A Book Party!

Book Project cover

Book cover

Not too long ago (June, to be exact), my friend Mary Faino and I released a book through her small press, Paper Mermaid Press.

It’s called A Day in Rockport, and highlights some of the gems, hidden and otherwise, of this coastal New England village. Mary illustrated the book and I wrote the text. It was a bit of a backwards process — usually the text comes first in children’s books. But in this case, I think it works, as the illustrations are so lush they practically speak for themselves.

Mary and I have been meeting together over the last few years, partly to work on the book and partly to drink tea and talk about Rockport, and even beyond, if we’re feeling cosmopolitan.

We would love to have you join us this weekend at Mary’s shop, The Paper Mermaid, 57 Main Street in Rockport, for a Book Party! Lots of treats, framed prints from the book, a Scavenger Hunt, and a book reading (don’t worry, the book is a short one) will be part of the fun.

Hope to see you there!

Poster

The Table in Early Spring

Spring Table nest with rock eggs

In New England, as it has everywhere else, cold, gray weather has long overstayed its appointed time. So in putting together a look for a table for a lunch event last week, it didn’t seem quite right to smother the table in pastel flowers. And since the geography of granite and rocky beaches, woods and quarries here on Cape Ann is so dominant anyway, I just let the geography win.

The color scheme of the table centerpiece was gray and white, with the green element provided by moss. And dirt. I can’t forget the dirt that made its way onto the table from underneath the moss. One guest more or less had her plate sitting in a trail of the stuff, but she was a very good sport about it. It was a bit like a more refined version of an early spring picnic in the woods.  The place cards were made from rounded, smooth beach stones that looked like speckled eggs, and snowdrops, made from crepe paper, poked from the moss, mimicking what was taking place outside.

Early Spring Table

It felt decadent, as one guest at the lunch put it, to sit down on a random Tuesday and have lunch together with a collection of creative, interesting people, most of whom didn’t really know the hosts — or each other. Food writer Heather Atwood hosted the meal at her painterly house, Howlets. She not only made the delicious meal, she provided the color with her early spring soup, made up primarily of root vegetables that she found at a nearby farmers’ market and cooked until they were just tender with a bit of bite. To see those beautiful colors collected in a bowl and set against so much gray and white was enough to make a winter-starved soul break out in song, like something from a medieval rite of spring.

The whole experience was so invigorating, from the company to the setting to the food, that, far from taking a post-meal nap, I felt like writing a book or trying my hand at oil painting after everyone gathered their coats and left. Not that I did either of those things. But I certainly felt like it, and that is as much as I could hope for from lunch on a random Tuesday afternoon in March.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; — Song of Solomon 2:11

Table From Above

Early Spring Table Details...

photo: Heather Atwood

photo: Heather Atwood

Building & Destroying

Last Sunday (was it just last Sunday? It feels like a month ago for some reason) we walked to one of my favorite local beaches, Pebble Beach. Or Pebbly Beach, or Pobble Beach, depending on how old your source is when looking for its name. Pebble Beach is named for a wall of small stones piled high, creating a barrier between the beach and the road. The winter storms this year beat the wall to pieces and our town’s Department of Public Works has been working hard to bring the beach back and restore the road.

When you see a long, long line of smooth rocks piled high, it is hard to resist the urge to build something. And then knock down what you build by throwing rocks at it. Building and destroying took the better part of an early spring afternoon. Thankfully we weren’t nearly as destructive as the ocean has been, so our rock piles have already been reabsorbed into the general landscape of the beach, but to spend time creating and tearing down — and then starting the process all over again — can lead to a sort of meditation on the cyclical nature of things, and the nearly irresistible urge to destroy what we make.

collecting rocks

building with rocks 1

building with rocks 2

Fall.

Since the Madden Road MusicFest event on September 1st, The Roving Home has taken an inadvertent break. Suddenly it all became overwhelming: children, house, events, filling orders. In fact that last one — filling orders — fell off my radar to the degree that I was giving refunds in lieu of shipping. Apologies all around, especially to you, Lisa Vincent.

I think I’m back now. The domestic ship is (slightly) more steady, with another event behind me, Rockport’s HarvestFest, which took place on October 13th on our local working wharf in downtown Rockport. HarvestFest occurred on a day so picturesque it looked as though we placed an order for good weather containing the keywords “Autumn” “New England” “coastal” and “crisp” — and God obliged on all counts.

Coming up are some exciting developments at The Roving Home as I reconfigure a few things to make it all more manageable and even more compelling on the visual front. But I need to be realistic, moving forward. I have definitely come to realize that I am certainly not one of those women who can do it all, and if I look at my little brood and see that they are suffering from maternal distraction, I may have to take another break from all things design-related and pay more attention to all things domestic-related. But even though I can’t do it all, I will try to come a little closer in the coming months. So here’s to the new season, autumn in New England, and my deep resolve to, after I fall, get up again. Pun intended.

A few photos of Rockport’s HarvestFest, below

(All these great photos via Oasis Rockport, thanks to photographer Angela Cook!)

The Pop-up Shop is Open!

We’re up and running through May 13th at the Tusinski Gallery, 2 Main Street in Rockport. Karen Tusinski, the artist-owner at the gallery, hosts a show every April in conjunction with Earth Day, and this year she opened her space up to The Roving Home.

Our pieces are a great fit with the idea behind Earth Day, one of appreciating our planet’s resources, and by extension, conserving these resources. We take the old and, in a sense, make it new again by presenting it in a fresh light. Of course this has always been done — antiques shops are not a new concept — but the difference now is that old stuff doesn’t have to be valuable to be valued, if you know what I mean. People are catching on to the fact that vintage pieces add depth and patina to a home, and vintage doesn’t mean fine antiques. It can mean a collection of humble milk glass, or a cast iron gooseneck lamp — the type of lamp that was at every work desk in every factory in America for decades. These seemingly insignificant items provide a real connection to the past. And even better, they’re still functional. (Yet another reason to keep them around.)

Some of the pieces in the show are old items, pulled apart and re-worked into genuine originals, like our handpainted taxidermy boxes. And other pieces in the show are re-worked ideas from our collective domestic and decorative past. Such as the chinoiserie panel that is hand painted over a base coat of chalkboard paint so that the colors of the design could be changed according to whim, the owner able to interact with the piece in a way that traditional hand painted chinoiserie wall coverings do not encourage.

We had a little party to kick off the shop; a few friends contributed their talents by making deviled eggs and red velvet-esque cupcakes — both old fashioned culinary delights that are back in vogue. My husband made a brutal batch of Haymaker’s Switzel, a drink designed to put some pep in your step back in the 19th century. Here in the 21st I don’t think we have the stomach for it. (Some things are better left un-recycled.)

Here are a few shots from the shop’s opening, thanks to friend-of-The-Roving-Home Carolyn Mohr!

One of the gallery windows. The light is built from a reclaimed beam and massive cable.

Handpainted taxidermy in vintage box. The photography light is part of a set of three from the 1940s.

Like all good hipsters, we listened to records while looking over the recycled glass bottle lanterns.

Checking out the Dollhouse Project in front of a wall of snapshots in vintage frames detailing our obsession with our possessions.

The living room in the dollhouse, with its Dorothy Draper inspired interior.

The sign for the pop up shop.

Haymaker’s Switzel, a hair-raising ginger infused drink, with vintage glassware on a vintage tray.

A large vintage photo print of elephants, taken on safari, and other manly-themed elements on the gallery wall.

Art Now. Right Now.

So much to share about The Roving Home’s recent activity: everything from interesting vintage acquisitions to a micro-music festival we were a part of back in the grand state of Ohio over the Labor Day weekend. But first, here’s what’s on my mind right now: a very cool event called Art Now Rockport scheduled for Saturday, September 17th from 7 to 9 p.m. The event features the following: five contemporary artists, an informative presentation by New York-based Art Advisor Lydia Barry Kutko, and a bit of food & drink in a cool low-key setting with deep ties to Rockport’s history. As far as the presentation goes, it will no doubt be both fascinating and informative as Lydia is the whole package: smart, informed, funny and possessing a great aesthetic sense. She will put the work of the five artists in the context of Rockport’s storied art heritage — all while letting the world know that yes, there is contemporary art in Rockport and it still exists as a place that embraces working artists. The setting for the evening is the beautiful & historic home of Abby of 5th Joy — no slouch in the aesthetics department herself.

Artists + Food + Drink + Art Insights = a compelling way to spend your Saturday evening. Tickets are limited, with a percentage benefiting Rockport Art Festivals, so you can have a good time while doing some good.  For more information head over to the Art Now Rockport site or e-mail me with any questions: therovinghome@gmail.com

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