Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Notice Anything Different About Me?

Yep! I got a new header

My sister has been such a big supporter of me doing this blog. But, after I got my first post up she called and said, "I thought you were going to have a monkey in the header, you know,  to tie in the name."

I told her that was going to have to wait, it would require finding someone who could create such a work of art just for me, and I really didn't think I was "there" yet.

So for the first 8 months of Monkey Grass Hill I've been fine with standard issue blogger templates and the free background artwork  (with the embarrassing "free" tag attached). Who can complain when it's free though - thank you Shabby Blogs.

But this summer I discovered a fellow blogger and artist who creates blog headers.  Check out how chic her profile picture is.

 Fast forward a couple months. Not only did I get a very unique and very fun blog header that includes a monkey created by none other than the wonderful Patricia van Essche of PVE Design, but she also created a beautiful sketch of my house. The original now hangs proudly in my living room.

If you haven't visited PVE yet head on over. She really creates beautiful sketches that are whimsical and full of life.  She also creates beautiful notecards which she sells via her etsy shop.

Thank you AGAIN Patricia. I feel so fortunate to have met you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Milk Glass Mother Load!

You know it's going to be really good when the estate sale ad says "collectables extravaganza".  And every picture looks like this.

This wasn't even half of this woman's milk glass collection. She could have run a party rental store with the amount of stemware, crystal, and milk glass she had.  

My collection started innocently enough a few years ago when I bought a couple hobnail milk glass containers. I really don't know what they are meant for but I've used them as planters, vases, and something to hold my jewelry making tools. I liked that they were white, I liked the hobnail design and the size was good. I had no idea what milk glass was. 
My first pieces

A few months ago I decided I needed to have three of those containers. The next day I went to an estate sale and found an exact match. I think it was $1. 

I used them for my monkey grass center pieces. 
So sweet as centerpieces

Since then I've started picking up pieces at thrift stores when they are really cheap--like $3 or less (never more than $5)
After the hobnail vessels came this vase 

I've been using them when we have people over for dinner. I have a main dessert then I fill the little compotes with assorted sweets and cookies to nibble on with coffee.  I think they make the store bought cookies look so pretty. 
 When I saw this marked half price I had to have it.

The next week this cutie was also half price

I recently saw these dolphin candle sticks at an antique shop. I've never seen anything like these before. I figured they would go perfectly with my evolving collection. 

My most expensive milk glass purchase yet - $14

But today I really crossed the line.  I officially now have a collection.  "Hi, my name is julie and I am a milk glass collector."  The whole way home from the estate sale today I kept thinking about what I left behind.  Should I have bought more of the little footed dessert dishes ? Was 6 juice glasses enough? Why didn't I get one of those cute little creamers? How much will be left on Sunday when everything goes half price? Am I becoming one of those people--you know a crazy collector?  ..........I have to get back to that house. 

Today I crossed the line - But I know I'll use them!

What do you collect? Do you ever worry about it becoming unhealthy?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Mother's Day

There is an old rap song and the refrain is, "I get it from my momma".  Have you heard it?  Well whenever I do something that Matt thinks is pretty cool he asks me, "where do you get ____(fill in the blank)".  I respond with that refrain, "I get it from my momma".  

Mom and all but one of her grandkids

I know it's not mothers day, but last week was my mother's "day". She turned 70.  She is amazing and has been an incredible inspiration to me.  I would never have tried to do half the projects I have, if I hadn't grown up with her and her can-do attitude. 

That's dad on the left--don't they look great?

She was a stay-at-home mom to four kids and did the plumbing, electrical, furniture stripping, sewing, gardening, cooking, saving animals, small appliance repair, and yes even upholstery. To this day she is the first person I call when I have any kind of question or something brakes and I want to know how to fix it.  She is the one who came over to help me hang the chandelier in my dining room.  And she came with a tool box equipped with every imaginable piece or part we might need to get that thing to stay. 

We celebrated her birthday with a dinner at my sister's beautiful house. 

My Sister

She and I ran around pulling together the pieces to set a table that would be pretty and make our mom feel special.  We went with a brown and green fall theme. We bought green glasses at Home Goods and brown and green runners from Tuesday Morning. We used my sisters pears and my green candles. 

The dinner was a lot of fun and it felt "fancy" but not fussy. The grandkids all got to take home balloons, so that made it really feel like a party!

Our fall table setting in green and brown

I love you mom! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Is Monkey Grass?

Monkey grass is in bloom. You might know it as Liriope.

 This weekend we were having lunch outside with friends and ended up having a lengthy conversation about monkey grass. 

We decided to get together for dinner the next night at our house. 

I used a pewter candy dish for nuts and big footed bowl drinks. 

I was feeling cheeky and thought it would funny to make the centerpiece out of monkey grass.

I used extra long purple candles I've had for ages. I've almost thrown them away so many times because I couldn't imagine ever doing a table in purple.

My estate sale Rosenthal china tied in perfectly!

Herbs on the napkins were the finishing touch.

I put the silverware on the wrong sides AGAIN.

Drew had to get into the act. So he set the kids table.

He found inspiration in the tie dye napkins we made last week.  (We used napkins that were stained that were headed for the trash.)

He insisted on having bread plates too.  And he kept snatching the candles from the adult table.

He did his floral arrangement all by himself.  Watch out Eddie!

We all had a wonderful night. It was the perfect way to end the summer.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thank You Patricia!

I recently began following the blog of an artist PVE Design. If you haven't ever visited this blog you should check it out. The woman behind the posts is Patricia, and she is one of the nicest bloggers I've met in the blogosphere. She is artistic, intelligent, inspirational, and inclusive. She does illustrations of people, pets, and houses and is really a part of the blogging community--you've probably seen her work as she has done quite a few designs for blog headers.

This weekend I was thrilled to see Patricia had included my signature bracelets in her "Saturday Secrets" post.

Thank you Patricia for including me and for mentioning Monkey Grass Hill and my jewelry. I truly appreciate your gesture and kindness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Where's The Chair?

I play this little game at my house and it drives my husband crazy. I call it, "where's the chair today?"
I buy new chairs, I change old chairs, I get rid of old chairs, and I move the chairs from room to room. Is there anyone else out there that does this?  

I started this blog so I could talk about chairs. 

This one is still in the shed and still looks like this

My first post  I mentioned that I was going to take an upholstery class. My obsession with collecting old chairs with the intent to reinvent them was starting to take over my living space and I needed to do something about it once and for all. 

This is the chair I worked on in class

I started with the hardest chair and had high expectations of finishing it and a couple others over the course of 8 weeks. 

At this point I felt so hopeful
So I did a few posts showing my progress or lack of progress on my chair.  

At this point there were only two classes left and I was ready to quit

As it turns out 8 weeks of classes was not enough to finish reupholstering a chair when it's stripped down to nothing but a frame and you're learning how to recreate every part. 

I carried that chair and all the stuffing, fabric, and tools back and forth from my office at home on the second floor to the classroom in another state in a classroom in the back of a a huge fabric store for 8 weeks during the biggest snow storms in history.   

I tried to boost my confidence by winging it on a wing chair by myself at home.

 I got this far in about 8 hours

I ran out of fabric so the welting never was done.

I never quite finished the wing chair either. Last week moved it to the kitchen next to the fireplace.  Now I've decided I'm going to change it completely. I'm going lighten the wood and upholster it in white burlap.

 After a while in hiding I brought out my unfinished chair, in all it's incomplete glory.  The color was right for my muted neutral sunroom.  So for most of the summer I've had an unfinished chair sitting in the room we live and entertain in. I know, appalling!  I felt only slightly better after seeing a few interior decorating magazine spreads that included the innards of chairs showing.  For the record, I don't like the look at all. 

In the past four months we've seen the following chairs come,  go or get reworked: 


Cleaned and recovered. Then donated

Stripped down to frame. Repaired frame. Painted and purchased new fabric.  This one gets moved periodically from my office to my bedroom. 

She looks like this today. Don't sit on this one!

The outdoor furniture got revamped. I'm thrilled with this project.

I brought these home from Ikea. They required assembly. I'm happy with them. 

Both of these club chairs were donated. The one on the right was the first piece of furniture I ever bought. I got it at an estate sale and had an upholsterer do that job. 

And here is where we are today. The chair on the left is the one from the class and is finished finally.   It's a temporary (I guess they all are kind of). The other chair was purchased and will be recovered at some point by a professional.

 I think I like chairs so much because they are inexpensive when you're getting them on the side of the road or at flea markets and they can be reinvented (sometimes in a matter of hours).  I have learned that upholstering is a lot of work and it takes a lot of muscle and patience. I think it's a good skill to have and I'll continue to do the smaller jobs. But, for the bigger ones it's worth paying to get it done well and in a timely manner. 

Anyone else out there have a chair obsession?