Monday, February 25, 2013

West Point Lumbar Pillow

While organizing all the memorabilia that comes from military service, I came across his wool uniforms from West Point. Mr. Thrifty's  uniforms were always kept in their own wardrobe box that was moved from house to house. I mistakenly questioned the contents one time and asked if we could donate them.  Horrors!  These uniforms were dear to his heart, so the next step was to figure out how to display them somewhere.....A little bit of history.  Did you know that the gray uniforms stem back to the War of 1812?  A website claimed that gray came into favor when dark blue wool was hard to come by.  Have to ask Mr. Thrifty if that is true.

To be perfectly honest, could I take one pair of the wool pants and create a novelty object?

                                            The stripe had a distinctive ribbing effect to it.
Initially, I cut off the hem so the seams would not be bulky.

 Another story comes to mind.  My Grandmother no matter what she did always used every bit of anything she was working with.  No matter if it was the butter wrappers I found in her refrigerator when I purchased her house(she used them for greasing pans for baking) or scraps of fabric, which she wound into this ball.  I think it is a treasure!  If you look closely at the strips, she sewed them together on the sewing machine.  When she would wrap packages in brown paper, she would use this fabric strip ball to tie up the package instead of using scotch tape.  So I believe that through her, I carry on the tradition of 'waste not, want not'.


 I'm sure part of it was living through the Depression.  On the other hand, my Grandfather, a butcher by trade and part owner of 2 grocery stores with his brothers, would bring home the leftovers for Grandma to make dinner.  She used to say, "We use everything but the squeal!" I believed it when I saw her pull homemade head cheese out of her fridge one day.  It was a loaf that had an agar substance congealed around what I thought were brain parts.  It almost made me gag.  What a funny memory.  Anyway, back to my project.

So the hem is cut off and I sewed under one seam and made a bookmark out of it to go on a favorite book in his office.  I know Grandma would be so proud of me.

                              To begin with, I cut off one of the legs on the pants.

   All I needed to do was turn the cut fabric, turn it inside out, sew one seam, invert it, stuff it and sew the other side up.

                      And the final product...Mr. Thrifty's very own lumbar pillow.

Placing the new lumbar piece in the wing back chair gives it more character.  How easy was that?

                       Stay tuned for the last of the West Point office projects.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The $30.00 Empire style Couch with West Point Blanket

I have a so called hopper of posts written at any given time.  I wanted to post some of those older ones so clean it out.  Therefore, this posting follows the West Point office that I created for Mr. Thrifty.

Right before we left Little Rock, the owner of our mini storage unit called  to see if I was interested in a couch that was stored in a locker that was delinquent on their storage rent.  I rushed over and saw this couch.  Even though the material was in fairly good condition, it really wasn't my style.  After thinking it over a few minutes, I offered her $30.00.  She wanted it out of the way, and I of course could use another project.  A deal was made.

I stripped the wood and brought it back to the golden oak look.  The masculine look of the oak and fabric would be best suited for the office.

  Mr. Thrifty steam cleaned the fabric.  While looking at the legs, I noticed something odd.  The base of the legs looked rather dirty.  Recalling that this same look happened to a table that I had years ago, I grabbed the brass polish and got to work. 

Amazing!  The  brass feet alone were worth more than $30.00. When we moved to Alabama, the couch size fit into the study perfectly.  While I still was not fond of the fabric, it did lean toward the taupe spectrum, so it fit in with the other West Point pieces for the time being.

While going through Mr. Thrifty's memorabilia, I came upon this beautiful wool gray and gold West Point blanket..  Laying this blanket on the top of the couch made it look a bit more comfy.



The couch will remain like this until I find the perfect fabric.  A wool black and cream tiny check is swirling around in this head of mine.  We'll see.  Because the cushion needs some major fluffing, this isn't going to be cheap upholstering project.  With the wood trim on top of the couch, this piece isn't able to be slip covered.

      I think I will look in the men's suiting fabric aisle to start the hunt for the perfect fabric.

 Instead, I went with the damask pewter chenille fabric that I had used before.  I didn't feel that the suiting fabric would wear as well as the chenille.

 The couch gives the office a complete look with the blanket and lumber pillow to match.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

West Point Hatrack

One element that I hadn't planned on was a wardrobe box full of West Point uniforms that had been moved from house to house as part of my masculine, military office.

 I can recall living in VA and the water pipe in the basement broke.  For those not military, every time your husband deploys, you will experience at least one house catastrophe without him.  Mr. Thrifty was in Guantanamo Bay during this ordeal.  In a basement storage room where all packed boxes were kept, was the room that the water pipe existed.   It was about 3 in the morning when I heard the rush of water.  I ran downstairs, opened this large closet door and instantly felt water  spraying at me.  I didn't hesitate a second before I focused on the one wardrobe box that was more important than all the others--The West Point uniforms box. I drug that box out into the hallway, and then rushed back in to turn off the main switch of the water.  The box was only wet about 5 inches up from the bottom.  I ripped the uniforms out of the limp box and laid them on the couch in the family room.  I had saved the day.

When we moved, the uniforms were placed in a new wardrobe container.  Flash back to the present. I opened the wardrobe box and found the West Point uniforms.

 An interesting fact:  These uniforms were modeled after those worn in the War of 1812.   At this time, the standard uniform was dark blue wool.  After the War of 1812, there was a shortage of dark blue wool in the factories, but gray was available.  From that time to now, gray wool is used for the WP uniform.

  I had to find a way to creatively display them. After moving them from state to state, I knew that WE were not going to give them up--at all.

  I mean what good were they sitting in a box? How could I possibly incorporate these items in the decor of this masculine office?

 At first glance, you realize the history of the uniform.  The significance of the buttons, color, and  design of each piece is very unique to our military history.  Those details stem back to the Civil War uniforms.

What better way than to display them on a hat rack?  Of course, I didn't have one, so I would have to scrounge around for one.  At an antique center down the street I found one that I could work with.  It wasn't an antique, nor even vintage at that point, but I had a vision.  It was also gross however it cost only $35.00.  I knew I could breathe new life into it.

                             To be honest, it didn't even have decent wood but painting does wonders.

I took it outside and stood it up on cardboard moving boxes that were broken down.

I cleaned the hat rack before applying spray gray primer.  Then the two top coats of high gloss black paints were applied.  To add a bit of character to the piece, I took my gold trim paint and colored a few of the bands to highlight the black.  The gold accents really brought out the gold buttons on the coats.

                                              A hat was placed on the top rung. 

I think the Mr. was rather pleased with the display.   I teased him that the office was getting to look like a museum, but in fact, those days at West Point played a huge part in his life and made him the person that he is today.  To honor that tradition, I think using his uniforms on the hat rack display was done in good taste.  It was certainly fun to come up with something  not too predictable.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gilded Office Lamps

Now that Valentine's Day is behind us, I wanted to finish showing you the last projects in the military office.

Lighting was the next step in the creative process to completing the masculine military office.

Once I had the mirrored coffee table and the black table/desk completed, I needed to find accents and lighting fixtures to give some warmth to the room. I pulled out these two lamps and knew that they would become part of this office. They were gold, but gilded in a good sense.

I want to show you the original price tag on each of the two lamps that I purchased from a flea market.  My cost was $5.00 apiece.  It was just one of those lucky deals.  However, when I bought them, I had no desire to have gilded lamps in my home. 

A side point here---It is very crucial to hang onto items that might have a future even though they don't fit into your current plan.  I know bloggers generally tell you the opposite, but such pieces are hard to come by and especially for that price.

These two lamps would fit perfectly into my office decor as is.  With the gold accenting the black in the table/desk and frames, they were a match.

 Wanting to add some texture and personality, I looked for shades at my local Walmart.  These shades had a faux leather look to them.  The following picture does not do them justice.

  I remembered that while I was at the King Cotton Fabric Store during the summer, I found in the discount bin 1 yard of black and gold trim for $1.00.  Grabbing the glue gun, I glued the trim onto the shades and one office lamp and one side table lamp were born.


So for an original price of $110.00 for the lamps(which I only paid $10.00 for the two), shades at $8.97 apiece and $1.00 worth of trim, these two lamps were transformed at a price of about $30.00.  That is a huge savings.  These low wattage lamps added ambiance to the office.

Stay tuned for the hat rack that was up cycled to add more West Point memorabilia to the room.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day 2013


                              Happy Valentine's Day!!

I always like to create a one-of-a-kind Valentine card every year.

So to all of my faithful readers, here's to you!--Your very own virtual card.

                                                         From me to you!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Over the Moon Valentine Card

I always like to make Mr. Thrifty a vintage valentine every year.  Last year's card was no exception.  I started with an image of an old valentine.

This image captured my interest because years ago, I saw a sepia photograph of my paternal grandparents with a similar moon background.  Grandma told me that they had that photo taken when they were dating. I don't know what happened to this photo.  Thus, this became the focal point for the card.

With a bit of black and white scrapbook paper, red flowered paper and some red and white ribbon the card was a very sweet tribute to Mr. Thrifty Valentine.

So as a tribute to my Grandparents loving relationship, I followed that thread to my modern day Valentine.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Valentine Foyer 2013

I hadn't planned on creating a Valentine foyer display until a small miracle happened.

Once the leaves had fallen from the maple trees out front, I saw a beautiful bird's nest that was built around a tree limb rather than sitting in a more comfortable crook of the tree.  I carefully pulled down the nest and put it on the back porch. 

A week later, my oldest daughter was on the back porch with me and mentioned how cool the heart shaped bird's nest was.  I was surprised and took a second look at the nest.  Sure enough, it was in the shape of a heart.  What a coincidence!  I love finding items in nature that inspire me.

 That was all it took.  I recalled that I had been given a beautiful pink heart shaped crystal paperweight from my friend Tara.  I had an idea.  I went to my windowed coffee table(a previous post), and pulled out the crystal.  It fit perfectly in the nest. 

Sitting it in an old silver plated heart shaped tray added a bit of glitz to it. 

The shabby foyer table welcomes all who entered in through the front door for the holiday.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Patriotic Valentine's Pillow

Wanting to find another way to make a Valentine for my husband that was patriotic was a challenge.  And another fact that it can be used from year to year was an added bonus.

I was at Joann Fabric Store around Easter and was searching through the clearance rack.  They had this incredible quilt like fabric that was sold during the Christmas season.  Obviously, it was 75% off now. I thought it would be perfect to make a tablecloth for the next holiday season.

  However, I bought too much, but readily solved this problem.  I could make up napkins to compliment the tablecloth very easily.  I cut off a 9 square for each napkin.  Once all 4 edges were sewn under, I was ready to entertain.


                                                  This is one of the napkins. 

I had enough material to make 8 napkins. And there was still leftover quilt squares, enough to make the Patriotic pillow.

Another great advantage of this quilt-like fabric.  I can use the tablecloth and napkins for two holidays, Christmas and Valentine's Day.

 I still had a few extra heart squares.  Not wanting to waste a single scrap, I went to my computer picture file and found a patriotic valentine card.  How perfect.  I printed the patriotic picture off in reverse on my printer and used an iron to seal it onto a plain piece of cotton.  To further accent the picture, I used a decorative stitch on my sewing machine and stitched around the picture with red thread.

Finally, I took an 'extra' heart square and with right sides together, sewed three sides together.  Once inverted, the pillow was stuffed with filling and the final side was sewn.

        For the Valentine's season, either side of the pillow is great to  prop up in a vignette.

                                  This was a very quick but sweet homemade Valentine.

Looking back, at the time that I bought this fabric, they had a similar pastel calico fabric quilt too.  Wouldn't that have been fun for an Easter table? I'll be on the hunt.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The History of the Valentine Name

I have to begin this February blog by giving credit to my two sisters, Terri and Sharon who gifted me with a beautiful hydrangea when they visited last spring.  The blog picture shows the first cuttings from the plant.  Thank you girls!

Most of my posts are about decorating, up cycling or cooking.  This one is a bit different.

Because this month is so special to all of us Valentine's, I wanted to tell you a story that I thought was just precious.  A little back story first.....

This story begins with a bit of Peoria, Illinois history. St. Joseph's Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Peoria, was founded in 1865 by the pastor of St. Joseph's Parish, Rev. Henry Bors even before the Diocese of Peoria was formed.  The original nine acres of land was purchased from the Thomas S. Dobbins family and deeded to the Bishop of Chicago.(Chicago is 3 hours away from Peoria)  In 1877 the title was transferred to Bishop John Lancaster Spalding, the first Bishop of Peoria.  Acreage was added to the cemetery in 1873, 1877 and again in 1934, when land was purchased from Peter Heine to increase it to its present size of approximately 25 acres.

Originally, the cemetery was for those  Catholics of German descent in the area.  Instrumental in the construction of the angels  were John Merkle, his son and grandson.  Merkle, a stone cutter who arrived in Peoria in 1854 brought his talents to start a monument company.  He and his ancestors placed numerous "Angels of Stone" throughout the cemetery to stand guard and symbolize their constant Spiritual presence.(httpL//

This is one of my most favorite angels from this cemetery.  She stands atop the Jumer family plot.

Every summer since we moved from Peoria, I take the girls home to visit Mom, friends and relatives.  One of our regular stops are the two Catholic Cemeteries where many family members are buried.  I believe it is important to talk about those relatives that they had never met, but left a legacy on their lives.  St. Mary's is the Catholic Cemetery was for the Irish Catholics and St. Joseph's Cemetery was for the German Catholics.

Back to the story.....So my eldest was about 5 years old and youngest was 2 1/2.  We were walking around St. Joseph's visiting some of the family sites, when we came upon my paternal great-grandparents, the Novaks.  My oldest looks down at her great-great-grandfather's tombstone, looks up at me a bit puzzled and then looks back down at the tombstone.  I asked her what was wrong?  She tells me, "Mom, if Valentine Novak was my great-grandfather, then I could be Valentine Valentine."  I got such a charge out of that.   I had forgotten to connect the two names.  So I was born with a Valentine in my ancestors and now I am a Valentine.

Here is a picture of the girls that year on our visit to St. Joseph's  Cemetery.

Here is my Grandmother's Birth and Baptismal Certificate.  Her father's name on the certificate reads 'Valentinus Nowak' which is the Polish version. His Americanized name was Valentine Novak.

                                                   How is that for a Valentine story?