I am working to strip down to pretty much only what I really WANT and NEED to do.  I'm not one to sit for very long ... you already know that I'm happiest when I'm active.  After being cooped up inside for most of the winter, it feels wonderful to be outside in the sunshine doing physical work.  This is a good thing, since there is a LOT of work around here to be done.

I have to try to remember ... 

One thing at a time.

Finish what I start.

It's a process ... directing my energy toward the completion of a project, instead of scattering my attention all over the place all the time.  I'm better at this than I was ... and I'm not as good at it as I will be in the future.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Snapshot ... Hollywood Cemetery Rose Work Day

Saturday was the day that I look forward to, and plan for, all year ... the day when volunteers gather to provide annual maintenance to approximately 100 of the roses at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery.  The weather was glorious, the volunteers were excited to be a part of the event, and the roses are always better for the pruning and attention that they receive.  I love coordinating the event ... and I am always very relieved and exhausted when it's over.

This year, I took two photos ... two ... that's all.  I left my camera in my car, because I didn't want to haul it around and/or worry about it while I was working. 




I didn't take a photo of this rose before we started on it.  The "Crenshaw Musk Rose" is one of the most historically significant roses at Hollywood Cemetery.  It didn't look its best last year because I forgot to do any work on it ... there were weeds growing around and through it, and lots of winter-killed and bloomed out canes clogging the plant.  It took us almost two hours to do this, as three of us carefully worked our way from the bottom to top, outside to inside, evaluating and reshaping the entire plant.




Pruning like this is appropriate for a vigorous, repeat flowering rose like the Musk Rose.  It maintains the rounded, upright shape of this rose.  I would never do this to Hollywood's once-blooming roses like the Hybrid Chinas and free-standing ramblers ... it would ruin their shape and rob them of most of their personality.  (Yes, I believe that roses have personalities.)

The staff at Hollywood Cemetery does a great job of helping me prepare for the arrival of the volunteers, and the Friends of Hollywood provides yummy boxed lunches for everyone.  I ate mine in the sunshine, while chatting with some of the volunteers.




At the end of the day, I was spent.  Goth Gardener was there, as she promised.  We ended the day with another Silly Selfie ... one that documents our extreme level of fatigue.




It is such a relief to be finished with this.  There are a few roses that didn't get worked on, and I will inspect and do what I can for them in the next couple of weeks, and review and document the other roses to help prepare for next year's Rose Day.  

My attention now will be to focus on my OWN garden.  I'm energized and raring to go ... once I rest up from yesterday.

Happy sunny Sunday, Everybody.

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Sunday Snapshots are posts that are devoted to a moment in time that represents a slice of life in Hartwood, or wherever else I happen to be.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Meet My New Friend

Whenever I notice that this blog has a new follower, I click over and check them out.  I figure that whoever it is probably wants to follow along because they have an interest in at least some of the same things that I do ... could be another blog/person that I want to follow, too.

I know exactly where the Goth Gardener was standing when she took this photo of 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' at Hollywood Cemetery.


One of these new followers has a blog called "Goth Gardening" ... the writer lives in Richmond, loves Hollywood Cemetery, and her writing indicated to me that she is probably a person that I would like to get to know in person.  She came up to Fredericksburg to be in the audience for my presentation to the Master Gardeners on Wednesday.  Afterward, we walked to a coffee shop and spent the whole rest of the afternoon camped at a corner table chatting, and totally losing track of time.


Another cutting of my Yellow Seedling had a flower, and I brought it with me to the meeting.


She even got me to agree without protest to do the Silly Selfie, as she calls it.




Her post about our day together is way more entertaining than this one.  Click HERE to run over to her blog to read what she had to say.  I will see her again tomorrow, as part of the crew of volunteers for my rose work day at Hollywood Cemetery ... and I will see her as often as I can in the future.  She's definitely a keeper!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Best Saint Patrick's Day Decor

I had a hair appointment this morning in downtown Fredericksburg.  Afterward, I treated myself to a dozen glazed donut holes from Paul's Bakery (a yummy local landmark).  This was their Saint Patrick's Day decoration on the corner of the counter ...


Hastily snapped iPhone photo.


... a green cake donut with icing and green and white sprinkles, and a big bite out of it, on top of a can of Guinness!  

I don't have a drop of Irish in me that I know of, but my husband and children do.  On their behalf, allow me to wish all of you a very happy Saint Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Roses 101

That's the title of the program that I wrote to teach the basics of how to choose and grow roses.  I am presenting it later this week in downtown Fredericksburg, for the monthly meeting of the local master gardener group.



Here are the particulars, as published in the newspaper:


Master Gardener General Membership Meeting (open to the public) 
Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 
Time: 12:30pm  NOTE:  Daytime meeting

Location:  Central Rappahannock Library Theater Room,  1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg. VA 22401

Speaker:  Connie Hilker, an expert on historic roses and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Rose Foundation.  Connie’s overall message is that ‘roses are not rocket science’ and she strives to show that anyone with a basic knowledge of gardening can choose appropriate roses and grow them well.   She presently has over 700 varieties of roses in her garden!  

Title:  Roses 101

A one hour program with the intent to take the mystery and confusion out of growing roses. Covers the basics about different types of roses, where to plant them, how to care for them, and what to do about rose pests and diseases in order to keep them healthy.

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The meeting is free and open to the public, and everyone who wants to learn more about roses is encouraged to attend.  The talk lasts for about an hour, and there will be more than enough time for questions afterward.  My goal is to give everyone in the audience the power to go home and grow roses without fear.

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