Autumn Apples plus The Princess & the Pea Project


“The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain
–   John Updike, A Child’s Calendar  

Haf’s Apple Orchard Photograph – Old Apple Tree


Walking through Haf’s Apple Orchard last month was a picnic of smells and color. Some trees seemed to be chosen for allowing dropped apples to remain on the ground. The smell of vinegar rose from these fallen apples and the bees were having a wonderful afternoon.

If you live near Haf’s, remember that apple season is not over in November. They have coolers kept at 35 degrees and all of the wonderful varieties are still for sale at prices less than the grocery stores. The comparison stops there as there is no comparison between taste and freshness-Haf’s is the winner in that category, also. All of the apples are marked by variety and purpose. My freezer is full of pies now. I look forward to baking one on a cold January and February night. 


From where I sit in the dark shop late this afternoon,  leaves are rattling down the sidewalk like old chicken bones. I’m still in the Autumn mode of enjoying mystery movies curled up in the chair with an old cotton blanket from the 1940s. Just as the movie begins, I take two out of the drier and curl up covered in soft, old cotton.

I finished three Christmas wreaths, two to sell in the shop and one to send my sister for the door of the post office where she is the postmistress. I made it from tiny envelopes stamped with dates ranging from the 1930s to the 1950s and Midwestern place names.



Before I leave you in November, I want to show you the Princess and the Pea bed I began last winter. I have 22 mattresses finished for this antique doll bed marked 1898. Using only ticking and other fabric made between 1930 and 1960, it is a like a small encyclopedia of fabric design.3-img_57795-img_57826-img_5783

If you are a local reader, remember that Haf’s sells bags of apples with tiny flaws (like a real apple) for 1.00 a pound! It’s fabulous!

~ Ginene


Gold Leaf DIY Lamp Shades

I have long thought that being a gilder would be a fine way to make a living. It even sounds elegant, doesn’t it? But before I join the Society of Gilders, I want to try this ancient technique with faux gilt.

I can only imagine to what heights one’s anxiety would rise if using real gold sheets even with the gold hammered to a thickness of 1/300,000 of an inch. The composition gold sheets I used are 85% copper and 15% zinc. The sheets are as light as air. I picked up the first sheet with the fan on and the window open. Still, it worked, even if it did have one wrinkly spot. The directions are simple and come with the Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Kit I purchased. When gilding anything porous, one should first seal the surface, in my case cardstock, with a modern sealer for paper. When that is dry, paint the surface to be gilded with the adhesive, wait 30 minutes, close the window, try to float the gold leaf somewhere in the direction of what you are gilding, gently rub with a soft cloth and then apply the sealer in the kit with a brush. What brush you use makes a difference. A stiff brush gives the gilt a burnished finish while a super-soft brush, I used a make-up brush, results in a traditional gilt finish. Well, kind of.


One of my first-time experiments involved a pair of 1930s lampshades which were still with the lamps, but the silk had long since deteriorated. I used yellow cardstock and traced the shape of the lampshade frame, cut it out and followed the directions. It was very easy. The hard part was gluing the woven brass metal trim to the shade. I don’t like the shades with these pretty lamps and I think originally they must have had long bead trim to cover the sockets. They would be much prettier in silk. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

I am pleased with the second part of the experiment and look forward to next spring when I can use the rest of the kit on selective parts of the exterior door surround. I gilded the finial on the top.  It looks nice.

Are you wondering how things went outside with these sheets that are lighter than air? I had to go up a  ladder to reach the finial.

I applied the adhesive, waited ½ the recommended time thinking it would dry quicker outside and when I got to the top of the ladder, the wind kicked up a flurry of swirling leaves and the four or five inch square of gilt stuck to the newly dried oil paint further down. You can’t get that stuff off newly applied oil paint. It is still there. I came up with a new idea though. I carefully slid the next sheet of gilt on to the top of a potholder, layered one of the dusted sheets protecting it from its neighbor on top and then put another pot holder on top of that. It was a little more difficult climbing the ladder while holding the potholders with both hands. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how members of the Gilder’s Society do it.

Gilding is a technique that takes years to master, but it can certainly be done in the DIY arena.  To see how four other DIY gilders did, check out my friends at:   Viva La Vintage For Your Home

M. Jones Style

Confetti Style

and Loving Home


An Edwardian Child’s Over-Stuffed Arm Chair with Footstool

The beginning of a new project…


I planned on doing the upholstery on this child’s Edwardian version of an adult’s over-stuffed chair myself.


Then, I saw that the springs needed tying.  I traded the upholstery job for selling a couple of his clocks in my shop without receiving a commission. I always ask the upholsterer if the charge would be a bit lower if I remove all the tacks. It could take all day and might take a couple of days if there are four layers of fabric like this chair.


The chair and footstool were stuffed with straw, horsehair and cotton. The straw had completely broken down into dust. You can see in the photograph how the horsehair,  rolled in a cover of burlap rounded the hard wooden edges.


The story of the chair’s life is in the four layers of fabric. The first black fabric was once stunning in purple and gold silk. The second layer was mohair plush, followed by a 1950’s layer of leather and some type of industrial grade woven material. The fourth layer was gold damask.


Like the people before me, I used a classic upholstery pattern suitable for adult furniture.


I restored the arms and feet with New Life Furniture Masque.


The upholsterer cut a welt from a coordinating plaid upholstery fabric. If I had paid the professional upholsterer I always use to do this job, he said he would  charge 200.00 including the professional materials. That would have been a good deal, as it was, but with the price of the chair (25.00) and the fabric (20.00), the cost would have been so high that I may not have found a buyer. By trading the work for the use of some wall space in the shop,  I will make a profit.


Before it is all sold, I want to show you some photographs of the beautiful furniture I got at an auction last autumn. I’ve sold the bed now, the dressing table, and the bench, only the chest of drawers and side chair remains. Winnebago Manufacturing of Rockford, Illinois, made bedroom furniture only, and they certainly did it well. Every drawer slides like silk and the carving and fancy veneer work is extraordinary. Winnebago Mfg. closed its doors in 1965 after surviving the WWI, the Depression and WWII. Rockford, Illinois, was a major furniture manufacturing area. Trains brought hardwood from near-by Wisconsin and Michigan.





On a completely different subject, come take a look at a book of illustrations that I found at an auction.  Do these illustrations, by Wanda Gag affect you the way they affect me?  I’ve loved her work since I first read Millions of Cats when I was a kid.

The first illustration must have been a commissioned Christmas card. I love this. It is Christmas and dark winter nights wrapped up in Halloween paper.



Her drawing of houseplants actually shows the movement of growth.WandaGag1

Wasn’t she wonderful?

Until next month,


Happy August Days ~ Painting and Gardening

I’ve painted and sold a lot of furniture this month.

1930's Dresser with Mirror





 It looks like I forgot to put the handles on this one before I took the photograph. I was lucky to find this piece with all the original Eastlake handles still attached.

Kitchen Scale/Ironstone Milk Paint

This is Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint – a mixture of Kitchen Scale and Ironstone White. The jury is still out on this piece. The handles are fabulous.


 I love this melodeon bench with the needlepoint seat.

The melodeon was an important part of the social life of 19th century people. Whenever I look at this bench, I wonder if it came west in the back of a wagon. The needlepoint cover is probably from the 1920’s. People seemed recover every chair seat, pillow and stool with needlepoint in the 1920’s.

~ Some of My Gardening Work ~







Did I ever tell you that I take care of five of the village gardens within a few steps from my back door? It is one of my favorite things to do. The gardens start out in the spring in purple, then changes to pink and the gardens end the summer in yellow. When I took over this job, the gardens were filled with ornamental grasses and I’ve been slowly turning them back into old-fashioned Midwestern perennial gardens..


I have a backyard that measures 17′ x 17′ and in the summer it fills with Zinnias and dill. I like the smell of dill. I save the Zinnia seeds to replant and the dill comes up on its own. That is my neighbor’s fence in the photograph. I thought the backyard was on fire the first time I saw it through the curtains when painted this color. It is terribly, uh, bright. Now, I think it is cheerful.


eBay Items to Sell or were Sold this Month







 Little Japanese Boxes


 An 1930’s Enamel Child’s Set with the Original Box

These Civil War related things sold on ebay. The letter, penned by a soldier to a young woman he addressed as Miss Neal, told her what surely must have been the most cheerful aspects of the war, that he had attended services on Sunday and had been eating Shad. He made it plain through some very flowery speech that he was missing her and wondering why she hadn’t written. In three pages, he never mentioned one horrific thing he had seen or suffered. Men can be so valiant.


One of my favorite artists is William M. Thompson. I have saved every Thompson print that I’ve ever found for over 40 years. Today, this woman came in the shop and told me that she believes that the pastel above the bench is a William Thompson original. It is unsigned. I almost started crying when she told me that she is William Thompson’s great-niece and recognized his style.

I’ve love this pastel upstairs where I lived with it for about three years but I thought I really should sell it. I don’t think that is going to happen now. I made Mrs. Lang give me her autograph. She was so gracious and I was like a groupie backstage at a rock concert. Wow, William Thompson’s DNA sitting right next to me.

Till next time,


Visit Pinterest’s profile on Pinterest.

For the Love of a Midwestern Barn

Last week, my busy and private friend, Margaret Cox and I got together for a day that started with cappuccino at her beautiful home near Rockton, Illinois. Margaret and her husband, Kevin Darrah, own a company, Darrah Barns, that installs barn beams in the homes of those that appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of Midwestern barns. The beams, saved from Wisconsin and Illinois barns set for demolition, are moved to a place where they are appreciated. Isn’t that a worthwhile business?

These few pictures don’t adequately illustrate the majesty of their buildings, grounds and the interior decoration. But, they will give you the tiniest idea of what this talented couple create together. They are private people-so we won’t find any other pictures of their property on the Internet.

The photos start with the entrance to the property. A glimpse of the stream that is home to seven swans.


There is a charming and unique view from every window.







 An entrance way.




 Isn’t this a fabulous piece of furniture with its mustard paint?


Chromolithographs among other religious art works and family photos.


A stenciled floor in a bedroom.

Everywhere one looks in this home, there are stunning bursts of color against a canvas of the wood from ancient barns. They collect, as you can see, antique religious artwork made by artists of Europe and America in centuries past. Statues are serenely beautiful set against Margaret’s signature lavender walls and the tall ceilings. I wish I had more time to take photos so I could show you the kitchen. Margaret’s kitchens work so beautifully with an open floor plan because they don’t necessarily look like a kitchen.

The last photograph is a close-up of the dining room table. I admire the way they juxtapose the elegant vintage fabric against a Victorian primitive beadboard wall. This style spotlights the characteristics of both elements in the most beautiful way.


Do you see the back of the upholstered bench behind the table? This is the fabric that I am always telling people not to remove from upholstered chairs. I think it is from the 1940’s. Right now, it is trendy in Europe, so we know that trend will come here in 2-3 years. But, that isn’t why I discourage people from ripping it from overstuffed vintage chairs. The quality is exceptional and once you get an appreciation of it, you will be enthralled with its beauty and pattern. I’ve removed it from chairs, washed it and put it back on. Look out for it when you are out and about, it was expensive and everyone will be looking for this fabric soon.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a delightful week. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this home!


Repair a Wobbly Chair with Loose Rungs

A beginner’s tutorial…..

When a great chair comes your way, don’t discount it because it is wobbly or has loose rungs. Even missing rungs can easily be replaced if the part was a simple dowel. I’ll show you how to do it on this sweet child’s chair that I found at a recent auction. This is how I found it:


All the chair parts are here except for the front rung. I like the distressed finish, the shape and the color. Usually, a chair like this can be won for just a few dollars. All I need to make the chair solid and strong again is: Elmer’s Glue, a damp cloth to wipe off excess glue, a couple of pieces of short dowel, a longer piece of dowel to replace the missing rung and some macrame cord. You will also need a 3/8″ spade bit and a drill if any of the holes has a broken off rung wedged inside or if the hole is filled with old glue. You will use the short pieces of dowel and the macrame cord over and over again on other projects once you see how easy it is to save a chair. Macrame cord can be found in craft shops or it can be purchased here.

Okay, let’s get to work.

IMG_0404The chair had piece of rung still adhering to the leg, so I used my 3/8″ spade bit in my drill to clean out the hole. Go slow so that you don’t go all the way through the chair leg! I’ve done that.


Measure and cut the length of dowel you will need if you are replacing a missing rung. Then fill both holes with glue and insert the dowel.


Wrap a length of macrame cord around the legs twice and tie the ends together. Position it so it is near the newly glued joints.

IMG_0410Stick one of the short pieces of dowel between the macrame cord and start to twist it around, using the short dowel piece as a tool. The tension tightens the newly glued legs like a vise.

IMG_0411Let one of the rungs act as a brace to hold the dowel securely.


Next, I need to fix the long split in the seat of the chair so I ran a bead of Elmer’s Glue along the crack and let it run down into the crevice.


To hold the two pieces of wood together while the glue dries, I’ve used the same technique as I did to hold the legs and rungs together. Just wrap the cord around the seat twice, insert another short piece of dowel and twist it over and under until the two pieces of wood are pressed together tightly. Just like this:


The glue will squeeze out so just wipe off the excess with the damp cloth.


Almost finished! Put some glue in the seat holes to put the back of the chair back in place


and in the holes along the top rail. Insert the lower spindles into the seat first so that you can tap them in with a hammer if necessary. You’ve done it! It is now sturdy and strong. This technique works on any chair and lasts for many years.


Create a Reusable Stencil for Decorating Vintage Painted Furniture

The Graphics Fairy web site is a free resource of over 4,000 vintage images for any creative work that you can dream up. Block Posters is the go-to spot for free image enlargements.

The Graphics Fairy has a dozen tutorials on how to transfer images using different methods. I wanted to make a stencil that I could use over and over and that was the one method I didn’t see listed.

I learned about Block Posters from my favorite blog q is for quandie  Wait till you see her sense of design. Stop over and look at her furniture to  get some good ideas for yourself. Her furniture sells in Minnesota if you are in her part of the world.


I picked an image from The Graphics Fairy and printed it out easily on to the size I needed for the dresser. I printed the design on  stiff cardstock and then cut out all the letters and designs with a stencil knife.


A coat of  boiled linseed oil covers the cardstock paper making it strong and transparent. Wipe off the excess linseed oil and hang it up to dry overnight. Then tape both pages together.


After the cutting, the rest was quick and easy. I measured the width of the top of the dresser using a flexible sewing tape measure, folded the tape measure in half to use as a guide and made a pencil mark to mark the center.  I did the same thing with the depth measurement, leaving a pencil mark to mark the depth center of the dresser top. Repeat the same  procedure to find the center of the stencil. When I had the center of the dresser top and the center of the stencil marked, I lined up the two little crossmarks on each (The boiled linseed oil makes the paper transparent.) and taped down the corners of the stencil. It is as simple as that.


I used flat latex paint from a Martha Stewart tester jar and covered the cut-out completely with paint, dabbing it on as I went, using a small stiff brush.


I may sand slightly over the stencil paint to fade it after it dries completely.


This beautiful old dresser has dove-tailed joints, dust dividers between the drawers, and center rails so that the drawers always ride smoothly. Its veneer finished was so damaged that it couldn’t be saved. The secondary wood is white oak and the workmanship is a thing of art.  I think it is beautiful in a creamy white with glass knobs.

I got four pieces of furniture finished in my spare time during the two weeks of cold weather and felt good about that accomplishment. I’ve got to get down into the building basement next week and organize again. I sent two cartons of things to Purple Heart last week so I made a small start on it. Lots more to do and I can’t wait to get started.

Meanwhile, one of the cats, Emma, contemplates life.on the inside.