Wednesday, February 23, 2011


" is the key that fits the lock of everybody's heart." ~Anthony J. D'Angelo

I have a (mild) obsession for a variety of objects, mostly the type that have a history attached to them. Books, clocks, vintage furniture and fabrics, old cameras, etc. But I really love old keys. Especially decorative (authentically antique) ones. I don't really like newly reproduced ones because they don't have a history; however, the jewelry pictured to the left is not antique simply because I'm able to find them more easily. I have keys on jewelry, on clothes, rubber stamps with keys, decorative papers, etc. You get the idea.

Most of the time, though, I prefer to acquire old keys as I encounter them. Don't get me wrong, I'll look for them if I'm in an antique store. But I usually just stumble upon them, rather than go searching online. It makes them more special, I suppose.

One of the dilemmas I've encountered is how to use them as part of my home decor. I don't agree with collecting just to collect, having them packed away to never lay eyes upon them until I need to downsize and discard them. I came across this excellent post over at Design*Sponge with great ideas. I really like the framing idea and I'll have to try that next when I come across a few new ones. But I thought I'd share how these keys grace my walls, artwork, ceilings, etc.

This extra large key was purchased at a craft store and I knew it had to be placed in a unique position on the wall in our bedroom. I have mostly limited the keys to the master bedroom, but because they are small (this one being the exception) the design element doesn't feel overwhelming. This celtic knot poster was one I drew in high school (we have an Irish theme to our bedroom) and the key seemed to be the perfect accent. Some day I'll need to re-mat and frame it, but until then, the key fits perfectly over-top it.

When we moved into our house three years ago, we replaced nearly all of the ceiling fans and I wanted unique pull chains for each room. While it's not an actual antique (it's just been aged to appear like it), this key was a perfect pull chain for the fan in our bedroom. You'll also notice that the walls/ceiling in our bedroom are white (and if you know me, you know I detest white). Sometime this spring, we'll be painting the walls a nice green "Amazon moss" color when we refinish the wood floors. I'd prefer wallpaper (which I love), but the walls in here are textured. It'll take us forever to scrape it and I don't feel motivated to do that this year. So paint it is!

Finally, I have my collection of loose keys. For the longest time, I had nowhere to put them and I arranged them loosely on my dresser top. But just a couple of months ago, I came across this metal hanging basket at Goodwill for $1. I knew it would work perfectly for my keys AND take up blank wall space. The silver key on the bottom (middle) was the first one I collected. I came across it at the silversmith shop at the Renaissance Fair. Love at first sight! Some have come from other festivals we've attended or craft/antique shops. The cluster in the upper left corner came from a friend who knew I loved old keys. The long hook dangling from them was for Victorian women to lace up their tall boots with ease.

While I'm running out of room on the walls of my bedroom (I have a spot here or there I could use. I don't like a lot of decorating clutter), I can't wait to try the framing idea. And because we bought a Victorian house with the original interior doors (with skeleton key locks), I might incorporate the Victorian keys by dangling them from a lock or two. And no, none of the keys I own work in the locks. I've tried. :( But they do fit inside the lock, they just can't turn them. I guess these ideas mean I'll just have to keep collecting them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Spring is when you feel like whistling..."

"...even with a shoe full of slush." ~Doug Larson

Hehe. That quote makes me giggle. And it's true! I know it's not spring yet, but we are having high temps near 60 and, even though we'll have snow next week, I can pretend that spring is almost here.

In fact, I can do more than pretend! During the warm weather streak we've had, I decided to take down the lights and tinsel I still had strung up outside our house. While tromping on our frozen flower/vegetation bed in the front yard, I noticed this wondrous site.

As you can see, our sedum plants are already sprouting new shoots. Um, what? Considering that two days before this photo, it was negative temperatures, the ground is frozen still, AND there is snow on can they be growing? Shouldn't they be dormant? Well, according to online information, they might start growing in late winter. I'll take it as a sign that spring is near! Now I just hope that the snow we have coming doesn't damage them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"I like not only to be loved..."

"...but also to be told I am loved." ~George Eliot

Happy Valentine's Day! Whether it's a holiday you love or dread, who couldn't use a little more love and appreciation? I wanted to share the photos of how my cheery strand of crochet hearts has brightened up my office space.

I recently started redecorating my office area since I was very tired of the dull grey shades that pervade it. I, of course, can't paint the walls or anything of that nature, so I have to do what I can with accessories. And no real plants (we ARE preservation!) so you'll only see fake flowers. The hearts turned out to be PERFECT for adding a sweet touch to my bare white wall. I tire of having my office look like a college dorm room with posters taped up but there is little else I can do. Luckily, these hearts have given me new inspiration. I'm already working on designing a strand of shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day. If you look closely at this photo on the left, you may notice an orange splatter-like stain on the grey backboard. I can't help but notice it and it's the unfortunate result of hosting a open-door event that serves hot cider. Hot cider that was allowed to boil over onto the backboard, wall, and desk. Also, it dripped into my purse and ruined a number of items. That was two years ago and there is no way to remove the stain from the backboard. My newest solution is to buy a piece of fabric that I can cover it with (removable still, of course) and voila! No more grey and no more cider stain! You'll get a chance to see it if my shamrock strand turns out.

I've also added in my papasan chair for comfy lunch breaks and a window ledge that is far from blah with a few knicknacks and some of my own artwork (you'll see my glass blown pumpkin and the birdhouse that I haven't shown to you yet). The bookcase/table on the left is one I will take home eventually to add new shelves and paint.

Hubby and I celebrated Valentine's Day this year by spending some time together, having a lovely dinner (and I discovered an EXCELLENT wine of which I had to immediately order 2 bottles), and exchanging gifts both purchased and homemade. Some years I'm not much in the mood for being "forced" to celebrate my coupledom, but this year I was more than happy to. I've also suddenly developed an obsession for hearts... The clothes I will be donning for the Lady Gaga concert in two weeks has many hearts incorporated into the outfit.

And for those of us who've been suffering bitter cold temperatures (this past week reached below zero temps again and caused many school delays), the week is starting out with 50 degrees and sunshine! I can't think of a better way to start the week. Oh, and plus the cupcakes I baked for work. :) All this greenery in my office has me longing for spring.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"No matter how long the winter is..."

"...spring is sure to follow." ~Proverb

That's a nice little thought. Happy Groundhog Day! (Belated, if you're reading this afterward. I did start the post late on Groundhog Day)

Even though there is still ice and snow on the ground, my heart is looking forward to the loveliness of spring. And the loveliness of Valentine's Day is inspiring me to create. Normally, I don't really make a fuss over the holiday. Hubby and I do something together perhaps, usually without gifts involved. One year we went to Erie for the weekend, which was a nice little trip. But all in all, no biggie.

This year, I'm way into hearts. I am decorating the house (not like crazy, but with enthusiasm!) and have stumbled across all types of craft projects. And I've insisted we get each other gifts. Gifts that are wrapped and not given until the actual day. I'm so excited!

I came across this little set of crochet hearts that can be strung up and hung wherever you please. The picture at the top of this post is of one of the hearts I've crocheted. Mine aren't exactly turning out as nicely as the project creator's. I had some trouble finding the right thread, so I used a substitute at first. (It didn't turn out well, quite lumpy and uneven) I finally found a thread that is close to what I needed, but because the crochet hook and thread are SO tiny, it's tricky making the correct stitches. And perhaps because I haven't crocheted anything in at least 3 years, I had some trouble with the pattern. Oh, I understand what the different stitches are. But I think there was some detail left out of the pattern that I'm just now understanding exists. Each of the six hearts I've made so far have turned out a little differently. I think I realized that something I was doing was wrong, so I kept doing it differently to figure what the "correct" way was. And I think I've finally got it! But there is charm to my non-perfect little hearts, which my hubby pointed out. I agree and will keep them. After all, who's perfect? And what I love most about this project is that I have decorations that will last me a few Valentine's Days. Instead of hanging a string of paper hearts, or something inexpensive that will fall apart the day after and will get tossed, I'm inexpensively creating my own lasting decoration.

My other top-secret project is a card for my hubby. HUBBY: STOP reading if you are reading this post. I mean it! I check my visitor stats! OK, back to you other readers.....

I'm not going to post all of the pics here, in the hopes that if hubby continues reading, he won't bother to go to my flickr stream. Here's a little teaser pic for you, however. If you check out the Flickr pics of my card, you'll notice there is no text in it. Not yet, anyway. I don't mind sharing my project with you, but I'll keep the personal thoughts intended for my hubby just that. I came across the construction idea here. Since I'm not a member, I can't see all of the pictures. But I got enough of the idea to construct it on my own. Apologies for the lighting on the pictures. Some have flash, some don't. Because of winter hours being what they are, there is no daylight by the time I get home. I have to work with my indoor lighting. It is what it is.

I love this card idea so much that I might make a few cards for friends. I have smaller paper bags at home that would be perfect. Anyway, check out the link below for more detailed pictures. There's a spot for a hidden letter and a hidden gift as well. I don't believe my hubby didn't read this, so I can't post any more info just yet!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"In order to change we must be sick..."

"...and tired of being sick and tired." ~Author Unknown

It's my 50th blog post! And I can't think of a better post than to thank everyone for their well wishes for my husband. He was finally discharged after 6 days in the hospital and he's recuperating slowly. The next 3-5 weeks will be tough for him because I know he will get bored. But relax he must. And I fervently hope that this surgery will put his Crohn's into remission, allowing him to eat all the wonderfully spicy foods he loves.

In other news, it's February 1st and despite this months notoriety as being the snowiest month of the year in the 'burgh, spring is right around the corner! Phil the groundhog will be making his prediction tomorrow and I've already brought in (fake) daffodils and tulips to decorate my office. I would love to have real plants and flowers, but alas, due to insects, I can't. We must lead by example in the Preservation Dept! I also have some great projects I'm working on for Valentine's Day, a holiday I usually only take note of by going out to dinner or something. But I'm very excited for it this year. I'll share some pictures soon. Happy February!