Behind My Red Door

Behind My Red Door

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The old and the new and the old….

For many years when working first as a teacher and later as Director of the small preschool that was a huge part of my life for many years, I took advantage of summers to get a lot of my projects around the house done. Even though I only worked part time, it was when I had time so it became an OLD habit. During the school year, I always brought home curriculum to prepare and I did many of the newsletters and notices for the school long before I was the Director. And of course there were sports and dance events to attend, school meetings, room mother duties, play dates and more for the kids. And now, even though I am no longer on a school schedule for myself or the kids, it seems like summer is still when I have the most time. I don’t entertain as much in the summer because if the heat. There aren’t as many family events to celebrate coincidentally. We prefer to travel in the cooler months of fall and spring so we don’t take summer vacations anymore. So with the extended heat waves this summer, I have been really hibernation and using my time indoors to tackle several projects. You saw my office and the dining room chairs and the dining room walls already. Those were small projects compared to what I had in mind next!

After tackling the dining room, I gathered up all my old articles from old magazines that had pictures of painted kitchens that I love. I had my plan in place to show Mr. Red Door how nice our cabinets would look all painted in a warm tan – namely Tyler Taupe. Now for those newer followers, I should add I have been attempting to persuade him that the cabinets would look better painted for many of the 24 years we have lived here. He really is a sweet easy going guy and usually doesn’t care what I want to paint, move, redo etc. But some things he just has his mind made up about. Namely wood in an unpainted state! UGH! Did you know it even took me 20+ years to get him to see the light about the dark outdated ugly 70’s paneling in our big lower level family room? YUP!! Everyone loves the room looks now that it is painted, but I am not sure HE is convinced. But despite that, I was feeling like maybe now I could FINALLY convince him. So I got those pictures ready to show him when the time was right. But before I could even show him, we had a conversation that eventually went like this.

M = Me and H = HIM.

H- why did you move the furniture all around and then move it back?

M- I wanted a change but didn’t like the new arrangement so it is on to plan B!! (all positive and excited and about to reach for those pictures and articles).

H- what is plan B?

M- I am going to paint the kitchen cabinets in a nice… (that is as far as I got)

H- Oh honey please don’t got there again? I like the cabinets the way they are!

M- But they are so OLD and dated and …..

H- And they can stay dated until I die. I like them this way! We are not painting them!

Humm… I guess this means..

END of conversation!!!

Please don’t tell me I should do it when he isn’t home, or that he will get used to it so just go ahead and paint them. That’s not my style. I respect him and wouldn’t do that to him when he is SO set against it. And like I said, I get to do what I want most of the time. In the greater scheme of life, the importance of painted cabinets comes in very low but my marriage is very high.

So after sulking for awhile, and still in need of a NEW project and change, I remembered my ‘to do list’ and decided to get to the stenciling in the living room. At one time every room was stenciled and as I have been repainting each room, am also adding back more stenciling. The stencil I chose for the living room is an OLD one I have had in my stash since the late 80’s but never used. It is from Liberty Design and is called the Newington Border. It was found in an 18th century Federal home in Newington, New Hampshire and also in a home in Strafford, New Hampshire. I like using stencils with New England ‘roots’. The paint colors I used were the Tyler Taupe from the dining room and other rooms, and Folk Art craft paint in Barn Red. I think stencils add a nice finished touch to a room without being as busy as wallpaper can sometimes be.


You can stencil an average room in a few hours and the cost is minimal.


But of course anytime a prim gal makes one small change, it usually leads to others, right? I know that you know exactly what I mean!! So I had to tweak the room a bit and come up with a NEW look. I moved my firkins over here….




because my black jelly cupboard was feeling neglected in Mr.Red Door’s office. (it’s OLD used to be natural pine and I had the gall to paint it black a few years ago!) So she came out here to live… 028

…and that meant my antique ironing board needed to be moved as well. And then a few of the small tables played musical chairs as well. And in the end, with a NEW look, we were all happy!


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I still need to stencil the long wall that is part of the hallway.


It will go all the way down the hall…


.. and all the way back to the stairs.


I hope to have the time for that soon.

I did finish the stenciling above the chair rail in the hall though. That only took about 90 minutes one morning and didn’t require a step stool or moving lots of furniture. It is a much smaller stencil but the design is made up of the same shapes as the bigger stencil that will be on the wall near the ceiling so they coordinate well. I don’t know who made this stencil or the name because it too was an OLD one that I have had it for many years and it has no printed packaging.


I know I will get many questions about where to find stencils, so I’ll refer you this OLD post ~HERE~ from last summer when I stenciled the dining room and gave some resources. And although I am not a trained expert, I did do a stenciling tutorial for what it is worth ~HERE~. It really is not hard at all if you follow some simple guidelines! So go for it! I saw this quote today and it is so true. “Whether you believe you can do something or you believe you cannot do something, you are right!”

Believe in yourself!


During this busy time, something very excited happened! The wholesale orders for the NEW magazine were shipped and now the subscriptions are being mailed!! WOOHOO!!

Kristine shipped a few boxes to Bonnie for some of the personal appearances we are going to be doing this fall (more about those soon!). Doesn’t she look beyond excited??!!!


So of course Mr. Red Door and I drove the 45 minutes to her home and I came home with some. Oh I wish I could share every page with you!

This is Bonnie’s gorgeous daughter Ashley. She is also a photographer for the magazine. She is the most charming, sweet young lady and I have so enjoyed getting to know her. It has been my pleasure to have her shooting homes along side Bonnie and I.


Sometimes I still have to pinch myself that this is real. From the first time I heard about the plans to start the NEW magazine up until now, it has been to exciting!! And I thank you for all the support and kind works as this was coming to be. I feel I should explain my role in this wonderful NEW primitive magazine since I think there is some misconception. I am not a business partner nor do I make any of the business decisions. When it was still in the early planning stages, I volunteered my help in whatever way I was needed. So though I am committed to helping Kristine and Bonnie in my limited free time with scouting homes, shooting homes, promoting the magazine and writing articles, I certainly cannot take any of the credit for the layout, styling, pictures chosen, articles used, etc. Most of that credit goes to Kristine, the editor. And even though many others submitted articles and photos, she really deserves a huge pat on the back for this premier issue.

The response has been overwhelming and Kristine has placed an order for more magazines so she is extending the deadline to start your subscription with the fall issue. Click ~HERE~ for info on ordering subscriptions, placing a wholesale order, how to advertise in the next issue and for a link to the primitive shops that will be carrying the magazine.



Today has been a little bittersweet for me. I had lunch with my dear friend Jenn before she moves to California. BOOHOO!! Jenn and I met when we both did volunteer work for a cancer organization. We met online and found out we lived just minutes from each other! Even though she is much younger than me (in other words, not as OLD) and she is not prim, we still just hit it off and have enjoyed card making and shopping and lunch out many times over the last few years. It was not an easy decision to move all the way across the country and I know she has some trepidation about it while being excited at the same time. I am happy she and her family have this NEW opportunity, but I will miss her dearly. Jenn makes some of the cutest cards you have ever seen. You can see them on her blog ~HERE~.

After saying goodbye to her, I came inside and this was in an email from another dear friend. It was no coincidence that it came today. If you read to the end, you’ll see what I mean!

“I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.

I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy.. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return. So... while we have it..... it's best we love it.... and care for it... and fix it when it's broken......... and heal it when it's sick.

This is true for marriage....... and old cars..... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs with bad hips.... and aging parents..... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.

Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special........ and so, we keep them close! Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there. Keep them close.”

Jenn I wish you, Jeremy, Cass and Trevor a safe journey across this gorgeous country we live in, and a wonderful NEW life in California. I might not always get to see you, but I will always know you are there my friend! PEACE!

And to my NEW and OLD fans, friends and followers, thank you for stopping by!

Warm Prim hugs, Grammee Linda

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Painting, gardening, friends, food, and more…

Greetings!! I hope you are all surviving the hottest summer on record – in New England at least! You can just imagine how excited that makes me.


Never fear, the trusty old and ugly window a/c’s are keeping it nice and cool Behind My Red Door. Here’s a peak at the ugliness. Ewwww, I get shivers just seeing that! But at the same time, I am very thankful for the cool air that comes out of it. And I am very thankful for the power that keeps them running!

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Because of that cool air, I was able to get to some things I wanted and needed to do since I was last here. Like paint under the chair rail in the dining room. As I said last time it is a subtle difference but an important one. I am slowly working my way around the house and soon all the rooms will be painted in Powell Buff and if there is a chair rail, Tyler Taupe below it as I want a uniform and neutral look in each room ( and if somehow Mr. Red Door lets me paint the woodwork someday, I will be ready. )



While I had the Tyler Taupe paint handy, I decided to paint the end of the cabinet in the kitchen to match the wall under the chair rail in there too. It is not the solid oak of the fronts and it really needed some updating and just in case Mr. Red Door ever concedes to let me paint the rest of the cabinets, I know I will like the color I had in mind! Shhh…. don’t tell him though because he has not even noticed this!


While I am talking about the dining room, I got several questions about how I painted the chairs black. (See last post). I am sorry I don’t have time to answer a lot of emails right now so I thought this was the best way to reach you all with my not so special painting method. First I used some #0000 steel wool and did a very quick sanding of the finish. I used steel wool because of all the curves and spindles. It is easier than sandpaper for something like that. I then tacked off that dust and then simply painted them with a cheap chip brush (go to and do a search for chip brush) with some not so cheap Old Century Paint in Lamp Black. It took two coats. Because the paint is such high quality, the process went rather smoothly.


And after the wall painting project, I took a few days off and then tackled my perennial garden. In the heat. YUCK! But sometimes a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. Knowing I can come inside and cool right down – I can get done what gets to be done. Even if I do complain about it endlessly.

Because all the rain storms in this area continue to bypass us – sometimes even by as little as a few miles - our town is in a water conservation mode to save the water in the town wells for drinking and bathing, and we can not use water outdoors. We have two rain barrels but that is just not enough for all my watering needs and my garden was and is suffering. I lost a lot of ground cover and several perennials. Others are really wilting. So I did what any prim gardener would do – I got creative with my prim garden decor. We also spread more bark mulch and it came out rather nicely and I like it so much that I am not going to fill in the big bare spots with new perennials now.

Oops, my little sign in front of the light post tipped over!


Much better!002










The grass in the following picture is now all straw colored. Crispy crunchy is not how I like my lawn. 029

And way over in the far corner of the yard…057


And then just when I was on a roll getting prim projects done, my iPad came a week early and I got busy setting it up. I am really enjoying it and have added several apps. I even downloaded some books to read. Yes it is an eBook reader too.


For those who asked about it, here is what the screen looks like when you need to type something. See how the keyboard is close to the front edge? I love that. And when you want to type numbers or symbols, it is one stroke away to another keyboard. I find it very user friendly. And no there is no mouse. You touch the SCREEN to do everything!


By the way, it is in the black case I ordered to go with it. It opens sort of like a notebook and holds it an angle for easier typing if you choose.


Or you can see how you can flip the flap backwards to lay flat, or forward over the screen to protect it. I think it is a great accessory.


I did find a few things it does not do …and coincidentally, they both have to do with blogging! I cannot scroll a window inside window so when I go to Google reader to check out your blogs, it doesn’t work. PHOOEY! I have to compile a list of my favorites and add them to my ‘bookmarks’ but that doesn’t show when they update so I need to find another solution. The other problem is with some blog’s backgrounds. Some of them do not show up and therefore, the words don’t show up. In fact my own blog had that problem and that is why I changed my background.

But other than those problems, I love it and use it a lot for things like visiting the APP forum.

Wait, what does that say?? It’s a post from Kristine…


What did you say? You need me to get even closer? Okay how about this??


Still can’t read it?? Well normally what is discussed in the forum stays in the forum and is not to be shared outside the forum. We respect confidentiality like that. But for this, we can make an exception and I will tell you what is says!

“Are you ready??? Subscriptions will mail IN LESS THEN A WEEK on Tues. the 27th!! WOOHOO!!

Wholesale will start shipping this SATURDAY!! We will ship from the 24th through the 27th and wholesale will go out Priority Mail.

By the end of the week, you will see A PRIMITIVE PLACE at your favorite shoppe! Check the list on the site to see where you can buy the hottest new prim magazine.”

And if they don’t carry it, just order a subscription of your own!

WOOHOO! It is so exciting. And even more exciting since I have seen the final draft in PDF format. OMGoodness. I have been on cloud nine all day and I have scoured it several times. I cannot wait for you all to see it too!


Well now that I have calmed down, I can finish this post! This week I also got busy getting ready for a prim luncheon with 3 dear friends. I had all intentions of getting a full sunflower theme going. First I got out my dried sunflowers.


Then I made matching napkin bands and place cards.100



And then I got sick with a nasty tummy virus and didn’t get out to buy the other things I had planned. When I recovered, I moved on to plan B and used my trusty old geraniums. I still think the table looked summery!


And I got out my faux cherries


and some of my dried yarrow too.


And then I got busy making 3 different salads. I shared the edamame salad recipe back ~HERE~. And then I made some chicken salad. With the chicken breast meat I used a mixture of mayo and extra virgin olive oil; seasoned it with rosemary from my deck planter, along with minced onion, celery, slivered almonds and dried cranberries. YUMMO! And the third salad was a watermelon feta salad and I based it on several recipes I found online. Cubed watermelon is tossed with cucumber and red onion slices, and sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese. I used the sweet n sour dressing from a different salad I found last year on Colleen’s blog. Click ~HERE~ for the dressing recipe. It was a wonderful combo if I do say so myself!

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My sweet friends brought bread and dessert and it was a delightful meal shared with 3 delightful friends.

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OH I am sorry, did I forget to mention who they are? Audrey, Bonnie and Laurie. Those of you who purchased the magazine will have the pleasure of seeing Laurie’s GORGEOUS home as one of the featured homes in the premier issue. Bonnie, Ashley and I had the pleasure of photographing it just for your pleasure. (And ours too!) Just to tease you a little bit, here is a teeny sneak peek at her home.

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Not enough?? Sorry!! But you’ll have to buy the magazine to see the rest!!

I think that is all for this time. WOW, this was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate each one of you!

Stay cool!

Warm prim hugs, Grammee Linda

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A little paint makes all the difference!

Instead of moaning about how hot and humid it has been here FOREVER (or so it seems to me), and whining about how desperately we need rain because those storms danced all around us yesterday but gave us less than 10 minutes of actual raindrops, and instead of telling you how much I am sooooo ready for FALL, I thought I would show you some of the things I have been working on lately. Inside. With the A/C’s running as cool as I can set them. With the shades drawn tight. To block out the heat from the sun. And I make no apologies if I don’t make sense. Blame the heat. Or lack of sleep. But don’t blame Lili. She slept ALL night and woke refreshed and smiling and full of energy and as cute as can be. Unlike me – the one who looked at the baby monitor at couple hundred times. What?? What’s wrong with that?? You know there is nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby!!

Okay so on to the prim stuff that has been MIA for awhile. For ages now, I have played with my dining room chairs. They are sturdy comfortable maple chairs made in the 1960’s and were given to us free by my in-laws some years ago. FREE! The style is not that bad actually. They are a 60’s version reproduction of Massachusett Fanback Side Windsor Chair. This pic below is from last winter. See 2 black chairs? I painted them last year and every time I took pictures I moved them around to get in the picture. The rest remained a stained maple finish.


Now this is what my dream chairs would look like. Just a wee bit taller and more scrolled at the top. The rest is nearly identical to mine. Trust me. I know.

18th century antique reproduction 
				Windsor Chairs
			 Fanbacks and Comb-Backs Mass. Fanback Side Windsor Chair

But at a couple of hundred $$$ a piece, I can’t see spending the money just because of that nicer detail. Even if Mr. Red Door would agree to them. Which he never would. EVER. Just because of that detail. So I did the next best thing and painted the rest of them this weekend. Some before Lili’s sleepover and some after. Don’t look closely and you will never know which are which!


I like the change – how about you??008

I hope that by the next time I have a chance to post, the lower walls in the dining room will be painted in Tyler Taupe instead of the Caramel it is are now. I am sure the change will be subtle but worth the effort.


And that is not all I have been up to. Inside. Where it is cooler than the equator. I mean outside My Red Door. In my last post I mentioned redoing my office. Here are pictures of the old office. Back when I was the Director of a preschool, and I needed a space for my own computer and all the work I brought home each night, Jen had just moved out of this room so it became my own room! WOOHO! We bought this huge Sauder assemble yourself desk and I painted the walls in two colors and used rulers (yardsticks) as the picture rail. I hung all my school related samplers and used my teacher related gifts for decor. It was much more country/prim than colonial but I really enjoyed the room.



But I have been ‘retired’ for 5 years now. Okay, truth be known, I didn’t set out to retire. I was only 50 and had no pension or benefits. I quit. But it turns out I am retired and so it was time to change this space to reflect me now. A retired Grammee. I wanted a softer look and a more colonial look and I decided to move most of my teacher/school related items to the family room downstairs. Now with that monstrosity of a desk, it will never be colonial but I still wanted to change it up a bit. So down came the picture rail and I painted the walls Benjamin Moore Powell Buff – like I did the living room and top of the hall this winter. Then I got out my stencils from way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s and decided on this one from Liberty Design. Click ~here~ to go the website. This is the Hopkinton Inn Border.

image You can see in theses picture from the 90’s that I had used it in the living room back then.



This time I wanted softer colors and went with a dark red, mustard and nutmeg and I used a softer touch when applying the paint. With age comes wisdom.


I got new curtains in a nutmeg color and swapped out the TV stand from Mr. Red Door’s office with my old file drawers. I like this smaller cabinet much better. 024


And I am layering my linens in mustards, black, cream and tan with a little red. I got a new cotton metalasse spread to use on the daybed since I do sit there to stitch and watch TV and read. My Family Heirlooms blanket is just not soft enough for that but I love the look. 019

Like they did in colonial times, I am using an old quilt at the foot of the bed for when I need extra warmth. Maybe in 6 months or so. Did I tell you how HOT it has been?


But even with those changes, this thing was bugging me. I have seen colonial desks that I would love instead of this, but once again, we don’t replace things just because like that. Besides, I am waiting for a new toy – more about that in a minute. 2

So I decided to paint the desk! I knew that it would not be an easy task. Because of it’s size and weight, it can’t leave this room unless we dismantle it. And it has all those cubby holes – big and small. And it is not ‘real’ wood. It is a composite laminated with a paper like substance. I was pretty sure regular paint would chip and even peel off.


I had heard a lot about Caromal Colours paint in the APP forum and at Homestead Primitives from Roger and Charleen. I knew it is supposed to stick to just about anything. In fact my friend Karen use it to take her kitchen counters from THIS:

image To this:


Yes, she painted her kitchen counters!!


To find out how Karen did it and to see more pictures of her gorgeous home, click ~HERE~. The instructions of how she painted the counters is on her kitchen album.

So I bought the Peppercorn Textured paint at Homestead Primitives in Fitchburg, MA. The beauty of it is there is no pre-sanding needed. I painted most of the surfaces of the desk. I used two coats then I lightly sanded a few edges – because it is not real wood I was cautious. I used the Caromal Colors wood toner (like stain) on the raw edges and I then sealed it with Minwax water based poly. I didn’t paint the writing surface because the paint is textured. Now it is a better fit for the office. Not perfect – but MUCH better!!



I am not an expert but there are so many more things you can do with this remarkable paint like layering colors and chipping the top color away to reveal the under color. So to find out all about the Caromal Colours paint, where to buy it in your area, and how to use it, you can go to the website ~here~. If you are a member of the APP forum, there is a whole section on the paint and different colors – click ~here~.

I hope to paint something in the mustard over black using their special chipping cream soon. I’ll be sure to share that with you when I do!

Every once in awhile, even a prim gal needs to step outside her box a little and try something new. Something not so old and primitive. Something a bit shinier. No, I am not painting anything turquoise or going vintage or beachy or anything like that. However, something came on the market recently that really caught my eye. My friend Carol got one for her hubby Jerry. About that time I had been reading about them online. Then Kathy told me Stephen got one. And I researched more. I watched a number of videos too.Then Angela and Jay got one and I got to try it in person. I was hooked. I asked more questions and Stephen answered all of them and more and then I tried Angela’s once more and I knew one would be coming to live with me. From the website:


So what is it? Well one of these little guys.


Yup, an iPad. I have wanted online portability for some time now but I HATE the laptop keyboards. Not as much as I HATE the heat we have been experiencing for what seems like years now, but I hate them none the less. Besides, Mr. Red Door’s laptop is huge and heavy and loaded with all kinds of project management and financial software programs. And it isn’t MINE. So I saved my mad money and my birthday money and grocery money and the kids inheritance and ordered me one. I can use it when Lili is sleeping in her porta crib in the family room or when I am sitting on my day bed, and I can take it with me when we travel and when we go on photo shoots. OH! and I almost forgot!! It is an electronic book reader as well! Now that was the other non prim item I have been thinking about getting for awhile because I LOVE to read. This serves double duty when we travel too. No more books in my overnight bag. Actually, I can stop carrying my hand held solitaire games on overnight trips too. (gotta keep the mind sharp you know!) See, it gets better by the moment! And it won’t weigh me down. I just wish there wasn’t such a demand for them right now because I can’t hardly wait until it arrives! To see all the cool videos demonstration the different applications and to learn more about these, just click ~here~.


I am way overdue in sharing this with you! Did you read about the fun trip Bonnie, Audrey and I took a few weekends ago? In the heat. You can read about it ~here~. When we got in my car to start out, Audrey presented me with my very own A Primitive Place tote bag that she made for me!! Isn’t it awesome?? Thanks so much Audrey! I love it!!


And this week I received something I ordered from fellow blogger Shari from Homespun and Primitives. Every time Jill came here before she moved to SC, she told me how much she loved this bonnet hanging on the early coat rack in my foyer. So on her last trip here, I took it off and gave it to her.


Since then I have been looking for one in a colonial calico print and I found just what I was looking for on Shari’s website. It looks perfect there, don’t you think?? Click ~here~ to see what else she is offering.


Well Mr. Red Door is now home from another marathon on the golf course and he is ready to grill me some dinner, so I will click publish and wish you all a wonderful week. Stay cool if you can!

Warm prim hugs, Grammee Linda