Saturday, December 27, 2008

My "Romantic" Life...Thank You, Romantic Homes magazine!

Thank you, Romantic Homes magazine!!!

Oh how life can surprise you!
I got the surprise of my life when one afternoon last September I was contacted by my favorite magazine, Romantic Homes, telling me they would like to include me in their February"Romantics" issue.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. And of course I said YES! :)

{I was SO happy that one of the pics they chose to include was one with our sweet black Lab, Nicodemus, in it! }

The issue has just come out and I got my copy in the mail today -- what fun to not only see the little blurb about moi, but to be in the company of some really special people!

There were quite a few chosen this year and the list is quite diverse! I was familiar with all but just a few and it was so wonderful to read about the ways they try to live "romantically".

In my typical style, I submitted WAY more photos and WAY more written copy then they could EVER use, and their finished product is just wonderful, I think.

Just for fun, here are some of the pics taken for this feature that didn't make it into the mag...

{On the left, a chair next to the front door, on it are some of my prized antique diaries and ledger books. Just outside the glass you can see one of our cats, Tigger. On the right are some of my vintage wooden shoe forms...I have quite a few of them and I suppose its now time to stop buying more. Ya think?? :) }

{Just one of my many dress forms -- this one is made of a cardboard-type material and is pretty fragile. I love how the paper is aged to this mellow, golden tone. Like the shoe forms, I suppose I've reached a level where I don't need even one more of these. Until another must-have shows up somewhere!!! :) Just a note: I know NO ONE who is this size, by the way. The waist measurement on this form is must be about 10 inches. Crazy!}

{An old rattan desk situated in our dining room next to one of the massive old doors in this room -- these doors were actually one of the main selling points of this house for me.}

The idea behind this yearly feature is to cull from various and diverse individuals those ideas and ways of life that exemplify "romantic living". I had many notions about living beautifully and it was a real pleasure to have a chance to really give this topic some thought...

As the Romantic Homes article stated, my store's "motto" is 'Elegant Essentials & Sensible Luxuries' - meaning simply that even things essential to daily life should also be beautiful and elegant; and the luxuries we allow ourselves don't have to break the bank, since a luxury is not defined by its price tag, rather bythe enduring beauty it brings to our daily lives.

Think of it -- you reach for a notepad to jot out a reminder for yourself or to add eggs to the shopping list - why not reach for a lovely pen housed in an antique French mustard jar and a beautiful pad with brightly colored paper? You can pour dishwasher detergent from the cardboard box it comes in, or you can scoop it with a silver scoop from a vintage enamelware box (see, even doing the dishes can be "beautified!"). When you finally settle in for the evening with a stack of great magazines to peruse, why not fill the room with beautiful music instead of the cacophony of the TV? Fill the air with a beautiful scent from a gorgeous candle & enjoy hot tea from a lovely bone china cup.

Each one of these in itself is a small detail, but together they equal abeautiful gift you choose to give yourself that day. These days our minds run 100-miles an hour all day. If we never give our thoughts a chance to stop, and be collected in beauty, we're simply not living, we're existing; nothing could be more unromantic.

The more you incorporate beautiful expressions of living into your daily life,the more easily entertaining, even on the spur of the moment, will become. You will already have a stock of beautiful napkins, silver will already bepolished, and beautiful china will be readily accessible rather than somethingyou have to hunt through a closet to retrieve.

Here is a twist on the Golden Rule: "Do unto yourself (and your family)as you would do unto company." And believe me, when you do have guests in, they will definitely notice the ease and grace with which you host them and it will be apparent that this is more than just an occasional practice foryou - rather, a way of life.

Think of your home as your large-scale "inspiration board" -ever-changing and alive. You're in charge of what's on display, and the current trend-of-the-moment just really doesn't matter.

So what if others don't seem to appreciate the items you've chosen to collect:
vintage men's shirt collars displayed beautifully in the laundry room
next to laundry soap dispensed from a gorgeous glass apothecary jar;
displays of wooden shoe forms and charming vintage dress forms;
a lovely bowl brimming with antique skeleton keys and a scattering of
chipped enamel watch faces.

The things you love and are drawn to reflect you, and in your home that
is all that matters. Your very soul will sing when everywhere your eyes fall
in your home there is an object of beauty and meaning, dear to you and you
alone; souvenirs of a life beautifully lived.

I just love the words of
Cary Grant in one of my favorite movies, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home:

"A house is like a fine painting. You buy it with your heart,
not your head. You don't ask 'How much was the paint, and how much
was the canvas.' You look at it and you say, 'It's beautiful... I
want it.'
And, if it costs a few more pennies, you pay it and gladly, because you love it
and you can't measure things you love in dollars and cents."

The painted
and stenciled floors throughout the house are quite scarred from years of very large dogs running on

The vintage windows are drafty and not at all energy efficient. 

the floorboards creak and are anything but level. 

And yet, these are all
things I love about my home. 

My home, like many others, is far from perfection, but it is just right for our family.

After all, you kind of have to extend a
bit of grace to an old "gal" who is 118 years old -- she's earned the creaks
in her joints, the scars in her finishes, and the sagging foundation (as have many of us!).

Fill your home with things that you see the beauty in (even if others
don't grasp what you see in them). Rescue a vintage typewriter and
display it prominently, perhaps with a love letter or verse tucked in the roll
mechanism. Collect antique diaries (I do) and slowly read through the daily
chronicling of the life of someone who lived 100 years ago. Oh, how they
reveal how differently we live today (and we could learn a thing or two from the past!).

Oh! Before I forget, I wanted to let you know about a few shop-update things:
Our huge 2-foot square burlap pillow covers & giant burlap market bags are back in stock. They sold out SO quickly before and we now have them back in and ready to ship!

  • Our new supply of the French metal bottle drying racks is in, too! These were a huge seller before the holidays and we finally got some back in the shop and ready to go!

  • There are new items that are going to be up on the site soon (just need to take pics) such as some INCREDIBLE French aprons -- bistro-types with great graphic qualities and done in a fabulous line-type fabric, that you will LOVE!!

  • Some gorgeous black/white French "Eiffel Tower" napkins and kitchen towel sets (if you like the ones we had in pink and in turquoise you'll adore these -- just wait!).

  • Drumroll....Our own exclusive "Mathematicus" pillows are almost done and will be available to ship in the next couple of weeks! We chose three complimentary fabrics/thread colors and three different numbers (12, 34, & 56) for the number pillows and when purchased together, it will look like 123456 when laid out together! Trust me, initial reactions to the pillows that have been completed have been overwhelmingly POSITIVE and I have a feeling these are going to be a huge hit! Coming SOON!

Well, thanks so much for letting me tell you about my "news" of being in the Feb. issue of THE MOST AWESOME mag out there -- get your copy today! Better yet, if you don't already have one, get your subscription! I've never been disappointed with even one issue in all the years I've read won't either!
Yours Beautifully (and I suppose now "romantically", too!),

Ruth Harsham

Wednesday, December 24, 2008







Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas! Won't You Join Me For A Cup Of Coffee & Stay A While? The Decorations Are Sparce But The Joy Is Plentiful!


[Step through our front door and come in for a bit, won't you? The French enamel sign says "Tout Va Bien" which means "All Is Well" -- never a more perfect message as you enter...]

Its FINALLY begun to 'look a lot like Christmas' around my own home. For weeks I've enjoyed the sights and decor of your homes via your blogs and each one has been a true feast for the eyes!
[Above and below are photos of the table in our living room next to the tree...the vintage ornaments in the silver tray are very dear to me...I remember putting them on our tree as a child each year and even then they were so fragile and to be handled very carefully. They originally belonged to my father's parents and somehow then we began using them on our tree when I was growing up (that's my dad in the photo under the glass on the table in the picture below). Now they are here at my house and I place them all together in a tray or bowl each year since there are so few of them left now. This is the one time when color, style or flashy flair don't mean a thing -- the main thing these ornaments bring is memories, love and a very warm feeling whenever they are brought out each year. ]

I've enjoyed your pretty snowy "villages" set up on window sills, glittery baubles and garlands hung from every nook and cranny, treasured mementos from years (sometimes generations) past lovingly displayed...It has been just delightful being able to "peek" into your homes and feel as though I'd actually stepped through your front door out of the wintry cold and come for an afternoon visit. Thank you so much for the time you've taken to not only do all the beautiful decorating, but to also capture it all in pictures and put it out there for us to enjoy!
[Below is the first thing you'd see walking into our front door, on the hallway cabinet...most of what's there is there all year, I just quickly grabbed a pillar from another room and added wired mini-garland and a brooch that belonged to my husband's grandmother. I nestled it among some pine garland and arranged a bird's nest with things that were already right there on the cabinet all year long. Done!]

I wish I could have each and every one of you into my home for an afternoon -- complete with hot coffee, tea, cider, cocoa, chocolate (lots of it!), Christmas cookies and candies of course -- and just visit with you.
[Above is a favorite Christmas kitchen towel with the entire song "The First Noel" printed on it. The two little faux Christmas petite fours are some that I've had for probably almost 20 years! I simply placed this on our kitchen table this year with all the things that are always there anyway, and that was that! ]
I'd treasure hearing your stories, hearing the room filled with laughter and then even (as we women can be prone to do) share a tear or two. We each have a unique position in life and no matter how each of us goes about our lives on a daily basis, I truly believe if we could bring all of it together in a room at once, we'd be utterly amazed at what we truly possess as women and how truly influencial we are in the lives of those with whom we live.

[Above and below is the dress form project I did over the summer -- "she" started out as a brand new, not-so-special form (white fabric body) and following the directions many of you have seen online, I painted her, aged her with antiquing glaze and voila - she is now known as Joelle and she stands in our front hallway just inside the front door all year long. Her accessories change throughout the year depending on my (her) mood, but for now she's wearing whatever I found in the few boxes I brought in from storage... And she wears them well, don't you think? (Oh those French women -- they can look good in ANYTHING they just 'throw on', can't they?) ]

This past year may have seen many changes for you -- good and/or not so good -- but no matter how bleak things may appear from time to time (or for you, perhaps for a very long time), there is always, always hope. Hope embodied in the celebration of Christmas truly does endure for the rest of the year -- as it is a hope that is not affected by economics, politics, or crisis of any sort. This hope is the one and only truly unwaivering constant that can be counted on.
The more this is focused on, particularly this time of year, the less all the "fluff" and "stuff" of this season matters.

[Below is one of our Christmas cards that I love so much, I framed it in an otherwise unused mirrored frame. At the last minute, I placed it in the tree...immediately I knew it was right. The tree symbolizes Christmas, but a tree also enters into why He was born...thinking toward Easter and the cross... Amazing. Actually, its amazing love.

This truth has been "brought home" to me this year more than ever. It had really bothered me that I was almost three weeks "late" getting my house decorated and even now it is done very sparingly. (Last year almost 10 trees, this year one small one!) I began to think that at this point, "what's the point"? Since in just a couple of weeks it would all have to come right back down. Then I realized, who cares if it isn't done to a caliber of Macy's or Saks? Even the smallest effort (and this year I do mean small!) imparts that beauty, that feeling of warmth and meaning that the season is all about.

[Above you'll notice the clock faces in the tree -- guess where those came from?? Remember Fabulous Fifi's recent garage sale?? Well I went since I'm only an hour away and she GAVE these to me! I had admired them in the pictures of her home on her blog and there they were in her garage sale -- I knew that if Ididn't leave with anything but those, I'd be happy. And she ended up just giving them to me. Thank you, Fifi. I just love them. And I love them in the tree! I'll always think of Fifi when I see them. How fun! ]
It's been kind of like one of those life-challenge questions you hear, that are supposed to get you thinking about what's important: "If your house was on fire and you could only grab an arm-load of things, what would they be?" Well, this year, decorating-wise, it was the same thing: "If you have only a few hours to decorate and that's it, what will you bring in from storage and what stays packed up this year?" The resulting "finished product" has been interesting...not over-done, and only the things I really, really love and love to look at. And the funny thing is, compared to all the effort that went into the display here at home last year, I'm telling you -- I'm sold on "simple"! :)

[The tin winged box in the photo above has a paper stamped tag in it (because I couldn't find anything else small enough to fit!) and it usually hangs all year long on one of the knobs on our victrola player. While I was decorating the tree, I turned around and there it was, hanging on the victrola so I snagged it and placed it on a branch. I do love this box, though. Its so unusual and I often think of all kinds of dreamy little mini-scenes I could create inside it....]

[Reading through antique journals and dairies gives you a real sense of how complicated our lives today have actually become! Maybe we really haven't "come a long way, baby" after all!]

[The photos above show antique, very time-worn day books (old versions of Day-Timers) and ledgers. Oh my, how I love these books...they are sooo old and sooo worn that the pages literally disintegrate and crumble in your hands. Their aged, brown good-looks are perfect, stunning in fact, with the sage green irridescent taffeta fabric used as a tree skirt (a fabric remnant purchased at least 15 years ago for next to nothing!).
I noticed the books just lying in another room while I was putting the Christmas decor around the house and I snapped them up and headed straight for the tree...I love them there!
To some these old, broken down books may look like garbage --something that you couldn't even imagine paying good money for -- but to me they are beauty in its highest form. They have been used by someone so long ago I'll never know them, but that person's writing endures on those pages and is there for me to peruse and enjoy, dreaming of what it must have been like in his/her day...You can't "buy" that kind of dreaming. Yes, I paid for the books, but the dreaming and wondering...priceless.]

So, for every extra tree that doesn't get put up (usually in a room no one even goes in), there is that much more time for sitting with a loved one over coffee or tea. For every garland I choose to LEAVE IN STORAGE, I exchange that for a few more moments to just sit and breathe...
[The photo above is a shot of part of my dining room table...nothing except the glittery grapes and the candle holder with silver candles was added for Christmas...not exactly your traditional Christmas looks or colors, but then, not much around the house is. ]
So, as you may have guessed, I'm taking in the beauty of my "Charlie Brown Christmas" this year with new eyes and you know what? I think our buddy Charlie knew what was up all the time... Simple is better. Way better.
[Above are view from two rooms -- on the left is the tree as seen from the dining room looking into the living room at the front of the house...our one and only tree and a pretty thing she is, huh? The picture on the right is looking through the dining room back toward the family room -- where we do most of our living. In fact, its funny that I didn't even consider it when taking these pictures so quickly, but I now can see the yellow throw we use on chilly nights piled/bunched up in a heap right in the middle of the couch... (you probably would never have noticed it, but I sure did when I was uploading these pics!) Yep...we really do live in this old house, and the camera caught a perfect example of daily life here -- a throw casually pitched on the couch after a long stay in front of the tv... perfect. ]
Who knows...perhpas next year I'll be totally ready for the gazillion trees and garlands again.... maybe next year we'll go away for Christmas and I won't decorate at all! (NOT!) But all I know right now, today, is this: I wish you all -- each of you -- the best, best Christmas ever. Your circumstances being whatever they are, may you stop for a moment or two, take a deep breath, and look around you....when you boil it all down, it truly is 'A Wonderful Life', isn't it? And there isn't anyone on earth who really, truly has it "better" than you....
Merry Christmas!!

You are loved,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And Yet Another QUEEN Is "Crowned"...

One of my biggest joys is the feedback I get from customers who let me know not only how happy they are with their purchase, but also how they're using it!
And in particular are those who have purchased our big, beautiful birthday crowns who email me pictures of the BIG DAY and the BIG PARTY and the reigning BIRTHDAY QUEEN wearing her new crown! :)

I thought you'd enjoy the latest installment from Teri, who purchased one of our birthday crowns for her daughter's big day... Here is beautiful Lexie who turned 14 and who had what sounds like THE BEST party ever!!
P.S...Doesn't Lexie look almost like an American Girl doll should be patterned after her? :)

Teri planned a Parisienne-themed party (a girl after my own heart!) for Lexie and I don't think she missed even one detail in her party/table planning! Just look:

Teri says: "I wish you could've seen the table in real life. It had blinking lights mixed in with the silver streamers, and lots of candles lit."

And here she is!! To further carry the French-theme and quote Marie Antoinette, Teri chose our "Let Them Eat Cake" crown! Perfect!

Teri also made the incredible cookie-cake (shown below) was frosted with pink icing then Teri the Eiffel tower was piped on with cake decorating gel! HOW CLEVER!!!

Lexie and her friends had the big birthday bash at home, then, as all queens-in-training must do, they HEADED FOR THE MALL!!

What I love is that even at 14, none of them were "above" visiting Santa! Good girls! (Lexie, the birthday-girl, is to the right of Santa).

It has really been so special for me to "be a part of" these various occasions that have taken place after our birthday crowns were ordered and shipped. But alas, on a "sad" note, all of the crowns are now sold out -- sort of an end of an era. :)
But I'm sure I'll still get other "updates" on how my sweet customers are utilizing some of the fun things they've purchased. Keep the emails and pictures coming -- its wonderfully fun!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just In & Just In Time!

LOVE these little guys!
(We have the larger versions of them, too!)
These holiday mini-bingo cards are the perfect size for gift tags or even hung from a ribbon as tree ornaments! You'll find plenty of fun ways to use them (or their larger-sized counterparts) this Christmas!
The mini-cards come as a set of 6 (one of each style) and the larger cards are sold individually (we do not have Noel or Give, sorry!).
Oh, how you'll love, love, love these....
These are just some of the items we wait for all year long from our favorite Italian paper and leather goods manufacturer...
Gorgeous gift tags with images from the archives of the Italian manufacturer -- lightly sprinkled with glitter.

In addition to these things, we've also got wonderful retro-style holiday gift stickers and tags -- the ones you've come to love over the years (for many, these tags and stickers are almost a holiday tradition in themselves!).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Little Inspriation In Case You're In Need Right Now...

Someone I've come to know who has what sounds like a VERY fun business in France (buying trips, antiques dealer, etc.) just sent me a link to an auction she has on ebay for a fabulous French plate that has all the perfect elements: black & white, great graphics, and the BEST saying (printed on the backside)!

I'd buy this plate just for what it says:

*Chez beaucoup de gens l'esprit brille au dépend du coeur.*
(For a lot of people the mind is used at the expense of the heart.)

Wow. I love that...And how true.

So...what might you be using your head too much about right now, at the expense of your heart?? I already know that for some, the very idea that you could 'use your head too much' might sound perfectly ridiculous. Not so fast...I really do think we can "think" something to death - even "reason" ourselves out of a dream that just might otherwise come to fruition.

Now, I'm not talking about making reckless, wholesale changes and decisions with no thought given at all. I think you know what I mean here. How much more would you really, truly LIVE if you were to lead a little more with your heart vs. your head? I'm just sayin'... :)

Lets take a look at what two otherwise perfectly intelligent and rather accomplished men in history have said about such things:

"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live." -- Mark Twain

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." (Guess who?)
-- Albert Einstein

And the MOST intelligent man who ever lived, Solomon, writes this:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
-- Proverbs 13:12

Oh please don't give up on your dreams. Its easy to get impatient and frustrated, I know! They may be still just a distant echo. A far-away mirage. Pursue them as far as it is practical to do so now, but never - ever - put them away, on a shelf. A dream - even just one - is at times all the fuel we need to keep moving some days.
This one's for you:

Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you've always dreamed of is
Close enough for you to taste
But for now you just can't touch
You wanna show the world,
but no one knows your name yet...
You wonder when & where & how you're gonna "make it"
You know you can
if you could just get the chance.
But in your face the door keeps slamming.
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting
So we live and we learn to take one step at a time,
there's no need to rush...
It's like learning to fly
or falling in love
And it's gonna happen when it's supposed to happen
and we find the reasons why...
one step at a time.
You believe/and you doubt.
You're confused/you got it all figured out.
Everything that you always wished for
could be yours,
should be yours,
would be yours
if they only knew...
You wanna show the world, but no one knows your name yet
You begin to wonder when
and where
and how
you're gonna "make it",
You know you can if you get the chance
But in your face the door keeps slamming
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting
So when you can't wait any longer
And there's no end in sight
It's your faith that will make you stronger
And the only way you're gonna get there

Dreaming Right Along With You,


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award & A Baker's Dozen "Quirky" Things About Moi...

Isn't this one of the most beautiful blog awards??
It was awarded to me by what I predict will be one of the web's fastest rising "stars" (just wait, you heard it hear first) -- Cheryl of Cheryl's Fascinating Finds.

Cheryl's home was featured on The Old Painted Cottage website's "Cottage of the Month" and rightfully so! Check it out here!

Thank you SO much, Cheryl! I'm so glad we found each other and you can bet I've become one of your loyal blog followers!! I've already been looking for ways to implement some of the ideas I saw in your home pictures into my home! Thanks for so much inspiration and for this award!

Part of this fun award is that I am supposed to tell you a handful of fun, little-known, quirky facts about me.
Here goes:
1.) I wear a lot of black. No. I'm not goth - just love black. Its simple, elegant, and timeless. Believe me, I've tried to buy & incorporate more color into my wardrobe, but more often than not, I'm still reaching for something from the BIG section in my closet containing that smooth hue -- ebony. When my sister was helping us move into this house, she ran downstairs from my closet in our house where she was packing up my things and yelled "RUTH! You have like 45 pairs of shoes! AND THEY'RE ALL BLACK!" Yeah? Your point is? You say that like its a bad thing...

2.) I have a propensity for giving people nicknames immediately. You wouldn't be around me long before I'd either be calling you or referring to you as some other name. Not just some random name, but one of a dozen variations of your name or something that would describe you... My poor dog answers to so many names, its a wonder he's ever figured it out. Ditto for my sweet daughter, Olivia (a.k.a. Peach, Nani, Nanda-Wanda, Knocky, Liv, Livvy, Punk, Button, Opie, Shorty, Shorts, etc...). And yes, she's going to kill me for writing this.

3.) I go through vacuum cleaners like others go through, I don't know, disposable razors? Don't know how this happens or why, but I have been known to have to replace my vacuum three times in one year. They just poop out on me. Either that, or they've just died from exhaustion... Okay, well...that sort of ties in with #4...

4.) I'm a compulsive tidy-er. My hubby has to guard his drinking glass with his life or it will suddenly be whisked away by me to the kitchen, dumped, rinsed out and put in the dishwasher -- all while he has just been gone from his seat during a commercial break. Ditto for the newspaper. You have to read quick around here! I could be late for an appointment but I'll spend an extra minute or so on my way out the door cleaning up, putting things away and even stopping to survey a room, thinking to myself "Gee, that chair would look great over in that corner, hmm..." My daughter has been known to almost drag me out of the house when she sees that look in my eye like I'm about to just move this or that around just a tad -- all as we're supposed to be bolting out the door!

5.) Its very hard for me to sit still through a movie. My husband has long given up on this. I'm up and down a hundred times during a movie. Going in to get a drink, getting up to do laundry, up again to let the dog out, then up again to let him back in... "Oh and then he might want a treat afterward (the dog). Gee, probably should check my email... OOPS, that's right, I'm supposed to be watching a movie." Last Sunday, while getting ready for church this quirk about me really showed itself in sick way: I begin to brush my teeth, then I notice a few things on the bathroom counter that need putting away. I proceed to gather them up and head out of the bathroom with them, one in each hand, headed to the closet, and the other areas where these things belong...Then it hits me. My hands are full now of things to be put away. Guess where that leaves the toothbrush...Yeah, beautifully hanging out of my mouth (not a pretty sight) and it hits me...this is CRAZY. Can't I even just complete the task of brushing my teeth without also having to multi-task a billion other things? Anyone else do this? (C'mon -- say you do. Please. Even if you don't. Misery loves company!)

6.) I wear 3" high heels (and those are my "flats!) 99% of the time. I absolutely ABHOR sneakers and cannot see how anyone can call them comfortable. Give me my heels and I guarantee I'm way more comfortable than if I'm wearing those awful, confining sneakers!!! YUCK! I don't know why but the minute I put on a pair of sneakers, I feel like a boy and every fiber of my being is dying to rip them off my feet.
EXCEPT FOR THE LAST MONTH....This has been THE worst month ever for me. I broke a toe by slamming it into a very stationary ottoman after letting my dog back into the house (guess I should have kept my seat, huh?). Crazy thing is, I waited a week and a half to go get it xray-ed, revealing a rather nasty break. So, I've been feeling very un-like myself lately wearing the one pair of flats I could tolerate for the last month (BLACK flats of course) . BUT, I am on the mend and eyeballing my closet-full of BLACK high heels again!

7.) I watch very little TV -- if I had to choose, I'd choose my music playlist over a TV any day. Which is a good thing, I guess, because since we've already determined that I can't sit still long enough to enjoy a show (see #5). I'm better off with music which doesn't demand you sit there staring at it!

8.) I adore baking -- I actually look for reasons to have to bake so I can "get it out of my system" and then give it away to family/friends. I have all manner of cool accouterment to present my baked good in, too: beautiful glossy baker's boxes of all sorts/sizes/colors and whatever I give away is always presented in one of the boxes all tied up with beautiful ribbon and usually embellished with a sticker of some kind (usually something French...). As Martha would say, "Its a good thing." (I blame her, by the way, for this 'perfection-neurosis".)

9.) I have an "affinity" for numbers and really most anything with a bold, graphic theme (words, numbers, letters, etc.). Visitors to my home don't waste any time commenting on the vast array of and unmistakable trend of numbers or words throughout the house. This also ties in with the fact that I've just finished designing my own, new line of decorative pillows which I've named Mathematicus - and they feature: NUMBERS! *They'll make their debut in the store in a couple of weeks, just in time for Christmas!*

One of my daughter's friends dubbed me a "numeric-phile" yesterday (lover of numbers). I like Francophile much better...

By the way, thanks a lot, Josh! ;)
P.S. For the record, Josh can call me whatever he wants (within reason!) because he's been known to show up at my door bearing hot Starbucks and that will cover just about anything!

10.) I will always, always prefer form over function (refer back to #6 for proof). I don't care if something is impractical if it looks beautiful, has meaning, or gives me great satisfaction. That's probably why we have several old, vintage-style black (uh oh, there's that color again...) telephones in the house -- the kind with the rotary dial and NO CALLER I.D...Love 'em! I do draw the line at my computer, though. Though I'd love to say I still work on a vintage, black cast-iron Royal typewriter, But I would LOVE to own one to display!!

11.) My parents had me later than most have their children these days, so I was blessed with parents who could give me the treasure of music styles and old sayings that my peers never even heard of. My father married in his 30's and he & my mom proceeded to have 8 kids -- me being the last. So now, as a 45 year old, rather than having parents in maybe their mid-60's, my dad is 92 and my mom 83. This has yielded much in the way of hearing and learning history in ways that no one else my age that I know can appreciate. I love that. I love that I adore Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, big-band swing music because its what was played while I was growing up. I love that I grew up falling asleep listening to old-time radio shows like The Shadow that they had on recording from years past. I love that my dad has a way of saying things like they did back in the cool movies from the 30's & 40's -- you know, they had that cool way of talking that you just don't hear anymore... So now, I'm as likely to genuinely want to listen to 40's music as I am to newer electronic sounds. I would bet that no one has a more varied iTunes playlist! :)
Its as though I've benefited from two time periods -- the best of my parents' era and the best of the current time. Rich, indeed.

I also have a way of having a song for anything -- I can be talking to my daughter and she'll say something or make a statement and I'll immediately quote a song title that fits. This sort of ties back in with #7, above, doesn't it? Ever notice how after a new blog post, the first song on my blog music playlist (at the bottom of this page) is directly fitted to the subject matter of my post, if at all possible?? Coincidence, or not??? Not. I'm sure it gets old, and she is a trooper (as with the nicknames above). She requested I list this particular quirk -- it must really drive her nuts... I always say "Music is the soundtrack to life..."

13.) In high school, I had hopes of being a doctor, maybe a lawyer. Never happened. Later, after being married for a few years, I enrolled in Interior Design classes at a very good local school. Just days later, when registration fees were due, I found out I was expecting my Olivia. The rest is history. Never returned to the school, but no matter -- look what I have now: a beautiful family, a beautiful store, a truly beautiful life. This, and a cup of Starbucks, pure heaven...

Now its on to nominating a few other blogs to receive the Kreativ Blogger award...

Lisa, at Urban Farmhouse definitely gets a shout-out! LOVE her store!! Oh how I wish I could visit there in person! Until then, thanks Lisa, for the virtual eye-candy!

Jennifer Grey at The Old Painted Cottage. Wow. How she manages to do so much, cover so many bases, I'll never know. You'll her blog -- it features homes across the country -- like the best home decor mags in one place! Plus, she has an online store, etc... Hat's off to you, Jennifer!

Debbie Dusenberry of Curious Sofa Diaries is next up -- oh what a blog, oh what a store. Another store I would give anything to visit. I think she may be the decorator-in-charge in heaven when we get there...

Well, thank you again, Cheryl, for my award. You were SO sweet to think of me and I hope you ladies will stop by Cheryl's and the others' blogs/stores. You're in for a real treat!!

Every Girl's A Princess -- If Even For Just An Evening

One embellished paper crown - $18.00.

Dinner for birthday girl, friends and family - $300.00 (I'm guessing here...)

Airfare to the important event - $800.00 (Yeah, guessing once again...)

Making your only daughter's 30th birthday a night to remember -- PRICELESS.

One of the things I love most as a shop owner is the rare occasions when I get to really connect with a customer on a personal level and sometimes even get to know a bit about what happens to the things they've purchased once the customer receives them.

I obviously choose my inventory carefully and though I wouldn't go so far as to say its all like my babies, it is nice to know how the person who gets the item is enjoying it and using it. On that note...

I just got a the sweetest email from a wonderful customer who I now consider a friend.

We've chatted on the phone about our daughters and what they have in common and where they are in their lives right now, etc... We both have just one daughter and though our girls are not the same age, we're watching them experienece many of the same things that young gals go through. Seems when you begin talking about your kids there is an immediate bond, don't you think?

So, my new friend has a daughter turning 30 who lives on one coast and mom is on the other. Mom is planning a trip out for daughter's 30th. Mom plans ahead and orders one of our gorgeous paper birthday crowns and has it shipped ahead to the west coast to be held in safekeeping with her daughter's friend....

Mom arrives at her west coast destination, birthday celebration begins, and mom surprises her sweet 30 year-old birthday girl with her special crown!
(You're a princess no matter what age you're turning -- remember that, ladies!)

Birthday girl wears her crown all evening and a blast was had by all -- including the server in the restaurant! (Do tell, Renee'!)

Hours spent working store each day -- lost count.

Hours spent agonizing over just the right items to carry -- countless.

Budget blown stocking just the right items -- more than once.

The feeling you're even a tiny part of the lives of others across the county -


Thanks -- a million times -- thanks, to all of my wonderful, loyal customers; some who have been with me since I started almost 10 years ago!

Even if I weren't having a blast doing what I do (and let's face it, there are "those" days....) you make my day with the way you've treated me as a part of your family and as a friend.

That is a treasure more dear than anything.

You are loved,


Sunday, November 9, 2008

These are a few of our favorite NEW things...

Our most recent shipment of new inventory is just wonderful and I wanted to share a bit of it with you!

The new items we've just gotten in are so perfect for sprucing up for the holidays (adding a touch of gold here and there) and also so perfect for gift-giving!

More than ever, we ordered with an eye toward gift-giving -- be it stocking-stuffers, like the "Words" bangles or the fun "Twig" pen set, or the the BIG GUNS: the sort of "ultimate wish-list" items like either of the two sizes of cut-glass "Paris" drink dispensers (GIANT and GORGEOUS!!).
You may recognize the picture below from a previous blog post from September, describing my trip to The Paris Market in Savannah. The gorgeous drink dispenser filled with iced tea is the very one we've gotten in stock last week! Ooh La La!

I think we can safely say that we've got you covered on almost all fronts of gift-giving this year and we'll do whatever you need us to do in order to get the goods shipped out to your friends and loved ones in plenty of time for the package(s) to make their debut under their respective trees across the country.
Also, we're so thrilled to have yet another appearance this month in the December issue of Romantic Homes magazine, where our Bistro de Amis plates were one of the editor's picks for great gift ideas. (See...I told you we had the great gifts this year!)

Be on the lookout for information about our gift-wrapping deal (coming soon in another post) and please don't forget to factor in that all of this comes with our standard, across-the-board FREE SHIPPING for all ground-shipped orders.

I'm telling you, this is a deal that NO MALL can even touch: You stay home where its warm, pour yourself a cup of something hot & yummy, grab your shopping list and address book and start browsing!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Sew-Beautiful Idea For Adding Some "Cushion" To Your Holiday Gift-Giving!


We try, but most of the time pictures just don't do our items the justice they deserve. Never more true than in the case of these gorgeous, made-just-for-us pillows. *PHOTOGRAPHIC NOTE: Some of the pix make the pillows appear almost pink -- they're not. They are a beautiful muted red, but not at all pink!

Just in time for holiday gift-giving, our new,
limited edition custom pillows are all finished and ready to go! Since the last update, the Vintage Keys pillow has been reworked and is soooooo beautiful!

Two designs (the large, Regal Crown and the set of Vintage Keys) are available as a square pillow and the elegant Crowned Crest is done as a rectangular pillow. Fashioned from a super-lucky find of antique French ticking fabric (the likes of which we nor our master seamstress had ever seen), these pillows are true heirloom-quality.

BUT PLEASE REMEMBER: we have very few of
these pillows since they were made with what little yardage we had of our vintage French ticking fabric, and when these are gone they cannot be duplicated. They are a beautiful idea for Christmas gifts, and are made from true vintage fabric;
there are none like them -- anywhere.

Another beautifully crafted item we've loved carrying is also selling out quickly and MUST BE GOTTEN BEFORE THEY'RE GONE is our
French-made draft-stopper/bolster pillows. Surely by now you're familiar with these pillows made for us by the "Fabulous Fifi's" sister, Sylvie, in the French countryside.

I can't urge you strongly enough to "get while the getting is good" so you won't miss out on these beautiful, custom creations.

AND! As if value needed to be added to these beauties, for these items, we wrap each one in old sewing pattern tissue, tied up with pretty ribbon and a vintage ledger paper tag. So, whether you buy one for yourself or as a gift, your wrapping is already done for you and in such a clever, unique manner -- ready to set under the tree or hand to a loved one or friend.

Its November already and it is NEVER too early to start your holiday shipping! Let us handle your gift-giving list for you -- with our FREE SHIPPING (ground shipping, usually via USPS Priority Mail) you really can't do better by going to the mall! Save the trip and sit down at your computer in your cozy slippers with a cup of hot chocolate and begin your gift-shopping now! We're happy to accomodate your gift-giving needs in any way we can and we'll ship to as many addresses as you give us -- all for free.