Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Few New Things

I recently bought one of those cool slide scanner thingamajigs and I've vowed (privately until now) to make some headway in converting the family archives, dating back to Mom & Dad's pics from the 50's. I've gotten through about 25 (!) but I am enjoying the trip down memory lane. So I added a new spot to the left called "From the Archives" and posted the first photo. The reason I was finally moved to start the project is the request we received from my cousin Allen. We were invited to a party Allen, his brother Ron, and dad Ronnie were throwing for his mom Judy's 70th birthday. Allen asked we send along any pictures of Judy that we'd like to share. I remembered one in particular that I always loved to see when someone would drag out the projector and pull down the screen for a family slide night. So I bought the scanner, dug out the first of the old Kodak carousels and got to work. Here then is Judy and her soon to be husband Ronnie, both around age 18, with Ron's mom, my aunt Millie, in my parent's dinette, circa 1959! (No, you can't see the "99 More Years" plaque but DO take note of the equally infamous pink patterned wallpaper!).

I've also posted a couple of videos from the party. These have not worked out so well - one is truncated because I didn't think to start filming until a few seconds into the performance and both are taken from a distance with my i-Phone - but if you are family they're fun to peek in on. Here's a tip: click on the caption beneath each to be taken to an external website and see the video in a larger format!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where is Spring?

That seems to be the conversation everywhere I turn this week. Sis and I were wondering today if the pervasive gray and brown all around us will ever go away. My girl at ThriftyDecorChick was determined to find it - so she created some for herself! My own attempt at making it Spring indoors, the mudroom project, is stalled (it's a paint thing). So I decided to pack away the St Pat's, pull out the moss wreath and look for a bigger visual jolt elsewhere. One of the great pleasures in a good life well lived is lazily driving around in hopes of stumbling upon some local treasure. This happened last summer when I was exploring across the river. A little sign off a secondary road announcing Innisfree Gardens lead me to a relatively small, hidden spot on a back road. From their brochure: Innisfree is "a 150-acre public garden in which the ancient art of Chinese landscape design has been reinterpreted to create a unique American garden." Paths lead the visitor "from one three-dimensional picture to another. Streams, waterfalls, terraces, retaining walls, rocks, and plants are used not only to define areas but also to establish tension or motion. The 40-acre lake is glacial, most of the plant material is native, and the rocks have come from the immediate forest." Amazing!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roller Coaster

Bad things that happened to me:
1. lost my job
2. got nailed by the irs for an $870 oversight on my 2009 return (!)
3. didn't win the lottery
4. need 4 new tires - like immediately...

And now for the ascent:
1. got asked to interview for 2 new jobs
2. met a few really sweet new people
3. watching Seinfeld
4. discovering Joy The Baker (click header above to discover her too)
5. finding Gardiner, NY (and Hi-Ho, Heidi, The Cupcake Festival)
6. Annabelle...
Okay I'll stop now. Hopefully you get the point. If you find your life feeling a little like you're on a downhill run keep a positive attitude and trust that there's a turn for the better right around the bend-and that it'll be a long one!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

99 More Years

I've spent more time today enjoying all the beautiful homes posted by so many of my blog buddies, especially Dear Daisy Cottage, who not only lets us into her charming home but takes us on tours of others' in her Florida neighborhood. No matter how finished these homes seem, I am sure each of these designers consider them works in progress. We have a vision, a plan, an idea; then we indulge in the research, the buying (and sometimes the returning), the color selection. Eventually it all comes together and then we sit back and enjoy! Except maybe that little white cachepot will look better on the kitchen shelf than the urn...well you all know how it goes. I've been thinking about my own crazy condo a lot these days. I wonder why such an ordinary house, in such an ordinary place is speaking to me so loudly. It is unremarkable but, like the perfect visual arrangement on the aforementioned kitchen shelf, it is my creation, an expression of my style, my vision. And as such it is worth the world to me. Could I find a similar outlet in some other "medium"? Yes, very likely. But this one suits me and there's so much more to do.
Which reminded me of a piece of wall art my Mom had while I was growing up (though they didn't call it "wall art" then)! It hung next to the window in a corner of the dinette - does anyone even know what a dinette is anymore? The ceramic trivet with wrought iron frame depicted a forlorn little bungalow in need of love, with shutters hanging off the windows, a raggedy fence and overgrown lawn. The caption reads: "99 More Years and It's Ours". My sister and I thought it was hideous and we probably gave Mom a hard time, mocking it mercilessly. It's only now that I realize the full force of what that must have meant to Mom and Dad, the prototypical 50's newlyweds, working long days, pinching pennies, scrimping and saving to attain the American dream of owning a house and making it a home. I get it now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Project Update

With all the drama around me this past week I thought it was time to calm things down a bit and update you on my mudroom project. I was tempted to abandon this one after getting the not so great news last week but things were already underway so I say: what the heck, go for it! To refresh your memory I was 'jonesing' for something pretty, something springy after seeing this vignette and decided to apply it to my garage/entrance/mudroom/landing pad (see the orig post here).

I thought this set of prints from Art and Artifact (above) was very nice, small but with plenty of interest and texture. But let's get real folks...I AM unemployed so spending nearly $120.00 ($99.00 plus, plus, plus if you know what I mean) for a set of small framed art is just plain dumb! I know, I know: some might say spending ANYthing now is dumb but...but...okay there is no but. Maybe it's just less dumb!

Instead I found these vintage seed packets on Ebay - 16 bucks for 8 pieces (above)! Six of the eight I think will give me the look of the original when mounted in the cheapo frames from Michaels ($15.00 for 6 frames, below). Now the frames are black and I really love the vintage-y distressed white from the original so I think I'm going to pull out my trusty paint kit this afternoon and have at it.

I also love the fact that the frames in the original are what they call "gallery-style" - there is no solid backer to the glass so you can see through to the wall. The frames I bought are not like that BUT I have a plan and I'm pretty sure that I can make them look the same with a few supplies I have in the craft closet. I'll keep you posted on that. I am now waiting for the bench I custom ordered from a woodworker on Ebay. This was the item I had bought prior to finding out "the news." It's on it's way here and once I have it this project should all come together. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I was alternately laughing and crying the other day reading one of my favorite bloggers, "Thrifty Decor Chick". She was talking about her momentary distress over the financial state of her home ( This emotion overcame her she says when:"We looked into refinancing our current mortgage into a 15-year. To do so, we had a realtor come out to the house to give us an idea of the value. The news was not good. When I say not good, I mean…not. good. We were expecting it to be bad, but not that bad." Well I have to admit to some of the same angst right about now. I am at a crossroads. Like my alter ego, "I’ve poured my blood, sweat and tears into this house because I love it, I enjoy it and it’s my passion. But I was hoping my improvements would help the bottom line a little bit too. At least right now, they don’t." Now, as I have eluded to, I have a significant reduction to my income pending and I have a choice to make. Do I stick with my beloved albatross of a home or do I instead invest in the future? This new venture that I have been working toward would give me a lot of the same satisfaction: planning, building, decorating, staging. But can I turn my back on what I've done here - incomplete, imperfect but so loved - to start anew? Had I managed to hang on a bit longer, had this economy cooperated just a little bit, I might have managed both. But alas that will not happen. Can I say goodbye to this my home, my canvas, my avocation, my friend?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Beginnings

Life in design is in some ways an all encompassing pursuit. If you love the elements of design - color, proportion, scale, light, depth, texture - you have the great good fortune of enjoying it every minute your eyes are open! A silvery shimmering puddle, the beige-brown circle a cup of coffee leaves behind, the bright white highlights glinting off an old white pitcher - it all fills your senses and sparks something inside. Because of this it is a rare occasion that you are down for too long. I am having a bit of a rocky period now. Change is hard...even when we know we have gotten too comfortable (read: lazy) and we suspect our life is a bit too stagnant for our own good (read: safe) we still find it hard, sometime, to get out there, leave all our comforts behind and venture into the unknown. And then you are forced to. Luckily we always take along some of the greatest joys of our lives: family, friends and the exhilaration we feel experiencing the wonder all around us. I've moved my laptop to the dining room, savoring my second cup of coffee. I'm looking out the glass doors to the barren pots on my patio, dripping in this morning's light rain. It's tempting to feel a little melancholy, not knowing if I will be able to relish this place and this room - this view - much longer. I expect Annabelle to show up any moment. And I have to smile. I realize that whatever comes, there will be charm and beauty and lovely moments. Whether this is the time to chase that big dream, or bide our time living our average life for a while longer, this we know: there will be dreams and disappointments, choices and hard decisions, joys and sorrows. This is life.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I am making constant revisions to my blog site. I don't know if that's you guys think a blog is supposed to be strictly of the moment? Well I apologize if I am going against blogger etiquette but I need to mull things over...plan things...organize things. I make people I know a little crazy. Right now - at this point in the development - I think I am going to consolidate all my online pages and portfolios here. Some time ago I started collecting my home project images on Facebook but that really doesn't work well. I had a few different incarnations of an online portfolio for my professional work but it seems wasteful to pay for a domain for that purpose only. I've also maintained a domain for in hopes of making that an online business but my new plan is to promote it locally. So - at least for now - here's to a work in progress.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Project Mudroom

There has been a bit of chaos in my life this week, most of it out of my control. This requires action, a counterattack, if you will: I need to dive into a home project! I have the list, of course, as I'm sure you all do. Or you maybe you have several lists: the manageable projects list; the large projects list; the projects to do when I win the lottery list; the projects to do in an afternoon list. And yet, though I've had quite a few idle afternoons this snowy winter, the lists have not gotten any shorter. Now I plan to remedy that with my downstairs hallway. This manageable project is a dreary forsaken space, a tiny 2 foot x 6 foot landing pad/mudroom off my garage.

There is no natural light and a few odd bumps. When I moved in I propped an old print on the ledge, never really intending to do much more than clean up the baseboards, patch the sheetrock and paint it a nice color. Now I have determined to recreate the image of "Cheery Colors" I've posted up there to the right. As I said I am captivated by the colors and textures of that little vignette and because it is out of character with the rest of my home, I think this will be the perfect space to do it. I am in the planning stages now and will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Cleaning, Part 2 (Inspiration)

I was browsing through the new Pottery Barn catalog yesterday and found this neat take on a rotating art display. A little fresher looking than the ledge, this wall mounted peg rack serves a similar purpose and functions better over a bed. Rotate small framed images, an antique mirror, even organics. Suspend favorite treasures with rustic wire or satin or vintage velvet ribbon for a more personalized look. The overlapping mass and varied textures really give the display interest. I admit I fell into the wall decal craze in my bedroom. I have a ceiling that slopes up to 12' so even though I have a tall headboard the space above cries out for something. I think I just might make this another spring "cleaning" project!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We've had a short stint of consecutive warm, sunny days in New York this week and it has finally got me thinking of spring. That in combination with all the beautiful home/design blogs I've been reading with such gorgeous imagery, well, I've gotten the itch to redecorate. When I moved from my last {very large} apartment to my new {not so large} condo I was happy to pare down. I tend to nest too much anyway and, after living in the same place for 10 years, I had more furniture than I wanted, including many pieces bought each time to address a particular need (usually a way to store - and hide - yet more stuff). So I took advantage of my new home's smaller layout and additional storage (a whole garage with wall to wall shelving !) and put most of my stuff away. I have many pretty little things accumulated over years of travel and craft show shopping that all went into a large glass fronted storage cabinet. The larger pieces - footed Tuscan-style bowls, hammered metal trays, Navajo peace pipe, antelope skull (I kid you not) - were carefully bubble-wrapped and now live in one open storage bay. Framed photos and prints have their own carpeted bin. After living with bare walls for a few months I chose a few pieces that were just right for each room and set about nailing and hanging. I identified a couple of key locations and each season I create new vignettes for them, usually choosing from the pieces in my own private warehouse. But now, 3 years later, I am ready for something different. Damn you creative, inspiring, oh-too-productive types out there! I will keep you posted on my progress.