Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mindless Chores, Wandering Minds and Instant Gratification

There are many things I absolutely love doing that most people would think of as "chores". Folding clothes is at the top of the list. Ironing. Weeding the garden beds. Mopping floors, washing dishes, sometimes even dusting. Cleaning up after people are over for cocktails or dinner is a favorite thing to do, as well. I sleep much better when there is nothing dirty in the sink. South Calhoun came complete with a dishwasher, but I believe I've only attempted to use it twice. I mean, by the time you figure out where everything goes while loading it you could have just hand washed it and been done! Whereas standing at the sink (or pushing a mop, or folding a t-shirt) you can let your mind wander, or dissect the evening, or even just let your mind rest.


I know "Homemaking as Therapy" sounds a little crazy. It's just how I do things. Housework calms me down if I'm anxious or upset or even just exhausted. I think it's because accomplishing any task or chore gives you instant gratification. For me polishing silver ranks right up there with pulling weeds in the mental recharge department. Polishing is like meditation. I'm not even kidding. And then when the polishing is over you have a mini victory and for a split second there is nothing you can't do!

 "Hey silverware, I totally tackled you. Now watch me tackle life!"

If only it were really that easy.

Wright's Silver Polish is always my go to! I hadn't polished most of this since I moved. Most wasn't that bad. Remember if you use your silver it takes much longer to tarnish because you are washing it frequently. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

First Things First - Color

Yes, this paint has been on the walls for six months now, but I've been lax at posting. My intentions were to document on the blog the process of moving and decorating. That never happened. I did, however, take plenty of pictures so I can do some of that now.

Color is always the first thing to consider, and since South Calhoun was really and truly a blank canvas I was excited to use color in a much more thoughtful way than in the past. This was the first time I have ever been able to get everything painted ahead of moving, and since major pieces of furniture would be relocated (like the bookshelves that had been my "headboard" at Sheridan Court moving to the living room, and the china cabinet moving into my bedroom since I would now be without a proper dining room) I wanted to take full advantage of this lucky situation. Thankfully, with the help of friends and my contractor (heh, heh) it all got done in time.
I've been using Bedford Gray in my kitchens ever since Martha Stewart invented the color to use on everything, and I mean everything, at her Katonah farm. I love how it changes in the light. It's a darker gray than my old living room, but with the abundance of natural light and the 12' ceilings it works better than I ever imagined.

As in the past, we painted all of the trim and molding the same color. I love how it makes the details pop out. I wanted to, and then was convinced to, paint the pantry door and laundry closet door the same as the walls. They look great. I kept the front, bathroom, and bedroom doors and their trim white, but now want to paint them Bedford Gray as well.


The gray that went up in my bedroom made me nervous at first. It was really dark.

But we plowed ahead. The more walls it covered the more I liked it. I'm not used to having a largish bedroom, and that might have been what worried me at first. This would be quite dark in a small bedroom. The plan was always to use a lot of white in the room, but it was also the space my collections of faux bois pieces, mercury glass vases, and gilded mirrors and frames would occupy. Once everything began moving in and being hung I realized the color was perfect. Going with my gut paid off.

Keeping the trim white in here helps connect everything, as well as lightens the room. The wall at the right in the picture is destined to have some type of built in headboard or panelling or something or other. It will be a great winter project for my contractor.

Kyoto Green was another color for which I had been holding onto the paint chip for years. Here it worked perfect in the bathroom of all places,

Looking from the living room toward a glimpse of the bathroom. The green is bright, but wonderful for a small room. These are two of the doors I still want to paint.

The move was one of the worst weeks of my life. I'm really not exaggerating. One of my three big bookcases had to be cut down in order to fit them on the wall. I was rather bitchy at the time (I swear I measured like eight times!), but once it was all said and done they look great and I really don't even notice the change.


The only room that didn't get the color treatment was the closet, but more on that later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Neglect and Forgiveness In the Garden

I'm really not sure when I lost track of how many days I had spent away from the garden. There was work. And 90 degree weather. And no rain. And a lot of Sunday Fundays. Weeding was difficult in the baked over soil, and planting was impossible. A few new planters were filled. Tomatoes and beans planted, but other than that I really didn't do much this year.

 It seems like ever since the move I feel very settled, but at the same time completely unsettled. I've physically settled down (fine, there are still a few boxes under my bed that need unpacked), but there are so many other things happening in my life that remain unsettled I've become rather crazy and neglectful of some of the things I love. The poor garden has taken the brunt of that neglect.

With the break in the weather and several days of good, soaking rain, I took a stroll around and sort of took stock. There are so many things I want to change. The White Garden experiment might fall by the wayside as I simply expand the Shade Garden. And maybe a stand of Oriental lilies by the vegetable garden, both for cutting and for drawing in pollinators. The Berry Patch needs a complete overhaul, and I need to read up on pruning gooseberries and currants. The greatest thing about creating a garden is that it never ends. You are never finished. Much like people should be, a garden is a work in progress. There is always the need for a place for something new. If something fails, there is always another plant that needs to be divided that can fill it's place.  Always changing for better or worse, but the worse always made better. 

If only my own "work in progress" was so easily accomplished.

I was happy to see how good the garden was actually doing after weeks of heat and very little rain. There are purple beans and wax beans in abundance. The pole beans are just starting.


Last year we thought all of our Naked Ladies (or Surprise Lilies, or Resurrection Lilies) were doomed because so few of them bloomed. This year there are three strong stands of them around the sunny part of the garden.

The elephant ear in one of our new pots in the Hydrangea Border is doing amazingly well. I've ordered another type of alocasia called 'Megalodon' from Logee's that should be coming soon. It will have the rest of the summer to build up some strength before moving in for the winter.

Another one of the new big pots in the Shade Garden filled with begonias, sweet potato vine, and silvery helichrysum, or licorice plant. 


Another pot with the same ingredients, as well as some impatiens, sits in a bed of lily-of-the-valley.

The fig trees are producing slowly. All of the figs in their pots were moved to the front of the Berry Patch this year, and most of our tomatoes this year were planted in pots and placed along the back of the Berry Patch in an attempt to get them more sun. The raspberries themselves did rather poorly this year, so I am thinking about taking them out and starting over with one each red, black, and golden raspberries. This might also allow room for some black and white currants. 

The "upright" elephant ear I smuggled back from Charleston several years ago continues to come back strong every summer. This pot, filled with the elephant ear and a mix of coleus, sits at the South "Entrance" to the garden. You can get a better look at the plain, sturdy, brown clay pots we found on sale and bought up.

What we now consider our Cutting Garden runs along the south side of the house and it has completely blown me away this year. We have never grown zinnias with such long, sturdy branches. The plants themselves are so tall, and the blooms are enormous. 

My 'Dwarf Cavendish' banana tree has also put on quite a growth spurt. He must like his new summer location in the vegetable garden. There are a ton of off shoots in the pot, but once one plant flowers and creates bananas (which I hope happens soon) it will die and be cut out to make room for the next strongest stalk.

Agave have captured my attention the past few years, and now I hunt around for new varieties. This one gave two pups last year that I potted up and they are already growing quite large.

I have three of these lighter green and shorter leafed agave that were found in disarray on a clearance shelf. 

Out in the vegetable garden the little patch of several varieties of basil somehow made it through the drought and is actually thriving.

Pole beans on one of the heavy duty tomato cages we inherited last year.

We will be able to start picking these in a few days.

Another look at the purple beans spilling out into the path. I was lucky enough to spend several hours yesterday weeding and weeding and weeding. It sounds funny, but the mindlessness of the chore, coupled with the instant gratification of seeing an orderly vegetable bed, is like balm for the soul. I needed it, and the garden did, too.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A New Chapter Begins : A Sneak Peak At South Calhoun

It seemed like the day would never come, and I had so much time ahead of me, but now the move from the Penthouse to South Calhoun is almost here and becoming very real. Painting will hopefully be done, or at least well underway, next week, and then the (hopefully very organized) move can begin.

I still pinch myself when I look at these pictures. I never thought I would be lucky enough to have a new apartment with wonderful finishes, a closet that could be a small bedroom, a modern kitchen that has already renewed my love of cooking, and all of this amazing light! I'm very thankful to my friends for convincing me to take it, and extremely thankful to one friend in particular for building it. Though leaving West Central, my home for almost 20 years, is bittersweet, it is definitely time for me to re pot the plant and look toward the future rather than hang on to the past.

Here's a first look at the new digs! Excuse the blurry iPhone pics!


My first look at the place was in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The entire second floor had been gutted and rearranged.

The windows in the living room, as well as the height of all the ceilings, sold me immediately.

I saw the space without the kitchen at first. Once it started to go in I realized this was it. I had to live here.

The bedroom is a nice sized, squared off room. The bed will go on the right (South) wall.

A perfect corner for my desk.

Looking into the closet on the right and hallway on the left. I think the china cabinet will be put here but be used for linen storage.

The bathroom is compact but perfect. Mirrors and a medicine cabinet have since gone in. This is the one room where I am struggling with a paint color.

Waiting on the counters...

I'm so excited about this island! The door is the laundry room.

A good look at the counter top.

The light bouncing off the counters is amazing. All of the appliances are in. Just waiting on the plumbers to finish. Did I mention how excited I am about this island?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Anniversary!

It's the Six Year Anniversary of the Bon Savant! This is the post from the one year anniversary. I've been very neglectful this year, but I'm ready to come back!

Most of the links don't work anymore, but the one for The Martha Blog still does!

i realized last weekend that Monday, February 7 marked the one year anniversary of the Bon Savant, and what a year it has been. who knew i would be the subject of a wonderful article written by the devoon Emma Downs, as well as have some of my Christmas decor featured on The Martha Blog (image 23).  since one of my major inspirations for this blog was watching the progress of Alexis Stewart's AMAZING triplex apartment (that link goes to a post just before the move in-go back to some of the earliest entries of her blog to see the bare bones, gutted apartment and follow the construction) i thought i would do a big before and after and after post, following my decorating mistakes, edits, ect. 
hope you enjoy, and thanks SO MUCH for reading my rambles.


my first look at the Penthouse, and yours.

around this time last year.

and a picture of the living room tonight.

looking the other way...

and again, tonight. i couldn't be happier with the paint choice, or with my decision to switch out the coffee table.

oh, the dining room. the most rearranged room i have ever had the pleasure to call my own.

first go round-bookcases along the window wall, moving leftovers everywhere, walls still green.

post paint job, room for the table to be fully opened. a real "dining room".


and tonight. bookshelves stacked (leaving room for more???), table leaves dropped again (why take up the space when i don't use it every day?), overflow produce from the kitchen, and the old under counter kitchen cabinet is the new "bar" (still waiting to be painted).

looking from the other corner. I'm glad i decided to paint both rooms the same Sharkey Gray (MSL240), really making the rooms flow together, rather than my original plan to paint it a vibrant green.

oh my! disgusting as it was, i was SO EXCITED about this kitchen...and i still love it!

first go round. walls are painted, and cookbooks are stored over the sink where the cabinet doors were removed. they have since moved on (or back) to the bookshelves.

and today. a much more edited look-all Martha's white ware, Wedgwood Drabware, and creamy Wedgwood Queen's Ware.

 MINI BLINDS OVER A STOVE! there is no other place you could hang mini blinds to get them dirtier faster. they were thrown out (you can see the "bar" cabinet under the counter).

after the walls (but not the window trim) was painted, and the double shelves before the lower one came crashing down.

tonight it all looks much more cohesive. Bedford Gray (MSL246) is the best color in the world. the window was "frosted" to allow privacy yet still let in the light.

restaurant style metro shelves now fill the space under the counter, doubling the storage, and allowing for a few more inches of foot space. i absolutely love this set up.

this wall really just needed painted.

perfect. the best thing about Sheridan Court is that almost every apartment has the perfect work nook for a Kitchenaid.

the bathroom just needed a good scrubbing and some paint. and here is the proof that i was not the one that painted the subway tiles!

the whole room was light blue, i panted the tiles white and the upper half pale, pale Soapstone Gray (i think).

and the troublesome bedroom. it took several rearrangements to figure out furniture placement (and I'm not sure if i am content with the current arrangement).

and tonight, looking from the back corner. still only testers on the walls (on the trim between door and closet, as well as to the left of the sconce), but the paint has been purchased, and i may actually make some headway this week. we'll see....