Welcome to That Old House

Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. Yes, that is our house in the header.
This blog named itself. When I tell local people where we live, they almost always say, "Oh! You live in that old house!"
We do, and I'm glad you've come to visit -- Cass

Monday, August 31, 2009

Spray Paint Magic on Met Monday

What would we do without spray paint?

It gives new life to the woebegone orphans we tuck under our wings, covers the multitudinous sins of the hard-living curbside floozies we load into the backs of our mini-vans, and turns almost any old Frog into a charming Prince. It's magic in a can.

When our daughter Anne shopped our house for furniture she wanted to take to her first apartment,
she laid claim to the Queen Anne highboy in the pink bedroom. (See it here.)

But when we realized what a hassle it would be to move it up those 26 steps into Annie's place, she looked elsewhere in the house. She chose -- a bit reluctantly -- the old oft-painted pine dresser from my childhood that was doing stand-in for cupboards in our butler's pantry.

Here it is, waiting in the front hall to be brought outside for its makeover,
wearing an old Williamsburg color paint I gave it almost 30 years ago:

It needed to be Heirloom White.

The grass was very damp, so we -- if by "we" I mean "Howard" -- painted
the drawers on the front porch. First coat:


The case, and an old oak mirror we had tucked into the back of our closet, also got the white spray treatment:


And here is how it looks in Anne's bedroom at her new apartment,
which is actually an old apartment -- in a lovely 4-unit building:


If it seems as if the mirror is hung high, that's because it is. On purpose.
Anne is 5-feet 10-inches tall.

On top, a little Erte print and a Lenox dresser set. Anne's flea market finds.


Anne took the pictures and sent them to me; I forgot to take my own.

After painting the dresser and mirror, Howard and Dion took a little stroll
while I cast about for something else that needed painting.


Not surprisingly ... I found something.

This old wicker rocker was my in-laws' and it's been white since they bought it, was green before they bought it, and I thought I should see how it looked with some brazen-hussy red on its lovely bones.


Howard got into this; spray painting is addictive. First coat done:


For the red, we used Rustoleum 2X paint -- it is supposed to cover
more completely the first time around. And it does. Yes, it really does. I love it.

We put the rocker back on the porch to await a second coat:


Hmmm.... I like it, and it matches the color of the wooden rocker on the other side of the porch. But I'm thinking, for second and subsequent coats, maybe a darker red? More a dark apple? Not so fire engine bright. Better for fall and winter. That's the fun of spray paint -- Prest-O, Change-O, you have new colors at your fingertips!

Our lawn guys are going to think we had some fight out here:


Now if I could figure out a way to use 3000 cans of spray paint to do the house, we'd be in business:

I'm linking up to Metamorphosis Monday, at Susan's Between Naps On The Porch blog; this is a wildly popular blog party, and great fun to see what people have done to transform, renew, change, restore their treasures. And some don't even use spray paint!

Click on the icon, or any highlighted words above, to travel to this fun blog party. Best -- Cass

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Turkey Re-Run For Sunday Favorites!


On Sundays, I take advantage of Chari's Sunday Favorites blog party, and re-post a story from the dim past. You can see other blasts from the past by clicking here and joining the party at the Happy To Design blog!


I began blogging in October 2008, just for fun, just to keep an informal record of our life
at That Old House,
and for several months I wrote only a handful of posts, most with no pictures.

After all, it was just a journal for myself; who was going to see it? :-)

This post, below, is from early December, and is about our first Thanksgiving in That Old House. There are only a few pictures -- I was in a steep learning curve and just figuring out how to mesh pictures and text. So, it's mostly words . . . . I'll do better for Thanksgiving 2009!

I found and added a handful of Thanksgiving pictures at the end of the post,
including one of the noble bird himself. Gobble, gobble!


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(December 11, 2008 . . . Morris County, New Jersey)


It's two weeks to the day since we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new old house. Our usual crowd is about 30, but we thought we'd be down about five guests this year -- some of our family being out of town -- but it seems that Nature and Thanksgiving both abhor a vacuum.

In place of our 5 missing regulars, we welcomed 3 complete strangers, California natives (poor things!) with no East Coast family. Niece Alice invited one of the Californians, niece Becky invited two others. We were delighted to have them. At Thanksgiving, the more, the merrier. We ended up a modest group of 27.

Howard and I, married 30 years, have hosted Thanksgiving all but 4 of those years.
It is the perfect ecumenical holiday; everyone celebrates, so there's no chance of offending anyone's beliefs, or non-beliefs. Everyone believes in eating. And everyone believes, or should believe, in gratitude.

It was odd, planning for Thanksgiving in a different house after 20 feasts in our Riveredge Road home. In that old house, I knew where everything was, and where everyone would sit, and just exactly how to angle the long tables in the living room to seat everyone together.

There, our kitchen was so narrow as to allow only room for Howard and me in it -- no spectators allowed -- no one to see our boo-boos or hear our occasional cussing. We realized this year, with the kitchen so open to the conservatory, that our guests could hear us. Yikes!

I discovered the day before the feast that I was missing two long banquet tablecloths, one third of the big white linen napkins, fully half of the old silver flatware I use at the holidays, and various bowls, pots, pans, carafes, etc. Uh-oh.

Plus ... our dining room is a good size, but not large enough to seat 27, especially now that "the cousins" are actual complete and full sized human beings. It's no longer possible to jam 11 little bottoms cheek-to-cheek at the far end of the table, as we used to do at the long living room set-up on Riveredge Road.

(Picture of dining room, left, before setting up the long rental tables. So serene before the chaos!)

We put a "cousins" table in the conservatory -- a kids' table, with 14 "kids" ranging from 18 to past 30 years of age. They got stainless flatware; it worked.


The 13 "grownups" got the rented tables, lined up diagonally in the dining room, covered with gold tablecloths I found last minute at Home Goods.

The dining room table itself was moved into a corner of the parlor as a drinks table, and the parlor chairs and sofa were moved back against the walls to make room for more chairs for chit-chat. With a fire going, it made for a lovely cozy nook for my Dad and my brothers to sit and have a really good jaw.


My daughters, bless them, retrieved all of the Thanksgiving china from the bottom of the big pine breakfront, gave them a wiping off, and made sure all the wineglasses were spotless. Or nearly so.

It was a good dinner. The food was what Thanksgiving food should be: traditional, not poisonous, abundant, well cooked in a timely manner, and EATEN.

And we all were grateful.

Dion, above, and Connie, below --- enjoying the special
cookies our niece Becky brought for them.



I am thankful for so many things this year, too many to list. But my joy in a family gathering is shadowed by my mother's absence. I want her there to encourage me and tell me I did a good job, to call me the next day for our "party post-mortem" conversation. But she can't be a part of our family gatherings now, and she will never see this old house we love so much. Mom is a prisoner of Alzheimer's Disease, and lives in a facility only 10 minutes away... so close as the crow flies, but light years away from reality.

But to have my husband, my daughters, my dad and Howard's parents, and so much of our family -- and those three complete strangers -- to sit at our tables and break bread (and wishbones) with us -- now that is a blessing indeed.

Next Thanksgiving -- the draperies in the dining room will be actually SEWN and not just fabric panels hung by clips, and I will by then have found that missing silver flatware. Probably.

On to Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year!

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August 2009 update: We found the rest of the old silver around Christmas, when it snowed and we were digging in a box marked "boots." It did not contain boots. It did contain 90-year old flatware.

I still have not found the huge burgundy banquet cloths we used in the old house, but they weren't the right color for the dining room here anyway. I think the ghosts may have hidden them away to keep me from using them.

Another pre-Turkey Day shot of the dining room.
Corner clutter was removed before the big day!


Tom Turkey himself, all 29 pounds of him.


And Mr. Howard himself. Note the snazzy turkey-printed shirt.
From Cracker Barrel, where else?


Now it's that time of year I begin making my "to do before Thanksgiving" list. Poor Howard. -- Cass



Rooster Down! We Have A Rooster Down!


You are guinea pigs again today . . . yesterday, here, I tested different sizes of mosaics. Today, it's type face size. A few blogging friends are having trouble reading the "normal" size font I normally use. Do you like the larger better, or the "normal?" Now... on to the post!

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The roosters at That Old House never made it to the
Show Us Your Roosters party on Friday, because their owner didn't realize she had to sign up ahead of time to participate.

She does things like that. Dopey things.


Okay, that's enough of referring to myself in the third person, like Queen Victoria or Bob Dole.
Does that rooster (above) look annoyed to you?
I think he may be a little bit miffed at missing the big Rooster Bash.


*********************************************************************
I did a Lazy Ladies' Rooster post anyway -- put the pictures into one big mosaic -- and sent it off into Cyberspace un-linked. And some folks actually saw it! Thank you. :-)

A few commented on this little guy:


He belonged to my Mom. Isn't he a handsome devil?

He is a shelf-sitter, which is nothing at all like a fence-sitter.

He likes to sit on the window sill in the sunroom and check out any cute chicks that pass on the street.

His legs and wings are attached with itty bitty bits of old string, and his right wing has an . . . issue:



During the course of our photo session, as I was telling him to gaze
soulfully into the camera, to make love to the lens . . . his wing fell off.


Roosters have notoriously delicate stomachs and can't take the sight of their own blood.
Or in this case, disintegrated old twine. The poor little guy fainted clean away.



Don't worry. He came around in a few minutes and is fine. I have promised to find some gnarly old twine
and re-attach his wing today, and put him back on the sunroom windowsill
so he can watch the world -- and those chicks -- go by.


Reality check -- Mr. Rooster has asked that the next time I shoot a closeup of his head,
I take the time to
DUST HIM FIRST. Oops. My bad. --- Cass

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Excuse Is -- It's Friday And I Am Not Responsible

There I was this morning, with my paltry collection of roosters, snapping glamour shots of the faux fowl that call That Old House home.

I planned on joining in on the Show Us Your Roosters blog party. However, I had neglected to sign up for it ahead of time.
As Homer Simpson would say, "Doh!"

This is also why I never participate in Pink Saturday; I never think to plan ahead!

Second snafu: Howard worked from home today, meaning I didn't have access to my desktop computer, and after Howard had to re-do his security clearances following my last apparently indiscreet use of the laptop, I was banished from LapTopLand.

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So now it is after 6 in the evening. There are potatoes baking in the oven, zucchini on the grill, a couple of steaks marinating, and Howard has finished his work. I am back at the computer.

Here come the Roosters, party or not!

OK, slight cheating here. A couple of these are chickens.
The tiny blue glass chicken is from Anne; she bought it in England for me, back in June.

The pink and blue chicken is by far the oldest of this group;
my Aunt Lillian gave it to me many years ago, when I was very small and fell in love with it.

I am pretty sure that all the rest of the critters were my Mother's. She had a passion for roosters.
Chickens, not so much. She always preferred men to women.

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And ... you may remember this bed, in this room. It is a Craigslist bargain rice-carved four-poster, in our pink guest room,
and it is sporting a white matelasse coverlet.


I like the coverlet, but I acknowledge that it is not a good matelasse spread.
It was born cheap, wrong side of the tracks and all that.
Flimsy. No backbone. Easily swayed . . . .

As opposed to this matelasse coverlet, the star of the following mosaic:


Same subject, below, but different collage sizing.
I am playing with the Picasa collage program, and want to see what the different sizes look like on the blog.
Sorry. You are my guinea pigs.


Anyway -- this matelasse coverlet is an Ebay score of mine. It is a twin sized spread from Peacock Alley, in perfect condition, and probably cost a couple of hundred dollars new. It's elaborate and gorgeous and I got it for $30.

High-fives all around, ladies!

It's going to go in our third guest room, the cell that Annie has vacated.
That's among our fall projects -- painting and fixing that tiny bedroom and its attached sitting room.

And now I have spent enough time at the computer that Howard gave up on me, and finished cooking dinner himself. Maybe I can plan ahead, after all. . . . -- Cass

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dragons and Romance and Frogs, Oh My!

Frogs, princesses, wicked dragons, and a romance that's almost old enough to legally be nominated to run for President of the United States . . . that's on tap this Tablescape Thursday!

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Once upon a time, back in the days of wizards and castles, enchantments and spells, there was a handsome Frog
-- and it is his tale, and that of his Princess Bride, we spin today.



At the end of this post, there is a link to bring you to other table top fantasies!

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Anyway . . . on with the story.

As we were saying before we so rudely interrupted ourselves,
there was once a handsome Frog:


He was brave and true, and tackled all sorts of dangers, including
Fearsome Dragons who threatened the Kingdom:


Our handsome Frog always won these battles . . .


. . . and earned the love of the Princess.
Upon her kiss, the Enchantment which had kept him trapped as a frog was broken, and he was revealed as a Prince of the Realm.

That was 31 years ago.

Now, in this time of Enchantment, the Prince and Princess have
climbed the corporate ladder to become the King and Queen.

He still brings her flowers. She still kisses him.


We join them just as they are arriving for a Thirty-First Wedding Anniversary Dinner!


The Royals are going green -- using less horsepower, and generating emissions for composting.

Oh dear. The Queen's mascara is running.
We suspect she applies too much in a desperate attempt to recapture lost youth.


And the King might be sporting a black eye; hard to tell.
Wisely, the wait staff has put knives with blunt blades at the place settings.

It's been 31 years, after all.


Sacre bleu! Le scandal!
The table is wearing what seems to be a peignoir set! Look at how sheer it is!

You can see the table's legs right through the fabric!

The china: Aynsley's Tatton Hall, a hospital thrift shop find.
The napkins: vintage gold-thread-hemmed linen, an Ebay score.
The flatware: very vintage Georgian pattern plate, Ebay.
The wineglasses: 30-year old Czech crystal. Wedding gifts, mostly.
Shockingly sheer tablecloth -- Vintage, from the Queen's Mother-In-Law




GASP!
Something is lurking in the Tablescape.
Look at the champagne bottle. What is that bit of white, peeking out?


Could it be? After all these years, could the
dragon have come back for revenge?


Ye Gads! 'Struth! By my stars and garters, it is the old dragon, lurking in the shadows.

Let's hope the King calls for a nice sharp steak knife when the meal comes.


But who is this, below?
A small frog perches on the side of the candle holder.
We all know there is no better bodyguard than an enchanted frog!


Also on the table, an anniversary pot, made by the Princess Anne when she was in Middle School.
It carries the initials of the royal pair, and is much treasured.


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Yes, Howard and I have been married 31 years -- today. We're planning on another 31.

The card at the top of the post is what I found propped against the granola box when I came down to the kitchen this morning. All married women will laugh. So did I. Ladies, marry men who make you laugh, who cheerfully take out the garbage, and who don't ask you what something cost or if you need it.

And go visit Susan at Between Naps On The Porch, for zillions of fabulous tablescapes!
Click here, to go there!



Happy Thursday! -- Cass