FINALLY….MY BLOG INSPIRATION

I couldn’t sleep last night, and not because of my excitement due to Colin Firth winning Best Actor Award at the Oscars and his picture The King’s Speech winning Best Picture Award…..no no…I couldn’t sleep because I had written AND then REWRITTEN my blog post for today. Why do it twice, and now do it a third time you ask?  Well, I was making tiny, almost insignificant corrections to the first post just before publishing.  I used Command Z on my Mac to undo a typo, as I had been doing all along…my post was DELETED, gone, took a hike, flew away…NADA. I frantically tried to bring it back, knowing/thinking it was saved.  It was gone into the internet abyss…forever.
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I whined to my family…then had several glasses of wine, started to watch The Oscars, and tried to forget possibly the best writing I have ever undertaken…EVER.
The Academy Awards as a show…was…well, not terribly inspiring to watch, so I proceeded to rewrite my post…again…shorter, more concise, less pics.  I won’t go into details, but the same thing happened AGAIN when I used Command Z.  “WHAAAAAAATTTT  THE…….” (you may insert your choice of invective here). 
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Rant now over… I’m at it again.
This post, is about my admiration for the blogs I read and the talented writers who write them. 
I have been reading blogs since I started tweeting 8 months ago. I have been inspired, educated and sometimes in awe of the writing talent of some non-professional blog writers. I have bookmarked some blogs for future reference and have commented on many others. I have subscribed to the blogs that speak my language and others that are just plain fun to read.  But my problem was, if they weren’t email subscriptions, I could not find them on my computer. Have I mentioned that I am seriously tech challenged…just ask any friend or family member…cue rolling of eyes.  At about the same time, I decided I would get my creative writing juices flowing, and start my own blog.
I realized only yesterday that I could create a blogroll of my favourite blogs and showcase then on my blog homepage. Brilliant. What for some people might only take 1 hr, took me over 2 hrs to compile and add to my blog…that novice thing again…rolling of eyes.  But, it is done, and I will be adding more…and I apologize if I am missing any, which I am sure I am.
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So, after you have finished reading this rambling post, please peruse MY BLOG INSPIRATION.  You will be thrilled you did.


1. http://bit.ly/h1PZua

FIRST TIME HOMEOWNERS…ON A LIMITED BUDGET…

My daughter Michelle and her fiance Jordan received the keys last Wednesday to the new condo Michelle bought last year.

The condo is a new build, so Michelle and Jordan were fortunate to be able to pick most of their finishes, and I was very privilaged to be asked to consult on their choices. The condo is 606 sq. ft. which is a very modest size by North American standards. They suspect that the time spent in their first shared home together will be somewhat short lived as they will likely upsize within the next 2-3 years. Therefore, I encouraged them to choose finishes that would appeal not only to their sense of style, but to a broader range of buyers. Because they are on a TIGHT budget, upgrading all the standard finishes was out of the question. 
They spent most of their upgrade funds on kitchen finishes because it is the most visible space in the condo. They wanted a modern look in the kitchen, so upgraded to solid maple shaker cabinets in a dark cherry stain. The granite counters were standard, but the glass backsplash tiles were an upgrade as were the stainless steel appliances.
The counter is quite neutral, but has enough colour variations to complement the dark cabinets and the medium stained hardwood maple floors, also an upgrade, shown below in the adjoining living/dining room.
To save money, they did not upgrade the finishes in the bathroom.  Instead they chose the standard cabinet doors, but stained to match the kitchen. They also chose a granite-look laminate counter and porcelain floor and matching shower tiles, with a complementary boarder tile. The bathroom will be pizzazzed with colour, and accessories. 
The condo was painted with the builders white paint.  This past weekend, however, the entire space received a new personality in the way of colour with help from Jordan and his Grandfather. Next weekend, Michelle and Jordan move to their new home. Of course they want a leather sectional, original artwork, a new area rug, new lamps, and a wall unit…. they want NEW and perfect everything, but have come to realize that their wish list is simply not realistic or practical for new homeowners who are also planning a wedding. Over the following weeks, I will post how these two 25 yr. old, first time homeowners are going to transform their condo into their home using colour, repurposed furniture and their own construction and decorating talents…with a little help from me. 

To celebrate this huge milestone….we decided to have a champagne toast to their new abode


All photos for this post taken by Maureen Coates

SIMPLE, STUNNING..IT’S SHAKER….

I absolutely adore the simplistic beauty, craftsmanship and utilitarian qualities of Shaker Furniture. In fact if I had to choose a furniture aesthetic that best suits me, Shaker is what I gravitate toward.

“Hand’s to work and hearts to God” was the motto followed by the American religious sect known as Shakers in the 18th and 19th centuries and nowhere was this more evident than the furniture and they produced.
Mid 19th C. Shaker Step Back Cupboard with original finish
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The philosophy of the shakers under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee was simplicity, celibacy, pacifism, confession, equality and communal living. The ‘millennial laws’, governing every aspect of  their daily lives, stated that they live apart from the outside world, produce only the items required for their own use and to make those items with excellent craftsmanship.

Shaker drawer with dovetail detail
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  Mortise and Tenon joinery…typical of Shaker construction
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19th C. Original Shaker Lemon Yellow Painted Pail
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Rare 19th C. American Shaker Box with original Cranberry Red finish…the joinery is known as ‘swallowtail’
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Mid 19th C. Shaker Canted Corner Large Dovetail Carrier
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The original furniture they produced was heavily influenced by neo-classical styles such as Sheraton and Hepplewhite, but with a more simplified design to to accomodate their strong beliefs. As a result of their dedication to excellent craftmanship, we in the 21st century are able to utilise and appreciate some of these original pieces of furniture and also some of their household items as decorative accessories.
Rare 19th C. American Shaker Shawl Rocker with original finish
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The Ladder-Back chair is one of the most recognized pieces of Shaker furniture. The seats were often made of rush, cane, woven strips, cloth or wood.

Mid 19th C. Tilted Shaker chair
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Classic mid 19th C. Shaker Ministry Table
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Woodworking, as with all other types of Shaker labour, was considered a form of worship. They used wood readily available on the land they owned including, pine, oak, birch, cherry butternut and hickory.
Furniture built for their own use was usally left natural, varnished or painted black however pieces produced to sell were painted in red, green, blue or yellow.

American Shaker Tall Chest circa 1820
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The desire for perfection and longevity of the pieces they designed and constructed was so great that there are still numerous furntiure items, as evidenced above, that are to this day in pristine condition: a testament to their devotion.

Shaker furniture and household items have certainly stood the test of time. I would also argue that the Shaker creed of building green, quality, long lasting furniture has not been lost with the very much diminished population of the Shaker sect. Instead there is a resurgence, not rooted in religious beliefs, but perhaps of the mindset that there is also value to handcrafted furniture now in the 21st century.

You may also enjoy: History of the Shakers

WHEN DOORS BECOME WALLS….

This past November my husband and I and close friends went to the Finger Lakes region of New York state to experience wine tasting south of the boarder. We stayed at Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport, Keuka Lake which is the heart of New York wine country.

The owners, Debbie and Marc welcomed us to their Inn, which at this time, is also their home. Debbie is a classically trained chef and a graduate of New England Culinary Institute. Let me just say, that our breakfasts and dinners were carefully planned, executed and presented with the utmost care and thought. All meals were prepared, whenever possible, with locally grown, produced and organic products, by Debbie.

The Inn, listed on the National Register of Historical Places is known as T.M. Younglove Octagon House. I would be doing a disservice to Debbie and Marc by writing a post about this unique dwelling as they have very thoroughly and eloquently described the history and subsequent transformation of the Inn on their own website (link above).

Instead, I am going to take you on a tour of their barn behind the Inn…. come inside and be prepared to be amazed.

The barn, which will become the couples’ permanent home, is being renovated by Marc who is a graduate of Kent State University Interior Design Program. The roof was redone in 2002, but the interior renovation began in ernest in early 2010. When Marc took us on a tour of the barn in November, he was in the process of covering up the wall joists and insulation with DOORS…..that is correct, not drywall…DOORS.

Marc has a huge dislike for drywall and was looking for a material that was easy to install and would also provide an interesting backdrop for the interior of the barn. His collection of doors began when he noticed several doors being put out for garbage collection in his former neighbourhood.
Marc took special care in examining each door in his collection to ensure that identical thicknesses and similar sizes were adjoined, allowing for a smoother transition between the doors.
Marc was also aware that the glazed doors in his collection would need to be placed strategically in accordance with where the barn windows were situated….as these doors couldn’t easily be cut down to fit. The panes were removed and replaced with plywood, ready for paint, but may eventually receive a decorative treatment as well.
When all the doors have been placed in their new homes, they will be prepped and painted for a cohesive, finished look.
This set of doors came from a friend’s home.  These will remain in their original stain, inspiring a unique paneled look in the loft.

Take a look at this salvaged sink which is now placed in front of salvaged shutters in the new kitchen. Very eclectic indeed.

The wall boards, shown in the new living space below are original to the barn and still exhibit some of their original paint.

Marc confirmed that he would undertake this challenge again as he is very proud that the interior of their barn is predominantly constructed in salvaged material…either collected by he and Deb or donated by the community. They hope to have the main living area completed by March/April 2011, with studio space and mudroom functional by June 2011.
I am anxiously waiting for Marc and Deb to provide me with pictures of the completed renovation….OR…I might take another trip to Black Sheep Inn, enjoy more of Deb’s outstanding cuisine and take pictures myself of the amazing barn with the doors that became walls.

For more information on the Inn click: Black Sheep Inn
For information on wine tasting and tours in the Finger Lake region click: http://www.FingerLakesWineCountry.com/

All pictures used in this post taken by Maureen Coates