Sunday, May 29, 2016

patriotic pride

My daughter asked yesterday what Memorial Day really celebrates. I was embarrassed that I couldn't say for certain. I didn't come from a military family, wasn't exposed to anyone in the military and never truly understood the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I was mortified. 

I am certain that most of you already know all of this, but if not, here goes - Memorial Day is a day for remembering the people who died while serving in our country's armed forces and Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S military veterans. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. In 1868 an organization of Union veterans established that day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead. By the 20th century, competing (go figure) Union and Confederate holiday traditions, each celebrated on different days and in different ways, merged, and Memorial Day extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service, not just the Union veterans. 

You can find many decoration events held the days leading up to Memorial Day. People are encouraged to visit local cemeteries and decorate the graves of veterans with American flags. I am sad to arrive at this information late in my life, but I plan to take full advantage of these events in the years to come. 

For some lucky reason, I have our family flag. The same flag that proudly flew at our home in Lake Oswego on every federal holiday. My dad made sure it was out on Flag Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. It's faded and a little worn, but not tattered or worn through. It is proudly flying as I write. 

Because Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May, it typically represents the start of the summer season. And given that it is a Federal holiday and most have the day off, it's the perfect reason to BBQ with family and friends. It seems, given the reason for this holiday, that keeping the menu simple would be appropriate - allowing time to enjoy one another, and to reflect on the sacrifices others have made so we may enjoy this time with our family. 

Here's our menu this year - hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw and coca-cola. I don't think it gets any easier, or more American, than this! 

Of course, if you want to get fancy, there are so many wonderful and really creative ideas on Pinterest. Incorporating the flag into the menu and decor makes more sense now that I understand the tradition of decorating the veterans graves with flags. Here are some of the cutest last minute ideas I could find.

super easy - cool whip, fresh blueberries and strawberries in a glass

Strawberry Shortcake with fresh cream and strawberries in a Mason Jar
Super easy  patriotic fruit skewers - drizzle with honey and lime zest dressing - yum!
Dip strawberries in white chocolate and blue sugar (regular sugar died with blue food coloring works)
looks like fresh berries and yogurt covered pretzels.....such an easy appetizer!

I love a good trifle, the key is having the lady fingers on hand!

Here are some free patriotic downloadable prints - click on this link for these and more cute ones!

Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday and a big, enormous, heartfelt salute to those who died while serving our country.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

new life for outdoor furniture

It was one of those perfect getaways, the weather was ideal (actually, it was 98° with 95% humidity), the lunches were delicious (actually, we ate hot dogs on the run), and the sightseeing was sublime (truly).

My husband, who grew up in Westchester County, was introducing me to the towns that dot this beautiful region. We landed on a darling village, Pound Ridge and an incredible antique store (not the 'pedigree' kind of antique store, this one had most of it's 'precious' items strewn across its lawn). 

This is where I found our patio table and chairs. 

We live in a cozy (aka, small) home on a typical in-city (aka, small) lot and there isn't a lot of space for those large, humungous, oversized tables found in those trendy catalogues - you know, the ones perfect for your sprawling Santa Barbara estate. 

It seems that outdoor furniture manufactured pre-70's was appropriately sized. 

If I could have recorded the conversation we had with the owner, I would replay it over and over for grins. He was baffled why anyone would pay $500 to have a rusty set of common 1950's iron packed and shipped across the country. "Can't you find something like this on the west coast?" Well, 'no' I informed him. He spent the next hour trying to talk me out of buying this 'perfect' set. Luckily, my husband convinced him that I was not crazy, and that I would not stop until he agreed to boxing and shipping the set to Seattle. I had to say good bye to the glass, but thought that was a fair compromise. 

I'm not sure if the romance of Pound Ridge made the set look better, or if the six months it took to arrive in Seattle made the set look more weathered, but either way, once unpacked and in our back yard, I realized what the shop owner was saying - it was a big pile of rusty iron. 

I had three choices - 

1) LEAVE the set in its original condition (which somehow looks more charming on the terrace of a beautiful home in the South of France)!

2) PAINT THE SET MYSELF USING RUST-OLEUM - which is what I went with initially - I wasn't ready to choose the color, needed when pursuing the powder coat route. If you decide to use Rust-oleum, you will need to wash the pieces down with a mildew cleaner and scrub as much of the rust and chippy paint off as you can (a wire brush is helpful). Dry the pieces thoroughly before applying thin layers of Rust-oleum. Take note: try to choose a calm, warm day to do this - working against the breeze is not ideal - trust me

My set was black iron and in very rough condition. It took seven cans to cover. I was very conflicted on the color so ended up going with Antique White in gloss. I know, not very inspired, but the set looked so clean after and the light color brightened up the yard! 

Powder coating is a process that involves properly pretreating the metal, a powder application, followed by curing the powder in high temperatures to produce a tough and beautiful finish that makes even the chippiest of wrought iron look gorgeous! But, it is not cheap which means, at least for me, you want to nail the color. I waffled, boy did I waffle, on colors.

My first thoughts went to the traditional garden greens. I love anything English/French and green garden furniture is all that! I found a few gorgeous colors in the Farrow and Ball line.

Unfortunately, because of the process, off the shelf traditional paint can't be used. This meant I had to use their colors. This added another year to my project as I kept contemplating the available colors. 

Finally, I decided, this project had to get done. The Rust-oleum wasn't really a long term solution, and the joints were rusting again. Walking into Seattle Powder Coat I had every intention of going with a green, but had a complete change of heart the minute they asked "what color".  I do this when I'm out to dinner - change my mind when the waiter comes by to take my order. Other than one questionable entree, when I panicked, this strategy has served me well. It served me well this time as well. I chose a beautiful bronze that blends perfectly with our garden. 

Dinner is calling....

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur