Monday, September 5, 2011

Obsession: Vintage French Empire Chandeliers

I'm going public by admitting here my obsession with vintage chandeliers, specifically those in the French empire style.  LOVE them!  ADORE them!  WANT one! 

 Isn't she lovely?  Image credit

Only three problems: (1) finding one in good condition, (2) finding one in the color family I desire (aquas, of course), and (3) price.  Of course, it is to be expected that (3) increases exponentially the more that (1) and (2) apply.   I've found some lovely vintage/antique chandeliers in this style from time to time on eBay, but the good ones run into the high hundreds to thousands of dollars.  I even took a trip to Bountiful -- no, not Bountiful, Utah! the antique store in next-door-to-me Venice (California) -- and was astounded to find an empire style chandelier in moderate condition that was marked at $6,000!  (BTW, is that store even open any longer?  I don't know how they could stay open in this economy!  When I visited one Sunday afternoon, there was no one besides me and two staff people in the store.  Their prices are OUTRAGEOUS, but then again I guess it is the elite, not "real" people like me, that shop there ...)

But I digress.  

I also really love the look of an antique chandelier hung inside a vintage birdcage stand.  It is such a sweet, shabby-chic look, and also one that is very functional for those of us who are renting and either cannot, or do not want to, hang a chandelier from the ceiling.  Using a birdcage stand also lets you position the chandelier exactly where you want it.

Gorgeous, yes?  Image from Marcy at Antique Chase blog.

So, in order to obtain this look, I have so far purchased three (yes, THREE) vintage birdcage stands!  These things can also get very pricey, but I managed to accumulate three of them off eBay, and the only reason I even bought any of them is because they were relatively inexpensive, all things considered, even with shipping included.  

But I still don't have a chandelier to hang inside any of the three birdcage stands.

Ok, alright, that's an outright lie.  I actually DO have two crystal chandeliers, both of which are quite lovely.  One of them I paid quite a bit of money for off eBay several years ago, but it is still packed away in its shipping box and I cannot even remember what it looks like, other than the metal has a goldish/brass finish and it is roundish in shape with a spray of raining crystals at the top.  In fact, I'm not even sure where I put the thing!

The other was given to me by my friend Josh, in addition to a very cute shabby chic drop leaf dining table his mom actually went dumpster diving for (a lady after my own heart!), in exchange for my slip covering a sofa for him (trust me, he got the better end of that deal!). I could see the potential in this pretty fixture he was going to give to Goodwill.  It had a brass finish that was not to my taste, but otherwise it was quite pretty with its leafy detail.  Interestingly, I later learned that this style chandelier is called a "birdcage" chandelier, and I managed to Google it and find an image that is of my exact chandelier:

Image credit

I disassembled the thing and painted the metal part an heirloom white color, and am considering distressing it rather heavily to show some of the brass finish.  Because I am the world's worst procrastinator, it is currently shoved inside an extra large plastic storage bin, completely unfinished (I sure as heck hope I haven't misplaced any of the crystals!).  I need to get an electrician to cut the cord and hanging chain WAY down (they are currently something like 25 feet in length!) and add a plug to the end and an in-line switch to turn the thing on and off.  

All that said, the problem with THIS particular chandelier is that it is quite large -- 23 inches in length, not including the crystals at the bottom, and not one of my three (yes, THREE) birdcage stands is large enough to hold it.  Also, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want a French empire style chandelier!

Because my favorite color is aqua/turquoise, I've been coveting a chandelier like this one (LOVE the "beach glass" look of this one!):
Image credit
or this one:

Image credit

or even this one (which is lovely, but admittedly my least favorite of the three):

Image credit

All of these chandeliers are too big, so none of them would fit in any one of my three (yes, THREE) birdcage stands, not to mention that they are all prohibitively expensive (like in the thousands of dollars).  I suppose if I had a posh beach house, I'd also have the wherewithal to purchase one of these fixtures for it, and you bet I would be placing an order for one of them!  However, I'm just a girl renting an apartment in West LA, so something different is in order.

Stay tuned to see what I have up my sleeve.  I have a rather large project ahead of me in my quest for an aqua empire style chandelier, and hopefully my procrastination will take a back seat and let me get started on it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Hope everyone here in the U.S. of A. is enjoying the 4th of July!  Whether you are at a boat parade, at the beach, in the country on the farm or just hanging out with friends and family at home ...  

The annual Old Glory Boat Parade is held in
 Newport Harbor, Newport Beach, California.
This is a painting of that event.

... I sure hope you get to see some amazing fireworks tonight!

Fireworks display over
Newport Harbor, Newport Beach, California.
Loud and colorful!
Have a safe holiday!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Got old musty furniture odors? A few solutions!

I got totally carried away a little wordy (who me?  what a surprise!) in a recent comment I left for another blogger on tips for getting rid of that musty "old people" smell we sometimes find inside thrifted, old furniture and other items.  These tips are pretty good, so I thought I'd expand on them with a post here.  I cannot take credit for them, as I know I've probably picked them up "here and there" over the years.    
To get rid of "old people" smell from thrifted furniture and other items, read on.
If a simple airing out of the item over time (out of doors, in the sun works best if you can get the item out there) does not solve the problem, or for stubborn smells, prepare to:
(1) Put the item in the freezer, for at least 24 hours. Yes, the freezer.  This works SO WELL. I have no idea how or why, but it does. Maybe the cold kills the mold? (ha! poet!) Now, I know you can't get an entire dresser in there, but perhaps the drawers will fit, even if you have to put them in there one at a time over a week's time?  Of course, small items like home decor accessories or even fabric or clothing will easily fit in the freezer.  Apparently this method works well on soft items like pillows as well (though I've not tried it for that).
True story:  I wanted a garlic roaster and found a really cute one shaped like a giant head of garlic on eBay.  Love!  The outside is unglazed ceramic, the inside is glazed.  The seller gave a great description of size, color, etc., but failed to mention that the thing reeked like it had been stashed in a moldy basement for 20 years!  That nasty musty smell grabbed onto the unglazed ceramic and was holding on for dear life.  Scrubbing it within an inch of its life did not help!  I was *thisclose* to just tossing the thing in the dumpster, when I found a tip somewhere that freezing musty-smelling things will take away the odor.  I thought "what the heck, this thing is destined for the trash" and put it in the freezer.  Behold, the next day I removed it and it looked (due to the scrubbing) and smelled (due to the freezing) brand new!  And the smell hasn't come back.  Now I love my garlic roaster!  
Another true story:  I fairly recently purchased a gorgeous vintage armoire that smells like the lady from the 1930s is still living inside.  Well, I suppose if she were still in there, the smell would be a lot fresher; suffice to say, I stored a jacket in there and thought no amount of airing would get rid of the odor!  Yuck!  There is no way that armoire is going to fit in my freezer, and I couldn't lift it to get it in there if it did, so I am going to resort to these other tips in an attempt to get rid of the odor:
(2) Thoroughly scrub down the insides of the cabinet case and outsides and insides of drawers with a (nice-smelling, if you can find it) disinfectant. Don't saturate the wood too much, you don't want it to swell or warp. Sometimes this works on its own, other times you have to do this, then move on to the other steps.
Baking soda can help neutralize odors.
(3) I've been known to make a thick-ish paste out of some baking soda and some lemon juice or fragrant essential oils, and a little water, and apply it to the inside of the cabinet case and all around the outside and inside of the drawers. Again, you don't want to swell or warp the wood, so watch how much water you use.  Vacuum up the baking soda solution after it dries, allowing it to sit for a while first. You can also sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda inside the drawers, let it sit for a while, then vacuum it up.  Run a damp cloth all around to pick up any remaining baking soda residue. 
(4) Lightly sand the inside of the cabinet case and the outside and insides of the drawers.  Sometimes that will work to take down a hairs-width of wood surface and also take the smell with it.  Again, vacuum up the sanding residue and/or run a damp cloth all around to get the last bit of residue.
(5) You can also try painting the inside of the cabinet case and outsides and insides of the drawers to seal in the odor.  But you have to be careful with this as too many layers of paint can either make your drawers and/or doors stick (especially if you use a glossy sheen paint) or make it to where you can't close or open them at all, as the paint fills the gaps or clearance between doors and drawers.  Use a light hand!
Dryer sheets - not really a solution to the problem!
(6) A maintenance tip: Dryer sheets (or scented sachets) inside the drawers do not really remove the odor as much as mask it, so you will have old people smell and lavender fields (or what have you) mixed together, which is almost worse than just the old people smell. However, to keep the insides of the drawers and your clothes smelling fresh (after you do the other procedures), I've placed USED dryer sheets inside the drawers. New dryer sheets can be too saturated with the lard or oil used to make them and can leave marks on clothes; used sheets still smell nice and are much softer and not as stiff, plus most of the lard/oil has been removed by running them through the dryer with your last load of laundry and they are safer against your clothes.
On a personal note, to rid my lovely armoire of the antique lady smell -- and because I cannot get the thing into my freezer -- I plan on doing steps 2, 4, and 5, in that order.  My armoire is like a wide open closet with a small open cubby for storage, so I don't have to worry about fiddling around with drawers. It is not an antique nor an heirloom quality piece so painting it is not a problem for me (it's already painted on the outside, and that needs to be redone), and I really want to convert the inside into a linen closet because I do not have one in my current apartment.  I think installing a removable shelving structure (because one day I hope to have a real home that has a real linen closet in it!) and painting the inside a surprising, pretty color like aqua with apple green accents would work nicely, and when the time comes that I do have a real linen closet, I can remove the shelving structure and convert it into an office center, an entertainment unit, or just back into an armoire! 
Hope some of these tips help you get rid of the antique people smell from your salvaged furniture!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blogger Problems? Join the club! + A Possible Solution?

Ack! Aaagggghhhh! Ack!  No, I am not coughing up a hairball, rather, that is my anguished cry of frustration due to problems I (and many others) have been having with Blogger for DAYS now!  Not sure what your problems are with it, but please do let me know in the Comments section (IF you can actually comment) if yours are the same as mine ...  I think I have my comments set so you can post anonymously if you cannot comment through your own blog.

I did not have problems during the May 13th Blogger outage, as I am a very infrequent poster so that issue passed me by with no problems, and I didn't (I don't think, at least) lose any content.  However, for at least the better part of the last WEEK, I've been having sign-in and comment problems.  

Where is my giant red circle with a slash through it when I need it?

In the past, when I would sign in to Blogger, the upper right side of my computer screen would say "thesterlingcherub [at] gmail {dot} com     New Post    Design    Sign Out" which always let me know that I was correctly signed into Blogger.  Now whenever I sign in, my screen just says "Create Blog    Sign In" which is WRONG!  I can get to my dashboard and redesign elements, and I (think I) can (still) post, and I can follow other blogs via their Google Friend Connect, but I cannot comment on other blogs as myself from my blog, which is SO frustrating!

I have gotten a few new Friends in the past several days (thank you so much, folks! I really appreciate it!), so it appears people can follow me, but I am not sure if they can comment on my blog as the last comment I got from an identified person was dated May 21.

It should be noted that all of issues, above, are "known" to Google, but it appears NO ONE from Google is addressing any of them!  The list of problems relating, or similar, to the sign in and comment issues is LONG, and no one from Google has posted an update on what they are doing to fix it, or any information to let us know if Blogger got hacked, or what. Their last comment was essentially "we're working on it," posted back on May 24, I think. Way to go, Google!  /sarcasm\

My frustration is because I work in an industry (law) where if something goes horribly awry, you FIX IT IMMEDIATELY and communicate to everyone what you are doing almost every step of the way, or face the consequences, some of which can be bad.  That said, I chose law over medicine, because at least if we make a mistake, 95% (or more) of the time it can be corrected or salvaged and nobody dies! The same cannot often be said about medicine.

A Possible Solution?

Anyhow, these problems have continued even though I updated my browser from Internet Exploder Explorer 8 to Internet Exploder Explorer 9 (shout-out to my friend V who detests IE).  I do recall seeing somewhere where someone said installing Google Chrome might help with the sign in and comments issues.  That is just what I've done, and it appears (fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes crossed) that using Google Chrome as a browser solves the problems.  

If any of you are having the problems I mentioned, maybe installing Google Chrome as a browser to use for your blog will work for you?  Good luck!

I'm just trying to ...
Keep Calm


Blog On!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Best wishes to all the moms out there for a Happy Mother's Day!  Hoping you are having breakfast in bed, or a nice brunch at a fancy restaurant.  And I'm hoping you were remembered with a card and flowers.

Gorgeous Mother's Day flowers

I am not a mom, unless you count taking care of three kitties as being a mom ... then ok, I'm a mom to furbabies, and I love all three of the little critters very much!  However, they are not very good at planning celebrations for special occasions, so I am sitting here writing this post, with one kitty at my side, while simultaneously playing fetch with my youngest kitty (she is very enthusiastic and good at this game, I swear she is part retriever!).  The big cat is probably sleeping on the sofa.  Needless to say, the four of us don't have any celebrations planned today!

When my mom lived here in California, we went to the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel for Mother's Day brunch. 

The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel framed by some nice waves!
It was so lovely, we had an ocean-front table with a fabulous view.  I wish she was here intead of living out of state, because I would love to take her there again, we both really enjoyed it!

View of the ocean from the back side of the
Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel -- classic southern California beach!
Intead, I sent her some lovely flowers and a sweet card with some Lotto tickets tucked inside.  Hopefully she will win big -- wouldn't that be a nice way to celebrate Mother's Day? 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chateau de Fleurs Studio & Vintage Marketplace (Part I)

The Chateau de Fleurs Studio & Vintage Marketplace this past Saturday was a lot of fun.  We rented a mini-van and Colleen, Carol, and I drove from West Los Angeles all the way down to Fallbrook (toward San Diego) -- over 100 miles one way!  Though it was a small gathering of around 20 vendors, give or take a few, it was worth the long drive to meet a lot of really nice folks and see all their fabulous offerings. 

Our chariot -- it was like driving a cloud
(taken when we arrived in Fallbrook)

How cute is this welcome vignette?  Love the old bike!

The adorable welcome vignette featuring an old bike with a basket of flowers, leaning up against a tree where a vintage chalkboard had been nailed up announcing the venue let us know we were in the right place (as if the rows and rows of cars lining the curbs in the area weren't enough of a give-way -- we knew exactly where the party was taking place!).

We'd arrived at the right place, no question about that!

The vendors were all all women, and they were selling antique and vintage items, as well as hand-made wares -- everything from jewelry, pillows, aprons, and tea cozies, to recycled items given new life, such as this gorgeous dressform lamp:

Super cute dressform lamp!

A closer look at that lovely chandelier with the twigs woven into the arms is below.  This chandelier, though obviously not exactly like hers, called to mind the one Donna from Funky Junk Interiors created. 

Detail of twig chandelier -- lovely!

Everyones' displays and vignettes looked so professional.  You could tell they put a lot of time and effort into making thoughtful presentations.  The glass cloche, below, is now on my sideboard!

The vignettes were all so artfully done. 
Loved this large glass cloche so much that I bought it -- a pretty good deal for $58

Everything was so beautifully presented ...
 I will return tomorrow to say more about the Marketplace, and will have more pictures as well. 

Later, I will show you my loot!  (Teaser: I bought some gorgeous prints from Christie Repasy!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm going to Christie Repasy's Studio & Vintage Marketplace this Saturday!

Ever since I first heard about Christie's  Studio & Vintage Marketplace earlier this year, I've been waiting for the day to arrive and am SO EXCITED to be going!  Colleen and Carol are two ladies I work with who I've invited along -- they also love shabby chic and especially Christie's artwork -- and this event is practically all we can talk about. 

Because my small car will seat the three of us, but surely won't carry everything we plan on buying, I've rented a mini-van and we are going to see about removing all the seating but enough for the three of us in hopes of packing that thing full of purchases!  It will be a long drive from west L.A. all the way toward San Diego to Christie's place in Fallbrook, but we are sure it will be worth every minute of our trek on the infamous 405 freeway. 

My camera battery is charging so I can take pictures at the event, and I've already hit the ATM and withdrawn wads of cash.  I am sure I will have no problem spending all of it! 

Hoping to be back here on Sunday to post pictures of the event, as well as photos of my first ever online Purchase Review™ (a/k/a Review of Purchases™) of my loot.

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Well, I got the doorknob fixed ... and I did it myself!

... and by "I did it myself," I do not mean "I picked up the phone without help and called a repairman."  I did indeed fix it myself.  It was a really simple repair (getting the missing screw put in place) but the hard part was that I could not get that screw to seat properly, so it would just spin and spin in the hole.  So frustrating, and like I said, it left me with a very loose doorknob, not something one wants to have in this L.A. neighborhood/apartment jungle. 

It took a while, and after multiple attempts I was finally able to finesse the darned backplate into place so the screw would seat properly.  My doorknob is now tightly in place and I no longer feel vulnerable that someone might break the doorknob off and try to get into my apartment.  After all, I wouldn't want to have to sick one of the cats on the intruder.  I mean, how scary is THIS wild animal?
Princess Tiny Cat says
"Ya wanna piece o' me, punk?!"

Oh, she may *look* sweet and innocent, and yes, she *is* wearing an angel wings and rhinestone-encrusted heart charm around her neck, and she *does* only weigh about 5 or 6 pounds, but she has a triple black belt in kick @$$ and is a total ninja kitty.  Do not make prolonged eye contact with her as she perceives that as a challenge to bust out her moves and show off her mad skillz.

So, not only am I and my three kitties safe from the world, but the world is also safe from ninja kitty.  Its a win-win.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An award? For me?!

Well, it was "one of those days" at work today, so it was especially nice to come home and find a lovely comment on my blog from Tami at High Street Cottage!  Thank you, Tami, for this sweet award, it is so kind of you to think of me with this honor!

I am to list seven things about me so you can get to know me better.  Here is my list of things, in no particular order:

(1)  I have three cats (I know!).  They are all rescues.  My "big cat" is 12 years old, my "tiny cat" is 11 years old, and my kitten (who outgrew tiny cat three or four months ago) is 10 months old.  I love them with all my heart and consider them my little family. 

(2)  (Speaking of redheads, Tami! ...)  I have a huge crush on Conan O'Brien.  Love him!  Love his beard!  Love this pic of him!

(3)  My favorite movies are (a) British (b) romantic (c) period dramas, and all my favorite actors (a rather long list!) are British.

(4)  I'm 1/2 Italian and part Native American, but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at me (I'm a fair-skinned blonde with hazel-y brown eyes).

(5)  I am addicted to caramel frappuccinos from Starbucks and am convinced they are made with crack or some other highly habit-forming drug.  I spend an unholy amount of money at Starbucks on a weekly basis.

(6)  My favorite foods are Italian and Mexican.  I could live on guacamole and salsa with warm, hand-made tortillas and orange-flavored butter.  Yum!

(7)  I'm still debating with myself whether or not to go to law school.

Because most of the blogs I read are quite well established, I am going to share this award with Lorene over at The Gilded Cherub, my blogosphere near-twin whose blog is also relatively new!  Her blog is very pretty, and she is such a sweet, caring, lovely lady.  Tag, Lorene!

Once again, thank you Tami!

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day + blog re-do fail!

So MLK Day is coming to a close.  For me MLK Day means, in essence, that we all must remember tolerance and equality.  I love this image from LOLcats:

I realize my last post regarding Twitter and Facebook was not very tolerant, and in fact sounds, in retrospect, a little bit whiny and somewhat snotty.  Forgive me.  I can be a little whiny and snotty at times.  And I am duly humbled, as I realize that both Twitter and Facebook can be used for good!  I've already tweeted about the give-away from Beneath My Heart, as well as Christie Repasy's 5th Studio & Vintage Marketplace!  

Now about that blog re-do ...

Fail!  Yes, I failed.  I did do a tiny bit of reworking, like moving around some of the give-aways, which are now listed in chronological order, with the one ending soonest listed at top.  I also relabeled "My Blog Roll" to say "My Favorite Blogs" (because "blog roll" sounded unfriendly, and I like the sound of the new label better) and my "Followers" are now labeled "Friends" (because I hope we all become friends and I really dislike the word "follower" for some reason)!  Accordingly, "Follow Me on Twitter" now says "Come Tweet With Me!," again, I just like the way it sounds better. 

This blogging thing takes up A LOT of time, so I am going to have to do the reworking of this thing in baby steps, especially because I have no clue what I am doing!

Bear with me, please.  Until next time.