Welcome to Le Beau Paon Victorien! I'm so glad you stopped by!

Here you will find a variety of things that might interest you: food, books, house decor, crafty things, random thoughts, dishes, gardening and more!

Spend some time with us and happy reading!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Show & Tell Friday: Heirloom Mantel Clock

For the blog event Show & Tell Friday hosted by My Romantic Home, I would like to show  my heirloom mantel clock which was given to me a few years ago by my father. This clock was a wedding gift given to my grandparents when they were married in 1932 in Norway, Michigan. It is made by the New Haven Clock Co.This particular model, going by the number inside the clock, as far as I can find out, was made between 1931 to about 1936.

I remember this clock sitting on a dresser in a back bedroom at my grandparent's Wisconsin dairy farm when I was a girl. The clock didn't work at that time and I remember the minute hand was not attached. Myself and my siblings and cousins used to play with the clock by opening the back and striking the chime bars! Even though the clock did not work then, it must have been still important to my grandmother, otherwise I doubt she would have kept it and she probably would not have scolded us whenever she caught us goofing around with it!

My grandfather passed away in 1980 and soon after his death the farm was sold and  the farm equipment was sold at auction.My grandmother moved back to Michigan, to Iron Mountain, where she had been born and raised and where most of her remaining family were still living. I did not see the clock again for many years and had forgotten about it until two years ago, my father and stepmother gave it to me. Apparently it had been in my dad's possession in storage for many years and he had had it repaired and cleaned and the hand put back on, so it now works just as well as it did in 1933! I love that they gave it to me and it looks perfect on the mantel of our living room fireplace.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tablescape Thursday First Submission:

I found a great blog called Between Naps on the Porch (which I added to my blog list, so you can check it out!) which has a blog event called 'Tablescape Thursdays'. Imagine my excitement when I learned there are so many people like me who love to put together beautiful tables!!!

I haven't taken any pictures recently of any table settings, but I do have some pictures I took in the past, so I thought I would post them for my first submission to Tablescape Thursday!  I also have a nice picture of the centerpiece I use at Christmastime for the dining room table, so I will include that one as well!

My fine china (bone china); Noritake's "Knottinghill" with platinum edge. (discontinued)

My fine crystal: Mikasa "Jamestown" Platinum

Some views of a place setting

This is the centerpiece I usually have on the dining room table for the holidays!

I loved these silver salt and pepper shakers that we found in an antique store! They were labeled as peacocks, but I think they are actually pheasants.

The bone china is Noritake's "Knottinghill" with a platinum edge and is a five piece place setting. This was my wedding china from my first marriage in 1995 and it has been discontinued for some years.

The fine crystal is Mikasa's "Jamestown" Platinum. I have both water goblets and wine glasses.
The champagne flutes were called "Michelangelo" but I do not recall at this time the maker. They were purchased years ago at Boston Store.
The individual butter domes are white and were purchased at Boston Store about 4 years ago.
My silver flatware is Oneida and the pattern was called alternatively "Spring Blossom" and "Morning Blossom". It has also been discontinued for some years.
Linens:  heirloom thread crochet tablecloth ( a vintage item purchased at an antique store). Dark red brocade napkins were purchased at Macy's many years ago, as were the oval Quaker Lace place mats.
I have folded the napkin in a fold called the "Fleur de Lis", which stands up with the aid of a silver napkin ring.

Today's Spotlight On: Christmas 2009

Here's some great pictures of my Christmas trees and other holiday decor!

My Victorian Tree

Misc Decor:

Christmas Tree #2

Outside Decor:

Food: Christmas Goodies!

The holidays don't seem like the holidays without lots of delicious treats! At least, that is my  personal opinion!
We always used to bake cookies at the holidays when I was a girl and I continue the tradition in my own home now that I am an adult. Not only are the cookies and other goodies great to enjoy for Erik and I, but I can always load up a pretty Christmas plate full of fudge and cookies to take to other parties, to my in-laws, or just about anywhere else. They make great little gifts to co-workers too; wrapped up prettily with a card. This year I made three kinds of fudge: regular chocolate, butterscotch peanut fudge, and white gumdrop fudge. For cookies, I made sugar cookie cut-outs w/ decorative icing (my favorite!), spritz cookies, peanut butter blossoms, Santa's Sugar cookies ( small round sugar cookies dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peppermint) and Santa's Whiskers cookies. I also made some oven-roasted sugar and cinnamon pecans and Hawaiian Turtles (white chocolate, macedamia nuts, caramel and dried pineapple)--yum!

White gumdrop fudge---very quick and easy to make and delicious!

I found these cute Christmas-y boxes for $1.99 and filled them with cookies for co-worker gifts. A ribbon and a hand-stamped card made by me added just the right personal touch!

I also made loaves of blueberry orange bread for co-worker gifts. I wrapped the loaves in parchment paper and cellophane, and added ribbon and a tag printed on my computer. (I got this idea from Martha Stewart!)


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Craziness!

So, looking back on my last posts, I haven't put anything up lately, which doesn't surprise me, since it has been a crazy last couple of months!

I haven't even changed the pictures on the side; they still show fall and harvest-type scenes!  However, now that I will have about five minutes to myself this coming evening, I will be surely updating my blog with some cute stuff!

See you soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not Quite Christmas Yet !

Despite the fact that everywhere I go now there are Christmas decorations up and Christmas music playing in the stores, I have only just packed away all my Halloween stuff (except for my Spooky Town Halloween village, which is in the process of being dismantled for the season). I also will point out that it is still officially autumn, so I'm not quite ready to put away the fall decor.

Once my Halloween decorations are put away, there are a few things that I leave out until about December 1st, which is when I usually bring out the Christmas decor. For instance, in the picture below; I brought my funkins in from the front porch and then turned them around so the jack o' lantern faces are in the back, and put them on this chair, with a little bit of autumn berries garland. Perfect! Fall-ish looking without being too Halloween-y.

In this photo, I made a centerpiece for my dining room table, using my milk glass cake stand. The beaded pumpkin was in another room, sitting on top of a big tin that had black cats on it, but with Halloween over and the black cat tin put away, my beaded pumpkin has found a new place as a centerpiece. Some fall foliage picks that were used to decorate the mantle in the other room add a little something-something. I like to "recycle" my decorations; sometimes just moving something from one area to another, changing them slightly, makes a fresh look without having to buy more decorations.

And even though these aren't pictures of any autumnal decor, I couldn't help taking a couple pictures of the drawing room with the morning light, which really is my favorite time of day to look at this room. It's stunning to me every time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

Yes, I realize that I am about 2 weeks late posting some pictures I took Halloween night, but I have been extremely stressed and busy lately with my mother who is currently very ill and is hospitalized. Suffice to say that she is making improvements daily and we are feeling very positive right now for her recovery, which makes me very happy and has also allowed me to feel okay with doing "frivolous" things, like writing in my blog.

Caramel apples I made, perched on my new cake pedestal!
We hosted a Scary Game Night at our house, so I made some snacks and we had some drinks as well.
Besides the caramel apples, I had cupcakes, spiced hermit cookies, chips and dip, BBQ cocktail wienies, puff pastry pumpkins filled with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, and bone-shaped  warm rolls with pizza dipping sauce.

The set-up on the sideboard of the desserts, complete with a lighted 'funkin'.

Below is my cupcakes and spiced hermits on a 3-tiered stand. Mmm!

This delicious and spooky looking appetizer I called "Sinister Sludge", but it's actually a guacamole and black bean dip with blue-corn tortilla chips. The dip holder is a black cauldron and three circling ghost dishes hold the chips. They sit on an orange wooden tray that spins! Genius! It was a birthday gift from my mother-in-law.

Here's some pictures of my front porch and the pumpkins I carved. The jack o' lanterns with faces are funkins that I 'carved' and re-use every year. The other two, with the skull and the rats, are real pumpkins that I carved the day before Halloween so they would be really fresh. So this was my spooky display for the trick-or-treaters (and everyone else) to enjoy!

Sorry for the blurriness; my camera has been having trouble with pictures in low or night time lighting and if I use the flash, it's too washed out. I have to play around with the settings I think.

And last, but not least, I took this picture of this adorable chair that was also a gift from my mother-in-law. She came across this chair at an antique store, I think. It's an old wooden chair that somebody painted black and then painted a pumpkin on the seat. I made this cute little vignette in the front hall using the chair.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Treats

With Hallow'een just around the corner, it's time to put together some treat bags for my co-workers! Erik and I are planning a Scary Game Night at our house this year for a few couples also, so I will probably put together a few favor bags of treats for them to take home (just in case they don't get enough treats during the party!).

These treat bags (above) were simple and fun to make using card stock, decorative paper and rub-on transfers that I had on hand from Stampin' Up. I also usually have large and small gusseted cellophane bags on hand for various projects as well. I used plain black card stock and some decorative paper with green and black skulls on it. The "spooky" skull decorative element is a rub-on transfer which I put on Natural Ivory card stock and trimmed with my small paper snips.Inside the cellophane treat bags I have Jelly Belly jellybeans in green (Juicy Pear flavor), black (licorice flavor) and a mottled blue-purple (Island Punch flavor). I also put some chocolate and peanut butter foil wrapped "eyeballs" inside also! Gummi worms would also be a great addition too!

These are a little hard to see clearly in the picture, but they are very cute. These are chocolate caramel apples that I made and wrapped in Saran wrap. Around the wooden "stem", I tied polka dot ribbon in a new Stampin' Up color called Razzleberry. The treat tags also were made with rub-on transfers; these were in white instead of black. When most people think of Hallow'een, they think of black and orange, but I like to use other colors that are just as "spooky", like this combination of black and Razzleberry card stock that goes with the ribbon. I also tucked a plastic spider into the ribbon bow. I would have preferred to use cellophane, since it's crisper and prettier than Saran wrap, but I don't have any sheets of cellophane in the house and the large gusseted treat bags weren't wide enough to accommodate the apple. Still, they turned out really adorable and it didn't take very much time at all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today's Spotlight On: Happy Birthday Wishes!

My birthday is actually tomorrow, October 21, but here's a shout out and a 'Happy Birthday' to anyone else celebrating a birthday this week, or even this month!!!!  October is a great month for birthdays, in my opinion!

Also celebrating a birthday lately is my niece, who turned 3 years old on October 16. Here is a picture of her doll cake that my mom made:

My mom took cake decorating classes with her own mother, for fun, when she was a young woman attending college and ever since then she was hooked. She made all of the birthday, christening , baby shower, wedding  shower, First Communion and baptism cakes for our family, as well as for some of my cousins and other relatives. For a while when I was young, she even made wedding cakes. My younger sisters and my step-sister have all caught the cake decorating "bug" from my mom and have experienced the delight of making cakes for their own children's parties. Cake decorating is one crafty thing that I do not do. I have made one or two decorated cakes in my life, but since I don't have children, there doesn't seem to ever be much need for me to make cakes like this.  My sister made the birthday cakes the last two years, but this year, my mom wanted her only grand-daughter to have a doll cake and she wanted to make it herself. She made a doll cake for all of us girls at least once!

Here's my niece and my nephew waiting for the cake to be cut!


Friday, October 9, 2009

This and That: The Silverware in the Drain

We have an old house; a Queen Anne Victorian-era behemoth built somewhere around 1886-1887. Like most folks who own a Victorian house, we have an old kitchen. Usually the kitchen is the last (and most difficult) room in a Victorian house to be restored, not to mention expensive.

I've seen worse kitchens. Ours, at least, has the original hardwood floor; narrow plank maple like the rest of the house. It used to be covered by about 6 layers of linoleum, according to the previous owners, who were the ones who had it removed. The ceiling is a bizarre looking stucco. The walls, at least, have beadboard wainscoting, which isn't bad. The cabinets are vintage steel cabinets from the 1930s-1940s; I kid you not.  Most people find the steel cabinets, which are a somewhat sickly looking cream color, "charming".  All in all, the kitchen has a strange, retro 1940s look to it, which isn't as bad as some I've seen, but the steel cabinets are annoying, the lack of counter space and modern conveniences makes cooking somewhat more of a chore than necessary, and I'd kill to have more cabinet space for all my cookery stuff.

One of the few things I like about the kitchen is the sink. It's only a single sink, but it's quite large and deep and made of heavy, old porcelain, like an old-fashioned bathtub. The sink is probably about the same age as the cabinets, judging from the style; 1930s most likely. It is similar to the popular "farmhouse"-style sinks that I am seeing everywhere now. The scary thing about the sink, however, is the drain. It is monstrously huge. And even though it has a meshy drain cover, if the strainer thing is not in place, it's just a big giant hole, like the throat of a whale. There is no protective cross-hatch of metal in the drain pipe like most of them have today. I have sometimes been fearful that my small juice glasses actually might fall down the drain; it is seriously that large. Erik, of course, says that I am exaggerating; the drain hole isn't quite big enough for our juice glasses to fall in, but I personally think it's pretty damn close!

Despite being careful to always keep the drain cover over the un-naturally huge drain hole, inevitably it will sometimes not be in place, and all manner of gunk goes down, which recently resulted in our drain becoming clogged. There is a short distance of pipe before it takes a sharp bend, and looking into the drain was like trying to peer into the deepest, darkest part of Hell, so when my Liquid Plum-R failed to get the drain flowing as well as I'd like, I took a flashlight and looked down. I could see, despite a lot of crud on it, what looked like a fork way down in the pipe, caught in where the pipe takes a sharp bend. It was too far down to reach with my hand or fingers (which actually do fit pretty well into the giant drain hole) or even a long handled spoon, so I improvised and used a bent wire hanger. I made a small loop on the end to snag the fork and was able to drag it up far enough where I could grab it with the BBQ tongs. Yes. I used BBQ tongs. After this success, I once again peered down into the drain with the flashlight and was astonished to see another item that had been underneath the fork. It appeared to be yet another fork! Once again, the coat hanger and BBQ tongs did the trick and once again, I raised up a pretty gross and gunked up fork from the recesses of the world's largest drain hole.
However, I was not done yet, I soon realized! My third inspection of the drain hole via flashlight, revealed that there was even one more piece of silverware down there. This one too, turned out to be another fork; so all in all, we had three forks crammed down into the drain, which is probably why we got a plugged drain
to begin with. I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier. The first two forks, while dirty and full of crud, were clearly of the same silverware pattern as the rest of my flatware, but the third and last one, was not. It had clearly belonged to someone else who had lived here before us and judging from the pitted, rusted and generally degraded look of the fork, it must have been in there for quite some time; probably it had fell into the drain during the tenure of the previous, previous owners.

Erik was with me during the fork-rescue expedition (it was actually his idea to use the coat hanger), but I couldn't resist exclaiming, "A-ha!" to him after we retrieved our dubious booty from the drain, in my smug attempt to prove to him that my worries of us losing items down the gigantic drain hole, like silverware (and possibly juice glasses) was not entirely unfounded.

Above: The fork-eating drain in our sink. Note: it does not appear large in this picture, but it is, I assure you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vintage Voice: Milk-Glass Pedestal Cake Stand

Here is my other fabulous find during my "retail therapy"; a milk-glass cake stand. I've been wanting one of these forever!
Milk glass was first made in Venice in the 16th century, but it came in other colors besides white. 19th-century glassmakers called it opal glass.
The name "milk glass" is  fairly recent. The white color is achieved by adding tin dioxide, or bone ash, to the glass, which is either blown or pressed ( pressed glass is often referred to as Depression glass.)
Some of the more well-known makers of art glass, like milk-glass, include Fenton, Westmoreland, Imperial and Mosser.
Milk glass was very popular in the Victorian era, with a resurgence of popularity and reproductions of many old designs in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Though unmarked, mine is a Fenton Hobnail Pedestal Cake Stand. It seems that Fenton did not mark their pieces until 1970, and even then, it was only on certain items. It wasn't until 1974 that all of their pieces bore a logo on the bottom, which tells me that my cake stand was made before 1970. The color and weight, and the density, tell me that my cake stand is probably older than the 1960s, more than likely it was made in the 1950s. Hobnail patterns on milk glass was introduced by Fenton in 1939 and became their top-selling line.
Fenton Art Glass Company, which was founded by two brothers, also was the first to introduce carnival glass, which is also a very popular collector item.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vintage Voice: Embroidered Linens

I have an addiction problem; I am not only addicted to all things Victorian and vintage, but I also have an addiction within an addiction. Specifically, I am speaking of table ware and linens. I cannot get enough of vintage linens and table/serve ware. I went into raptures over a silver mustard pot and a silver water ewer, I nearly peed my pants in excitement when I found a beautiful embroidered linen cover for a bread basket, to keep rolls and bread warm, and I have been looking for vintage embroidered pillowcases for ages. Preferably, I wanted lace-edged (either tatted or crocheted lace) pillowcases that said "His" and "Hers", but I wasn't going to turn down anything else that might tickle my fancy.

It has since occurred to me that because I know how to embroider (and enjoy doing it as well), I might just make my own embroidered pillowcases, and save myself the trouble. However, that didn't stop me from digging through piles of vintage linens obsessively whenever I would see them in antique shops and at flea markets. Occasionally, I would find some I liked, but usually the ones I liked were only a single pillowcase, with no mate. This would not do! Other times I would find pairs that I sort of liked, but they didn't have a lace edge, or I didn't like the pattern ( a frequent and oft-used motif was bells with ribbons, butterflies or a bonneted maiden) or they used too many bright colors (which was also popular at the time), so there would be  bright yellow,  dark blue, purple and pink. While the use of multiple colors was popular, it was not quite to my taste. I was hoping to find embroidery in plain white, ecru, or light blue (to match my bed linens).

At last! , today I was successful in finding vintage pillowcases that had a charming scalloped edge, trimmed in lace; the embroidery was done in light blue floss, and the pattern was simple yet beautiful : big, open roses!

And here is one of them, already washed, ironed and put on my bed! I am in love !

This and That

Following a difficult week and the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet, my sister suggested some "retail therapy" was in order for this weekend. Unfortunately, budget constraints do not permit me to indulge in much 'retail therapy' these days, but I did manage to find these darling little wonders at Target for a very budget-friendly $4.99:

They are slipper socks; soft and warm sock-like top, but with a non-skid bottom,  perfect for running around on hardwood floors! Even better, they have skulls on them, not to mention  a very adorable Argyle pattern in Hallow'een colors!  I'm in heaven!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

R.I.P. Beloved Baby, my most loving, adorable cat....

He is gone. I miss him terribly already, but it was the right decision. He was dying and without any way to tell anyone of his suffering, he looked to me to let him go, and I have done so.

"All creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all...."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Celebrating a Life: My cat Baby

Some people, who are not animal lovers, or do not have pets, cannot understand the attachment some of us have for our pets. I do not have children, but I do have pets who are just as precious to me and who I love just as dearly. In some of my earlier posts I have mentioned an ongoing illness with one of my cats, my 16 year old male cat, Baby.  He became ill in June and after many visits to the vet, many tests and trying many different treatment regiments, his vet came to the sad conclusion in August that my poor kitty was probably suffering from intestinal lymphoma, a common cancer in older cats. We were unable to get the definitive diagnosis we craved because the tests  would  cost about 3 months of my salary and unfortunately, this is not possible for us. We held out hope that he had a lesser (and non-fatal) disease, like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). And for the last two months, the high fiber prescription diet food and a once-daily pill of Prednisone, had helped him tremendously and he was back to his normal self; alert, active, playful, eating like a horse and having no bowel distress.

We knew, however, that the possibility remained that he might indeed have cancer and even though they have pill forms of chemotherapy these days that can prolong life for a cat with lymphoma for 6 months or even a year, it was still devastating and I was unsure if it would be "right" to prolong the inevitable. Either way, he would die from his disease. We were assured that this type of cancer is usually painless and that during his chemo therapy ( he would take 1 chemo pill every two weeks) he would be pretty much as normal, but we still hadn't decided whether we would take such steps and weren't sure the pros outweighed the cons of going in that direction. I think we were mostly in denial that he had cancer and still held out hope it was something else . We decided to make his life as comfortable as possible for as long as possible and continue to hope that he did not have cancer and that his current treatment would enable him to spend a few more years with us. We had very high hopes with the success of the last two months and how well he was doing, but unfortunately, he took a very serious, and very sudden turn for the worse on Tuesday this week. He was perfectly normal on Sunday, his usual self. Monday morning we noticed some diarrhea in the litter box; the first diarrhea he's had in two months, but he seemed fine otherwise. We called the vet to discuss the dosage of his medicine, and decided to divide his pill in half and give him a half a pill twice a day to spread out the effectiveness of it over a 24 hr period. Monday evening, I was distressed to notice signs of his ataxia returning. He had had a flare up of ataxia before starting his new medicine, and he'd had it once before, right around the time his illness started in June, but at the time, we thought it was weakness due to dehydration from his diarrhea. For a general explanation of ataxia in cats, click here. During the second flare-up in August it was right around the time his vet was concluding that he had lymphoma and his weakness and wobbly gait was determined not to be dehydration, as we had thought before, but ataxia, and it was discussed that the ataxia might be a separate medical issue, or related to the cancer, which might have spread and could be affecting his brain and neurological functions, which would explain other neurological problems that were evident; his vision was impaired and he did not have normal responses to certain stimuli during the time the ataxia was present.  Again, a complete neurological work-up would be needed to determine the exact cause of his ataxia, but we lacked the $2,000 it would have cost us to have the tests done. The ataxia generally only lasted a day or two before vanishing. Since starting his Prednisone, he had no flare ups of ataxia.

By Tuesday morning, he was still weak and wobbly, but still able to get around. He was eating his food, and drinking like normal. I gave him his morning petting and tucked him into his kitty nest before leaving for work. Sometime during the day on Tuesday, something happened and he slipped into a coma and when I arrived home from work, he was laying on his kitty blanket, un-responsive and unable to move. It was a devastating sight to me. The vet suggested a blood clot in the large main artery that runs along a cat's back, a severe stroke, or the cancer itself as the cause, but he will not recover. I am heart-broken at this sudden turn of events and hoped and prayed that he would pass away quietly on his own, but it has been two days and there has been no change. He lays in his kitty nest with a warming pad to keep him warm and I keep him near me, watching over him all night, but he is immobile and un-responsive. It is like he is already passed away, except he is still breathing. No amount of talking to him or petting him has aroused any response. Cats, when unconscious or comatose, do not close their eyes like people do; their eyes remain open. It is sad and causes my heart to ache to see him lying there, with his eyes open, un-seeing and unblinking. I like to think that somehow he knows that I am there with him, even though I doubt he is aware of anything.

So, tomorrow, I will end his suffering. To keep him on like this is cruel; he will not recover and his systems are slowly shutting down. I dread being severed from him in this way, but to keep him like this is selfish. I have held out hope that he will pass on his own for the last two days, but I cannot let him linger this way, to die slowly. We have an appointment for tomorrow with the vet. I am grief-stricken, my heart aches. I will miss him terribly and feel sorrow that it had to end this way for him. I feel sorrow for myself as well, knowing that I will miss him always; my special guy.

My only comfort now is to know that he had a good life for 16 years, that he was well-cared for and very much loved by me, his "mommy". The last two months of his life were happy and the medicine he had made his life comfortable. His end will not be what I had hoped for, and is coming very much sooner than wanted, but at least he had no pain, and I will be with him to send him off, with love, kisses and hugs, and hope that somehow he will know I am there.

To celebrate the life of my beloved buddy, here are some pictures from happier days:

The picture above was from his "fat" days! He used to be a real tub of lard when he was younger!

R.I.P. my darling lap baby.
May 1993--Oct. 1, 2009