Return From Respite, A Field Trip, Found Inspiration

It has been quite a respite from blogging, but not from creative endeavours. My current creative interest, oddly enough, arose from a field trip we took one blustery day last October.

We crossed the border from Canada and drove the hour or so it took to reach our destination, Graycliff,  Derby, New York. Graycliff was the summer home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Darwin Martin family of Buffalo,  New York. It was built from 1926 -1931 atop a sixty foot cliff on the south shore of Lake Erie  and has been restored and opened to public tours.  While I am not a fan of Wright’s architecture, my taste being “English Cottage/Shabby Chic”, I can appreciate how his designs incorporated the environment where they  were built. Since Frank Lloyd Wright also totally controlled all aspects of building from landscape design to interior decor and furniture, I know that I could never have worked with him!Graycliff-1

Our tour began outside  the visitor centre/gift shop at the front of the property. We encountered rain, hail and sunshine in the few minutes while our docent introduced history of the property before leading us to the main house. It was pointed out to us that when approaching the house, windows on the ground floor allowed one to see completely through to the lake at the rear. The water feature at the main entrance was designed to be a tribute to Lake Erie. water_feature-1

The foyer  branched into a sun room on the left, living room on the right and staircase directly ahead. Graycliff-2 We climbed the stairs to the second floor where bedrooms with ensuite baths were arranged off a window walled gallery along the length of the house. Several of the bedrooms opened onto terraces that availed lovely views of the lake.

I was excited to see bathtubs identical to our bathtub at home, (built-in, not clawfoot).Graycliff-7

At the far end of the second floor we descended a narrow staircase to the service areas of the house. There we found a butler’s pantry that led

into  Mrs. Martin’s flower arranging room. The windows here provided abundant light for Mrs. Martin, who was practically blind, to enjoy her flowers. In fact Wright purposely designed this entire house to incorporate as much natural light as possible because of Mrs. Martin’s diminished eyesight. The work counter was situated directly in front of windows and featured a double sink. Of all the rooms we saw,  this  was my favourite.Graycliff-10

The kitchen was located at the back of the flower arranging room. It was a spacious area that featured a porcelain sink, a  cooking range, and a  substantial refrigerator. Refrigerators were quite a novelty appliance in the 1920’s when  ice-boxes were more commonly available.

We left the service area of the house passing back through the flower arranging room into the low ceilinged dining room, followed by the living room, a fern room and the side porch.

We concluded the tour outside of the main house.

Throughout the hour and half of the tour, the docent was passionate about the history and restoration efforts at Graycliff and shared her knowledge with warmth and humour. I highly recommend a visit to this property if you find yourself in western New York, USA.

In trying to create a memento using photos from this field trip I discovered a new passion: altered books, but that’s a story for another day.

Canada Day 2018

Happy Canada Day (July 1st) to everyone, whether Canadian or not.

The weather here is promising to be extremely hot and humid – a good day to get outdoor chores done early and head inside before the sun gets high in the sky.

The hiatus I took from writing this blog lasted much longer than intended, so now I have tons of catching up to do. It won’t be in any particular order.

Canada belongs to the British Commonwealth and  Queen Elizabeth is our head of state. Therefore, the wedding of her grandson, Prince Harry to Megan Markle was an occasion to celebrate. Having watched every one of the televised royal weddings in my lifetime, beginning with Princess Margaret’s to Anthony Armstrong Jones, I soberly realized that this one could be the last on television for many years.

Television coverage began  locally at 4:00 a.m. which meant rising early. A few days before, I planned an “afternoon tea” to celebrate  the wedding. For some strange reason, anyone I invited to join us at 4:00 in the morning declined. Alas it would be tea for DH (my dear husband) and me.

 

Our lilacs were at their best and very abundant this year and I didn’t mind cutting a few branches to decorate the living room. China teacups and tea service were set on the tea trolley.PrinceHarry_and_Megan-1

 

Egg salad sandwiches, fresh baked scones, lemon curd  and strawberry meringues with whipped cream made up the menu. PrinceHarry_and_Megan-2

Fashion for watching the wedding on television: I wore coral coloured satin pyjamas,  and for fun, (since it was required of the wedding guests), a hat; DH was dressed in lounge pants and oversized tee- shirt. What a fashionable couple we were!

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When the lovely ceremony finished, we toasted the couple with champagne and enjoyed our tea.

Romancing the Old

Living in an old house is not everyone’s “cup of tea”. However, I cannot ever remember wanting to live any where else but. I suppose  that is why one of my favourite things to do through the years has been to “go antiquing” with MH. Antique shops, flea markets, lawn sales and even auction sales have been the source of so many things that fill this old house and make it our home.

Quite often we meander through the country side, no destination in mind, dogs firmly safety-harnessed in the back seat, lunch packed in the cooler, with hopes of discovering a new source for our indulgence in all things “old”. There is something about the smell of old wood and paper and fabric and pottery and metal that gets my heart thumping with anticipation. We have both been around long enough that much of the wares offered cause us to exclaim “Oh, I remember this!” or “My grandma had one of these!” Sometimes we have no idea what we are looking at, but the shop keeper usually is very obliging and so we learn something new, as well. Once in awhile we find “just the thing” to cram into another nook and cranny of this old house.

A few summers ago I was thrilled to find an old treadle sewing machine very much like the one I remember seeing in my grandma’s house when I was young. It was in rough shape, but the price was right and I had fantasies of restoring it to its former glory and actually use it to sew with. That hasn’t happened yet, but it certainly fills an unused  space in our dining room acting as a lamp table. The truth is that when I first set it up, the belt broke and I haven’t replaced it. ( I think belt breaking might happen often as I saw 100m rolls of it for sale on Amazon!) I have no idea how to thread the machine either, but found a manual on the internet, which I have bookmarked for the day I do get the machine working. Women who actually used a treadle machine must have had great legs, too, because even without the belt, I pretend-sewed to see what it was like, and it took a lot of muscle!

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White Family Rotary Machine – Canadian edition early 1900’s

The White brand treadle machines were made from the 1880’s up to the second World War. They were known for their beautiful cabinets and the odd fact that the hand wheel had a backwards rotation.

Have you, dear reader, experienced the thrill of sewing with a treadle sewing machine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Tomorrow!

The Christmas Marketplace at Roselawn Centre is being held tomorrow. Of all the pieces of vintagy, grungy, shabby chic items I’ve made for the sale, my top three favourites are:

the (tattered, torn, and stained) stockings,

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the gift tags, that could be the gift

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and the decorative, altered clocks.

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It has been tremendous fun getting ready for this show; from designing the booth to choosing what to make, I have loved every part of it.

FORC Christmas Market Poster 2017-01 copy