Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Italy and Back in Day

These are the jars that I spied in the booth at Tablescapes right across the aisle from La Plates.

What's this?  A new spot?  How could I have missed it?

But it's not new.  Round Trip Imports has been around for a while, I just wasn't paying attention.
Round Trip's owner Mary Lies (pronounced "lease") was originally in town, but moved her shop to DeSoto, Kansas about a year ago.

DeSoto is not far.  In a bigger city the twenty minute drive could be a trip to the grocery.  But these treasures are more enchanting, and just as essential as bread and milk.

Wonderful furniture and accents.

Unique lighting.

Some of the best chairs I've seen and I am a self-professed chairaholic.

We don't see a lot of Italian antiques or vintage pieces around town.

And it is such an easy drive, just off K-10 for you Jayhawk fans.

But wait, the news gets even better.

(What is that big pot?  I adore it!  Me, who's easy on the exclamation points could not resist.  There is nothing better than that charcoal-almost-black color.)

I'm not keeping this resource all to myself.  Just because I've been twice in a week doesn't mean it's only for those of us who can hop in the car and be back by lunch.

You, too, can shop Mary's wonderful spot.  On-line.  Here.

Tell her Mrs. Blandings sent you.  

(Are you seeing the scale?  Adore!  There I go again.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stepping Out

We are all still adjusting to my new found freedom.  It's a bit of a good natured joke of Mr. Blandings's to inquire, "What did you do today?"  Not because he cares, but because he knows it's bothering me that I can't come up with much.

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee right before carpool with a guy who does some work for Spaces.  So happy to have something of interest on my list, I was surprised at Mr. Blandings's reaction.  "Who is he?"  "He works for Spaces."  "Is he gay?"  "It didn't come up.  Are you kidding me?  You have meetings with women I don't know all the time."  "That's different."  "In what way, exactly?"  "Boys, time for dinner!"

If he only knew that I am stepping out with handsome men every day.

Just yesterday I popped on over to 1st dibs for a rendezvous with Joe Nye.  Do make a visit yourself as his eye and advice are spot on.

And I am besotted, as is all of blogland, with Eddie Ross.  Thank heavens I don't have to wait for a new episode of Top Design as he is posting nearly every day.  If you haven't already, go see what the fuss is all about.  Oh, and he's nice, too.

Still, I am making some time for my girlfriends.   The Tablescapes luncheon last week for the American Royal was such a treat.  (That is where I originally spied the cloches for our dinner party.)  One of my favorite vendors, La Plates hosted a spirited holiday table but I thought these new designs very clever.  You can choose your candidate, or get one for your bothersome friend so you can serve her a big helping of crow in November.

And just so you know, I'm not a bit annoyed with Mr. Blandings.  It's hard to get your ire up when your husband still sees the girl he married seventeen years ago and not the middle-aged mother of three who looks every bit her age in a well-lit coffee shop on an autumn afternoon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Story Telling

Last weekend I went to the Plaza Art Fair with "Stu" of "Stupod" fame.  She is my oldest friend and we only need to tell the opening line of a story to collapse in laughter or nod solomnly as the endings are all in there.
While we wandered and caught up on each other and our families we stopped in on Albert Koetsier and his work is as stunning in person.  But I happened upon another photographer as we whiled away the morning as well.

Cali Hobgood-Lemme was showing her gripping photos of, well, people's things.  I fell for them instantly and it didn't hurt that the first one I saw was the stack of white shirts.

On her site, she talks about the origin of the piece, how these shirts remind her of her well-dressed father and how his shirts came back from the cleaners folded and pressed in a stack - the cardboard, a treasured prize.  I think that is the natural appeal.  They are the first sentence of the story that plays in your head the minute you see them.

Like when your chickens start laying eggs for the first time.
Or the office/guest bedroom where you stayed when you visited that held the typewriter that your sports writer grandfather used when he didn't want to go back downtown to the paper.
Or that fabulous photo of your other grandfather in profile on his front porch in a straw hat.
Or your photographer father's camera collection and how he'll stand in the kitchen and tell you the stories of where he found each one.
And every book that touched your soul and made you see the world in a whole new way from your tiny, yellow bedroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hip To Be Square

Western Interiors noted this month that Hermes is releasing a limited edition scarf collection based on the work of Bauhaus artist Josef Albers.

I could not find them on line, but am wondering which of the hundreds of pieces in the Homage to a Square series the French design house selected.

Albers was born in Germany in 1888.  A teacher, writer and painter, he began the Squares in 1950 and continued working on the series until his death in 1975.

He was interested in investigating the effects of color and space on visual perception.

He and his wife, Annie, moved to the States in 1933. 

Easy - to know
that diamonds - are precious

good - to learn
that rubies - have depth

but more - to see
that pebbles - are miracles.

Josef Albers

Knowing this would certainly add depth to that chic little number wrapped around the handle of your bag.

The scarves are available through Hermes shops in Beverly Hills and Manhattan.

Images courtesy of josefalbersgallery.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buzzer Shot

Would you be worried if you were throwing a dinner party for twelve people with someone and you showed up at 5:30 and this was as far as she had gotten on the table?

Fortunately for me, my co-host is lovely and unflappable.  She and Mr. Blandings had divided the cooking duty and the menu was in tip-top shape.  Occasionally, during the week, she'd ask, "What are you thinking about the table?"  "I'll know it when I see it.  It's evolving."  But it wasn't, really.

The weather in Kansas City has been unbelievable all week so we agreed that dining outside would be a treat.  A few years ago Mr. Blanding's family planned a 50th birthday party for the eldest sibling.  When we went to meet with the event coordinator he showed us two colors of blue tablecloths, the one below and another, deeper blue.  We agreed the other blue was best for the event, but when the planner left the room I clutched Mr. Blandings's sleeve and said, "I know I said I wanted to be cremated, but now I don't; I want my casket lined with these tablecloths.  I need them for eternity."  Decades old, cotton that feels like silk, washed dozens and dozens of times with care, their hand is indescribable.  

Branches from the crab apple out front, cloches from Pear Tree, amazing chocolates from Annedore's and we were finally set.  If I had had my vision before 3 p.m. the tulipieres could have been filled with parrot tulips instead of having to make do with a few.  But I learned my lesson for next time.

The event was a Progressive Dinner for the boys' school.  It's my favorite school sponsored event as you have the opportunity to meet parents outside your usual circle.  No exception, we had a great mix Saturday night.  The ages or our oldests ranged from three to fourteen and most folks did not know each other that well if at all, though I'm sure any neighborhood eavesdropper would have thought we were the best of friends.

Our dessert hostess was gracious about our slightly tardy arrival.  As our co-hosts fretted over the piles of dishes we left towering around the kitchen, I told them not to worry.  They'd done enough.  Even if they had not brought Chester's Favorite Apple and Parsnip Soup I would have been satisfied with their sentiment when we had finished setting the table and I went up, finally, to take my shower.  "It's so nice to feel so at home when you're not at home."  

It was a perfect evening before it even started.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On Second Thought

Dear Mr. Blandings,

I agree.  Perhaps I should give the Duck Club a try.  The dead-mouse-in-the-olive-oil story notwithstanding, I can see that it has a lot to offer.  I appreciate your showing me the minutes dated 1972 stating, "Wives' opinions are considered irrelevant and will not be considered in matters of decor."  Still, I have enclosed a memo to the members for them to consider a few changes.  A spit and polish if you will.


To:       Members, Fontana Farms Duck Club

From:  Mrs. Blandings

Re:       The Benefits of Good Design

Gentleman, I hope you do not think I am interfering in your peaceful retreat, but I am enclosing images of a John Stefanidis project in Scotland that I thought you might enjoy. While originally uninterested in your clubhouse, this rustic gem has provided a bit of inspiration.  I think you will agree that it could serve as a model for your renovation.

The tackle room is simply charming. The rustic, industrial lighting, cubbies for supplies and a well-stocked bar would surely be a welcoming sight. I'm sure you won't mind if I store a needlepoint project or two bottom right.

The living room is chic and cozy.  The graphic display of the black and white prints in their sleek silver frames really pops against the wood, don't you agree?  And fresh flowers are always a nice touch.  

A small print in the kitchen would be a bright and cheery way to start the day, and, as you leave at o'dark-thirty to begin your blood quest, this would certainly lift your spirits.  Mrs. Milledge could make her delicious, homemade jam right there while you are away.

No need to sit around in the evening watching T.V.  Once these simple changes have been made, wives and children can enjoy the Duck Club, too.  We can play charades.  What fun!

I'm sure you will agree that the entire membership would benefit.  If, however, you are determined to move forward with the original plan, which is, if I understand correctly, clean out the refrigerator and order two pleather recliners, Mr. Blandings is correct.  Nebraska Furniture Mart is just the spot.

All images courtesy of Rooms by John Stefanidis; photography by James Mortimer.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Science and Nature

Like the idea of a black and white botanical, but thinking you might need a little something fresher?  Edgier?

A quick blip in the Kansas City Star on Sunday caught my eye.  We are getting ready for the Plaza Art Fair, a Kansas City tradition, and the listing of artists was in this week's paper.  A tiny image of Albert Koetsier's work appeared in a side bar.

Koetsier is fascinated with the interplay between science and nature.  To explore this relationship, he uses x-ray to examine nature.  Once he has developed the negatives, he chooses the most pristine then produces prints.  Koetsier then paints the images with translucent paints used on antique daguerreotypes and post-cards.  The negative is retired once fifty prints have been produced.

A grouping of any of his botanicals would be classic and stunning.

I have had the beach on my mind, well, I nearly always do, and these shells would give a modern edge to your nautical decor.

Not satisfied with the cow-jumped-over-the-moon?  How about a snail shell and a lizard skeleton for Jr.'s room?

And these, of course, held a personal appeal for me.  Pods.  

I asked about peonies and Albert told me they haven't x-rayed well in the past.  (You think I'd be happy with over 2000 x-ray prints, but no, had to throw in the "How about peonies?")  Albert tells me he may try again.

If you are in town look for Albert at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend on Nichols Road between Pennsylvania and Wornall or on-line here.