Category Archives: Remodeling

Lucky Gypsy’s Tea

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Saturday, 17 March 2018

I just rearranged my combined living room/dining room (LRDR) last week, to accommodate all my thrift store chairs. I now have eight coordinating chairs, and this pretty much makes me deliriously happy!

I’m not ready to take pix of the entire room yet, as I still have some cluttery piles to get rid of (No way! You?!), but I wanted to show a little sneak peek of my fab chair material.

The other day, the sun was beaming in my windows. “So what?” you ask. Well, turns out that’s kind of a big deal, because this has been the worst March on record. At least, my record of being here for two months of March, as an adult.

We’ve had three Nor’Easters in March, and the month is only half over!

So, I decided to rearrange a little bit, just to cheer myself up. Ever since I’ve moved here, I’ve had my loveseat under the south-facing window, a really pleasant spot. I decided to move it onto the west wall, though.

I mentioned I had some new old chairs, right? Did I tell you I have eight dining room chairs now, and they make me deliriously happy? Ya, maybe I did.

I was determined I had to fit all eight of them into my LRDR, because the seat fabrics mix and match so well.

Two of them are covered in orange and yellow brocade, and they’re the ones I’ve had for about a year now. I’ve mentioned them in my blog before.

A few months ago, I was cruising Warren Street, where all the antique ships are. Now, just to preface, I gotta tell ya, you have to be careful on Warren Street, because some shops are super expensive.

I dashed into one store about a month ago, because I’d been driving down Warren in the dark, and saw a great big, beautiful poster of Freddie Mercury in the front of the shop, hanging on a wall, peering out onto Warren, beckoning me to enter.

When I inquired how much for the poster, the shop guy casually said, “14 THOUSAND something something.” Okaaay…

Yeah, so, let’s get back into my budgetland, the reasonable one. There’s this other place on Warren, called Second Show, and it’s very affordable. It’s merchandised much better than a Goodwill or Deseret Industries, and prices are pretty low. The proceeds benefit Columbia Memorial Hospital, and you can pick up a crystal goblet for 50 cents or $1.

Or, you can get four dark-wood Broyhill chairs, two with arms and two without, all with immaculate olive damask seats, four chairs for $30.

And then, as if that’s not enough, you can turn around and see two more chairs to love, in honey-colored wood, with seats covered in fabric of yellow, orange, olive, and gold stripes. Two chairs for $12.

You should have seen me, cackling and cramming them into my sedan. Let’s just say, it took several trips to get them home.

So, getting back to rearranging that day. I decided to put two chairs with olive brocade seats (the ones with arms) under the LRDR windows, separated by a small table with butterflies.

I don’t think you need to have big end tables. If you’re like me, they gather too much…stuff.

So this end table, it’s just big enough to hold a lamp, and a shamrock plant I brought up from downstairs. It’s the very first plant I’ve had in any of my places, since I killed all my plants in a UHaul about 19 years ago. That’s another story for another blog.

And the lamp? It’s a fab Hollywood Regency one I got at Antigo on Warren Street, for only $25. The shade isn’t quite right, but for now, it’ll do. I also got another Regency lamp that day, but it has no shade at all, so for now, it’s languishing, unused.

And lemme tell you, in the afternoon, when the sun comes through those south-facing windows, the crystals on the lamp base send happy little rainbows all over my LRDR floor.

Somehow, when I type “happy little rainbows”, I’m reminded of Bob Ross, the painter on TV, with his soothing voice and impossible afro, saying “happy little trees”…

So then, I put the two chairs with striped-seats on the north wall, separated by a waist-high entertainment center. I’m not really sure what to use this for, since I don’t have a TV and don’t really care.

For now, it holds my CDs and a small collection of DVDS, but I’m thinking I’ve gotta get some books in there, too. My books are like dirty socks, collecting in piles around the place, multiplying overnight.

Ewww, did she really just compare piles of books to piles of dirty socks? This chick is weird. Hahaha!

Around my dining room table, I have the other two Broyhill chairs with the olive damask seats (the ones without the arms), and the two chairs with orange and yellow brocade seats.

I tried it with all four olive damask chairs around the table, thinking they all should match, but it just didn’t work in the space available.

The chairs with the arms don’t work right in such a tight space. Anyone sitting at the table would have a very hard time maneuvering into and out of a chair with arms, since there’s not a lot of room to push a chair back.

I’m pretty happy with how things turned out, that I was able to fit all eight chairs into the room, along with my loveseat, a rather large china cabinet, and the entertainment center. Oh! And my trunk! I use it as a coffee table, in front of the loveseat, and it’s olive-colored.

There was just no way I was gonna put any of those eight chairs into another room, considering I was so pleased with how all the seat materials coordinated.

I made ’em fit. It was almost as exciting as playing 100 straight games of Tetris in the mid 90s. Hahaha!

Then the other day, the sun was shining in, a perfect day to take pictures. Finally!

I’d made a batch of Frost’s Oatmeal Muffins which turned out really well. And, even though I make this recipe quite often, because I love them and so does my skinny little Thing 2, they don’t always turn out right.

Usually, these muffins just melt in your mouth, but the batch I made last time turned out a bit tough. Don’t know if it’s because I overstirred the batter, or because I overbaked them, maybe it was both. Distracted baking never ends well…

I’ve also found a new herb tea to love, Gypsy Cold Care. I sampled it at Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, and really like its slightly licorice flavor. Me buying an entire box of it has nooooothing to do with it having the word “gypsy” in the name, hahaha. Just kidding, it totally does.

I decided to make up a little tray and just sit under the window, having tea for one, just me. Enjoying the sun beaming in on my shoulders, the rainbows on my floor, a warm muffin with lingonberry jam, and a cup of hot tea.

And also, the satisfaction of gazing around my LRDR with eight matching chairs, fully knowing I moved here 1 1/2 years ago, with only nine suitcases of stuff…

I feel like such a lucky gypsy.

 

 

The Welcomed Guest

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Friday, 6 October 2017

Recently, my father, Thing 2, and I spent the night at my friend Tina’s house so we could be closer to the airport for an early-morning flight back to New York from Salt Lake City.

(You may remember Tina as my friend who always had me over on Sunday nights for her famous Summer Spaghetti. Our kids were sooo excited to get to play together again! They terrorized the basement with Nerf guns, Legos, and then sat down to computer games.)

Anyways, Tina graciously said she had plenty of room and all three of us could spend the night at her house! I was very relieved, since this meant we could avoid taking an early-morning (4 am, nooo thank you!) shuttle to Salt Lake International Airport from my parents’ house in northern Utah.

I stayed downstairs, in Tina’s lovely French flair guest bedroom. On the wall was a huge poster of Audrey Hepburn in a straw hat with two wide pink silk bows.

Below the poster was a white desk, with drawer handles made out of silky floral ribbons, an idea I’ve never seen before, and am going to swipe, for sure. Tina said she bought the desk secondhand and it was missing its hardware, but replacements were $10 apiece, and the desk has eight drawers. (You do the math. Again, no thank you.)

On the desk was a super cool Eiffel Tower lamp. I’m imagining a soft pink bulb in it…

There was also a bookcase, conveniently left empty for her guest’s belongings, except for an extra blanket, a plush purple Vellux one. (I love Vellux. It’s soft, never pills, and dries quickly. I used to have a blue Vellux blanket, until Thing 1 took to it with a red Sharpie.) And above said bookcase, on the wall, were two Paris fashion prints.

I adored the guest bed ensemble, all pink and purple and red watercolor flowers, with a striped dust ruffle, and nice, crisp white sheets with a high thread count. Next to the bed was a nightstand with a lamp and an alarm clock, and plenty of room for little things like my earrings and bracelets I took off just before bed.

After the stress of some unexpected travelling this past week, Tina’s guest bedroom was a delightful, peaceful haven, like spending a night at a bed and breakfast. Clean, uncluttered, and oh-so-pretty. Thank you, Tina.

I remember, many years ago, my friend and fellow Rocket Julie told me she would know she’d “arrived” when she got a home with a guest bedroom. Eventually she did get her wish, and dressed the guest bed with a Martha Stewart blue-and-yellow wedding ring quilt, which she purchased at KMart, after admiring mine on a visit to Salt Lake.

(Hers is probably still intact. Mine, not so much, after my rambunctious Thing 1 destroyed it.)

So now, now, I guess I’ve arrived, too, because for the first time in my life, my place has a guest bedroom! I wonder, what items should I put in there? What should I do to make my guests feel welcome, like they’re not imposing, and relaxed and comfortable, not having to ask me for every little thing? “By any chance do you have (fill in the blank)?”

Let’s check out some fun links to learn more! Scroll past the bed below.

[RECOMMENDED LINKS]
http://www.stonegableblog.com/10-essentials-of-cozy-guest-room/

https://styleblueprint.com/everyday/10-essential-guest-room-items/

https://www.allthingsthrifty.com/2014/10/guest-room-essentials.html

[MORE INFORMATION]
https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/vellux-original-blanket/316789

[RELATED MCK POSTS]
http://mycopperkitchen.com/tinas-summer-spaghetti-sauce/

http://mycopperkitchen.com/anatevka-girl-on-architecture-and-design-my-secret-water-garden-bedroom-redo/

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: Light It Up, Part Two

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Philmont, NY  I  Saturday, 7 January 2017

This is the Gill Glass light fixture in my bedroom. Parts were assembled from three different places to complete the fixture.

My sister and I share a mutual love (read obsession) with lighting. Right now we’re working on replacing all the light fixtures in the upstairs apartment of the V house with gorgeous, historically accurate lights.

It all started with the little bedrooms, last summer. There are two of ’em on the east side of the house, wonderful little under-the-eaves bedrooms, the mirror image of each other and joined by a connecting door. The first thing I noticed though, was the light fixtures were all wrong. The north room had a clear, pressed-plastic fixture, and the south room had a black, wrought-iron chandelier. My OCD kicked in immediately. (I mean attention to detail. Attention to detail!)

I casually mentioned to my sister I’d like to see the rooms match each other exactly, right down to the light fixtures. Well, then. She went online and found these blue fixtures. There were three, actually, so now there’s a spare in case the kids get cray and break one.

Here is the type of light fixture we’ve used in the boys’ rooms. Yep, I know there’s still tape over the screws. Have you ever tried holding all this stuff together over your head while balancing on a precarious, too-short step stool? Help!

And then she put together an absolutely smashing fixture for the Winter Bedroom, the one facing west, the one with the pumpkin pine floors and the French door. (It’s the first photo in the blog.) And we know it’s historically accurate, because it’s very similar to the fixture in the downstairs bedroom I had while growing up, which was pink and had baskets of flowers on the sides. (See last photo in the blog.)

Just look at that cobalt blue pendant. Squeeee! You KNOW how I feel about cobalt blue glass, right? And the amethyst crystal bells were discovered at an antique shop we were browsing at the Hudson Winter Walk, attached to a more masculine fixture of the same kind. Apparently, those bells are pretty hard to find, and fixtures like this which are intact can be pretty pricey.

When I wake up in the morning, it’s so fun to stare up at this light, the cool, powdery blue contrasting with the white ceiling. It’s like looking up into heaven, really.

This fixture used to be in the living room, but has been moved to the hallway. The leaf pattern perfectly matches my piece of Scandinavian lace.

 

This is my living room chandelier. It’s a bit hard to see, but there are a bunch of crystals hanging from the top, too. The bottom crystal looks amazing when the sun shines through it in the afternoon.

Replacing light fixtures and restoring homes is a little bit like solving a good mystery, figuring out what would have been originally used, and then trying to track down more authentic fixtures if things have been replaced. And most of the time, when people modernize their homes, things get very…interesting and mysterious.

And I’ve been enamored with mysteries since I was a kid, devouring Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and Vicki Barr and Agatha Christie books by the dozens. All while staring up dreamily at this fixture with the flower baskets…

This is the light fixture I had in my bedroom when I was a teenager.

There is a large and strange cabinet in my kitchen, which is over the stairs. Guess what? When I was cleaning it out, I found another fixture just like this one, shoved waaay in the back. It’s slightly chipped around the top, though. Speaking of mysteries, I wonder where it originally hung? As I said, mystery.

[RECOMMENDED LINKS]
This guy has spent his life searching out and restoring antique light fixtures.
http://www.theoldabove.com/

And this guy has been selling and restoring lamps since 1979.
http://www.hoylelamps.com/

[RELATED MCK POSTS]
http://mycopperkitchen.com/anatevka-girl-on-architecture-and-design-light-it-up/

Valma and Valerie

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  20 July 2016

DSCF1514Gloria’s Approving Gaze/1514BB

Valma. She finished the quilt 93 years ago, she did.

She and two friends, Del and Pearl, carefully embroidered the just off-center patch in pink floss with their names, the completion date of March 20, 1923, and her group’s initials, SCG. Then, perhaps (let your imagination enter, stage left) it was sold or auctioned for benefit.

They made the quilt that I, Valerie, I slept under three nights ago, on 17 July 2016, while still on vacation at my childhood home. I marveled at the quilt’s comforting softness and fine, impeccable condition, with no rips or tears or stains.

I slept in a beautiful four-poster bed, the nicest one I’ve ever had, chosen by my sister Cheri. I slept upstairs in a bedroom which faces warmly west, with orangey pumpkin-pine floors, the Winter Bedroom of the V House, located in Columbia County, New York, God’s gorgeously green upstate.

The house was built at the dreary beginning of the Great Depression, in 1930, built by hard-working Germans, the V Family, on land purchased from the nearby S Family, both lots originally part of the B Farm. My dad says they used scrap from Meltz Lumber, a local lot, and finished the upstairs much later than the downstairs, adding two large dormers and reversing the staircase to make a separate apartment with its own entryway.

Thank goodness, downstairs Mrs. V had a cheerful yellow Formica kitchen counter to look at and wipe down carefully, and an immaculate white porcelain sink with large drainboards on either side (and a brass drain), at which to wash her dishes.

She also had a neat kitchen floor to sweep and mop, made of sturdy linoleum squares of white, with the palest-of-pale chunks of pink and green and gold sparkly flecks.

But more about that later, right now let’s focus on my precious quilt…

I remember when I first saw it.

I was living in Provo, Utah and bored out of my mind, having graduated college and watched all my favorite roommates, The Rockets, move away and leave me. To pass the time on weekends off, I liked to make trips up to Salt Lake City to shop for frivolous things like cowboy boots and antiques.

Pretty things to try and fill the gigantic hole in my heart at having been left behind by my best friends, and to kill the pain of not yet being married and having the children I always knew I wanted, a family of my own.

When I stumbled upon the quilt in a stack of bed linens in an armoire in an antique shop in Midvale, I knew, I just KNEW, it had to be mine. I kind of started to sweat a bit, because It was around $250, and, even though I had a good job, I really couldn’t afford it, at least not all at once.

But I simply couldn’t leave that place without making it mine. The shop’s owner let me make payments, a layaway of sorts. And so, $20 here and $25 there, I slowly made it mine. I was grateful and gleeful upon making the final payment, and took the quilt carefully home, packing it away for someday.

The reason I had to have the quilt was the signatures, of course. Each nine-patch was signed and dated with red or pink embroidery floss, covering carefully penciled script, dating even further back, to 1921. The squares were made of simple checked and striped or polka-dotted material, bordered by ecru flour sack material.

DSCF1550Mystery Quilt/1550BB

When I sleep under this quilt I feel of these long-gone ladies’ love and creativity, industry, frugality, and sheer determination.

To create beauty out of something useful and utilitarian. To use the contents of a sack of flour to make loaves of soul-sustaining bread and fluffy celebration cakes and dozens of oatmeal raisin cookies, and then to be provident enough to save the sacks, recycling pioneers, and cut them into squares, which became nine-patches, which became my beautiful quilt.

The quilt I slept under in the Winter Bedroom of my childhood home in July of 2016. My beloved boys, a mother after all, they slept under the eaves of the twin bedrooms at the other end of the house.

And Thing 1 slept under a new quilt made with imagination and love by his Aunt Cheri. 

Popcorn Vampire/4035BB

 

[CREDITS]
First two photos: Carrigan Buhler, Germantown, New York.
Last photo and Interior Design: Valerie Belden Wilder, Ghent, New York.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
The last photo, Popcorn Vampire, did not appear in the original blog. It was added to the post on 27 October 2017. I’ve also made extensive edits since the original posting.

[RECOMMENDED READING]
The Rainbow Comes and Goes, by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.

The World of Gloria Vanderbilt, by Wendy Goodman. Harry N. Abrams, 2010.

[RECOMMENDED LINKS]
To read more about pumpkin pine flooring:
http://easternwhitepine.org/pumpkin-pine-rare-and-treasured-wood-gives-off-a-warm-glow/

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: My Secret Water Garden Bedroom Redo

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Salt Lake City, Utah  I Thursday, 2 June 2016

DSCF6748WEDNESDAY’S LUNCH

It felt like heaven, it really did, the very first time I crawled under my new comforter.

It had been a long time. A REALLY long time, since I’d had a matching bedset, one I adored. The last time was when I had a beautiful wedding ring quilt and matching shams, a Martha Stewart set from KMart, which I’d seen in their weekly flyer. I clipped the advertisement out and carried it around until I could buy it. Pretty sure I had to put it on layaway, even.

The quilt was mostly white, with rings of pale blue, yellow and green, with two matching shams. Ever since I was younger, I’d wanted to have a wedding ring quilt on my bed when I was married. And I now I did!

Turns out this was exactly the wrong bedset to have with a husband sharing the bed and a small and extremely mischievous child bouncing around though, it was just too delicate for everyday use. It wasn’t long before the stitches were breaking. And there was that one time (((shudder))) when Thing 1 went wild in the bedroom and sprayed purple suntan lotion, baby powder, and every other possible beauty product all over the bed and carpet…

There was also that one time he spilled Pepto Bismal all over it. And also the Cracker Incident. He just MIGHT be lucky to still be alive, and to have made it through to his recent high school graduation, all without me killing him…

Humor is emotional chaos, remembered in tranquility.
-James Thurber

Anyhoo, after that bedset became unusable, things really devolved in the bedroom. (You can take that however you want and it’s probably true.) For many years we slept with one of those plush Mexican blankets you always see vendors hawking at swapmeet. Man, I hated how that thing looked, with its giant rose in the middle and border of navy blue. And yet it was very soft and comfortable, so it stayed on the bed.

I looked and looked and looked at bedsets in stores and never found one I loved enough to go back and buy. I’m extremely picky and have champagne tastes on a tap-water budget.

But then one day, after I’d left my husband, it happened. I fell in love, again! A flyer came in the mail from Macy’s, featuring a beautiful bedset called the Water Garden. I clipped it and carried it around and looked at it often, wondering if I had finally found The One. I went to Macy’s and saw it and touched it and loved it. But I didn’t buy it. Yet.

DSCF4980MACY’S WATER GARDEN

A year later, and still thinking about it, I went back to Macy’s and it was gone. I figured if I still wanted it a year later, it was meant to be, right? The associate looked it up online, and guess what? It was on clearance now and a few were still left in the warehouse! She even offered to let me use one of her coupons and to ship it to home for free. No-brainer here, I gleefully said yes and whipped out my credit card.

A few days later I came home and there was a large package on my doorstep, a big white plastic-wrapped package with Macy’s distinctive red star. Yay! Happiness had arrived!

But I didn’t put it on my bed yet. There was much work to do in my bedroom and I kept the Mexican rose blanket on the bed and put away the bedset. I found some very bold orange pillow shams on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond and bought two sets and love them.

I had to buy two new pillows at IKEA because two of the shams from the bedset were European size. (I had never heard of this before, but European shams are square and not rectilinear. I’m sure it’s so the pillows are more visible in the back of the pillow lineup.)

DSCF6738DMV DUCKS

I had hoped to have my bedroom completely redone before I put the bedset on, but this turned out to be a much more daunting task than expected, much longer in the making than the bathroom redo.

But I was having a party at my house, one for Thing 1’s high school graduation, and I needed my bedroom to look presentable.

You have to pass through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. (Somebody SHOOT the architect, puh-leeze.) I had always known I hated that type of intrusive, impractical floor plan, but when I separated from my husband I was in such a hurry to get us into a new place, I didn’t even pay attention to that detail.)

So, anyways, the morning of Thing 1’s high school graduation and the day of his party, even though my bedroom still had plenty of work to be done, I finally put on the bedset.

Ahhh, bliss, total. The bedroom suddenly became whiter and brighter, cheerful and optimistic, as well as larger and cleaner. It’s amazing how a nice bedset with decorative pillows can make your bedroom look. It was transformation, total.

As long as the bed is made up properly and beautifully, the rest of the bedroom’s little messes and imperfections just kind of melt away. 

DSCF6737NIGHTSTAND NAUTI

Yep, I still have piles of books and magazines stacked on the floor by my bed. I have an old stenciled dresser I need to redo. (I DID mention Thing 1 was a holy terror when he was little, right?) His name is carved into it and there are crayon scribbles on the side.

I have a traditional writing desk and a separate blogging desk which need stools. I haven’t nailed down my wall artwork, and I have two little blue ceramic lamps I LOVE, and refuse to replace, even though they need new lampshades. They’ve been with me many, many moons. And the bed’s box spring and mattress are on the floor, which is really too low for my liking, but I need to find a new frame. And so on…

My bedroom redo is far from over, but I’m working on it and will keep you updated as I go…

DSCF6747I DREAM OF COBALT

That cobalt blue bottle, the one with the pinwheel on the left, it’s the one which started it all. My father found it in a dump on our property in Columbia County, New York, and I’ve had it since I was about 18. It’s the very piece which started my cobalt blue glass collection, and it’s held countless daffodils over the years.

DSCF6746PINEWOOD PROUD

These are our Pinewood Derby cars. Guess which one I helped make and which one their father made? The green one, called RoboRacer, belongs to Thing 2 and it took second place. Yup, it DOES have sparkles and was cut by a guy at Home Depot with a dull saw. The grey one, #7, it belongs to Thing 1 and was made by his father at a theatre projector repair shop. It took first place. (Putting lithium grease on the wheels is the answer, my friends.)

And that license plate, 214-CL, it was on my grey ’77 Chevy Nova back in the day when I was terrorizing Fish & Game Road after late-night shifts at McDonald’s when I was 18 and 19. It’s pretty beat up, not sure why. Ha!

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: My Very Beachy Bathroom Redo

DSCF5750Sandy Trio

It’s time. Time to finally redo my bathroom.

I’ve had a beach-themed bathroom as long as I can remember. It all started when I lived with The Rockets while we were in college. We lived in The Glenwood, those apartments with that floor plan I really loved. We were there four years: two years upstairs and two years downstairs.

As you entered the apartment, there was the large kitchen and living room, open to each other. Then, there was a door to the back hallway and the private area of the apartment, which consisted of bedrooms three, and bathrooms two. The way the bathrooms were set up was genius, really, making it so we could all get ready at the same time.

(But don’t get me started on our freshman bathroom. What a design disaster.)

Anyhoo, in that back hallway, there was a big vanity with two sinks, a large mirror, handy for lots of 80s hair curling, and putting on of layers upon layers of purplish-blue eye shadow. There was a sliding-door cabinet for medicines, ample storage underneath the two sinks, and a slightly warped full-length mirror at the end of the hall.

And then, there were two tiny rooms off the vanity area, each just big enough for a tub/shower combo and a toilet. Since six girls lived in the apartment, we split three girls to each shower room, so we didn’t have to keep moving our shampoo and conditioner, soap and razors back and forth.

But let’s not eeeeeven talk about Sunday mornings, with all six of us trying to get ready for church at the same time. Especially after a late Saturday night of dancing at The Palace. Let’s just say the early birds got the hot water and the late birds showered in ice.

Guess what kind of shower I usually had? That’s right, COLD!

DSCF5692I’ll Get You, My Pretty

Anyhoo, for my little bathroom, I somewhere along the line picked up a shower curtain I really loved. It was plastic and mostly clear and had a white geometric pattern of shells. Since it was see through, it let a lot of light into the dark, harvest yellow-colored shower in that cramped little room. And it didn’t matter it was clear, because the door to the hallway was always shut when I showered, anyways.

I loved this shower curtain and my bathroom beach theme took off from there.

This was in the latter half of 80s, and I’ve had a beach-themed bathroom ever since. I found a magazine photo of an elaborate sand castle, set against the bluest of skies, and I took it up to the bookstore to have it matted and framed. That’s how much I loved it.

Up on my bathroom wall it went.

But the beach theme stopped there, as I was a starving college student and needed my money for more important things, like art markers and leather boots (so I could look cool when I went dancing) and frozen Lynn Wilson bean-and-cheese burritos and Honey Nut Cheerios. That’s about all I ate back then and have the skinny pix to prove it! (See photos above. Thin legs!)

A few years after graduation from college, when I was working as a graphic designer, I found a paper sample from a printing brochure with a shell pattern I loved. I had it matted and framed to match the sand castle picture, and it went up on the wall, too, in all my apartments.

When I finally got my very own place with no roommates, the Clark Apartment, I got a taupe and ivory seashore-themed shower curtain and hung it with gold shell hooks. (Somewhere along the way the original shower curtain bit the dust, since it was plastic it developed some holes.) I matched the new curtain with blue and brown striped towels and splurged at Mervyn’s on some super soft taupe-colored bathroom rugs.

Man, I miss Mervyn’s.

I don’t know what ever happened to them, I think my cat Junie went on a rampage and ruined them. (The rugs, not the towels.) She got very jealous and started acting out when I brought Thing 1 home from the hospital…

And then, when I got married and started living in apartments with fiberglass tub/shower units with sliding doors, I washed and packed the shower curtain and the shell hooks and all my beachy accessories away.

I still continued to hang the two beach-themed photos on the wall, though. For years and years and years.

After I separated from my husband in 2013 and moved us into this little place, I was excited to have a porcelain tub and shower with tile walls and no sliding glass door. I unpacked the old shower curtain and hung it again, the shower curtain I purchased before I was married, before I had Thing 1 and Thing 2. It was in great shape still, and if I kept replacing the liner, it could have gone on for many more years.

But guess what? A few months ago the shell photo bit the dust!

It fell right off the wall, scaring the bajeebers outta me. Maybe it was trying to tell me something? That it was tired and it was time for a change? The cardboard on the back of the frame had become so waterlogged after more than twenty (Yes! Twenty!) years of being subject to long, hot, steamy showers, it ripped, and I can’t hang it up again, unless I replace the cardboard backing. And this would require a new frame, really. Naw, don’t think I wanna go there.

In the past 30 years my tastes have changed (thankfully!) and I’d like to think they’ve matured right along with me.

So, after the framed photo fell to its death, I started to look around my bathroom with harsh new eyes, like I was seeing it for the first time. And I didn’t like what I saw. In fact, I hated it. My towel situation had devolved into a non-matching mishmash. The bathroom was a cluttery, cramped, non-cohesive mess, too, with way too many clothes in there that didn’t belong.

It wasn’t at all nice, like it used to be before I had kids. It was downright depressing.

DSCF5792Blogging in the Bathroom

I want to feel inspired and restful in my bathroom, the place I get ready to face the day, the place I unwind at night, the place I furiously scribble notes longhand into my blogging notebook while soaking in a long hot bath. I don’t want to feel discouraged in there. I need my Zen, a place of peace and tranquility.

Maybe it was time for a bathroom redo? No, scratch that. It was DEFINITELY time, and long overdue.

Well, there was this one print I kept eyeing for two years at Urban Outfitters. I love that store, it’s a visual feast. I finally bought it last summer, unframed, and decided to use it as my bathroom redo starting piece. I loved the saying underneath, by Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa:

The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.

DSCF5722Salt Water Cure, by Tina Crespo

I loved the simplicity of it all. But it was an odd size and needed framing, so it still just sat around my place. When I finally decided to dive in and redo the bathroom, I took it back to Urban Outfitters, still in the plastic and with the price tag, to look for a frame. With the help of the lovely Christina, we went to their website and decided to buy a silver frame, because we thought black would be too overpowering and white would be boring.

Christina let me exchange the old print towards the price of the new, framed one, even though I admitted I’d had the old one for a whole year now and the receipt was long gone. But it was back ordered and I was afraid it wouldn’t make it to me in time for my blog deadline. I proceeded with the bathroom redo anyways.

(And it did, it did come in time.)

I hung it on the wall, but something seemed not quite right. The more I looked at it, I realized the quote type was all wrong, much smaller and blurrier than on the original unframed print I’d had. And with my typography background, this just didn’t cut it. I measured the line length of the first line of type in the framed print, and then compared it with the line length of the unframed print at Urban, just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and I was right. There was a yuuuge difference.

So. I explained my dilemma to another sales associate at Urban, the gorgeous gal who wears tight leather pants like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease. She said I could switch out the prints. So I hauled the silver-framed print back to Urban, and Christina helped me switch them out. She even expertly trimmed the better print down perfectly to fit the frame, all with a smile on her face, and didn’t charge me a cent for her trouble! And we noticed, while comparing the two prints, the colors were much better and clearer on the one with the larger type.

I wanted my bathroom starter piece to be just perfect. You can call me OCD, but I prefer to call it detail-oriented. Remember that phrase. It will get you a good job. 

So, now I had my starter piece nailed down, where to go next? Well, it seemed like the shower curtain was the right place to start, once again, thirty years later. Ye ole taupe and ivory shower curtain had done its time, and seemed kind of…blah? Boring? Anemic? Starting over was fun and overwhelming and oh, so cleansing.

Am I talking about my bathroom or my life? Definitely both.

I’d seen some beach-themed shower curtains at Bed Bath & Beyond, but they seemed kinda kitschy. Could I convey the beach idea without hitting you over the head with anchors and shells? You bet I could!

DSCF5640Meloncholy

My sister Cheri found me a cool chevron shower curtain. The seafoam green was perfect, and, happy day! That melon-orange chevron stripe also matched the white chevron on the orange accent pillow on my new bedset.

But more about my bedroom redo in June.

I mentioned in a previous post about the little fish-shaped dishes I bought at Sur la Table, turning them into soap dishes, right? (If you want to reread that post, you can find it at http://mycopperkitchen.com/dove-boy-dove-girl) I’d already been using them in my bathroom, and they were still perfect.

DSCF5656Of Chevrons and Soap Dishes

And then I found a cool clock at Bed Bath & Beyond, to replace our broken one. The one whose glass got broken when we moved in here. The one with the dead battery. Why was that disgraceful thing even hanging on the wall still?

Argh, sometimes I annoy myself.

If something in your house makes you feel bad or sad or guilty, replace it. Just do it. Life is too short and hard to not surround yourself with things that bring joy and peace and happiness.

I loved how the round clock echoed the circular motif of the Dinesen print, and the silver frames tied together nicely. And how I’d missed the familiar tick, tick, tick of an analog clock.

DSCF5727Time for Bed

DSCF55802:10

Then, there was the weighty matter of towels. I like nice towels. When I spend the night at my parents home in northern Utah, there’s this one super soft pale pink Martha Stewart towel I always search out from the hall closet.

But for my own bathroom redo, I couldn’t decide between the Martha Stewart towels at Macy’s and the DKNY ones at Bed Bath & Beyond. Should I go with pastels or more vibrant colors? Regular cotton or Supima? I’ve wanted Martha Stewart towels since way back when she used to sell her products at KMart…

I finally decided on the Martha ones from Macy’s because I liked the selection of colors better, they were suuuper soft, and on sale. Plus, I had a coupon for 20% off, so I got bath-sized ones for $7.99, when they were regularly $20 apiece. Yes, yes, and yes!

Sea Spray Green for me, Peach Fizz for Thing 2, and Tide Pool Green for Thing 1.

DSCF5734Plush x3

I plan to get a set of white ones for guests, and maybe also Hydrangea Blue. That reminds me of last summer when we went to the Atlantic Ocean. Driving around Rockport, Massachussetts, I was struck by how many of those beach homes had blue hydrangea bushes. It was unusually lovely.

I sooo wish I had photos to show you of some of those beautiful homes and their blue hydrangeas. But guess what?!? The boys and I are fortunate enough to be headed back to Columbia County this summer, the first two weeks of July, and if we make it over to the coast again, I’ll have Black Beauty all fired up and ready to go. Can’t wait.

But back to Salt Lake and back to towels. You know, I hate those little terrycloth hand towels and decided not to buy any of them. Awhile back I had an idea, why not use those super absorbent cotton kitchen towels for drying our hands? There’s no rule they have to stay in the kitchen, and they dry much faster than terrycloth ones. Plus, they’re much less expensive, so you can buy them in larger quantity and switch them out more often.

DSCF5720Patterns

So I got some of them at the Sweet Tooth Fairy, but I need more. The bright orange you see here isn’t quite the right color, as the shower curtain chevron is more the color of cantaloupe. But it’ll do for now.

The circular towel ring meant to hang one of those terrycloth hand towels serves me better as a necklace holder. I wish I had a small, antique looking treasure chest to put on the counter underneath my necklaces. Wouldn’t that look cool? Now, if I could just figure out a solution for my earrings and bracelets and rings…but that’s another blog for another day, maybe.

DSCF5603A Few of My Favorite Rings

DSCF5683Treasures from the Sea

Getting back to the Sweet Tooth Fairy, they had this great utility box. I had the salesgirl take out the chunks of fudge it was holding, and I bought it to put our brushes and blow drier in. I loved the silver basket they’d been in, but it was just all wrong for the brushes, and their handles kept awkwardly falling out the side. (Now it will become the guest hand towel basket!) The utility box fits the space nicely, and the brushes can lay down flat. And it has the coolest lid, which I could put on, if guests were coming and I really wanted to streamline things.

DSCF5596The Mermaid’s Box

The other night, when Thing 1 was at work, I dove into the bathroom, removed all the cluttery clothes, hung the shower curtain and handtowels and Dinesen print. I threw away that old broken clock which made me feel bad whenever I saw it, and hung the new one over the doorway, so I can keep an eye on the time from the tub. I scrubbed the floor within an inch of its life, and my sister Cheri’s husband Jay is making us a new handmade rug. Can’t wait to see it.

I still need a few more things, like a stainless steel trash can and soap and lotion dispensers. I plan to put cotton swabs and Q-tips and votive candles in glass jars. And pleeease don’t look in the cabinets under the sink, as they’re still a mess.

I was asleep that night when Thing 1 got home late, late from his job at the movie theatre, but the next morning he told me the bathroom looked incredible, like a hotel. And that was BEFORE I even had the new towels. When I brought the newly purchased piles of fluffy terrycloth home he said, “Oh, we’re getting new towels, too?!” and he sounded excited.

My happiness and joy with our new bathroom, it was complete.

DSCF5815Token of My Affection/Waiting For the 41

 

[MORE PHOTOGRAPHS]

DSCF5799Six Towels

 

DSCF5774The Month of May

 

DSCF5718A Box of Shells

 

DSCF5617Sixth-Grade Field Trip

 

My Blissful Bathroom

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: A Blissful Bathroom

DSCF5532

If you want to makes changes in the look and feel of your home, but feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, may I suggest the bathroom?

It’s the smallest room in your house or apartment, most likely, therefore the easiest place to create a very dramatic change. And I know, because I just redid mine. I used to be discouraged by my bathroom because of the clutter and mismatched towels and old accessories. But now, now, I feel refreshed and invigorated in the morning as I take my shower, and relaxed and Zen-like in the evening if I take a bath.

But how to even begin redoing your bathroom? There are three easy steps to getting started, and I used them myself:

1) Choose your theme. Do you like movie stars? Super heroes? The seashore? Sports cars? Nature scenes? Victorian white lace? Your theme will probably be something you’ve liked a long time, but don’t be afraid to try something new. You won’t be spending $1000 on a sofa here, so if you end up hating or tired of your theme in a year from now, it won’t be too expensive to change. Take a risk and try something new!

2) Choose a starting piece, something you truly love and keep coming back to look at over and over in the store. A black-and-white photo of Bogie and Bacall? A colorful poster of Superman? A photo of the ocean? A picture of your dream candy-apple red Mustang? A photo of a soothing waterfall? A classic Monet print?

Your starting piece will decide your bathroom colors. If you decide on a black-and-white photo, you can go with many different accessory colors, like red, orange, purple, etc.

3) Shop for towels. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT skimp here! Your towels will be touching your body each and every day: comforting you after long hot bubble baths on devastatingly awful days, cheering you up after quick showers on rainy grey mornings when you don’t want to go to work, and wrapping up your precious children and guests. They deserve the best. And so do YOU!

Buy the very best, the very softest towels, on sale and using coupons. There’s no reason to have to pay outrageous full price. Many department stores such as Macy’s have great white sales and the associates are more than happy to help you plan ahead to get a good deal.

But don’t expect them to be able to advise you on what ones to buy, as oftentimes the department they’re working in isn’t necessarily their area of expertise or interest. Do your homework before you go shopping. (See the notes section below for how to choose your towels.)

Decide on these three things and everything else will fall into place, bit by bit, piece by piece, one idea at a time.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your dream bathroom, few of us do. After all, My Copper Kitchen and Anatevka Girl on Architecture and Design are founded on the idea of thrift, and making your home beautiful and enjoyable without a lot of money.

As in life, you may be stuck with elements of your bathroom you can’t change. 

Like an apartment with a fiberglass sink instead of a ceramic one. A fiberglass tub/shower unit instead of tile walls and a ceramic tub. Sliding shower doors with tracks which are impossible to clean. Sink fixtures that don’t feel good to the hand. Grout that just won’t come clean. A bathroom light switch which is attached to a very noisy ventilation fan, instead of being on a separate switch. A vanity which is too small. A botch job of tile replacement on the shower wall, with random tiles that aren’t the same color as the originals.

The above list compiles frustrating things I’ve personally had to deal with and there was no changing them in a rented place. If you’ve also rented, you probably can add many more things to the list.

Don’t worry about it, you won’t be there forever, and right now there are plenty of things you CAN control.

DSCF5518

Anyhoo, you want to feel relaxed and/or invigorated when you’re in your bathroom, right? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a spa-like experience in your very own bathroom, instead of having to pay the big bucks to get one somewhere else? Yes, I think so…

Oh! But what about guest towels? Do you ever wonder which towel to dry your hands on when you visit someone’s home or attend a party there?

I know I do. And at my own house, I haven’t been sure how to make it clear, either. I don’t really want my guests to have to use paper towels, because that seems rather institutional and impersonal, and yet I would rather not, as much as I love my friends and family, have them wiping their hands all over my personal body towel.

So, if you’re having a lot of people over for a party or a big family dinner, like Thanksgiving or Easter, how about putting a basket of dishtowels (in woven cotton and NOT terrycloth) all rolled up neatly on the counter in a basket?

There’s absolutely no rule saying dishtowels can’t also be used in the bathroom! I love the woven cotton ones made in India because they dry quickly. And there’s nothing I hate worse than using one of those skimpy little terrycloth hand towels which is already wet and rumpled looking from the last person to dry his or her hands on it. Ewww. And those little, useless decorative ones at your grandma’s house? You just KNOW she doesn’t want you wiping your hands all over the applique silk roses.

So, go ahead and leave a little note (perhaps made out of an index card folded in half to be a tent) by the towel basket, saying they’re for guests, and a small hamper or basket for them to go into after being used, and label it as such.

Or, if your guests are all going to be staying long enough to merit more than one trip to the bathroom (Hey! It’s pretty easy to overdo it on my delicious Purple Party Punch!) make sure you have different colors and patterns so guests can remember which one is theirs and use it again.

They can hang their towels on one of those wooden accordion racks which you will have cleared off before the party. After the party is over you can throw them in the wash and re-roll them and put them back in the basket and keep them for next time. I would, however, keep them FOREVER as bathroom towels now, and not let them become kitchen towels. It just seems kinda icky for something to go from the bathroom back to the kitchen, right?

So that’s how I handle the guest towel problem.

The bathroom is a very important room in any house. The bathroom is where we start and end our days, so be determined to do it right. Start now to make it your happy place.

The bathroom is where our children get ready for school and their first job interviews. Where they get dressed and fuss over their hair and makeup before going to Prom.

The bathroom is where we get ready for work. It’s where we primp and get dolled up before going out on the town to a nice dinner and movie. And where we put on our LBD, that little black dress, before heading out to the company holiday party. It’s where we ask our husbands to zip us up, and if we’re lucky, get a kiss on the back of the neck in the process. Hey! A girl can dream, can’t she?

From me to you with love,

Anatevka Girl

DSCF5529

 

[SUGGESTED LISTENING]
Lady in Red, by Chris de Burgh. Written in 1986 about his wife, Diane.

Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton. Written in 1976 about his girlfriend, Pattie.

Splish Splash, by Bobby Darin and Murray Kaufman. Written in 1958 on a dare from Murray’s mother, Jean Kaufman.

[MORE INFORMATION]
How to choose towels:
http://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/bathrooms/a-basic-guide-to-bath-towels

http://www1.macys.com/campaign/buyingguides/bathtowel/index_popup.jsp

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/guide/buying-guide-to-towels/dc1500014

Sources for wood accordion peg racks:
http://www.worldmarket.com/category/home-decor-pillows/wall-art-decor/wall-storage.do?template=PLA&plfsku=498477&camp=ppc%3AGooglePLA%3Anone%3A96167128859custom4home_decor&adpos=1o1&creative=50631643259&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CNr7n7KRw8wCFUlufgod1MAFmA

http://www.landofnod.com/white-accordion-peg-rack/s516996?a=1081&campaignid=241171737&adgroupid=23862888297&targetid=pla-119771206617&pla_sku=516996&scid=scplp14099652&adpos=1o2&creative=92406046377&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CJzw1oiSw8wCFVKDfgodGgcI4A

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: A Word About Windows

Welcome to Anatevka Girl on Architecture and Design, a new monthly column @ My Copper Kitchen! A new feature will be available the first Thursday of every month. Check back on Thursday, 5 May 2016, for My Beachy Bathroom Redo. But first, let’s talk about window coverings…

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERASCANDINAVIAN LACE

Curb appeal. You want your home to have it, whether you live in a shack in the not-so-nice part of town, college dorm with cinderblock walls, tiny apartment or condo, humble ranch or bungalow. Or maybe you live in a McMansion, a mid-century modern gem, a cozy Craftsman cottage or gracious center hall Colonial?

Curb appeal. Whether or not you’re trying to sell your home, or staying there forever, you want people to look at your place and know someone cares. I’m 110% sure of this, or you wouldn’t be visiting My Copper Kitchen, you’d be tearing it up on Facebook or YouTube.

The fact you’re here is the fact you care.

Think about this. What separates the nice neighborhoods from the ones which look shabby? What exactly is it? Is it the well-manicured grass of the tasteful neighborhoods vs. the weed-patched dirt of the scary neighborhoods? Yes. Is it the rusty junkers, beat-up appliances, and sagging couches in the yards of the ghettos vs. the riot of flowers, mature trees, and well-trimmed shrubs in the yards of the wealthy? Yes. But it’s more than just the house itself, more than just the condition of the yard.

It’s curtains, folks, it’s curtains.

Continue reading

One Little Corner

DSCF3680

Yesterday I rearranged one little corner in the living room, and was amazed at how much it brightened my spirit.

See that ecru-colored throw over the chair? The cable-knit one? I’d been wanting and wanting and wanting it for two years, but somehow couldn’t justify spending the money. But then, on Christmas Eve, I came into some unexpected money from one of my very favorite customers. The one who likes to talk children’s literature and estate planning with me. He hastily gave me the money, and left, almost seeming embarrassed, probably thinking I would buy my boys something extra for Christmas.

I wasn’t sure what I should do with the money, because the kids’ Christmas presents and stocking stuffers were already purchased and safely tucked away, and there was nothing we were lacking in the way of Christmas dinner or treats. So I held onto the money, hidden in the pocket of my old navy-blue, fairly shabby, threadbare-at-one-elbow robe, away from the prying eyes of my two little money grubbers, and kind of forgot about it.

But finally, mid-February, I decided as a birthday present to myself, I would use the money to buy the coveted throw. I already have plenty of blankets on my bed, so I decided to put it over the living room chair to mask some of the…mauveness. (Is that even a word? It is now!) And I was surprised how much I liked the effect, how much it brightened up the corner of the living room to have an ecru-colored throw instead of a blue one.

Then, I decided to hang my Rosey butterfly art over the chair. I paid $5 for it at a thrift store. Five dollars! It’s signed and numbered, too, with a certificate of authenticity on the back. I had never heard of Rosey, so I googled him to find out more, and to try to figure out how much it was worth. I couldn’t really establish a price, but I know it’s worth more than $5, and besides that, it makes me happy. The art itself is made out of a thick, cream colored paper with an embossed pattern, with burgundy and brown butterflies. It has a nice, linen-like matte even. Score!

And see that metal art of the tree on the other wall? My friend and fellow Rocket, Lori, she gave it to me after I admired it at her store. I had originally intended to turn it into a family tree, with photos of my ancestors. But then I decided it’s the perfect place to hang greeting cards or invitations or postcards with cool artwork, things I want to display, but will switch around frequently. Right now it’s sporting the Valentine’s Day cards I gave my boys and an invitation to my stepdaughter’s wedding.

When I come in the front door, this little corner arrangement is the first thing I see, and it makes me happy. It almost makes me forget the rest of the living room is covered in Legos, with backpacks and jackets hastily dumped on the other chairs…

A bowl of popcorn, a Purple Stuff, a few magazines to dream over, featuring homes from my beloved Columbia and Dutchess Counties, in upstate New York, that’s all it really takes for me to be happy. That and sitting in my chair with a view of the front door, sitting there on my day off, and watching as my boys come home from school…

DSCF3679

MORE INFORMATION

Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal:
http://www.rosenthalart.com/rosey_rosenthal/

Architectural Digest articles featuring homes in upstate New York:

Red Hook:
http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/greek-revival-home-photographer-pieter-estersohn

Claverack:
http://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/bruce-shostak-hudson-valley-new-york-house-slideshow#10

Dwell article featuring home in upstate New York:

Ancram:
http://www.dwell.com/green/article/passive-house-and-sauna-tower-join-19th-century-barn-hudson-valley

The Winter Bedroom

By Valerie Belden Wilder
Written July 17, 2015
Published July 20, 2015

It’s 5:35 am. I woke up a bit later than normal this morning, because I slept upstairs. Sometimes it’s a bit chilly on the screened-in porch, so I moved upstairs to sleep, to the winter bedroom. I wish you could see this room! It has two west-facing windows, so I still get the same view and morning chattering of birds, just in smaller form than that of the screened-in porch. And speaking of birds, there’s a bird’s-eye view from up here, since I’m on the second floor. Right outside those windows is the roof of the screened-in porch, all black-shingled and tempting…

I used to climb out there, you know, when I was a kid, right through the windows, to try and see some fireworks on the Fourth of July. It never really worked because there were too many trees in the way, but still, it was fun, precariously perching on the black asphalt shingles, rougher than sandpaper, one little slide or stumble away from sudden death or an arm or leg break. Fun. And breathtaking. And daring, or so I thought, little conservative me.

I wish you could see this room. I call it the winter bedroom because it’s very warm, too warm to sleep in on a hot summer night. I’m sure in the winter it’s quite cozy, with it facing west and all. And the floor! It’s amazing wide-plank, knotty pine, a comfortable old orangey-brown, with wide cracks between some of the planks.

The last family to rent this upstairs apartment was the D family. She was a papercutting artist, just starting out her craft, back in the early 80s. And now she’s grown so accomplished, I feel some source of pride, even though I had nothing to do with her success. She was hand-picked to illustrate a collection compiled by a very famous Newbery-award winning author, and I was thrilled to hear the news! I love to tell people I knew P way back when she was just starting out.

I went to an opening exhibit of her work at a local library last Saturday night. I was pretty tired, but happy, after getting Thing 2 baptized and pulling off the smashing luncheon (If I do say so myself. And yes! I do! I say so! It WAS smashing, truly!), but I would have had to be dead or out of gas, or maybe both, to miss this exhibit. And it was so fun to see her work, how amazingly detailed and perfect her cutwork has become in the past 35 years since she lived up here. There were two pieces I desperately wanted to buy…

Oh! At the opening reception there were these delicious appetizers. I’ve never had anything like them, but I think they were thin planes of eggplant, breaded with parmesan and filled with something delicious and tomatoey, rolled up and stabbed with a toothpick. (Yes! Tomatoey is a word! Look it up!) I must go on a recipe rampage until I find out how to make them. I could have easily demolished the entire plateful, but well, I was at an art opening, and you know how THOSE people are. Heh!

There were also some delicious raspberry tarts, made by P herself. They had a pastry crust, a layer of rich, creamy, pudding-like stuff, and then a bunch of raspberries, perfect raspberries, all lined up and at attention, like a squadron of raspberry soldiers. Delicious!

But back to this apartment. I still remember how P stenciled the walls up by the ceiling in two of the rooms, and how her cutting table was in the living room, this room I now call the winter bedroom, with lots of scraps of black paper underneath. I used to babysit her little daughter, R, when she and her husband would go out to a movie.

This room has two under-the-eaves closets, accessed by short, chin-level doors. Each lit by a single bare bulb, they’re fascinating and creepy, a fun place to hid out as a short li’l kid. And there’s some very old, floral sheet linoleum in there.

I want to rearrange this bedroom, but it will take a fair amount of work. My dad has a large table made of a door spanning across two small tables, a table on which he spreads out huge site plans, and it’ll be a bear to move. But it’s right where I want the bed, between the two windows. And above the bed, I’ll put an amazing piece of artwork my oldest sister painted when she was 16, a deerlike woman-creature on top of a mountain. It’s fiery orange-red and emerald green and cobalt blue and, well, imaginatively stunning. (Did I mention I want to redecorate my Salt Lake bedroom in orange and cobalt blue? Hmmm…)

I would love to have two matching nightstands on either side, but I don’t have any. But I do have two matching straight-backed wooden chairs, and the tops of them would peek up over the windowsills and contrast nicely with the green of the trees across the street.

Hmmm. It’s now 6:31 am. I normally write and edit until 7 am, but I think I’ll get busy rearranging. Besides, my legs are falling asleep, sitting on the edge of this unique bed we borrowed from R and B, the couple I mentioned in the Thing 2’s Baptism Luncheon post. He’s a shop teacher at a nearby high school, and must have made the finely polished wooden platform box the mattress sits on. It’s high up off the ground, and my feet don’t even reach the wide-planked knotty pine floor I’m dying to mop and polish within an inch of its life. So I sit here, typing on the laptop I comadeered from the still-slumbering Thing 2, my legs dangling like a little girl.

I must consult with Martha Stewart on how to polish such a floor, I know she had them in her farmhouse at Turkey Hill, before she sold it. And we’re tight, Martha and I. She just doesn’t know it. Heh!

I’ve been wanting to rearrange this room since I got here, and this is the morning. TTYL.

P.S. It’s now 10:35 am and the bedroom is done. Yes, yes, yes! I wish you could see it. The drafting table is moved across the room, the bed is in place, with the painting above, the deerlike woman gazing at me as we speak. And at the foot of the bed is an old oval orange rug, plush and thick and fun to dig my toes into, after I’ve kicked off my beloved flip flops.

I’m sitting in a comfy blue 80s swivel rocker in the corner, by the door to one of the eaves’ closets, and as an end table I’m using the largest piece of the Scarlet Samsung. Remember them? My suitcases?

The wooden chairs are in place under the windowsills, and I cleaned and shined up a black metal rack to hold all my books. And by it, on the floor, there’s a matching and interesting black metal trash can. That’s where I’ll throw away napkins after I sneak brownies upstairs for a midnight snack (Thank you, new cookbook, The Brownie Experience), before I crash into bed, with a new nighttime view out a French door and into the apartment hallway.

It’s da bomb diggety (to steal a phrase from Thing 1), this west bedroom.

And guess what? As I rearranged the chairs and put them under the windows, I realized something I never knew before, something I never noticed as a teenager, when there were two old and ugly juniper trees in front of the house. You can see the very tops of the Heidelberg and Catskill Mountains from the windows!

It’s quickly become the tagline of this trip:

Look! It’s the Catskills!

My kids are so tired of hearing this, it’s become quite the joke among us all. I say it often now, on purpose, just for effect…