Joie de Vivre…Mais, bien sur!!!

I had a lady come in a few weeks ago looking for a white pedestal table–like the one Ikea has.  I told her I didn’t have regular stock but I am always looking for new pieces- If I found something I would give her a call.

As luck would have it I found something that evening and bought it straight away.

Exactly this:

The bones of it are great.  It is solid oak–I actually had a hard time painting this one…..but I am glad I did!

I painted the whole thing in Old White then used the wet cloth method to distress then finished with clear wax.  I suggested painting the frieze/apron with a French wording stencil.  This lady speaks French….as luck would have it- so I didn’t have to convince her- she was in total agreement.

So I stenciled Joie de Vivre all around- it was very easy to do.  I was dreading this because I did something to my back and have been visiting a chiropractor this week- so bending and lifting is a bit more strenuous.

This is the result!  Much better than the mass produced one from Ikea!



I think that when a table like this is painted the shapes are much better highlighted- even the wood looks better than a big chunk of oak.

Joy of living (joie de vivre) is often centred around a table….I hope she enjoys it!



Polish Flag

Last week a Scottish lady came in with her son and asked me to paint an old wooden box they had.  Of course!  The box is made from pine- it is a lovely old piece with a lot of nicks and scratches and dents.–sorry- no photo, I was sure I took one, but can’t find it anywhere!

He was the decision maker in this project.  He wanted the Polish flag with the word “Polska” on the front of the box.  I told him that because the box was old I was going to paint it in that style and really distress the paint to show the wood underneath.

He was happy with that.

So I painted the body in Country Grey and did the flag on the top with Old White and Emperor’s Red.  I then added clear wax and also dark and then sanded it down.  I also added on the front the word Polska in Amsterdam Green and also distressed to show the lighter colour under it.

This is the result:

This project was perfect for a flag because it is wider than it is deeper- so the flag is the shape it is supposed to be.  I also painted directly over the handles on the sides and waxed and distressed.

I think it is pretty cute!

Nothing to do with decorating…

…but I figured since both my mother and mother-in-law read my blog in Canada–they would like to read this!

My eldest is a sporty girl.  She plays hockey, downhill bikes, runs, cross country skis and this year she learned how to snowboard.

This past week end she completed in her first bike race.  Nine km through the forest just outside of Warsaw.  She came in 14th for her division and 8th for her age.  We were all thrilled for her.

Good job Matylda!!

Before the race.

The line up to the start.

Her group taking its place at the start.

Waiting to ride.

A very excited Tata.

And they are off!

Twenty minutes later…..

Very muddy but very happy girl!

So there is another race this week end.  I am riding with my youngest and Matylda is riding with her group again.  The dog and Bartek will be cheering from the sidelines.

Tomorrow I am flying to Birmingham, England for a Chalk Paint stockist conference … is supposed to rain for three days straight but I am sure I will have loads of fun anyway!

Dustless distressing and Antibes (Ehn teeb) Green

I am constantly learning new techniques with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint….this is a good one!  It comes from one of her books.

I started with this:

This is actually the second one I have painted- the first one was done in Old Violet with dark wax finish.  Like most furniture I paint- it is in good condition –just not very pretty.

So I have been curious about Antibes Green.  I have a few clients that love the colour- I am painting a chest of drawers for one right now- but wanted to try it with this technique I just learned and with the dark wax. When I took the paint course for stockists in Oxford I remember the discussion about Antibes Green and Ms. Sloan telling us that every time there is a piece painted in her shop it sells right away.  I don’t gravitate towards this colour (so I thought) so I was kind of stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Here we go…you won’t be disappointed!

I painted the whole thing with two coats of Antibes Green.

Instead of waxing then distressing to give it an aged effect, I took a damp pot scrubber sponge and wiped it along the edges.  This took the paint off in the areas where I rubbed it but not only that- it kind of gives the impression that the paint has peeled off- it has a different look than distressing with sandpaper.

There is no mess with this technique.  The sponge is just damp- not dripping and if you have a build up of paint simply rinse under warm water and continue.

So after the entire piece was distress with the pot scrubber sponge- I have it the dark wax treatment….that is applying the wax and then wiping off to create an aged patina.

Now this is funny!  I have a few old shirts that I use to wipe the wax off–check out the colour of this shirt!  Yes- it is Antibes Green!  This was a beach shirt that I used to wear all summer—so I guess I do gravitate towards Antibes Green?

When doing the dark wax technique I work in small areas to keep the finish even- so it doesn’t turn out patchy.  If this does happen you can usually fix it with a bit of clear wax on a brush and just kind of playing with it a bit.

And here is the final result!  The dark wax dulls the brightness of the green slightly and the dustless distressing gives it an authentic peeled paint effect.  I am smitten!

I also painted the metal handles and rubbed off some of the paint to show the details of the handles.

So….I think I gravitate towards Antibes Green!  The key with this colour is using it wisely!  One piece will have loads of impact in a room where as an entire living room in this colour may be too overpowering.  For more examples of Antibes please check  and click on the colour- there is a nice cabinet she has done.


**just for clarification!  This method was done using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™–not on regular latex paint.  It is possible to still do the dustless distressing on regular latex paint…..however, you will need to put a touch of denatured alcohol on something like a Q-tip (cotton bud) or something like a cotton pad to take off make up with and….do this in a well ventilated area due to the smell of the denatured alcohol.**

Cooking with kids!

Is fun as long as the recipes are simple!!  (In my opinion, anyway!)

My youngest has been asking me to bake cookies since Thursday.  I really wanted to but after all the Easter chocolate and sweeties that we have indulged in I have been putting it off –until today.  We went for a long bike ride today so I figured today would be a good enough day.

I searched for an easy recipe that can be made with few ingredients.  Shortbread!!  perfect.  I know shortbread is typically a Christmas cookie- but nothing wrong with having Scottish shortbread during Easter holidays- is there?

So we gathered the ingredients.  All three of them.  Yes, three- it doesn’t get any easier than that!

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

2 cups of butter (no substitutes)

1 cup of packed brown sugar

4 and a half cups of all purpose flour.

*I use metric for all things except baking.  I just find it so much easier to measure ingredients by cups or spoons instead of by weight.  When I was in school, Canada made the change to metric- so I know both metric and imperial measurements.

Cream butter and sugar together.  We used the very helpful KitchenAide mixer–a super star in the kitchen.

Then slowly add 3 and 3/4 cups of flour to the mix until a fairly sticky dough is formed.

Next spread the remaining flour on a cutting board and knead the dough into the flour until it becomes quite stiff.  There will be flour remaining- it is not necessary to use it all.

On a flat surface – roll out the dough so it is about 1cm thick.

Then cut out the shapes you want and prick lightly with a fork.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 165 degrees Celcius for about 15 minutes- until the edges start to darken slightly.

Allow to cool –then tuck in!!

I think we will do this again…probably at Christmas!  This is a great recipe for younger bakers- My 12 year old and 7 year old had no problems with this at all.

The non wreath.

I am not really a wreath person.  I like making them, I like what other people have created- some people are so inspirational….but I just don’t like them in my house.  Strange?  Probably!

So the other day I was walking my dog in the field close to our house.  Meet Luna.


There are a few pheasants there and she loves sniffing them out and chasing after them once they fly.

While on our walk I found a bunch of branches somebody had cut and thrown away after cleaning up their garden.  So I picked up about six of them and brought them home to create something interesting with…..I hoped!

So they sat in the garage for a few days until today when I thought it would be nice to make some sort of stick and branch wreath..or non wreath.

So first I cut the branches in half and with the portion of the branch that had no smaller branches growing from it- I made into the shape of a triangle and fastened with wire.

Next I added the top portion of the branches that had smaller branches growing from it.

Then I added some pussy willows to give it some interest and then I tied jute string where the branches meet up to disguise the wire.

I think it is pretty cute!

I actually had plans to hang it outside but I ended up hanging it on my fireplace.  I have a corner fireplace with no mantle so I don’t have the opportunity to decorate that space….but I think this looks good!  It is rustic but could easily work in a modern space–actually I could see it in a lot of settings and not necessarily hanging on a wall.


So it is kind of a wreath without being to much of a wreath!  Silly, I know- bottom line…I like it!

I did discover that these branches are from a raspberry bush–there are a few dried raspberries remaining on the smaller branches….and loads of tiny thorns that have scratched the heck out of my hands….but it still looks cute!