Friday, January 27, 2012

To help someone is a marvelous gift to give

Interior detail of  'A Memories Purse'  by U.K. artist/author
Krissie Karlson of  Shabbily By The Sea

(Reprinted with permission)

To help someone is a marvelous gift to give and can mean the world to the person you are helping whether the favor is big or gratitude I made a purse of winter white.......

Lawn cotton, broderie anglaise, and lace stitched together from petticoats and dresses of  Summers gone by....the lace loop to go over her wrist as she tip toes over her stream is a little tattered and torn just the way she likes her treasures.......a lace bow to tie and hold the things that are dear to her.......

Photo: Krissie Karlson

Inside, a tied bundle of old lace and a vintage bobbin of cotton to remind her of all the things she has created in white with her own hands that have brought joy to so many......

On the opposite page sits a carved wooden button of a Viola, a beautiful wild flower to keep close her love of her wild flowers while they are sleeping through the Winter....a tiny white shell from a 'Sandy' beach......a crystal bead to remind her of the chandelier hanging over her bed in her studio and two buttons from France: one is mother of pearl and the other is glass to show her love of shabby French decor....and a safety pin to attach her thoughts to her haven from the outside world while she is away....

Text by Krissie Karlson, Shabbily By The Sea, 2011

What I did for Krissie really was no big deal; her dream would find her considering her talent.  She felt the need to send a token of her appreciation.  I keep this on the doorknob of my room so every time I see it I am open to dreaming of the future once more, finding solace in the handmade, the sentimental, and the spell of old lace.

Catch up with her in Creating Vintage Charm Issue No. 6 (Fall 2011).  Krissie also writes a fascinating blog, weaving in and out of the real and the magical.  She's restoring a beach home with family ties to her childhood, and makes pretty things: all in all a great blog to follow.

I am still receiving messages of hope from you all in regard to my recent tragedies.  You help me.  And that is a marvelous gift to give.

Until next time, stay shabby!

Sharing with:

White Wednesday at Faded Charm

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

What's It Wednesday at Ivy & Elephants

Favorite Things Thursday at Katherine's Corner

Show & Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground

Feathered Nest Friday at The French Country Cottage

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Seawashed Gift On My Shore

 The Artist: Calm, Pacific, Seawashed.

I read every one of your comments of comfort following the blaze that destroyed my unfinished home and the death of my marriage.  I learn I am not alone in this sort of loss...many of you shared how you made it through the same heartbreak.  

Your heartfelt sentiments will help me heal.  My gratitude is...boundless.

Whenever I get "too much" in my eyes from staying online, I turn to my friend and fellow blogger Kerrie Sanderson's Seawashed.  Her natural materials and palette reflect the beauty of the Pacific.  But the lovely thing is you really feel serenity, calm, patience...a baptism by the eternal sea and all it can teach.

This is something I knew years ago, and though the Atlantic is a 15 minute drive away I never make the time to get there more than 2 – 3 times a summer.

Her reply to my letter of thanks was:

" I hope it brings you some calm in the midst of the debris you are wading through from the storm."

Visit Kerrie at her Etsy and Facebook to experience the art resulting from her meditations with the sea.

Until next time, stay shabby!

Sharing with:

White Wednesday at Faded Charm

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

What's It Wednesday at Ivy & Elephants

Favorite Things Thursday at Katherine's Corner

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of scars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

                                                                                      W.H. Davies

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shabby Chic: Blues and Greens

Green & white Cabana Stripe pillows, stationery, decoupage cup, 
and the middle striped & sprigged sheets above are all Rachel Ashwell.
The top & bottom linens are vintage Laura Ashley.

What delights me the most is the way Rachel Ashwell honors the legacy of her wares.  You could pair something you bought yesterday with something you bought twenty years ago and it’ll blend seamlessly.
Here’s a shot from last spring of my Rachel’s Simply Shabby Chic Cabana Stripe throw pillows, bought at Target seven years prior for $15 each.  They’re wonderful for that crisp, fresh, summery look of a cottage on the sea. 

And, freshly laundered Simply Shabby Chic bedding folded and stacked away.  After five years the colors are fading and fibers thinning, so it feels really vintage and comfy.  They’re the real life sheets, unlike the purest white new linen I keep for guests.  It’s a pity I didn’t think to dig up her sachets when I shot this, I’m certain you would’ve liked to see them.

My newest acquisition is a $1 packet of sticky notes and flags from her Treasures collection from Michael’s.  I keep some flags on my nightstand (where they are so much more restful on the eyes than those neon ones from the office), in my wallet, my blog binder, and on my computer.

Thanks, Rachel!

Until next time, stay shabby!

The Unforgettable Fire

Bottom photo: Todd Foster


Does not exist
In its natural form
Exists by consuming
Another form
It transforms from one
Form to another form

Fuels our passion
Leaves everything ashen
Duels the darkness
Heaves on compassion

Fire, constructively destructive
Fire, destructively constructive
Fire, living death
Fire, dying life 

Anand Dixit

My unfinished home burnt to the ground just before Thanksgiving.    My dream of a book about it and marriage went up in its smoke.

No one was hurt.  This is the best thing.

Like with any setback in life, time soothes.  Already I’m planning a new life, a new home, somewhere else.  I can forgive.  This is the other best thing: washing my soul of anger.

The irony is I’ve made a fairy tale home so many admire and wish they could live in.  Myself included.

I wrote about it for The Women’s Eye if you want to read the long version stuffed to the gills with metaphor.


Star of Wonder, Star of Night

Stars.  Sparkle, glitter, dreams, fire, light.  Last Christmas, my life was starry as a clear sub-zero winter’s night in the Catskills.  This Christmas, my life is as dark as a grave.

This Christmas:

  • I’m divorced
  • my unfinished new house (a real house, not my little shabby streamside studio) burnt to the ground
  • and the homesteading book about it and my once enviable life obviously is nixed
  • my Maltese dog Belle is dead
  • I’ll see my 3 babies - my dogs - for a few hours in December
  • I paid $600 for dental work my Maltese Zuzu
  • and $900 in car repairs
  • I gained 10 pounds

Without my old dreams, I’m disoriented.  Without a home, I’m dispossessed.  Without my husband, I’m not constantly infuriated but I’m also missing my dearest friend.  It was he that accidentally caused the fire with the woodstove.  The guilt sears and tortures him.  He said he lay on the cold ground and cried the next morning.  I lay on the cold ground and cried when I got home from the lawyer’s office filing for divorce the next day.

The last 10 years of my life were spent working two full-time jobs a 4 hour drive south from the Catskills so I could arrive where I was last year: a simple life without a mortgage.  My husband and I clashed terribly over the years concerning our living space and earning income.  He’s a clutterer with hoarding tendencies, I’m a neat freak.  He started businesses that didn’t work out, I put my dreams of being a photographer/stylist/author on hold while working good (but unfulfilling) jobs with benefits.

I was homeless as a teen.  All I’ve ever wanted was a little refuge to call my own. 

I built it, I unexpectedly got a lot of press on it.  My dreams finally were coming true.

My new side career blossomed, my unemployed husband’s depression worsened.  Most ‘ditch the city for the country’ stories you hear about are of well-heeled individuals that left six-figure jobs or sold six-figure homes.  I ain’t one of them. 

My refuge in the form of a real home is like a flake of down in the air.  The moment I reach it, it sidesteps away.  I’m not materialistic, I’m proud to own few possessions, but my sentimentalism for some makes it difficult to accept their loss.

This lantern’s light once lit our table at our wedding, then our little campsite on our honeymoon in the Catskills.  I used it in the very first magazine feature I sold.   I lost five matching 19th century porch columns I bought for $25 at a yard sale.  It will cost me $380 at a salvage yard to replace them. 

It looks like a tiny house for tiny money.  But, I make tiny money.  For someone a tick or two above living paycheck to paycheck, the fiscal setback is monstrous.  Especially in light of the fact I need $7,000 in photography equipment, and my $5,000 Visa is maxed.  That’s where I’m at.

So, I’m living with Mom, looking for a night job.

I seek the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s always dark.  Holiday scenes that once inspired me pain me.  Christmas music guaranteed to cheer me saddens instead.  I visited my old studio on the hill to get a few shots for a magazine feature.  The old comfort is there, and irony.  Like millions worldwide, I wish I could live there.  I’d never afford the road, the addition, and the septic system making $20K a year up there.

Like the Grinch, my “heart is full of unwashed socks”.  (Last year, I wrote a bubbly post to 'be understanding of Grinches'.  Life.)  The spark of creativity in my heart doesn’t ignite.  I’m uninterested in designing vignettes and shooting.  Or even putting up a tree.

Then, a star appeared.  A design star.  A prominent author/stylist/photographer contacted me to be in her upcoming holiday book.  Another (also doing a book) commented on my blog and we got to sharing, too.  Their compassion buoyed me, their burning passion for what they do heated my blackened heart.  And it’s lit anew.

Neil Peart wrote of losing his daughter, wife, dog, and career in his memoir Ghost Rider, and one passage stays with me.  In the West, we say, “once burnt, twice shy.”  But in Africa, they say, “wood once burned is easier to light.”

Another great Canadian writer’s final sentence in her novel Cat’s Eye stays with me as well.  Referring to stars, Margaret Atwood wrote, “It’s old light, and there’s not much of it.  But it’s enough to see by.”

I go out in the warm un-Christmasy evening.  The sun, our nearest star, sets.  It is cloudy.  Stars can lead us home if we navigate by them.  I cannot see the stars.  I am lost.  I know they’re still there.  But I’m still lost.

I return to the place in the woods two mere weeks ago I cut larch branches for holiday styling and shooting. 

They burnt along with my house.

There are more branches.  Their seeded cones are lovely along the dainty twigs.  I remember some seeds need fire to germinate.  I weep.


I'm still blogging about my studio, don't worry!

Until next time, stay shabby!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shabby White Oval Neoclassical Mirror For Sale


The 33.5" long x 24" tall oval mirror over my mantel is now for sale at The Wrentham Country Store in southern Massachusetts.   It's probably from the 1920s, the glass is naturally patinated, a silk cord is used to hang it, the swags are plaster on wood.  

Please contact Sandi over at A Cottage Muse if interested.  Sorry, pickup only! 

Until next time, stay shabby!

Sharing with:

White Wednesday at Faded Charm

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

What's It Wednesday at Ivy & Elephants

Favorite Things Thursday at Katherine's Corner

Show & Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground

Feathered Nest Friday at The French Country Cottage