Thursday, December 31, 2009

Under a Blue Moon

My daughter will be just over twenty the next time a Blue Moon falls on New Years Eve. That is hard to imagine as I look at my two year old sitting on the floor surrounded by a jumble of toys. It seems such a long way off, but a decade is ending and the last ten years seemed to have flown by.

Aa I write this, a commercial for the Winter Olympics startles me, has it really been four years? I vaguely remember watching the ice skating while sitting on the futon in my old apartment. Lots of falls, if I recall correctly. How different my life was four years ago. I would need to do some excavating to unearth the details but most importantly, I was not yet a mom.

When I think of not being a mom, it seems a lifetime ago. When I think of being pregnant that seems like only yesterday. As I look at my two year old, time seems to have stretched and speed up at the same time. Time is such a strange thing. To me it seems slippery, inconsistent. and mysterious. Is time a thing or just a concept? Is it real or imagined?

Well, it is real in our world view. The 2010 calendars are already printed and waiting to be filled in. What will our new year bring? I hope good things for my daughter, my family, my friends and a little selfishly for myself. I hope it will also be a good year for those outside my small circle. As one of my friends insisted on Facebook today "Let's make it a good New Year!" I liked that. We may have no control over time, but we can make the most of it and make it good. I'm ready to make a wonderful new year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deck The Halls

The tree has been up & lit for over two weeks now, but still only has two ornaments that managed to stay on from last year. Yikes, there's only ten days till Christmas. I really need to get going on the holiday trimming and deck the halls.

Luckily there's lot's of ideas and a great selection of decorations at RE that have inspired me to get going and make the house holiday worthy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time to Decorate the Christmas Tree

Thanks to an allergic reaction to a real live Christmas tree two years ago, I now own a a real live fake GE Pre-lit Christmas tree. Thanks to my pre-lit tree, I am now one of those early birds who put up their tree Thanksgiving weekend. And I love it! Sure, I feel like a giant nerd but it only took me ten minutes to put up. I did have a little scare when the mid section didn't light up but just as I was about to search for a bad light bulb, I realized I hadn't connected all of the plugs.

Now that the tree is up and glowing, I just need to decorate. If I were in the market for ornaments, I would love to get some of these beauties from Anthropologie and create my own woodland-themed tree. Sadly, my two year old has her own ideas about tree decorating and redecorating. We'll be sticking with straw ornaments from Sweden this year. Still very pretty and very unbreakable.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving Thanks and Black Friday

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I'm pondering gratitude and how easy it is to forget what we have to be thankful for on a daily basis. I'm going to try harder to remember how much I have to be grateful for and what really matters each day.

A day never passes when I don't stop and think how grateful I am for my daughter. If it doesn't occur to me at least five times during the day, I'm always reminded at bedtime when she's cuddled up next to me as she struggles to go to sleep. It's also when I get to catch up on kisses and hold tights.

So, while I am constrained financially this year and sometimes lament that I can't join the shopping frenzy and partake of the huge discounts, on another level, I'm glad to actually have to refrain. It's not that I haven't bought anything, it's that I have had to think before I spent the money. My shopping has been focused on my daughter which actually is more satisfying.

I realize there are so many things I already have that I don't use regularly or fully enjoy. So my goal for the upcoming year (I'm getting a head start.) is to truly be grateful for what I have, to make use what I have and really appreciate all the great stuff that is already a part of my life. I think I am going to start by reading all the books I've bought and have been dying to get to.

Most importantly, I am going to remember the best stuff in life doesn't come in shopping bags.
Hmm, I just thought of how grateful I am that I wasn't out in a store on Black Friday. The photos above are pictures I took of store shelves the day after.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Affordable Luxuries #6 Flower Bulbs

The weather is still warm enough in many parts of the country to sneak a few bulbs in the ground before it freezes. I planted two rings of daffodils this fall. One ring around an old tree that had a sort of natural fairy ring and another around a yet to be weeping cherry tree I plan to plant in the spring. I hated digging the six inch holes in the pure clay soil that plagues our yard, but I persisted. I just kept thinking how cheerful the tulips I planted last fall were this past spring. Flower bulbs are not for those seeking instant gratification but they are an affordable luxury that will keep paying off year after year.

While looking for photos to accompany this post I came across the Daffodil Principle. It may seem a bit corny but it was just the sort of "just keep putting one foot in front of the other" message I was needing to keep me going this week. Tiny steps add up and a few bulbs in the ground equal lots of flowers in your future.

Top image is of tulip fields in the Netherlands by Luud Riphagen. Bottom image is a daffodil field in Whaplode Parish England by Patricia Carter.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Haramaki = Happy Warm Tummy

I'm wearing my haramaki as I write this and it is keeping me cozy despite the gray skies and the thermostat which has been set at an environmentally correct 65 degrees. The origin of the haramaki heralds back to the samurai but you don't need to wield a sword anymore to wear one. These comfy belly wraps not only keep your tummy warm but are said to be good for your internal organs and blood circulation. Add to that how great they look peaking out under a shirt or worn obi style and I want a drawer full of them. The adorable haramaki shown are by Hobonichi. Another great source is Haramaki Love which has versions in fleece and a maternity selection. I can vouch that a warm tummy is a happy tummy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inspiration for Operation Pare Down

I'm really trying to pare down these days in so many ways. I'm on a campaign to eliminate stuff we don't need or really love and to find homes for those things others might treasure. Thank goodness for the Salvation Army or Sal's as my friend Susie calls it. I remember the first time she told me she'd been shopping at Sal's. I thought it must be the newest boutique and that I was out of loop. No, Sal's was not another Jeffery's, it was the good old Salvation Army. She had hit our local one for some cheap work t-shirts. I was definitely out of the loop in terms of frugal shopping.

Now a days, I'm trying to reform in terms of how much I spend, how much I own, and how much time I spend taking care of stuff versus living life. So I'll be making a trip to Sal's this coming week, not to shop but to help stock the shelves.

The photo from Fine Little Day above is my inspiration for the weekend purge and proof that less can still be warm.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Green Tea and Habit Versus Ritual

I have been trying to incorporate a cup of green tea into my daily routine and it has proven harder than I imagined. It certainly doesn't come as naturally as that first cup of coffee in the morning. I have thought about swapping my morning coffee for green tea but can't imagine that it would suit me or get me going. My morning coffee is a habit bordering on an addiction and not subject to tampering. Also, I think that a cup of tea is more suited to ritual than habit.

My Grandmother used to have a cup of tea every evening after she finished cleaning up after supper. It was her evening ritual. She took her tea black. It was just a Liptons tea bag and water boiled in her whistling teapot. Nothing fancy, but she always sat at her dining room table to enjoy her tea. I say it was a ritual because, I imagine it was her way of marking the end of her chores and savoring the little bit of personal time she allowed herself each day.

That's how I envision my daily cup of green tea being, a pause from busyness. My cup of coffee is the beginning of busyness each day. It's a crutch and a jolt into a day of doing. I want my cup of green tea to be about the opposite, a few minutes of not doing or worrying about what needs to be done next. I think that may be why it has been so hard to get to each day. It requires I step out of my routine and into a ritual where I take some time to just sit and be in the moment. I am going to take a lesson from my grandmother and make the time and place for my daily cup of tea.

The lovely teahouse pictured above are by the architect Terunobu Fujimori. I love their quirkiness and very human size. They look like the perfect structures for the ritual of tea and just being present. You can read more about Terunobu Fujimori here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Enchanted by the Moon

The moon is just amazing tonight and it's lovely to lie in bed with the moon light illuminating the room. It's like taking a moon bath.

This first scientific map of the moon by astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini c. 1679 includes the tiny moon maiden pictured beneath the full map. Perhaps proof of the moon's power to enchant even the scientist.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Looking at the level of decorating that now seems the norm for Halloween, I have decided the holiday has morphed into Halloweenimas. I'm not sure whether I should be amused or horrified by the large blow up ghosts and full light displays that are proliferating. I love Halloween and its aesthetic but I guess I'm used to the old fashioned paper scarecrow on the door and a few pumpkins on the porch approach to decorating.

Maybe it's because this new hyper Halloween decorating seems driven by something more than holiday spirit. A marketing scheme to sell more Christmas perhaps? I can just imagine some ad agency brainstorming ways to make people feel the need to use twinkle lights year round. When I get past that image I can almost enjoy Halloweenimas in all its orange twinkle light glory.

What I Wish I Was Wearing

I would be very happy to be out and about in this outfit instead of slogging around in my yoga pants. I'm always a sucker for a great black and white stripped shirt. Check out the great collection of stripes at the thinking tank.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pick Up Sticks and Back to Blogging

I know it's fall (I've been in a deliberate denial) because the leaves are starting to really pile up. Oddly they have seem to have decided to just wither and fall off this year rather than turning pretty colors first. Perhaps they are not happy with the early cold either.

Accompanying the leaves are a mass of sticks that need to be piled for pickup. While living in the heart of Brooklyn I gave sticks very little thought. Now like a city kid learning that steak comes from a cow (or rather cattle) I am realizing trees make sticks. Trees and blustery days. It seems pretty elementary, but when you pick up a stick to play with as a kid you think of it as a discreet object rather than a former branch.

I would not be giving sticks so much thought if I were in my city apartment or just had one or two trees in the yard, but the small patch of woods that edge the house are a stick factory. So as I lug the sticks, I think "chop wood, carry water" and try to be zen. I also think it's sad that my stick piles don't look like the art of Peter "Beetle" Collins. How lovely what artistic intent can make of even a pile of sticks. Now back to blogging regularly.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Recession Fun #6: Country Roads

One of our simplest pleasures this summer has been driving on country roads and stopping at the various farm stands. My favorite stand is not actually part of a farm but a little stand run by a couple who sell vegetables and beautiful bouquets from their garden. It consists of just a table, an umbrella and a hand-painted sign in their driveway but the bouquets are better than any you could get at a florist. They overflow with bicolor zinnias, black-eyed susan, and forget-me-nots. The stand operates on the honor system and has a sign that says you can leave an IOU if you need to. How lovely is that?

A Touch of Paris

While I’m completely content to be soaking up as much summer sunshine as I can in the good ole USA these days, I was craving a touch of Paris the other day. Maybe it was one of the thunderstorms that sent me indoors that caused me to daydream about a walk in Paris. I used to live in the 15th arrondissement and my tiny apartment was just a short walk from the Champs du Mars and the Tour Eiffel. I would take walks or jog in the early evening with the tower beautifully lit up above me. It was a luxury to be sure.

Here are a few things I found that would add nice touches of Paris to a space. I want one of the Famille Summerbelle maps to hang in my daughter’s room and I love the Souvenir de Paris feel of the throw pillow from Target. The Eiffel Tower fabric from Michael Miller would require a much bigger commitment but I really like that it manages to be beautiful and whimsical at the same time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flights of Fancy

Yesterday was capped off with some unexpected adventure as my mother, my daughter and myself found ourselves chasing hot air balloons down a back road in Central Jersey. It was the final day of the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Soderberg-Hunterdon Airport and despite rough weather earlier in the evening at least 20 balloons braved an ascent.

Luckily, we realized the weather was preventing the balloons from ascending very high and left our initial viewing spot, from which they were just distant tiny dots. We headed down Reading Road towards the balloons and found ourselves in the thick of it. Balloons were coming down all around us in fields and front and back yards. The excitement of the spectators both in cars and lawn chairs was palpable as the balloons descended and dwarfed the houses they were landing among. It made me wish I had a great camera. Here are a few shots I managed from the back seat of the car as the police warned cars to keep moving.

It was a perfect adventure for a summer evening. Thank you to the all the balloonists who made our evening and a great memory.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rain, rain, ...

I won't even bother saying go away, because I know it isn't listening to me. I feel like I took a break from blogging because I was down from all of the rain. In the back of my head I was thinking when the sun come out I'll get motivated again. Well, no sign of the sun, so I'm forcing myself to get past the inertia I've been feeling. It's a little sobering to realize how easily affected by the weather I am. Shouldn't I be able to determine my own state of mind rather than being a victim to some clouds?

Okay lot's of clouds and days and days of just gray skies and rain. Argh! I feel like I'm in some weird sci-fi movie where the sun disappears and it takes a while, but people finally begin to realize it's not coming back.

These photos by Carl Kleiner are inspiring me to put the color in my own days. Come on rain, I can beat you. Oh. wow a hint of sun out side!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Words in Color

Wordle provided a playful diversion and some much needed color to an otherwise grey day. You can create your own word cloud based on your blog, a favorite text or words you type into the application. The above word clouds are based on this blog and my other blog Joy Bucket.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where's the Rain?

I changed my plans today because of the torrential rain we are supposed to be experiencing. So where are the April showers? Paris maybe? This photo is proof that Paris makes even inclement weather look good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reading Wish List: Script and Scribble

I'm the kind of person who would be very happy curled up and reading a good book for hours. My life however does not accommodate such singular pursuits these days, so I find myself compiling a Reading Wish List.

I did manage to read the latest issue of ReadyMade from start to finish the other night (Domino substitute) and came across a blurb about Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting by Kitty Burns which peaked my interest. I often look at my handwriting and think what happened? I learned penmanship before the personal computer hit and was taught by nuns no less, so there's really no excuse for the state of my handwriting these days. The answer may lie in Ms. Burns' book which goes beyond blaming computers alone and looks at our modern lifestyle for an explanation. I personally hope there is still hope for the art of penmanship.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April Showers Deserve a Good Trench

This afternoon I looked out the window and the sun was reduced to a diffused glow behind the grey clouds. I felt as if I were in some weird sci-fi movie in which the sun has devolved into a Red Giant and can only partially illuminate the sky. Hmm, maybe the less than stellar weather has me down?

I'm sure I'd be happier if I had a great trench coat in my wardrobe to throw on and looked as pulled together as this woman from Lucky's Fashion Copycat. In Style magazine featured a surprisingly great trench from London Fog this month (may be that shouldn't be a shock from London Fog). Unfortunately the extra 20% off from InStyle's April Deals seems to have depleted supplies. Only XL is still available. Wah, no retail therapy for me.

Thank You Forsythia

Here's a little shout out to all the forsythia bushes trimmed and untrimmed that have provided a much needed bit of sunshine these past couple of grey days. Now if the sun would just get its act together!

Photo via The Dessert Years.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Great Scotts and Tartans Too

As NY Tartan Week comes to a close I'm reminded of how much I love men in kilts and a good tartan. I'm pleased my family name has two tartans associated with it, a rather bold district sett and a more subdued family sett. I'd love to order a few yards one day to cover a comfortable old chair. It would be nice to settle in with a good book engulfed in the family tartan.

Not to worry if you don't have a Scottish name or tartan to match you can create your own at Tartan Maker.

Moffat district tartan top, Moffat family tartan bottom.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My New Wierd Obsession: Willow Hurdles

Maybe I've just watched too many episodes of Midsomer Murders and have become enamored of the English garden aesthetic through osmosis. That would explain my love of willow hurdles and why when I think of how my garden is going to look, I can't get the image of them out of my mind.

Realistically, I think my still to be dug garden is going to be have to be much more modest at first. I have yet to find a source of hurdles on the east coast and have limited funds to work with. This year's garden will likely have more in common with the Victory Gardens of WWII than an English garden but I can still dream. Either way I'm looking forward to getting some dirt on my hands.

The lovely willow hurdles pictured above are by WonderWood.