By the third day of our honeymoon in Zihautanejo, Mexico, my husband and I were wracking our brains to come up with a way to relocate. It was on that day (or maybe it was the day before or the day after...margaritas. Lots of them. What can I say?), that we peeled ourselves off our lounge chairs and ventured into the sleepy fishing village for a little sightseeing and dining. We shopped in an open-air market and purchased a hammock, a bracelet and a plaid, meshy market bag. If only our shopping ended there, but you know it didn't. We came upon an art gallery, and I, having consumed several margaritas on the beach that afternoon, convinced my husband of three days that this would be the perfect way to begin an art collection. He, having consumed lots of cerveza on the beach that afternoon, was amiable. In we went. We zeroed in on one painting in particular: a lovely scene depicting a mission at night. But when the gallery owner wouldn't come down on the price, we left. We walked a few blocks before I announced that I really, really wanted the painting. Back we went, and a few billion pesos later, the painting was ours and would forever serve as a reminder of our trip to Zihautanejo. That night we dined on fish tacos at a local joint called Sirena Gorda (Fat Mermaid), and of course drank more cerveza and margaritas. The evening ended with a long walk on the beach. Not because it was romantic, rather we had blown through all our pesos and didn't have cab fare. The next morning, Jeff and I awoke ready to gaze appreciatively at our first art acquisition and saw this:
I recoiled in horror as Jeff frantically grabbed for his wallet to see what pricey sum we had paid for this gem. In the years since the trip, the painting has kicked around the basement. Mootsie's first birthday was a fiesta, so we brought out the painting and hung it alongside the papel picado. We recounted the tequila-influenced art buy for our guests who got a good laugh. Since then, the painting has been floating from room to room. It's 1950s-backdropish quality (Hitchcock? Disney?) has grown on me and the absurdity of how I came to own it makes me smile whenever I see it, so I'm determined to find a place for it in the casa.
I'm not sure what I was more excited about: the fact that one of my favorite stores, Haus, was having a big ol' sale or that the cool silhouette postcard announcing said sale used the word gynormous. [sic] It's perhaps my most beloved adjective. I've been using it for years, not knowing whether it was an actual word, so today I looked it up on dictionary.com and sure enough, giant + enormous = ginormous. So there you go. Oh yes, the sale. For Christmas, my lovely husband gifted me with the most gorgeous plum-colored sweater from Haus, which unfortunately didn't fit. Even more unfortunate, when I went to exchange it, they were ,um, plum out. Instead, I got a store credit. (And by the way, how ridiculously cute is this gift certificate? It's a shipping tag that's been tea-soaked and stamped. So much better than the run-of-the-mill gift card.)
I went to the sale today hoping to find a sweater, but most had already been snatched up. (It was only 2 p.m., people! Four hours into the sale! Geez.) Then I ogled some Rosie NYC sconces that I've been lusting over for years, and will continue to lust over. I was just about to leave empty-handed when I spotted darling headbands like this one made from vintage handkerchiefs and buttons by Aubrey Hyde. Though not on sale, I had to have one. The sales clerk wrapped it up and put it in the most adorable bag, but it didn't stay there very long. Oh yes, I put it on right away, and I'm going to need more of these lovely, dainty accessories.
I love everything about Midland Antiques Market from the sound of the creaky floors to the way the light filters through the old leaded windows of the historic Midland Door and Sash Building. I don't get there as often as I would like -- maybe once a month if I'm lucky -- so when I do, I make it count. On a recent trip, I found this motley assortment of items.
I used to be afflicted with Overthinkingitis (Should I buy this? What will I do with it? Is it overpriced? Maybe I'll find something I like more. Sigh.), and that can make thrifting, antiquing or whatever you call it an awfully tedious experience. I've recently adopted a new approach...if my heart beats a little faster when I see something and the price is reasonable, I snatch it up. How else can I explain the purchase of a puppy dog paint-by-number for $3.50? I found it in a bin of vintage ephemera and couldn't resist those sad eyes or the dusty blue and yellow colors. I also scooped up a vintage mirror that I hemmed and hawed over on my last trip (It was still there!), a red sap bucket with dings and rust, a yellow planter and a powder blue ramekin. What will I do with all of it? Now the fun begins.
We were painting fools last weekend, finally getting rid of the bathroom's periwinkle walls from the previous owners. They must have had a thing for violet hues because Mootsie's room used to be purple -- and I mean Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak Purple. P-U-R-P-L-E. It took several coats of primer before we could paint her room the current soft sage. Anyway...back to the periwinkle: I could stand its red undertones no more, so we went with a peacock blue instead. When Jeff opened the can, we both exclaimed, "Oooooh." I might have swooned just a little bit, too. It was that pretty. But, we all know that just because a color looks a certain way in the can doesn't mean it will look the same on the wall. With one coat, my lovely shade of blue looked a bit green. I kept telling myself that it was the periwinkle underneath and another coat would do the trick. Nope. Still greenish. Disappointment began to creep in, but I decided to reserve judgment until I could see it in daylight. In the light of day, I still wasn't sure. I spent the next few days flip flopping. One minute I loved it. The next...not so much. Going with the advice on the newspaper under the paint can above, I'm going to take my time before making up my mind.
We spent the past several days painting the kitchen cabinets (hence the blue tape in the photo). I thought for sure it would be a hairy beast of a project, but not so. In fact, about halfway through Jeff and I looked at each other and asked, “Why didn’t we do this years ago?” It’s a good thing we didn’t because the finished product would have looked a lot different than the clean, cottage-y cuteness going on now.
Blocked by the kitchen’s overwhelming ugliness, I consulted with an interior designer, who came up with some very lovely ideas on how to pretty up the room. She suggested leaving the cabinets as is (I wouldn’t be happy with the results if I painted them white, she said), installing neutral laminate countertops, replacing the vinyl floor with a faux-stone ceramic, and selecting a complementary tile for the backsplash. As she mentally reworked the kitchen, I nodded with this silly grin on my face, but a voice inside screamed, “Nooooooo!” It just seemed all wrong, but that didn’t stop me from picking up color chips and tile samples. They did look good, well, as good as can be expected with the icky ’80s cabinets still in place, but it wasn’t me, and more importantly, it wasn’t the house. A little too Tuscan villa for the bungalow.
That was three years ago. What followed was a tug-of-war in my mind between what I was told I should do and what I really, really wanted to do. What I wanted to do finally won out. So far, I'm liking what I see.
At least once a day, Jeff and I dance in the kitchen. Sometimes we're actually dancing, but most of the time I'm heading for the sink while he's going for the stove. Shuffle to the left. Step to the right. Laugh (or sometimes swear depending on whether one or both of us haven't had enough morning coffee or it's been a long day). A small kitchen, funky layout and lack of walk-in closets are a few of the things I'm willing to sacrifice for the charming details of my 60-year-old bungalow. Some things like the crystal doorknobs and original light fixtures grabbed me right away. I've come to appreciate other things such as this little latch on the bathroom linen come to appreciate others such as this little latch on the bathroom linen closet. Every morning when I turn the handle to grab a towel, it's patina and perfect, delicate scale make me so happy. Then there's the doorbell. Isn't the lyre charming? (Supposedly the lyre represents moderation and equilibrium -- two virtues important for any house, I think.) A cleverly disguised knocker on the front door actually rings the bell. Can you believe I once had "spray paint doorbell cover" on the home-improvement list? It's so soggy and grey here today -- the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book. I sorta hope the gloom continues through the weekend because we have rooms (yes, that's plural) to paint.
Is it safe to come out? It's taking me a bit longer to recover from the holiday season because we had three (yes, you read right, three) trips to the emergency room -- one for me and two for Mootsie. The fiasco aka Holidays 2006 started on the 23rd. We were opening gifts before leaving to visit family when Mootsie cut her finger. Off we went for medical attention -- pajamas, bed head hair and all. Fortunately, no stitches required. A few steri strips and the biggest gauze wrap job I've ever seen (see below), and Mootsie was back to tearing wrapping paper off packages.
Then on Christmas Eve, my back, which had been bothering me from lugging around a 30-pound 18-month-old and hunching over my keyboard said, "Enough already." By midnight, I was in the ER begging for mercy. It came by way of some serious muscle relaxers, followed a few days later by stretching and a nice massage...ahhhhh.
That would have been enough drama to tide me over until 2008, but noooo. On New Year's Day, we were one bag away from having the car packed for our trip home when Mootsie, who was grooving to some jazz as I stripped sheets off a bed, fell and conked her head. Again, no stitches. Dermabond instead. I'll tell you what, I'd take back spasms any day. It's much less painful than having to restrain and console a hysterical child as a doctor applies glue to her head. Every year, my family recounts wacky tales of holidays past; I'm fairly certain this year will become part of the lore.