October 29, 2017

Black Cats, Jack-o-Lanterns and Pumpkins

Miraculously, it has only been about 4 weeks since my last post...so I'm back to chat for a minute about Halloween. It's not one of my favorite holidays and I'm not sure why, because my birthday is the next day, but after childhood, it never really did much for me. I wasn't keen on going to Halloween parties for teens or adults...it just seemed silly to me. I don't love ghoulish, zombie-like make-up, either, but I do love kitties, including black kitties.

The last in a long line of kitties with whom I've shared my life and home and consider family is the only all-black kitty (save a tiny spot of white on his neck) that I've ever had. He's my pal and nearly 18, I think. I've had him since he was born, and I've had black and white kitties - two great ones, in fact - but none all black, or nearly all black like him. What a good kitty he is, too. So, in honor of my nearly all black kitty, I have hung this cute little wooden ornament of a kitty with a jack-o-lantern. My late mother gave it to me decades ago and it now gets pride of place just under my mantel for Halloween.

Above this smiling black Halloween kitty is a bit of papercraft I picked up in a shop in the Hudson Valley that specialized in primitives. It's a simple little stiff paper banner that reads "Halloween...The Witch Is In...Halloween." It just amused me...so up it goes each year under the mantel with the black wooden Halloween kitty. Trick or Treat!

On top of the mantel I have the rest of small decorative items that I break out for Halloween each year - my ceramic pumpkin teapot that I posted about a few years ago here, a pair of simple metal votive candle holders with charming pumpkin cut-outs, and a terra cotta pottery candle holder with a slightly less charming jack-o-lantern face, and a couple of pretty ceramic pumpkins.

It's  not a lot of Halloween stuff at this point in life, but it's a few fun things to make me and my guests chuckle.

Years ago. being in upstate New York and a reader and collector of The New Yorker magazine covers for many years, I also have a few choice New Yorker covers that I've saved in my collection. You can see them online now on Pinterest and other places, but here is one of my favorites, from November 1, 1975 by artist Eugene Mihaesco, who provided 70 covers for the magazine from 1972-1992:

I like smiling jack-o-lanterns, or in this case, jack-o-suns...Happy Halloween!

October 2, 2017

Fast Forward Two More Months...and Fun Project

It has been a busy summer, leaving little time for posting, but thought I'd catch you up with a fun score I made over the weekend and the project that resulted...goodbye, September, hello, October!

I was out in the country on Saturday, doing my usual errands, and on my way home, I swung by a local Habitat ReStore. I've known of the store for years, stalked its merchandise on Facebook, and finally made a point of stopping in. I was looking for some interior doors, since a minor flood (caused by a spontaneous leak in the washing machine hose - ugh!) did some damage to some doors that I wasn't crazy about anyway. New interior doors are NOT inexpensive, so the reStore and comparable historic preservation organization parts warehouses are terrific outlets to find perfectly viable older items at reasonable prices.

I did find some door possibilties, but what I actually purchased - for a whopping $15 - was a nice, small but simple, though somewhat grungy, 5-arm metal chandelier in what I think was meant to be bronze. It was brownish, and not quite the color I had in mind, and definitely in need of some cleaning up, but the perfect size and style for what I wanted. I'd known for a while that I really needed to replace a grostesque monstrostity of a hanging light fixture that came with my home...it's a crystal and brass confection that is so ridiculous and huge that it's really not funny. Maybe it would work in someone's home, but definitely not mine. I'd meant to replace it right away, but just hadn't gotten around to it - and I don't use it since it's not on a dimmer and is MUCH too bright. 

My dining area is not large, and my taste runs to traditional simple lines - definitely not crystal and brass combined. So I wanted a traditional early colonial style iron chandelier, nothing too elaborate, and it had to be the right scale...5-arm was fine, 4 would have been even better, but the bottom line was the bottom line. I did not want to spend more than $20 if I could help it. (It can be done, but one does have to look around to find the right light at the right price.)
I'd perused eBay (where I buy and sell regularly, so it's a viable option for me), and the local big box home supply stores, but everything was more than I wanted to spend. I've found lovely chandeliers in the past for various homes that I've bought at auction (in person) and at thrift stores. I have a minor passion for them and, while screaming bright brass is so passé now, I can't pass up a classic chandelier with good bones. You can always age the brass or, if necessary, paint the fixture.

So, there I was, looking for interior doors, when I saw the small but jam-packed lighting fixtures section. I looked around at the lamps, then I looked up to check out an array of hanging fixtures, including some chandeliers. And there, kind of hidden behind a few others, was a lovely 5-arm metal beauty. It was a bit dirty but the bones were there and the white plastic candle "sleeves" were all there, too, and easily cleaned up or, if necessary, replaced. I was delighted by its shape and its very reasonable price.

Here's the chandelier before I'd finished spraying it so you can see the original color nearest the camera...kind of brown and, well, definitely grungy:

I took it home and did some cleaning with a scrub sponge to remove the surface grime and let it dry. I removed and washed the candle sleeves, which cleaned up nicely. Then I covered each exposed bulb socket and wiring with a bit of newspaper so the electrical connections would be protected from any spray paint. I laid down newspapers on the floor of my garage and broke out my can of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.  In a matter of minutes I had a fresh and new looking chandelier! 

Here's a view of the painting in progress...it's shiny where I'd just sprayed, but it dries to a nice, dark, matte finish:

And here's the refinished chandelier, with candle sleeves back in place, hanging on a plant hook on my fence outside so you can see the whole thing: 

 Here's a bit closer look at the finish:

I couldn't be more pleased with this chandelier and how it turned out. I'll be installing it soon in place of the crystal-and-brass monstrocity and can't wait to see it all aglow with new bulbs and some lovely shades. I'm thinking natural beige/tan linen for the shades...something like that..."country contemporary," of course, 'cause that's how we roll here at the Country Contemporary blog!

I'll share when the fixture is installed with its shades, so stay tuned!