Month: March 2014

A good day for creativity…

My horoscope for today–

“Today is all about art. It’s a great time for creating new work if that’s where your interests lie, but it’s just as good for soaking up culture in all its forms. Your creative energy is magnificent!”

OK, so it’s not just MY horoscope, it applies to Scorpios all over. Including the other resident of this house. Which is probably a good thing, as I may need Tim’s guidance in today’s endeavor: I’m building a desk. Yesterday I left work early and hit up a ton of antique stores; while I didn’t find anything that was exactly right, I did come home with a ton of ideas. Couple those with all the stuff I’ve curated on Pinterest recently and… you’ve got a recipe for a one-of-a-kind desk with personality. Keep your fingers crossed that I can translate what’s in my head to a functional piece of furniture.

If you don’t follow me on Pinterest (hi, Mom!), here are some of the sorts of things I’m drawn to for inspiration:

Garment Factory Desk

Deco Industrial Desk

Simple wood and industrial vibe

I’ll incorporate lessons learned from my current desk into the design of the new one.

My current desk. Soon to become a dressing table.

My current desk. Soon to become a dressing table.

Those lessons:

  • I like real wood.
  • This desk is a good size in terms of height, length and depth.
  • I need drawers for storage.
  • I also need to be able to fit my legs UNDER the desk, which completely can’t happen now. And it’s not about the chair. If I lower the chair enough to get my knees under the desk, my keyboard is in my boobs. Awkward for typing.

Wish me luck. I’m off to finish my coffee, put on some lipstick and head to the lumber yard.




Mid-way through the makeover

I had an incredibly productive weekend and rocked rearranging my office. I also figured out what I have, what I need, and what I ultimately want the space to look like. While I love old furniture and pieces with a sense of the past, I haven’t chosen any of the furniture that’s currently in my office – it’s all been given to me. That translates into a space that  doesn’t necessarily reflect my own taste, so I’m working to rectify that while maintaining a balance of familiar pieces and carefully chosen new ones.

The big paint reveal:

Blue paint. Very blue. I love it.

Blue paint. Very blue. I love it.

I do love the paint. I will love it more once I get the desk situation sorted out. Lighting, filing, and organization are all dependent on the desk; until I have those, I’m holding off on putting things on the walls. I need to get a desk in here to see how the space will work and what makes sense for me.

The story behind my current desk: my first mother-in-law gave it to me about 12 years ago. She bought it used at a flea market in Colorado in the late 1960’s and painted it the antique-y green you can barely see in the photo. Don’t worry–you’ll get to see more of the desk in future posts as it gets its own makeover. Bernadette suggested that I turn it into a vanity/dressing table – I’ve always wanted one, and the lines of this desk will be wonderful for that. It will go against the wall by the window pictured below – just behind the papa-san’s current location.

The view from the doorway.

The view from the doorway.

I turned one of the bookshelves to make an L and create more a of a separation between work space and my reading/relaxation nook. The sloped roof means there are limited spaces where I can put the shelves…I love them, but sometimes wish they worked better in this house.

These bookshelves came from my dad's parents.

These bookshelves came from my dad’s parents.

The papa-san (actually mama-san, it’s not a huge chair, it only holds one person) is gone. My friend Amy is carting it off to donate it for me. I’m excited to have that out of the office–I want a new comfy chair for reading! I’ve always wanted a leather armchair, but I’m not sure that’s in the budget. We’ll see what I can find.

At some point, I plan to replace the carpet with cork flooring. That’s a bigger project than I’m willing to take on at the moment, though. In the meantime, however, I’ve treated myself to an area rug with a nice print. It will work with the colors in the office, as well as my plans for the vanity. That should arrive soon, I’ll post photos when it gets here.

My grandmother's sewing machine.

My grandmother’s sewing machine.

My grandmother’s sewing machine is going to live with my cousin Becky. As much as I love the machine, I don’t know how to sew and with the current state of upheaval in my life, I’m unlikely to learn any time soon. She’s been sewing for years and will appreciate the machine for its functionality, not just the sentimental attachment to my grandmother.

Overall, I feel like I’ve made good progress in a short time. While I’ve still got a lot of work to do, I’ve got a plan and I’m excited to see everything come together.


Office makeover

Big news–I’ve accepted a new job! Also big news–I’ll be working entirely from home. My new company has no corporate offices; everyone works from home. As part of the transition, I’ve decided to redecorate my home office.

The room is an odd shape that has two little sort of nooks–I’ve been using one for reading and one for my desk. As part of the redesign, I’ve decided to swap them. Some of the drivers behind that decision:

  • Currently, you can see my desk from the hallway. If I move the desk to a place where I can’t see it every time I pass the room, I’m less likely to think about work when I’m not working. It’s a subtle attempt to maintain boundaries or work/life balance.
  • Better lighting. I currently sit by a window on the north side of the house–the other window in my office faces west and will give me more light during the day.
  • Less distracting wall space behind my head. I’ll be spending a lot of time in Skype meetings and video calls and want to make sure that I have a neutral background so the folks I’m talking to can focus on what I’m saying, not trying to figure out what’s on the shelf behind me, or squinting at the window coming out of my head.
My three Petty girls - blonde, brunette, and redhead.

You can see the color here behind my three Petty girls – it’s a deep eggplant, tough to photograph.

The biggest decision right now: paint. I LOVE the purple that I’ve had for years, but it’s just too dark. I want something lighter, brighter, and vivid; something that will energize me. Over the last few years, I’ve grown attached to vibrant greeny-blues. The kind of blues you’d find in vintage bathroom tile or a ’50s Chevy. Something kind of aqua but not too pastel, preferably with a tantalizing tropical sounding name.

Last night I stopped on the way home to collect some paint chips. It’s a competition between Behr’s Jamaican Sea and Bali Bliss right now. I dig the color directly underneath Jamaican Sea on the sample card, Blue Jewel, but I’m concerned that it would be too dark–not a significant improvement over the purple.

Here they are–I’m completely open to feedback. Tell me what you think.

I'm leaning toward Jamaican Sea.

I’m leaning toward Jamaican Sea.

More vintage aprons

My vintage apron collection is growing! Last time I visited my mom in Connecticut, she gave me two lovely aprons that belonged to Memere. We think she made them both by hand.

I love, love, love this.

I love, love, love this.

I love red and adore polka dots. The rick-rack and piping pull everything together. So cute. The next one is more of a smock:

Bright fruit print against a polka dot background.

Bright fruit print against a polka dot background.

It’s summery! It’s eye-catching! It’s definitely one of a kind. Whimsical, if you will.

A view of the back.

A view of the back.

Detail of the zany pattern.

Detail of the zany pattern.

These two aprons join the others I’ve received from the wonderful Lisa Kiner and my mom. I still need to figure out a way to display them, although as the collection grows to include more patterns and colors, I imagine the display will become more… schizophrenic? Eclectic? It will be something, all right.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

People always ask me if I’m excited for St. Patrick’s Day. Um… not really. I’m not Irish. I dislike beer, and I can’t STAND boiled dinner. But for those of you who enjoy this holiday, I wish you well – and here’s a classic boiled dinner recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook to prove it. Love that it’s “New England” boiled dinner. Not “Irish.” Yet still part of the holiday tradition.

From the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

From the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

I love that Ms. Crocker does not advise WHICH herbs and seasonings to add. Choose at your own discretion. Also, “remove scum” is excellent advice in general, not just during cooking.

I raise a glass of the finest Irish whiskey to you, as that is the only way I will be able to choke down that nasty flaccid cabbage.

Pin-up artists: Harry Ekman

For Christmas, my mother-in-law got me a wonderful collection of pin-up prints. While some of them were familiar artists and images, others were new to me. Harry Ekman, for instance. While the two Ekman images in the collection seem familiar, I didn’t recognize the name. Fortunately, the prints each have a bit of biographical information about the artist on the back.

Born in Chicago in 1923, Ekman apprenticed under Gil Elvgren and Haddon Sundblom (the man who created the iconic Coca-Cola Santa Claus) at Brown and Bigelow. The company produced calendars, playing cards, matchbooks, and other specialty advertising materials which often featured pin-up girls. Eventually Sundblom formed a studio with Ekman, where Ekman created pin-ups for the Shaw-Barton calendar company. In the 1960s, he seems to have moved away from advertising and pin-up art to focus on portrait work. He died in 1999 in New Jersey.

circe 1956, oil on canvas. Copyright 2013 TASCHEN GmbH.

circa 1956, oil on canvas. Copyright 2013 TASCHEN GmbH.

I love this model’s outfit, her eyebrows, and the shadows Ekman uses.

1959, oil on canvas. Copyright 2013 TASHEN GmbH.

1959, oil on canvas. Copyright 2013 TASCHEN GmbH.

While the dog’s paws in this image seem off to me, the model’s body language is great. Don’t let the fact both of these images featured models with pursed lips fool you into thinking all Ekman’s work looked the same. He was capable of painting beautiful smiles and a gamut of other facial expressions. You can see more of his work here: Like Elvgren, his work seems to feature a blend of (mostly) wholesome girls next door in outdoor adventures (bike-riding, beach-going, dog-walking…) in contrast with alluring boudoir beauties in more flirtatious poses.

Unfortunately, there’s very little information about Ekman available either online or in the pin-up books in my collection. I’ve definitely become a fan, however, and plan to keep looking for more about him and his work.