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!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Crafty Things: Embroidery

The definition of embroidery is basically the art or handicraft of decorating fabrics or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads,  quills or sequins.

The origins of embroidery are unknown but early examples survive from ancient Egypt, Iron Age Northern Europe and Zhou Dynasty China.

Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects and household items have been a mark of status and wealth in many cultures including Persia, India, China, Japan and medieval and baroque Europe.

In modern times, it continues to be a popular handicraft and embroidery thread is manufactured in cotton, rayon and novelty yarns as well as the traditional wool, linen and silk. Ribbon embroidery is also very popular for use in floral motifs. Needlepoint is also considered a type of embroidery and is often classified as "counted-thread" embroidery.

In some of my past photographs, you may have seen these pillows in the background, or like this one below, on my bed. This pillow is an example of crewel embroidery, or crewelwork. It is the type that I most often do when I have an embroidery project.
Crewelwork is a style of "free embroidery" where a variety of embroidery stitches follow a design outline applied to the fabric. This pillow also has some ribbon embroidery. The stitches I used were mostly chain, split and stem stitches. I made this pillow to commemorate my wedding in 2007.

This pillow is older; I probably stitched this one when I was about 21 or 22 years old. It was a fun pattern to stitch because of all the French knots, which is my favorite stitch!
This pattern used mostly cotton candlewicking thread. Candlewicking thread is an unbleached cotton thread.

Look at all the lovely French knots!

The funny thing about French knots.....it was my mother who taught me to embroider, but French knots are her least favorite stitch!! I was quite young when I started embroidering, about six or seven years old. My mother would find me simple patterns to make or she'd just give me scrap muslin to practice stitches. I had first learned to do cross-stitch at age five, and then graduated to learning how to do a chain stitch and stem stitch. When I got those, I learned couching, satin stitch and French knots. It was not hard to learn at all.

This pillow was also made when I was in my early twenties. This one took quite some time because the whole center bunch of roses and ribbon is satin stitches, with long and short shading stitches also.

You can see how a satin stitch needs to be densely packed  in these roses. Also, you may notice there are plenty of French knots! 
I really enjoy embroidery, but really don't do much of it often anymore. It's very relaxing to me, like crocheting. I did have another candlewicked pillow that I made right around the same time as these, however, that one was unfortunately torn to pieces by one of my cats when he was a kitten (my sweet departed Baby, who passed on in 2010. In his youth he was quite the pillow-destroyer!)

I've suggested to my sister to teach her daughter, who is now five, how to cross-stitch. My niece is already quite the crafter at five....she takes after Grandma, Mom and her aunties! My sister worries that my niece doesn't have great fine dexterity yet, to which I told her that embroidery will certainly help with her fine motor skills...as well as hand-eye coordination! And it's fun!

What crafts do you really enjoy doing??

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Curtain Rods and Valances for the Bedroom

Several months ago I bought these pretty waterfall valances at Tuesday Morning. They were only $20 each. The original price was $50! They are a very weighty, embossed damask fabric with a pleated ruffle. There are curtain panels that go with these valances, according to the photograph on the front of the package, but the store did not have any of the panels. No worries; I was glad to get the valances for a good price and once I figure out how to finish off these windows, I'm sure I'll come up with something!
I wanted to use "fancy" curtain rods with these, so I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and picked out these brushed nickel rods and these fabulous finials to put on the ends.

The valances were purchased for our bedroom windows. Currently the windows have roller shades on them; I bought the roller shades recently to replace the fabric blinds that were left by the previous owners.

 The fabric blinds were okay, but they got awfully dusty and they didn't keep out much light. They were also motorized blinds (we have the same ones downstairs in the living room), but they didn't seem to be very high quality and, in fact, when we bought our house in 2006, two out of the three blinds in this room didn't work. We tried changing the batteries, but that didn't work, so we had to leave the blinds where they were (which was always down). It kind of sucked!  I was glad to be rid of them finally!

I haven't yet decided how to "finish off" the windows. The roller shades do let in a little light at the sides, which is mostly due to the fact that the windows have the wide, reeded molding and because these are all original windows, they are somewhat of an odd size. I have run into that before with curtains! Our windows are very long and also very wide and it's sometimes difficult to find the right sizes.
The roller shades, however, are mostly for blocking out the afternoon sun; they are insulated shades, so they are sort of thick, and because our bedroom faces south, we get a great deal of sun in the room in the afternoon and evening, which is nice in winter, but not so nice in summer!

Thanks for stopping by!!!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vintage Voice: The Writing on the Wall

This is not the first time I have found writing and dates in our house.

When you have a house as old as ours, and dozens upon dozens of owners over the last 126 years, you might expect to find some things of that sort.

The most obvious ones I have found, very early on when we bought the house, was initials and names written in the cement floor of the basement. I don't know when the basement floor was poured; it was many years after the house was built, I am sure. There is a date also, but it is partially obscured by a wall, so I cannot read it.

I also found numerous pencil marks on the underside of some stairs off the kitchen that used to be covered by plaster and lathe and were exposed by the previous owners when they did some electrical work. Some are carpenter's marks, there are also names, including the date of 1886 and also the name of the man who we believe was the builder of our house. I have not been able to photograph these; they are written in pencil and are mostly readable if you have the right light, but not easy to photograph.

This one, however, I just discovered today:

This name and date was written on the backside of the triple chimney that runs up the center of our house, all the way from the basement to the third floor (attic).  The name is "J.McNulty" and I think the first number is a "9", followed by "15" and then "04".  From our research into the house, we had already been aware that a family by the name of Joseph and Georgia McNulty had owned our house from about April 1904 until sometime in 1906. I think this was written in charcoal pencil.

The picture above I altered the contrast a little to make the letters more visible in the photo. This photo is one that I took and did not alter at all.

This is the backside of the triple chimney in the attic where I found the writing. There is a small window opposite this, which is why there is good light here. The writing is about midway up the chimney, but you can't even see it in this photo.
Obviously, I have been up in this attic numerous times in the five and a half years we have lived here, but I don't often come around this side of the chimney,although last summer I was up here looking at this chimney pretty closely because we kept getting birds ( they are always starlings) in the attic and I was trying to figure out how they were getting in and I thought it might be an opening in the chimney (there isn't). I didn't even see the writing then, however.

Today, it just so happened I was up in the attic because, once again, we have a bird in the attic and I was trying to flush it out a window that I opened.
 I was "hiding" silently behind the chimney, waiting for the bird to think I was gone, because it hides somewhere when I come up there. As I stood there, bored, looking at the roof, clicking my flashlight at the corners, sweating, staring at the bricks and thinking how old they are and how cool that they are so old.....I saw it, just like that.
It's slightly above eye level for me, but since it was only about a foot in front of my face, I was astonished when I realized what it was. I felt transported through time, as I pictured the gentleman from 1904 standing right where I was, writing his name and date, for posterity, I suppose.

It made for a fun little attic adventure; one that was much more pleasant than what I was actually doing up there. I'm still not sure if the bird got out or not; we're still looking for him.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cat Life

It's easy to see that the cats in our house are pretty spoiled.........

One of Olive and Astrid's favorite activities is bird-watching.

They can spend hours here watching birds. And with the early spring and warm weather we've had, I can open the windows so there is also sound as well.

The window perch is also a great place to nap in the afternoon sun. Astrid loves to groom herself as well as the other cats.

Any open window in the house is THE place to be..............

The window perch looks down on the back yard, where the bird feeders, squirrel feeder and the bird bath are located.

The birds also often land on the rain gutter right outside the window, for great close up views...........

Even the front hall window, with a very un-interesting view of the driveway and street can be fun, especially if I'm right outside working in the flower beds.

This extra bedroom that we don't use has kind of become the "cat room". I brought this cat tree up from the basement recently and put it near the window. A friend of Erik's actually made this for him years and years ago. It has been a favorite of both Olive and Astrid's, so I finally brought it upstairs.
 You may notice it has a hand crocheted cozy on the top 'scoop'. (I made it, using leftover yarn!)

As I said......I bet nobody can tell how spoiled our cats are.................  ;-)

The scoop is a great place to look out the window, lounge and of course, nap.

The kitty condo is actually an ottoman. It has a hidey-hole that Astrid really likes.

 When she doesn't feel like napping in the hidey-hole, the top of the ottoman works just as well.

....or the couch in the parlour......

Olive will sleep just about anywhere.......usually in a very un-ladylike position!

E.B., being an elderly gent of 15 years old, isn't much interested in bird-watching. He really likes sleeping.

Although, playing with toys is still interesting for this old guy.

When the weather is warm, Astrid likes to sleep with her tummy on the cool hardwood floor. I call her "Super Cat" when she lays like this.

Pets can be such a joy to have in our lives!
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter 2012

Well, it's already mid-April, and I am a little late posting Easter stuff, I know, but I'm finally getting back to my life again.
As you may have read in my last post, my father passed away in February and it has been a very difficult time for myself and my family, however, I wish to get back to doing things that I enjoy, as I know my father would want me to.

The mild winter we had moved into a very early spring. I already had tulips blooming at the beginning of April, more than six weeks earlier than normal!

Erik and I had a very low-key Easter Sunday; it was just the two of us this year............

               But that didn't mean I didn't set a lovely table for us!

"Peeps" salt and pepper shakers are always on the table for Easter! These are made by Lenox and were a gift from my mother-in-law.

For fun I made this Lemon "Peeptini" also......

It's made with Bacardi Limon rum, Midori liqueur and lemonade, garnished with a bunny Peep and a tulip.

For dessert, I made "Peeps Pudding"; a lemon custard pudding with whipped cream and crushed shortbread cookies on top...garnished with more bunny Peeps!

For our main course, I made a chicken cassoulet topped with cheddar buttermilk biscuits.

I called this " Marie Peeptoinette".......then she lost her head, of course!

I did manage to get some of my Easter decor from the attic as well............

My jumbo Dutch tulips are looking great as well..........they are blooming well ahead of schedule........

As are my old-fashioned bleeding hearts. I don't usually have blooms until May!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you had a blessed Easter!