Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Diana Vreeland's "Garden in Hell"

That is how she described it.  "Red is the great clarifier - bright, cleansing, revealing. It makes all colors beautiful. I can't imagine being bored with it - it would be like becoming tired of the person you love. I wanted this apartment to be a garden - but it had to be a garden in hell." 

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel" and have been unable to get her style and look on life out of my mind. She was an extraordinary woman who lived through the beauty of the Belle Epoch (she was born in Paris in 1903), made her mark during the Roaring Twenties in New York and right on to nights at Studio 54 and changing the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art into the glamorous institution it is today. 

Known as the woman who changed fashion (working for Harper's Bazaar from 1937-1962, and Editor-in-Chief at Vogue from 1962-1971), she also had her own ideas about interior decoration. 

“There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself."

I think that is the truest statement that can be made.

The front door of the Vreeland's apartment at 550 Park Avenue. 
“Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.”
The dining room was half covered in a striped fabric, while the opposite wall was lined with bookshelves. Books played a major part in her life, and she had said that from the time of her marriage until she went to work (12 years), all she did was read. 
 “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”

“It was all done in 1957, and even then it was already a period piece.”Looking towards the front door and dining room from the living room. The bookshelves turn the corner and enter this room as well.
The one wall of the living room not covered in chintz was filled with photos and memories. 
“All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’—they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the color of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.”

Unable to get the perfect red mixed, she had Billy Baldwin cover almost everything in a scarlet Fleurs de Mal chintz. The wall to wall red carpets covered the floor in the living and dining rooms.
Photo from Architectural Digest

“When I arrived in America, I had these very dark red nails which some people objected to, but then some people object to absolutely everything.”
Photo from Architectural Digest

Red peonies and a corner of curiosities.
Photo from Architectural Digest
 “In my leisure time I appear rather... impractical. But I do think that I’ve made a practical woman out of myself. You can’t have worked the number of years I have, through hell or high water, without being basically practical.”
Mrs. Vreeland used the same chintz in the bedroom, but in a different color. Her dressing table was covered in perfume bottles, shells, and a photo in a red frame of her dear husband and greatest passion, Reed.

On her bed is a silk scarf where every night her shoes and handbag were laid out in the evening.              “A very happy room to be in, even when I was ill.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Three Reasons to Celebrate

What a weekend! Ups took the blow away from the downs, and where I thought I would be celebrating two birthdays, I ended up celebrating three. Saturday started with a wonderful dinner at Paula's where we were THAT table. You know, the table that is boisterous, smiling, laughing, toasting, singing...alright, there was no singing, but you know what I mean. THAT table. It's the best feeling in the world. After that there was a quick trip to O's to celebrate another birthday with a drink and some hugs and laughs. From there it was off to Henry's for, well, the rest of the night, really. 

Then very, very, very late (or extremely early) I discovered that a very important baby boy was born a wee bit earlier than planned. But then isn't that always the way?
My dear, darling Kelly. The most fabulous birthday girl in the world.

There's Timo! There's Guy! A perfectly messy post dinner tablescape (you know I hate that word, right?). I even got to run into old friends and and meet some new ones. I had scallops and mashed potatoes with sauteed mushroom gravy, by the way. 

I didn't get any pictures at O's, but Keli (it was all about Kellys and Kelis on Saturday) looked just amazing as ever. I was, however, awake far too early and got a picture of the sun coming up.

And then I finally got to go meet this little man. The long weekend was capped off perfectly. Congrats to Courtney and John! Zaxxon is perfection. And I can tell he likes me already.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hits and Misses-Reblooming Amaryllis Update

I'm not really sure what exactly happened, it's almost like damping off, but what i find it referred to is "stem collapse". How original. Anyway, it happened to one of the amaryllis. The buds were really never very big, but the stalk was growing well. Alas, better luck next year. I'll mark the pot and see how he grows over the summer and wait until NEXT year before tossing him. 

The 'Lady Jane', however, is putting on a show.

Not sure what happened. I came home the other day to find this.

The 'Lady Jane' amaryllis is completely making up for the depleted stem. She looks wonderful, and just in time for a weekend of snow/sleet/rain. Another promise of Spring!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where Did This Button Come From?

I've needed to sew a loose button on one of my favorite shirts for a few weeks, so tonight I stopped putting it off and grabbed the shirt and my old Halston wig box that contains my rudimentary sewing kit and sat down with a needle and thread while the news was on. Thank God it wasn't a Friday night or I would sound officially pathetic. The good news is, I ended up with a new sweater! Kind of.

One, two, three, done!

Stuck the needle back in the old pincushion... 

and put the thread back in the box.

Where did this button come from? All the other extra buttons are in the little envelopes they come in. It's metal, like from a jacket or coat maybe? (Also, can my fingerprints be copied from a closeup like this?)

Then I remembered a long forgotten sweater that I believe I've even worn (shhh) with the button missing. I had no idea they were metal! Oh well. Now I have a "new" cardigan to wear AND a repaired favorite shirt. Not bad for a Thursday night.
And all my sewing stuff is back safely in my old Halston wig box.
I can sleep easy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recent Thrifting

Last Tuesday and today I had a few lucky finds. It was almost too cold to even leave the apartment today, but I needed to get out before I went stir crazy, and ran over to the Dove's Nest. They always have some surprises. Last week it was St. Vincent's, Salvation Army, and Concordia Thrift Store. 

Next Tuesday I need to reorganize everything to fit, as well as get some things together to take over to Magpie Vintage (1622 Wells Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46808). 

This little vase has a very, very, very slow leak (there was a tiny bit of moisture under it today) but it looked good with  some of the clearance flowers I found at the grocery the other day. Three dozen roses, two bunches of carnations, and a bunch of spider mums for $20!

Last Tuesday I was at St. Vincent's. As I was checking out, the cashier told me I had $6.50 worth of books, but if I filled a grocery bag I would pay only $5. She didn't need to say another word. This is one stack from St. Vincent's...

...and this is a stack from Mom and Dad's. In the never ending reorganization of their house we just keep uncovering forgotten things. Like my mom's high school French book. I need to brush up on my French. There are also a few old gardening books that are probably way out of date, but sometimes you can find some good advice in those old, smudged pages. The gardening books will eventually move back to my parents', someday.

I couldn't pass these cake pans up. Maybe I'll make some Valentine treats.

I love the way this weird little brass shaving mirror looks. It has a hook on the end of the hanging mechanism and hangs right over one of  the sconces.

These Avon (yes, THAT Avon) ginger jars were just cute enough to make the cut. One in white...

...and one in black. 

More pottery that I really don't have room for, but will look wonderful filled with daffodils or tulips this Spring. Maybe especially tulips.

This wonderful Haeger vase is just waiting to be filled with peonies. This is just another amazing find from Magpie Vintage. If you live in Fort Wayne, you really need to take a look (and find them on Facebook)!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meatless Monday from "Meatless"-Lentil and Sweet-Potato Stew

 Last week the latest book from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living arrived, and I was pretty excited to dive in. I have been inspired by Alexis Stewart's blog, but also by wanting to use what I'm growing, to do more vegetarian cooking, and this book has arrived at the perfect time. I mean, who doesn't want to at least say that they are attempting to eat healthier in the New Year, right?

Flipping through the book, I am inspired all over again. Yes there are many recipes I want to try, but I'm also inspired to try new things in the garden this year. See that? "This year"!!! It's actually time to begin to focus on plans for the Spring. After all, peas and greens go in in less than two months! 

 Anyway, this is the recipe, and even though many of the recipes are available online, don't you just a love sitting down and flipping through a book? I know I do!
You can buy Meatless here.

A classic mirepoix-celery, onion, and "old" organic carrots. Don't judge. They still tasted better than ever and I couldn't just waste them.

Get the curry powder ready.

Rinse your dirty old lentils. 

And get cooking! Boy oh boy does it smell curry-y. 

Cooking everything but the green beans and tomatoes. They go in at the very end.

I didn't have cilantro, but did have Greek yogurt. The stew is really pretty good, although it's nice to have some vegetable stock on hand for reheating, as it seems like there's never enough "juice" after it gets put away for leftovers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indirectly From Bruges, Sort Of

 When I was first helping Abby unpack the boxes of inventory at Magpie Vintage, I saw these pictures and knew I had to have them. Some might just see some prints of some old European Renaissance people. I thought they were quite maestoso! They are, obviously, prints. The originals by Hans Memling are of Tommaso and Maria Portinari, and hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (in Gallery 625, to be exact). They are the wings of a triptych that was once centered by the Blessed Virgin and Child, and were most likely commissioned for their marriage in 1470. The originals are oil on wood, and are 17 3/8" x 13 1/4". 

Mine are ink on paper and measure about 8" x 11"

Now I have replaced the object of their devotion. I thought they would look rather grandioso hung on the bookshelves. I've always liked the look of pictures or mirrors hung on bookshelves, and it turned out just as I had hoped! Fantastico!!!

Poor Tommaso. He was from a prominent Florentine family, and after his father (a branch manager of the Medici Bank) died, was taken in with his brothers by Cosimo de Medici. He followed his father's footsteps by working for the branch of the Medici Bank in Bruges for over 25 years, but never rose higher than assistant manager due to the fact that Cosimo did not trust him. After her death, the 40 year old Tommaso became General Manager and a shareholder in the bank. 
Once he made a name for himself, he was married, at 42, to 14 year old Maria Maddalena Baroncelli.. Clearly the artist made the wife look older and the husband younger. Riding high on the horse, Tommaso issued unsecured loans to Charles the Bold as well as Archduke Maximilian of Austria. These loans (the former never paid back, the latter partially repaid) as well as bad investments led the Medici to give up on Bruges and dissolve the partnership.

Tommaso di Folco Portinari died a pauper. He is best known now for the commissioned paintings done at the height of his affluence, such as the Portinari Altarpiece.

Not much is known about Maria, aside from the fact that she was mother to at least three children (sons  Antonio and Pigello and daughter Margarita). I hope she remarried a wealthy man after her husband died. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NOW It Can Snow

The heatwave and rain last weekend melted all of the snow and it felt so Springlike that I just HAD to get outside. Thankfully, Mother Nature was giving me a second chance to get burlap on the boxwood. I honestly thought I would just let it go this year. Plenty of people don't burlap their boxwood and it survives! I'm just being crazy. I don't have to do EVERYTHING Martha does! However, after that first snow I really felt that I had let the little guys down. They were almost flattened by the heavy snow, and already turning sort of brown, and they had been such great deals I couldn't replace them for as little as I paid. Besides, they are such slow growers that if any of them die it will be years before they start to sort of grow together! I mean, it will already be years, but it would be even MORE years if any die. So I grabbed the burlap, Junior, and Mom, and went to work.

I decided to attempt one long wrap job on these (a la Martha) rather than wrapping them individually. 

These rolls of burlap were really cheap when I bought them at the end of summer. They were also a very wide weave, so almost all of both rolls had to be used.
Junior, always a critic, let me know where there was a hole.
The second roll went on and it was a job well done. Snow and wind won't bend these branches and cause them to snap!
Out in the White Garden the rabbits have been busy snapping branches off of our little azalea!

The poor thing had been left defenseless! The cold, desiccating wind is also a reason to wrap this guy for the Winter.
Much better. Another slow grower, I can't stand for anything to slow him down! Damn varmints. I really need to come up with a defense plan next year.

We bent some wire to hairpin into the ground and hopefully keep anyone from crawling under. Fingers crossed!
The leftover ends of the rolls covered the larger boxwood. My tailoring does seem to get better every year.

Alright! All done! Bring on the snow! For real! We need to insulate all of the little bulbs poking their heads out of the dirt!!!