weekly photo challenge: saturated

I often times think my decorating style is…saturated.

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Wish I could go…simple…you think?

…nnnaaahhh!!!…

………hugmamma.

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…stuff, stuff, and more stuff…

Or as we Hawaiians like to say…OPALA, OPALA, and more OPALA…

Imported Photos 00519

…my daughter’s “opala”…

We may fool ourselves into thinking we have just the right amount of stuff, until we try to cram in more. Of course with our daughter moving back home, I’m not talking about a few boxes. I’m talking about a lot of boxes, a couple of dressers, a sofa, a small dining set, a wingback chair, a bookcase, a huge cabinet, a corner cabinet, a computer desk with chair, lamps, pictures…and all the accompanying knick-knacks. And then there’s her clothes…don’t ask!

...more of her stuff...

…more of her stuff…btw, that weird, penguin-looking thing in the chair is a massager…just in case you were wondering…

None of this is really our daughter’s fault, however. I take most of the blame. Having her live 3,000 miles from us since she was 16, I wanted her to feel as though she was still ensconced in the loving spirit of our home. She grew up with vintage furnishings which lend themselves to a feeling of coziness, and that’s what I wanted to recreate for her.

My decorating plan worked wonderfully. Our daughter flourished during the 11 years she’s been on her own. I like to think it was due, in part, to her loving her personal surroundings. She assures me it was. I don’t doubt her…since she’s not donating the lot of it to Goodwill. Although she did part with a good bit of tchotchkas when she moved from an apartment suspected of having bed bugs, even though only one larva was discovered in the seam of the bed’s boxspring.

...my "opala"...

…my “opala”…

Because I’m a nut for antiques, our daughter couldn’t help but have some of it rub off on her. Like mother, like daughter. Thankfully, she’s like her father too. He’s got attributes I wish I had…like ignoring people and things that can bug the heck out of me. With his guidance, I’m learning…I’m learning.

So if I’ve spent the last few weeks rearranging my house in preparation for my daughter’s homecoming, I’ve only got myself to thank. Of course the overriding sentiment is that it’ll all be worth it to have her with us…for as long as she’s with us.

God works in mysterious ways, so it’s best to…

…just go with the flow…

………hugmamma.

...two peas in a pod...

…two peas in a pod…bff’s forever…

weekly photo challenge: mine #2

Having a passion for vintage furnishings is the equivalent of being…an organized hoarder.

There is a silver lining, however. I’m downsizing. Have been for years.

Trouble is as stuff goes out the front door…more stuff comes in the back.

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Mine. Mine. Mine.Singin’ In The Rain…Just Singin’ In The Rain…Kewpie Doll… remember them from state fairs and carnivals…

Signed photo…Lana Turner...

Cake Topper…memories of a special day…

Gotta Match?Ribbett…Ribbett…Ribbett…Roly-Poly Santa…Santa on Wheels…

Vintage toys…Spice up your life…Tea anyone?…

Vintage plates…and dish rack…French candle holder…Book of Herbs…Vintage, cashmere, sweater…Vintage, designer shoes…hat stand…primitive foot stool…Chinese, lacquer ladder…Vintage print…Father…wishing you luck…

Vintage needlework…a welcoming home…

Vintage pillow topper…honoring mom and dad…Vintage Oil…

Vintage suitcases…great for storage…Victorian Trellis…decorative window screen…hugmamma’s…mama……vintage………hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: create

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Furnishing dollhouses was a hobby my daughter and I shared as she was growing up. The first dollhouse was a gift for her which my husband assembled from a kit. We painstakingly finished it off with paint, wallpaper, roofing tiles, and electricity. We were quite pleased with the finished product, as was our daughter who squealed with delight upon seeing it Christmas morning.

The following year my husband’s aunt and uncle visited from California, bringing with them a surprise for our daughter. Driving their trusty trailer the 3,000 miles to our home in Redding, Conncecticut, they eagerly presented her with a dollhouse that uncle had built with pride. He’d built dollhouses for 3 granddaughters as well.

To our great surprise uncle had built the exact same dollhouse that we’d presented to my daughter! There was a slight difference, one that made his more convenient for 360 degree viewing. Attached to its underside was a turntable. This dollhouse could be placed anywhere, unlike the first which had to be situated so that the front of the house and the inside could be seen at the same time. Displaying it took some creativity on my part when trying to incorporate it into our home furnishings. A dilemma not easily solved in a 100-year-old, 1500 square foot, Victorian farmhouse. But I managed.

Now there were 2 dollhouses to display and furnish. Over time, the one built by uncle  was furnished with pieces selected by my daughter. She lovingly arranged each as she imagined a house should look…lived in. Miniature food was left out on the table, pumpkin carvings on newsprint on the floor, magazines and games strewn about.

The one my husband had built became a haven for the vintage finds I favored. I was delighted to have another outlet for my insatiable passion for antiques…of any size. Normal size or miniatures, originals or replicas, none of that mattered. The “look” is what I obsessed about. This dollhouse began to resemble the feel of our house…only in miniature.

What fun my daughter and I had creating comfortable dwellings for imaginary people. And she and friends spent countless hours playing house like the wee folk…thanks to 2 creative geniuses…

…her father…and great uncle…

………hugmamma.   🙂

weekly photo challenge: through

A view of my front yard through the window of my newly renovated master bedroom. I’m inclined to recycle vintage pieces wherever I can. Have you any idea where this architectural piece may have “lived” prior to where it’s now been incorporated? Look for a photo showing more of the piece in an upcoming post with pictures of my remodel.

…see if you’re right then…

hugmamma.    😉                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

( note: this challenge occurred in mid-march…i guess i’m a little behind the times…no matter…it still works!)

365 photo challenge: contemporary

My tastes do not tend toward the contemporary…now. But if I had another house to decorate…perhaps. Meanwhile my current home is a split-level contemporary from the mid-70s. And it suits my primitive, vintage furnishings quite nicely.

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weekly photo challenge: colorful

Colorful is how I’d describe my furnishings. I’ve been in love with color almost since I discovered antiques when I moved to New York from Oahu more than 30 years ago. My specialty are primitives. Well-worn, and well-loved colorful reminders of yesteryear. Whenever I walk into an antiques shop or a flea market, I am pulled toward objects with paint, preferably ones with a softened patina. In my younger days of hunting for bargains, I would also consider items whose paint was somewhat rough…somewhat chipped or flaked. Not so much anymore. Although where I live, nicely aged items of color are not as abundant as I’m sure they are on the east coast, where I got most of what I own, or in the Midwest, where I’ve not had the pleasure of browsing for antiques. Perhaps someday…meanwhile here’s a little sampling of…

my colorful…….gems………………..hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: old-fashioned

Have been surrounded by vintage furnishings for more than 30 years, but have never felt I was old-fashioned. But if reminiscing about the good old days puts me in that category, than that’s what I am at heart…an island girl who never lost her love for all the things that made life more precious…more homegrown…and definitely…straight from the heart.

Hoping you enjoy my slideshow for…”these are some of my favorite things”… 

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how do you rid everything you own of bedbugs…???

Cleaning! Cleaning! Cleaning! I’m here to tell you that even then there’s no guarantee you’ve rid yourself of the little beasties! Bedbugs hunker down and bide their time. Evidently they can live without human blood for several months…hibernating. Unlike bears who, by virtue of their size, can’t be missed, and who CAN be deterred by jingling my bear bells, bedbugs literally come and go as they please, undetected by the naked eye it seems. Left to their own devices they multiply, until they’ve overtaken their surroundings and a full-blown infestation is underway.

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Image by CH®iS via Flickr

According to the rep from All America Pest Control, the infestation in my daughter’s old apartment was ultra-low. Even the Orkin rep had indicated that my daughter must be very sensitive to bug bites, which she is. Lucky for her, if getting bitten 30+ times is considered lucky, for had she not been bothered she would’ve been inundated by bedbugs. By comparison, dealing with 2 larvae and 1 dead bedbug found in the bed’s dust ruffle when it was laundered and removed from the dryer, was a piece of cake. Or so we thought.

No matter 1 dead bedbug or 1,000 live ones, cleaning everything is mandatory…or else! But you know what? My daughter became so paranoid that nothing short of baking the entire apartment would have satisfied her. But if “spot cleaning” cost $600, what do you think the charge would’ve been for bringing in heavy duty equipment to fry the little suckers? Probably a couple of thousand dollars!!! So instead the “light brigade,” an arthritic, middle-aged mom and her broken-handed daughter set to work cleaning every crevice of everything.

First my daughter had to recover her belongings from storage, bringing them back to the old apartment. No way were we going to take them to the new apartment without sanitizing them of bedbugs and/or their larvae. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t see them. Remember, they like to hide until the dinner bell rings…in their little pea-brains, I guess. While my daughter undertook the massive job of sorting all, and I do mean ALL, her clothes into piles for laundering, I proceeded to clorox wipe furnishings. I’m not sure whose job was worse.

Thanks to my generosity (or idiocy) throughout the years, my daughter has clothes up the wazoo!!! Not only were they hanging, organized neatly according to type, style, color, fancy, casual in her huge, walk-in closet, but they also occupied shelves in the closet, dresser drawers, bins in a bookcase as well as the second bedroom closet. Mind you, she is a ballerina requiring a whole wardrobe of dancewear in addition to street clothes. Nonetheless, the fault is mine… and my husband’s. Born into large families where luxuries were nonexistent, we, like many of our generation, tend to shower our offspring with what we never had. Bless our daughter’s heart for she has never asked for anything, probably because she knows all her needs will be met, and some. Perhaps the bedbugs were a blessing in disguise?!? Forgive me, I must be delusional. However my daughter and I agree that she has no need of any further piece of fabric, a favorite hiding place of those dreaded insects.

We felt the same about the furnishings. Wiping down every lamp and lampshade, picture frame, trinket box, extension cord, plastic food container, electric fan, dining room chair, pair of earrings, bracelet, necklace, cd speaker, clothes hanger, wire basket, wicker basket, candleholder, vase, candle, book, magazine, wastebasket, utensil holder and utensils, not to mention the really large items like a tri-fold room divider, made me sick to my stomach, literally. Actually there is some of that in this never-ending tragi-comedy.

North Face of Mt. Everest

Image via Wikipedia

It was a massive undertaking, but my daughter and I “hit the ground running” when we returned to her hometown after she visited with my husband and me. With adrenalin pumping, she and I proceeded to climb our own “Mt. Everest.” While she began the process of laundering her clothes, I spent the first day-and-a-half painting her new apartment.

Benjamin Moore’s “white stone,” a soft blue-gray, lightened and brightened the heretofore dingy, gold walls prevalent in 70s’ construction. While I chose that color for the public rooms, I opted for a soft blue in the one bedroom and a soft lavender in the tiny bathroom. I wanted to preserve and enhance the vintage charm of the apartment with its crown mouldings and high ceilings. Funny thing, when repairmen stopped by (another part of this tale), the first thing they asked was if we had just had the apartment painted. Of course I owned up to the fact that I was the painter, but that the tops of the walls needed to be done. And since I was too short, my husband would be finishing the job. The men grinned, admitting to their wonderment as to who we might have hired to do the job. Intimating that they thought we’d been “taken,” until they realized that a middle-aged woman, albeit a short one, did a damn good job. If I must say so myself.

From here the story takes an unexpected turn, so make sure you come back for more. Suffice it to say that I find it somewhat therapeutic to be reliving several of the worst weeks of my life, physically and mentally. They left me spent in every way. I was certain this was my final parenting job, that I could mother no more.

you think???…hugmamma. 😉 

christmas 2011???

Not quite! More like Christmas 2010 is still liking our “digs,” and has decided to stay put a little longer. Truth be told, it’s not like the holiday decor has had a choice. It’s more that I’ve been slow to pack it away. So here come the excuses.

You know I was ill for awhile. I’m better now. Thank you very much. But as a result we weren’t able to entertain friends who wanted to see our decorations. Now that it’s February I think most of them will have to wait until it really is Christmas 2011, except for my good friend Cindy. She’ll be over Friday for lunch. She so enjoys how I intermix antiques, collectibles and holiday items to create a vintage wonderland. Another reason for her visit is to peruse my Venice travel guides. She’s hoping her family will make the trip there sometime this year.

Speaking of Christmas past, and being ill, my husband and daughter were fabulous to prepare the entire holiday meal, from appetizers to dessert. As one who is totally anal about details, I resisted at first. But while the brain might have been up for the challenge, my body dug in its heels and said “No way! Uh, uh. Can’t do it.” So I sat back, more like laid on the sofa, and let husband and daughter “have at it,” as the Brits like to say. Well, they knocked my gourmet socks off…way off! I had chosen the recipes, but they came up with masterpieces. I decided on the spot, that I wasn’t the only cook allowed in my kitchen. Someday I might even relinquish my chef’s hat altogether. Now when’s my hubby retiring? Hmmm…I’ll gain a cook, a gardener, maybe even a housecleaner…

Since this post is a Christmas hodgepodge of sorts, I wanted to include photos of nearby homes which exploded with holiday spirit. Our family’s favorite is the window that displays the fish-net stockinged, woman’s leg, lamp and shade, from the 60s “The Christmas Story.” Until recently it was only a favorite of my husband’s. In years past I’d grimace whenever he spoke of watching it replayed on TV. This year, however, my daughter and me purchased the DVD as a present for him. I MUST be getting older, and mellower, because I did find the movie endearing. It reminded me of the good days. Old folks are always a sucker for reminiscing about the past. I’m no different it seems.

So now you know my Christmas secrets. We’re still celebrating the holidays. Yes, I still light all 5 trees. However, I refrain from flipping the switch on the outdoor lights. The neighbors might think we’re loony. I didn’t cook the annual holiday meal. And I’ve been won over by a movie I use to think was so corny. But you know what? Extending the season just means we continue to have lots of “good will toward men,” and God knows we on earth could use several mountains worth, especially now.

ho, ho, ho…and a merry christmas to all…and to all a good night…hugmamma. (good morning, actually, since it’s 10:19 a.m. where i am.)

“hocus pocus!” real estate for sale!

When we moved from the east coast 13 years ago, we practiced a little “hocus pocus” when selling our home in Redding, Connecticut. One of the smallest houses in town, our 100-year-old Victorian farmhouse, at 1,500 square feet, was about half the size of our current one. While it lacked an abundance of living space, our 3 bedroom, 1 bath home was full to overflowing with charm. It provided the perfect backdrop for my collection of antiques and memorabilia. But when it was time to sell, we weren’t sure prospective buyers would love our one-of-a-kind, vintage home.

My husband left my young daughter and me before Christmas, to begin his new job here in the Pacific Northwest. I was anxious to sell quickly so that we could all be reunited. Just before he returned to spend the holiday with us, I learned from a friend that a neighbor and friend of hers had just died of a heart attack at age 42. The loss was especially devastating because she left behind two very young daughters, the littler of whom wore a helmet because she suffered some neurological disorder. The husband owned a local ice cream shop in a town next door to ours. Evidently their marriage had been strained because he was very controlling of his wife’s time, and her friendships.

I was so saddened for the little girls who were now without a mom, that the sale of our house seemed inconsequential. Instead of praying for our family’s reunion, I prayed hard that the children would be okay. I cried that they would be okay.

When my thoughts returned to the sale of our home, a dear friend, Carol, offered some unusual advice. While it seemed like religious superstition, we were open to anything after 2 months without a firm offer. In the dead of winter, we buried a small statue of St.  Joseph, head first, facing the street, in the dirt in front of our house. Needless to say my husband had a difficult time digging a hole in the frozen ground. But he did. And guess what? Our home went into contract later that week! We had bought it 14 or 15 years earlier for $115,000, and sold it for $245,000. When we moved, St. Joseph traveled with us. We had to dig up his statue and honor him with a place in our new home, which we have. He stands among my collectible dishware in a red, painted cupboard.

With foreclosures on the rise recently, sellers and buyers “are turning to witches, psychics, priests and feng shui consultants, among others, to bless or exorcise dwellings,” or “to help move…property stuck  on the market.” The Wall Street Journal’s “The Housing Slump Has Salem  On a Witch Hunt Again,” indicates that the ancient tradition of housecleansing is making a comeback. Tony Barletta bought a foreclosed home in disrepair at 31 Arbella St. Because of its bad vibes, he invited 70-year-old witch, Lori Bruno, who claims to be descended from 16th century Italian witches, and warlock Christian Day to process through the house casting out the negativity. “They clanged bells and sprayed holy water, poured kosher salt on doorways and raised iron swords at windows.” Then Ms. Bruno chanted ” ‘Residue, residue, residue is in this house. It has to come out,” and “Lord of fire, lord flame, blessed be thy holy name…All negativity must be gone!’ ” The bell ringing is to break up the negativity, while the iron sword keeps evil spirits at bay, according to Bruno and Day.

Historically, Catholics and Hindus call upon priests to bless a new home before occupying it. Chinese believe in cleansing a home of any accumulated bad luck before the start of their New Year. Julie Belmont, a so-called “intuitive,” working in Orange County, California, explains that with foreclosures, ” ‘It’s not dealing with entities or ghosts…anymore…a lot of it is energy imprints from past discussions, arguments, money problems. All of that is absorbed by the house.’ “

But while Ms. Bruno and fellow Salem witch Lillee Allee perform house blessings for free because they “don’t want to live off people’s sadness,” others see it as a real business opportunity. “Austin, Texas-based feng shui consultant Logynn B. Northrip is teaming up with Scottsdale, Ariz., real-estate agent Jason Goldberg to offer a package of services to create better vibes in a home, either before sale or after purchase. The two met at a yoga retreat.” Sacramento, California realtor Tamara Dorris used feng shui to help sell a home that had sat on the market for more than a year. Having placed “a jade plant, believed to bring financial good luck, in a ‘prosperity corner’,” the home received 2 offers of purchase within two weeks.

Seems to me like St. Joseph is a more budget-friendly investment, and reeks less of superstitious mumbo-jumbo. But as far as I’m concerned, hey, whatever works!

never know…might try some of it the next go-round…hugmamma.

a treasure trove

Deciding to enjoy a day in the sun, hubby and I briefly visited friends to see what goodies they were selling in their neighborhood yard sale. I snapped up a set of 4 square, etched glass lunch plates with matching mugs for $10. While there I did a little rearranging, bringing to the front items that would catch the eyes of passers-by. I left, hoping the changes would increase sales.

Residential communities and shopping plazas behind us, we found solace in the wide open spaces the farther along we drove. Heading toward a favorite restaurant for lunch, I saw a street sign out the corner of my eye. I immediately asked my husband to “Go Back!” Turning the steering wheel, he made a quick right turn. It put us on a road that was sure to connect with the one we’d passed. After a short drive, we came to a stop sign. As we turned left, I knew we’d been here before. It was deja vu.

As buildings came into view at the bottom of the street, I squealed with delight. Ahead lay the historical train depot with its museum, the bookstore that carried “out of print” titles, and the restaurant/bakery that served up “to-die-for” home cooked meals and baked goods. We’d eaten there 12 years before when we first moved West. At the time it seemed we’d driven umpteen miles in search of a haunt favored by the locals. 

Impatient to see if the inside looked the same, I jumped out the door as soon as the car was parked. Not waiting for my husband, I entered the restaurant. It seemed more spacious than I remembered; but it had the same, comfortable vibe as before. Looking around, I saw people smiling and chatting as they munched away at their food. I was so happy that we’d found this “hidden gem” again.

After dining on a hearty meatloaf sandwich, coffee and lemon meringue pie, I was ready to explore. Contentedly burying himself behind his e-book, my husband waited while I browsed the nearby shops. He helped carry an armload of old books, mostly biographies, that I’d purchased for “pennies.” (Compared to what I pay at big retail bookstores.)

Expecting to make a quick stop at the train station museum, I did so only because it was there. I half-heartedly hoped that the antique shop I’d visited before was still housed within. But I was pretty sure it had gone out of business a while ago. Walking through the front door, I felt I had traveled back in time.

An avid collector of vintage items, I’ve searched for treasures from Hawaii to New England to Venice. But I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming inventory of memorabilia I saw before me. Wherever I looked there were walls of old black and white photographs, wedding certificates, baseball uniforms, tools and so much more. There were glass cases displaying old typewriters, a mannequin dressed in a vintage wedding gown, hats, dolls and a miniaturized train depot complete with trains, tracks, landscaping, and the like. There was a bank safe and a phone booth. Both looked like they might still service customers. There was a grouping of old Singer sewing machines, and a small cart that might have been a child’s or one used for delivering goods.

I couldn’t stop “oohing” and “aahing” as I marveled at several vignettes. One was of a barbershop; another of a classroom with children sitting at old school desks, filled bookcases alongside. A third showed a kitchen complete with all sorts of cooking and eating paraphernalia from bygone days. For me, the most significant find stood at the foot of the stairs descending to the basement, a ringer-washing machine. I smiled remembering my childhood encounter with that antiquated contraption. 

At 9 or 10 years of age, I helped my older, married sister put the washed clothes through the ringer of the machine, ridding them of water. In shocked horror I watched as my hand got caught in the rollers. I probably waited to see how close my fingers could get before letting go. Blood curdling screams brought my sister, and everyonelse in the house, running to see what had happened. I’m happy to say I escaped, fingers, hand and arm completely intact. I made sure not to tempt fate a second time.

The curator couldn’t have been lovelier, allowing me to snap some pictures, as well as sharing tidbits about preserving the antiques and explaining how they came to be in the museum. We parted friends, deciding to keep in touch via emails, blogs and Facebook.

I rejoined my husband,  who was patiently sitting on a bench just outside. He listened as I recounted all the details of the past hour or so. He hadn’t realized that more than train artifacts were on display. He might have come inside had he known. Well there’s always the next time, for we’ll be back.

trust me,we will return…hugmamma.