To my sweet husband John, and to all of the other caring, patient and devoted dads out there — Happy Father's Day!
Another wonderful vacation on MV! I've been coming to this glorious island annually for almost 30 years and have fallen in love with it a little more with each visit.
More posts about our time away to come very soon. Have a great weekend!
Today is my birthday! I am now 56 years years old, teetering at the top of the 50s hill about to roll down the other side. As I begin my descent, I must admit that the first half of my 50s was a bit challenging. So when I blow out the candles at dinner with my family this evening, you can be sure I'll be wishing for smooth sailing during its second half and beyond.
A while back, John asked me what I wanted for this birthday. My answer: Not a single thing. You see, I have everything I could have ever hoped for — a loving family, wonderful friends, the cottage of my dreams — and most important, my health.
How grateful I am to have this day. As a breast cancer survivor, each and every day is a gift. What more could I possibly ask for?
One year ago today, we put our home of 23 years on the market. Many people cautioned us against it. They said it was too soon after Hurricane Sandy to list a place so close to Long Island Sound. We were very fortunate, however, that the super storm had little impact on our house and we were able to sell it within 5 months. Now, a young couple with four small children resides there. We are sure it will be a great place for them to raise their family.
Today, we are happily settled into a smaller, sweeter home. Located in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of Norwalk's Rowayton, we are perched on much higher ground. Because this peaceful property had been a rental for the last twelve years, it needs a lot of TLC. Now that our interior renovation project is complete (I have a few more pictures to share with you next time), we are focusing on the exterior. By mid-May, we'll have a new driveway, and in June, new plantings will fill the neglected garden beds. Plus, we are shopping around for comfortable outdoor furniture so that we can entertain on our large deck this summer.
We've been in our 1925 cottage for seven months, and although it has challenged us a bit, it is definitely shaping up to be the cottage of my dreams. A lot has happened over the last year — and it's all good!
I love hearing about how vintage items I offer for sale evoke fond childhood memories. Here is a message I received this week from a lovely woman who stumbled upon my Boston Terrier string holder wall pocket on Etsy.
I've had this relic for well over 15 years. And there is a good possibility I purchased it in Ohio. I am originally from Cleveland and I often frequented antique stores in the area when visiting my family over the years. What if this is Suzanne's grandmother's actual string holder? Could be . . .
Suzanne, many thanks for sharing your sweet story!
John and I spent the weekend clearing out the last of the moving boxes stored in the garage during our reno project. I'm happy to say that we are about 98% unpacked!
I finally have a sense of what will work in our cozy cottage. As you may know, in order to pare down our belongings, we sold tons of stuff at an estate sale before we moved. But there are still a few decor items and furniture pieces from our former house that aren't a good fit in our new one. It makes me happy when I can pass these old favorites along to folks who appreciate them. Case in point: the beautiful fruitcake tin that I've enjoyed since the mid-80s. It once sat on a shelf chock full of antique tins in my very first house; then it moved to our next house where it was displayed among my collection of vintage pottery. Now it graces a shelf in friend and writer Louise's kitchen. Doesn't it look happy there?
Remember the glass and wood pie safe in our old home's kitchen? For years it held all of my vintage linens and kitchenware. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't find a spot for it in our new place. So it has moved a mile or so down the road to teacher, friend, and author Drew's dining room.
Drew runs To Taste Life Twice Writing Workshops. After her clients select a cup from the cabinet, they can then enjoy tea, chocolates, and a very unique writing experience. Sounds divine!
Here's a look at our newly completed kitchen. How do you like it?
Our goal was to have the new kitchen feel like it belongs in a 1925 cottage — clean and simple with finishes that would feel fresh for years to come.
For me, I wanted to create a comfortable and well-thought-out space for John to enjoy, since my sweet husband does the majority of the cooking in our family. He never fails to make the most delicious meals. Now he has a proper kitchen in which to create them.
Top to bottom, I am very pleased with the new kitchen. It's especially lovely to have so much natural light, because the kitchen in our former home was located within the interior of the house making it perpetually dark. Plus, I adore the glass-fronted cabinets where I can display my collection of green and blue vintage pottery.
We have never put in a kitchen from scratch before and expected it to be daunting. However, our contractor and old friend, Jeff Meier of J.M.O. Builders, made the process easy. He guided us through the reno step by step, surrounding us with superb suppliers along the way.
Many thanks to Jeff, Billy his master carpenter, Frank the architect, Jim the kitchen cabinet designer, Shane the electrician, the plumbers Stanley and John, Noel the dry-waller, Alex the floor installer, James the tiler, and all of their talented helpers!
We are finally settled into the new space. All that is left to get are four counter stools. We are having a bit of trouble finding just the right ones. Any ideas?
As you may know, from start to finish our kitchen renovation took four months. The project also included the family and dining rooms that are now open to the kitchen. And let's not forget my studio! It's just about ready for its unveiling, so stay tuned...
As 2013 comes to a close, my sincere gratitude goes out to my T-Cozy readers, especially those who take the time to leave such lovely comments. Your words are most appreciated and it's so nice to know you're out there and that you continue to enjoy my blog after all these years. For those of you who have been too shy to say hello, please don't be. I'd love to hear from you in 2014.
May the coming year be filled with peace, good health, and much happiness!
While riding a commuter train between Manhattan and Connecticut on December 28, 1984, I met John, the love of my life. But it wasn't easy; it took us two long months of riding the same train before we finally spoke to one another.
When we finally met, little did I know I'd marry this sweet man who possesses the kindest heart. John is the type of person you can always count on to be there for you and I feel blessed to have this wonderful person to share my life with. I’m so grateful that we both decided to take the 5:17 train out of Grand Central Terminal on that cold December evening back in 1984.
Happy 29th Meeting Anniversary, John!
What a week! We've been in our new house for eleven days and a whole host of projects are already underway. Now we have a brand new roof and several rooms with their original oak floors freshly sanded, sealed, and brought back to life.
Soon interior and exterior painting will begin and I'm grateful that Hannah is coming out from NYC this weekend to assist me in selecting paint colors. I can't wait to show her the plans for our new kitchen!
For the last few days, highly skilled lumberjacks have been chopping down three giant oak trees which loomed close to our house. Although I hate to cut down century-old trees, these had rot making them a safety hazard.
A cacophony of hammering, chain saws, floor sanders, and tree branches crashing to the ground have serenaded me all week. On top of all of that, my hard drive crashed. The Apple Store came to my rescue and had me up and running again in a couple of hours. Aren't they the best? But I had a bit more bad luck this week when someone rear ended my car. Fortunately, no one was hurt — just my little Prius, to the tune of $8,000!
Needless to say, I am looking forward to a quiet and peaceful weekend. I hope you enjoy yours, too.
John and I got back last night from two glorious days on Cape Cod. Ours good friends Steve and Sue Ellen graciously invited us up to their beautiful home in Eastham. What a picture perfect weekend!
The weather was sublime, and so were the sunsets.
We took a stroll along the saltwater flats where, at low tide, the sand is rippled and the beach stretches on forever. John was a sweetie to carry me across a deeper patch so that my jeans wouldn't get wet. My hero!
On another beach, we came across two talented "plein air" painters and their model.
And of course, a trip to the Cape has to include a stop at the Wellfleet Flea Market located on the parking lot of the drive-in movie theater.
While there, I found this 1950s Marx toy kitchen set. Complete in the box, it appears to have never been used and has all of the little appliances, dishes, pans, flatware, and more. I'm going to explore my inner child this week and put the set together. Fun!
I know I've said this before, but I need to say it one more time. I love having a "brick and mortar" again!
Don't get me wrong — I have thoroughly enjoyed selling on Etsy over the past five years, and I will continue to do so. However, I missed being able to interact with my customers face to face. My 8-month-old booth at SoNo Marketplace allows me to do just that. Plus, many of my favorite former tea room patrons come by to chat. Yay!
In my booth, I enjoy displaying and merchandising my vintage finds. And SoNo Marketplace has helped me tap into my creativity in other ways.
I do all of the writing and photography for EatShopLearn, a blog I designed for them. I also shoot pictures and write posts for their Facebook, where we share all that is new, fun and delicious at the Market. Have a peek at the FB page here. If you enjoy what you see, please let me know by "Liking" SoNo Marketplace. Thanks!
Several of us at the Market are participating in an indoor sidewalk sale this weekend. Stop by my booth and receive 20% off everything over $20.
Hope to see you!
The most frequent question visitors to my SoNo Marketplace booth ask is, "Where do you find all of the great things you sell?" I typically respond, "Here, there, and everywhere." I have my favorite thrift stores that rarely disappoint. And as you know, I frequent estate sales — but I'll only go to ones that aren't too fancy. If I'm lucky, they'll be chock full of vintage goodness, like the one last Sunday.
Sometimes with little or no effort, items find their way to me. Nice folks have brought wonderful things right into my shop. Other times, I'll hear from a friend or neighbor who has something they'd like to pass along. The latter is how I acquired the set of charming embroidered towels below.
Yesterday, my neighbor Lynn asked me to stop by her house to look through the vast assortment of linens she inherited. Most were white lace or formal damask textiles — not really what I dabble in or my expertise. But I did my best to help her decide what was worth keeping, what to donate, and what to sell.
Then I spied this set of darling tea towels. Embroidered on cotton sugar sacks by her late mother-in-law, these whimsical relics are beautifully stitched and ridiculously cute. There is a full week's worth: seven towels with a very busy elephant on each.
Aren't they adorable? Lynn was happy to pass these gems along to someone who'd appreciate them. And I was thrilled to take them off her hands.
Thank you Lynn!
I had a most enjoyable — and unusual — experience last weekend. For my birthday a couple of weeks ago, John gave me two tickets to Bargemusic, New York City's floating concert hall.
This concert venue is a 100-foot-long renovated steel barge that has been turned into an intimate wood-paneled room. Excellent acoustics, lovely views of lower Manhattan, and the gentle sway of the East River made this chamber music concert quite memorable.
The 1899 barge, now moored at the foot of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, once carried sacks of coffee for the Erie Lackawanna railroad. Today, its cargo is beautiful music.
Don't you just love this time of year? I do! It's that wonderful span of time from Memorial Day until Labor Day when the livin' is easy.
It is also the time to get out the red, white and blue and show some pride in America.
I am so grateful to all those who have served and are in service to our great country. Happy Memorial Day!
To celebrate our silver wedding anniversary last week, John and I traveled to Québec City, the place where we spent our honeymoon twenty-five years ago. Back then, we stayed at a tiny inn called Manoir Ste. Geneviève.
We were so happy to see that it is still around and asked a friendly Québecer to take a picture of us in front of it. Manoir Ste. Geneviève is located on a small park right across from Québec's most famous building, Le Château Frontenac (above left). Back then, John and I looked wistfully across the way and promised each other that if we ever returned, that's where we would stay. And sure enough, this time we stayed on the top floor in a room overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, where I found a bouquet of roses from John waiting there for me.
I just love Québec City's narrow cobblestone streets lined with century-old buildings. Chock full of European charm and easily walkable, everywhere you look, you'll find history, beautiful architecture, quaint shops, and most of all, fine French dining.
On our last night in Québec, we went to a restaurant called Le Saint Amour. We dined there while on our honeymoon in 1988, and I even saved the matchbox, which is a bit battered now, as a memento of the meal. Once again, we were thrilled to see that the place is still in business. Plus, the food was as delicious as we remembered.
I must share a lovely little coincidence with you… Upon arriving in Québec City, we went to a bistro near our hotel for lunch. As we walked in, John and I heard what was playing over the restaurant's speakers and looked at each other in amazement. It was our wedding song, the first one we danced to as a married couple. Wow! What are the odds of that? :)
On this day twenty-five years ago, I married my commuter love, the handsome man I spotted across a crowded train. It most certainly was love at first sight. However, it took two months of riding the same train for us to finally meet.
Once we did, little did I know that I had just met a very special gentleman — someone with the kindest heart — the type of person you can always count on to be there for you. I am so fortunate to have the honor of sharing my life with him.
Happy 25th Anniversary to my dear husband John, the one true love of my life.
Things have been a bit hectic here lately, so I apologize for not posting as often as I'd like. You see, we put our house on the market last week and we've been working hard to get it ready. As you may know, John and I have been talking about selling our house for a while now. With our daughter's move to the city and our son half way through college, it finally felt like the right time to downsize. And although I am looking forward to finding a new, smaller home, there is one room that I will dearly miss — my beloved studio.
My studio is the one room in our house that we added in 1991. Back then, I had a heavy work load as a graphic designer. I needed a space that was quiet with a separate entrance so that I could work and meet with clients and printers without disturbing our growing family. Now I use the room as a sewing and craft space, to run my Etsy business, and to write this blog. It has served me well for the past 22 years.
You have heard me go on about how important it is to have a space of your own, a quiet place to create and reflect on life. My studio has been just that. Filled with all of my favorite things, it has been a constant source of inspiration. Spending time here has made me happy each and every day.
Now my hope is that someone new will feel the same way. So wish us luck! Let's hope a lovely family will want to raise their children in the home that has sheltered us so well for over two decades.
Over a year ago, I was contacted by Christelle Beneytout, a French author who was working on a book about sewing rooms in the home. I was beyond flattered that Christelle wanted to include my sewing corner in her book. She thought it was well organized and liked its vintage style. So I sent her a photo of it and before long, she requested more pictures of my studio. Her book, titled Ateliers et Coins Couture, was published in November. Last week, a copy of the book arrived from France. I was so surprised to see my studio featured on six pages!
I love the book's layout. And even though I don't speak French, from cover to cover, I can tell that it has wonderful ideas for creative sewing spaces. Fortunately, my niece is fluent in French and kindly offered to translate my pages for me. I can't wait to hear what Christelle had to say about my studio!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of having a brick and mortar space again is seeing all of my favorite patrons who used to frequent my tea room. It means a lot to me that so many have stopped by to say hello and let me know how much they miss my former shop. Now that I am at SoNo Market Place, they know where to find me, as do new patrons, like the family shown below.
I was so flattered that Lisa and her family took the time to visit my booth — all the way from North Carolina! Lisa is an Etsy customer of mine who heard about my marketplace stall. When her husband needed to do research in Boston, the entire family made the trip north by car, stopping in NYC and then heading to South Norwalk before continuing on to Massachusetts.
It was such a pleasure meeting Lisa. She and I share a similar design sense and we collect the same kind of things, like vintage textiles and picnic tins. Lisa is most definitely a kindred spirit!
During her visit, I learned that these nice folks live in the Stewart-Hawley-Malloy Home, a beautiful antique house that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the oldest homes in North Carolina! Lisa writes and maintains an informative website about her home that you view here.
To Lisa and her lovely family — many thanks for stopping by!
So hard to believe that another year has flown by! Doesn't time seem to speed along faster and faster the older we get? All the more reason to treat each new day as the gift that it is.
As 2012 comes to an end, I am so very thankful for my loving family, devoted friends, and the blessing of good health.
All the best to you and yours in 2013. Happy New Year!
One of the perks of having a brick and mortar shop again is that sometimes, wonderful items like this fall into my hands.
Chock full 1940s paper ephemera, this scrap book chronicles the 1942 marriage of Evans and Dot. It was brought to me by Claire, one of their distant relatives.
Filled with greeting cards spanning the decades, this devoted duo from Pennsylvania saved ones from their engagement, bridal shower, wedding, and every anniversary thereafter. There is even a photo of the happy couple on their wedding day.
Here is what's inside: Newspaper clippings about their marriage...
An envelope containing Evans' boutonniere and part of Dot's bouquet...
Western Union telegrams wishing them "every good wish and all the luck in the world"...
And loads of greeting cards with endearing messages and charming illustrations.
What a wonderful array of vintage goodness! These days, folks aren't buying cards like they used to and I've heard that the greeting card industry is in trouble. So I believe scrap books like these will become quite rare. Many thanks to Claire for allowing me to become the caretaker of this poignant relic!
Speaking of anniversaries — I received this greeting card from my hubby today.
I've just hit a major blogging milestone. This is my 1,000th post!
Do you remember this banner? It's the one I designed back in March of 2007 when I wrote my very first post. Over the past five years and eight months, I have tried my best to share what I am passionate about. I do hope that I have offered some inspiration and that you have enjoyed this little peek into my corner of the world. My heartfelt thanks for your support and loyal readership.
With a hectic schedule ahead, I'll be taking a much needed blogging break. While I recharge my blogging batteries over the next week, please feel free to leave a comment. You can tell me about what you've liked (or not liked) about my blog, share your latest creative project, brag about something you're proud of, or just let me know what's on your mind. I'd love to hear from all of you. And even though I won't be posting this week, I will be responding to comments by leaving a few of my own.
Over the past six months, John and I have had the distinct pleasure of having our daughter around. Since graduating in May, Hannah has been living with us and commuting by train to her job in New York. But that will all change tomorrow.
My darling daughter is leaving the nest! As I attend the SoNo Market Place's grand opening celebration, John and Hannah will be loading up a van and heading to Manhattan. Just as I did when I was her age, she and two roommates are moving into a New York City apartment. I'm awfully proud of her — and I'm also a little sad. But I keep reminding myself that she's only a 50-minute car or train ride away.
As John and I become empty-nesters once again, I'm certain my new booth at the SoNo Market Place will be a welcome diversion.
With a 1950s aluminum tree, bowls of vintage glass ornaments, and my new dollhouse in place, my marketplace stall is all decked out for the holidays. I'm so looking forward to tomorrow's festivites!
Yay! SoNo Market Place is opening today! Here are the hours for this weekend's soft opening — Friday 11/23:11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 11/24: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 11/25: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For those of you who are local, the marketplace is located at 314 Wilson Avenue in South Norwalk, Connecticut.
For those of you who live farther afield, you can always find me on online here.
Plus, I'm offering a discount in my Etsy shop from Black Friday 11/23 through Cyber Monday 11/26. Be sure to enter the coupon code THANKSGIVING to receive 10% off your order.
We have workmen at our house today, so I'm back at Starbucks for a little quiet and free WiFi. We're making lots of progress on the storm clean-up and repairs. And power was finally restored to our street yesterday. However, we can't turn ours on until today's electrical repairs are complete. :(
Remember this photo? It's the neighborhood beach down the road from our house.
Here is what it looks like today. The Adirondack chairs were safely stashed away, but the terrace and stone wall are in pieces. Crazy, right?
Gotta run. Time to get back home to meet with another contractor!
Finally — a post-hurricane post! I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: we were hit very hard. With a 16-foot storm surge at high tide on Monday, there was widespread flooding and wind damage along the Connecticut coast, as these photos show.
A tree in a neighbor's yard squashed their pick-up truck like a pancake.
Boats broke free of their moorings and ended up in unusual places, like the five that came crashing into the front yard of the house, below.
And almost every street has trees and power lines down.
So now for the good news: we fared better than expected. A flooded crawl space, several inches of water in our garage, an inch or two in our mud room, porch and my beloved studio. Other than that, our house was dry. Thanks goodness!
We have spent the last few days recovering. We had moved almost the entire contents of our house to the second floor, so we've been getting everything back to its proper place. There has been lots of cleaning and speaking with contractors about the myriad of repairs that are needed to restore our house to pre-hurricane condition. Plus, we don't have power, telephone or internet service and it looks like it will be a while before we do. I ran out at the crack of dawn this morning and headed to Starbucks for their WiFi so I could write this post and say hello.
I wanted to thank you all for your recent comments and support. I am so grateful for your kind words and also for safely weathering the storm with my family by my side.
At the end of my street, this traffic sign is a reminder to reduce speed when heading around the curve in the road. However, when I round the corner, it also reminds me to slow down and give myself time to enjoy life's simple pleasures — like lingering over a delicious meal with my family, reading a good book, taking a leisurely bike ride, or having a cup of tea with a good friend. Life can be hectic. Living it more slowly can help us to reconnect with what is truly important to us.
Wishing you an enjoyably slow Labor Day weekend,
Hey! Check out my new set of wheels! I am now the proud owner of a Felt Bicycle.
Having had my old bike for over 20 years, it was about time for a new one. I hinted to John that a bicycle would be a great gift for my three "events" next May (Mother's day, anniversary and birthday) because he always frets about what to buy me. In early summer, we happened to come across the exact bicycle that I had researched and wanted, in just the right size to fit my tall stature. So my sweet husband decided to get it for me a year early. Thank you, John!
I ride my bike just about every day, especially in the nice weather. It came with a carrier rack over the back wheel, so I strapped on the largest basket I could find which can accommodate small packages being shipping out from my Etsy shop. Most days, you'll find me pedaling to the post office in town.
My new bicycle is Felt's Café 8 Women's Deluxe model. The frame is navy blue lightweight aluminum tubing with a relaxed geometry for a comfortable riding position. I love its retro aluminum fenders and cup holder! Plus, it comes equipped with a comfy leather gel and foam saddle, leather handle bars, and a clip-on leather saddle bag. I even like the vintage-inspired logo on the front.
My sweet new ride has eight speeds to make getting around town easy along with providing the performance for faster fitness rides. Oh, I almost forgot to mention — it even has a small built-in safety bell! Speaking of safety, I always wear a bike helmet. In my twenties, I hit a rock in the road and fell off a bike without a helmet on. Not fun!
There is just one more thing I'd like for my beautiful new bicycle — a colorful crocheted dress guard for the back wheel, just like the ones I shared with you here.
Now I'm off to the post office!
When I buy a vintage object, I can't help but wonder about its past. I find myself asking: Who did it belong to? Where has it been? How many people have owned it before me? Sometimes I can get some answers, especially when I make a purchase from an estate and the owner's family member is nearby to ask these questions. But most times, it remains a mystery.
The same holds true for where an item goes and how it is used after it leaves my hands. However, lately I've had a few sales where things have moved on to people and places that have been in the public eye, making it easy to learn about their new homes. Here are three recent sales that have had a brush with fame.
You oughta be in pictures . . .
These suitcases, found at the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in early summer, are on their way to London. They sold to someone at the infamous Ealing Studios, renowned for being the oldest working film studio in the world. Over the past 15 years, Ealing Studios has produced five of the top 20 highest grossing British independent films in the UK. Perhaps this set of luggage will be a prop in one of their upcoming projects!
Fresh from the oven . . .
A while back, I sold a sifter to The Magnolia Bakery's new Chicago store. Once again, I had a sale to this yummy shop of cupcake, cookbook and Sex and the City fame. A vintage mixing bowl was purchased by one of the New York City shops. Magnolia Bakery opened in the summer of 1996 on a quiet corner in the heart of Greenwich Village. In 2007, the original owner decided to pass her oven mitts to Steve Abrams, a veteran NYC restaurateur and consultant. Steve and his family have maintained the integrity of what had become an iconic brand and they have slowly and thoughtfully expanded it from one shop to eight. I'm hoping my mixing bowl will be on display in the bakery, or better yet, used to stir up some scrumptious desserts!
Do be a Do-Bee . . .
Just a few days ago, one of my items had another brush with fame. Miss Connie, the hostess on Virginia's Romper Room franchise during the 1960s, purchased my vintage Little Miss Seamstress Set! Romper Room was a television series for pre-school-age children and ran from 1953 to 1994. This educational show was sold to TV stations in two ways — standard syndication or as a franchise with a different local host in each city, 150 in all. (Cleveland's host was Miss Barbara, at least in the early 60s when I was tuning in.) These hostesses spent the half-hour reading from books to the seven or eight kids on the set, gently teaching them the alphabet, manners, and values. Today, Miss Connie is known as Connie Hindmarsh, creator extraordinaire of handmade bears, hares and folk art dolls. Her bears are sold and displayed at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. She also has an Etsy shop here. So it looks like my seamstress set will be in very good company!
Have a wonderful weekend,
Remember the refurbished veggie bin article I wrote? It has finally been published!
The fall 2012 issue of Studios magazine is chock full of inspiring craft spaces. This particular issue even has a section that is near and dear to my heart: using antiques for studio storage. My spruced up cabinet is an example of just that.
It is always a thrill to see my name in the magazine's Table of Contents. I am also pleased that one of my photos is featured there, as well.
My article, titled "Good Green Fun," takes you step by step through several creative projects: the bin's makeover, dressing up tin cans to use for supplies, creating magnets, and sewing an easy, waterproof apron to protect your clothes from crafty messes.
I think the designers at Studios did a wonderful job of laying out the projects. The spread, below, is nicely organized and very inviting.
Now on newsstands, the magazine can also be ordered online here. I'd like to thank Studios editor Linda Blinn for giving me the opportunity to contribute. It was my first time working with Linda as she is fairly new to the position. It was a real pleasure!
Please be sure to stop back next time when I can finally give you a closer look at my vegetable bin in all of its upcycled glory.
Cooking legend Julia Child was born 100 years ago today. I have been a fan of hers since the mid-1960s when I used to watch her public television program with my mom. Even as a child, I found her enthusiasm and energy infectious.
Julia introduced French cuisine to American cooks in 1963 with WGBH’s series, The French Chef. The video below is a remix of some classic moments from the show.
I am in the midst of reading a new book about her life titled Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. This affectionate biography by Bob Spitz captures the essence and exuberance that was Julia Child.
Here is a bit of the book's description: It’s rare for someone to emerge in America who can change our attitudes, our beliefs, and our very culture. It’s even rarer when that someone is a middle-aged, six-foot three-inch woman whose first exposure to an unsuspecting public is cooking an omelet on a hot plate on a local TV station. And yet, that’s exactly what Julia Child did. The warble-voiced doyenne of television cookery became an iconic cult figure and joyous rule-breaker as she touched off the food revolution that has gripped America for more than fifty years.
I am pleased to offer both volumes of Julia Child's classic books Mastering the Art of French Cooking in my Etsy shop. I have been waiting to list them until today, in honor of her 100th birthday.
These vintage spools filled with authentic baker's twine have a patriotic vibe. You can find them in my Etsy shop, where I'm very pleased to report that I am on the cusp of my 1,000th sale.
Every item that sells in my shop gets wrapped with care in white tissue paper bound with baker's twine. I always include a handwritten note, too.
Recently, I needed to order a new spool of twine. The photo of my old and new spools, below, will give you an idea of just how many packages I've wrapped and sent off.
A new spool holds 9,072 feet of string — that's almost two miles long! That's a whole lot of packages. I am so grateful to each and every one of my T-Party shoppers. Thank you for your loyal patronage.
Happy July 4th!
Our niece, Hilary, was the flower girl at our wedding back in the late 1980s. She was a mere eight years old, wore a pretty Laura Ashley dress, was missing several teeth, and took her flower girl duties very seriously. Fast-forward 24 years to tomorrow, when it will be Hilary's turn to be the bride.
Hilary was born when I was a senior in college. I was so thrilled to become an aunt and we have always been close. A few years back, she decided to move to NYC and I couldn't have been happier to have her nearby.
Hilary has always been there for me, especially when I had a serious health issue two years ago. She was a huge source of support and called to check in on me every single day. For that, along with many other reasons too numerous to mention, I will always be grateful to have her as my niece.
Tomorrow, Hilary will marry her love, Elan, in a space with huge windows overlooking the Manhattan skyline. We are all looking forward to this momentous occasion. I better bring lots of tissues!
What a wonderful weekend! To celebrate Hannah's graduation and my birthday, we had a picnic brunch at the beach yesterday with family and friends. It was a beautiful day and John made pancakes on the grill. They were delish!
We asked everyone to refrain from bringing gifts, but that didn't stop them from bringing flowers. Look at all of these glorious bouquets!
John and the kids gave me some spectacular presents: a book that is just my style called Found, Free & Flea, the new John Mayer CD, and best of all, an iPad. Yay!
Or course the weekend wouldn't be complete without attending Rowayton's little Memorial Day parade. Here are my favorite views from the event: a 1958 turquoise and white Nash sedan convertible, a trio of Boy Scouts manning a vintage wooden go-cart, and the marching band from Hannah and Jacob's former high school.
What fun! But now it's time to get back to work. This afternoon, I'm photographing my new Elephant's Trunk Flea Market finds to prepare them for their Etsy debut. I promise to share them with you later this week.
Hooray! Hannah is now a graduate of Johns Hopkins University!
Hannah worked her tail off all four years and made the Dean's List every semester. And in true Hannah fashion, she has found an exciting job in New York City that she'll start in early June. It's hard to put into words how proud we are of her.
We enjoyed the JHU graduation ceremony, gathering with Hannah's friends and their parents, and dining at a few yummy Baltimore restaurants. (I'm going to miss that city.)
We also packed up Hannah's apartment and moved all of her furniture into Jacob's new college apartment in Delaware. Needless to say, it was a hectic few days. I'm so glad to be home!
I am also thrilled to have a full house again. I love having both of my beautiful children back at home. Now I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend and spending time with family and friends at my birthday brunch at the beach on Monday.
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend,
Now that I've finished my Studios magazine article, I can get back to some neglected duties, such as planting my window boxes, going to estate sales, and working on Etsy listings. The window boxes are almost done and the rest of the garden is looking good. We even have a new stone wall that I'll share photos of soon. This morning, I'll be stopping by a couple of estate sales, and later today, I will finish listing the vintage items shown below.
New additions to my Etsy shop include jadeite Fire King, old cameras, rustic foot stools, paper ephemera, white art pottery, and more. I even found another Sew Master toy sewing machine. It seems that every time I list one, they fly out the door. The last two shipped all the way to South Korea.
As a thank you to my loyal customers, and to patrons yet to come, I am offering a 20% discount in my Etsy shop all weekend. Usually, I have a birthday sale, but this year it falls on Memorial Day and things will be a bit crazy here. So please enjoy 20% off today May 18 through Sunday, May 20. To receive the discount, you'll need to enter the coupon code SPRINGSALE at check out. By the way, for those of you who don't like using PayPal, I now accept credits cards on Etsy.
I'm looking forward to a busy week. We'll be heading down to Hannah's graduation as well as packing up both kids' stuff at college. Lots to do!
Enjoy this beautiful Spring weekend,
John and I are often asked how we met. As you may know, it was back in the mid-1980s while riding a commuter train home from work. I commuted by train from Connecticut to New York City for six years. However, John commuted for only six months. Lucky me that our paths crossed.
For your viewing pleasure, I unearthed this segment about us that originally appeared on television's Inside Edition back in 2001.
What a hoot! When I met John, I was the design director of the very railroad on which we were riding. So years later, when Inside Edition wanted to do a piece on couples who met on a train, they contacted the PR department at the railroad to see if they knew of anyone. And of course, my former co-workers led them to us.
You may wonder, why have I shared this video with you today? Because on this very day twenty four years ago, I married my commuter love.
Happy Anniversary to John, my sweet husband, the love of my life.
Depending on their age, your children may call you Mommy, Mom, or Mother. My two are still in the "Mom" stage. But every now and then, they call me "Mommy" which makes me really happy.
It's the first time in 22 years that I haven't celebrated today with at least one of my children by my side. But Hannah and Jacob are still away at college. Fortunately, I'll be seeing them both at Hannah's graduation in a little over a week. But I sure do miss them today.
Whether your kids are with you today, or are out in the big, wide world like mine, remember that although us Mommies, Moms and Mothers hold our children's hands for a very short while, we will be in their hearts forever.
Wishing you a most wonderful Mother's Day.
We had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Eastham, one of the many lovely towns on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Ours friends, Steve and Sue Ellen, invited us up to their beautiful home and showed us all the beauty Cape Cod has to offer.
From its beaches and glorious ocean views . . .
. . . to its architecture, like this ornate house that sits atop Fort Hill. It was built in 1868 for whaling captain Edward Penniman.
On the other end of the architecture spectrum are these tiny beach shacks along the sea in Truro.
Don't they look just like a row of Monopoly houses?
A trip to the Cape wouldn't be complete without traveling to the outermost tip, Provincetown. While there, we had a delicious lunch at the Lobster Pot restaurant.
We also browsed Ptown's many shops. One of them sells these dazzling mosaic lanterns and hand painted boots from Turkey.
We also witnessed a picture perfect sunset at First Encounter Beach. This is the actual site of the very first encounter between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.
Our weekend away was perfect— the weather was mild, Sue Ellen and Steve were gracious hosts, and I even found some wonderful vintage treasures that I'll share with you in my next post.
Being a fan of the news program 60 Minutes, I was saddened to hear of the death of Mike Wallace last week. And just a few months ago, another 60 Minutes icon passed away — Andy Rooney. Mr. Rooney happened to be a resident of my town. He resided here with his wife and four children since 1951 and called Rowayton "a great, unpretentious hometown." When I moved here in the mid-80s, I lived just down the street from Andy and every now and then, I'd see him walking home from the nearby train station. Even though he kept to himself, he was Rowayton's one and only celebrity and will surely be missed.
A few weeks ago, the Rooney house was open to the public for an estate sale. After reading the ad in a local paper, I knew I wanted to go. It stated:
Wonderful old Victorian home in Rowayton has been home to the Rooney family for 60 years — chock full of Americana, modern art and memorabilia from Andy Rooney’s incredible career in journalism and television. Period antiques and an amazing collection of American early 20th century prints and oils create a sale full of surprises and an opportunity to shop for a piece of history.
Special offering: Andy’s antique Underwood typewriter, his vintage desk chair, pieces of furniture he made, many autographed books, vintage press & WWII memorabilia.
Although the home was lovely, I was most intrigued with the basement where Mr. Rooney had set up a home office with an unusual U-shaped walnut desk. And in the adjoining room, there was an impressive woodworking workshop with serious tools and large, unused pieces of cherry wood, pine and mahogany.
I could picture Andy sitting at this desk and clicking away on his classic Underwood typewriter, hunting and pecking at the keys. Once I remember him sharing on 60 Minutes that he only used two fingers to type — something we both have in common. By the way, silent bids were taken on this gem of a typewriter. At the end of the estate sale, it sold for a whopping $3,000!
Just yesterday, the Rooney house went on the market. The 2,474-square-foot, four-bedroom home was built in 1882 and is situated atop a hill, within walking distance of the village and train station. Priced at $749,500, it seems like a bargain to me.
I started watching 60 Minutes in earnest while at college. After spending the day studying, my friends and I would emerge from the library and gather around a television in a local eatery to watch the show. Three decades later, I'm still watching most Sundays.
I always looked forward to the few last minutes of 60 Minutes with Mr. Rooney, even though I didn't always agree with his often curmudgeon-y views. However, I truly admired his wit and wisdom — especially this quote: "I didn't get old on purpose, it just happened. If you're lucky, it could happen to you."
I am still basking in the glow of the Etsy Success Symposium last Friday. What a fabulous event!
Just across the East River from Manhattan, Etsy is located in a section of Brooklyn called Dumbo, which stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass." Their headquarters are in an industrial building with a loft-like vibe.
I was thrilled to be one of the 100 Esty sellers invited to attend the Symposium. I met people from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Toronto, Massachusetts, Missouri, Australia, and even someone from Cleveland who went to my high school! Most of the attendees were crafty types who create handmade goods. Only four other people who sell vintage items like myself were there.
The Symposium's "Get Found" theme covered topics such as catching the eye of a curator, blogger, magazine editor or potential buyer; how to write better listings with a nod to an item's back story; the ins and outs of Pinterest; and so much more. I was treated to a one-on-one critique of my Esty shop and also had the pleasure of chatting with a literary agent to discuss a book I've been working on. She was very encouraging and asked me to send her my book proposal. Yay!
The Symposium was truly awesome — so chock full of inspiration! Now I know just what to do to take my Etsy shop to the next level.
What impressed me most about the day was the dedication and creativity of Etsy's employees. They are forever tweaking and improving Esty to ensure it will always meet the needs of its sellers. I must say, I am proud to be one of them.
I was told by John that today is "Selection Sunday," the day when college men's basketball Division I teams are picked to enter the tournament known as March Madness. And I'm doing a little selecting myself, because today is when I announce the winner of this blog's 5-year anniversary giveaway.
But before I do, I want to thank those of you who left comments on my giveaway post. It was wonderful to hear from so many kindred spirits. I was thrilled to read that my blog has inspired you to carve out a place in your home that is all yours, that the T-Cozy is a welcome retreat from your hectic day, and that it even encouraged you to start your own blog. I loved hearing about your favorite posts, be it Jacob's first shave, our many vacations on Martha's Vineyard, or how John and I met on a commuter train to NYC. Please know that I enjoyed reading each and every comment. They truly touched my heart.
This morning, I used an online random number generator to select the winner. Congratulations to the lucky winner — Meg Brookman!
Here is Meg's comment:
The T-Cozy is my happy go-to place. And that's especially true if I'm under the weather or feeling a bit buffeted by the world’s knocks. The transformation from moody to over the moon is instantaneous. Childhood memories and what I call ‘the T-Cozy high' turn my gray disposition into a joyful rainbow of lovely thoughts and images. After some bountiful browsing, I inevitably return to my day a renewed, positive me. PS: My favorite blog of yours is peeking into your tea room. I can smell and savor the teas. And tasting everything that Cathy puts on the table (without gaining a calorie!) is pure clotted-cream heaven.
Thank you all, once again, for your heartfelt comments, support, loyal readership and friendship. You're the best! And since I can't send gifts to each of you, I am offering 20% off in my Etsy shop for the remainder of today. To receive the discount, type in the coupon code SUSANTHANKSYOU at checkout.
Today marks a major milestone for my blog. The T-Cozy is five years old today! And you know how I like to celebrate an important occasion such as this — with a giveaway. Yay!
The lucky winner will receive this array of T-Party gifts — a new Bee House aloe green ceramic teapot with a built-in stainless steel infuser (just like the ones used at my former tea room); a matching Bee House aloe green tea mug; a handmade tea cozy made by me from a re-purposed vintage tablecloth; a cellophane bag filled with Comptoir Du Sud rough cut cane sugar cubes; and a 4-ounce tin of Lavender Lace, a caffeine-free loose leaf herbal infusion that is soothing, light and fragrant, containing lemon verbena, spearmint, cinnamon, lavender and rosemary.
To enter my giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. For those of you who feel ambitious, do some digging in the T-Cozy's archives from the past five years and let me know which post was your all-time favorite and why. If you do, you will be rewarded because I'll enter your name a second time to improve your chances of winning. (And if you reference a post that is older than the ones shown as you scroll down, I'll really be impressed.)
If you are shy about leaving a comment, please don't be. I'm not looking for anything profound here, just a little feedback on what has interested or inspired you on my blog. Are you new to commenting? Read the instructions titled "How to Leave a Comment" found in the column on the lower right.
The deadline for leaving your comment is midnight on Saturday, March 10. The winner will be selected at random and their name will be revealed in a post on Sunday, March 11.
This is my 898th post, so I hope you don't mind that while you are busy perusing my blog this week, I will be taking a breather to recharge my blogging batteries. And please know that even if you choose not to enter this giveaway, I truly appreciate your readership, comments and kind support over the last five years.
Many, many thanks!!!
For your viewing pleasure, here is a video of when my tea room made its television debut.
Yikes! I cringe when I watch this. Filmed seven years ago, back then, my hair was five inches shorter and I was ten pounds heavier. Plus, they mispelled my last name and my comments in the segment were downright inane. Even so, I'll never forget how truly thrilled Cathy and I were when the Food Network called with their offer to feature T-Party on Roker on the Road.
To prepare for our debut, we scrubbed the kitchen until it gleamed, swept away every cobweb, and dusted each nook and cranny; not an easy task as antique shops are notoriously dusty. We were ready — and also a bit nervous.
At 9 a.m. on a sunny Monday in May 2005, a Food Network producer, camera man and sound man arrived to film our segment. But — no Al Roker! We were told that he only went to about one out of every four locations filmed for each show. However, the production team was first rate, making us feel relaxed and comfortable right from the start. They were very thorough and began the day with shots of Cathy making scones and tea sandwiches. Then came interviews of both of us. At midday, we assembled tea trays to welcome a full tea room for filming. And by 3 p.m., we were on to two hours of close-ups of food and loose leaf tea. Nine hours later, we were done. The result: six hours of tape shot for a five minute segment. That was a very long day.
How nice to get a glimpse of my former tea room. It was such a fun place. And doesn't Cathy's food look amazing? It tasted even better.
The title of this post was coined over four years ago by Cathy Santarsiero, one of my loyal patrons. Cathy was referring to my former tea room, a happy place where you walked in the door and left the cares of the day behind. Whenever I hear from my shop's patrons, they tell me how much they miss my tea room, especially on a breezy day like to today, when there is nothing better then sitting in a cozy spot across from a good friend, sipping warm tea, and munching on tiny treats.
I, too, miss my shop. But more than that, I miss seeing my favorite customers on a daily basis. Luckily, I still hear from many of them. In fact, one of them is stopping by my studio today to pick up a large order of loose leaf tea.
These days, my "oasis" has become my home studio. It is the one place in our home that is all mine, and I love how I can do whatever I want it with it. But when we moved into our house over 20 years ago, my studio didn't even exist. In fact, we had difficulty even finding a house to buy that had space for a home office. Back in the late 1980s, working at home was not as popular as it is today. However, I had already started a home-based freelance graphic design business so that I could be near the children we were planning to have.
In our home search, all of the houses we looked at didn't have a dedicated space for working at home. I would have had to convert an upstairs bedroom, work in a dank basement, or add a costly addition to have the space required to run my business. What I really wanted was a room on the main floor with a separate entrance to allow for the easy flow of clients and suppliers that would need to stop by. That was a tall order, and John and I searched for a house for over two years.
By the time we bought our current home in late 1990, Hannah was seven months old and we were bursting at the seams. My first house in Rowayton was a tiny 1920s cottage, too small to accommodate a new baby, a home office and a sitter who watched Hannah for a few days a week. Fortunately, our new house had over three times the square footage of our old one and it had lots of potential. But it still required some tweaking to create the studio of my dreams.
The house had a small den that was attached to a screened-in back porch, so our idea was to combine part of the porch with the den. A friend/architect drew up the plans and once they were complete, we hired a contractor. Very soon after, he gave us the bad news that the existing screen porch was not stable. So what we thought was a simple project, turned into building an addition after all. The porch came down, and in its place we constructed an airy space with a vaulted ceiling off the existing den, along with a small screened porch off the kitchen.
I was so excited about getting a custom built office for my growing design business. I remember standing in the space when it was nothing but rough framing and thinking about how I would decorate this special place.
Over the years, my studio's decor has changed. At first, it had a round conference table, a huge photocopier, and two wooden flat files to store large mechanical boards for my clients. Before long, everything I designed was done on my Mac, so the flat files were no longer needed. Then, with the advent of email, I rarely needed to see my suppliers and clients face to face, so the conference table was out the door. And finally, two years after I opened my shop and tea room, I decided to leave my 24-year graphic design career behind for something new. For a while, my studio sat idle. But now it has come back to life.
I am back spending every day in this space and I truly love it. Filled with all of my favorite things, everywhere I look, I find inspiration. As I share more of my "oasis of wonderful" with you over the next week, I hope you will find some inspiration, too.
I'm so pleased. My sewing corner photos were a hit! Christelle's editor even asked for an additional picture. She was particularly taken with my button jars that line the window sill. So I just took this photo and hurled it off through cyberspace to France.
When I was tidying my sewing corner in preparation for the photo shoot, I decided to spruce up a plain jane basket. It stores all sorts of mending supplies and sits in the bottom tier of a Victorian-era sewing stand. Voilà! A makeover was achieved with spray paint and a new knob. Easy peasy.
Yesterday, I found a charming chair cushion on sale at Pier 1. Isn't it the sweetest? So much zippier that my old one. And since I was already photographing my button jars, I figured, why not re-shoot the whole area with my new chair cushion in place? To see these new photos, they have been placed in my original post for your viewing pleasure here.
Help! I can't seem to stop tweaking my sewing corner! It's such fun. And I am truly enjoying my new camera. Between my blog, website and Etsy shop, I take several hundred photos per week. How nice to finally have a decent camera. And how nice to have loyal readers like you. Many thanks!