Saturday, November 5, 2011

Restoring Theodora

DSC06912_edited-1{beautiful floral background paper & frame from Crafty Secrets’ “Creating with Vintage Patterns” CD} 

Theodora was born in a little town in Alberta, Canada in 1910…

…named for her grandfather, Theodore, lovingly raised by her parents, surrounded by two older sisters and two adoring younger brothers, all of whom called her “Dody”…

{Theodora, at 21 months old, 1912…with her older sisters, Ann & Mary}

…so beautifully photographed all throughout her life…


I really don’t know much about this great-aunt of mine, though she passed away just eight years before I was born…


I know that she had a very upscale dress shop in downtown Montreal in the late 40’s & early 50’s…


DSC06916_edited-1 {vintage pearl-topped pins from my grandmother’s sewing box}

I know that she was married for a very brief time…we don’t know why she divorced.  She never had any children…


…maybe this is the reason I’ve been thinking about her and her sisters so much lately…none of them had children…there’s no one else to give them a voice, is there?


I’ve come to love Theodora through her lovely portraits…I see a resemblance in her face to my wonderful Grandad, Dow…her little brother born just two years after her…

Knowing him so well, knowing his playful sense of humor, the twinkle in his eye, his loving nature…I suddenly feel I might just know Theodora a bit better than I think I do…


I found this gorgeous, old portrait in a scrapbook my mother gave me from her Dad’s side of the family  this summer…


…it’s just a mess, poor thing!

So, for the first time, I tried my hand at a bit of photo restoration in Photoshop this morning---it’s  certainly not perfect, but it’s better!  {I’ve got SO much to learn!}

Auntie Ann_edited-2

Another page for my heritage album made yesterday…


…just a simple, very feminine page to remind my family of this beautiful auntie of ours…

As often happens to me when I’m working on a family story, things coincide in my life that connect one thing to another…

I’ve been working on an old cabinet I bought for a song at a yard sale a couple of months ago…


…the poor girl’s a mess!

I wish I took pictures of her before I got started…


Built around the ‘20’s, the cabinet was painted & repainted, then wallpapered in different places, if you can believe it!  That’s what’s causing me the biggest headache…removing the old wallpaper that shouldn’t have been put there in the first place!

After working on cleaning up Theodora’s portrait this morning, I headed out into our sunny courtyard to work on the cabinet…


…as I soaked & scraped, scraped & soaked, I found myself talking out loud to it…

“Beauty takes pain, you know,” I said…we have a relationship now, she and I…


She will next be sanded & painted a lovely, soft Martha Stewart “ballet slipper pink”…just perfect for the old girl, I think…


I’ll show you pictures when I’m finished.

When she’s all ready, she will be the keeper of much of my old family papers & photos…that’s her new purpose in life…


You know, I think I’ll name her Theodora…


See you soon with something new…



  1. Fantastic post! What a beautiful woman Theodora was - you have done her memory proud!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. What a pretty lady Theodora was! This was an interesting story and I enjoyed the pictures! You did a wonderful job with her portrait. Love the cabinet you are working on too, busy lady!!


  3. Julie! You did a FABulous job with your photo restoration! Strong work! Can't wait to see the "after" pictures.

  4. I'm excited to see Theodora in five weeks! Beautiful post, beautiful idea.

  5. Hi there, loved the picture of the 3 little sad they none of them ever had a child. Cool cabinet! ;D

  6. WOW, Julie, I LOVE your posts--they are always amazing and this is sooo special! xo Cin

  7. So lucky to have stumbled across this posting. I too fell in love with beautiful photos of my childless great-great-great aunt, discovered a new world and new things about myself, and feel compelled to give her voice. Thanks for sharing the details!

  8. Another beautiful post Julie. I love the story of your great Aunt Theodora and the page you have created. I love, too, that beautiful old cabinet. How lovely. I can't wait to see it finished! xxoo

  9. Theodora was beautiful! It's so wonderful that you have family photos that are in such great condition. And that you have stories about family members to share.
    Your "Theodora" cabinet will be pretty in pink. It will definitely be a labor of love.

  10. What a beautiful story of this Theodora whom you never met but feel you know from the family ties. I love the fact you're working on the old cabinet and that will house your photos and papers. Theodora was quite fortunate you found her.

  11. this post was very interesting to me
    I live in Alberta....grew up here, my parents and all my ancestors (at one time) lived in a tiny town in southern Alberta
    Which town did SHE live in

    also, I LOVE that cabinet. can't wait to see the finished project and where you plan to put it.
    I just picked up this summer, from my parents house, a Darling little cabinet that my mom was given when she was 10....built by her dad and grandpa. I plan to redo it for our cabin. and put in it the "story" of it origination.
    soooo cool

  12. Stirling eh....actually, once you said that, I think you DID tell me that before.
    My parents and sister live west of there. Closer to Waterton National Park.
    Definitely small town southern Alberta
    How funny is that.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. I love reading your posts, they are always so interesting! I cannot wait to see how the cabinet turns out!

  15. Julie, I just love reading your posts. I got chills when I read your going to name your cabinet Theodora, A fitting tribute to her and to pass on to future generations, make sure you put her name somewhere on the cabinet. I can't wait to see it finished!
    Hugs Lynn

  16. I love her flapper hairdo!! She was quite stylish! The cabinet is lovely and vintage chic as well! :)

  17. WHAT A FABULOUS WOMAN!!!!!!!! I have always loved that bob haircut and to think she had an upscaled shop...all the more fashionable!!!!

    Hello there dearest; so nice to see you and thank you for your glowing smile and comments. I LOVE THIS CABINET YOU GOT! Old furniture is a treasure indeed. Have a great Sunday, Anita

  18. Oh! Julie! What a fabulous post of your ancestors (beautiful!) and your projects to beautify the photos and the antique cabinet! What wonderful work you have done and continue to do!
    Thanks for sharing...really love your posts!
    Big Hugs,

  19. Yes indeed, Theodora was a very beautiful girl and woman. You created such a pretty heritage page for her, and the soon to be restored cabinet will be the perfect keeper of many memories. Can't wait to see it finished!

  20. You've been working so hard on your great aunt's picture AND the cabinet. I have no doubt your cabinet will turn out as beautifully as your Aunt Dora!

  21. Just love your family stories. So glad to see you are having fun in photoshop! Your photo restoration looks great.

    Can't wait to see your cabinet done.

    Wishing you a wonderful week, sweet friend.

  22. Perfect name for
    your cabinet, Julie!
    How sad that none
    of the sisters had
    children; must have
    been especially hard
    back in the day when
    being a mom was what
    the majority of married
    ladies did. Love how
    you keep history alive,
    my friend! And may
    I say, this cabinet is
    just FAB!

    Happy Monday,
    xx Suzanne

  23. What a great story about Theodora! She was beautiful! So sad she had no one to pass down her stories too. I would have loved to see her shop. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week sweet friend. HUGS!

  24. I have just come to your Blog from Crafty Secrets and can't tell you how delighted I am to have found you. This story is just Beautiful as will be the Cabinet when finished. I am going to Subscribe to your Blog so wii look forward to seeing it completed. Your post also reminded me why we Scrapbook, I'm sure your daughters and any Grandchildren will treasure this in years to come. It is so amazing that your Mother had the Scrapbook to pass onto you and what you are doing with it is indeed very Beautiful. I will look forward with great anticipation at viewing further posts on your Blog now that I have found you.Thank you for your Wonderful Inspiration.
    Kind Regards,
    Beverley... (From Oz).....