Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Pondering

I have been torn about the direction of this blog. (I think I spent too many working years asking, "Who is our target audience?") Is it a blog about home interiors? Thrifting/junking? All things relating to our house? Or is it a blog about religion, which is for me very much interwoven with where I live-- but is also an alienating subject to many? Do I talk about my religious tradition and personal spiritual practices? Do I explain why the hearth is such an important part of my home? Or why the history of this land is so meaningful to me? Or why there is an altar beneath one of the ash trees in the yard?

Fortunately, the fact that next to no one reads my blog means that no one will be disappointed by my tentative poking about. I will try a few things on and see what feels right. After all, How can I tell what I think till I see what I say? (E.M. Forster)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

mushrooms, rain, altar

After lots of rain here in Nashville, I decided to take the opportunity to run around in the yard with Tallulah today during a break in the weather. I went to give my outdoor altar a bit of a scrubbing when I discovered this:
Wee little mushrooms growing on the altar, which is itself a perfect old stump that my husband picked up from someone's curb after a big storm in our neighborhood. I guess they are baby bracket fungi of some sort. I find them too enchanting to scrape off. I am happy to go with the green witch flow. We'll see how they fare.

Looks like there will be eight of us crowding around our dining table this thanksgiving. So grateful I married a chef!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pinecones for natural holiday decor

Pinecones are easily found outdoors in a lot of areas. And if not where you live, they are usually cheap to buy this time of year at a craft store, the dollar store, etc. While wintry, they are natural and simple and don't scream any certain holiday, so they are the sort of thing that might work out in a household with multiple religious traditions or to keep up for a longer stretch of winter. I love the pattern and depth of the (what are the individual leaf thingys called?) and I have been feverishly collecting photos of seasonal decor since being introduced to My New Best Friend, Pinterest, so here are some pinecone favorites:

Source: johner.com via Cici on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to give brass an antique patina

There are lots of ways to give brass an aged or antique look. But unless you plan to use paint, the first thing you want to be sure of is that the item being aged is actually brass. Just be sure the item has the weight of brass and take a look at the back or bottom to be sure the object is brass straight through. The lovely antique patina develops either naturally or with your help through a variety of chemical reactions that happen with actual brass.

My project was solid brass candle sconces scored on half off day at Southern Thrift. I was looking for whatever method would allow me to be cheap, lazy and use stuff I have on hand. I also kind of liked the idea of a greenish patina, not just overall darkening. It turns out that this method is so simple that tutorial style photos are unnecessary:

-- Find an empty spray bottle around the house and wash it out.
-- Fill spray bottle with tap water and add a random amount of kosher salt. I was being way too lazy to measure.
-- Set brass items down outside somewhere. Probably aim for somewhere that people won’t trip over them and dogs won’t poo on them.
-- Spray liberally with salt water
-- Wait a day and check on the progress. If you forget about them for a while that’s fine. (Goodness knows I did.)
--Depending on the amount of patina you want, you can spray them repeatedly and leave them out for as long as you like.
--If you want to bring out a dab of shine on the raised parts, hit them with some brass polish.
-- Once the objects have reached a perfect level of decay, you might consider hitting them with spray lacquer, but I didn’t.

This is how mine turned out after being left outside for ages and salt-sprayed several times:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Haint Blue

This is the ceiling of our front porch, before there was Stuff on the porch and before the leaves fell off the trees this year. The ceiling of our porch is wood colored wood. Therefore, I feel like I should not paint it. I love its naturalness.

But I also love Haint Blue. For those not of the American South or not of eras gonebye, Haint Blue is a traditional color for the ceilings of porches. You know how southerners are about porches. If you think people in the south spend their free time fanning themselves and drinking sweet tea on porches, you are totally right on. And the ceilings of those porches are often a pale blue-green color: Haint blue.

Haint blue is said to keep malevolent spirits away. Or maybe it discourages birds and bugs from nesting in your porch. No one is quite sure nowadays whether the purpose of the color is natural or supernatural. Older folks say supernatural. I’ve heard that “haint” is an old fashioned southern, and perhaps a specifically a Gullah, way of sayin “haunt” as in ghost or spirit. As in not Casper-the-Friendly. As in not-at-all-friendly. I've heard that the situation is that blue-green is like water and malevolent spirits can't follow you across a body of water... so. It's protective.

Maybe so. Maybe not. But I love the color. Haint blue can be a variety of gorgeous, magical blue-greens. Originally the paints were probably made from the indigo plant.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Super simple fall decoration

I am a believer in decorating my home to mark and honor the seasons of nature and I love to bring in simple, natural things to do that whenever possible. I also keep my autumn decorations up until Thanksgiving has passed. Now that we are into November, and the Halloween gear has been packed away, I want to share a couple of the simplest (laziest?) bits of fall décor that have been hanging out in the Little Victorian.

The white ceramic leaf bowl was made by my great grandmother and passed down. The acorns are solid wood from http://www.craftparts.com/ and are buffed with my own homemade beeswax based polish.

When using real acorns instead for indoor purposes, I generally crack a few open to check for grubs. The real thing can get dry and dull looking, so they can also benefit from a natural polish.

The simplest of fall décor! I lovelovelove the colors of dried Indian corn from the farmers’ market. Simple, inexpensive and pretty, dried Indian corn is popular for a reason.

Here I’ve tied a little bundle of three ears up with silk habotai ribbon that I hand dyed a pale golden color. Neko, the tiny grey cat, is helping.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall flowers in the yard

The backyard of the Little Victorian has recently been pretending that it is springtime. With violets popping up in the lawn (and by lawn I mean hodgepodge of grass, clover, dandelions, wild strawberries, violets and other sundry groundcover):

There are also a pile of these cute magenta flowers.

And a few wild strawberries.

So to honor my ancestors on Halloween, I added some more flowers, tucked into my outdoor altar at the base of an ash tree.