Where Rustic Living Meets Refined Elegance

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back in the Saddle again

 Well it's been some time since I've posted anything but I'm back and even though things are moving slowly they are moving forward.

The move was exhausting, the project of repairing and fixing up Left Brain's rental has also been exhausting. As I continue to finish up the house so it's ready for someone who will move in and love it for the lovely home that it is I took the time to update my website which was much needed and I've also been working on honing some of my other artistic skills.
One of them being Gilding.
I LOVE Gilding!!   I love gold, silver, platinum and copper.  I love a rustic room with a little bling.  I recently spent a week in San Francisco with one of my favorite artists and instructors Lynne Rutter learning the finer details of gilding or as I like to call it, Gildapalooza!  I have been, as she so kindly puts it, gluing metal to stuff for years.  However if you really want something truly gilded then there is a true technique and I can honestly tell you it's not for sissy's.  I went in knowing there would be a lot of technical knowledge to absorb but felt the overall application would be very doable.  Thank God I kept those thoughts to myself! lol  As I began the process of both oil gilding and water gilding, I was like a monkey without any opposable thumbs.  No "LOL" inserted here because I'm not joking.  
The picture above is of a small sample of Sgraffito work that I did.  This is water gilded with 22 K gold (and in the right light this really blings!) with an egg tempura in black painted over then scratched back to produce the design.  Oh how I loved this work!
Here's a little piece of trim with water gilded 22K gold waiting to be burnished.  I'll have to post a picture of it after burnishing, it's like gold velvet.  Just beautiful.
If you like gilding and beautiful pieces there's a fabulous book you shouldn't miss.  
This book is on my serious wish list!!
Lynne just happens to be friends with one of the authors, Monsieur Laurent Hissier whose story of how he came to be in charge of the atelier there in Versaille is amazing!)  and recently while she was in Versaille he gave her a private tour of the atilier and storage rooms in the castle!  
I highly recommend this book as it is filled not only with stunning photos but some fabulous instruction on repair and gilding.

So there you have it. As I continue to work away my studio is packed to the brim with all our belongings except the bare necessities, i.e. bed, minimal clothing, a few dishes and my jewelry box, lol.  So with all the chaos my blog sort of got set on the back burner, but I'll be getting back up to speed now and start posting pictures of the transformation of the current "Barn" I've been gilding.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Well it's done.  Sold.  
The packing process is in full swing.  The paring down (we're moving into half the space), the cleaning, the paper signing (Oy, the paper signing), the trying to decide what to keep unpacked until the last, the packing bare essentials for the last part of the move and most unbearably.....the living in the midst of chaos.  Yuck.  I really dislike chaos, especially in my home.

But enough of that.  Now the good part.  We all know what comes with a move, yep.......REDO AND REDECORATE!  Whoooooo Hoooooo!  I have to say I'm actually getting really excited.  To be completely honest, I've never really "clicked" with this kitchen.  It's weird but after years of dreaming of a big kitchen it's just not what it seems.  Too much this, too much that, more room to cover and certainly not cozy.  So my mind is already dreaming of what I will do different to whatever new space I decide to call home.

I will say it helps too that the people who bought the place do seem to really love it.  I'm so fanatical about change, always repainting, recovering, resomething, that I have no objections to someone completely redoing this to make it their own.  But when I find out they wanted some of our fixtures and other items because they compliment the look of the house so well, it tells me they don't plan on stripping it down, which is a nice thought that they enjoy some of the work we've done.  I met one of the new owners yesterday.  Very nice and very complimentary, (thank you Suzanne), and I have to say I was even more excited after she left.  She and her husband are relocating from Southern California to make this their home.  I could tell she shared the same love of what makes this barn such a beauty.  One being the floors.  They are truly a labor of love and so desperately need a new coat of wax.  Her appreciation for the floors (even is the sorry state they are in) and requesting info about what wax we used really made me happy.  It's nice to know I'm leaving this place in the hands of someone who will care for it and from what I'm gathering they have the means and to really finish it out to what it should have been.  For that I am grateful.

In the meantime, my studio has been completely relocated out of my home into an industrial space in town.  And surprisingly I love it!  I love having my work out of my house, I love having a professional space to meet with clients and not have to schlep 80 lbs of plaster and paint to clients for them to see, they can now come to me, by appointment and see it all.  Heaven!  I've been working hard to make it look presentable and it's coming along.  I'll post pictures later this week.

We've also begun helping my brother with a complete remodel of his rental.  Previous tenants over the last few years have completely destroyed it.  So we are gutting it and having to take some rooms down to the studs.  The plan is to have it back together and looking good by the time escrow closes on February 15th so that we can stay there for a bit while we decide our next move.  Pictures coming of that project too but it's got to get a little farther along.  Right now it would just gross you out.

So lot's happening and I will be keeping the The Gilded Barn going.  Every home needs gilding of some sort and just because my next home won't be a real barn I don't think anyone will care, I know I won't.  So with thoughts and dreams of the next place to "Gild", onward and upward!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Come fly with me

My mother in law is the youngest of three girls.  Her older sister Mary Lou, the middle daughter (who sadly passed away this last year) was married to Bill "Alex" Alexander.  He and Mary Lou used to travel the US in their motor home with a little VW bug in tow behind and a tiny Yorkie named Offenheimer ("Offie" for short) sitting at the helm.  I loved their visits. Mary Lou raised four boys, was kind and sweet, neat as a pin, fabulous sense of humor and shared her husbands passion for all things adventurous. And Alex, well I've always felt like we were kindred spirits.  First of all we share the same last name, my maiden name is Alexander. Then you add to that fact that he has a biting wit, can be completely sarcastic (sarcasm is like air to me, lol) yet always has an adorable smile that makes you laugh.  Yep, visits with Alex and Mary Lou were always fun!

  Although Alex and his four boys live only about 6 hours south of us we rarely see him anymore.  He quit driving the motor home years ago and well.....you know how it goes, we all get caught up with taking care of the everyday things, work, kids, blah, blah, blah, and the next thing you know too much time has gone by and we haven't seen each other in years.  So the other day my brother in law, who is a pilot and has access to a couple of very nice private planes, offered to fly the family down for the day for a quick visit.  I LOVE to fly so it didn't take me long to grab my bag and sunglasses!
 Two extra seats! Wanna come along?  My brother in law is an excellent pilot, it's sure to be a lovely flight. 

The Pilot makes a few adjustments before take off.  When I said I love to fly what I meant to say is I love to ride along, lol.  Just looking at all those gauges made my head hurt. Where's the flight attendant? A glass of wine of would be nice. 

 The Cowboy checks out the ground below.  We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.

 We take a quick run over the ranch. The Sr. Cowboy wasn't feeling up to making the trip so as we flew over I called him and the Pilot tipped the wings to wave as we went over.

 My mother in law rode shotgun which was only fitting since she too is a pilot!  I know! It was really touching to listen to the two of them "talk shop", her asking questions about this specific plane, the two of them comparing notes about things I couldn't even understand yet it was so sweet to listen to and to watch moments like this where she would look over to him and nod her head in agreement. It made me wonder....how many other pilots out there have mothers who fly and get moments like this?

 She definitely takes after her big sister.  Daphne raised 2 boys, helped put the Sr. Cowboy through dental school, ran the front office of his practice single handedly,  played tennis regularly for 40 years,  helped work their ranch and stood by and watched her sons through rodeos, truck rolls, car wrecks and a bar fight or two (Ahem, ALL when they much younger let me say). All with grace, humor and always a magnificent smile every time you see her.  And when Sr. Cowboy decided to get his pilots license years ago, she decided to get hers too.  Say it with me girls.  WHAT A WOMAN!

The Cowboy and I found this little sign hysterical.  Cigars only and wouldn't you know we didn't have a one between us. LOL!

Ok, is anyone else here hearing the theme song from "Weeds" here?
Every time I looked down I kept hearing, "Little houses, little houses, ticky tacky little houses".....lol

 After lunch Alex wanted to check out the sweet ride before we headed back.

 If any of you lived in Los Angeles in the '50's you may have eaten at Alex's place.  It was on Pico blvd.  Daphne, being the little sister worked there in trade for food.  Boy labor laws have changed, haven't they? lol

Group shot before we head for home.  Alex on the left and his oldest son Chris on the right.  
After a wonderful day of visiting and a lovely lunch, it's time to board and head home.

 Gliding along at 11,000 feet, 200 mph it's like ice skating on a cloud.  We head towards the sunset and home, only an hour away by air.

Pressurized cabin, air conditioning, top notch pilot and co-pilot, a good magazine, flying towards the sunset....Puuuuure luxury!
Where on earth is that flight attendant with those cool beverages?!

Home safe and sound after a fabulous day with family!
Ok, I don't want to brag, (actually I do) but with a Pilot as detailed at this is it any wonder we have no worries in the air?


Friday, April 6, 2012

What's that Mr. Ed?

My daughter has been letting her horse roam the property lately.  It makes him happy and it's keeping the grass down which makes us happy.  Yesterday she had her bedroom doors open and while grazing near her room he decided to pop in and chat with her and our grandson.  She moved back home a little over a month ago and the horse came with her of course.  But because he was lonely we now have also acquired two small goats (Winston and Beauregard) to keep him company.

The Cowboy snapped this picture with his camera phone.  When he showed me this picture he said "The only thing that would have made it better is if Winston and Beauregard were in there with him!"
Hold your horses! (pun totally intended)
I am definitely the Zsa Zsa to his Edie Albert.  
Um, no. He'd better teach that horse to talk and tell those goats to stay outside.  He only needs to learn one word.  BBQ.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm a front row kind of gal

 Months ago I found this picture online with the caption "You can live your life with the joy and excitement of the women in the first row or the attitude of the women in the 3rd row"
I was immediately drawn to it. The picture itself is not only adorable  but says so much about how we choose to make the most of each moment.  Emphasis on the word "choose".  

4th row, they're not even paying attention, they're missing the whole point of the ride.
3rd row, they're in the moment but not really appreciating the opportunity.
2nd row, these girls are having fun. Yes for the most part they've got it.
1st row.......That's the row I want to be in!  These girls know how to have fun. These girls aren't upset that their dresses are flying up revealing their stockings and slips! They understand that's part of the ride, the reckless abandon of skirts flying high and hair in the wind knowing they look ridiculiously silly and stand the chance of losing a good hat in the process, they don't care.  They are choosing to enjoy the moment, encouraging each other with their roaring laughter to let it all go and just create a wonderful memory that they will share for years to come.
 They are all on the same ride, going the same speed,  seeing the same sight, but each one is making a choice as to what type of experience and memory they are going to have.

Do you remember that feeling you had the last time you laughed so hard you couldn't breath? Couldn't speak? Peed your pants? No? Then you are really missing out.  Some of my best memories have included one or all three of those moments and have all been with people I love the most.

Yes, I am most definitely and grateful to be a front row kind of gal.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wedding day

 Well we survived our first wedding! lol
Just a few pictures snapped with the Cowboys point and shoot until the photographers photos come in next week.

It rained the day before as we set up and it rained the day after, but the day of......beautiful!! 
 Caitie and the Cowboy shared several sweet moments as he walked her down the aisle.  It was nice to see them both really enjoy the moment!
Food was served on large log rounds cut by Caities Grampa from a tree on their ranch which were set on vintage damask linens.
The Brides baby sister, the Maid of Honour, and the Best Man (who is also the Grooms cousin and these two cutie patooties are dating, hmmmmm.)

It was a beautiful evening and I'll post more when the real pictures come in. But hey! In the meantime did you notice I finally figured out how to get the pictures to display in a larger size?  Finally! 

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm seeing Red!

Working to tidy up some things around here before my daughters shower next month.
I don't know about you but I get in moods where I wake up and find I'm completely obsessed with taking on something that's been nagging at me. 
For instance, this dresser that was in a previous post....
I found this beauty sitting in a field on my way home one day.  There was a yard sale at the house but this piece was way off to the side by itself.  25 bucks and 5 minutes later it was on it's way home to the Barn.  I had intended to paint it but when I got home I ended up just wiping it down with a little stain and it looked so good I decided to leave it as is.   So anyway, this area around my dining table has been making me crazy.  There's also been a little plain pine bookcase that we've had for over 15 years, and it was just sitting along the wall next to the table but the problem was this wall is 18 feet high so it was so underscale it was so horrible to look at it was litterally hurting my eyes.
So the other day I realized that the little bookcase would fit nicely on top of that buffet.  So I painted it red to match it as closely as possible with what I had on hand. Set it on top and moved both pieces up against the big wall.

Pretty good match, I think.

I just stained the back a little darker to give it a little contrast.
A little extra detail just for fun.

Paints are handy on the bottom shelf with canvas's in the drawers below.
I piled some silver on top to give it some extra height. 

A few vintage books with a little watercolor from Paris.

And she has such pretty legs too!

I think I can live with this for a while. 

I'm linking up to:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Save the date!

The kids wanted a barn, up on  hill with a vew of a vineyard.....
Invitations designed and ordered....

 via  Pinterest

The perfect dress found and bought....

Everythings falling into place beautifully!  Friends and family have stepped in to help in ways I cannot even begin to express enough thanks for.  This is going to be a wonderful day for a very deserving couple.  November 5th is the date.  Praying for warm weather!! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Barncasso? I don't think so

Well I've discovered a new passion.  And it's consuming my every waking thought. Wait make that EVERY thought as I even dreamed about it last night.

Oil Painting.
My mother has painted since I was little and paints beautifully, although like all true artists she is her own worst critic and says she's "not very good".  Ridiculous! Anyhoo, I have many memories of coming home from school and stopping by her little studio room and saying hi and watching her paint.  I was always fascinated by the process. The colors mixed on the pallette transfered to canvas to become something to admire. Water drops on fruit that looked real. I loved it all.  Yet I never touched a brush.  Odd.  She never invited me to sit down and try it and I never asked.  Funny when I think about it. But for some reason it's become something I've really wanted to do.

Last month the Getty Museum had a Paris exhibit that I was determined to go see. So the Cowboy, being a good sport and never having gone to an art museum before went with me.  It was beyond spectacular!!!

Oh, yeah, here's a nice little Dega next to a Van Gogh. Just hanging out. 

Here the Cowboy admires a painting by a Dutch artist from 1635 of the biblical story of Joseph and Potapher's wife.  1635!! It's unbelievable.  And the depth of color is truly indescribable.  And many of the frames are original to the artwork so it's truly awe inspiring to see.  We spent probably the most time looking at the Dutch artists.  The Cowboy loved Renoir's work.  Go figure.  At 8:30 in the evening I was dragging him outta there.  We covered only 2 out of the 4 buildings and we can't wait to go back. 

 But that really did me in.  While sitting still, staring at a beautiful landscape by Corot I knew I had to start painting.  Who knows where it will go. I'm sure there will be many little canvas's painted over, put in drawers, hung in odd little spots in my home for my own pleasure, but who cares.  As long as I love it.   So far I haven't had the courage to make it past  the basic layer of sky, clouds and a little base horizon.  I keep going back to rework the clouds.  I found a guy on YouTube who does on line lessons who rocks! 
Tim Gagnon.

I've really relied on his videos for my cloud work and as soon as the wedding is over I'm going to do his online landscape course.
He seems to have a very easy teaching style and I really like his work.

So my mom donated a bunch of her old oils and I set up shop on a buffet in the dining room so that it's all easily accessible when I have a few minutes to do a little work.  I just move the tray and easel to the table and go to work and put it back when I'm done.
Distracting during the day when I'm supposed be doing other things.
But a distraction I can live with.


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