Thursday, July 23, 2015

In the Nick of Time

I had friends to dinner last night which meant a fair amount of running around yesterday.  

I did keep it simple (which is a good idea considering my proficiency in the kitchen) and was happy that I am finally feeling that my house is starting to look like me.

It did from the start, I suppose, though now it is fuller.  More nuanced.  It's good to be at the point where I can worry about the music and whether or not I have enough tonic and not how to accommodate an evening with company when there's a big dark hole in the corner that has no lamp.

Does anyone but me notice when something isn't right? Probably not. But the energy is different and I can feel its shift.

Speaking of nuanced, these rooms designed by Nick Olsen are some of my favorites.  His site looks great and you're sure to find plenty of inspiration there by clicking here.  

Images, My Domaine, photography by Reid Rolls.  You can find the story here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

We Met On-Line

I actually don't remember how I met New York-based decorator, Nick Olsen.  I'm sure we were introduced through blogging, as his posts were a first-stop back in the day when my blog stops were many.

I know for certain that when we met, wherever it was, that I knew that he was the real deal.  His voice and aesthetic are as clear and honest in life as on-line.  Lucky for me, he likes my Leo-ness (it can overwhelm) and we became friends.  We became real friends, not just internet friends, for which I will always be grateful.

I have thick files stuffed with the work of a few of my favorite designers.  I like it when I have a copy of all of their published works.  Nick's was made thicker this month with his inclusion in Architectural Digest and I know there's loads more to come.  You can find the whole story - and a great deal of inspiration - here.

Images, Architectural Digest, August 2015.  Photography Pieter Estersohn; produced by (another favorite) Howard Christian.  (Fellas, that musta been a fun shoot.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Heart Wants What It Wants

I went to Christopher Filley's to find a lantern (as Christopher's is always the best place to start when looking for lanterns.) I did, find the lantern I mean - a pair in fact - and good company as well.  It would have been silly to be on the block and not stop in to see Barbara Farmer at Parrin & Co.  I cannot think of a shop in town that has more beautiful table top.  I marched on through the heat to Cindy Kincaid's where, in the back of the shop, a small Chinese dish painted with the most delicate pale pink flowers winked at me. There was nothing to do but bring her home.  (Pink! Who would have ever thought?)

It was in Pat Posten's where lightening struck.  It shouldn't have been a surprise, really, any more than one should be surprised at the flash in the sky and the boom of the thunder in the midst of a downpour.  Pat's shop is chocked full of magical things.  A stunning bronze ram's head, a wall of dog paintings, the most delightful black and white inlay box.  As charmed as I was by her selection, I wandered out thinking, "There's nothing I need here today."

But as I neared the door I glanced down under a bench and there she was.  This Chinese pottery doesn't pop up in Kansas City very often.  I have a very sophisticated friend who has said, "I like it that you're collecting.  I just wish you were collecting something a little... better." Perhaps it is because we have so much in common, the pottery and I.  Exuberance without pedigree.  (I'd like to claim cheerfulness, too, but in the middle of a very tiresome swim meet this week a good friend said, "You may need a prescription for medical marijuana.  You need to relax." Cheerfulness may not be on my list of best traits.)

I had left the house looking for a lantern.  I knew exactly what I wanted and needed. "Chinese jar" was not on the list.  I did not expect to find one that day, but how could I refuse her? The birds on most of the jars in my collection are red.  I like the black bird best as he resembles a crow, a species of which I am quite fond. But I had never seen a jar before where the bird was yellow.  I wouldn't have thought I wanted yellow, yet there it was and my heart said, "Yes."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Giving Designers Their Due

I have incredible respect for designers.  These men and women, for the most part, start with what is known as "a good eye" and educate themselves, either through school or experience or both, to create spaces that allow us to live our lives in beauty and comfort with a understanding of function and practicality.  My latest piece in Spaces Kansas City sheds some light on the design process and how to treat these professionals with respect.  You can find it here.

Image, above, Spaces Kansas City, June 2015; photography Aaron Leimkuehler, whom I think is pretty swell.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Roaming Charges

I have a horrible case of wanderlust. It's made worse by my Instagram feed which is filled with roaming photographers, fashion folks and friends who seem to be skipping all over the globe.

 "I need to get away," I said to my middle son yesterday.  He brought his sun-bleached eyebrows together over his freckled nose and studied my face.

"You do," he said, nodding, as if he could see inside my tumbling mind.  "Where are you going to go?"

 "I don't think I can really get away until I take your brother to school.  Maybe St. Louis for a couple of days."

He looked alarmed.  "Not St. Louis," he said firmly.

"I need to see something new.  There are good things and interesting people everywhere," I reminded him. "Then New York in August."

He nodded.  "New York in August will help."

Even St. Louis must wait a week or so at least.  In the meantime, I'm discovering new spots in town and clicking around on the web to bring the world to me.

I'm delighted each day on the aforementioned Instagram feed with images from Mela & Roam's founder Courtney Barton, who is a long-time blog friend.  She's following her passion for travel and textiles and we are the lucky recipients of her adventures.  

I can't keep my aesthetic from the keyboard, but not everything is of such saturated hues.  More muted tones, like the ones in this pillow, above, are equally plentiful on the site.  Mela & Roam's Instagram feed is here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Restrained Exuberance

I painted the floor of my oldest's nursery almost nineteen years ago.  It was white with a Wedgwoody blue border.  I have longed to paint another floor since and have measured and sketched meanders and hexagons, but have not again taken brush to wood.

The first thing I did to my current house was rescue her from the troubling orange cast of the light stain of her floors.  (Who thinks that color is a good idea? It should be illegal.) Having invested a good little bit in the no-red-not-too-black-just-rich-brown shade that runs throughout, I can't come to terms with painting over it.

But, oh, that blue in Christopher Spitzmiller's country house! Bold, yet grounding (no pun intended - okay, maybe a bit) this floor made my pulse jump and fingers itch for a brush the second I saw it.  This is one of those great rooms that if someone were to describe it to you - "Under the eave, snappy red and white chrysanthemum wallpaper, painted furniture, bright blue floor." - might make you say, "Hmmm." And yet, on sight, it's perfection.

I still can't cover my floors; there were too dear.  But my porch floor, she who was cracking and peeling not one but three layers of paint, was recently stripped.  The poor darling, I had planned on leaving her bare, to recover and breathe a little bit.  I'm not going to break it to her yet, but I have a colorful future planned.

Image, Christopher Spitzmiller's farmhouse in Architectural Digest, July 2015.  Photography William Waldron; produced by Anita Sarsidi.  Spitzmiller's spool bed once belonged to Albert Hadley.  If you can find one with similar pedigree, I say, do. But I run across these beds pretty regularly and they do look awfully swell painted.

This seems the perfect image to kick off the holiday weekend! Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Moving Forward

In the cool and quiet of Sunday morning before my boys are awake, I read the papers on the porch.  The dogs sit, tethered, at the top of the steps, their eyes following the paths of the rabbits.  If one is particularly audacious, nibbling its breakfast particularly close to the house, they whine quietly at their restraints.

I have a newspaper-reading ritual.  I slide both papers from their plastic sleeves and sort the sections from my most favorite to least.  I used to feel guilty that I did not read the front page first.  The hard stuff.   The meaty stuff.  The stuff that challenges both my brain and my tolerance for human behavior.  But last year as I toured a museum with a friend who is a designer, he snapped a picture of a painting and said, "Do you know who the artist is?"

"No," I replied. "But sometimes I take a take a picture of the label as well and look up the information later on-line."

"That's the difference," he said as he turned to me and smiled.  "You're curious about things.  I just need the visual."

He's curious about things, too, otherwise I wouldn't like him so well.  But the thing that struck me was how comfortable he was with taking what he wanted, in this case inspiration for a painted floor,  and not turning it into homework.  He was secure in his knowledge of himself and I admired that and wanted to adopt it.

So now, I begin each Sunday with the New York Times "Style" section without guilt. I spend more time here and with "Arts" and "Travel" than I do anything else. And it is only with the slightest bit of embarrassment that I read the "Vows" section.  I skim, really, looking for stories of people who are beginning again. I have an outward shell of practicality, but inside I am a gooey mess of a romantic.

This last week there was a story of a New York psychiatrist who fell in love with a man who took her on their first date to a church in the Bronx where he sings gospel music. They began going to church together, eating together, cooking together, traveling together.  They were equally delighted and devoted. Still, for more than three years he asked her to marry him and she demurred.

"What is it going to take to not be afraid?" he asked her.

"I have no idea," she replied.

This is the thing, isn't it? The fear of getting hurt is what trips us up. But all we are doing really is controlling who delivers the pain, as we are surely hurting ourselves. We create invisible tethers that keep us from the danger of the street, when usually there's nothing more than rabbits in the yard.

I particularly enjoyed the story of Jason Rand's apartment in Elle Decor, May 2015.  His home is a collaboration with designer, Alexandra Loew, who is a lifelong friend. Remarkably personal, I relish that he has bravely surrounded himself with all this good stuff in a moment where "edit" is on the upswing.  Living like this, I think, is like wearing a little bit of your soul on the outside of your body. 

Image, Elle Decor, May 2015.  Photography, Simon Upton; produced by Robert Rufino.

The story in the Times is here.  The bride wore raspberry.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hooray! KC Needlepoint Opens Today!

A few weeks ago I started seeing KC Needlepoint popping up on my Facebook feed.

"KC Needlepoint? What gives?"

I was thrilled to learn that two fringe friends of mine have teamed up to open a new needlepoint shop in town.

Clean, bright, fresh and well-stocked, I was there this week as they were wrapping up training their new associates.  (A few of whom I know to be veteran and prolific stitchers themselves.)

They open Friday, but have already had people dropping in to buy.  Their open house is Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m at 105 East Gregory in Waldo.

Stop in to see what's up.  Food, drink, prizes and giveaways make it a party.

Don't stitch? Don't fret! There are quick and easy projects - and lots of friendly and patient help - for beginners.

KC Needlepoint
105 East Gregory
Kansas City, Missouri

You can find them on Facebook here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Walking the dogs last week during a break in the rain, I realized the Linden Trees had bloomed. I did not notice because I was looking for them or even looking up, but rather because I walked into an invisible cloud of their scent that stopped me in my tracks.  There were Linden Trees on my old walk route by the yellow house and I would slow my pace as I approached them.  I have not imprinted their placement on my new path, though to tell the truth the dogs and I are more flexible than we used to be and do not follow the same route every day.  Because of this, the intoxicating sweetness of their scent is always a delightful surprise, like running into a former lover and finding that all that's left is fond memories.

I'm working on a project for a friend and there's a large Linden Tree in the front yard of her house.  I stop under it as I come and go and close my eyes and breathe.  The smell is so sweet; it is as thick as syrup and I have the feeling that if I open my mouth and stick out my tongue I would taste it. I never remember when the trees are going to bloom and I never remember when the scent fades.  So each year, I drink them in, thrilled that they have bloomed, grateful as long as it lasts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Class of 2015

My oldest son is graduating from high school Wednesday.  As I scan my Facebook and Instagram feeds I am seeing dozens of faces of his classmates and my friends' children as they take next steps.  So many people comment that it went so fast.  They say that they blinked and suddenly there is an adult standing before them.  But it doesn't feel that way to me.  Though I can still feel the fleshy pillow of his hand, it seems a lifetime ago since I walked him into pre-school with his security blanket tucked discretely into his bag.

In a way, we have grown up together.  I was a woman when I had him, thirty-one, but he made me an adult.  It occurred to me the other day, that for the most part, I did what I set out to do.  He is kind and he is curious.  He is funny and he can laugh at himself. He is tolerant and he is not afraid to take risks.  He is a horrible slob and an incorrigible procrastinator, but I fear he gets those things from me so I cannot complain.

He was an old soul when he came to me, and subsequently, easy to raise.  I have ferried him to the threshold of adulthood; the joys and challenges and responsibilities of his life will take him the rest of the way there and I will no longer have a leading role, but will instead be a supporting player.

My middle son is not taking the idea of his brother going away to college very well.  He does not like to talk about it, and when we do I smile and tell him how excited I am that his brother will have the opportunity to see the world in a new way.  It is thrilling.  "Aren't you going to miss him?" he asks me.  Of course I am going to miss him. But I feel so fortunate to have had him with me nearly every day for his whole life until now.  If he stayed with me, I would not have done my job very well.  Besides, as he goes into the world, just as he carried that blanket into school, he will carry a piece of my heart inside of him wherever he goes.  I hope he takes it far.