This is a simple, quick, easy, clean way to turn orphan furniture into grand, French looking creations.

This same method works on ANY other furniture.  You can do country or the Swedish look using this easy method.    Furniture can be in dodgy shape, or have a shiny, cheap looking finish.  Just find pieces with interesting lines.  You will be so delighted with the results.

This is the piece I started with.

All you need is a medium sized paint brush.  Some coarse and fine sand paper.  Water based top quality primer paint,  latex paint (yes wall will work), and furniture wax.  You don’t have to sand the piece first (unless it is Arborite).  Yes, you can get this effect painting over Arborite.  Just give it a really good sanding and cleaning.  The primer will adhere to it.

To achieve this old chateau look I used Gullwing Gray Primer (Aqua Lock plus) from Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore Aura matte finish  Snow White

Minwax paste finishing wax natural (found this at Home Depot)


Give your piece a good cleaning with a little detergent and vinegar, and then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Turn your piece upside down and paint all visible(but generally hidden)  parts with the primer.

Now turn your piece right side up and continue painting.  Use long strokes  and paint in various directions.  Put the paint on thick.  The visible brush strokes will give that “old” look.  When the  paint is dry,  brush on the lighter coloured matte paint a section at a time.  This will allow you to wipe off some of the paint to show the primer underneath.  You can wipe off as much or as little  as you like.  You need to be quick off the mark as the primer will grab the matte paint.  If you feel you’ve taken too much off, just repaint.  You simply can’t make a mistake.  It’s just paint and you can always start over again.If your piece has drawers ( like this one) be careful to put paint on the edges of the drawers.  This could cause them to stick.  Allow to dry according the paint instructions.

Apply a second coat  again wiping away some of the paint to allow the primer coat to show through.

Let piece dry over night.    Now using first the coarse, and then the fine sandpaper, sand the edges to show a little of the dark wood underneath, and give the appearance of wear.  Sand in areas that would normally show wear over the years.   Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Using the furniture wax apply the wax in small sections.  Let dry ten minutes that buff.  The matte paint will grab the wax and you’ll be able to buff it to a lovely shine.  Let the piece stand overnight, then give it another waxing and buffing.  Voila!!  You’re finished.  Look what you have created you clever dears.

This piece had unattractive cheap looking metal pulls.  I removed them  and replaced them with these glamorous crystal pulls.    Hardware is the jewelery of furniture.  I gave my finished table a deluxe touch by lining the drawers with a remnant of silk toile.  Tres chic!

It’s details like beautiful drawer linings that takes you DIY project to a new level.  As the French say, “it’s all in the details”.



Sometimes when one is bombarded daily with food recipes one forgets the one that transcends all others.    I published this recipe just over a year ago and here I am making caramel sauce after neglecting this golden wonder for far too many months.

It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top.  That take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold.

During our restaurant years every evening I made a gorgeous caramel sauce.   We would pour it liberally  over our house-made ice cream.  The recipe was time consuming and demanding.  So I started  the hunt for a caramel sauce that one could whip up quickly and without too much stress.

Making caramel sauce is rather like the fairy tale Brothers Grim Rumpelstiltskin.  You turn water and sugar into a deep burnished rich golden colour.  And you do not have to give up your first-born child to do it.

This caramel recipe has just the right balance of caramelized sugar to butter and cream.  The recipe is easy.  You put water and sugar into a pan.  Watch it turn a deep golden brown.  Whisk in butter.  The aroma smells like McIntosh Toffee.    Add a little cream.  Cool.  Taste.  Sprinkle in  flakes of  fleur de sel  and faster than you can say Rumpelstiltskin you have the most decadent salted caramel sauce.

Pour it over ice cream or a slice of cake.  Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and you have a dessert worthy of a four star restaurant.  The very best part of this recipe for caramel sauce.  It refrigerates beautifully.  I must admit I occasionally remove the chilled sauce, dip a spoon into its silky goodness and swoon over this stealthy treat.  The sauce will keep two weeks refrigerated.  Unbelievable but this has kept more than the specified two weeks when I hid it behind the mustard  and totally forgot about it.  It was still good almost a month later.

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE  – is pure gold!


When I was growing up I watched the ritual of tea being made in this blue teapot.     Every day tea was made in a large brown Betty,  a teapot as plain as  its name.  Tea made in the blue teapot was reserved for special occasions; brides and baby showers , afternoon whist drives and most important of all, bridge.

To me this was the most beautiful teapot in my world.

Everything had to be perfect.  The tablecloth  freshly laundered and carefully ironed.  My Mother had bought this cross stitch  tablecloth with matching napkins during the hard days of the depression.    An  enterprising  woman was  going door-to-door selling her exquisite  handiwork.   I remember my Mother saying  it had been priced rather “dear” , but well worth the price.

Weeks in advance cookbooks would be poured over  and consulted.    It was a given the sandwiches would be cut from white and brown bread in the shapes of hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds.  The fillings,   egg salad, deviled ham, creamed chicken, cucumber.

This  1924 edition of  a Fannie Farmer Cookbook, was considered the most up-to-date cookbook on the shelf.

The pages provided inspiration for sandwich fillings .  It was World War Two.  Many  ingredients were impossible to come by.  Sugar was rationed.  Creative cooks improvised.   Not even War could stop the rituals of bridge.

While my Mother read the  The Boston School Cook Book, I poured over this Blue Ribbon Cook Book.  This cook book  was printed in 1905,  “for everyday use in Western Homes”.

Would I make a  Minnehaha cake, a simple yellow cake with a delicious filling of  boiled icing with raisins and almonds.

No, I had made that cake the last bridge club tea.  This time  a selection of cookies; lemon snaps, horns of plenty and coconut jumbles.  Perhaps this was the occasion to make brandy snaps, rolling the crisp wafer thin cookies around a wooden spoon, then filling them with whipped cream.

Heady decisions for a ten year old baker.

It’s been more than sixty years since  those days of  food rationing, whist drives and bridge tournaments.   I was never into bridge.  My sisters, however,   still play bridge several times a a week.     I am still baking, and  pouring over cookbooks.

This recipe for lemon snaps was one of my favorites.  I have copied out the recipe EXACTLY the way it is given in my Blue Ribbon Cookbook.  You will notice there are few instructions.  You must judge how much flour to add, and  know how to judge a “quick oven” by putting your hand into the oven.  By the way, a quick oven would be 375-400 F.  It meant having a lot of kindling on hand to keep a very hot fire going in the stove.  Another job for the cook.

Recipe for LEMON SNAPS:

2/3 cup butter, l cup sugar, 4 tablespoons hot water, 2 eggs, flour to roll soft, 1/2  teaspoon soda, 2 teaspoons Blue Ribbon lemon extract.  Bake in a quick oven. That’s it.  No other instructions.    You’re on your own.

The beautiful blue tea pot – now over 90 years old,  sits on a shelf in my kitchen, a reminder of those elegant days of   afternoon tea.



I take just two ingredients,

Glittering  gray diamonds of sea salt

Gorgeous  globes  of

sun-kissed tomatoes,

I embrace my laziness

and stand over the kitchen sink,

juice running down my arms

Eating tomatoes.

It is perfection.


For dinner I’ll put summer on the table with this  salad  made with tomatoes and nothing else.  Just a drizzle of the finest extra-virgin olive oil,  some torn basil leaves, a few grinds of  pepper and salt.  No aged balsamic vinegar –  just these perfect vine-ripened tomatoes.

Any  tomatoes left over I’ll put on  a few slices of toasted artisan bread with mayo, a sprinkle of sea salt and a couple of grinds of pepper.  I’ll eat it open face.  Sublime.  You can’t improve upon perfection.

THE ROUGH MALE KISS OF BLANKETS . . . Rupert Brooke 1887 – 1915


These I have loved:

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,

Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;


Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light;


The strong crust of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;


Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;


And radiant raindrop couching in cool flowers;

And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,

Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

simple white linen sheets l Gardenista

Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon

Smooth away trouble;


And the rough male kiss of blankets ;

grainy wood;

life hair that is shining and free;

blue-massing clouds;

the keen unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

the benison of hot water;

furs to touch;

the good smell of old clothes; and other such.

I have been so great a love: filled my days

So proudly with the splendour of love’s praise,

The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,

Desire illimitable, and still content,

And all dear names men use, to cheat despair.

These few exquisite lines are from the poem THE GREAT LOVER by Rupert Brooke.   Rupert Brooke was a handsome, charming and talented English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War.   He was only 28 years old when he died.

Nine years ago I began a battle with breast cancer.  The poetry of Rupert Brooke’s took me to worlds away, and inspired me daily to  quietly add words of my own “to cheat despair”.



Pickling is a state of mind.  Ask anyone who pickles.  There is something rather atavistic about preparing food to be stored away for the coming winter.  There is a strong feeling of accomplishment as you tuck away jars of preserves.  Once you’ve made your first batch of pickles it could be the beginning of a wonderful, addictive relationship with all kinds of pickles and relishes.

It’s really not complicated.    You prepare your vegetables.  Wash and sterilize your jars.  Fill the jars.  Process the jars,  That’s it.  If you don’t have a canning pot with a rack – no worries.    Simply follow the processing instructions in the recipe.

This recipe for oh- so -mouth-puckering pickled green dilly beans is quite simple.  You cut your beans to fit into the wide-mouth canning jars.  Mix up your vinegar, water and salt.  Then you put a little red pepper flakes, some mustard seeds and lots of dill seed into each jar.  Tuck in the beans.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over.  Seal the jars and process them in boiling water for 15 minutes and you’re done.  You can cut the recipe in half if you just have a few beans picked up at the farmer’s market.

The very, very best part of these pickled bean – they make the best ” nibbly” appetizer along with some crackers and a little cheese.The recipe for PICKLED DILLY BEANS is on my food blog MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.




The weather report says temperatures in Toronto are going to hit 40°Celsius (with humidity) today.      The really cool dudes, the hipsters – those so cool they never say cool hang out in the second coolest street in the world – Queen Street West.  Little has changed on Queen Street West since  Vogue Magazine called it the second hottest street world wide . Read about it in my following reblog  QUEEN STREET WEST . . . SECOND COOLEST NEIGHBOUR HOOD IN THE WORLD


Sadly my favorite coffee hangout Clafouti has disappeared.  However, we aficionados  of Trinity Bellwood sip our coffee  a block or so away  at The Lucky Penny Café – General Store.


The Lucky Penny sits quietly on the corner of Shaw Street right across from the Artscape Youngplace.  Away from the hurly-burly of Queen Street we  sip our café lattes, catch a few rays on the patio,  then stroll across the street to the 100-year-old school building that is now Artscape ,  in search of budding Picasso’s.

Toronto is all about neighborhoods like Trinity Bellwood .  This is the fabric, the warp and weft, that binds Toronto together.