Archive | December, 2010

Care for some tea?

30 Dec

I read about an article about Gregory Bonasera, a designer of ceramics, lighting, etc. I always like things that aren’t available in the United States. That’s just my way. My favorite wallpaper is available in England. My favorite home design magazine InsideOut is printed in Australia. Every lovely thing in the magazine must be purchased across the ocean or online with serious shipping charges. I don’t know why I torment myself with thumbing through it every other month.

Back to Gregory Bonasera. His teacup lights are lovely.



I guess that why they call it the blues.

29 Dec

Painting your porch ceiling blue—it’s quite the southern thing to do. Some say the blue ceiling keeps bugs away. Years ago when milk paint was common, it likely did. Milk paint contains lye. Bugs hate lye—it’s a repellant. I learned this listening to NPR. It’s not like I know a single thing about milk paint other than nobody uses it anymore.

I like to think that bugs are less attracted to a blue ceiling as it might seem to the not-so-smart insect that ceiling = sky = no place for a bug to land. Off to the neighbor’s porch you go, bugs.

There’s a story behind blue ceilings. Coined in the low country of South Carolina, “Haint Blue” came about because shades of blue were thought to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, the porch ceiling, window and door frames, and even the columns of a porch were painted blue to keep evil spirits from entering the house. I like a good story but this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. But since I have a rip-roaring imagination, I like to think that if I believed in such a thing I’d put a fence around my house and paint it haint blue.

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Haint blue varies from aqua to cornflower to baby blue to darker shades of blue. Let’s be real. Anything goes regarding haint blue, which makes it my new favorite color. Personally, I’ve landed on a shade of blue and how I landed there is quite funny.

Here’s my account of this haint blue fiasco:
I  meet Brad at the house with three shades of blue for the porch ceiling.
We paint a piece of beadboard with the three shades of blue. All the while we are being tormented by a neighboring dog who is barking his brains out—this is testing the good contractor’s nerves and I cannot work under these conditions so I say, “Let’s move to the front of the house.” We take the blue to the front porch, hold it up in the air and agree there is a clear winner: Mountain Air. Yes. Mountain Air. That’s the one. Our work here is done.

I leave Brad on the porch and waltz around to the side, satisfied with a decision made. I am packing it up and just as I pick up the second sample the bottom falls out—literally.

This is the hilarity that ensued:

A: OMG. (I say OMG aloud to myself and that yapping dog because we are the only two who know this has happened.) I am totally stunned. Sort of like the time I fell in the air vent except I’m not bleeding and this will not require stitches. Immediately I think, there is no way I can clean this up before he comes around the corner. No way. And really, how does one go about cleaning this up?

A: Brad… My tone is not quite let’s-go-to-urgent-care but it is not my hey-brad-what’s-up tone either.

Rounding the corner at his usual quick pace, I watch him as he sees me and the mess. I liken it to watching someone who drives past a wreck and sees more damage than they expect. It was funny. I’m standing there with 85% of the paint at my feet, 10% percent on my clothing and at least 5% on my face, which made it into my hair.

B: How did you do that?

Good question, b. My guess is he was curious as to how I pulled this off because there was paint on both the ground and my face. I mean, look at the picture. Puddle of paint on the ground, stripe of paint across my face—”how did you do that” is the only question to ask.

A: I can’t believe this happened.

And I am still thinking, No way. The paint just jumped on me.

B: What did you do?

He is trying not to laugh in my face. But he is laughing. And, I start to laugh in my own face because this is the funniest thing that’s happened yet.

A: Brad. I picked up the paint. The lid wasn’t closed. The paint fell down and I swear some of it jumped up and hit me in the face when the can hit the ground.

Paint runs down my neck and drips from my chin onto my sweater. Not exaggerating. My hair mats to the paint. I air dry.

On the bright side, I suppose that big glob of paint will keep the evil spirits off my driveway.


Although my eyes were open they might just as well been closed.

28 Dec

I wonder what the gal at Sherwin Williams would suggest if I told her I’m looking for a “Whiter Shade of Pale.” You know there are only like a hundred million shade of white, right?

I’m showing you these swatches. And you might think they aren’t really white. I might agree with you, which is exactly why we’re loading up on pint-sized samples and painting patches of white the back side of the house this afternoon.
I took several Martha Stewart Living color swatches to Brad because, quite frankly, her swatches are the size of a checkbook which is so much nicer than trying to hold something the size of a matchbook up to a wall and decide if you like that shade of white when according to your eye these whites look the same. I just love color. And, I trust Martha.

Now the challenge is finding the Sherwin Williams color that’s closest to Martha’s color. I only choose color not the actual paint. If the good contractor says Sherwin Williams then we use Sherwin Williams and I’m sad to say that I did not pick up the Martha Stewart swatches at Sherwin Williams. Sorry, Martha. Chin up—Mr. Williams should take a lesson from you on this swatch thing. In my heart, I chose your color.

Here are the aforementioned whites from the Martha Stewart Living line available at Home Depot.

I know. They’re all so different and dynamic. Do you understand why my choice hinges on the name? I’m not going to promise that anything like this will be a final pick. This is the place from which we start.

And, they say it’s going to be anywhere from 42-60 degrees with chances of rain varying from 10-60%. Fingers crossed—weather might allow for painting the house. Of course, there’s also the possibility that we could be talking about this again two weeks from now because the weather in Tennessee is unpredictable at best. Sorry Weather Channel. Those of us who live here don’t trust you or any other meteorologist for that matter. Only God knows what the weather will be in Nashville. Only God.


Pull up a chair. Or a sofa. I’ll make some soup.

27 Dec

The kitchen is my favorite room because inevitably everyone finds their way to the kitchen. Sometimes—when one of us has had a particularly ridiculous day Zana and Ashley drag the comfy rocking chairs from the living room into our kitchen and sit there while I cook. We just can’t get enough of each other. Must. Be. In. The. Same. Space. At. The. Same. Time…. We pretend that we are already living at Bradford and then we send photos via text messages to the good contractor with comments like, “get a move on…” or “how much longer?”

Here’s the plan for the working area. Pretend the long narrow island is there with its cool industrial stools. Meanwhile, I’m still driving the legs of the island around in the back of the car. What’s missing from this is equally exciting to me—where this drawing ends is where the living begins. A and Z won’t have to drag furniture around anymore—let Heaven and nature sing.

When we took out the wall our vision was to expand the space so that there could be a comfortable space in the kitchen—if you come over for dinner you can curl up on a couch or sit on a bar stool while I make soup. This is the sort of space I hope to create.

With white walls, white cabinets, and all the light I could ask for I think there’s room to have fun with the furniture. I’m going for bold. I could end up like Bono because I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. But here’s my start.

Loveseat from Anthropologie

Camden Sofa in Ikat Damask Red from Company C

Camden Sofa in Ginko Citron Fabric from Company C

Before you go freaking out thinking this is too much of a good thing let me say that these couches will have layers to them—something to break up said too-much-of-a-good-thing.


Essex Sofa from West Elm

I love this one. Just love it. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Sutton Sofette from West Elm

Ektorp from IKEA

Why do I like this green so?


Conservatory Chair from Anthropologie

Parker Chair from Crate and Barrel

From Maine Cottage

James Chair in Mango Sea Biscuit + Owen Chair in Wave on White Hotty Dotty

She taught me everything I know.

23 Dec

My mother’s mother taught me almost every good thing I know about cooking. My friend, Julie taught me the rest. (Read her blog. It’s so good.) So it seemed right to me to wish you a merry Christmas with this picture of my grandmother (third from the left), her sisters, and friends. I would like to step into this moment from Christmas 1958 and thank her.

Merry Christmas,


I should say something now.

21 Dec

I have nothing new to show you. This whole holiday rush thing is slaying me. Somebody stop the world and let me off. This is not a cry for help—I’m totally emotionally stable. Just running crazy like the rest of you. I am so slayed by the holiday errands that I haven’t seen the drywall inside my house. The drywall has been hanging around since Saturday. I haven’t gone near it. My ability to stay away shocks the contractor. This is me practicing self-restraint. And, this is me living in a city where the sun sets at 4:28 p.m. Who can see anything in the dark? Although I do have a strobe light/flashlight app on my handy iPhone—I could go over there if I really got an urge.

Speaking of the strobe light. For Christmas, I will give you a story. Back in oh, August, when Brad pulled the permit and started tearing things apart around here I was ultra-zealous. Now I’m just zealous (with a dose of patient).While everything was torn to bits, Jess and I stopped by the house because she constantly asks me for updates, which I love, even though she and her mother read this blog. Hi, Jess. Hi, Candye. Merry Christmas.

Now, I don’t know what possessed (and still possesses) me to think, at times, that I need to sneak around the place. Hello. I am paying the mortgage. I can do whatever I want. Every now and then I do feel like I’m trespassing into the “Men at Work” area—a place where I should not be. Like the time in D.C. when I accidentally drove up to the gates of the Pentagon and thought: I should not be here. I do not want to be here. Get me out of here….

So, Jess and I “sneak” into my house to look at the progress and I really don’t know why she felt sneaky except that I am persuasive and sometimes it is fun to sneak. We wandered around in the dark using my handy iPhone flashlight, when I heard something—something that was not us. “Jess, I don’t think we’re alone.” Because there are ways to be direct without being alarming. And we both froze and she asked me what I heard and I respond with, “Something besides us.” Just giving her the facts.

Seconds before all my Nancy Drew instincts kicked in (or before we went Cagney and Lacy on whatever was making that noise), I see headlights in my yard and stick my head out to hear Brad yell from an unmarked vehicle (aka not his truck), “Seriously?” Busted. And yeah, seriously. And, why may I ask are you here at 9 p.m. on a school night?

The point is this: there was a day when I would sneak over, strobe light in hand and stare at drywall. That day was in August. This is December and I have settled into the renovation way of life, which is a life of patience and belief that good things really do come to those who wait.

I’m going to look at the drywall tomorrow before all work ceases while the weary world rejoices. In the meantime, here’s a shot that warmed my heart.

Lights shining from my living room. Feels so right. (And, now I’m humming an Alabama song from the 80s.)

P.S. That noise Jess and I heard, it was the tarp on the roof moving with an occasional breeze. I know. You thought it was a perpetrator didn’t you?

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.

17 Dec

Obviously, I’m not talking about Virginia Slims here. I am talking about the fact that every inch of siding is nailed to this house, the doors are installed, and we are picking the paint color for the outside this afternoon—some cozy and creamy shade of white.

Can you believe it? I cannot believe it. Those doors + the exposed brick + the columns. Mercy. Feels like a home.

And, about Virginia Slims—cigarettes kill. I just thought I’d remind y’all. And they make you taste like an ashtray and smell like you’re on fire which is absolutely no fun for people who kiss you or stand next to you. I leave you with that public service announcement.