Tag Archives: the irish lady

The Cottage At Chappell Hill – Bed and Breakfast Design


Where I live and work is always a fusion of new and old.   Somehow it just happens that way.  Perhaps, it is because the majority of the properties are antique houses  with so much darn character you just fall in love instantly.  I had the privilege of decorating this quaint bed and breakfast beauty.  It is open to the public by reservation only – year round.  You can visit the website here:  http://www.thecottageatchappellhill.com/


The following photo is the sitting area of the master of The Cottage at Chappell Hill.



Here is a peek in the kitchen area where a buffet and plate rack serve as the coffee and breakfast center.

An up close of the sink area.   My client has a fantastic eye for good bargains and would find a lot of things on her own.   She would ask, “Can you use this?”   Of course I can, what great taste she has…

There was an old fireplace mantel that I had used many times for store displays.  It received a coat of chalk paint and serves as the headboard.

A view of the modern living area or front parlor as they would say in the “olden days”.   Some of the oil paintings are from local artists depicting everyday life from that era.

A view of the bath with the buffet turned sink vanity.   An old crate mounted to the wall serves double duty as a towel holder.

A bit of a bounce around, but I wanted to share the view of the kitchen with the clock because the owner’s hubby picked it out and thought it wouldn’t be used.   Here it is in a place of prominence…I loved it.

The plate rack in this photo belonged to another client who was ready to let it go.  Instead of placing it in my antique shop, I suggested it for this client.   It serves multi purposes keeping the coffee bar free of plates, for storage and it is just so pretty.  The dishes are a hodge podge of good deals found by the client.

One final shout out –   The photography was done by Scott Hill, of Brenham Portrait Gallery,  who has been shooting (no pun intended) Brenham and Chappell Hill families for years.   You can find the website here:  http://brenhamportraitgallery.com/photography/





















When you live in a rural area a porch becomes a thing of necessity and the fifth room of the house.   It can express the personality of the home and exist as a functioning extension of the home.  My own home has three porches: the breezeway where mostly shoes wind up by the mudroom door, projects sit to dry and it serves as the gateway to the garden, pasture and garage; and,

the front where guests enter and we sit in the mornings to avoid the hot summer sun that rises in the back of the house;

the back porch serves as a sitting area, dining area, grilling area, roasting area in the fireplace and downright hangout for everyone in the house.

This settee was a fabulous find from an antique dealer who let me rummage through her storage units.   She had this beauty tucked under some other things and it looked nothing like this.   With new cushions and an updated paint job, I thought it turned out really well.

The next photos are of a screened porch that belongs to a client.  We chose plush seating, outdoor lighting a minimal of accessories.  My favorite are the old swinging doors used to accentuate the space for the small dining area you will see in the next photo and to break up the screened area while still providing that country view we all love.

A smaller table makes for a more intimate outdoor dining space.

All of these porch pictures are making me long for a crisp fall day so I can sit out on my porch with a good book and a warm cup of tea.  Instead,  I will have to settle for my secret place where the sun can’t reach and there is still just the slightest breeze catching the leaves to make for a comfortable spot out of the heat with a cool glass of iced tea…relaxing.  (This was at dusk when the low lights are emerging before dark.)

Guest Post: Jim Collins, Graphic Designer / College Professor / Photographer and Soon To Be Author


This is a guest post written by my newly found cousin, Jim C0llins, who happened to be writing a book about my great great grandfather, Pleasant Bohannon Collins.    Ironically, Jim found me via this blog from a post about Pleasant written for Veteran’s Day.  After a visit at my home Jim wrote a post and sent it to me and here it is…


Pleasant Bohannon Collins was a small man… but only in stature. He grew up in Drew County, Arkansas near Monticello, the son of an Irish farmer. Pleasant lived large with a knack for participating in historic, even legendary events. But by far his greatest accomplishments were his descendants, many of whom quietly carry on his legacy of love and faith and courage.

He married three widowed women, all with children. He accepted and loved and raised those children (8 of them). He loved adopted children… not unlike God himself… and considered them as his own. God also blessed him with 10 children of his own. His quiver was filled with arrows.

He was a Godly man… known during the war for reading his Bible by the light of many campfires and for his faith and courage… cause and effect.

Last week, Pleasant influenced my life again… or was it God through Pleasant?

I am his great grandson. The Irish Lady is his great great granddaughter. We met online through this blog. Readers know this is no ordinary blog. I appreciate the quality of information and her courageous stand for the truth which she often shares. She is one talented, caring and committed Lady.

A few weeks ago, TIL invited me to spend a weekend with her (sight unseen) and to experience Round Top.

I accepted. It was my son’s birthday, so he was to travel over from Fort Hood to join us. That would be the cherry on top for me.

Then as I travelled south on I-35 from Fort Worth, a million thoughts went through my mind, mostly centered on two themes: “Those Bluebonnets are amazing.” And “What am I doing? This is so not the shy country boy I’ve always been.” Yet, for some reason, I would not turn back home.

My decision to complete the trip was richly rewarded. After I arrived and got to know the lady and son Bret a bit, TIL decided the loaded gun could remain in its hiding place. We got to know each other, seated around the breakfast table… full, rich, honest discussions… just like old times. I felt I had known her for years.

I laughed a lot and learned much. Brenham is beautiful in April. It may not be heaven, but I’m sure you can see it from there. Round Top is a lot of fun… even for a man. The Irish Lady is even more impressive in person than in print and her family is close and gracious and talented and interested in helping others. Good people! A credit to the legacy of Pleasant Collins.

My trip home included a stop in Old Troy, where Pleasant met and married my Great Grandmother and where I enjoyed a wonderful meal of amazing ribs, outstanding slaw and savory beans… sent with me by TIL and her husband… 5 star dining, at least… near the bridge crossing Big Elm Creek… recipes from her blog. It was good.

I am sure Pleasant relished the weekend. I do. Thank you, TUB.

Interesting Art and Bookcase Arrangements


There  is another living area in my home that contains built-ins or bookcases which I prefer to call them.  It’s in the room to the right of the foyer when entering and to the left of the study which does not have built-in bookcases, but furniture bookcases.  What was I thinking or not thinking when we designed the house?  I missed a lot on paper,  especially the big chase way next to the computer closet in the study that could have been a floor to ceiling  built-in bookcase.  Oh well, maybe the next owner will find it and tear out the sheet rock and put in a bookcase for the study.    Ahh, I have a rambling mind, I do, I know it.

 Back to interesting artwork.  I found this piece at a thrift shop for $5.  The ladies there raise money for a local hospital.  They seemed embarrassed that the painting  had some type of rust stain sprayed all over it, but art is truly in the eye of the beholder.  I never saw the stains.  I can only see the content and the countenance of the people in the photo.  Each face has something to say, but not to each other.  Do you see what I see?  They are traveling to a new land and they stop; they gather; they…

This painting is part of the built-in of the room I described above as well as few other collectible pieces with meaning.  Old oil lamps, a chalk buffalo and old man shaving mug given at carnivals way back when, paper money from the San Jacinto Monument museum bought on a field trip, a silver tray, photos of my sons,  a book about Abraham Lincoln signed and owned by a doctor that knew him with a newspaper clipping of his wife’s eightieth birthday and garden party, encyclopedias like the ones my husband had as a child, airplane books that my son treasures, cigar boxes with childish tokens inside, The Nina – Pinta – Santa Maria from a field trip to see the replicas, and a few hidden things behind books and boxes to discover later.  It’s all very personal and hopefully pleasing to the eye of others when arranged well.

The Art of Arranging Built-Ins and Bookcases


Here I am with Photography by Jim Collins – my cousin thrice removed on my mother’s side (that’s a southern thing and who knows what twice and thrice removed means anyway, but is sounds friendly and familial to me ).    When he took this photo I had been posing in front of the fireplace in a typical “here, take my picture” pose.  Then I asked him to take some photos of  my built in bookcases so I could share them with you on my blog.  I noticed some decorative accessories I had hidden behind some books to find a spot for later so I picked the pieces up to get them out of the way for the photos.   Well, Jim caught me in my element  pondering a special place for these unique pieces that I am planning to use for Independence Day – eagles and a patriotic candy dish.

By the way, this is a big deal!  I can’t stand to look at photos of myself let alone pose for photos.  I hear my mother’s story over and over in my head, “You were the ugliest baby.  It took me ten days to name you.”  Please, please never say that to your girl child even in jest.    Anyway, enough about me and my ramblings;  please enjoy Jim’s beautiful photography and the art of arranging followed by some simple design rules to follow so  that you can arrange your own built-ins or bookcases.

 This is in my great room adjacent to the fireplace.

Eight Simple Rules for Arranging

1.  Collect your favorite pieces:  framed family photos, artwork, glassware or pottery, greenery, candles, etc.

2.  Books are anchors for design.   In our case, we read all of our books.  If you are not a reader you can find books that have beautiful spines or colors that compliment your decor and style.

3.  Take some shelves out if possible.  You don’t have to have each side match in measurements.

4.  Hang artwork on the back wall of built-ins or even on the front facing if it doesn’t detract from the main part and works well with your arrangement.  Place something that is three dimensional on the wall such as a planter or sconce that has simple greenery.   Don’t over power with flowers or if using flowers stay with a muted color palette.

5.  When arranging your pieces use a pattern such as:  left , right, center.  You can accomplish different levels with your books by using them upright or by stacking.    A safe way to begin arranging is to start with your books in a pattern and then do the reverse for multiple shelves going down in a  right, left, center pattern  or mix the pattern up.

6.  Use larger pieces to draw your eye to the pattern position, but never repeat on the next shelf so that your focal point does not compete with the next focal point on the the shelf above or below.  In the case above, you will notice this  is accomplished on the right section with artwork center, left, and then right at the base of the shelf.

7.  Use glass to reflect light in any arrangement.  Glass will blend old and new pieces making them come together when they seem they come from different design styles or eras.  I love old and new and this sometimes can be difficult in new construction or the reverse in homes with age and character and trying to blend new styles and trends.  Glass has a way of bringing all elements of design together.  Candy dishes always draw me in because I can place battery operated tea lights, bath salts or colored beads to unite special pieces together.  Rarely do the candy dishes get used for actual candy.  They are my peace broker for all things.

8.  Add little details into the patterns of books or large focal pieces like framed photos on easels or decorative boxes, bottles, candle holders and then use further details such as tassels or embellished candles in or on the candle holders to add further dimension.  As I mentioned above, I am a fan of  electric tea lights for an amber glow in the evenings…just a little somethin’ somethin’ to add interest.

 As always, the art of arranging is to compliment the style and character of the home, but mostly to reflect the taste of those who live there.  When you combine the two successfully the art of arranging has been accomplished for everyone to enjoy.

New – Irish Lady Antiquities and Such at Hermann’s Antique Mall


The Easter Bunny Has Arrived

With Baskets And Goodies For All:



There Is Silver And Blue;


A Kitchen, Too;


And, Don’t Forget The Cowboys Or They’d Be Blue!



All at

Hermann’s Antique Mall

Alamo Street

Downtown Brenham, Texas

Ask for the Irish Lady’s Booth

“What Spurs Me On?”


“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”, implored the writer of the book of Hebrews in the tenth chapter twenty-fourth verse.   Thinking of that verse today had me asking, “What spurs me on?”   Quickly, I went through the last few weeks and realized there were others spurring me on and for all of you I am truly grateful:

Thank you to my oldest son for letting me know why you received an “A” in your speech class.  When he was assigned a speech, with himself as the subject, he could have easily spouted off about himself.  Instead, he talked about his parents and family: our trials, life, death, homeschooling and how proud he was that his parents have stayed the course through it all.   I could not have received a better compliment than knowing that you have been watching and we haven’t done too badly.

My stepmother, who sent a small note, letting me know you consider me your own daughter is a tremendous act of love.  The handwritten notes in  cards and letters, from friends and family to let me know that you care,  have meant a great deal and the timing was impeccable.  Phone calls, emails, text messages…these are all acts of love spurring me on.  Thank you so very much for thinking of us.

Then, there is this grinning little girl, a gift from my sister,  who loves me and stays by my side all day long.

Finding inspiration from magazines to remind me that spring is coming and the possibilities on the farm are endless.   Fancy chicken coops and lady bugs have me planning building and gardening projects.  Clothing and jewelry have me motivated to eat right again.  All this is possible because some caring strangers bring their old magazines to the Brenham library and leave them in the vestibule so you can take them home.  What a blessing!  I would not have found spring so easily without old issues of these lovely magazines to remind me that it does exist and is just around the corner.

Lastly, but not least, thank you to my youngest son for reminding me how to resize, upload and get this thing working again.