Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fire, Fun and a bit of Fear

If you put a bunch of teenagers in front of a fire pit they will always have more fun. The parents might get a bit wobbly about it (like I did) but it kind of makes them feel like we are letting them do something dangerous, while the crackling wood and dark skies give them the veiled illusion of privacy.

As a fireman's daughter, I think I was probably about 23 years old before I dared to light a match; I never thought I was afraid of fire, but I definitely had a healthy respect for what a spark could turn into. Of course, my housewarming present was a fire extinguisher, but when I actually had a small fire in my house it was the baking soda that I reached for (low tech that I am, I couldn't follow the paragraph of instructions on the fire extinguisher, but I could quickly open a box....).

When we had just moved into our house, I decided to entertain on an epic level, and I filled my Living Room with lots of candles for a fancy dinner party. Beautiful, hand-rolled beeswax candles were placed on top of vintage wooden spools, mismatched silver candlesticks were clean but not too polished, and dozens of tea lights were tucked inside newly bought mason jars.

For an hour or so it looked beautiful, until the wax started to drip (a lot) and the candles started to soften and fall. I hastily blew them out, just as we heard a couple of very loud cracking noises; apparently, the mason jars were for decoration only, and the barely warm heat from the tea lights was just enough to make the bottoms crack.

Fortunately, the glass didn't travel too far, but broken glass is not a happy time at anyone's party. We cleaned up the mess, the romance was gone, and I immediately fell back in love with the glow of a light bulb.

With Summer here, the lure of cozy fires and charcoal on my food, makes me once again reach for the matches. I want to make like my favorite magazine and spend long evenings sitting outside with friends, talking over a chorus of frogs, and festooning my trees with dozens of flickering candles and miles of tiny fairy lights.
But I can't, because in real life my trees would catch on fire, and the fairy lights would probably get eaten by a passing squirrel, so instead, I will invite friends over, we will toast marshmallows on sticks, get bitten by mosquito's, use tortilla chips to start the fire pit burning (try it, it really does work), keep a jug of water nearby, and be sure to keep the lid on very, very tight....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Every Room Needs

You know that I cringe at rules,
but now and again we all want a simple answer to something that we can't quite figure out.
We want to know what the magic is, what other people have,
and how we can get it before we have to run off and do something else.
I do it myself, and in a mad moment I will find myself googling the most ridiculous of things.

So, in answer to what I got asked twice this last week, 
here are seven things that I think every room needs.


A room can't breathe without a touch of something inky dark.
 It doesn't have to be much,
but a smudge of black here and there (even a squiggle on a pillow) 
will add something that is almost inexplicable but so necessary. 


Nature rarely does straight lines. 
Organic curves and shapes will bring warmth, life, 
and a natural, reassuring comfort to your home.   


Something from the past.
Whether it is an old photograph, a vintage piece of furniture, 
or a beloved book from your childhood,
it will always invite a question and a story.  


Represent yourself in a very personal way. 
Old or new, you must have something that you absolutely love, 
beyond a shadow of a doubt, in every single room. 


You don't even need to own a book.
 Shelves will instantly add interest to your room, 
while organizing your endless collection of bits and bobs
 into a neat, confined little rectangle.


We are a fickle bunch, and we like to look at pretty things.
But we don't need a designer. 
If it makes you happy, and you like the way it looks, 
then it will be beautiful to you. 


Every home should have some. 
It feels calming, balanced, and energizing all at the same time. 
For moments of green without commitment, 
grow a plant, use apple scented shampoo,
draw a picture with a green crayon,  
and spend at least fifteen minutes wondering why people eat artichokes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Take A Picture

My phone is not very smart, and I still have to open it up like an old-fashioned, mirrored compact; it isn't in a hurry, can take several hours to get a message, and when it finally arrives it will have been jumbled into neat little piles of 140 characters or less. I know I am holding onto it a little too tightly; resisting change, and dreading the time when checking my email might become more important than noticing a flower, or driving my car in a straight line.

But, I can barely see the screen, it no long likes to type the letter m or b, and it doesn't take photographs anymore. Well, it does, but they are the size of a postage stamp, and by the time I have squinted enough to see what I am doing, it has gone back to some random setting and politely asks me if I want to send a message. Some days, I am not sure who is more confused.

And, I need photographs. Whether it is stored in a cloud (don't ask me, I don't even know what that means either) or in a basket on my dining room table (much better) I need memories and art in my everyday life.

They are also one of my favorite things to use in decorating. It is so hard to be objective about our own space that taking a photograph will instantly help you to see what others see. Like they say, the camera doesn't lie; it might add on ten pounds, but it's okay if your sofa and chair are looking a little plump that week.

A photograph gives you time to sit and look at what you truly have. It's a captured moment of your life, and even though you walk through your home a dozen times a day, it is a rare person who will actually notice what is there.

If you're selling your home, it is also the absolute best way to see your house from a buyer's perspective. Try to imagine that you are the Realtor, and take photographs from across the street and all throughout your home. Be honest, or show a friend, and ask yourself how it really looks. Let these photographs be a reference, and use them for making a few changes, and tidying up a little before you put your home on the market.

The same goes for decorating your home. If you feel stuck, and don't know what it is about a room that you don't like, or you do but don't know how to fix it, take a photograph. You will be amazed at how different your home looks through a lens (it's a little like buying skinny jeans with your eyes closed, then coming home and realizing that the view from behind could traumatize small children).

Ironically, to be able to take photographs is probably the only reason that would push me to get a new phone, which is kind of funny, because then I think the obvious solution would be to actually buy a camera....

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Blending Houses into Homes


I don't like labels at all; they make me feel confined, and I don't want to assume that something is the way it is just because we have put it into some preconceived category with barely a second glance. Life is never that simple, and we are always evolving, so hopefully most labels will become a thing of the past as we discover new, kinder words for what we see.

But, blending is a word that I like very much. Whether it's about mushing all sorts of odd and wonderful things together, or sipping the perfect vanilla milkshake on a Summer's day, it's a happy word, that sounds good when you say it.

To say the definition of family has changed is an understatement, and while some are moving apart, there are even more who are joining together; blending the people that they love into a new family, and very often, a new home.

The process of combining homes often means that everything (and everyone) is piled into a truck, bedrooms are assigned, and boxes are stacked; how you plan to decorate seems so unimportant compared to everything else that it usually doesn't even make it onto the "Honey Do" list. But, once the dust settles, you realize that you just have too much, and what seemed like a good idea several weeks ago now means that you have more sofa's than people, and you really don't want to keep using that one bar of soap in the communal shower.

It's a wonderful thing to join lives, but joining homes can be a challenge. There are a million guides to tell you how to do it right, and how to divide things up and plan it all out diplomatically, but honestly, every situation is different, and no amount of negotiation is going to make someone give up their favorite La-Z-Boy recliner. So, I think the best way to do it is to just know that there will be a few bumps in the road, and pretend like you are little kids again.
  • Be kind.
  • Don't forget to share.
  • Take turns.
  • Laugh often.
And, when in doubt, have a snack and go to sleep.