My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New look for Noël & some rockin' ponies

No, not a new look for me, I still have the same raggedy-ass look I usually do!
But our living room got a bit of a makeover earlier this year, with new carpet, new paint, new baseboard and ceiling moldings, and some new decor (well, not really new, we just shuffled stuff around between rooms so it feels new!). I thought I'd thrill two birds with one scone by including photos of our holiday decorations as my "after" photos. :-)

Summer 2008

December 2010
AdventureJo made the beautiful quilted star pillow! :-)

It's not easy to see, but many years ago I'd stenciled a pretty vine with red berries around the top of the two living room walls. It was a lot of work and I really loved it, so it was painful at first to paint over it. But once I'd gotten started I loved the new green wall color so much I was able to paint over my stencil rather ruthlessly. :-) Hey, out with the old, in with the new, right? Besides, I still have the stencil kit, so I can recreate it some other time (and place!)

I know that colors don't usually look all that true and can vary widely on computer monitors. The actual colors are deeper, darker and more subdued (with more gray tones in them) than they look in the first two photos, but look truer in the next ones, at least on my computer. We used Sherwin Williams' Duration (low VOC) satin paint in "Coastal Plain" for the walls and "Basil" for the trim...

Some of you may have noticed the Santa's Workshop on the stereo cabinet. You'll get to see it in detail in a future post... probably on Christmas Eve when we can sneak in and look around while Santa is otherwise preoccupied with his deliveries.* ;-)

Look, Molly! A latchhook rug from my crafty past! ;-)

*BW, my UPS-man husband, made up a little ditty that he and his co-workers now all sing as they load and sort their package cars at this time of year. Sung to the tune "We Are Santa's Elves" from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, it goes:

We are Santa's elves, filling Santa's shelves...
we do the work but he gets the credit, we are Santa's elves!

Oh, go ahead and sing along, you know you want to! ;-)

I think BW needs to re-write the rest of the lyrics. :-)

Now that we've enjoyed that festive musical interlude, here are a few non-holiday living room decor details...

You may have noticed this little gallery hanging just to the right of the hallway in the above photo. I bought the butter prints cross-stitch pattern and the ceramic bas relief butter print goat plaque above it in either Maine or NH about 20 years ago. (I entered that cross-stitch in my local county fair the following summer and won a blue ribbon for it, yay!)

In addition to my fondness for goats, I've loved foxes since I was very little and have a few foxy goodies (<-- that should make for some interesting Google search hits, lol) scattered throughout the house. Here is an ensemble consisting of a tiny original Claudia Hopf scherenschnitte ("paper-cutting") fox picture my mom commissioned her to make as a gift for me a long time ago, and a cross-stitch illustration of the Aesop fable The Fox and the Grapes that Mom did in 1987, upon whose frame I've perched two wee fox figurines and a little wood carving that also depicts The Fox and the Grapes fable.

The antique lawyers bookcase to the left of the bay window originally belonged to my grandparents, but was decorating my bedroom by the time I was in high school. When BW and I brought it here from Mom's where it had been stored all those years, we put a new back on it and lights in the top section. The top shelf houses what's left of a pretty extensive miniature rocking horse collection that Mom and I started when I was in junior high. We'd noticed that between all her miniature displays and my miniature horse collection, we had quite a few rocking horses. So we thought, "Let's put them all together as a collection and add to them!" After a while, when it got truly ridiculous, we agreed, "Only unusual rocking horses from now on." As you can see, that caveat didn't really narrow the field much so our collection continued to grow like kudzu. What you see in the following photos is what remains of our fairly heavily-culled original collection.

The bookcase's second shelf holds my little Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor books from childhood, along with the last of my once vast herd of miniature (non-rocking) horses. As a tot and teen, I glommed onto anything horsey! In recent years I gave a lot of them away and sold some others, so now my collection is distilled down to my very favorites, some of which I've had since kindergarten. (The third shelf holds more books and little odds and ends, but I decided it's not closeup worthy). :-)

Here are some rocking horse closeups... I'll give you a little tour of my favorites. :-)

The large rocking horse in the back corner, standing on a toy drum with other toys at his feet, is a music box. The stained wooden horse on the right near the back (between the spotted and terra cotta horses) is one of my very favorites. He was made by a man in Virginia who made exquisite dollhouse miniatures. I wish you could see the craftsmanship in that rocking horse!

The gold one in the middle near the front is an old Avon sachet holder. His saddle is hinged, and when you open it there's a little stash of sachet - a perfumed wax you're supposed to dab on your pulse points. Given that it was fresh back in 1973, I wouldn't advise doing that. ;-)

Just to the left of the gold horse and behind the red one with the bright yellow mane and tail is a clunky little rustic wooden horse. His name is Ned (I'm not kidding, it's even written on his belly), who was carved by a man in Canada. I just love Ned!

Favorites in this group include the patina-green rocking horse on the left, which is made of some kind of metal that's heavy as hell; the red and white glass one behind him; a plain little wooden one near the front right that my mother made out of basswood; and the fuzzy little brown one just in front of him.

And here my faves are another music box in the back corner; a red horse with fancy embroidery and bells who's looking back over his shoulder (made in China long before the days when everything was made in China); and a cute little merry-go-round of rocking horses that spins. (But none of them, in my opinion, hold a candle to Ned). :-)

I hope you enjoyed your visit and our sing-along! ;-) Now help yourself to a freshly baked muffin and some tea. Speaking of which, Mountain Rose Herbs is having a fantastic giveaway this week for all you tea lovers out there! Deadline is Sunday at a stroke before midnight (PST). Cheers and good luck!


  1. First of all, I love those green shades! Your living room looks so lovely and cozy. I do see the vine around the ceiling in the first neat, and what a great idea. I think something similar would look really lovely on the Coastal Plain color. The seasonal decor looks so charming too.

    I had no idea you were such a crafty person! Latchook rugs and needlepoint! Brilliant. I love those old moulds! So pretty! I really want some now to make lovely cookies with...and your needlepoint of them is absolutely charming! I'd love to see some close ups of them and the goat, the fox cutting and the Fox and Grapes scene! I love foxes too. When I was a kid, we had a deck of cards meant for playing Go Fish, and they were pairs of of them was a fox, and I loved it so much, I stole the fox cards out of the deck to keep just for myself.

    Love the sing a long! Rudolph, good one! Yes BW should re-write the rest. My fav from that is the "Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nit can't fire me, I quit!"...excellent stuff.

    And finally, wow, all the rocking horses! Very cute. I would love to visit your house to scrutinize them...I'm sure a child would really love that! I like the really little tiny ones.

    Fun post!!! Happy Holidays! I'll be waiting for the inside tour of Santa's workshop. :)

  2. Laloofah -- OK I know that Ned is my favorite as I am drawn to the primitive look -- but what a fantastic collection. Your new green is beautiful. I have Sherwin Williams VOC in my kitchen called Sage. My eye caught that lovely quilt hanging over your stair well -- nice. Mountain Rose is my favorite spice and herb place. If I place an order I will use you. I used to live in Oregon -- not too far from their place. You have been busy -- change is always good I think. -- barbara

  3. Jamie ~ Thanks, we're very pleased with how it turned out.

    Rose ~ I'm tickled you like the colors we chose (that can be a fun but daunting task - and btw, did you know that Sherwin Williams has a color named "Vegan?" :-) It's a rather lurid shade of green. LOL) I thought a stencil would be pretty on our newly painted walls too, but I need to leave some project for the next guy! ;-)

    I used to be pretty crafty, at least in some things ~ did a lot of cross-stitch, especially. And I made at least three latch-hook rugs, which was fun! I'd love to get back into it someday. I took some closeups of the butter prints stuff for you, will email them soon. I love that you stole the fox cards from the deck to keep for yourself! LOL! When I was about 3, I had an invisible fox who lived under my bed. When I was a tad older, I'd put a sock on my hand and cradle it in my other arm and pretend it was a pet fox. And I was always excited to receive fox things as gifts - as late as junior high and high school I made a scrapbook of fox, wolf and coyote pictures (still have it). I'd say the fox is definitely one of our totems! :-)

    Thanks for singing along! :-) When I played it for BW this morning and suggested he write more lyrics, he got a gleam in his eye. So we'll see what he comes up with. It will give him something to think about today instead of focusing on how hammered he is! (It's going to be ugly). I love those lyrics too, from Kermie's dentist song. ("A DENtist?!") lol

    I'd love to have you visit so you could scrutinize the rocking horses to your heart's content! When mom has people over to look at her miniatures, she plops them down in a chair in front of one of her displays, gives them a glass of wine, and lets them just gaze away. I'd do the same for you! :-)

    I'm looking forward to putting the Santa's Workshop post together, it'll be fun! :-)

  4. Barbara ~ I knew it! LOL - when I was writing about Ned, I was thinking of you and I figured he'd be your favorite! You really would love him. I'm delighted you enjoyed the entire collection!

    And I wondered too if your sharp eye would catch that quilt in our hallway. ;-) My maternal great-grandmother made it. She made a huge Dresden plate one too (that I like even better) that Mom's got in her house.

    I'm glad you like our color scheme too! I just love some of the soft, earthy shades of green, I find them very soothing. Your Sage in the kitchen sounds beautiful as well as appropriate! (That's probably where my Basil belongs!) ;-) I painted the window and door trim in our kitchen and adjoining dining room a very similar color to sage, but darker. Very gray-green. I can't recall SW's name for it now.

    Isn't Mountain Rose Herbs the best? I love their stuff. In fact, I just went to get some whole nutmegs from them (can't find a single nutmeg locally), but they're sold out. Ah well, 'tis the season. I appreciate your placing any future orders through my web site, that's very sweet of you! (Just turn on your "accept all cookies" feature first, otherwise they credit my affiliate account). Did you enter their giveaway? I didn't know you lived in Oregon! I have a friend in Eugene and know a few people who used to live there, and they all speak highly of it. We're hoping to get out there this summer and visit it and Portland and some of the coast.

    I think change is good too, at least when I'm the one making it. Not usually so fond of having it thrust upon me, though! LOL

  5. Wow, Laurie, I love the makeover! The colors are fantastic and I really enjoyed the tour (and love even more that you have a latchhook rug!). I would have been mesmerized by those rocking horses when I was a child. How magical they are all together!

    That's so funny that the UPS guys sing that. What a great way to make work fun!

  6. Molly ~ Thanks, Molly, I'm really glad you enjoyed your visit, and that you like our new color scheme too! :-) That latch hook rug was a fun pattern to make. I made one while in high school for my mom and another for myself while I was in the AF. Used to work on it during boring 12-hour shifts in a very cold tractor trailer while watching a computer monitor where nothing ever happened (but I'd have been one of the first to know if the Russians had launched nukes, lucky me!) Having that rug on my lap while I worked on it kept me warm, and having something creative and constructive to do kept me from losing my bloody mind! I still have the latch hook and it would be very easy to take up again, I just don't know where the pattern is after all this time.

    The kid in you would still find the rocking horses mesmerizing, I'm sure. You and Rose can both come over and plop yourselves down and scrutinize them together while I ply you with muffins and glasses of spiked Silk Nog. :-)

  7. Your living room is just beautiful. I'm so pleased that your quilted pillow is in both the before and after shots and I'll take that as a compliment! It's fun that it's in the very same spot in both photos. The green's are so pretty and the new carpet is so fresh.

    I'm excited to see a peek into Santa's workshop at Christmas. It's been more than 25 years so it'll be mostly a surprise I'm sure. Hopefully Santa will stay away long enough to let you sneak a peak.

    It was so fun to have you point out all your favorite rocking horses. It was good that when you showed them to me the first time, you also reminded me there's a ban on getting more. That would have been risky otherwise! I think of you whenever I see one. I love the sweet little on with the angel on it. Perhaps because I just watched "It's a wonderful Life" and am appreciating how hard it is for angels to get their wings. In the second and third photos, there's one that looks like it's made of sterling silver that appears to be very detailed and I really like that one. I wish I had a tape recording of what I said when I saw them the first time to compare!

    My visit to your blog was delayed by feverish wrapping of gifts and I got about 1/2 through them. Now we're going to watch the family favoite Christmas movie "Annabelle's Wish". It's a pretty sappy animated movie with Randy Travis but it's a tradition and it still makes me cry.

  8. Jo ~ Thank you, Jo! They really are rich, beautiful shades of green. It can be hard to tell from the little 1.5" square of paper from the paint store you have to go by, but it worked out! :-)

    Shame, shame, SHAME ON ME! I completely neglected to mention the pillow you made for me, so I have rectified that now. All the treasures you've made for me have pride of place in this house. :-) That pillow really looked nice in the blue chair (which is now down here in the den), but I love how it looks in the wingback too, especially with the green walls as a backdrop. I love that pillow! I remember we were together at a quilt shop when we chose those fabrics, but can't remember where. Was it in Shipshewana?

    It'll be fun to hear what you remembered about Santa's workshop and what you'd forgotten in all the intervening years! (More than 25 of them? How can that be, when we're only 32 and didn't know each other when we were seven? lol)

    Yes, there's a definite moratorium on new rocking horses, just as there is on chickens. :-) But I love that you always think of me when you see rocking horses, because I think they're such fun. Did I ever tell you about the time my mom won a rocking horse in a drawing? It was at a shop in Kennebunkport (she, like me, almost never wins drawings but would enter them anyway) while we were at UNH. It was a beautiful wooden, full-sized rocking horse, very elaborate and worth a lot of money. We had plenty of room for it at Maple Top, of course, and it would have looked smashing sitting by the display case of mini rocking horses, but to her credit she donated it to The Home for Little Wanderers, an orphanage in Boston founded in 1865 for children orphaned by the Civil War. Doesn't the name just conjure up a Dickens novel? I don't know if it's still operating as an "orphanage" (I doubt that term is even used anymore) but it was in the early 80's when mom donated the rocking horse, and they were thrilled with it. I wonder if they still have it.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed viewing the rocking horses! The little angel one is sweet, I wonder if she knows Clarence? :-) I need some GPS coordinates on that detailed sterling-silver one you mentioned, though. The only sterling silver ones are the two itty-bitties in front, one in the 1st photo and a different one in the second. Is it one of those?

    Congratulations on getting so much wrapping done (a project that always takes longer than I think it will!) and am glad you rewarded yourself with a favorite movie! :-)

  9. A Holiday Thought...

    Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

    ~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~


    Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: &

    "Any great change must expect opposition because it shakes the very foundation of privilege."
    Lucretia Coffin Mott, 1793-1880, minister, women's rights leader, abolitionist, peace activist, humanitarian

  10. Anonymous ~ You must be the person who left this same message on my blog anonymously last year at this time. I've known this piece by Coates since my earliest days of veganism over 10 years ago, when it appeared in one of my first vegan cookbooks. I've always thought it was powerful and eloquent and oh-too-true. I'm just wondering why you feel the need to remain anonymous! You realize you're on a vegan blog, right? You're in friendly territory here. :-) I hope you have a blog of your own where you share this sort of information and vegan outreach.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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