When you have little artistic talent you call in the big guns for help – Léonard de Vinci.    This is how I made this years Christmas cards.  Or, for that matter cards that can be used anytime.


I found copies of the paintings in an old art book that I bought for 25 cents.  I always check used book stores for tattered and worn copies of books.  They have a multitude of uses and I recycle them in my own way.  There is nothing more wonderful that poking around old book stores.


The birds I cut out of an  illustrated bird book that I rescued from a discard bin at our library.  It had seen better days and was heading for paper recycling.

I cut away the background from the women’s figures and pasted it onto background paper.  Then I pasted the birds on.


I stamped crowns on the birds (not always perfectly) and embossed them with gold embossing powder.  I have a  heat gun for this purpose, but you can also do it by holding your paper over  a toaster.  Just don’t burn your paper.

This is rather like cutting out paper doll.  I did it when I was seven and seven decades later it appears I am still doing it.

Cards for those who are dear to me, but oh so far away.


The most exciting of events – the birth of a child.

The Little Princess was seven days old and we had a grand audience.  To celebrate her arrival I made her the card to accompany her gift.    I love the vintage cards I find on THE GRAPHIC FAIRY.   This one charmed its way into my heart.

I downloaded the illustration and printed it on heavy water-colour paper.  I gave the card an old world feel.

Then I mounted it with two backgrounds,  embellished the wings with glitter, added a tiny dove and girly pink ribbon.

A birth card fit for a Princess.



Meet the angels in my life.

I have a  love affair with angels and putti(cherubs).  Their faces  intrigue me.  Late one  Christmas Eve I was shopping for flowers on South Granville in Vancouver,  and discovered this putti .   White plaster waiting to morph into something wonderful.  I  painstakingly gold leafed her.  It was time-consuming work but I was so enchanted with her face it was a joy to bring out her beauty.

You can’t see this putti’s face but he has an adorable tummy and dimpled knees.  Another white plaster  cherub that I found in a thrift shop.  I painted and aged it until it looked like perhaps, just perhaps, I have found it in an old casa in Italy.




I found this putti with downcast eyes and a sad expression in a Thrift Shop.  She was a little battered so I gave her a face lift with a marble finish.



I plan to fill the urn these cherubs are holding with lavender.  Another white plaster object that I gave my “famous” French finish.



More faces, more tummies  and another of my antique, distressed paint creations



It was the week before Christmas.  Market day forty years ago  in a remote village in Mexico.  Beautiful Daughter and I were shopping.  She bargained for a tin lantern and I found these rustic angels.



This angel is  Matilda.  A gift from Titan haired daughter-in-law.  Her job is to guard my sewing room. She makes me smile.



An angel from Italy.  For years she graced the top of our Christmas Tree.  I couldn’t bear to continue to  hide her beauty in a box for eleven months of the year.  Now she guards my book.


As for the putti who almost got away …


This is Francis.    Francis was plain brown paper mache when I discovered him.     I created  several looks  for him.  The first year he was aFrench putti,  pale gray brushed with white.  The next year he took on a new persona and I gave him a marble finish.   The following year I thought something rustic, something to wreath with pine boughs. and holly, and a few white roses.   So Frances was painted an earthy ocher.   I hung Francis on my front door for several  Christmases.

Last Christmas I wanted a wreath lush with pink and scarlet roses,  and velvet ribbons.  There was no place for Francis.  Perhaps it was time he returned to the Thrift Shop, and a new adventure.

I was unloading him from the car to take him into the Shop when The Good Husband asked what I was doing.  I told him.    “No” says The Good Husband, “No angel EVER leaves our house”.  So dear friends that’s the story of Francis the putti that almost got away.   It’s also the story of  a man who is gentle, caring, loving, and who can always find room for one more putti.


Our eldest grand-daughter is getting married in six days.    Two more sleeps and we fly to Toronto.   This will be an intimate fairy tale wedding in the romantic surroundings of a winery in Prince Edward County.

We wanted to give the perfect wedding gift.  Younger sister AJ was in charge.   She said “Cait and Angus would like you to make them something”.

A few years ago Cait celebrated am important birthday in Paris.  I had my theme.  In anticipation of the wedding I had found one dozen gorgeous Irish linen napkins at an antique store.    This is what  I made to hold these beauties.

This is how I did it.

I gave this Thrift shop find a coat of gray water based primer, then a coat of water base white flat paint.  When the white paint was dry I rubbed the tray with sandpaper to give it a distressed look.

I went to THE GRAPHIC FAIRY  downloaded the graphic with reverse letters because although I am using Mod Podge I am not decoupaging the letters on to the tray.

This is  how you put those letters on to the tray.  You copy your graphic on a toner based copying machine.  You will find toner based copying machines at libraries, some grocery and drug stores.   It appears they are a little old-fashioned for Staples.

I cut around the letters to eliminate as much of the surrounding paper as possible.  I brushed  the Mod Podge generously over the graphic and then put it FACE DOWN on the white tray.  I rubbed the paper gently to ensure the letters were sticking to the surface.  Then I sat it aside for a good 12 hours.  Over night is a good idea.  You won’t be tempted to peek.

The next morning I dampened the paper and gently started rubbing it away with my fingers.  This is when you’ll appreciate cutting away the excess white background.

Finished.  A few of the letters aren’t perfect, but it’s OK because this is supposed to look a little worn.

After you’ve wiped away the paper rubbings, and let the tray dry finish it with a light coat of wax.  Leave on for a few minutes then buff it up.  Presto.  You’re done.

This tray is just part of Angus and Cait’s Paris theme wedding gift.    In my next posting I will spill the beans on the rest of the gift.  Meanwhile I’m off to my almost second Home in Toronto.

How to create French painted furniture

I wanted to paint furniture to look like the furniture in Annie Sloan’s book CREATING THE FRENCH LOOK .  Unfortunately we don’t have access to the special Belgian paint she used in her work.  This is my solution and it works beautifully.  It is easier than any painted furniture you’ve ever tried to do.  Here’s my secret to achieving The French look of beautiful and very expensive French furniture.  You use water-based primer of the very best quality, and ordinary flat wall paint.


I used Aqua Lock water based 100% Acrylic primer paint in Gullwing Gray.  Your paint shop will tint your water based primer.  They can tint any colour as long as it isn’t terribly dark.   And remember it has to be water based.  Gullwing Gray is a Benjamin Moore paint colour.  The final coat is Benjamin Moore Aura mat water based paint.  The colour is oc-66 Snow white.   To finish you’ll need 500 ml of clear wax and 500 ml dark wax.  If you can’t find dark wax colour your wax  yourself with dark shoe polish.  Just be sure it doesn’t have a reddish tint.   You need a two-inch paint brush to apply the paint and a second old paint brush to apply the wax.  And that’s it (oh yes some fine sandpaper and lots of old soft cloths)

After you’ve lightly sanded the furniture (to give the paint tooth),  wiped it clean.  Then give it a good scrub with  equal parts vinegar and water.  Dry well.

Turn your furniture upside down and paint all the undersides with the primer.   It is important you don’t skip this step as it gives your furniture a finished, professional appearance.   One coat should do it.  You are now  finished with the underside.

Now  apply the primer thickly in smooth all-direction strokes to your furniture.  Be mindful of drips.   Apply two coats  (allowing for drying time)for a good finish.

When this dry apply your mat white paint thickly in smooth all-direction strokes.  When this is dry use your fine sandpaper  to sand around the edges and any place you want wear to show exposing the gray paint underneath and even some of the wood.  Let this dry overnight.

To give the find old and distressed  look,  and protection  use a dark wax all over.  At first this looks very dark.  Don’t worry.  Apply with a brush and remove the excess with a cloth.  Work in small areas at a time.  If you think it is still too dark use a little of the clear wax to remove the darker wax.

Finish off with a layer of clear wax, which will remove more of the dark wax, but leave it where you want the finish to be darker.  The next day, polish to give your furniture a sheen.  This is the finished piece.  How French is this!

Voila! you’ve created a master piece.

I created the candle-holders  from old table legs using the same process.  Hammer a nail into the top of candlestick and snip the head off.  It will anchor your candles.   If you find really tall table legs you should make a base to support them.  Again easily done and painted in the same way.


Crimson and gold velvet curtains hang heavy over the glass doors.

They are serious, rather formal.

They shut out the gloom of winter

And mirror the warming flames from the big stone fireplace.

I drew back the curtains.

April sunshine, glorious,  gladdening sunshine.

A morning sunshine that called for curtains that would billow

and  dance with every gust of spring breezes.

Tucked away awaiting the day

A pair of too long, leggy yellow linen curtains.

Ten foot curtains for an eight foot window.

You see these romantic flop over curtains in many of the French home magazines.

This is how to achieve that so chic French look.

Cut off the old pleating tape.  Cut the curtains to the correct size allowing for romantic pooling on the bottom.

Put a new hem on the wide strip left over from shortening the curtains.  Press the hem

Sewed new tape on the back of the long curtains.  Then sewed the strip on to the back of the curtains so it would flop and flounce over to the front when you hang the curtains.  .  Press this seam well.

I pulled the tape to adjust it to the open width and fastened the string ends.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and sew the rings on.  Finished.

You can find tape like this at most fabric stores.  This header tape creates pleats but you also can find tape that simply gathers.

The left over fabric makes a romantic soft ruffle.  Not a bit of linen wasted!!

I call these my daffodil curtains.

“My heart with pleasure fills”.


“Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.

(William Wordsworth 1804)

Marie Antoinette Pillow … tres chic!



A couple of weeks ago I made a Chanel inspired French graphic pillow.  It graced one of a pair of Lloyd Loom chairs.  The other chair, a rocking chair, sulked.  I was playing favorites.  Not at all.  I was searching for the perfect graphic to compliment the cushion that promised chocolate, eclairs, mounds of whipping cream.  It could only be  Marie Antoinette,  the French queen of decadence and over-indulgence.  I found the French queen on Graphic Fairy.  Now she adorns a pillow trimmed with Chanel inspired black ribbon.  Tres chic.

It is so simple to make these cushions.  You know where to go for the graphics and the T-shirt transfer paper can be found at any office supply store or craft store.  This is how you create an exquisite pillow for just a few dollars.  This is decorating on a dime!

It’s important you press the pillow fabric and the pillow slip.  Absolutely no creases.  You use the pillow slip when you are pressing the transfer onto your pillow fabric.

Cut out your image as close as possible to the edges.  I small, very sharp pair of manicure scissors works best.

Mark the centers top and sides using an erasable fabric pen.    This will be your guide lines for centering your image.

Put the image printed side down on your fabric.  Measure carefully.   You don’t want your design to be off-center or crooked.

Read the instructions carefully on your t-shirt transfer kit.   Once the image is in position you iron it on with a hot iron.  NO STEAM.  Your instructions will tell you how long you need to iron the image.

Wait a couple of minutes for the paper to cool.  Then gently lift up a corner and start peeling back the paper.

Finished.  Since you are making  this up into a pillow you can ignore the instructions for preparing a t-shirt transfer for washing.    Just remember when you do have to wash your beautiful pillow you turn it inside out and wash in cold water and line dry.

Discard the transfer paper.

Sew on your Coco Chanel inspired ribbon trim BEFORE you sew on your self piping.  It’s easier.  If you are not a sewer you can still create this pillow.  Ikea has white pillows.  A fabric store will have the fuseable webbing that let’s you simply iron on the ribbon to the pillow cover.

Voila!!  Finished!!  That’s all there is to it.  Now you know how to use T-shirt transfer paper think of all the fabulous things you can do.

Now the rocking chair that was sulking because she didn’t have a lovely pillow is happy.

These pillow are so pricy in the decorating shops.  A yard or so of white cotton fabric, a bit of ribbon and a transfer paper kit is all it takes to do this “decorating on a dime”.

I so fell in love with this portrait of Marie Antoinette I am thinking I will do a colour transfer next.  Perhaps something funky with lots of silk and velvet, gold tassels and braid.    After all Marie was certainly over-the-top.


I fell in love with this vintage French  graphic design on THE GRAPHICS FAIRY.  It couldn’t be more French with the bee and the crown.  Pillows like this are not easy to find, and when you do they are rather pricy.  It’s really simple to create these designs yourself using T-Shirt transfer paper for ink jet printers.

After downloading your image be sure to flip or reverse the image.

I found the transfer paper at Staples office supplies.  Most craft stores also carry it.

The instructions are very clear and easy to do.  You just need your fabric, a hot iron, and a pillow slip.  After you transfer your design to the transfer paper you trim around the design as closely as you can.  Center you design on your pillow, ink side down, or course.  Press with a hot iron without steam.  Read your instructions carefully before you start,  different sized designs require different ironing time.  Let your fabric cool, then remove.  Voila!!

I wanted my pillow to have a very polished, elegant look so I used self-piping, then trimmed the pillow with Coco Chanel inspired black ribbon.

You can buy plain white pillows at Ikea if you are not a seamstress but it will be awkward putting on the ribbon trim.  Miter the corners for a finished look.

You can NEVER have too many pillows.  My new pillow is perfect with the stripes and toile.  I am going to cruise The Graphic Fairy to find a complimenting design.

My very old wicker chair has a companion.  I’ve rocked many hours in this chair.  Singing my children to sleep.

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques

Dormez vous?  Dormez vous?

Sonnez les matines,

Din, din, don

Din, din, don.

I shall search for something appropriate,  and make the perfect pillow for this important rocking chair.



It’s a gray, gray morning.

I long to sit outside.  The sun on my face.

I am remembering a summer morning.

Good Husband is bringing me my café au lait.

My dear friend Jill has just returned from Paris.  She’s dropped a paper off for me to read.

I’m in my garden.

Lavender is blooming.

Perhaps I’m in Provence.  Or in a secret courtyard in the 7th Arrondissement.




This morning I am longing for summer.

Summer in the garden.

Our home is in the country.   The quiet air is filled with bird song.  I can hear the distant whinny of the horses in an equestrian centre down the road.  The horse next door answers.

I sip my coffee.  Rustle the newspapers energetically.

There’s no place like home.

Even when it is raining.


The grande dame sofa sat neglected for a week or so.    Day three and four and  finally I could return to this so important project.  I fitted and pined, and sewed the cover for this elegant girl.  Yards of fabric  pooled around my sewing machine.  Her new dress taking shape.  This was the most demanding part of the project.  Like a perfectly fitted dress the sofa demanded darts and tucks to emphasize her graceful form.

She must look lovely from every point of view.    Attention to detail is so important.  The project is almost complete.

The next step is to make the cushion covers.  Plump them out.  Give the sofa a well-endowed look.

The slip cover chronicles …. to be continued.