I received this awesome compliment today. It was about this blog and how I write, but it was more than that. My friend complimented me on my style and how my house is a home, and unique yet comfortable. And how I seemed to her to set this “taste of home” with my gardening, my cooking, and treasure hunting to accent my home.
She isn’t the first one to say that, as one of my other friends defines my style as being like Sister Parrish. That made me giggle because I definitely don’t see myself as like that at all, or even have the talent, although I do like the whole English country house style.
But Sister Parrish had a design philosophy that she spoke of that I can identify with as a homemaker:
“As a child, I discovered the happy feelings that familiar things can bring — an old apple tree, a favorite garden, the smell of a fresh-clipped hedge, simply knowing that when you round the corner, nothing will be changed, nothing will be gone. I try to instill the lucky part of my life in each house that I do. Some think a decorator should change a house. I try to give permanence to a house, to bring out the experiences, the memories, the feelings that make it a home.“
I love putting things together and I love the compliments on my style, but am I worthy of such accolades? I am surely not so to professional chefs, landscape architects, and interior designers. But in my own defense, I never pretend to be them, I am only ever myself.
Growing up my parents did take me to lots of antique shows. My father said the shows were more to educate your eye than make a marked-up show prices purchase. We also spent many a weekend looking at antiques and collectibles down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (Oxford and Chestertown were favorites) and up through Lancaster County (Shupps Grove, Renningers, Stouts Black Angus). Also estate sales along the Main Line when they were truly a special thing with manageable realistic prices (Susan Vitale sales were the bomb). And church fairs and historic houses’ white elephants/rummage sales.
I share my late father’s love of looking and learning about things. And in part that is what any of this is about I suppose, form of intellectual curiosity that sparks a creative thing. And it just starts with looking. Opening your eyes and taking it in. In a way that is what I like best about Pinterest. You can look and save photos that inspire you.
For me, putting the rooms together in our home was a labor of love. It’s the things we like and had separately and jointly meets a comfortable style of living. I don’t want to house of fussy that it looks like a museum or jumped out of the pages of Architectural Digest where you can’t sit on a chair. I want a place where pets and kids can exist, yet it’s not all plastic and laminate. Growing up I was around a lot of things and my entire world wasn’t child-proofed and vinyl and I survived just fine.
I like mish-mosh, a mix of styles, but I guess today if you were going to put a label on me I am vintage traditional meets gracious country living. But that doesn’t mean everything in my world is sprouting milk paint, chalk paint, or chalkboard paint. Ask any of my friends and they will amusingly tell you my disdain for all of those things. Nothing against the people that like that style, but it’s so not me.
I do like some painted wood however, but it’s tole painted and cool trompe l’oeil that will make my heart beat faster, not something milk or chalk painted with a cute pattern and adorned with gingham cut with pinking shears and tied up with a burlap or raffia bow.
I like things that are pretty or unique or have a cool look to them but I don’t like fussy. You also won’t find many ruffles and bows in my world. It’s a great boudoir look but I’m not a 1930s film star.
That’s the thing of it: when I’m putting things together for my home or my garden or my kitchen, it’s what I like, what we like. It’s not what someone else told us we should like.
I laid the foundation with some of the bigger pieces and from there I took cues on color and style for everything else. And I also think people need to remember that it doesn’t have to be spanking brand-new from La-Z-Boy or out of some designer show room. You can find a lot of treasures in unexpected places, and save yourself a tidy sum in the process. Once you lay your foundation, you can layer over time.
And if an older piece of furniture has great bones, don’t ignore it as you can reupholster or cover with something more to your liking. And if you want to paint over natural wood, that is your choice, so make sure the colors you pick are ones you like and can live with, not someone else.
I like things that create or evoke a warm and homey atmosphere. Or evokes a happy memory. Like vintage quilts. You can indeed pay a pretty penny but you can also find them reasonably priced. One of my favorite sources over the years has been church fairs. Also you can get great handmade quilts at mud sales too. I find my quilts all over. I buy them to be used. If I find I am afraid to use a vintage quilt I will swap it out for one I like better. Pretty much that simple. And when the get too worn, you can repurpose them into pillows for humans and dog beds. Yes, seriously.
Vintage dishes and glasses are also something I like. But I am not living in Winterthur, so they have to be sturdy. Not famous or collectible, but usable. A lot of vintage dishes and glasses have a warmness to them and a happy, cheerful look I just prefer.
As for the garden, it represents pieces of gardens I’ve had throughout my life and things I’ve loved and admired in other people’s gardens. My garden is a work in progress and a constant evolution. You plant each season and each season you either maintain or adjust the work of previous seasons.
But a lot of what makes a garden magical is doing the work yourself. It’s about connecting with your space in nature and learning through trial and error. Sure by all means hire a professional for the bigger projects you can’t tackle like tree work, but get your hands dirty. It’s a wonderful feeling to garden, truly. Try it for yourself. Start small and pick projects you can manage.
Cooking is a lot like gardening. You have to dive on in. You will have triumphs and disasters. I love vintage cookbooks and pick them up at church sales and thrift stores and garage sales. They have a lot of the basic recipes modern cookbooks no longer have and learning the basics lays your foundation in the kitchen as a home cook.
But the components of what makes a house a home isn’t just the gardening style with flowers tumbling out of a flower bed or flower pot. It isn’t just the good smells coming out of the kitchen or that vintage find that looks cool in one of your rooms. Making a house a home is also that bunch of intangibles, the things you can’t see. Feelings. Emotions. Sentimentality and comfort.
Maybe my approach to making a house a home has to do with almost creating a feeling like comfort food evokes? I love a house that when I walk into it I see the personality of the inhabitants. So maybe that is the key and why it is more rewarding if you design? It’s how you feel and what you like, not what someone else’s interpretation of that or you is.
So I guess my best advice is to be an active participant. There will be trial and error and success and “what was I thinking???” moments, but in the end, the sole and key ingredient in defining and creating home is you.
Many thanks to my friends and all of their compliments.
Thanks for stopping by.
When I was first awake at 6 a.m. it was super cold outside, but dry. But it is pouring and the roads are cold enough that there is a lot of ice out there….and accidents.
A lot of churches are canceling worship services too.
If you do not have to go anywhere, don’t.
For more information visit NBC10 Philadelphia or media outlet of your choice.
I discovered this lady who hand crochets these super cute children’s hats out of Buffalo, NY. The business is Facebook based and called Sheepy Baby. I don’t believe she has a website yet or an Etsy page, just Facebook.
The business of the business is described thusly on the Facebook page (and I asked and she will create for adults at a slight up charge ):
Sheepy Baby is my shop for FUN, cute, adorable creations! From silly hats to cuddly stuffed toys and more! I have been crocheting professionally for over 11 years.
Anything is available for custom ordering! I am working on putting together a website but until then this is my main page for displaying my work and new items! Feel free to suggest new ideas! I love creating patterns!
To order, message me or email me at email@example.com I accept paypal or you can mail me a check or Money Order.
All orders are started after I receive your payment. Turn around time is dependent on waiting order list.
Anyway, I am not compensated in any way shape or form by this business. I am just paying it forward because I thought everything was so cute!
Have you ever had a memory flash through your mind that is so real and tangible, it’s almost like it was happening at the moment you remembered it?
Today, clear as a bell, I had a memory of myself as a child looking out the window in winter. When I was really little, we lived in a very old house. The windows were large and original to the house, and weren’t all air tight like modern windows.
Today I remembered the windows in winter time. The smell of the cold and the crisp cold air leaking in from the outside. I remembered looking out the window onto a snowy street and then blowing on the window to make a little cold frosty pattern that then quickly disappeared. And then just like that, the memory was gone.
This has been a bit of a weird week.
Yesterday I got a Facebook reminder that an old friend was having a birthday. This was a woman I hadn’t seen in many years because life had taken her way out of state where she had gotten married and started a family.
A few years ago we had reconnected and sporadically had kept in touch with an occasional call mostly to leave a message, or Facebook message. So yesterday I went to her Facebook page to say happy birthday. Only what I saw was a post for someone I don’t know saying she had died.
Google, that thing that is a blessing and a curse of online research, led me to her obituary. It really got to me. I was also upset that although one of this woman’s siblings was actually in my class in high school and there was a third sister that somehow people that knew this friend never knew she had died. Out of sight and out of mind in the saddest of ways.
Yesterday I had another one of those crystal clear flashes of memory. I saw my friend basically as I had last seen her. She was a petite woman with a beautiful smile that was almost shy as it developed at times and sometimes it was wistful and other times mischievous. She also had this deep throaty voice. The memory made me smile through tears.
Today another friend said goodbye to her dad. He had been ill and on hospice. When I was talking to her on her way home from saying good bye to her dad and starting the frenetic process of everything that falls under that horrible phrase “final arrangements” I had my third flash of a memory for this week. Of my own father, two days before he died and when he was on hospice.
It was my parents’ wedding anniversary. We watched a movie. The original Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn I think it was. My father turned his head slightly on the pillow and smiled a slight and very weak smile. That is my last memory of him. And then today, poof the memory was gone.
And you know what else in this week of flash memories and weirdness? Trees full of lots of cardinals in my back garden. Every day. About a dozen, if not more. I heard an old wives tale once long ago that said a lot of people feel cardinals appearing represent loved ones or people you cared about and knew who had passed away. When you see them, supposedly those who had gone before you are visiting. Makes you wonder.
Thanks for stopping by.