Y4 – Day 21 – Before and After

My friend K handed down a coffee table to me many years ago. She had sewed up a cushion to place on top so it can be a bench too. I have been using it at our entryway, covered by cloth that goes with our decor more. Here you see our shaven Cappuccina atop the fabric and photo bombing. The table has good, heavy bones, completely made of hardwood with curvy legs and carved detail all around four sides.


After going up to the mountains, I realized we could use a bench in our bedroom. The platform bed is so high, I need to sit on the floor to tie my shoes. The cushion is sage green which will go excellently with our bedroom setting; walls of a sort of olive color, bedspread in gold, cream, sage and burgundy.

The table is naturally weathered and distressed from all the wear and tear over the years. I believe it originally belonged to her parents and they are in their 80’s and she inherited it when she moved out in her twenties and she is now in her late 40’s.

Needless to say, when a piece comes into your possession, it must tell a story in order for you to want to up cycle it because it is a lot of work and you sort of obsess over it. For me, I need to take my time to figure out where it will be most happy, what colors it wants to wear and what finish it is dying to try out and change into – sort of like a human makeover. The piece must speak to me and sometimes it is not that communicative or speaks a different language or I am just not listening well enough… so, I give it some time, I marinate, I focus and eventually, we are able to confabulate.

The coffee table/bench very much wanted to live up in the mountains and after taking measurements, it looks like it will fit in nicely right under a set of windows. Color-wise, I took my cue from the cushion and I knew it wanted to look worn and loved. You just know. Here it is in my TV/den/Workroom sans the cushion which is headed up next time I visit the mountains (this piece is so solid it is too difficult for me to take up by myself).

I antiqued, distressed and crackled the top, gave it a dark wax finish and buffed. Voila! I hope it will be happy in its new role and second act.



Y4 – Day 20 – Credenza Move

Just in passing I mentioned to the love of my life that I thought the new credenza that took foreeevvveeerrr to arrive – never buy from Beyond Stores – would actually look better up here and lo and behold, he brought it up yesterday and carried it right in to the perfect spot where I had imagined it.

It looks so at home here. It matches perfectly! It enhances the hall between the living room and kitchen and is practical for miscellaneous items.



Y4 – Day 19 – Grateful to Goodness

I am especially grateful today to my higher power I call goodness.

Carl Jung’s cosmogonic higher power was Love.

I believe everything can be resolved with all forms of goodness and love.

Lately, I have been blessing all situations and people who vex me.

My positiveness has never been grander, my intuition never keener.

To see everything as a gift, a pearl of wisdom or an insight is fascinating and maintains your interest and curiosity.

This in no way means tolerating unacceptable behavior but it does mean accepting intolerable situations and people as a reality.

It is our attitude, perception and response that is a choice because life happens to everyone.


Y4 – Day 18 – Hi Altitude Veggie Soup

It is relatively cold up here in Arrowhead so yesterday I cooked up a soup that is both delicious, easy and nutritious. It was made completely from leftover organic produce I brought up.

I heated a smallish amount of coconut oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. First, I added some medium sliced red onion, and later, I added some chopped up red onion. In total, about half a medium large one. I covered the pot and diced up two carrots, thinly chopped one stalk of celery and added it after stirring up the onions which at this point had become translucent and soft. After that, I covered it and chopped up a peeled large zucchini. I added the squash and one minced garlic clove and stirred, covering the pot. I brought up half a jar of organic, Italian chunky tomato sauce and added that and around one cup of water, stirred and covered. I de-stemmed one large kale leaf and ripped it up into the veggie mix. I brought the soup to boil, stirred, covered, simmered and waited for five minutes. At this point and time, I added organic veggie Better than Bouillon paste I had left in the fridge up here and stirred, tasted, covered and simmered. I chatted with a friend, puttered around and made myself a salad. By this time, the soup was ready.

It took the birds (especially the stunning red capped woodpeckers) just about 24 hours to realize I had put out some wild bird seed in the feeder. And it took me, less than an hour, to create a delicious, nutritious and super easy melody of layered flavors. It tastes much better than my amateur food picture and… I was in a rush to eat. 🙂

This is vegan, gluten free and worth it. Today, I will add cubed, sautéed tofu to my leftovers for a protein punch.


Y4 – Day 17 – Lemons

This morning I picked around two dozen dwarf Meyer lemons, sweeter than the Eureka or Lisbon lemons you find in the supermarket. Meyers don’t travel well because they are thin skinned so you will only find them in farmer markets during the winter season here in So.Cal.

We are very lucky to have planted two trees when we landscaped seventeen years ago or so. They must love their location because I kind of neglect them, rarely feeding them nutrients or warding off any diseases or insects. And yet, they give and give when they give fruit.

I am finally up here at the treehouse in Arrowhead after about four months of missing my pine trees dearly. I knew I wanted to do a fair amount of cooking, so I picked the citrus this morning down the hill and this afternoon, up at the cabin, washed them and placed them in a basket at room temperature (they are juicier when warm). I will probably wring a few out tonight and tomorrow.

Lemons are the kind of fruit that work with savory or sweet. Imagine fresh squeezed lemonade over ice on a heat soaked day or lemon pie. They are just as useful as a finish for most soups, rice dishes and of course in salads. In fact, that gives me an idea, I think I will make myself a salad right now with olives, and an avocado/lemon/olive oil/sea salt sauce. I made a veggie soup as soon as I unpacked, so my tummy calls. And maybe, I will concoct a bowl of coconut yogurt with vanilla, lemon and stevia. YUM!


Y4 – Day 16 – Painting Techniques

I will share what we accomplished in seven hours on Saturday at Peinture with lots of direction and well thought out planning. Colors were selected, we worked in pairs and steps had to be incrementally layered atop others. All our pieces were waxed and buffed at the end by our own hands as well.

Not anyone’s artistic productions looked the same, even though we all had the same everything, because everyone’s touch is different. That is what makes a handmade item so unique. It is a stamp of your expression via a subconscious road that melds with the wood and the paint and your hands and your brush and your rag and your special touch and perception in this world.


Starting from the top left with the bluish trim piece. Technique learned – Dark color washing using AS Louis Blue and dark wax.

The brown wood is stained with a mixture of AS paints to create an expresso finish on raw wood. We then added more depth with dark wax. Techniques learned – Mixing colors and recipes and staining.

The chair leg was first painted in AS Scandinavian Pink then after drying, we added a layer of AS Versailles. Techniques learned – Two color distressing and before waxing and after waxing distressing and different tools used. We did the top in “before” and bottom in “after” then waxed it all up at the end of class.

The yellow slats look and feel like barn wood. We used AS ochre and Technique learned – Rustic Matte Crackling. I got to try two because supposedly I messed up the first one ( see how it is wavy? – it’s supposed to be straight and like raked with ridges). I learn best when I make a mistake.

The dark blue trim is AS Old Violet (MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE COLOR IN THE SERIES) technique learned – Gilded waxing. I used brass, old gold and King’s gold. Probably my favorite thing to do EVER!!! Can anyone say “Bling?”

The wide grey floor base moulding is done in AS Paris Grey (one of AS’s first colors and just beautiful) with AS pure white which has no pigment really. Technique learned – Dry brushing. We also learned to make it look like linen fabric with a weaved look but I decided not to (that looks better on a flat piece anyway). I liked that my practice section simulated driftwood.

The next technique and top right plank that looks like snakeskin but was supposed to look like old wood painted over and over over time, is my version of Frottage, an Old World technique, using three different colors and lots of manipulation with different papers.

Bottom left is also one of my favorites, a textured stencil technique using AS Duck Egg Blue as a base and AS Olive and Cream for the stencil. Then we dark waxed it so it look aged. Loving this look.

In between the stenciled side and the decoupaged side, we taped it and then at the end of class just peeled off the tape and dark waxed the raw wood so we learned the technique of how to tape off and what to do so not to bleed the paints plus what dark wax looks like on just plain raw wood.

And last but not least, one of the longer processes and techniques, the craqueleur over decoupage and then antiquing it. This was a standout piece and involved but loved it. We used AS Chateau Grey as our base at the beginning of class, we decoupaged and learned the correct way of cutting, etc. as soon as the paint was dry and we had moved on to other pieces, then we did step one of the craqueleuring before lunch and let it dry. Right before the day was done, we added step two and dark waxed.

I’m exhausted just explaining this class.



Y4 – Day 13 – Big Day at Peinture

I Played with Annie Sloan paints and learned techniques from a certified AS stockest. The paint has only been in the US for five years and it has been selling like wildfire and getting increasingly more popular, especially with interior decorators, up cyclers, and flea market flippers.Only a few trained and specially picked store owners are allowed to stock the product. I have made my own chalk paint, tried other brands and I can safely say there is nothing like AS paints and her soft waxes.

IMG_0587The workshop rules.


The workshop, or ATELIER for us francophiles, is at the back of the shop.

IMG_0590In the foreground is the instructor’s (who also happens to be the owner) set up and this is just a small slice of the workshop tables. It was lunchtime and I sneaked in a picture. My pocket book is on the right with pink and green stripes. There were eleven of us and about  a dozen techniques to explore and experiment with.


Y4 – Day 12 – Storm Watch

Back east, they are bracing for a fierce snowstorm.

This is what Long Island looked like a week ago.


May everyone hunker down and get ready because like it or not, here comes Jonas. Get your popcorn, movies and soda pop. These blizzards were great times during my childhood because it meant no school and lots of playtime making snow forts, snow men, snow angels and snow balls with the neighborhood kids. Later, when I was older, I shoveled the snow to clean the driveway and loved coming back into the house for a cup of hot chocolate after as my reward.

The temperature seems to warm up a bit from a freezing bitterness as the silver grey clouds wait to burst.The snow falls in silence.  The wind howls as it encircles the trees and seems to pound at your door. The white powder falls at an endless pace as you press your breath against the window. You wonder when it will stop and leave steam and a stencil of your face on the glass. You bundle up as it slows down and step out the door unless it is jammed with a drift.  You look like the first man on the moon while your boots sink lower and lower crunching into the fresh fallen snow.

I love a good snowstorm as long as you are safely home and prepared. They are lucky it will hit on a weekend.