Just A Touch Of Stone

Our home sits on 4 acres, part of a historic district.  The 4 acres were actually part of 100 acres belonging to an old school house that still stands.  We are also in the Washington Crossing area.   There is so much history around us and most of the older historic homes are made of stone.  I have always admired them and loved the stone work.  That's why when we had the barn built we opted for a stone base.
We had our small perimeter garden edged in stone.
And we also had our patio made with flagstone, and cement pavers that looked like stone.
Our fire place was made with real stone too.  Are you getting the stone theme yet?
So when we had the plans for the addition my husband and I decided it should be in stone, real stone, to fit the area and give our house a feel like that of the older homes in the area.  Although our home was built in the late fifties, there are homes that are more than a few hundreds of years old still standing with it's original stone work.
Can't wait when I can post the finished product.


Comfort & Yum

So I had posted about my Beef Bourguignon, the one I made after I got this book that I loved so much.
Well I had been yearning to have some again.  I bought all the ingredients this morning and decided today would be the perfect day.  After a few frigid nights I thought, nothing better than some comfort food.
It was again, out of this world.  I believe it is my favorite comfort food of all time.  
I made my home made mashed potatoes and served the Bourguignon on top of it.  Here it is in the oven.  
My entire home smells like it.  You lick your fingers after every bite.  Julia knew what she was doing!

Now I am a cook and a baker.  I have no problem saying that.  I'm not boasting, I'm being honest.  I cook everyday of the week, not weekends and I make something different every day, unless I make Lasagna and then that's good for two days.  But I'm not stressed or intimidated by a recipe that is labeled DIFFICULT  and that is what this one is labeled as.  It is!  I"m not going to lie to you.  Not that it is difficult to attempt, if you follow the instructions step by step, using the exact ingredient she tells you to then you will end up with a perfect meal just like hers.  The thing is, and I know alot of people who would just laugh at me and say "yeah right, I'm not gonna do that" is that there are alot of steps.  But unless you can't read, or just refuse to follow directions there is no reason why you couldn't do this.  
I guess the French's main focus is cuisine because there dishes and sauces take hours.  I would say my prep time was 20 to 30 min.  My over the stove time was about an hour and then in the oven, this had to sit in it for 3 entire hours.  Please use a a pot like the one I used for best results.
Then while it's in the oven you have another 40 minutes of sauteing and cooking the pearl onions and mushrooms and letting them simmer in beef broth with a herb bouquet (you know cheesecloth wrapping of herbs) for 40 minutes.  
So this is not a dish that you can start at 2 in the afternoon, nor is it a dish you can begin and then run to Homegoods or talk on the phone to your girlfriend for an hour.  
My friend Dawn called me and I actually had to let it go to voicemail because I didn't want anything to go wrong.
Well the final results were perfection!
I truly believe that although this dish is not something I can do every day, because of time, it is a luxury that one can indeed make for their family on a brisk fall day like today.  To me I feel rewarded when my son says "OMG" as he's dipping his fork in his mouth.  
I actually did go food shopping this morning, (early, 8:30am) did a load of laundry, worked with my editor, made beef bourguignon, helped my mom change her curtains, and blogged.  My days are full and I am tired and looking forward to sitting and relaxing, but I feel content to know that I made something special today.  You should try it and then let me know.  


The Evolution of Taste. . . and the S word.

I always considered myself someone who had good taste and new enough to create beautiful spaces.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  I believed that.  Stressing past tense.  I should say I THOUGHT I did.
You know that saying "If I knew then what I know now. . . "
Well I'll show you what I'm referring too.  WARNING the following documentation might not be suitable for anyone with a design degree.  VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Let's start with my family room.  (My older son who is now 21 will kill me if he knew I posted this photo)
Focus on the walls and the . . . uhum. . stenciling.   (I always find it hard to say that word.  I try not to anymore but apparently I was a big fan of the S word)  Take A Look!
Focus on the disturbing green colored walls and the . . . uhum. . . well you know, the S word.  
Look at my fireplace, the contrast.  It almost looks like a place where vampires would lay to rest avoiding any forms of light.  I think Tim's face explains it all.
When I first told my husband I wanted to paint the fireplace white he looked at me like I was insane.  I did it by myself one day while he was at work.  I asked what to use at Home Depot.  They were very helpful.  I copied off of Susan's store at the time, her choice of color was a dark grey at the time.  I haven't regretted it since.  Love it!  It's warm and cozy and where you want to lay down with a throw and rest after a long and stressful day.  
Okay, are you ready for the next few sets of transformation?
I made this one big so that you can really see the . . . uhum. . . you know.  My gosh!  What was I thinking?
This is my dinning room now.  I picked a Ralph Lauren paisley wall covering and with the help of the light from a Black Eyed Susan's chandelier, and vintage velvet tufted armchairs I bought at an estate sale, the room is just magical at Christmas.
Be still my heart!  I did the S word going up the stairs.  My walls were a butter but they turned out yellow.  I hated it.  I detest the color yellow and the entire yellow family.  
This was my formal livingroom.  (The boxes back there were Christmas Decor.  I guess I was getting ready to decorate.  AYE  this literally gives me pain.
This is the room now.  Light fixture again Black Eyed Susan.  I actually just changed the lay of out the room last week because where the painting is on that long wall, that's where a french door will be next week to enter into our new study. I wanted to clear a path to walk straight into the Study.  (You can see the other lay out on the side bar on the front of the blog.)
I have found that over the years, what makes your home different and unique to you are the small touches you spend time on to differentiate it from other homes.  It's basically your favorite things.
Here are some of mine.  
This marble table greets my guests when they arrive.  I adore it's placement, the candelabra (Nell Hill) my blue and white pieces.  I love changing it up too.

I posted about my art finds before.  A mother and daughter.  The detail and colors in this painting are so warm and rich.  I just love looking at this every evening.

This lovely lady I found in Cape May in a beautiful antique shop.  She is stunning and elegant.  I love her expression.  I also love that she has dark brown hair and eyes.  (Like me!)

A tiny look into the master bath.  Our claw foot tub from 1912.  Touches of Lavender.  

I love her and where I placed her, inside the small arched nook in my bathroom where I put my towels and bath creams.  I found her in a book.  I loved how she looked at herself in the mirror.  I bought the frame and there you have it!  A Masterpiece.  (I'm notorious for doing that, printing prints, photos, clipping books and then framing art.  I am addicted to it.)

I love glass jars, and colored glass.  Reminds me of my Grandmother.

This is my mom's room.  I bought the plates and prints from Black Eyed Susan.  It gives the room a simple elegance.  

This is my favorite Lamp in my home.  From BES!  It is elegant, unique, and warm.  It is more for ambiance than actual lighting but I don't care.  My FAV!
In the end what counts is what you think of it.  Does it make you happy?  Is it comforting?  Designer Billy Baldwin said (don't remember it verbatim) In the end taste is about what you like and that something that you truly love will never really go out of style.  


Study with Fireplace & Chimney

It won't be long now!  Next week the guys will be cutting through into the house so we will officially have an entrance into the new addition.  Here are some new photos.  Please excuse the mud!  Yuk!


I need a Butlers Table!!!!!!!!!!!

Am I crazy, schizophrenic or have two personalities?  Just a few days ago I blogged about not needing anything and going to live with the Amish.  And now my latest "thing" that I'm wanting is a Butlers Table.
If you don't know what that is i'll show you.
Okay let me explain.  In my defense I should plead insanity.  Insane thanks to my little trip to Atchison Kansas.  
So when I went to Mary Carol's home she had this in her foyer.  This lovely Butlers Table with an amazing spread.  In her books she talks about entertaining and when she does she enjoys greeting her guests at the door with champagne as an elegant surprise.
Our Ethan Allen is closing, unfortunately.  ( I know I can't get over it!)  Anyway, I have been going a few times a week as my friend KC and the other designers have been clearing items to empty the store.  I bought quite a few things fifty percent off.  AND then I saw this.  (above)  This lovely brass Butlers table and immediately I thought of Mary's table below.  I'm hoping the table will go down under 150 and I will run across the cornfield, roads and highway to go get it.  But right now it's too crazy the amount they want for it.  ( I can never hide such a long receipt from my husband)
Photo courtesy of stealing it from Lynne's blog.  Thanks Lynne. (Hee Hee)

So you see my dilemma.  Here I was confessing my sins to all of you (2 people who read my blog)
about my materialistic need to furnish my home and re-arrange furniture and place various objects in a tiny space to create a "table scape".  Hey you never know when a professional photographer might decide to walk in to your home and take random photos for a decor book!  It could happen!
To quote my sons "Why you need all this stuff?  You're filling the house up ma!

Anyway, I apologize to any Amish friend who might be reading this.  (They have access to internet and know my blog)  My intentions are still true and my admiration and love for them remain the same.  
Anyone from Kansas know if there is a Nell Hill's Hotline where there are therapists on hand to help you  with addiction problems.  Like desperately wanting to copy everything from the store, blog, her home, etc?  If so can I have the number.


Our Study, Needs & Wants (Set 2 of photos)

So today my Amish friends put in our windows and finished the roof.  It is such an exciting process to watch.  I told Amos, one of the guys, that I feel blessed having them work on our land.  I honestly can't help but feel embarrassed when I'm around them.  I think to myself "they must think of me as a materialistic person."  I know that the things that I love, are just things.  THINGS.  And they live simply depending on only what God provides them with and what they need.  I have a strong faith in God and a love and reverence for him but I will admit that I love making my house pretty.  I love decorating and creating beauty in my home.  I know that in God's eyes that is not important.  I truly know that.  I also know that if I had to I could live with out it all.  Honestly.  That family and friends and dwelling in a circle of  love and faith are truly what keeps us grounded and fills us with real joy.
But I can't help to feel like I am spoiled and materialistic to them.  Life is daunting at times.  I want to please God and be a good example to my sons and family and to all I meet.  I pray they see that in me.  That I am kind, and faithful and caring.
I find that I am fascinated with them and the simplicity in there nature and the strong work ethic they show in everything they do.  I would love to experience there life for a time, to leave everything behind and get to know that world that is so close to me but yet so far to my knowledge. (Although truth be told, I hate not wearing makeup, but if I had to I guess I would)
I pray my sons become strong faithful and hardworking men like these young men are, from what I see.
Today Amos asked me what the room was going to be.  Was it a bedroom?  He asked.  I told him after a brief pause, that it was going to be a study for my husband.  As I said it I felt shame, I mean in all reality it was not something we needed but wanted.  I was quiet after that and almost wanted to apologize for telling him what it was.  I know your probably thinking, "She's crazy." But that is who I am.  Things like that keep me up at night.  I am humbled by their spirit and pray I can be more like them.
These men are humble and kind souls who are perfectionists with there craft.  I am so blessed to have had this opportunity.
Here are today's photos.  ( I know, your like be quiet already and show us the photos)
 This large front opening will be the fireplace.  Tomorrow the stone mason comes.  Every where around the windows and on the black and below will be grey stones.  I wanted it to look period correct.  We live in Washington Crossings territory and most of the older homes have parts if not all stone exteriors.  I wanted an addition with stone.  I can't wait until tomorrow to post more photos.

 Don't say it.  I know.  Power Washing!!!!!!!!!!  The problem is we have to find a company that will bring there own water since we loose our water so quickly.  (we have our own well)

 Everything is really muddy and dirty outside thanks to Irene and due to the construction.  But somethings gotta give right.  Now this tree (weeping cherry) has lovely pink flowers in the spring.  But we are definitely going to trim back some of the branches.
Until tomorrow.


Autumn, With All It's Splendor!

A very blustery day.  Leaves everywhere, but the sun was shining brightly and I decided to take some pics before all the leaves are completely gone.
Also decided to do some baking.  Made Pumpkin loafs and my Oatmeal raisin cookies.

Found the last of my flowers peeking at my lens as I walked around taking photographs.
Love how the light came out in this photo.  My lovely morning glories saying there last Good Morning.

My Hydrangeas are winding down to the last few faces shining up at me showing off there colors.
"How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days." John Burroughs


Changing Spaces

Remember when I blogged about my foyer?
Well I made a few changes.  
What do you think now?  The little boxwood wreath covers my heat box.


The Study, she's a coming along. . .

So our Amish Friends have been working so hard on our study.  I am in awe every time I'm in there presence.  I love these kind and hard working young men whose craftmanship is pure perfection.
I can't post their photos but I can tell you that I truly enjoy meeting them and watching them work.  I bake for them every morning.  They have told me that I am a great baker.  Today I gave them my orange and cranberry scones that I made from scratch.

Side opening is one of the windows.

This opening in the center is actually where my stone fireplace will be.  

God Willing my next few days of photos will show the quick progression of our new Study.  I'm so excited.  I'm also so thankful that they are working on it.  I find them to be Holy People who are faithful and kind and I pray that we are blessed because of them and there beautiful handiwork.

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