Monday, September 29, 2008


Palmiers have been my favorite cookie ever since I lived in France in fourth grade. They are a very simple cookie consisting of layers of puff pastry and sugar, they shouldn't be too dry and flaky nor should they be squishy and moist. I have been on a pursuit to find a palmier that tastes most like a French one, I still have not found one. We were fortunate enough to visit Paris last year and I couldn't wait to finally get a good palmier. On our first day in Paris I planned a little picnic in the park across from the Eiffel Tower. I stopped at the fromagerie to get a plateau de fromage pour les enfants, amazingly the merchant knew I was asking for a cheese plate my kids would enjoy. Next stop was the bakery for baguettes and palmiers. We set up our little picnic on a bench near a man playing fetch with his little dog. They looked like they came from Central Casting, perfectly Parisian! The kids only liked the brie, the rest of the cheeses were a little too pungent. Finally it was time for our palmiers, I had talked these cookies up for years and the anticipation was palpable. At the very moment I was bringing my cookie to my lips, a sopping wet rubber ball whacked my hand,and the cookie fell in the dirt. I had been slimed by the French guy's ball he was throwing to his dog and I lost my cookie! Sadly, we didn't get another chance for palmiers, my longing continues.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ironing Boards

I have found that old toy ironing boards make the perfect end tables in our family room. The child size ironing board is the exact length to fit next to a chair or sofa. The big ironing board I found for $15.00, I use it as a table behind the sofa to hold a lamp and books. Old ironing boards are usually priced quite low so pick up a few!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Alabaster Bird Baths

I started collecting these alabaster bird baths after I met my Mother-In-Law, Ann. She was very creatively using one as a soap dish in her guest bathroom twenty some years ago. I started seeing these bird baths at flea markets and junk stores in varying stages of decrepitude. I find them today in swankier stores with higher price tags, but I did recently luck out on Etsy, and I am awaiting my newest addition to the collection!

Kimba vs. Watergate

I am so pleased to see that both of my kids are so interested in the political process. It is such an exciting election with so much change possible.
I remember when I was in elementary school my younger sister and I were able to go home for lunch. I had to race her home every day so I could watch the live coverage of the Watergate Trials during lunch. If she beat me home we had to watch Kimba The White Lion, eeeww. I was fascinated by the entire spectacle, I felt sorry for John Dean and his pretty wife Maureen, with her neat little bun. I thought Judge Sirica was amusing and Haldeman, Erlichman and G. Gordon Liddy gave me the willies. I hated having to leave the trial when my lunch period was over. My sister spent much of our lunch break pleading with my Mom that we should be watching Kimba.
That summer we rented a cottage in Wisconsin without a television set. The day Nixon resigned we had to go to a stranger's home and watch the historic event. We drove back home later in the day and listened to all of the Nixon coverage on the radio. When Nixon gave his farewell address to the White House Staff it was broadcast live on the radio. I was feeling very sorry for him and wanted to cry, I was so saddened by his remarks about his Mother being a Saint, and no one would write a book about her. He spoke of his Father, the poor lemon rancher and rambled on and on. My Parent's were barely able to contain their laughter. Oh, the wee little me silently weeping for Richard Nixon. I ended up becoming quite the Watergate idiot savant!

Some not so interesting facts:
1. A few years after Watergate I won a social studies competition for knowing the name
B.B. Rebozo.
2. I lived in constant fear because my Dad kept sending telegrams to Nixon with the word "Resign".
3. I sweat just like Richard Nixon
4. On the 22 year anniversary of the Watergate break-in, my daughter LuLu was born June 17, 1994.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Assemblages -The Hats

Click on image

I found these excellent botanical specimen boxes at a church rummage sale. They are perfectly weathered for my assemblages. I am listing these in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


My friend and very talented artist, Jessie Smith-Larson (Visit her blog Superbad Friend), changed my world when she let me know about this crazy wonderful place FancyFlours, link in my favorites.
They have edible wafer paper that looks like vintage postcards, you can add it to cookies. The beautiful butterflies on the cupcakes are also edible. All of their dragees and pearls are safe for consumption, too!!! The chocolate transfer sheets are amazing, the aqua and brown pattern is just one example of many cool patterns they offer. Just imagine the possibilities. How can you not love their cupcake papers and cake stand trim? There are so many things that I have simply never seen before. Cupcakes will never be the same.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Your Great, Great , Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmere?

Do you like cake? Have you ever noticed a striking resemblance to the Dauphine? You can have your DNA tested to see if you are a relation of Marie Antoinette's!!! The price ranges between $119.00 to $318.00, depending on if you search your paternal and maternal lineage. If related, I think your are fully entitled to at least a chair from Versailles! Click here to link to the genealogy site.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Style Icon

Louise Brooks is the perfect style icon. Cool clothes and that excellent bob, she would look perfectly modern today and this photo is from 1928. My daughter actually has this exact haircut, she is so lucky to have straight hair and a normal size head! I have always had a fondness for Louise's wide leg trouser pants with the waist that starts just under the rib cage. These were in style for about five minutes in the 1980s,
thanks to Morris Day and the Time.
If you haven't seen the silent German film Pandora's Box, you should try to find it. I guarantee you will marvel at her clothes and the beautiful furniture. The added bonus is her cute name in the film, LuLu!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Latest Stuff

I used vintage baby clothes in these collages, the fabric is so translucent it reminds me of the tissue used in pattern making. It is hard to see the details, but I also used wee little buttons as polka dots. My photos are so bad, I should have my kids photograph them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Kids Walk To The Drugstore

My kids wanted to walk to our local drugstore for a candy emergency. It was taking them a very long time to return home, I immediately imagined them across state lines, traveling with a caravan of Gypsies. I called LuLu on her cell phone and she told me they were taking pictures as they walked. I was amazed by the beauty they captured in the few blocks it takes to get to Walgreens. It is always enlightening for me to see the world thru their eyes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Souvenir Buildings and Landmarks

I keep some of our souvenir buildings on this rusty old griddle I picked up at the flea market. We got a little carried away last year on a visit to Paris, we came home with about a dozen Eiffel Towers and a few Arc de Triumphs. When we visit a city we always check the local junk shops for old souvenirs and vintage postcards to send back home. The really old metal souvenirs tend to be extremely heavy and indestructible . The big Arc de Triumph was like carrying around a shot put all day. If you can't find vintage examples there are always plenty of nice new metal buildings to pick up, I favor the pencil sharpener versions. Who wouldn't want the Leaning Tower of Pisa with pencil sharpening capabilities?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teepees, Totem Poles and Canoes

These collections keep the office space in our den from looking too utilitarian
(click on images for a better view)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Farmer Julie

Photos and Floral Letters by Julie Thomas, a.k.a. Farmer Julie

She makes ceramics that I love, beautiful photos, amazing floral arrangements and now these super cute letters! Please check out Farmer Julie in "My Favorites" for tons of inspiration and your very own initial.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Push Puppets

This is our wooden push puppet collection, we keep them in large apothecary jars in the kitchen. We collected vintage and new puppets and they are always very inexpensive. We have stopped adding to this collection because the kids are getting too old to play with them. I have used them to decorate tables during birthday parties, they look great and young and old guests enjoy them.

Cake + Fork + Milk

= My weekend plans.

Disco Socks

Deke had to dress up in disco garb for a special event he was attending at school. He didn't want to wear a white suit or any such nonsense, he does have our DNA coursing thru him. I concocted an outfit that would make Steve Dahl quite proud. Steve is the legendary radio DJ who staged Disco Demolition, famously setting disco records ablaze at Comiskey Park during a White Sox double-header in 1979. Deke's outfit was emblazoned with "Disco Sucks!" Deke was horrified with this outfit, he was afraid of violating dress code and being sent home. I had to change disco sucks into disco socks. Suddenly the whole message changed from rebellion to a celebration of socks, disco socks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Just Skip It

Is September 11th slowly becoming a normal day again? I have noticed that school functions are scheduled on this day, and even some events and openings are slated for September 11th. Ever since 2001 this day had been off-limits for even the most mundane events. I still feel very uncomfortable with 9/11, I actually bought a gallon of milk with an earlier expiration date on it just so I wouldn't have the fresher milk with that awful date on it. I know this is incredibly superstitious and dumb. I guess I am glad that people are moving on, it was such a surreal nightmarish time. Everyone was waiting for the next big horrible thing to happen, I vividly recall how uneasy people felt about shopping or going to the movies. Police were even posted outside Deke's Montessori school for at least a week and Lulu's school went into "lock down" mode. This photo was taken of LuLu in Battery Park a couple summers before the towers came down. It seems so poignant that she is in a red and white striped shirt and blue jeans and has her fist raised up in defiance. I wouldn't mind if we just skipped the 11th the way some Architects skip having a 13th floor.

Fun With Our Dining Room Chairs

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Collecting Amnesia

Cleaning out the basement I rediscovered some cool stuff that I had completely forgotten about. It's kind of like finding a twenty dollar bill in a coat that hasn't been worn in ages.
I picked up these little guys years ago at a Chinese store in Chicago. I imagined this group strolling down the center of our dining table with fresh flowers or herbs in their buckets and salt and pepper in their trays and baskets. The guy on the bike had no purpose except to look cute. After being tucked away for years these guys are back in business!

Cramped Quarters

I am ruthlessly going thru our basement and closets to donate all of our excess stuff. Every few years we get to the point of bursting at the seams with junk and we are currently ready to explode. These purges remind me of my many lapses in good taste, the collection of coffee mugs that say "You asked for half a cup" and the cup is cut in half, plastic fruit people and giant underpants are just a few examples. I am sure there is someone out there who will find delight in these collections (maybe not the giant underpant collection). I noticed this little birdhouse in the backyard is looking a little overcrowded, do birds clean out old nests?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have been in a party hat mood lately and whipped these up late last night. Now we just need a party.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do They Really Junk Shop In Oman?

After the article about our home and collections appeared in The Chicago Tribune I have discovered that other newspapers across the globe have also picked it up. The most surprising publication to run the article is the Oman Tribune. Oman is a Middle Eastern country situated on the Arabian Sea, it shares borders with Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Oman has a population of 3.2 million, and I wonder how many of these good people give a hoot about junk shopping. The article talks about going to the Lake County flea market and decorating with very humble materials (junk). Perhaps we will be responsible for starting a shabby chic decorating trend in an oil rich country. If the Sultan Qaboos needs any flea market finds I am more than happy to assist.

Carmel Apples

I love having a carmel apple decorating party! It's a chance for me to pull out my vintage apron collection and let everyone make a giant mess. The trick is to have twice as much carmel as you think you'll need and three times as much candy and nuts as you'll need. If the weather allows, it is so wonderful having this party outside and the carmel can drip everywhere. Have plenty of cider and salty snacks to balance all the sweet stuff that never makes it on the apples. The only draw back is the occasional bee that gets stuck to the carmel.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Fall is already here, the nights are so wonderfully cool and the windows are open during the day. My spring cleaning always seems to happen in the fall, it's time to prepare the cave for a long hibernation.