Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Music to our ears

      Is there anything more universal than a love of music? I think not. Although our tastes in tunes vary from person to person, there is one thing for certain: music has the power to overwhelm, to excite, to entice, calm and entrance us.
       I have my own little  gathering of musical instruments which I've taught myself to play, but I am no musician. I am simply able to pull together a few tunes on my lap harp, my flute and my psaltery.

This I do in the quiet corner of my bedroom, so as not to disturb anyone. It is simply for my own pleasure... the pleasure of creating music; but as I said, I am no musician. Therefore I have great admiration for those who really are musically inclined. Just as some have artistic talent, or talent for writing, some people have a gift for music, whether singing, composing or playing an instrument, we are so grateful for those with a gift for music.
What brought about these thoughts today? I was packaging some art to take to our show in York,Pa. this coming weekend, with "Pandora, (online music) playing one lovely melody after another, when one of my favorite musical compositions began to play. I had to stop what I was doing, for this hauntingly beautiful opus always stops me in my tracks and leaves me breathless. I will reveal the song below.

Although my musical tastes run the gamut from Celtic to 1940's Big Band and many other styles in between, it seems some of the most incredible music ever made is that created for Movie Soundtracks and so, without further adieu, please listen to some of the most incredible sound tracks ever made.... in my humble opinion.
Please put on your headphones for maximum pleasure and indulge in something uplifting, exciting, slightly sad and exhilarating for your ears!
First is the theme song from
 "ROB ROY",  great movie and an amazing composition, so beautiful.

Next in line is the powerful theme song from "Band of Brothers". Whenever we watch this set of 9 discs, James wants to fast forward  to the movie, but I must  hear this majestic theme song that plays at the beginning of each disc. You may not be interested in  World War II stories, ( I am), but you cannot deny the strength and glory of this music.

Another fantastic movie with incredible soundtrack, "The Last of the Mohicans".  The beauty begins at :39; then, at around  3:30 things get really exciting and it just gets better and better!  Of course, it doesn't hurt if you've actually watched the movie, which I highly recommend. It's incredible to experience music like this with an amazing script and fabulous acting.

Good grief, I'm on a roll! How's about the soundtrack from "Out of Africa".
It takes awhile to set up the scene, but hang in there, the music starts at 2:24 and really  hits you by 3:56, WOW!
Perhaps you find the love story in Titanic a bit corny, but the theme song is anything but.
 I can't deny this makes me tear up. If you really want to be touched by this music watch the second  video beneath it, same music with photos of Titanic passengers

 And, if you are still with me this is the song I mentioned at the beginning. Years ago, I had fallen asleep with the television on late one night only to be awakened by this haunting music from the movie "Sophies Choice" I sat straight up in bed, Oh my gosh, what IS this song??! "Ample Make my Bed", the movie is heart-wrenching, as is the soundtrack.

Cider House Rule

And now, for a lighthearted and happy ending, the theme song from" Nicholas Nickleby".
This one  is delightful, I even recorded it for one of my own videos.

 I could go on and on, " Braveheart", "Cider House Rules", etc. etc,  Music, music music!
Please feel free to add to this list.
 I will be back to posting more frequently after my last show of the year, Thanksgiving weekend. Till then, Fondly from the Hollow, Jeri

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On using Chalk Paint and wax to create a unique piece of furniture...

Hello, Long time no see!
Remember that old boring broom closet I acquired a few weeks back? It was sporting it's original depressingly DARK Victorian stain.
 Normally I am not one to paint over wood, for I love the patina that only  age can give a nice old table or dresser. But this is different, it has no patina and is not a valuable antique by any stretch. I purchased the piece for $40 to use on our porch for garden tool storage. It really is an ugly thing.... and I have a PRETTY porch. My porch has wicker furniture and flowery cushions and antique metal plant stands with moss covered clay pots, AND a "shabby but sweet" 1920's Sellers Cabinet to hold my garden books, seeds and such. Yes indeed, my porch is quite romantic, despite the frequent unwanted visits of my feathered friends, who tend to spoil my porch's perfection; what with their scattered feathers and unmentionable deposits I must clean up every day.
 But, I digress. My plan was to paint aforementioned Ugly Duckling Broom Closet to match the look of my porch. I decided upon Chalk Paint, which has many nice qualities, one of which is the fact that it can be painted over any surface at all with no need for stripping or primer.
There are several brands of Chalk paint, so named for it's chalky, antique-like appearance on furniture. Most of these brands are outrageously expensive, BUT, you can make your own chalk paint using this simple recipe: Your choice of latex paint, flat or satin, water and Plaster of Paris. Mix water and  the Plaster of Paris to  a syrupy consistency. Next use a ratio of 3 parts paint to 1 part P.O.P mixture and mix well.
 Now, Paint right upon your ugly broom closet. I started with an off-white and painted  the entire closet. You can be pretty sloppy with the paint, you can see the dark walnut stain still showing through. I actually want this.
On top of my white, on the center panels, I apply a sea foam green.  I mixed my own colors for the green .
 The neat thing about chalk paint is that you can wipe it off in spots while it is still wet.You can see  the white paint coming though, AND the dark varnish underneath where I have "wiped it off" on the left side.
My goal is to create a piece, that looks as if it were painted  a hundred years ago. If this were the case, the piece would show it's age with worn corners, missing paint, cracking and darkening of the color. To achieve this look, I will have to distress it.
So, as soon as my chalk paint is dry to the touch, I am going to begin the distressing technique using a rough, and then a fine, sandpaper. I will wear down the paint on corners especially, around door handles and hinges.... flat surfaces as well. This is fun!
You can see the dark wood coming through, you can also see the white paint coming through beneath the seam foam green. I want a REALLY REALLY distressed piece. It is not necessary for you to "age" a piece to this degree, but it IS what I want on my broom closet.

This was a old doorknob I already had, it was covered in rust. I painted with the chalk paint, let it dry and sanded it . It now looks as if it has been on this piece of furniture from the beginning.

 Although the piece is now painted and distressed, it is not complete until you do the final and most important step, WAX.
 Above and below  is the surface after a coat of dark wax.

It is the wax that transforms a chalk painted piece from Looking as if it has just been painted and distressed.....
to looking as if it REALLY IS is 100 year old paint.
 The Wax seals the chalk paint, giving it a wonderful smooth surface and a patina.
 First I used a dark soft wax by Annie Sloan. This really did the trick, the dark wax settled in the cracks and crevices and was amazing in aging the paint.

  I buffed it  and then applied  "Annie Sloan's" clear wax atop, this softened the surface and made it smooth, albeit aged.
 This has been waxed on the front but not the side....YET.  You may see the subtle difference if it weren't for my bad photography.

I wish you could run your hand across the front of the piece, it is smooth as glass.
 I still must wax the sides, but I have already stuffed the inside of the cupboard with garden tools.
Now the porch is covered in leaves and I've gathered the last bit of garden sedum and twigs of beauty bush for the market basket... also chalk painted!

SO, if you have an  ugly piece of furniture that you would love to re-create, I recommend trying out the Chalk Paint. I advise you to mix your own Chalk Paint. DO, however, spend the extra money on the wax. I tried Min-wax, and it just didn't do the trick. I splurged  on the Annie Sloane soft wax,  and there are several other brands which are just as effective: CECE and American Paint Company make a nice soft wax as well.

( I had a little paint leftover and used it a the wicker table to tie it together with the broom closet)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stone Mountain Country Living Fair!

 Just a quick post. If you are near Atlanta, Georgia, please drive a bit farther and visit the Country Living Fair at Stone Mountain this weekend. This will be our 3rd Country Living Fair this year, and the closest to home... thank goodness. We are simply worn out. I will be in Booth A 198-200.
When I get home on Monday, I will do a post on that antique broom closet that I Chalk-painted and Distressed, it looks wonderfully aged in a very interesting way.
Here is a sneak peek..

And a peek of AFTER:

 I will show you how I did this, step by step.
 Till then, see you at the Fair!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bye Bye Birdies and a lovely gift.

Today was moving day for Pea babies... well, I guess they aren't exactly babies anymore.
Here they are in their traveling case.

The Pea-peeps were adopted by someone special...
When first he called me in response to my ad, I was amused by his offer of a barter: 2 turkeys in exchange for a pair of peacocks? Well, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you would know that I've had a less than pleasant experience with my turkeys Gus and Woodrow,who, thankfully, ran away from home to live with the wild turkeys. So, I was not interested in a trade, but I was very interested in the caller. I inquired of him why he wanted peacocks? Did he live in the country? What kind of life did he plan for these birds..... and on and on and on. After about 15 minutes of conversation, I was very impressed with this person as he seemed very responsible and a true animal lover. I determined that my pea-peeps couldn't ask for a better master and offered to give him a pair of peas, after all, I merely wanted my birds to have a good home.
Meet Josiah, bird lover and new peacock owner,
Josiah is  the tall one.
The family came to the Hollow and we got acquainted. It turns out I knew Josiah's mother, Tammy, about 17 years ago when we both participated in a monthly antiques show  nearby. I have a fabulous cupboard I had purchased from her and she has my artwork in her home! What a fun coincidence, and what a lovely family.
They adopted my birds and I adopted this family.
I couldn't be happier to have met them, and  am content in the  assurance that my pea-babies will have a good life with them. I decided to part with 2 males and 1 female.  The Pea hen Mother, Hettie Pepper, is lonely without her little ones and has been searching for them all day, but I promised her she could lay eggs again next Spring and start a new family.
Part 2
Last week,  a package arrived in my mailbox and upon opening it I was flabbergasted to find this beautiful basket with a note.... "After reading about Hopalong Jack, I was inspired to weave this blueberry basket  for you....:"
In my Book, "Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies", Jack is a rabbit trying to stand out in the crowd of 23 brothers and sisters.

 Upon seeing a Brilliantly Blue peacock in the meadow, Jack has a clever idea..
 He gathers hundreds and hundreds of Blueberries in his basket...
."Never before in history had there been such a blue bunny!"
Now, Jack is different from all the other bunnies!
That is, until THEY  roll in the blueberries and turn blue as well. 
"Never before in history had there been SO MANY blue bunnies!"
Now, You know about the Blueberry basket.
This is just wonderful

I met the creator of this basket at a show in NY this year where she purchased 3 books.
This gift was totally unexpected and will be treasured for a very long time. Not only is it beautifully made, but the thought behind it, being Jack's blueberry basket, makes it very dear to me.
I don't know if she reads this blog, but ,Thank you Sharon, a note is on it's way to you!

  I hope all of you have a pleasant surprise this week as well!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Barn chic, and a show in Louisille KY


The smell of fresh hay loaded in our barn is the nicest of Autumn scents. Freshly cut and baled, this should be enough to see the girls through a mild winter, we hope.
 The donk's mouths are watering
but they can't have this hay till until their meadow has turned brown.

 The chicks in the barn are very particular about their furnishings, and a 2 story apartment is a must.

Shabby Barn Chic is the favorite decorating style of the barn-folk
and they like plenty of cozy corners for egg laying,barn chicks like to hide their eggs.
The pantry must be replenished with corn, chicken scratch and animal crackers with regularity; barn folk have very large appetites. As a matter of fact, eating is their favorite pastime.... presentime and futuretime.

Barn- folk are very big on wall art.
 (not a real mouse in trap, the real mice live under the barrel)

  And sculpture.

Take it from a barn chick, Barn livin is the best!

Part 2
Our art event in Louisville last weekend was an eye-opener...

And here is why...

The section of town where we set up our booth is Victorian heaven.

 The streets are lined with these fabulous restored homes. This area was once derelict and forlorn, with the properties going to ruin.
But not anymore. Blocks and blocks of homes have been beautifully restored to former glory days. Not exactly Barn Chic, is it?

  I looked upon this house for 3 days, as it was right in front of my booth.

You may have believed that Kentucky was just bluegrass, split rail fences, old log cabins, Thoroughbred horses and the Kentucky Derby..
But you probably haven't been to Louisville.
In addition to good weather and beautiful scenery,

Still, I am happy to be home on the farm. Tomorrow, a pair of Pea babies will be going to their new home..I will miss them.
Till next time, 
Fondly from the Hollow, Jeri