Projects: Li’l Nefertiti Needs a Nursery

As I predicted would happen, my baby just turned a year old and I haven’t yet managed to make a cute place for her to rest her giant baby head. (It’s true, she really does have an exceptionally large cranium, which is why we call her Li’l Nefertiti.)

Why won't you make my room cute?

Why won’t you make my room cute?

She shares a room of a decent size with her two siblings in the manner of a British nursery, only without the nanny. The room itself is not without its charm, especially considering the fact that it was built in the budget-conscious year of 1995. And my baby has a decent crib, given to us by my sister who bought it in Belgium when she was living there. This is irrelevant, except for the fact that it gives the crib a certain caché, at least in my mind, and means that the crib is, like the Belgians themselves, small and attractive. Unlike our dear American cribs of larger proportions. (If only we would eat more frites, baguettes and chocolate like the Belgians do! Oh wait…)

It’s not just the nursery. House projects are piling up these days: stone walls and bookshelves and handmade farm tables and refinished floors and vegetable gardens and re-staining the siding and painting the trim and  treehouses and outdoor-chandeliers-on-pulleys-over-picnic tables and…

But first things first, I need to make the baby’s room more attractive before she completely loses it. Or leaves home after graduation, whichever comes first.!!!


Reading Material

Another snowstorm is predicted for this weekend and along with bread, milk and eggs (french toast for everyone!), these are just some of the books I wish I had stacked up on my library table while the wind howls outside:

1. The Way Home by Jeffrey Bilhuber 2. The Invention of the Past: The Interior Design and Architecture of Studio Peregalli 3. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Corinne May Boltz 4. American Modern by Thomas O’Brien 5. Wabi Inspirations by Axel Vervoordt 6. Irving Harper: Works in Paper

Collecting: I Love my Vintage House, Christening Gown, Toy Horse, Cookie Jar & Anchor Pin

Today’s post features the final photos and stories submitted to our I Love My Vintage ____ Contest. Thank you so much for all your submissions. Reading your entries has provided a respite from a world of meaningless, throwaway stuff and given me a glimpse into just why it is that sometimes, stuff still matters. Read on for the final submissions…

I ♥ My Vintage House

Vintage Love Contest: HouseI love my vintage house on Main Street in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. When my husband and I bought this home back in 1998, we thought we’d be here for 5 years. Now 14 years later, the house is finally on the market as we anticipate moving to the family homestead in the country. Through the years, we’ve taken off layers upon layers of wallpaper (yes, the bottom layers were quite vintage!) and transformed every square inch of this grand 1900’s bungalow to make it a wonderful home. In spite of the “old house” problems which still exist – crooked floors, cracked plaster and ancient wiring – this is our home and we love it.

— Amy, Mechanicsburg, Ohio

I ♥ My Christening Gown

Vintage Love Contest: Christening GownThis christening gown was made by my maternal grandmother back in 1953. My brother was the first one to wear it followed by my 3 other siblings and myself. Each of our children (10 grandchildren in all) have also worn it and my son was the last to wear it back in 2010. My hope is that my children’s children and their children will continue the tradition.

— Lori, West Fargo

I ♥ My Vintage Toy Horse

Vintage Love Contest: Toy HorseIt was tough to decide, but this little fellow always warms my heart. I discovered him on a dusty, high shelf in an Oregon antique shop, and I visited him many times before finally bringing him home. I love his beautiful, full gallop, and I’m sure his old steel & rubber wheels took some lucky children on some amazing adventures. I heart him.

— Scout, Gloucester, Massachusetts

I ♥ My Cookie Jar

Vintage Love Contest: Cookie JarIt was a wedding gift to my parents in 1954 from my father’s stepfather. His own father had died of tuberculosis a few months before he was born, and being extremely poor with 6 children to support, my grandmother didn’t take long to remarry. I don’t have a lot of memories of my step-grandfather since he died when I was about 4 years old. However, the one memory that stands out was from a short time before he passed away. He was very ill and lay on the sofa in the main room of the very small house. My parents had left us there for the day and my sisters and I were playing outside in front of the house. My grandmother had a hog she’d raised that was getting close to ready for butchering. The hog occasionally broke out of the small space where it was kept penned and was not in a friendly mood when it did so! When the hog got loose that day, my older sisters ran into the house. I stood paralyzed as I watched a large angry swine charge towards me. Then my very ill grandfather got up off the sofa, stepped out the door and pulled inside the house before the hog reached me. As for the cookie jar itself, I remember it in the kitchen in the home I grew up in. Even when cookies (usually store bought — Oreos! — occasionally homemade) weren’t in it, the smell still lingered. My parents eventually divorced in 1980 and my father remained in the house, with the cookie jar still in the kitchen. When he was cleaning things out a few years later, he asked if I wanted it and I gladly jumped at the chance to take it. It has followed me to different homes, different states, through a marriage and divorce and other relationships, and now, in my Gloucester home, it is still with me, sitting on my kitchen counter.

— Diana, Gloucester

I ♥ My Anchor Pin

Vintage Love Contest: Anchor PinMy grandmother, Doris Velma Driscoll, ( I just love her name), wore this pin during the summer months on her freshly ironed cotton blouse. She had so many pins! A pin for every occasion! My first memory of her was her bringing me to Salem Willows when I was probably 6 years old. This pin reminds me of her love for the beach—she taught me well!

— Karen, Gloucester

Voting for your favorite submission ends on Friday, February 22nd. To see the submissions not included in this page and/or place your vote, click the image below:

Click the image to see the other entries.

Click the image to see the other entries.


Curatorial: The Dollar Store

I don’t know if curatorial is really a word (and if I’m too lazy to even look it up online I don’t deserve to know), but if not, it should be. Because we are all curators now. Has anyone else noticed the explosion in use of the word “curate”? Every blog and business has some things being curated by someone or another. So I’m joining in. I’m a curator of the Dollar Store. Unfortunately they won’t actually let me officially curate the place — for some reason they want to carry inventory of more than 14 items — but I curate in my head. We are all curators now. In our imaginations.

Why curate the Dollar Store, or, a better question, why enter the Dollar Store? Because, dear reader, the Dollar Store is an amazing place. I’m not much of a consumer, in fact, I actively avoid purchasing anything to the point of being downwardly mobile. I’m just about to lose my status as an official member of the middle class. But ideally, when I do purchase I buy handmade, organic, local, sustainable stuff made with deep etsy love. But let’s be real: there is the ideal and then there are cheap imports. It is very difficult to be a purist in a world where nearly every single functional item, from clothes to couches, is made in China or her cheaper sisters. The thing I love about the Dollar Store, besides the obvious fact that everything is a DOLLAR, is the fact that the cheapness of every single item is in sharp relief. The poor quality and low standards aren’t masked by a sort of aesthetic gloss, the way the same items are presented at Target and Pottery Barn. Those places give the consumer the illusion that she is participating in a better, more meaningful transaction than the one that is actually taking place: buying poorly made disposable junk on the cheap. I don’t care if John Derian designed that melamine plate for Target (and John Derian is the best, the BEST, so this is not about him), the reality is that it’s a junky plate made in China. At the Dollar Store there are no capsule collections or collaborations with designers. I’m not fooled into thinking I’m buying into something fabulous. I’m at the Dollar Store, where, if you ever wanted to know what carcinogens smell like, just take a deep breath. That, my friends, is the smell of toxic materials waiting to destroy your first world happiness. But in the meantime, every thing is ONE DOLLAR!

So when I can’t buy handmade, organic, et al, I head to the Dollar Store. Prepare to read this explanation at the beginning of all my Dollar Store posts. And yes, there will be more than one. In this post I curate…

The Dollar Store 4th of July Party

Charming gingham paper plates & napkins

Paper goods up close. Put some fried chicken (an organic, happy chicken fried in sunflower oil) and coleslaw on that plate!!!

Tri-colored crepe paper!!! Very 19th century.

Baskets to hold all those charming paper goods and those homemade whatevers you will be serving your guests.

Attractive plastic serving pieces, for those times when you can’t bring yourself to use real service.

Charming little 6 oz retro glasses. Perfect for serving miniature root beer floats. Or ginger beer floats if you’re trend oriented.

Can you believe it? So cute, and ONE DOLLAR!


Party favors!

Kazoo parade!!!

Little ruffled navy blue baby sun hat. (one.dollar.)

Child’s sunglasses.

Sun hat is far too big for Francie. Should I buy it and save it for her to wear two summers from now? No, because two summers from now there will be another wonderful thing for her to wear on her cute little head, from THE DOLLAR STORE!

Interiors: My All-Time Favorite Abode. For Now.

This place in Madrid, which appeared in one of the most recent issues of Elle Decor, belongs to designer Lorenzo Castillo. This vast apartment is a study in contrasts. Both old world and absolutely modern, packed with objects but streamlined, intimidatingly sophisticated yet comfortable. The more I look at the photographs, the more impressive this feat of cohabiting contrasts seems. This sort of deftness cannot be taught; clearly Castillo has an innate sense of what just works. And the fact that he knows a whole lot about art and antiques doesn’t hurt either. I’m always amazed when designers can apply layers of stuff to an interior without suffocating a room. Read the online article and view the rest of the photos to get a better sense of the space HERE. But really, you should pick up a newsstand copy because reading about Lorenzo Castillo in print is so much better. (shhh! don’t tell my blog I said that!)