May 30, 2009

Inspired Friday: Piewacket

Recently, I've begun to jot down some ideas in a notebook, a pathetically basic idea that has just dawned on me in regards to the blog. I get lots of ideas in the shower and driving around town that never materialize into actual posts, and maybe this little notebook of jottings will keep me motivated and blogging.

One of my ideas is to start featuring a weekly post themed around something that has inspired me of late. I see a lot of good stuff out there on the 'net, stuff that gets my creative juices flowing (and usually makes me also want to open my wallet.) It may be a blog, a specific post, an artist, a designer, etc. -- just something I've stumbled upon on the web or real life that has my brain humming and excited. So, here is the first installment in what I hope becomes a weekly feature: "Inspired Friday."

My inaugural Inspired Friday features a blog that has been much on my mind for the last month or so: Piewacket: Unique Show & Tell. I found Piewacket via a feature post on another of my favorite blogs, SFGirlByBay. You can jump over there and read her full article here, along with a host of beautiful pictures featuring the home of Piewacket's creator, professional photographer Lara Rossignol.

Lara's Atlanta home is chock-full of vintage goodness, and the way she's incorporated her style and her obsessions into her own unique look is something I find very stimulating and inspiring. Looking at her home, two things immediately come to mind: 1) she obviously does not have any small children underfoot! and 2) DUH.
DUH, because her style makes me feel like slapping myself about the head and shouting, "and why haven't YOU done this?" I have been fairly obsessed with styling my room and surroundings since I was in junior high, maybe earlier. (This subject could be another long post on its own.) Yet for a long, long time (like, until maybe just 4 or 5 years ago?) I've been under the delusion that my house had to look "grown up;" like everyone else's house. I thought the sofas and furniture found at Linder's or other bargain-level stores (what we could usually afford) was the style that had to dictate my own home.

A lot of this need to "look like everyone else" and appear as normal as possible has been the cause of a whole lot of creative self-stifling over the years, and I sometimes feel that I'm just beginning to break free of that impulse.

When I see a home like Lara's, I feel a sort of overwhelming tide of admiration at her bravado -- for it does take a certain kind of bravery and flying-in-the-face of the expected to display your obsessions, your collections and therefore so much of yourself in this way. It also takes a certain kind of dedication to the lifestyle -- and a discipline with oneself -- to stick to this certain look. One cannot really impulse buy for the home at 90% of major retail outlets when you choose to outfit your space so personally. And (as I know from experience), it also makes it hard for friends and family to buy things for you -- for unless they totally "get it," most gifts of household tchotchkes (photo frames, figurines, vases, etc.) will be received graciously, even as your inner decorator is sadly thinking, "um, no. "

What I'm truly trying to say about Ms. Rossignol's home and personal style could perhaps be more elegantly summed up with this quote from Emerson: In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
Piewacket has quickly become one of my favorite blogs. I visit her site each day with the same anticipation for a new post that's close only to my love for dear Alicia's site, Posy Gets Cozy. And, as I once commented about Alicia's blog, "it's like yummy sweet lotion that I want to rub all over myself." Heck, even her beautiful photos of lemons, barbecue joints, and the Las Vegas skyline feel inspiring.

***All photos above by Lara Rossignol. ***

Finally, I know that I'm a late bloomer, but to be figuring out some of this stuff at 40 feels damn pathetic. (On the other hand, I'm a little excited about what the next years ahead may bring.)

May 26, 2009

Senior Kink

At my local Barnes & Noble today, I overheard a grandmotherly lady (lace-up white loafers and all) inquire at the Information kiosk about some titles she'd jotted down on a scrap of paper.

Ever-nosy about what books people are interested in, I lingered at the nearby table of paperbacks and was stunned when the employee read back the names of the 3 books the lady was asking about. They were: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Release, and Beauty's Punishment: the trilogy of erotic and S&M-themed porn novels written by good 'ol (crazy) Anne Rice.

"Yes, that's it," the woman said. "I want to order two copies of each." Two copies of each? Look, I've read at least one of the above books. They're pretty sexy -- lots of spanking and creative uses of foreign objects, I seem to recall. Does this grandma know what she's in for? And why two? Is she in some kind of assisted-living book club? Is one for her, and the other for grandpa?

The mind reels.

Also: I found a good quote by e.e. cummings on the inside of a young-adult novel, about a girl who can fly:

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting."

Aha. No wonder I'm so tired.

It's even harder to fight the good battle if one lives in this isolated and uber-suburban town, which some have deemed "the bible belt of Southern California." (But with me & kinky grandma here, rest assured we have at least a couple of free-thinking residents.) There goes the neighborhood.

May 25, 2009

If the Vans are a Rockin'...

.....and yadda yadda again on the time that's passed since the last post. I'm here! Twice in the same month. Let's focus on the positive.

So, what better way to kick off Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer than with a new pair of Lo-Pro, tomato red Vans. Gotta love it when the hubby wants to both play mall rat and agree to buy me a new pair of shoes. (It was really a shopping spree for him -- badly, if not desperately, in need of new jeans, shorts and shoes.) He bought these:
Which, shockingly, as he grew up here in So.Cal, are his first-ever pair of slip-on Vans. (Many other pairs of Vans have been bought, worn and trashed over the near-12 years of our marriage.) Maybe this summer he can channel his inner Spicoli.
(Trolling the 'net for Spicoli pics has put me very in the mood for watching Fast Times. It used to be a tradition for me to pop my copy into the VCR and watch it every summer.)

Me, I'm looking forward to rockin' my new Vans in denim shorts, a floral sundress, or even looking a little retro-70s in a thin-striped navy & white t-shirt. And then tipping them out to shake loose all the grass and sand from lots of summer picnics and seaside adventure.

Get ready, Summer -- the Shires are so gearin' up.

May 13, 2009

*On Clean White Sheets*

I was spoiled rotten on Mother's Day. It was a good day -- no breakfast, or even toast, in bed -- but that's because the kids slept in a bit later than usual. I seem to remember that last year, both of them were awake around 6:30am and chomping at the bit to storm my room, wake me up and give me their proudly-presented toast and coffee.

Quite adorable in theory, but in reality? Let me sleep!

I was treated to a pancake breakfast cooked up by the hubby, and was gifted up to my eyebrows in a manner much more befitting Christmas than a mere Mother's Day. Sweet handmade cards, a beautiful photo scrapbook from Lily, made in her first-grade class. Two decorated brown lunch bags, filled with a feather, a pencil, and a dollar (!) in each.

My favorite surprise (of many!) was some much-coveted bedding from Pine Cone Hill. Mmm, sheets. Yes, I did request them. But I had asked for either the Louisa duvet cover, or the ruffled sheet set. Instead, I was treated to not one, but both items, along with the matching pillow shams. I'd seen the duvet cover a year ago in the May '08 Better Homes & Gardens. It was folded at the bottom of a guest bed, and had the simple-yet feminine-and also slighty vintage feel that I'd been trying to find in a quilt or bed cover.

I've cheated for the last half year with just a lightweight white comforter folded at the foot of the bed, but the ruffles add a wonderful finishing touch. And God bless my dear husband, for not only tolerating white ruffles, but acquiring them at my behest.

The sheets are very soft, and are likely the highest quality sheets I've ever owned. Only 200 count, but I've read that retailers often fudge on thread-count counting, so that a "400 count" sheet set for $30 at Anna's Linens feels and looks about as lux as it sounds. Evidently 200-count combed cotton, made in India, is a whole different animal.

I tried to give the sheets the royal treatment they deserved before fitting them onto my 11-year-old mattress: I bought fresh-smelling linen spray! I bought spray starch! I flipped the mattress! I washed the sheets in warm water without bleach or further additives, did an extra rinse, and tumbled-dried low without a dryer sheet.

And then I commenced to iron. And iron. And iron. The full sheet, the pillow cases, the duvet cover. I gave up on the fitted sheet. And in the end? Those were still some damned wrinkled white sheets on my bed. I will say, after all of the above efforts, that I slept quite soundly in my newly dressed bed. Mmmm, to clean white sheets.

Perhaps all that physical effort could have been avoided if I'd only gotten one of the other items I'd requested: a backyard clothesline. Yes, my recent bedding fetish also features dreams of fresh linens snapping and drying in the afternoon breeze. Never mind that my neighborhood is uber-suburban, and I have a rather narrow and shallow rectangle of a backyard. Images like this have filled my head of late:

And this:

That last picture looks a lot like my old backyard in Orange, with the telephone wires against the sky, and the bougainvillea in the background. There may even be the distant sound of a freight train in the distance there. *Sigh*

However, reality check: those whiteys flapping in the breeze there are cloth diapers. I admire that kind of dedication to the environment, but, um, NO. And also, maybe it means something that the most vivid memory of clotheslines I have from my childhood is when I was four, and twirling myself around & around the metal pole of one end of the clothesline, while my mom hung the laundry. Then I got dizzy and fell, and whacked my mouth onto the concrete supporting base. I screamed bloody hell, was given a popsicle, and ended up with a gray front tooth that hung around for a couple years until I got my permanent tooth.

So, yeah. Maybe not.

In the end, I have no idea where this new bedding/laundry/fresh breezes fetish arose from. Probably too many spring shelter magazines urging us all to "Get Outdoors NOW" have gone to my head. Or perhaps it's my brain, processing and memorizing the lyrics from my beloved Neko Case's new album.
This, from one of my favorites, This Tornado Loves You:

Cause I miss, I miss, I miss/
How you'd sigh yourself to sleep/
While I raked the springtime/
Across your sheets.

Ahhh. Lovely. Almost as lovely as my new, soft, wrinkled white bedding.
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