I See London, I See France Part 2

Claude Monet Gardens and some design inspiration 

This is part two in my I see London, I see France installment, you can read part one HERE.
I mentioned in part one that I would share one of my favorite places I visited on my trip, and here it is! Claude Monet's gardens is one of the prettiest places I've ever visited and it was full of inspiration. I took many pictures and had a hard time deciding which ones to share. 

There are actually two gardens, one is the Japanese inspired water garden and the other is a garden that sits in front of the house called Clos Normond. 

This beautiful bridge is over the pond where Monet painted his famous Water Lily Pond painting. There are beautiful wisteria all around it, and that would make a great spot for engagement photos. These were planted by Monet himself. As a matter of fact, there are many spots here that would make an incredible backdrop for photos. The bridge has some gorgeous aged wood with a lovely  green accent on the rails. You will see that bright green color used around the house and gardens a lot. 


Here are the famous water lilies he used for a series of paintings. He was apparently obsessed with Japanese culture which is why you see it used as an influence all over his gardens. 


Theres were a few Japanese maple tree's in the garden, I counted at least three. I have one in my front yard as well. They are very pretty and grow in interesting ways. My kids like to sit under the one I have in my yard. 


This is one of a few walkways the main gardens has and is full of many different types of plants. When is was restored in 1977 they paid careful attention to what was originally planted so they could recreate how Monet originally designed it. 


This flower, called an allium was my absolute favorite thing in the garden, it almost looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book. I want to find a way to incorporate them into my garden, maybe not real ones as they may not grow in my area, but I may try a DIY lawn ornament project. 


I was tickled pink to see several plants that I have in my own garden, including these beauties. They add a pop of color to my front porch and compliment my turquoise front door well. I got them on clearance from my local Home Depot, and they are perennials so they come back every year. Unfortunately they are dead right now because its been hot and we didn't get a lot of rain. Plus I have a grey thumb. I say grey instead of black because I manage to keep some things alive. 


I found the colors used on his house very interesting. It's a very happy palate and even though it isn't muted it complements the gardens nicely. We got lucky and our tour group was the first in, so we had about 20 minutes before it got crazy crowded. 


I did not get many pictures from the inside, but I will share a few in a later post. I did share a couple on my Instagram and Facebook page if you want to check them out.  

If you ever visit Giverny make sure you check out Monet's Gardens. For more information you can check out their website

Where is the most inspirational place you have traveled? Let us know in the comments. 

    

I see London, I see France: Part 1



Life can be full of surprises, you never know what can happen or where life can take you. It can be good surprises or bad but either way you have to be prepared and adapt to change. I feel like my life has been full of changes and surprises the last year, both good and bad. I have had to make several changes in both my business and personal life but I will delve more into the business changes in a later post.  After a year of some pretty negative things, I got the opportunity to experience something amazing.



My dad called me one afternoon and asked me if I would like on a river tour of Europe. I had to stop and think about what he had just said to me, because it was not registering in my brain. When his words finally did sink in I, of course said Hell Yeah I wannna go!!! He told me the dates, and that it was going to be him, my step mom and step brother, and his girlfriend. My sister could not go because she was moving to Costa Rica and was not sure if she would be able to make it. She actually has a blog, if anyone wants to read about her journey you can find it HERE.

So here I am, a little over halfway done with our trip, and I feel relaxed and inspired. I don't think I realized how bad I needed a vacation until I was here. Im sitting with my parents and a couple from Canada, having cocktails while the boat is on its way to Conflans. We are waiting to have dinner, which tonight will be a multi course tasting menu complete with wine pairings.
 I cannot remember the names of most of these dishes, but boy, where they amazing. The one below is a quiche Florentine, and the trio of deserts included blood orange ice cream, which was also very delicious. Im a foodie, I LOVe good food and I like to try new foods whenever I can.


 This was the first time I have ever been to a tasting, and it was a pretty great experience. Being France and all, you know we had to have a cheese plate in the mix. I tasted several new cheeses I have never tried before and it was all very good. 



I am not trying to be a salesperson for this cruise line, but it is amazing. It is basically a five star moving hotel. There is no packing up every other day and taking a long bus ride to a new town, the boat moves while you sleep. The food is also incredible, and I will miss having a waiter top of my wine during dinner. All in all it has been an amazing trip, full of inspiration and new adventures. I have seen so many incredible things and learned a lot about the way people live in Normandy and London.

It seems that there are fresh markets everywhere in France, and people do their grocery shopping every day or every few days, and just buy what they are going to use. It is a much different concept then what we have here in the US. There seem to be an abundance of fresh local produce, meat, and of course cheese.  





It is safe to say I could relocate to France and be happy as a clam, or a mouse in cheese heaven. For now, I will use my pictures and memories to inspire me to create some beautiful spaces. You can also live vicariously through my pictures and seek inspiration from to  create in your own home. 

I will write about several of the places I visited that inspired me over the next few weeks in an installment I call I see London, I see France. The next post will be of my absolute favorite place I visited. Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where, and what inspired you about that place?

In the meantime, here is a little sneak peak of what the next post in this series will be. Can you guess where this was? 

    

Trash to Treasure: Victrola Cabinet Repurpose



 I love to take an outdated item that no one would use anymore and give it a new life and new purpose. Not only does pushes me to be creative and think outside the box but I save an ugly item from going n the trash. I think thats one of the projects that I like doing the most, finding one mans trash and turning into another mans treasure. It makes me feel more accomplished then just painting a dresser or some end tables. I feel like I literally saved an item from going in the trash or burn pile so I'm like a furniture angel. 



I cannot remember where I got this old victrola cabinet from but I have had it for at least a year, sitting in my dusty, dirty garage. I do remember only paying 3 dollars for it at the time when I bought it. When I laid eyes on it I just knew one day I would be able to turn it into something special. 


I was on the phone with my friend Serena one day and she was like why don't you come over and we can work on a project together. I was like sweet, I pulled my car around to the alley and pulled open my garage door. As soon as I opened it I saw that old cabinet and was like yessssss, this is meant to be. So I threw it in the back seat of my Corolla and headed to my blogger buddies house. Yes, I drive a tiny car still. If anyone is giving away an old pick up truck though, you can send it my way!!

During the 25 minute drive to her house my mind was racing thinking about all the wine we would drink  fun we would have working on projects together. I knew just what I wanted to do to the cabinet and I knew my blogger buddy was just the person to help, because she is the QUEEN of tools and they slightly scare me still. I mean I use tools all the time, but Im not always the best at measuring twice and cutting once. Or at cutting a straight line for that matter. 

The first thing I had to do was scrape the loose veneer off of it so I could paint it. It was chipping up in places and I think it is better to just take it off then try and repair it, especially when you are painting it anyway. It can still bubble up and ruin your finish later especially if it gets wet at all. I pulled out a metal scraper and went to work. 

I quickly realized this was not working well and then thought DUH, use the Homewright heat gun!! I have been wanted use it on a project like this anyway. 


As soon as I started using this the veneer started coming off like butter. It took me no time at all to scrape it all up once the heat gun melted the glue on the veneer.

TIP: When scrapping off veneer go AGAINST the grain, it will come off in bigger chunks and you won't get any splinters. 



Serena filmed some of this on Facebook live, and I think it took less then ten minutes to scrape all the veneer off once I started using the heat gun. I was very happy with the results, and the ability to control the temperature on it also.

Tip: Don't set it too hot or you will burn the wood, and don't keep it in once spot to long because that can also burn the wood. 



Now, doesn't that look all nice and pretty, just begging for a little sanding and some paint!! 



Next I filled a few holes and sanded it down a little. I didn't worry about sanding too much because I was using chalk paint and it pretty much sticks to almost anything. I then I vacuumed it as to collect all the wood dust and dirt, and then wiped it down.  

I had to shoot a few nails in it using my handy dandy Ryobi nail gun. I love using that thing because its cordless and you don't have the loud noise form the air compressor every two seconds. I really hate a lot of loud noises, so it makes working with tools a little better. 



I gave it a few Coates of a pretty bluish green paint, I wanted to make sure I could paint everything before I added anything to it. I didn't want to try and paint in awkward tiny spaces if I didn't have to. The next part was the hard part, and Im glad Serena was there to help or it would have NEVER gotten done. 



(I know I am dressed CRAZY)

After a lunch, some wine and a good google search we figured out how to make the X for the bottom to keep the wine bottles. We cut the wood out of some spare pure bond plywood and then I painted it. 

Tip: Paint everything disassembled if you can so its easier. You can touch up the paint after you put it together. 



 It took me and my crazy looking leggings a minute but I got it all in there. I would love to explain to you how we did it, but Im not entirely sure how we did it. It was a lot of work  but totally worth it in the end. Someone better at geometry then I can probably google how to make the X.

Using another scrap peace of wood we cut out one to fit in the top, to cover the holes from the victrola controls I'm assuming. I then covered it with a roll of cork and adding some wood trim that Serena had lying around to finish it off.




I decided I wanted the inside to be a different color, so I took the X thing bak out ant repainted it and the inside. I also added some gold accents. I really love how it turned out. You could fit different sized wine bottles in all four of the cubbies. The opening can be used for glass storage, or you could put a basket in there.  

We had it at the Funky Flea this year sell and got a lot go great comments on it. At least 6 people said it looked like something they saw on the show Flea Market Flip. I looooove that show, so if the producers are reading, Serena and I would rock at that challenge. Lucky for someone, it did not sell and we still have it, so it is waiting for the perfect person to take it home so they can have a statement piece for their home. 

    

Thrift Store Score: Coffee Table

I love when I go to a thrift store and I not only see just what I was looking for, but at a great price too. I wanted a new coffee table for my living room that had some kind of metal legs and a wood stained top. When I happened upon this ugly duckling I thought it could work, and when I saw the six dollar price tag I got even more excited. The top was not real wood but I knew I could replace it easily. It had potential and I was excited to unlock it.
The first thing I did was clean the metal rally well and take off the ugly fake top. I added a piece of wood I already had and secured it with screws. I liked that the top wasn't square but had the rounded edges. It Hobby wood, which you can get from Lowe's for a pretty good price.
I grabbed a cute stencil I had and I used part of it on the top of the wood using gray chalk paint. I wanted to add a little something something to make the top interesting. I left out the Paris part because I did not want to go overboard, but I liked the rest of the stencil
As you can see, when it is done it is kinda light, but that's OKAY, because I'm not done yet. This is just to add a little character and dimension but not be over the top. My rug is already over the top and load, so I do not want anything that will compete with it.

 The next thing I did was add a few coats of stain, Minwax was the brand I used. Its in one of my favorite colors, Caraway I think? I'm not good with names so I will have to double check that. I am digging how this turned out, it added just the extra special touch I think it needed.
I love this technique, I think it adds a layer of detail that makes it look older and not freshly painted. Some people like that look, some do not. I like older things with history, I think even if your style is modern you should add something a lil old to give it character and warm the space up. Check back in a few days for the reveal of my living room, and this stylish coffee table!!