New in the shop! Handmade pillows from vintage textiles

I've been taking a break from blogging and working on the house (and running my business to some extent), since August of last year. I took a full time position working with Etsy (WAHOO!) and after that it took a while to readjust.

I'm feeling a lot more settled now, and I was finally able to finish (at least in part) a project I have had waiting in the wings for quite a while. PILLOWS! This small collection is made from vintage chenille comforters I sourced from all over. I have been collecting them for at least a couple of years now. I love chenille but it often has a granny look to it (which lets be honest, I for one like a little of, but too much becomes apparent very quickly... one can only have a granny moment or two in a space before the whole room looks dated... I'm getting off track). I specifically gravitated towards the simple more graphic patters of chenille (popcorn aka polka dot tufting is my favorite) and stuck with on trend and classic colors. I then backed each pillow with a modern fabric to balance the old with the new and create a fresh feel.

I am hoping I will be able to do a repeat of these pillows but that involves finding the exact same chenille in excellent condition a second time around (not impossible but not guaranteed) so consider this a limited run! 

I'm so pleased to introduce:

 

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Farmhouse entryway in progress

The entryway is the first impression your guests get when they come for a visit, so it was at the top of my list for a makeover. The farmhouse is full of wood paneling, but the worst offender, floor to ceiling, dark and dreary was the entryway. 

Granted these photos were taken at night, but it didn't feel super inviting to me. Before we even closed on the property I knew this entryway needed a fresh coat of a light colored paint to brighten the space and utilize the natural light that floods in through the windows around our antique dutch door.

Now, if you have ever painted wood paneling, you know it is quite a process. You absolutely must prime. Your paint says paint with primer, but you need something serious to cover up this slick dark surface. I used Zinsser, but I understand Kilz makes excellent primers as well. The tricky part about the paneling is the spaces between. There are so many grooves in the wall and you have to make sure you get enough of the primer into them, but you also want to make sure the flat part of the wall that abuts keeps a smooth coverage. I developed a system where I would do about 2 ft sections of the wall floor to ceiling before moving on. I used a paint brush to get the primer in the crevices and then came back with a small roller to smooth the build up from the paint brush and more quickly cover the flat surfaces. The results were great, but it was way more time consuming that simply cutting in and rolling like you would do on dry wall or plaster etc.

I waited a full day to let my primer dry. Mainly because my back needed a rest after all the squatting and reaching (excellent work out) but also that stuff is kind of thick so I thought better safe than sorry. 

I don't know if I'm the only one, but this stage of painting makes me feel so nervous. I have painted quite a few spaces in my time, but when it looks all splotchy and uneven like this is makes me queasy, so next day I was ready to put my first coat on, lower back pain be damned.  

So this is where I added an extra step to my painting that I have come to decide was well worth it. I had to repeat the process of cutting in and filling gaps with my chosen wall paint. I continued doing sections at a time like with the primer to keep a smooth coat, but this time after I rolled my paint on the flat surfaces I went back with a large paint brush lightly coated with paint and gently brushed down from floor to ceiling creating a very subtle but really beautiful texture to my surfaces. It probably added about an hour and a half of work to my space, but it has more of an authentic antique farmhouse feel to it. 

This space is by no means finished. It needs a new ceiling, the trim and door are getting stripped and painted a navy blue color that has a touch of graphite grey to it. Really lovely color. I also want to remove the pendant light that hangs to the left of the stairs (you can catch it's reflection in the first after shot). It's a nice vintage piece, but it casts an orange glow through the space and I think a flush mount centered in the space between the door and where the stairs begin would be more appropriate for this room. But I would say the space is literally like night and day already and I am truly pleased with the direction it's heading!

Bathroom mini makeover

When you find yourself in a new house that needs lots of work it's hard to decide where to start. Every single room in our glorious old farmhouse needs work. I think every room needs to have at least one wall or a ceiling replaced... many of them are for aesthetic purposes and we can live in the house with it as is, but the whole thing can be a little overwhelming. We have had to go through room by room and prioritize which rooms get help first, which should get attention at the same time (for instance a bunch of rooms need drywall and insulation, so might as well do them all at once), and decide what will need to stay as is for the longest. Both of the bathrooms in the house need to be updated. The one downstairs has formica walls and is an entire gut! It's also the guest bath and powder room for non overnight guests... Meanwhile the upstairs bath has cheap finishes and was looking very dreary, but having to choose which room would get a full renovation, downstairs wins. That does not mean, however, that the upstairs bath has to stay dreary and dumpy for several years. I decided it would get a mini makeover to see us through until we actually renovate, especially since this will be the bathroom we use the most. A fresh coat of paint and some accents can go a LONG way. All in all this whole room cost about $300 (towels and all).

For the most part, I tried to pick decor items in neutral colors that would work with whatever we do in there when we do the actual renovation.

 

So now that you've seen the before images, lets talk about the space. As I mentioned the finishes are not anywhere near top of the line. The cabinet for the sink is your typical warm wood straight from the hardware store cabinet with matching brass knobs. The wall color was either intended to be yellow or has yellowed with age... still not 100% sure about that one! The wall above the shower is showing signs of mold. The light fixture above the sink is crooked and rusting. The linoleum flooring has mildew spots. Some of these problems we will address and others are going to have to wait for the final renovation.

 

It's not perfect but I would say it's a huge improvement! The light fixture over the sink is still crooked (someone glued it to the wall??) but at least it blends in now. This makeover will last us until we can put in real tile on the walls and floor and an updated bath, sink and toilet. 

Phew. One room down... for now... all the rest to go.

Whole30 Crock Pot Gumbo Recipe

In the tradition of the new year I am trying to start the year off right and I'm detoxing! I overdid it during the holidays, and lets be honest for a few months before that. I gained weight, I was feeling sluggish and bloated and over it. I started the Whole30 program on the 4th because I had some traveling conflicts that made a real start impossible until that date and I really wanted to succeed. I didn't want to undertake a 0 day program and quit on day 2 because I was not amply prepared. So this year I planned. I chose to do the Whole30 program at the suggestion of a friend. I had never really looked into it deeply because I'm like no dairy and no carbs? Forget it... but I changed my mind and decided to give it a shot when I learned about all the benefits of trying it out. 

So I have been on the program for 25 days now and I have been feeling pretty great. I am not feeling hungry. I am craving cheese and occasionally a carb or two but not as much as I thought I would. Day 1 and 2 were really the worst of it. I have been continuing to prepare myself for success. I am bringing Whole30 compliant snacks with me when I leave the house, I am making sure I eat meals at appropriate times and I am grocery shopping with purpose, bringing full lists of ingredients for meals I have selected in advance. I have 2 different Pinterest boards going, one of Whole30 recipes and one of Whole30 slow cooker recipes. I am finding that by making some large meals that are easy to reheat for lunches I am making this program less difficult for myself. I think the downside, but likely what also makes it so life changing for people is the lack of easy meals. There is nothing that comes in a box on this diet, everything takes effort and thought. It makes you far more conscious of what you are putting in your mouth, but it also means you really do need to plan ahead. I also wouldn't really dare to try and eat at a restaurant while on the plan...

I thought I would share 1 recipe with you that is delicious whether you are on Whole30 or if you just like good food! Slow Cooker Gumbo with Sausage, Chicken and Shrimp. Delicious, hearty and surprisingly easy. I made it on day 7 and I am making it again today! Sp far this is my only Whole30 recipe repeat.

I used this recipe which I found on Pinterest as a guide and then tweaked it for my own tastes:

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Ingredients:

1lb chicken** 
1lb sausage (preferably andouille)* 
1lb shrimp
2 cups chicken stock*
1 box diced tomatoes (28oz)*
1lb okra
1 bell pepper
1 onion
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic

1 hot pepper (jalapeno, serrano etc, totally optional if you are not into spicy food)
3 tbs cajun spice*
2 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper

1 tbs thyme
1 tbs oregano
1 bay leaf

* if you are doing Whole30 or Paleo make sure you read your labels. All of these items can have hidden ingredients including sugar, nitrates etc. but they all exist without so find the brands that work at your local marke

** You can use raw or cooked, white meat or dark or a mix... up to you, I got the best results when I used chicken that I had cooked in advance (I also used the stock I made with the same chicken in my recipe), I shredded it and the texture really added to the dish

Notes

Alot of crock pot recipes say you can just dump everything in and hits start and come home later to a perfect meal... I am of the opinion that if you do that everything ends up kind of tasting like raw onion... So I have added the step of sauteeing my onions whenever there is a recipe that suggests you just dump it all in. In this case I sauteed several ingredients to seal in some salt and add some flavor. 

Another step I took which you can choose to take if it makes sense for you (if not store bought stock will work it just wont have as deep a flavor as homemade) is to make my own stock from a whole chicken (and use a portion of this chicken in the gumbo as well). I basically just take a stock pot put a whole raw chicken in, cover with water (about 2 inches above chicken), add salt (tbs or so), bring to a boil then simmer for about 1 hour. Then remove the chicken from the pot (using tongs, leaving liquid in the pot, be careful the bones will have weakened in cooking and may break apart as you lift the bird out), let the chicken cool until you can stand to touch it and take it off the bones. Add the bones back to the liquid still in the pot, add 1 carrot, 1/2 onion, 1 stalk celery 3 garlic cloves all roughly chopped and a bayleaf. I then bring it back to a boil and cook that liquid for about 2 hours on a high simmer until it has reduced significantly. Next strain it, let it cool a bit and put it into a storage container and use it for recipes all throughout the week or freeze part for later. It gets gelatinous when it's cold because of all the goodies leeched from the bones during cooking so this is totally normal and desired!

Here we go for GUMBO!

Dice all the veggies into similarly size chunks and mince the garlic up nice and small. In a large pan heat 1 tbs of olive oil, once hot add peppers and onions, sauté until onions are browned and pepper have softened, add garlic for the last minute or so of this step. You can tell by the sweet smell of the ingredients when they are done. Dump this directly into your crockpot. Next I sautéed the celery and okra together, which is likely unnecessary, but I had already dirtied the pan so I thought why not! I added the thyme and oregano for the last minute of this step. Then add this to the crockpot as well. Chop up your sausage and shred your chicken (if precooked, if raw cut it up) and shell an de-vein your shrimp. Set the shrimp aside, back in the fridge, you will not add it until later. Dump the sausage and chicken into the crock pot along with 1 28oz box (my preference is Pomi brand) or can of diced tomato, 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 tbs of cajun spices, 1 tbs salt, pepper to your taste preference. Set your crockpot on low attach the cover. Check in to stir it occasionally, but mainly just leave it alone for 6 hours. Open it up, add the raw shrimp, put the lid back on and set it on low for another hour. This time when the timer chimes it's dinner! 

 

Fall inspiration

Where does the time go? We are deep into fall with Halloween just around the corner. Speaking of which, I came across the most perfectly imperfect pumpkin the other day and it had to be mine. In order to justify the purchase I figured I better put together a little fall inspiration shoot for the shop... Have you started planning your Thanksgiving table yet? Nothing makes a statement like some gorgeous vintage glassware! Pictured are Bauerware ceramic pottery mugs with copper handles and MCM smoke colored glass whiskey glasses. Both are perfect for entertaining and come in a set of 4. Cheers!

brooklyn prop stylist courtney dawley