… That Time Has Tried

i like old things, sepia.jpg

My grandmother (McKenzie) enjoyed framing and reframing things that touched her, made her nostalgic or happy. Every season or so, on different walls, a new item would pop up.  This was always one of my favourites. From an old tea-towel with calendar below, she cut off the top because she loved the old barn in winter (as do I – it reminds me a lot of the red barn her husband and I built together for my pony when I was 10!) and she loved the verse, which is of course what that whole side of the family thinks about “old things.”

“I like old things that time has tried

And proven strong and good and true

I like old things, they have a depth

Unknown by anything that’s new.”

Simple. Straight-to-the-point and exactly what my china-collecting, antique-refinishing, old-book-reading family has believed for many generations.  And I’m so glad this love of characterful items and buildings has been passed on to me.  However, when something CAN’T be genuinely antique or old, I’m not beyond having a good replica, to make me pretend the charm of the originals is within and about me.  And that’s the case for the lovely additions you’ll see next:

This week we got the 2nd piece-de-resistance of my Blue Belldon kitchen.  Twenty-five years ago, on my first farm, I had an 80-year-old cookstove brought in that I loved, but never got around to hooking it up due to the certification and repairs and insurance.  Plus, it was a monster, which is fine – if you have the room.  The kitchen at Blue Belldon is much smaller and thus needed what I remembered both the Elmira and Heartland companies offered: a small replicated model called “Sweet Heart”.  So, I’ve been keeping my eye open for a used one, and sure enough, just on the eve of a trip to Fredericton (2 hours away) there it was! It’s only about 30 years old and barely used.  And right in Fredericton!  So Richard and I both loved it at first sight, and bless him, he made a special trip down a few days later and brought it home.  It isn’t hooked up yet, but this time, once all the renos. behind it are complete, it DEFINITELY will be.  I enjoy baking my bread every 2nd day – but it will be heaven and TASTE like heaven, doing it on this new/old stove. (The photo to the right, taken 25 years ago, was on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, just below a photo of Alanis Morissette… but that’s all a very long story indeed. You’ll have to pay extra for the facts behind THAT tale! )

Another “replica”, if you like, is the very trendy ‘barn door’.  In the summer, I found one in the barn that had been left by the original owners.  I needed a door to separate Mom/Joy’s upstairs from our downstairs living quarters, but I needed it to have a window to let light in to the darkest part of our pantry/hallway/mud-room.  So when I found this in the rafters, I was delighted.  Pulled it down myself and repainted the one side to match the kitchen ( “replicating” the chippy-paint so popular with shabby chic lovers at the moment, whereas the other side, in Mom’s entry, is actually REAL chippy paint, and likely LEAD paint – so I’ve left it alone for now. Will likely get it professionally refinished down to the bare wood at some point).  So, having that door installed in the kitchen pantry has made me pleased (a start at getting rid of the god-awful 1970s dark-stained hollow doors! that do NOT fit in to a country property! The upstairs -and the one I removed from there and put on our downstairs master bedroom, are lovely original old doors, but the downstairs was FULL of those 1970s things.)  But what about a door from the hallway into the living room?  There is no space for a door that opens, so we found the perfect solution again: a “barn door kit” at Kent Lumber!  Because Fixer-Upper-type shows have made this recently such a popular and trendy ( trendy? ME?) addition to houses of any type today, we lucked out.  Richard installed it, I stained it, and we think it looks great and is a feature! (Besides being handy to close for privacy for guests on our davenport, to keep heat in from the fireplace when we’re trying to be restful and cozy, and to keep dog and cat OFF the davenport during their sneaky night-time hours!) Click on each photo to make larger:

And lastly, Richard the wood-working wunderkind has finished the one side of the library shelves I wanted in the living room (other side of fireplace will be done similarly “in due course”, I’m told!)  to hold all my antique books and some of the pottery for our dining room (also in the living room) dishes.  Isn’t it marvelous?

The built-in floor-to-ceiling library shelves Richard built for our living/dining room.

Here are some additional lovely shots from this past week. Be sure and see the bottom of the Thanksgiving Thermals post as well, for more from that particular lovely weekend of scenery and fellowship.

And lastly, for this week – now that a lot of the pressure of getting renos. done before fall visitors, and getting the harvest in, Richard’s catching some ‘zzzzzzzzzz’s on the chaise longue.  Remember what I said at the beginning:  “I LIKE old things that time has tried…”



The Dutch Door Diva

Richard is a dichotomy.  Pippi  is both procrastinator, and perfectionist.  When I first met him, we’d planned, because of our mutual love of renovating, decorating and wood-working, to do a series of fixer-uppers and flip them. We did ONE.  And I had to take a year-long break in Scotland to force the final stages out of him at that!  We DO, as you can see on Rural Revivals’ Renos. web-site ( http://rusticrevivals.wixsite.com/ruralrevivals) still harbour hopes of designing and re-doing small country spaces as a part-time hobby, but for the most part we are just concentrating on Blue Belldon Farm.  This is because Richard takes 3 times the amount of time needed to do any job/project.  Mind you, when they are done, they are done very, very well…

The same can be said for the Dutch Door. Since looking to rent a property in Burnsall Bridge when I first taught in England in 1997, I have harboured dreams of having a Dutch Door in my kitchen the top of which can be thrown open to the rolling meadows and daisy-butterfly summer morns.  Perhaps it even goes back further, to when I was 13 and my grandfather McKenzie and I built a small, red,  two-stall stable for my pony. He had Dutch doors on it, but with the “X”s  facing IN, to  which I always objected, as that wasn’t what it looked like in any photos I saw of horses looking over their stable doors! They were made out of quite flimsy plywood, too, and as I progressed from pony to horse, they used to get kicked off in the long cold winters when my poor beasties were bored to death.



When I had my own riding stable in the Ottawa Valley, from 1988-1996, I made sure we had the “X”s facing OUT  and that they were a lot stronger to hold the horses in, and the bad weather OUT!  They were lovely:

a-stable-life            Goldcreek Farm’s Overture with me, age 26. Behind, the “Dutch” stable doors.

Then, I moved to England to teach high school. It was in inner city Leeds, and I knew I’d need to live in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales to compensate for that, so I looked at 3 places to rent about an hour’s bus-ride out. One was in the gorgeous Burnsall Bridge, to which I’ve since returned many, many times .  The cottage had a little blue stable door in its kitchen and that was in 1997, and I’ve dreamed of having one ever since!


So now, at Blue Belldon, the  Dutch Door Dream begins.  I imagined, even by Richard’s m.o. and standards, it would take about 10 days. I mean, it’s only a DOOR, for Gosh sakes!  ………It’s been just over 6 weeks.

If you’re interested in the whole process (ie: you or someone you know will make you one), click on each photo to read caption. Otherwise, continue scrolling down!

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This is the finished inside of the Dutch door, which I stained to go with the pine wainscotting, then distressed to make it look older and more worn. NO varnish or shellac! It’s not eco-friendly, and the shiny look certainly doesn’t help anything look ‘old’!
Richard shows off the hardware we purchased online. It’s hammered steel, and while he had trouble figuring out the bolts and latch, it works a treat now!
Finally, after 6 long weeks, the DIVA finally has her Dutch Door! Love it, and the front porch is truly my favourite place to sit on the whole property!
In case you’ve forgotten, this is the glorious view from that front porch!
So easy to just throw open the top half for a breather from canning/preserving/baking/cooking, if I like, or to grab some herbs from the herb garden (see prior posting of the way I recycled some of our kitchen drawers on the front porch for this).
Richard enjoys a well-earned rest on the front porch whilst I beam happily from within. The long wait has been worth it!