Friday, October 29, 2010

Moving On

Process, as is often the case, was the answer. A little like pregnancy in reverse, the unbuilding of the house eased the ache of leaving it behind. It was, in the end, four walls. As so many people had told me, the best of it went with us. It was the first house that I lived in that I had chosen myself; this may be the reason that I let it take on an unreasonable significance. Still, Rosie has lost four pounds in ten days so it is hard to ignore the fact that moving is stressful.

Stay tuned. I'm going to change the subject before I become the person at the cocktail party who makes you think, "Quick! To the bar! I can't hear about her stamp collection one more time." As Maxminimus says, onward.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Boo-tiful Evening

Moving is truly horrible. I thought I was wonderfully prepared, totally organized and amazingly together. This is what all people must think before they load the fifth "last trip" of junk in their cars thinking, "Why do I even have this stuff?"

But we are in the "in-between house," a gift from the universe (and good friends),and we can begin to think of life outside of boxes and movers and fast food.

Lucky for us Crestwood Shops is hosting a wonderful evening Friday night. The shops will all be open late offering wine-tastings and merriment. There is a newly arrived shipment at Pear Tree, always a don't miss.

Seems time for a new party dress, no? This lovely available at Hudson & Jane.

And George has done some fall freshening of his own.

In a holiday state of mind, incredibly creative jack-o-lanterns by students from the Kansas City Art Institute will be displayed in each shop and both Europa Cafe and Aixois will have special menus for the night.

Honestly, this is my kind of Halloween. Not scary. No costumes. With wine.
Crestwood Shops
55th and Brookside Boulevard
Images, top three, Pear Tree, next, Hudson & Jane, last three, George.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's American Royal Time!

Taking a break from the packing and sorting, Mr. Blandings and I took the boys to the rodeo Friday night at the American Royal.

Nothing better to take your mind off of the mundane than calf roping and barrel racing and bronc riding.

Oh, but I do love those bulls. You know how some people want to jump out of planes or climb Everest or swim the English Channel? I always wanted to ride a bull. Not so much since I've had children, but there was a day that I thought I would be really something if I could ride a bull.

Don't let those brown eyes fool you. Eight seconds of pure terror. Gives me a little bit of a rush every time I see it.

Bull riders aren't so bad, either. Cowboys in general, actually. Don't miss out on the fun, the rodeo is in town next weekend as well. The Invitational Youth Rodeo has matinee performances all this week and I can't think of a better reason to play hooky. The American Royal calendar of events and tickets can be found here.

All images courtesy of Elizabeth Maday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Worlds Collide - Save the Date

A couple of times I have been lucky enough to have my blogging friends come to Kansas City to shop and eat and meet. There is nothing I like better than being able to show off this terrific city. Do save the date, November 5th, to meet the lovely, gracious and talented Emily Evans Eerdmans (I know these things are true because I have met her on her home turf) when she is here signing her newest book, The World of Madeleine Castaing. Better still, she will be doing so at Parrin & Co. at 45th & State Line. All the dealers will be open with spirits and snacks and Rainy Day Books will have copies on hand for Emily to sign.

It is the first really fun thing on my calendar after the move and I cannot wait. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Reruns

Oh, yes, Fall is supposed to be about new shows and new shoes, but a couple of folks have asked to see pictures of the house before we move. While I feel like it is all out there already, it is not all in one place. In fact, just putting this together required hunting and pecking through files and blog posts.

Here is my hand-drawn-not-to-scale and likely-inaccurate floor plan. I can't really visualize houses based on floor plans, but I know some people can (like my husband) so I am including it to provide a little perspective for those who think that way. (What? You were expecting 1/4" = 1' and that super-cool architect's handwriting? Honestly, I wish I worked like that.)

Front hall - Dash and Albert runner, do-it-yourself color blocks and the rug that Rosie wrecks every single day.

Coat closet - channeling Dorothy Draper. A tiny, little bit.

Powder room - this was a last minute spif.

Living room - I did a little shifting in the last few weeks. We purchased a new TV and the chest that was formerly here seemed like a better fit than what we had in the kitchen. Then the dominos began to fall. Dining room tables and mirrors moved here and the dining room was once again (always) barren and sad.

South view - and my favorite of the three configurations over ten years. Also, the briefest.

Office - Sorry, Toad, the rug is coming with.

The National Disaster that is my Dining Room.

Sitting area in the kitchen. That armoire is now upstairs holding books in the boys' room. Was. The books are all packed. Mr. Blandings, in a move that rivals his rants about how many apples the boys eat, had groused a bit about the number of boxes of books that have been loaded into the container.

Kitchen eating area - with beloved Cherner chairs. They swivel. They are a bevy of gals with the nipped waists and the full skirts doing the twist. I adore them.

Kitchen bath - behind the door is a make-shift mudroom with cubbies and hooks. (Margaret Russell said once, somewhere, in relation to Steven Gambrel's powder room in the last Sag Harbor house, that it is tricky to photograph bathrooms without showcasing the toilet. Clearly, I didn't manage it; I've done it twice in one post.)

Our bedroom is sort of where furniture goes to die. It was always the step-child of the house.

These pictures were taken once we readied it for the buyers to see, so, per all how-to-sell-your-house tips, we had removed all personal pictures and items. It looks incredibly spare to me.

The sitting room - these chairs are basically staging. There were other, shabbier, more comfortable chairs in here to facilitate TV viewing that are now in the basement. I inherited these from a friend and this is the original upholstery. They will be recovered, someday, when we land in a new spot.

Master bath

with one sink. This was the only drawback that Mr. Blandings could find the first time he saw the house. Just this week, ten years later, he said, "It really wasn't that big of a deal."

This room has changed, as you may know, from nursery to teen-ager room. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the new set up before tear down.

Play room - I may live to stamp again. I loved this project.

The littler boys' room,

dressing area
and bath.

Normally this is where we would start, out back, for drinks and snacks. The whole lot is a jumbly mess right now, so it is nice to see each room when it was at its best. We have not confirmed where we are going. Through the power of the universe and the internet we will be held at a friend's who is on an adventure of her own. No better place to be on-hold than a spot where she coaxed me through the first stages of my oldest putting his toe outside the nest.

From there we will see what comes next.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Avoiding the Misspent Life

As we are moving in ten days, things here are a little upside-down. It's not a tight ship in the best of times, but now I am forgetting even regular events such as sports practices. And my anniversary. People are starting to say things like, "This just isn't like you."

Which could be a good thing. Though I've never relished nor revered housekeeping, my house is normally tidy; now it is a mess. I loathe a mess - visual clutter that reads like static during your favorite song (before there was satellite.) That said, my desk is usually piled high with several stacks of projects in the works. Indistinguishable to the unfamiliar eye there is an order only to its owner. Also, our kitchen island has always been catch-all to everyone who can reach it.

Have you ever worked retail? (I swear I'm bringing this all together, just hang in there.) I have worked a lot of retail. When you work retail you have a lot of dead time that you can't really fill like you fill dead time in an office setting. You can't wander off to get coffee or pop down to accounting to see if the asap check you requested is ready. You are stuck. If you're lucky, you're stuck at the same counter, on the same floor, in the same department with someone amusing. And if you are, you will find that you know a shocking amount about this person within about three hours.

That is how I now feel about Mary Randolph Carter after reading her book, A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life. To begin, her book opens with images of Alexander Calder's home and studio, which I recognized immediately, and then moves to her first case history of Oberto Gili. I have had images from Gili's house in Italy in my files for years and then there is a brief essay on Gili's theory of "The Positive Side of Having a Messy Desk."

And that is just page 44 and from that moment I knew that Carter and I would be off and running if we were stuck in handbags from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. All good things messy are in there - dogs and kids and cooking. Her book is a compilation of images of incredibly personal homes (and no, not all are) and the thoughts of the both the owners and the author about what makes them that way.

I am thinking a lot, lately, about what makes a home and what to keep and carry with. This book is a conversation about all of those things and we are quite lucky to eavesdrop on Carter and her friends. I wish I'd written it myself, and not just because of the product, but for the process.

It is significant, too, I think, that Rizzoli published it. Carter, who has been involved with advertising and publishing for Ralph Lauren for over twenty years and has authored several books, was not exactly a big risk. Still, this is not a flashy book chocked full of of-the-moment interiors. It's a thoughtful book. A book to read. A book to recommend.

All images from A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life, the title of which was inspired by a doormat from a discount store, which endeared it to me immediately. The images are of, from top, Gili's home office in New York, Carter's sister, Liza Carter Norton's kitchen, Carter's son and daughter-in-law's unmade bed, Natalie Gibson and Jon Wealleans front door and Carter's current studio in a recently renovated barn. And its white walls. Mary Randolph Carter is both author and photographer of all the images in the book. Which does make me think she would have been promoted to management straight away while I floundered in mid-priced shoes trying to make my quotas.