Friday, August 7, 2015

Make time to take some time...

I'm back from my 30 days and 30 nights (well a few days early) break from blogging.  Returning with a renovation progress report and sharing a metaphorical thought provoking realization. It will all come together in my poetry I will leave you with at the end. I've really missed blogging and I will admit to leaving a comment (only one) on a friends post while I was on break. Okay, I slipped, I missed you all. Back in early July, feeling frazzled and exhausted I realized I needed to make time to take some time for me. Simple idea, not always easy to do.

Our 100+ year old barn beams have been installed. John and Paul did an incredible job with the installation. From removing the old Red Oak field seamed (ugly) beams to installing the antique barn beams it took 11 hours last Sunday. We could not be more jubilant with their appearance. Late that evening John beyond exhausted fell asleep while trying to watch TV while I sat in the Dining room just staring at the beams smiling like a Cheshire Cat.

Extra care was taken while planning the installation of our beams,
weighing in at 486 pounds, equal to sumo wrestlers it seems...
Industrial bolts, help secure them from tumbling down on my head.
Wrestling one as it plummets, I'd surely see stars and wake up dead!

Our beams came from Ohio, they were bug sprayed and put into a kiln for 72 hours. When they arrived John and I wire brushed them and applied Liming wax (Bri-Wax) to them. Afterwards we waxed them with a clear matte coat of Bri-Wax. We purchased 7x7 beams and had them cut to 5x7. But with their antique hand hewn rough cutting they measure anywhere from 7 to 8 inches in width. 

The bronze elevator piece is an antique from 30th Street railroad station in Philadelphia. Back in the early 90's John and I were working on resin castings to add to our product line when we owned our greeting card company. We went to 30th Street Station and engaged in a conversation with a supervisor who said he may just have something for us. We all went into a supply room that was housing antique pieces saved but not used since the station renovation. While our eyes danced with delight we asked can we purchase it? We were told "No but you can have it and enjoy it." Enjoy and treasure it - we do. Kindness shown through gifting oftentimes overwhelms you.

My style is all about combining the old with the new, it's what makes our home soulful and hopefully greets you with a warm hug. The elevator plaque is hung over our blackboard painted bi-fold door (that takes you down to the basement). To the right is our Stainless Steel glass front Sub Zero refrigerator, for me it really is a blending of old with new, rustic with refined, industrial combined with textural interest. It's how we live and what we adore.

In one of the old joining support beams cut outs (part of the original legacy) I couldn't resist tucking a mouse inside. Very subtle, very me. I am one who lives with antiques in a very approachable, livable way. Speaking of antiques...

While on break lots happened. Much renovation work, social fun filled events, my cutie Grand Dane turned 13, my brother Kevin spent a weekend, we attended a cousins reunion and we had a grumpy guy rear end us on our way to a funeral. Who admitted to adjusting his sunroof and being distracted. Seriously... admitted to it! We were not hurt.

We also oneday stopped into our very favorite Philadelphia store that sells unique Global antiques, artifacts and vintage things. Well on the day John and I took time out for a visit they were in the middle of a power failure, no electricity, no air conditioning,  computer down and very hot on a day that reached 95 degrees. The amazing store is called Material Culture and hands down my favorite Philadelphia spot for over 20 years to visit with cash in hand. Will source them at the end.

With flashlight in hand, on our scavenger hunt we found two incredible treasures, you learn quickly if you see something there you love never ever let it go, for someone else will appreciate it and it will be GONE! Anyhow we came home with 2 purchases. The piece I am sharing today (next post you will see the other) is an amazing Pre-Columbian pot bellied vessel. The 3 pieces sit on top of our Dining room Armoire. The 2 pieces in the back are antiques from a Material Culture shopping adventure over a decade ago. They are antique Chinese wine jars and when John and I returned home with our finds we felt the pre-Colombian played nicely with the other antique jars.

We live in a old Philadelphia row-home of verticality on 3 floors. But metaphorically it seems I've lived my entire existence with ups and downs. Struggles and victories, loss and gain. Realizing life's a journey and a climb. Symbolically perhaps the reason for me hand painting numbers on the basement steps risers. Or perhaps just because they look cool. I'm glad I did. Although I honestly feel the positions I had to contort myself in to achieve the effect has left me thinking the circus and a contortionist career is not one for me! 

Our basement that was once old and creepy has now become old and cool. The task of laundry has become a "Vera in Wonderland" acceptable/fun chore.

Oh sure we still have things left on our "punch list" to do - but all in all we're nearly done. Then we will tackle the interior basement and add a bathroom. It never ends does it?

We are French car lovers, enthusiasts and owners. Our speedometer clock from England of a Citroën 2CV has arrived and hangs over our dryer. 

Our landing is at number 6 and the steps turn, we are climbing to 12 and entering the kitchen again.

I distressed and faux painted a shelf to house a small collection of "Alice in Wonderland" style tea cups and pots. To match the faux finish of the steps the shelf has 2 inch wide stripes in a 4 part faux finish. 8 x 30 wide it greets you on the way downstairs to the laundry room.

The left outer and right outer tea cups are vintage, purchased from eBay and etsy. The wire tea pot was a handmade Birthday gift from a friend in 1980, the middle "Drink me and on the saucer eat me" is hand made from an etsy seller. The tea cup and tea pot for one is a licensed "Alice in Wonderland" product I purchased off eBay in England.

Just a close up

I just can not resist adding little mice throughout our house! Let's call him the "Dormouse".

But my very favorite tea cup is from George Cinq Paris. Real Gold stamped, beautiful cream tea cup. Borrowed from them...not stolen...a souvenir ...

The George V hotel in Paris you may remember from the movie "French Kiss", one of my favorite movies.

Every family has one, the family historian. The loyal royal keeper of the past and skillful recorder of its legacy. That position, in its precise recording of my Dad's family hierarchy of our family tree goes to cousin Barbara. For I, ever the artist, I'm always willing to lose myself in a dreamlike creative existence. I've gone through the decades correcting my own flawed imprinted past. Be it in protection of my heart or simply a need to feel one's own self importance during difficult times and events. For perhaps we all secretly desire to rewrite a portion of our own Childhood memories. Many pleasant, some not, they are recorded and stored in a vault with-in our cerebral memory that may not be revisited until many, many decades have past. Then only in a recognition of a remembrance of childhood memories that weave into adulthood that cast a presence into our future. Oftentimes emotionally life affirming.

My cousin Barbara hosts an annual cousins reunion at her Long Beach Island, New Jersey shore weekend home. Last year was the first reunion post hurricane Sandy. Sandy's fury flooded the first floor, bucketing the beautiful hardwood floors and leaving mold and devastation behind. Patiently Barbara waited for rebuilding to begin. Finally after much insurance red tape and planning the Whale and Mermaid themed beach home it is now a delightful weekend retreat.

My brother flew up to spend the July 18th weekend with us. On the 19th John, Kevin and I enjoyed a day of laughter sharing conversation while eating way too much food and as usual the wine and beer flowed. Chatting with our first cousins we exchanged stories of our family tree. That evening when John and I went to bed we decided to send our DNA to and learn more about ourselves. This was not a recent idea for us, it is one we have talked over for awhile. As many of you know all I have left in my immediate family is my brother. I have a deep longing to know more. I question and seek clarity about my ancestors. I desire a greater understanding to share with my Grands. Seeking answers I'm turning to DNA screening. I was raised believing I am 100% Polish ... We will see. When we receive our DNA results John and I will freely share them with you ... Seriously.


deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.

Below is my poetry I leave you with. the cost of the DNA test is $99.00 each

You flash back to a moment in time, one of shared emotions that helped get you through a memory clouded day.
It's then when you realize that awareness has sharpened your intuition and heightened your curiosity all along the way.

Recalling memories and stories told of past places and events, quite frankly from over a hundred years ago -
You try to assemble your own legacy in your family tree through relatives who claim these events occurred and they seemingly know.

Nowadays with the ease and accuracy in entire genome DNA testing available you read up on different sources before you decide.
Why not discover your genetic ethnicity and the region of Europe where ancestors are from, with 700,000 locations there's nothing to hide.

Having longed for a much clearer sense of belonging for so many years it all begins with salvia not a swab of our cheeks...
Sending our DNA and anxiously awaiting our ancestors history and discovering unknown relatives - we will be patient for the next 4-6 weeks.

© Vera

Blogging you develop many personal friendships along the way. One sweet friend is Carol from the blog Art and Sand in California. In a vintage camera image stamped canvas pouch with these words on the back "Capture every moment" 3 beautiful heart shaped stones arrived while I was on my blogging break. On a day when I could use a delightful surprise Carols gift sweetly touched my heart. The middle White one is from her vacation with hubby Steve to Hawaii and is Coral. Thank you Carol.

See you in two weeks,

Source for our beams:
Source for my favorite Philadelphia store:


  1. WOW, everything is looking so good - love the beams. Sometimes we just have to stop and take care of other things - like taking a break from blogging.
    Loved the story about going into the Antique store in the dark. Great finds.
    Have a wonderful weekend and I do love elevator antique.

  2. I'm still on a blogging break, but one by choice. How lovely it has been to visit your latest posts, to garner a wee bit of inspiration from you laundry room and admire your newest projects. Re the DNA test - my father had this done some time ago - no big surprises, but some interesting little quirks.

  3. Everything looks wonderful, Vera! LOVE the beams!
    so glad that you are back.
    I missed your whimsy, and magical way of seeing life.
    You tricked me with the little mouse in the beam opening! lol
    Love to you, sweet friend.

  4. Love the little mouse hidden in your new beams :-)

  5. I am FINALLY here...good afternoon Vera! Wow, there is a lot to see here! Those beams, they are the star of the SHOW! I know you mentioned that they were attached with bolts...but those things must be HUGE! What a feat of grand proportions! They look fantastic. What can I say, I am a sucker for old world charm and authenticity. These are great, AND THAT RAT in the cut-out! He looks JUST like my own Tea Rat! I must send you a photo of mine so you can see him!

    Then the steps, the antique pots, your poem. You have certainly had a fulfilling summer, as I have. Making memories, unearthing new ones and making new ones, I think this is what life is. Bravo dearest Vera. You have created a memory.

    Now off to email! Anita

  6. Loved the layers you have added to your beams, I saw them in the raw and each step along the way and I have to tell you how amazing everything has turned out.
    You home sweet VERA is all you, your personal stamp is on every wall, floors, ceilings, steps, it is such a fun home, and I know when you go to sleep at night you can't wait to great your morning with a HELLO HOUSE !

    Those beams match to non other out there, you have chosen the best and it so has paid off with all the rustic beauty it has added to your space of culinary space.
    The sweet mouse has found a perfect place to wait to run down the walls and still a bit of your gourmet cheeses, perhaps a taste of your cheese cake :)

    Oh the laundry room. Cannot be overlooked, how fun will it be to do laundry in a space now that inspires doing it at all, I would look for reasons to wash something if I had such a fun space, maybe even sit in the French chair and wait for it while I take in all the fun you put into designs.

    I will be back in email later....
    See you soon,

    Oh I am starting a beach cottage a small sweet place that looks over the sea in Corona del Mar, it will be filled with all my thoughts of slipping furniture pieces in Greys and creams, pillows of sailcloth and touches of black, the beams that were original to the home have now been painted white, and the walls white, and the original wood floors sanded and stained a walnut tone of grey washing in a milky grey wash.

    Looking forward to sharing with you more.

    Such a home you have that calls out to love it now more then ever.


  7. Hi, Vera. The beams are stunning, and the mouse hidden in one is precious. I love the quirkiness and whimsical nature of it all, as well as the blue on the laundry appliances. And of course I love the AIW teapot. So neat. Still not back from trip, and enjoying Paris now. Su xoxo

  8. Vera you have been one busy lady! The beams are incredible. I can't imagine having to hang those monsters but they were so worth your while they look so natural. I didn't know that you could do DNA testing like that. What a wonderful idea for you. I get wanting to know who your are. There are many loved ones out there that have pasted before you that I'm sure have given you the prompting to follow through with this. A little secret that I will let you in on. I am a Sensitive Em-path. Many people are not open to that sort of thing so I don't tell everyone. But I know you are one that is. Some day we will have to talk about it in a email. Maybe I can help you a little with your ancestors. So glad to have you back! XO Jo

  9. Oh Vera where to begin. First let me say I loooove the beauty of the beams. They were so worth all the hard work and wait. They are stunning. That elevator floor marker piece is well just over the top wonderful. My heart started to beat just a little faster to see it hanging in your home. What a wonderful treasure to own. All the floors and people that rode up on that elevator and each floor counted. Such history. They say death, taxes and laundry happen so why not have a beautiful space to do the laundry in. You have achieved just this space.
    Beautiful. Love your sweet collection of words in the poem. Your heart spills the prettiest thoughts. So happy to see you back and posting. I cannot wait to see the results of your DNA. How exciting.

  10. Vera---I've MISSED you! Even emails...of course, that kindred spirit stuff that keeps a thread between us. My arm is so sore right no. I can only simply say you and John have done and outstanding job-a labor of love and time. Those beams---I will take you advice on using reclaimed wood, I want my open shelving at the lake to be perfect!

    I will do a better job at responding to your posts once the arm heals.

    Love to you, my friend.

    Jane x

  11. Oh...your poem is just wonderful---you always express your life and all of the trials and tribulations so on spot. This was fabulous!

    Jane x

  12. ahhh, this post is so full of wonderful things. As I read your descriptions of your home, I can almost see it all in my mind's eye. You are so good with words.
    I love your majestic beams...they are lovely and add so much character.
    I'm glad you enjoyed your brother;s visit. I, too, have only a brother left from our family. Lots of cousins but they all are scattered all over the place.
    Good luck with the DNA...I had no idea your past could be detected thru DNA.

  13. Good morning Vera,
    The beams give your home such a beautiful touch.. And I am tickled by the sweet mouse hidden there..This is something I would have done..Your steps are wonderful! When I think of the difficult positions you had to be in to refinish them my back hurts.. But on the plus side, it was worth it... You have achieved whimsy and beauty...
    If I had a laundry room like yours I would actually enjoy the task of laundry day. Love your ~Alice and Wonderland Tea Set~ and the shelf is such a magical welcome that takes you ~Down the Rabbit hole ~ to the laundry room..
    You have been missed, and I am so happy to see you here... Thank you so much for sharing your beauty, and also your poem.
    blessings dear friend,

  14. What an amazing kitchen redo, Vera! Those beams are awesome! What history and wonderful patina they have. If only they could talk, right?:) I am so glad you enjoyed your break and time with family. Hope you got all rested up, sounds like a much needed break. I want to get back into blogging, I have really missed it! Love your home, so many interesting details and so much character and charm!!

  15. Oh, Vera, finally finally finally! I want beams tooooo! They are soooo divine! What an effect, how dense the atmosphere, nature is growing in, ohhhh, so wonderful!
    And the MOUSE!!! It had to be there! No other way :))))
    These beams and the stone (this kitchen soapstone, or how is this called?), they are like a start to something real new, like a cristallization-point, from where changes take place... more and more. Ohhh, I love it.
    Vera, I huuug you, Oh, you can be so proud now to have these magical beams, I am so happy for you - in love, Méa

  16. Welcome back. I love the rustic touches, Vera. I knew it would turn out beautifully. I'm happy you enjoyed family time. We all need a break every now and then.xoxo

  17. Vera, your beams looks very nice in your house, and I really like the color, it's so charming. It sounds like a lot of work, but they look wonderful. Although that wee mouse might freak me out every time I pass by. You see, I have a fear of mice and rats, Yikes! Learning about one's ancestors is so special. I enjoy learning all about my ancestors and my loved ones from the past. The heart rocks are sweet, and I love that white cup with the tea bag on the side.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer days, Vera.


  18. I have missed you!

    Your beams are lovely ... the numbered stairs make me wish I had stairs ... the elevator piece is fabulous ... the little mouse tucked in the beams is genius!

    Thanks for the shout out!

  19. Your kitchen ceiling beams are absolutely spectacular, Vera! So much hard work and thought has gone into your renovation, but every choice and decision has translated into a great deal of satisfaction, I'm sure. Of course I'm loving the steps you painted that go down into your wonderful laundry room. You also have such amazing pieces, like the elevator dial, to set your home apart.
    So glad you're back,
    Mary Alice

  20. It was my pleasure to host the reunion, we'll do it again next year, God willing. I will be interested in learning the results of your DNA testing, I've been curious too.

  21. Vera I'm so glad you're back from your blogging break and ready to share more of your renovation with us! I simply cannot stop staring at those beautiful wood beams and just thinking about the difficult installation process. That is some feat! I gasped in delight when I spied the cute mouse tucked in that little niche in the beam. She almost blends in with the color of the wood and it's the perfect spot to hide quietly and watch the goings on in the kitchen below! Those numbers on the stair risers fooled me for a few seconds, I thought you had photoshopped them into the picture for some reason! Then I realized that they're actually painted on the steps. I love that idea. So glad you included a close up of the darling Alice in Wonderland teapot for one and the drink me cup...I was straining to get a closer look at them until I realized that the next photo had a larger view. Aren't DNA tests fun? I had one done last year and was quite surprised to find that I actually have very little spanish blood and much more Italian heritage. I had always thought my mom's family was largely spanish. There's even a drop or two of Oceanian DNA. Who knew?

  22. Love, love, love the beams! They look amazing! You have gotten so much done,
    and I love it all. The stairs, your antique finds, your poetry, ... all.

  23. Love, love, love the beams! They look amazing! You have gotten so much done,
    and I love it all. The stairs, your antique finds, your poetry, ... all.

  24. Yes! The beams are wonderful. They add so much character to your beautiful home. I love them. The stairs turned out so well. Oh, everything is delightful. French Kiss is one of my favorite movies, too. Your antique jars and vessel are splendid. Well done, Vera. Hugs, Nancy

  25. Dear Vera,

    So much magic in this return to blogging post, debuting histories of people, of buildings, and of wooden beams! How beautiful and cozy are your cubbyholes, both the culinary and those for washing clothes, created with so much care and love, with warm honey hues in the kitchen, and gorgeous greys in the laundry room and on the checkered design on the stairs. And all the mini mice everywhere, there to greet you and your guests, with silent, but sweet smiles!

    Your poetic expression at the end, of your thoughts and feelings, is so very true, and applies to so many of us, of our own journey on this earth, about all the people who we've met, and the places that we've been to, and how they have affected our whereabouts today. I look forward to following you on your path to enlightenment of your own unique existence.

    Wishing you a sunny weekend, my soulful friend.


  26. ....just stopping back by this morning to greet all the little mice, view your lovely beams and have a cup of hot coffee with you. I hope your day is going to be a good one...xoxo

  27. That was a long break from blogging! I've never done that since I started blogging. I bet it really did free up some time. I love the beams that y'all installed. I think the DNA testing to find out your heritage is a great idea! I would love to test mine too. I've been told about my heritage but it would be nice to have confirmation.

  28. I certainly missed you but you accomplished so much and since I've come to know you a bit better---your are cerebral and need to focus on the SMALLER picture sometimes---don't we all.

    The beams are absolutely gorgeous and you know I fell in love with your work on the steps at Hello.

    I hope to get back to longer comments-what a shame when we can't respond to a well written post in all it's variety, and we need a nice email in which to 'chat'.

    Love to you, Vera!

    Jane x

  29. Dear Vera,
    How sweet of you to come by for a visit.. Thank you for your well wishes. I have bronchitis, almost finished with my antibiotics so should recover soon.. I am so sorry you are having trouble with your sinuses again.That is just so painful. I hope you are feeling better soon.

    I thought the stove may have been a reproduction, and I see that Jeri agrees with me. Either way, it was simply charming..
    Take care, dear friend.

  30. Hi Vera, Oh how I have missed visiting here and stopping by this morning is the best way to start my time back. Love the beams and the warmth they give your kitchen reno. Every detail to your redo is special and so well thought out. Love the steps. Love the little mouse. Just the perfect touch. I have a little one my mother created so long ago and he moves around from place to place, tucked here and there.
    Love the hearts from Carol. She is a very special lady and a true blogging inspiration.
    So glad you enjoyed some down time to finish and relax. It is amazing what some time away from the computer can do to refresh.
    Have a wonderful couple weeks and thank you for stopping by for a visit.
    Hugs and blessings, cm

  31. The beams are amazing Vera! I love the lime waxing you did. Just lovely! I enjoyed these photos of your home, the stairs are beautiful with the numbers.
    I love the fact that you have little 'friends' tucked in spaces and some out for all to see.
    I love family history--it gives me a sense of belonging and a path back to the past. I enjoy thinking of those who came before me and made choices that impact my own life now. Like those of my family who decided to leave their home countries of Scotland and England and come to America. My husband is very proud of his Irish decent.
    Carol's hearts are lovely. She is such a special lady and has a beautiful blog.
    sending hugs...

  32. Hi Vera! Your beams are fabulous and I adore the stairs - you have been one busy lady on your break. Thanks for checking out ny blog - I'm excited you found me and now I am a follower!! Jane

  33. Good evening!
    How sweet of you to visit today.. A new project you say? I can't wait to see.
    Enjoy your evening, dear friend.

  34. Thank you for the comment on Nel's Switzerland post, Vera. These girls have traveled to so many wonderful places, and it makes me want to see some of the world myself. I hope you have a lovely weekend.


  35. WOW! This is a long, filled with wonderful photos, inspiring post, Vera. I love so many things in your home, the antique beams, the stairs, the tea cups, the okay…pretty much everything. It has been a pleasure visiting your blog, I choose the perfect time to come over and meet you. Wishing you a beautiful weekend! Lidy

  36. Vera, sounds like you had a busy (and mostly fun) blogging break! LOVE the gorgeous barn beams and I always wanted to do numbers on my stairs (but haven't gotten to it) Yours look great! xo

  37. How sweet of you to come visit Jasper... I thought he would give you a smile.
    And yes, ice cream does sound refreshing!
    Have a great week Vera.
    blessings dear friend

  38. Good morning Vera! I am on the second day back at school for meetings, but I wanted to thank you for coming to my post. See the little German puppy I got? You and me, we love our furry friends and I still need to show you my rat that resembles yours so much! Oh, the chasm between us all, this distance, how I wish we were closer. Much love, Anita

  39. Great post. Glad to have you back. Love your new finds. The beams are just awesome! I love your stairs and your elevator piece. So unique!