I heard from a very popular blogger than when you do not feel like writing that most likely, your readers are not interested in reading . Holidays and heat waves could be the culprit .
Los Angeles has been an inferno. And not just the temperature. My heart has been heating up in more ways than one. Now that I am back from the wonderment of summer debauchery, tennis, sunsets, late mornings,riding bikes, and attending after parties , I actually think I am lost.
Carpool, Mammogram appointments, What’s for dinner? , PTA night, Snack day. Who am I?
I went from seeing my husband so infrequently this summer ( he was able to come three times in 10 weeks ) that I actually remembered what it was like to impress him. Think hair salon, a week of squats and delivering breakfast in bed to him every morning. There was no “Honey , can you take out the recycling” I had him dialed..It was a honey moon in every sense of the word.
Now, back in LA, we are back into the mode of life. It is a grand life with healthy children and a roof over our heads. Schedules, rules and calendars run my day now. I jumped back on the hamster wheel with the hubby over a silly argument about who was going to rent the piano for Bailey, my second child. And to add insult to injury, I donned the most horrendous pair of old granny panties while I complained to him. This is not cool to do when your husband is starting to look younger than you.
So what I have done to feel better?
I allowed the girls to stay up past their bedtime last night. We ate food on beach towels and they all tee-teed on the lawn and squealed with delight. I sipped on a beer and sprayed the hose on them as they jumped in and out of our swimming pool naked. I could not muster the energy to do bath time, story time, tickles and “May I have one more glass of water” . Everyone fell asleep in the their clothes. And all children had a spring in their step the next day.
I am also sporting a highlights and a blow out. ( I never get them as I can not stand the word blow out or the overdone look in general. Having long blown out hair reminds of 40 something women in reality shows or on Entertainment Tonight. .. But golly it works! Wow! It was worth every penny as I watched my face look better and better under a sheath of shiny smooth hair.
My heart feels good. And I am blogging. Let the Fall roll in..
Below is my attempt to share without sharing too much.. These are my photos from being home on the east coast and coming back to where my heart is.
Mid July. 40- something year old women adding more concealer before party..Newport RI
Pond at Wedding Ceremony
Flowers on a window sill at end of summer party in powder room
Sneak peek into bathroom during a photo shoot
Fresh snap peas from garden waiting on counter
Living Room of friends grandmother’s home
Working kitchen that has not changed since the 50’s..
Newly clipped hedges on “Bunny Hop Island ” . Affectionately named by the girls..
There are several mistakes I made in starting a blog. The first is that I should have started it in 2006 when people still liked to read. The second is that I started it right before summer. Every day I wake up and think about how I have not written a post in a week, two weeks and now a month. Who I am kidding? I can barely find a stamp to mail my bills. I waited until the deadline hour before I filled out the various school forms . I ordered “Tween Time” to cover my gray hair because I am too lazy to drive a mile to the local Wave Lengths salon to get my hair dyed. The only contents in my antiquated refrigerator are moldy cheese, limp celery and curdling half and half . Work is piling up, excuses are flying out. I am a hot mess. But.. I am having the time of my life.
For all the time I am off-line I am on the court.
I am in the cabana and off my phone
Playing in the rain has never been so fun
Baby Feet and the smell of grass. Time sits still if I let it.
Conversations with new friends that are 96 years old. I hope I make it to 96 and ,maybe, I will wear wide brimmed flowered hats and neon orange lipstick and realize all that worrying never truly mattered.
Adolescence is contagious
Untouched Butlers Pantries
Kind Smiling Bartenders
Dinner Parties with Vintage Finds
Design with Bravado
Girl Friend Dinner Parties
Boats on the Wharf
Shoes that will not fit next summer
Before Beach Rush hour..
Afternoons in the hammock
Hot summer days before the rain..
Surfing the waves and not the internet….Putting life in perspective
Every year I have a fairly predictable first day of summer vacation. It is, without fail, emotionally charged in a sweet and nostalgic way.
Eloise is always the first to instruct the taxi to make the left turn into the graveled driveway of Beachmound, my husbands family home, just as the the sun is setting over the Atlantic Ocean.
Entrance to Beachmound
View of beaches in Newport
Our hungry and tired bodies are instantaneously reinvigorated by the site of our faded white clapboard cottage, formerly named the “dumplet” by my in laws. The neatly pruned hydrangeas stand alert on the front lawn.
By August, a riot of pink and purple blowzy blossoms will paint my lawn and will pack every leftover glass jar and vase in my house.
It was yesterday that my families’ aubergine station wagon was chugging down the South Carolina highway with three children,without car seats, in the back seat .
Now, I have taken over the wheel and I am trekking with my children across the country to their summer destination. While Newport, RI seeps into my skin a tad more every summer , my childhood summer memories will always be the freshest and the purest, just as I watch my own children’s unfold before my eyes.
Like clock work, the girls catch their second wind as they race through the creaking cottage doors in a dash to find their faded favorite tutu or coveted swimming metal that was left in a specific spot the year before.
I peak into the closets to find hangers stiff with dresses the color of Easter eggs, questioning out loud if they shrunk over the winter months.
We travel lightly as hand me downs are the clothes that are in season at the “dumplet”.
Cursing the windows year after year I finally release the storm glass, allowing for fresh air to replace the palpable smell of humidity and confinement. ( A rite of passage for the gift of this cottage year after year I tell myself..)
Secretly, I imagine my home awakening and thanking me for filling the void of nothingness that enveloped her for last nine long months.
Black and white and color photos cover the walls with children that are recognizably mine. Yet, there is no casual whisper that my childrens bodies are elongating and the baby-ness of their faces is departing. I can feel the passage of time.
I am no longer the child in the back of a wagon asking ” Are we there yet?” I am the mother gently explaining that it is bedtime even though the sun is still out. Patterns of clouds forming into animals and worn white sheets transport me as I say, It’s bedtime!”
There is no substitution for what summer can donate to a family. My children will affectionately speak about the lengthy summer days and they will pine over them and embellish just as I do now. The details matter and I will take my position of Director of Fun seriously this summer.
The word stress will be void I will try to listen more to their stories and complaints, and play the same games over and over again and remember that there is no time limit on swimming pools, oceans and popsicles.
The Longstreet Collection
I can leave the work books and the ipads and the TV for the school year. This is the summer of fun.
Bailey and Posey making bubble dresses.. The TV broke this summer is what they think..
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you”
Audrey Hepburn said, ” Pick the Day ! Enjoy it to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come. Not to live for the day . That would be materialistic-but to treasure the day. ”
I desperately wanted to come up with something new and catchy to write about today. However, I need to check out of the computer and phone abyss that takes up so much of my day. My phone is wrecking me. I am over it. Throw it in the ocean! Why it is so popular ? Why do I check it every twenty minutes? Who is in there? It is driving me crazy yet I yearn to find it, touch it and open up the contents of a world of Safari, email, Pinterest and news hour by hour. What is in my little silver square treasure chest of a computer that is more important than playing in a real treasure chest with my children? When I am eighty, and golly I hope I make it there, I will have never wished I spent more time on my computer. I will have known, sadly, that I looked at my phone too often.
I will long for the days of the soft, buttery touch of my two years old hand. I know, with all certainty , that I will not remember the weight of my four-year old’s body when I pick her up and I will forget what my seven-year olds hair smells like ( unwashed, like mine, I know it well now!)
So today, I can not think about rooms, or things. I want to disconnect from my phone even though it is Tuesday. I will not read the news because lately what I read has scared me. I have had thoughts of fear that surround my children and the what if’s have become too vivid for me.
I need to reach in my toolbox and know that everything can wait, nothing is a rush and appreciate and find meaning in all the little things .
Last night my children wanted to watch a cartoon. I said ,Go Play! They came up with the most amazing ” trap” by the front door of our home. Eloise filled a small box with shredded paper from my office, Bailey found two pieces of old ribbon and Posey just ran around following them like a baby duckling. When I peeked at what they were doing I saw my chintzy living room pillows, hat boxes and several other misplaced items by the front door. A small box filled with shredded paper was set on the tippy top ledge of the door in hopes of Luke walking through any minute. However, the plan failed and I was to be the new recipient. Eloise asked me to watch her do cartwheels in the front yard and I quipped that I needed to finish an email. Finally I raced out ,with the email on my mind, and then darted back inside the front door. Only to be stopped by a rainfall of white confetti. The joke was on me.
Minutes before, while I was typing on my computer, my ego was reminding me of what a good choice I made.. “No TV girls, it is uncreative. There is no flow.. ( did I hear that on Oprah?) .. But , there I was, NOT in their flow. Go Play? Where was my play at 7 pm?
Today I choose to be as present as possible. I am trusting my gut this morning and chose to write about how I feel. Who cares about lamp shades any way? Today June 10th 2014, will be about the smelling, the touching, the listening and maybe even some journaling .. On paper that is.. Have a wonderful day whatever you choose to do!
This is heart designed by a farmer for his late wife. What a beautiful homage and also a reminder to what is the precious thing of all-Time.
If you have not been following this story, please read The Tryst Part 1 or this will sound extremely corny to you.
He had me at Blue Ground.. A Farrow and Ball paint color that is. I met him when he first appeared on a small swatch at little paint store. I did not know when we would meet again but.. he came in hot and swathed his little dandy self all over my clients dining room walls and molding before I could say no..
This is the paint color that I adore yet can scare any decorator. Strong and lively, this color lends itself to a historic tone in the right space. But if used the wrong way, it can go too Pirates of the Caribbean tick tacky or bad Greek restaurant bathroom..
Veronica Swanson Blue Powered Kitchen
Front Door Domino Magazine
This dining room was gloomy when I met it. But it was only having a bad hair day. Think of a fresh coat of paint as a blow out. It can do wonders, right? The Jansen table was a score and the chairs, while uncomfortable for large for a man, reinforced my bond over anything French.
View to the hallway and the living room.
From Hollyhock in LA
Forgot where I bought this
A Bennison floral fabric made it’s way to this bench Elissa had already.
Phase One was accomplished. However, it felt naked. Draperies and shades could solve that. Who do we turn to for advice? Miles Redd of course.
Mile Redd Veranda
Finding a lower cost silk to make the draperies took forever to source . Keep in mind the house got the curtains in the divorce. We lined them with pink taffy silk stripe to pump up the charm. We limited the trim because Elissa and I are self recognized patisserie snobs and the little bobbles we wanted were about $300 a yard..
This is a post about an affair I had with a house. My client Elissa and I cheated on her house with another house, a David Adler designed home down the street. She and her husband placed a bid on this home, all the while we were decorating her current home..
David Adler Home for Sale that was the culprit and part of the reasoning behind her current color explosion at her existing home
Elissa called me out of the blue around the time I was pondering the idea of exchanging my swatch books for more time on the tennis court and possibly taking a stab at gardening. Yet, secretly I wanted to be everything from a Vegan Shaman to a City Council woman who fosters dogs. I was lost in my creative and yet schizophrenic spirit that had me thinking I could do anything and .. nothing.
Elissa called and candidly explained how she was in remission from cancer and sent me a photo of herself with a swollen face on a beige sofa, next to a blanket of white snow in the background. Help! was the subject in the email. During her illness her mother hopped on a plane from Connecticut to dive in with decorating. Elissa had a young son and an empty house. Stepping into high gear her mom ordered from catalogs, sourced fabrics and raced around in the hopes that her daughter’s family had something to sit on.
Elissa’s house in Lake Forest
Elissa’s mom, prefers barns to design centers so this was a labor of love for her daughter. ( Yes, tears welling up now) She sounds like my kind of gal, a lover of animals and rarely shops or buys anything, unless it is for someone else. If you had a sneak peek into Elissa’s closet-Cream and black rule so I assumed color would be out. Her home was somewhat decorated with muted tones and while I thought they were pretty, she wanted to out them like her memories of sitting in bed for days on end.
How could I not take this job? Cancer survivor funny girl with a super cool house? Check.
Upon arrival Elissa and I raced from room to room talking more about factory farming and big Pharma more than paint colors. She insisted she needed me and I accepted. Although I would have lived in this house naked in the cold for a year just to be close to this architecture.)
After the weekend we made our final design decision for the house ,”Lets make this feel like a preppy 80’s house that Mark Hampton may have designed.” This way, it could feel dated in a chic way and we never have to decorate again.
I was also to design her apartment in the city which we agreed would be more “French and urban” because we both think we are half French. Lake Forest was to receive a color injection. And we went a little bonkers..
Front yard area in Lake Forest
Our design juices flowed because we knew that Adler was lurking, flirting with us in the background. Nothing was mulled over endlessly, we were quick on decisions, we reused and reinvented everything. We pulled from the basement. We spent wisely. Palm Beach thrift stores, sisals and chic catalog pieces were easy choices. Art and photography were new investments . Family photos received new white frames with grasscloth mats. Auction pieces trickled in.
Miles Redd- Talk about a happy room. This was our inspiration… Here is a lesson to everyone including myself- Inspiration is inspiration. Your home will never resemble the tear sheets because most likely the bones do not match what you have, or your wallet. Whoever you are is more exciting than who is living in that Elle Decor spread. When you buy with love and it is coming from an authentic place-Well, that trumps that Pinterest pin that was styled by a professional and created for a photo shoot ( unless Miles Redd decorates your house and it does look like this in real life)
Before Lake Forest Living Room
Before Lake Forest Living Room
Sofa style we copied
The little poufs we covered in faux creamy fur
Gessoed French Table From Tod Romano . We added a faux marble top.
Dororthy Draper Sconces
So here we are at Happy Town . After you experience what Elissa did, we focused on how things made her feel more than how it looked to anyone else.
Samuel and Sons Trim
Confidence is sexy like that. We picked what we loved, no matter provenance or pedigree and it worked in our eyes.
Pindler and Pindler fabric for the Christopher Spitzmiller lamps
Green rug with pink leather border
The mirrors are a purchase from Wisteria catalog from her mother. J’adore!
A Richard Goerner Photograph sits above two Painted White Miniature French chairs covered in Clarence House Velvet Fabric
This is Eloise at age 2 running through the front yard on 4th Street
This never happens unless we have guests but I thought it was a pretty way to start the day on a blog.
I woke up around 5:45 this morning worried about two things-Was there enough milk for my coffee and what can I blog about today. Last night I read that one should blog often with the truth in mind . I am taking this advice and will write about how happy I am it is Saturday. Really happy!
I woke up a tad hung over from a cosmopolitan I drank after a tennis game . This is a drink I never drink and was wondering why as I sluggishly walked downstairs around 5:50 am. When I saw their was enough milk for me ( selfish wife ) and I did not have to go to the store I skipped around the house and turning off all the exterior lights. I am a scaredy cat at night.. Yes, I think there is a boogie man and I go into an irrational lock down mode at my house every night with alarms and far too many lights on.
4th Street in April
Which brings me to my home. I love my house the most on the weekends. And when I do not compare ( as a designer it is so easy to do this) I feel so blessed to have this life. I know these are the best years. I know my children will grow up before my eyes. I know I am lucky I met Luke. I still have dreams of myself in New York, desperately trying to find a husband and dating around and thinking each guy could be the one. What a ding dong! Talk about desperado… I have plenty of friends who are not married and marriage does not suit everyone. And many of my friends will meet the loves of their lives at another age. And, sometimes, when Luke and I argue , I imagine my getaway plan and being single at 45. This may entail a boob job but things could be worse..
It is easy to be in a honey moon phase when your children are 2, 4 and 7. Most days I just stare at their little hands, their small perfect teeth and smell their heads until they tell me to stop. While there are days I think child services could come and get me for being a bad mom I think I am much better than I would have been younger-Time starts to zoom by in your 40’s.
We live in Hancock Park in Los Angeles. My neighborhood resembles any other neighborhood that could be in the mid west, the south ,or New England ( Sort of. )These are some of the nicer houses in my neighborhood and I have made sure to exclude the really tacky bad ones with turquoise gates and too many fake columns.
These are the houses that fill my neighborhood
Our house was the worst house on a rather nice block. This is our house when we bought it. And that is Bear and Lilah. My first two children.
It was a tear down and we were the only bidders who were not going to tear it down.
Back yard before
This is where I painted the heart as seen later in the post
Back of house. Has not changed but a new coat of paint and new windows
Our Side yard before
Eloise as a new born
This is where the gravel is now
Luke was in London and our dear friend and realtor, Barry, called me and told me he found our home. We had stopped looking because everything was so expensive in Santa Monica. Luke surfs so he wanted to live there. I loved Hancock Park because it reminds me of the south. At first site of the broken down white stucco and columns that reminded me of University of Virginia, I told Barry we wanted it.
Luke said yes site unseen. Keep in mind this broken down house was a stretch for us and Luke said yes for me not because it was an easy purchase. He told me he trusted me on this as I could see through the rubble of the house. It also resembled my grandfathers home on Chesapeake Bay affectionally named Cedar Point-
The transformation took a year and it is always ongoing as you can witness from this post.
This house was a chauffeurs quarters to a larger home that sits in front of ours. These were the steps that led to the little bedroom that was basically the whole house.
I sold these chairs and table on One Kings Lane when I needed some cash . I hope they found a happy home.
Pool house on a clean day
This is the old garage that we converted for Lukes office. This is all sunbrella fabric which I bought in two shades of pink. The furniture came from the Brimfield flea market and is quite delicate and pretty. It was $275 for everything. Not so comfortable I have to admit.
Back yard before playhouse and kids
My house looks much better at night because our coping around the pool is still from the 50’s.
We never changed the pool. You can get a great exfoliation on your feet if walk on the bottom..
Los Angeles weather can not be beat on days like this.
The boxwood planters are now filled with hydrangea.
Back yard area. I bought the bar in Palm Beach and painted it black. It is clunky to move around but I love it.
Clearly for a photo shoot
Wisteria on Pool House
Rose from the garden
Plum Trees side garden
And now for my favorite photos of real life on 4th street-
Posey picking beets
This was this morning. Skateboards and an ugly pool fence are the look of the day.
Eloise and Luke about 3 years ago
Bailey and Posey in their play house ( back patio ) with their toys ( ladder and hose)
Eloise as a little girl
Eloise playing by pool. This is all black and white film. I get so excited to get it developed and see what happens. I find it more gratifying than the instant photo that you can retake and retake. But I do love my iPhone so I enjoy both worlds of photography.
Have a wonderful last day of May! We will never have this day again so enjoy your Saturday!
Blogging 101 information clearly states in order to hook readers, one should make lists, create specials days of the week that showcase the same kind of posts and stay consistent. Consistent is not in my vocabulary. If it were, well, I would not be here. I know I am so mentally unorganized, verging on serious ADD , that I worry I could not keep it up. My sister said yesterday to me, “You know you should do something every Tuesday or Friday kind of thing.. ” I am taking her advice.
Today is Friday Favorites. I read some quotes on the Huffington Post from commencement speeches this morning and they all inspired that Hear Me Roar side of me.. This little voice goes missing as much as my keys and phone do but when it calls-I need to listen.
Technicolor is how I see the world. Lordy, I wish I could design that perfect creamy white room in my own home-I am starting a job now that will be as serene as a sunset.. But for now, today-I celebrate that wild side of me as I am thrilled I made it though one week of a writing a blog. I may fail or get bored. I am constantly challenged because I have realized that I use the word chic and fabulous far too often. This quote by Dr Seuss below is one of my favorites.
We can only really be ourselves to standout. I tried to be someone else when I injected my upper lip with collagen when I was 35. I thought I looked younger and probably prettier.. I remember skipping down Madison Avenue holding ice to my upper lip. At a rehearsal dinner the following night, I was asked if I had bitten my lip by my dinner partner when we were laughing with one another. So here I am with liver lips and I use too much color and I am a bad speller. Time to celebrate it all.
– Here is to banning self doubt, rocking out as a girl, a woman, a mom, and friend to music and the colors of summer this weekend.
This is “Girlfriend by Phoenix
“Walk down these crowded streets with a smile on your face. Be thankful you get to walk so close to other humans. It’s a privilege. Don’t let your fellow humans be alien to you, and as you get older and perhaps a little less open than you are now, don’t assume that exclusive always and everywhere means better. It may only mean lonelier. There will always be folks hard selling you the life of the few: the private schools, private plans, private islands, private life. They are trying to convince you that hell is other people. Don’t believe it.”
Thank you to my mother for making me write thank you notes.
Thank you to clients who allow me to use color unapologetically.
Thank you Claire DeJardins for throwing color on a canvas
Ann Marie Slaughter-
On competition- This is for people who are always busy– Ann says “suggest to them that they must be very inefficient workers. Pity them for not having enough depth and breadth to get a life… Stand up for play — for the leisure that will renew and recharge you. Stand up for love. Stand up for each other, and equally importantly for those who do not have the privilege that you do. Stand up for their right to have a life of meaningful work that earns them a living and the time and resources to enjoy their lives.”
I LOVE THIS QUOTE. I told anyone that would listen how busy I was for about three years. Secretly I felt empowered saying those words.. Oh I have so much work.. Humble brag?.. It is ok to tell your husband this.. But not everyone you see. Well guess what Ruthie? Everyone is busy .. And maybe, it is not that cool to be busy. And now, I say exactly that to everyone.. people say.. You must be so busy.. My answer is that everyone is leading a busy life and no I am not but thank you so much for thinking so. It actually works in my head and I start to relax a little. Here is to standing up to play and creating time and not being so busy.
Thank you to those people who are trying to farm small and know that the oceans and animals and the animals and what we eat is all connected.
Here is to color making me happy
Here is to knowing I will never make this
“If you hold out for an invitation, chances are good you’ll miss the party. And by the party I mean life. Growing up, Mom always told me: The answer to life is yes. This is the only life you have so make the most of it
Susan Wojckici ( YouTube CEO)
“Life doesn’t offer you the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. Opportunities come when you least expect them … Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities — the good ones — are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.
Billie Jean King
“This is the century of women. And don’t you forget it.”
This is Lorde-Tennis Court
I encourage everyone to turn off the AC, open the windows and listen loudly..
This blog post is for you if any of the following pertains to you-
1. You say the word organic far too many times in one day.
2. You prefer to buy food in season even when the tomatoes are calling your name from the grocery aisle in late December and oversize strawberries scare you.
3. You fantasize that you just may have lived in a castle at one point in your previous life. Why else would you buy rugs with holes in them and portraits of people you do not know.
Axel Voorvordt’s Home
4. Your fridge is more empty than stacked and you have signs like this stuck to it.
5. You have a great love for plants but most likely do not consume a great amount of food that was made in a plant.
6. You have a farm to table, non GMO , or food porn Pinterest page- ( My apologies for using the word porn but the photos of blackberry homemade gelato are slightly thrilling )
7. You have a small backyard garden but collect photos like this.
If you answered yes to any of the above this cook book will be one of your favorites.
At Home with May and Axel Vervoordt: Recipes for Every Season is the cook book du jour for me. May Vervoordt, does not mention any of the popular jargon about organic that we see in so many cook books on the shelves today. Hers is an elegant and classic approach. I should take a hint from her-The proof is the pudding isn’t it? This book is as pure as her food choices and delightful as her table settings.
The unpretentious, real, thoughtful and simple recipes of May Vervoordt are almost too good to be true. She pairs them with table settings that appear simple and timeless yet result from a life time of collecting and pairing food to moments. It is a must have. We get a rare chance to get a sneak peek into some of the worlds most artistic and extremely discreet couple. Community and food prevail. I can not imagine a more surreal existence living from a garden and cooking with fresh food daily and enjoying people for hours on end.. I doubt anyone brings their cell phones to these dinners! How glorious.