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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Reflections

As we are all aware, yesterday was Memorial Day; a very special day when we remember those who served our country, both past and present, and  honor the sacrifices they made for our country, for our freedom and for all of us.
As a child, on Memorial Day,  part of the day's celebration included my mother taking me and my siblings to visit a cemetary, usually some lonely, small, forgotten cemetary ( I grew up in a very rural area with mostly dairy farms) where we would look for graves of military service members and veterans and leave flowers. Many of these tiny forgotten cemetaries would have maybe 25 or 50 graves, and were always on some out-of-the-way back road and usually had no visitors, except us. It didn't matter if the grave was old or new; we thought that everyone deserved a time to be remembered, by somebody, even a total stranger.

I usually try to continue the tradition now that I am an adult and yesterday evening Erik and I made a visit to the Prairie Home Cemetary which is near our house. We go there often and I have posted about it before; in the post Reverence (HERE) and a sort of funny story; (HERE)

These large flags line the main road through the center of the cemetary on Memorial Day.

It really is a very pretty place and always very quiet and peaceful.

We actually had a dual purpose for our visit. We had been trying to locate the family plots for the people who lived in our house. The Nelson family built our house in 1886/1887. It was exciting to find them at last.

They were somewhat prominent in town.

Many thanks to all in the military service, past, present and those who will serve our country in the future. We owe so much to you!

Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be joining A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,

And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, 
And thought of him I love.

O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard, 
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.
---Verses 1-4, from "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

My new lilac bush, planted last year, has rewarded me with a number of perfumy, lovely blooms this spring. Our spring has been cold, windy and rainy, but I managed to catch a day where the sun was shining to take a couple of pictures. The weather has really put our growing season behind!
The poem above, oddly enough, was actually written as an elegy to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, even though it never mentions him by name. Walt Whitman, like most Americans at the time, were deeply affected by his death. The poem appears in Leaves of Grass, a large collection of Whitman's poems that first appeared in 1855, but was revised, added to, and re-printed in several editions until his death in 1892.
I first read Walt Whitman in high school, and this poem was one of my favorites, despite the fact that it was written as a dramatization of Whitman's feeling of loss, and was, in fact, about mourning. Like most elegies, he uses imagery (in this case, the lilac bush) and other forms of nature to convey his feelings.
It's quite a beautiful poem and has always stuck with me. I always think of it when the lilacs bloom.

Elsewhere in my garden:

We had to get more trellis for our other climbing rose. Now I have to prune it a little and tie up some more of it to the trellis. I have no doubts it will reach the top of the new pieces within 2 years!

Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays!


Monday, May 16, 2011

From Trash to Treasure!

Ok, so maybe this silver chafing dish wasn't exactly trash....but almost!

A couple of weeks ago, Erik and I stopped in at a local salvage store called Mansion Architecturals, which is only a few blocks from where we live. It also happens to be next door to one of our favorite antique shops. We've stopped in there before to buy a few antique doorknobs for the house. The owner of this store frequently makes trips to the Chicago area and other cities to salvage whatever he can from old Victorian buildings and homes that have been torn down or are condemned and slated to be razed. Needless to say, the place is filled to bursting with antique doorknobs, keyplates, hinges, light fixtures, mailboxes, doorbells, bell pulls, stained glass windows, leaded glass, columns, corbels, molding, spandrels, fireplace mantels, andirons, doors and door frames, pieces of decorative fencing and many, many other wonderful Victorian-era things. There are often times bedroom furniture, pictures, stoves, bathtubs, chairs and silverware to be found in the shop also, salvaged from these great old derelict homes. A great number of items are dusty, dingy, rusty, chippy, shabby and just plain filthy......but underneath, there is beauty that can be restored, somtimes with just a little bit of effort.  

I spotted the chafing dish lying amidst a jumble of other stuff in an old bathtub in the corner of the shop; a recent acquisition that hadn't been sorted through yet. Erik was immediately enamored of the lion's heads on the legs of the chafing dish. I was very doubtful that this thing could ever be restored or cleaned. It was REALLY BAD. The picture makes it actually look BETTER than it was. I thought it might be "too far gone", but the shop owner said we could have it if we wantede to give it a try. He thought it wasn't good for anything but scrap. I had my doubts too.

Yet, to my surprise,I have actually succeeded in cleaning it up pretty well. I'm not quite done with it. I'm still working on the bottom part. I discovered that this chafing dish actually has a copper core, which explains why it's so dang heavy. I did find some maker's marks on the bottom, where it also says 'silver over copper core'.  It took me 2 hours and three bottles of Tarn-X and Wright's to get it this far. There were times when I thought I would never get this thing clean. The dirty polishing rags and Q-tips were piling up around me, my rubber gloves were black with tarnish, and STILL there was more black than silver showing. But I perservered.

It's actually quite an attractive piece.

Some of the black on the piece seemed actually to be soot......I have to wonder if this thing was in a fire, or someone had tossed it into a fireplace chimney. It could have been at the bottom of a cellar hole for all I know.....or a sewer. Some things are just better not known!

Some of the silver plate seems to be missing on this bottom part; it almost seems burned off, which is one of the reasons I wonder if this thing was in a fire or maybe it burst into flames when it was being used, haha!  The little handle thing flips open a cap where there is a cotton wick underneath. The well holds the oil. It opens up for filling.
The word "chafing dish"  comes from the  Middle English word "chafing", the present participle of the word "chaufen" or "chafen", which means "to warm". It first came into use in the 15th century.
I have no idea how old this piece is, ( or if it's even old at all) but it's very pretty and I am glad that we dragged it out into the light.

Thanks for stopping by!

Outdoor Wednesday: May Flowers

"What the bee is to the floweret,

When he looks for honey-dew,
Through the leaves that close embower it,
That, my love, I'll be to you.

She. --

What the bank, with verdure glowing,
Is to waves that wander near,
Whispering kisses, while they're going,
That I'll be to you, my dear.

She. --

But they say, the bee's a rover,
Who will fly, when sweets are gone,
And, when once the kiss is over,
Faithless brooks will wander on.

He. --

Nay, if flowers will lose their looks
If sunny banks will wear away,
'Tis but right that bees and brooks
Should sip and kiss them, while they may. "--Thomas Moore, What the Bee is to the Floweret

dicentra spectabilis

I'll be joining A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Old Jars as Decor

That big old Ball Mason jar I got from my mom's house last week (click HERE) has become a vase for an arrangement of faux daisies on my kitchen table.

I also have some faux spring-colored flowers in two canning jars above my kitchen sink:

I usually have several canning jars hanging around. My father and stepmother have a large garden and fruit orchard and they have lots of good stuff to can every season; salsa, pickles, tomatoes, applesauce, beans: just to name a few. Many of these jars make their way to my house and into my root cellar. (Yes, I do have a root cellar in the basement!)  After use, I wash the jars to be returned to them. Sometimes I have a half dozen or so in a box waiting to be returned and in the meantime, I will use them as decor.

Last year for my 4th of July tablescape, I used one as a holder for serving utensils! ( Click HERE to see that tablescape).
Smaller Mason jars also look fabulous on an outdoor table as drinkware for iced tea and lemonade.

I like to find things around the house to use in unexpected ways!
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Blooms of the Season

Something is actually blooming in my garden! Yay!  It's been such a cold spring this year. These pink tulips are the first blooms of the season!

I made a trip to my local garden center to get some mulch, but I also came away with this lovely peacock for my garden! How could I resist??

Some of my other garden decor came out of storage today also. These glass mushrooms were purchased on a trip to Door County for our first wedding anniversary. Most of my garden decorations get stored in the winter. Wisconsin winters are harsh.

While there, I also purchased this hanging basket for my mom for Mother's Day. I also bought her a pretty black metal stand to hang this basket on. This geranium  was labeled as a new variety called "Red Matador" and has a sort of vining/trailing habit, which makes it perfect for hanging baskets or window boxes. The more I look at it the more I love the vivid red color. I might have to get a couple of these for myself!

This is one of two large urns that I actually bought in March at Sam's Club. I've been wanting  two of these for the front porch for ages, but the price always discouraged me. Even at the end of season, they were still always $60-70 apiece and I could never find two that matched. When I saw these at Sam's Club for $36 each, I was elated beyond measure! I haven't decided yet what I'm going to plant in them yet!

My pots that I over-wintered also came outside today. Despite a sunny southern-exposed room in the upstairs of my house, they always look a little pale and scraggly after their long winter indoors. I usually add some pretty annuals to this pot. This year I decided to plant some pansies.

I just love their friendly little faces! I don't normally plant flowers this early, but pansies are pretty hardy and are usually fine during our cool spring weather. Pansies are also edible flowers and were beloved by the Victorians...a pansy indicated loving thoughts and friendship.

The weather was even nice enough to open a few windows for awhile. Olive loved the novelty of hanging out in an open window.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Attic Find and Other Vintage Goodies..........

A month or so ago, my mother made the decision to sell her house, the house she has lived in for the last 37 years.
It really shouldn't have come as a suprise to any of us; the house has been way too big for one person for way too long. My stepfather passed away in 2003 and my mother has been living there alone, like the last pea rattling around in a big empty can, ever since then. Her house is a tri-level situated on 13 acres, 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and an in-ground swimming pool in the backyard. The size of the yard, and the pool, the orchard, and everything else has been way too much work for her to handle alone and things have been neglected. It's time for her to downsize.
Although I will be really sad to see my childhood home sold and never to be visited again, (and I will definitely miss that swimming pool in the summer), I know this is the right decision for her.

As a result of this decision, we have been helping her get rid of stuff.  Most of it will be going on Craigslist or freecycle; quite a bit of it will be going into the burn pile for a bonfire. My mother and father were from that generation and background that thought you should only have to buy one set of furniture in your lifetime and so they had the same old stuff for most of my life. When my parents divorced in 1987, my dad built his own new house full of new things and he now has a wife who makes all the decorating decisions.

 My mother, who kept the house, hung on to a lot of old stuff, moving it down into the lower level or somewhere else, saving stuff long after it was necessary. Some things changed, of course, but many things didn't. The couches in the recreation room in the lower level (didn't all houses built in the 1970s have a recreation room? haha) has had the same furniture and the same decor as it did since 1974, including blood-red wall to wall carpeting and walls that were covered in some kind of fake stone and a bar with red leather padding. Eek.

One of our tasks this weekend was to climb up into the attic and remove some furniture she had stored up there. She said there wasn't a lot up there and she was right. The attic was never really used and I had never actually been up there before, actually. It has no floor; you have to step across the beams and hope you don't plunge through the living room ceiling below. The only way to access the attic is through a very small square door in the garage, which is high up near the garage roof and you can only get up there with a ladder. The attic space was actually much smaller than I had thought and the ceiling was very low; you can't even really stand up all the way.

One of the things she had up there was an old crib and a wooden cradle that she had used for all of us children when we were babies.

Here's the cradle (the legs are behind it) and the crib is also behind it, dissassembled. To the left you can see an end table. My dad made this table (actually there were two of them), with a matching coffee table. As a young man he loved woodworking and because my parents didn't have much money when they were first married, he made some furniture for them to use. I don't know what happened to the second end table, but this one has a broken leg. The coffee table that goes with it has been in the basement for years.
I admit I was not expecting this to be in the attic!  There used to be a pair of these lamps and they were in our first house where we lived until I was about 3 yrs old; then they were in our living room of the new house for a long time. I don't know what became of the other lamp or why anybody would feel it necessary to save this one!

I had a laugh when this old high chair came down. I hadn't realized that my mother still had it, although I should have guessed, considering she still had the crib and cradle from when we were babies.  This high chair was used for all four of us children. Considering that the youngest of my siblings is now 35, you can imagine how long it's been up there in the attic. I can't imagine a modern parent considering using this for their child. They would have a heart attack and die; no safety straps? It's wood! Full of germs! And paint! It has paint on it!

It's true. The tray was painted. And as you can see, most of it is now gone. My Grandma Helen loved to paint...she did rosemaling, but she also liked to paint animals, birds, nests, flowers etc. There were two capering bunnies on this tray. One was a girl bunny wearing a pink bonnett pushing a little red wheelbarrow full of flowers, the other was a boy bunny wearing a red ribbon around his neck. Sadly, she must not have put some kind of protective coating over the painted bunnies and it all got rubbed off.  Again, I can imagine the horror of modern parents when they think of children eating in this high chair, but we did. And nobody ever fell out of the chair either.

Since it had been quite some years since I had actually seen this chair (probably 30+ years) I was surprised  when I looked it over and realized that this chair was probably already quite old when my parents acquired it. I had never known that the high chair we used was actually an antique. I flipped over the tray and found the stamped label on the back. The  Lehman Baby Guard Hi-Chairs were made by Lehman Furniture in the late 1930s. Later they made children's furniture, like desks, and also doll furniture. Sometime shortly after World War II the factory suffered a devastating fire and it was never re-built.

My parents were married in March 1968. My mom had recently graduated from college with her nursing degree and as was typical of the times, still lived at home with her parents. My father was in the Marines and had been stationed in Okinawa, Japan for over a year. He was due to return stateside in March 1968 and had a two week leave before he had to report for duty in North Carolina to finish out his enlistment. Their wedding was scheduled to take place during that two week period. My mom told me later that when they got married, pretty much everything they owned fit inside the car that they drove down to North Carolina.

When they returned to Wisconsin a year later, they rented a tiny house with 2 bedrooms and one bathroom and a miniscule kitchen and living room. This was where they lived until 1973 when they built the house my mom still lives in now. My older brother was born in 1969 (and me a year later in 1970) and I'm sure the purchase of this high chair was at a rummage sale, like most of the other furniture and clothes that we had at that time, since my parents had very little money then. I'm sure they never even knew the chair was an "antique" and were probably attracted to it because it was wood. My dad, being a woodworking hobbyist, loved anything that was made of wood.

Since my family has very few 'family heirlooms', it seemed a shame to sell the antique chair, so I decided it should come home with me. I've cleaned it up a little and right now it's in my dining room!

One of the other things that I appropriated was this big Ball jar. My mom used to make lots of preserves and has a root cellar that is full of canning jars. She is going to sell most of them, but I saw this one and wanted it.

Another item that I had always admired and which she said she was going to get rid of is this ironstone chamber pot.  It had belonged to my stepfather's mother. It is marked Johnson Brothers. I gladly took it home with me also. I'd like to put it in our guest bedroom.

It has some pretty details on it and it's in good condition except for a small chip on the edge of the lid.
I'll be joining Courtney at French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday!

Thanks for stopping by!