Monday, December 26, 2011

Blue Blood

Tonight, as I read my three-year-old-daughter to sleep in her 4-post-bed, we read a book we had not yet read before: Grover Goes to School.

A couple of pages in, she pointed to his name, deep, within a fairly long paragraph, and said, "Grover!"
"Yes!" I said, with genuine enthusiasm. "How did you knooooow how to read that?"
And without skipping a beat, she turned to me from the cuddly spot she had occupied in the nook of my left arm, and looked my dead in the eyes. She replied, "...because I am a Proper Woman!" and proceeded to put her wee nose back in to the book.
My only option was to burst out in laughter: I'm pretty sure I sounded like a drunk man.
"You sure ARE a Proper Woman," I finally managed to say.

*Every night my comfy family of three discusses the best part of our day. That was certainly the best part of mine.

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Twas Festivus for the Rest of Us.

Before my family came over this afternoon, I distributed many clothespin ornaments (hand painted and drawn by my kid and I), to my daughter's teachers, the neighbors I'm friendly with, and I tied some of them on to gifts. A gesture of gratitude. Then came Festivus.
Tomorrow, the Eve is on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bearing Straight

*Image courtesy of Shorpy

When my daughter nearly fell face first in to her desk today, it reminded me of the time I DID fall face first into the coping of my local community center pool when I was eight years old: we attendees of our urban summer day camp were permitted to go to "The Cenna" twice-a-week. 

That particular day, I was breaking the easily breakable rules by running from away from a lanky, older Puerto Rican boy, with red elastic swim trunks and a thin gold chain clinging to his neck. He was trying his best to kiss me in public, and fenced in by chain-link, all I could do was run.

I sat aside with some counselor I didn't know,  bleeding into my bloody, wadded-up tank top after my chin hit the concrete, waiting for my mother.

My mom came to pick me up in our blue Escort wagon. I screamed when she told me I had to go to the hospital for stitches.  Needless to say, when I arrived to the big, white hospital, I had conjured up an image of the activities to come and was terrified.

So when the doctor who tried to sew me up lay me down on an exam table to shoot me with Novocaine, I freaked.  I screamed and wailed.  My mom sat helpless to the side of me as I did everything in my bony power to avoid the fate I had imagined in my head. I hadn't been to a hospital since being born. I eventually got my mother and doctor to believe that I had to go to the bathroom.  Once in that ochre, wallpapered lavatory, I locked myself in and refused to come out.  They had to call for a janitor to get the door open.  I fluctuated between screaming my best horrific sounds or sitting in silence, refusing to open the door.  
Once, forceably removed by an orderly and flailing in the best acting job I had performed to-date, they wrestled my arms from my body and put me in a straight jacket.  

My mother watched as the baby she bore from her womb was now subdued, hands pinned over and behind my back by orderlies, canvas and leather. Imagine what she was thinking she gave birth to.

I didn’t stop yelling during this forcible take-down, of course. Yet when the needle of Novocaine hit my raw chin bone, it was a feeling and a texture so different than anything I had ever experienced, I was mesmerized.  The sandy scrape of metal against naked bone was eerily excellent. 
As the doctor sewed and pulled my thin, young skin I said, "I like the way this feels, this feels good."
The nurse, my mom, the doctors, and even the orderly in his white, too-tight-garb, laughed in harmony.  'Betcha the janitor was laughing at my Exorcist behavior as he walked down the flourescent-lit hall to another scene.

I guess hospitals, like obstacles, are never as bad as we think they will be.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gingerbread Kookie

Today, in our true Christmas fashion, I delivered a seasonal misfit to my bohemian-gypsy mother before she arrived home from work. It was an oddity that I'm certain she is always searching for each holiday season. This time it was Christmas cookies with heft.

...yes, that crotch is adorned in purple glitter. Hmmm, now that's a thought...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'I die' for D.I.Y.

I am continually amazed at the creativity I find if I just look for it on the internet. My beer mug runneth over with inspiration, and I thought I would share some of the gems. Enjoy!

Swanky Storage

Ikea goes Hollywood

Cousin It Light

Capizaroni Baloney

Springs with Swank

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Frankly m'dear, they ARE hardwood floors.

Three years and nearly two months ago when we moved to our second house and decided to take on that whole scenario again, we knew the sea of fresh, cheap, shedding, beige carpet that swallowed up the square footage wouldn't last too long with two big dogs, a kid on the way, and my personal disgust of stain-prone-fixed-floor-fabric.

So a year after we trampled the short shag and happily let it go to hell, we ripped it up along with the padding underneath it. Ken and I were happy to find fairly smooth (and durable by nature) plywood. Trusty, simple, good ol' plywood. And we went with it.

We sanded it lightly, stained it, sealed it, and now live our daily life on it; plywood. It's a good 3-7 year fix. Our kid can't destroy it. And, it buys us some time to save up for what we really wanna do to it, longterm.

Although Ken was the major contributor on the brawn and brains of the operation, I helped choose the color of the stain and helped in the application and it's in our house -- so I feel comfortable bragging about it in a public forum.

We got a skillion gasps and compliments about it. And our friend Kamie called us up the other day for a tutorial on it. So we figured in case others wanna go this cheap, easy, and dazzling route, here are the instructions:

1. If you lift a corner of your carpet up and see really flaky, cracked, thin, splintery plywood under there, this project isn't for you. But if you luck out with something decent and smooth, then yay for you! This a cheap and pretty easy project as long as you are willing to navigate a new path over or around your temporary work zone. But if you pull up the entire carpet all willy-nilly-style and the plywood is wrecked, prepare yourself to finish the floor in a more traditional method.

2. You will need: stain of your choice, sealer, wool applicator pad, extension pole, sanding paper,

3. Remove carpet and pad (recycle if applicable), and any staples and/or carpet tacks.

4. Lightly sand all surfaces, going with the grain.

5. Vacuum up any dust. Be super thorough. A shop vac with the wide floor attachment works best.

6. Mix stain really well before applying. DO NOT SHAKE or you will have nasty air bubbles in the application!

7. Using a large brush, apply the stain in the direction of the wood grain. Let it sit 5-10 minutes before wiping off excess stain. It helps if you have a partner for this who can feather out any lap marks or areas where you might need to take a beer or pizza break. An old cotton t-shirt works great. Have some rubber gloves on hand too--or you're gonna get into some pretty severe hand-washing.

8.Let the stain dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. DO NOT RUSH THIS STEP.

9. Seal in the stain using floor polyurethane. Pour on the poly and slowly smooth out with the applicator pad, working continuously to avoid overlap marks. High gloss will show a ton of imperfections so we are recommending a satin finish. Do at least 3 coats. Let dry in between according to the instructions on the container. The most annoying part is trying to wait at least a good week before allowing heavy foot traffic.

10. Enjoy your hard work! Coolest, cheapest floor makeover ever!

Now stop fussing and making your guests take off their shoes when they come over.
Eeeew. Feet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Work In Progress

My home is a reflection of all the pieces I love and treasure, and it is also peppered with many pieces waiting to be worked on or replaced by better choices, just like my life.

All the good parts of who I am is a reflection of all the good, incredible women who've helped in molding and raising me.
I took all the best pieces of my mother, my Aunt, my several "Aunties," my childhood friends' mothers, and of course my babysitter/adopted second mama, and made them part of my chemical make up. What's left of the original me, (sans the amazing parts I didn't absorb from all these incredible females), ya' know the ickish stuff in my head that I was born into, is waiting to grow and improve with time.

I've always been hard on the aspects of myself that have not been formed into what I hope they can one day be.
I am a work in progress, just like my house.
And like my house, I will not stop working on it until it's done.
And it will probably never be done.
But what I can do as a service to myself and my community at large is to give in the best way I know how, right now. And right now, I can also be kind to myself, as well as kind to others.
I can continue to do the little things I do, like donate my cast-off clothing, or bring a side dish to my local homeless shelter every few weeks.
But my bigger moment as of late, is raising my daughter to be a dreamer, a wonderer, a polite citizen and an empathetic soul. Undoubtedly, investing in a child is an investment worth making. You can try your best to help make them better than you are/were. You can show them all the things you know, and direct them to investigate all the things and possibilities you wished you had known.

Moreover, investing in a girl can change everything. Women are the matriarchs (whether they bear children or not) that empower other women to be just as strong as they are soft, to be inquisitive, outspoken, resourceful, appreciative, and appreciated.

I appreciate all the women who have taught me how to be the most dynamic person I can be in so many arenas. I am so very thankful for each and every one of them. And finally, I am starting to appreciate myself, even if I am a work in progress -- and I'm thankful for that.
All interiors can use some enhancements.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Personal Dynasty

( Dynasty Set)

Growing up, I used to watch Dynasty with my mother on our brown, smooshy, velveteen couch one special night a week.  Although I didn't grasp much of what was going on, (other than they had a lot more drama going on in their estates than we did in our two-bedroom-apartment), I did appreciate their attention to design detail in every space where the characters galavanted.

But that was the Eighties, when excess was king and so was hairspray.

Now in the ‘tween’ era of the 21st Century, things have become more streamlined, but they most certainly have incorporated a nod to many, many decades past.

Although I certainly revel in the design esthetic of midcentury in my 1900 home, I love to throw in a bit of "Dynasty Style" whenever I get the appropriate chance.  

The point being, as so many designers like to make, is to layer your home and your spaces with a reflection of you, and all the many things that hopefully inspire you—even if it is “The Carrington’s.”

Here are some Dyn-tastic-Eighties’ ideas, updated:

Lucite + Animal print + Gold = Dynasty 5000!

Dynasty Gold on top, classic cottage on the bottom. A nice fit.

Cantcha' see Krystal Carrington in one of her 3/4 length satin nighties, just lounging there, applying lotion?

"Alexis-Style" wallpaper in a nursery! She was so before-her-time...

Timeless. Just like the Carrington's social graces.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Footloose and Fancy-Free

I am by no means too proud to say that this morning, while I was scrubbing the toilet I lost all sense of class. I was cleaning the loo, as I often do with a grimaced face and hurried pace when my daughter came into the bathroom.

She automatically reached in the bathtub to remove her potty bowl insert from her training toilet. It had been sitting in there waiting to be sterilized and returned to its proper location.
When she high-tailed it out of the bathroom running with that germ-vessel, I looked up as quickly as I was scrubbing the pot. In my haste, toilet water splashed up from below me and landed on my foot. In an instant, my instinct was to wash my appendage, but my daughter was already halfway down the hall with her unsterilized potty bowl! So in a hybrid moment of motherhood and OCD, I Lysol-ed my own foot and ran down the hall after her.
I, Cira, watched myself in disgust, Lysoling my own foot.

It's amazing what motherhood has brought me to.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Doggone it.

Ken and I recently went to a free Dr. Dog concert with Law and Brendo overlooking the Delaware River.
The view was priceless.
And so was the People-watching.

There were premies, preppies, braided-heads and baby-boomers all so texturally-inspiring to the landscape and to my design ideas. I really wanted to go out and find a tapestry somewhere and hang it up real hard and proud-like as soon as I got home.

While we watched the band play, a glow-in-the-dark-hula-hooper crushed it on the dance floor (all while wearing ivory lace culottes). Law and I got talking about how beautiful it was to see men and women of all ages and passions begin to feel more comfortable representing their soul and ambition and history and envy through their attire.
I'm happy to see people collectively moving that principle into their homes, too.

My mom has really been onto just that something for such a long time, but it wasn't until I moved out of her house did I miss or appreciate it so much.
I love walking in to someone's house and feeling like I'm inside their head.
(Unless they're scary, and then that's creepy, but still interesting all the same.)

I think that not only should one's home be their sanctuary, but a telling tapestry of themselves, too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pool It Together

I have the distinct privilege of housesitting for my very good family friends, Smidge and Jest. I have known them for, well, ever. Not only do they have big hearts, beauty, brains, and badinage, but a pool, too.
The pool is not too big.
It's not too small.
It's juuuust right.

And what makes it even more right is being surrounded by lush greenery and my own thoughts.
Makes me feel like a kid to swim real hard and do underwater handstands.
It doesn't get much better than that in the late days of August.
It's the "low sound of August," as my mother would say.
My "Auntie" Maggie calls it "Limbo" after an old article in Down East magazine.

The sounds of the bugs are louder.
Tans have been established.
Tomato growth is slower.
It's a time to sit and reflect in our abundant gardens (or loaned pools) and be appreciative.
A time to look ahead to crisp Fall days and the projects in our heads.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

We went to Talula's Table.
But we didn't sit at "The" table.
Instead, we were afforded the incredible luxury of sitting at the "Kitchen Table."

If you are unfamiliar with Talula's, it is a gem of gastronomical excitement and decadent simplicity in the heart of Kennett Square. Normally, one must call one year in advance (to the day no less) for a reservation (with a brilliant & seasonal fixed menu) at the Farm Table!
In the evening, the Farm Table sits handsomely among the stores perfectly packaged edibles underneath a warm dramatic light. I've wanted to sit there for so long. So when I was in the store one afternoon looking for some bangeroni lunch fare, I got talking to one of the nice people on staff there. Eventually she let me in on one of their best kept secrets: The Kitchen Table. Well, it wasn't the table I had imagined dining upon, but anything would do.
Kitchen Table?
Having worked in the restaurant business for over a decade, I thought it might be nice to be behind the scenes once again even if I was getting all the luxury out of it and none of the burns, spillage, or balancing acts.

So, I got on a list and eventually I got a call.

Of course I jumped at the chance and got my fellow food-minded friends and husband on board.
A few days before the big night out they sent a list of the courses and all the suggested wine pairings. (It's a BYOB).
My one of two bestest wine aficionado friends picked up comparable wines at a much more palatable cost and we were set!

It felt slightly magical to walk from my friend's house a few blocks away, in to a dusky downtown Kennett, through a storefront that read "Closed."
We were warmly greeted and to my surprise were butlered two amuse-bouche separately (barbeque pulled pork on a biscuit and crab salad on a firm corn pudding) and a melon tea palette-cleanser, all the while enjoying a view of town and sipping champagne. I sorta felt like I was playing dress-up, like I was too young for this behavior - which made it all that more fun!

After our delicious teasers, we were led back into the kitchen. We walked past the large Farm table in the middle of the store where ten diners sat quietly in anticipation of their first course.
It felt like we were doing something wrong as our group nodded our heads to their group as we walked by.

When we got in through the doors of the kitchen a large industrial steel table with a butcher block top sat large and happily off in the corner underneath a special little pendant light.

We got to watch the food being made.
We got to interact with our chefs.
We got to interact with our servers.
We got to laugh and be loud.
We got to listen to music with the volume turned up.
We got to be quiet and chew with adoration.
We got to enjoy every person in the kitchen's company as much as we did the food.

It was really an amazing place to be, that kitchen.
And as sophisticated as all the food (and wine) was, I think we all felt pretty juvenile that night - like it was Thanksgiving and we were at the kids table in the kitchen, while all the adults were out in the dining room.
I'm really not sure if I'm even ready for the dining room yet.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stair Down.

Adding personality to one's home should not end at the front door.
Every nook and cranny and stairwell should always give a wink and a nod in your style direction.
Be quietly captivating or brave enough to be bold.
But be something.

We've started injecting some serious turquoise to our third floor stairwell.
Decades before the trend, or even in the thick of it, I'm never sick of turquoise in any way.
Even our kid appreciates it.

Get some more ideas:

Orla Kiely-ish.
Apartment Therapy.

Pop Classic.

I'm not gonna say "this rules."

Watery Ballusters.
Apartment Therapy

Fire and Yumstone.
Tear It Out.

Living etc.

Retro beachenstein.

Mod Victorian.
S Photos.

Apartment Therapy.

Rainbow Connection.
Lark & Linen.