Monday, February 28, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Get-Away

To quote Cyndi Lauper, "When the working day is done
Girls - they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have fun,
They want to have fun,
They want to have fun.."

There's nothing better than a girlfriend weekend and I was in need of one. So, on Friday we hit the road with our first destination - Baltimore for the American Craft Council Show. I've attended this show for several years now and it never disappoints. This year was especially fun as I got to meet up with Meg Fairfax Fielding of Pigtown Design blog. I've followed along with Meg on her blog but it was so much more fun to spend time with her in person. Here are some highlights from the show:I need to find a place for such a light fixture. Loved it.

Beautiful pottery.Porcelain to die for. Looks like Meg was thinking the same thing - that's her hand on the left!
Close up of the porcelain - I love the lamp, too!!

Anyone need a head?
mmm, maybe not. That might give me bad dreams.

What did I buy, you say? Well, normally, because I am a beader, I focus (obsess) on the jewelry, however, this year I couldn't get enough of the textiles.I loved all of the felters, especially this artist's wares - The Felted Garden. I purchased the above cowl which I'm sure will keep my neck toasty. It also doubles as a hat!! Then I splurged on this purse. The artist, Caitlin Phillips from Rebound Designs, takes book covers and turns them into purses. I'm a sucker for anything Jane Austin and the birds sealed the deal. She can turn any book into a purse - I think she's very original and also very nice. Here is the inside of the purse. Nice touch.
We all started to get that "had enough" feeling about 3:00 and started talking about heading back onto the road for girl friend weekend part two when Meg suggested that we stop at a great fabric store, DeBois Fabrics. She didn't have to say it twice - load the address into the GPS and let's go.
I got several yards of this fabric for $4.99 per yard. Steal. I have no where I'm going to use it but I love it and it is in the colors that I love so I know it will find a spot soon. Thanks for the tip, Meg, I know I will make this pilgrimage again often.

We parted ways with Meg and headed north on I-95 for West Chester, Pennsylvania to meet up with some other friends and spend Saturday exploring Philadelphia. Stay tuned for part two.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Perched on Pitt

According to the dictionary, a perch is a any place or object, as a sill, fence, branch, or twig, for a bird, animal, or person to alight or rest upon. I have found the perfect name for our new little rental in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Perch.

I spent the better part of this week at Perch with my canine duo, Harvey and Lion. You dog lovers will relate when I tell you that I was worried about them liking their new "digs". Dogs are such creatures of habits, as are certain humans (me) and I wanted to start a new set of routines so that they and I will start to feel at home. I have gotten so used to having them around me all day and soon I will be leaving them for the better part of each day and I don't want them to "freak out."

I dragged their crates with me in my trusty mini van so that they would have a safe place to hang out until I feel like they've settled in. Dog crates were a great invention - they also serve as end tables.

Which is a nice segue into a discussion of the interior design budget for Perch: $0.00. or close to it. I did purchase a mattress at Ikea and hope to see it delivered soon. But, for the most part, we are trying to furnish Perch on the cheap. Thanks to 30 years of collecting we nearly do have enough to furnish another home. I dragged an old kitchen table and chairs for a little reading/eating nook. The rug came from "The Dump". I had never set foot into that store because of the name - mostly it is large sofas and chairs with cup holders - not my style, however, there were a few good bargains on area rugs.

I adore all the bookcases but don't want to move books from Haven so my friends are on the look out for free books - I just want to fill the space to cozy it up. My friend Denise has already found four shelves worth at an estate sale - I can't wait to shelve them and then start reading them one by one. Any other donations gratefully accepted.

The shades are Redi-Shades, cut to fit and hanging by thumb tacks - the strip of adhesive didn't hold.

Back to the routine. Every morning the dogs and I get a good long walk. They like to go the same way every day. They lift their legs on the same blade of grass. If I try to go a different way, Harvey often sits down. Funny little creatures.

So the first morning we headed toward the river, and three blocks later this came into view: a dog park complete with a view of the Woodrow Wilson bridge. That white blob in the background is Lion retrieving his Frisbee. I didn't think to pack a hose - this could be a muddy disaster. Harvey is not to be trusted off lead so I walked him along the bank of the river so he could take in all of the good smells. He is a swimmer so I'm going to have to remember to bring a pile of towels up next time. He didn't go in - still a little too chilly I guess.

The view back towards town.
After about three thousand tosses of the Frisbee we continued our walk.Boys, we're not in Kansas anymore but I think we're gonna like it here.

Happy Monday what ever state you're in.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Haven and Hartwood

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting, in person, one of my favorite bloggers, Connie from Hartwood Roses. We've commented on each other's blogs for quite some time and discovered that we don't live that far away from one another and so we made a plan to meet up and have a day of junking.

I wasn't the least bit nervous about meeting Connie - her charming personality comes through on her blog and I new that we would hit it off from the start. She arrived here in Richmond yesterday morning and it was like I had known her for years. The topics she writes about, her love of her home, her family, her animals - we have so much in common.

After the tour around Haven she and I drove off to one of her favorite junking spots - Class and Trash. Don't you love the name? I loved even more poking around in there. Connie has a great eye and found some treasures amongst the happy chaos. I located a coffee table that I'm hoping to paint a high gloss periwinkle (am I nuts?) and put into my new place. I'm trying to come up with something clever to call my townhouse in Old Town, like Perch on Pitt? Not sure- it will come to me.

In any case, the coffee table find was not as significant as finding a new human connection - one that I hope will continue and grow. I can't wait to visit Hartwood.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Purple Poodle

I nearly died when I saw this person walking her poodle in the fan yesterday. She walked in front of my car, against the light, and I nearly creamed her. I was so intrigued that I drove around the block, pulled over and took a picture with my iphone just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.

One of the things I love about living around here is that people do not fear personal expression. People wear funky clothes, sport tatoos, ride on tricked out bicycles,paint their houses fun colors - there are no architectural or design police.

I think I have to draw the line with dyeing your dog's hair. Why doesn't she dye her hair purple??

Am I overreacting???


I am not going to pretend that I have always been a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. Although I lived there in the seventies and eighties when the Pittsburgh Steelers, under the leadership of Coach Chuck Noll, won eight divisional championships and four, count them, four Super Bowl championships, I was not impressed. That was the time of the “immaculate reception,” the play that some call “the greatest play of all time”. I didn't care.

My family moved to Pittsburgh from New York city in 1972 as my father accepted a job transfer. At the time I only had a vague idea what state it was even in. We hardly ever left New York except to visit my aunt in Connecticut or to spend some time at the beach on Nantucket. I remember asking my father if Pittsburgh was in Ohio, and I can still recall the look of shock on his face. I was in my own little bubble and geography clearly wasn't my strong suit.

I spent a couple of years in mourning for my old life in New York instead of trying to see it as a new adventure (a skill I've learned of late). It took a while but I grew to love the city and today, as the city and its residents prepare for the big day, I wish I was there to soak up that energy and share in that feeling of hometown pride.

My first apartment as a single working gal was in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh. The area of Richmond that I live in now, The Fan, reminds me a lot of Shadyside. I know that is why I was drawn here. My apartment was on the third floor on the left side of this photo. It was a studio, probably about 250 square feet but I loved it. My apartment looked just like this one with its arched entry, hardwood floors and great moldings. There was also a Murphy Bed and a little kitchen. I didn't own a car, but no matter, the bus stopped right on that corner and took me to my job at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Life was simpler and fun as hell.

Unfortunately I don't have any family in Pittsburgh anymore, however, I do still have dear friends who I know are very excited for Sunday to come. Pittsburgh I'm rooting for you now.

Get out your terrible towels!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just a little bit closer

On Sunday Harry finished piecing together the components to make the base trim in the Laundry Room and hit it all with a coat of primer. He also hung the Roman shade that my friend Rhonda, who has a drapery workroom, made for us. Remind me to tell you about the fabric later. The only things left to do now are to decide what kind of storage to add to the wall over the work surface and washer and dryer and give the trim and door a coat of paint. I'm having trouble with making a decision as I rather like the quiet, uncluttered space. (I took all the laundry off of the marble before taking the picture!) But storage in these old houses is sorely lacking, or is it that we have too much crap? I'm thinking it is the latter.

On our way back down I-95 on Saturday we popped into Ikea to have a look at their laundry and kitchen storage options. Correction - there is no popping into Ikea - you're stuck there for hours, I believe on purpose. I cringe at the thought of navigating that store. Is it me or do they try to get you lost? I know there are arrows on the floor to direct you, but I always seem to be going in circles. Where the hell is the exit? Is all of Virginia here today with their grandmothers and babies? Where did I leave my patience? I had it in the back of my mind that I would soon be at Racine having a hamburger and a beer so I tried to concentrate and not get COMPLETELY ANNOYED.

We made our way over to the kitchen department to take a look at the cabinet options. They really do have some pretty cabinetry. Actually, there are way too many pretty choices. Here are a few. Weigh in, please, as I can't seem to make a decision.

If I am correct, and I need to do more research, you buy the boxes that you need and then select a door style. I liked this stainless door with the frosted glass. These could hide a multitude of laundry room necessities.
The above door is basic, but nice, and would fit in with what we have in the kitchen if anyone thought that was necessary, which I don't as the laundry is upstairs and I am not in need of matching things.

Wandering further afield we found this area of basic storage components. I like the wall cabinets here, but worry about reaching to close it as I am 5'3" on a good day.
Here is one in a stained finish - I think I need to stick with white. Why do I keep getting Harry's arm in these photos? Sorry, thinking about beer, no doubt. I hadn't noticed the art work until now - quite pretty.

I don't mind this clean open shelving, either. And the hooks would be handy for hanging up wet stuff, what, I can't think right now, give me a minute. I could put containers above to put detergent, etc. in.
The above would work, too, I think they were the cheapest, and I think they look that way, too. Sorry, Harry. I think I'm voting this one out.

We got away without having to trudge through the restaurant or marketplace, how I don't know. We brought home a bunch of literature and need to pour over it to make a decision so that the next time we're on I-95, which we all know will be very soon, we can "pop" into the marketplace and get really annoyed as the choice we've made won't be in stock.

I sound like Debbie Downer today. Sorry.

I hope wherever you are today that you're warm and safe and don't have piles of laundry sitting in your hallway.

I haven't forgotten to talk about the fabric used on the Roman shade. I'll save that for another scintillating post.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Photo That Cinched the Deal

As part of my email as to why we would make the perfect tenants for the home in Old Town, I attached the above photo. Who could resist this duo? Turns out, it wasn't the dogs that sold her but the carpet remnant under the iron plant stand that impressed her!! In any case, the house is ours, at least for a year.

I'm starting to get excited.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You had me at the sidewalk

I know it has happened to you when you're house/condo/apartment shopping - you get that feeling when you walk in the front door, or maybe even before, when you're searching the Internet - that this is home. The house seems to call to you, "live here, be mine". I didn't expect that to happen yesterday while searching for our weekday home in Alexandria (VA). We were just hoping to find something decent, mostly commuter friendly that we could perch in Monday-Thursday.

We started in Parkfairfax as stated in my post yesterday. The first apartment is housing an adorable family of four that has been there for ten years. Not much has been done to it in that amount of time, except for amassing a large collection of house plants. I'm sure once they move out and a coat of paint is applied, it will be a cute place. But it wasn't speaking to me. There was a long walk from the parking lot to the front door, too, which makes schlepping groceries more of a chore than it already is. Okay, we'll keep it on the list but let's move on.

We popped into another model - this time a vacant one, thank goodness.
This condo had the same floor plan as the other and has had some updating over the years.
I love the patio and the Adirondack chairs. It would be easy to let the dogs out from this entrance.
The bath looks like it has the original tile and tub but the rest has been updated. I'm okay with that.
I like the wall of windows in the Living Room, the two colors of paint, not so much. I'd need a new paint job, for sure. There were nice wood blinds on the windows - bonus. These pictures were taken when things were still green - yesterday there was a good coating of snow on the ground. I guess I can see myself here, after some paint. Moving on....

We did a quick drive-by of the Fairlington condos. We weren't in love with the location of either so we headed into Old Town.
You had me at the sidewalk. The home pictured above is in a section of Old Town called Yates Gardens - town homes built in the 1930s. A closer look at the listing read "no pets". Yikes, how did this one slip through the filter? My old and dear friend, Liane, who is also my real estate agent, said she often can convince people to take pets - and was willing to go to bat for us. Meanwhile, I was trying not to fall in love. Too late.
The living room which takes up the entire second floor has windows on both sides of the room. You can see above the light streaming in. The fireplace is a bonus.
The kitchen and dining room are on the lower level along with a door out to the garden - yeah - letting dogs out at midnight won't be too hard.
Charm was oozing from every nook and cranny. Add to that the super location near the Safeway, the river, the bike trail, the restaurants, it is perfection.

This morning, back in Richmond, I wrote a lengthy email to my agent with all the reasons why they should pick us as their next tenants. I guess it depends on how much "no pets" means "NO PETS".