Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When I win the lottery #854

{Arcadia in Cape Cod. Photo by Goodheart Properties}

Out of curiosity I clicked on one of my Google ads and this was what came up. The house is gorgeous in its simplicity, and not your typical beach cottage at all. There are multiple buildings, including a guest house with two bedrooms, and the Master Suite (check out the bathroom, I could fit my whole bathroom in just the shower area) is connected to the main house via a breezeway (that must be fun in the winter). I wonder if there is a helipad to make that commute to Boston a bit easier. Oh, and it is only $3.6 million!

Monday, May 26, 2008

New bird on the block Nos. 14 - 20 and then some

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had worked all weekend at Hopkins Vineyard, for their annual Barrel Tasting Festival. I used to work there every weekend about 8 years ago, and they always treated me like I was one of the family, so whenever they call and say they need a hand for a big event, I willingly trek the 50+ miles out to their end of the state and tie on the old apron. Working there -- even off and on -- gives me a renewed appreciation for those who make handcrafted products, run a family farm/wholesale/retail business, and deal with tourists on a regular basis. Remember that scene in Baby Boom where the posh New Yorkers come into the Vermont general store and marvel at the "trendy" flannel shirts and mason jars, condescend to the locals and then buy up all the homemade baby food? Yeah, that kind of thing really does happen. A lot.

In addition to the vineyard, tasting room, and wine bar, they have a retail shop where they sell so much more than just their (fantastic, award-winning) wine. Jams, sauces, cheeses, crackers, tea, candles, home goods, dishes, art, etc etc. Hilary (one of the owners) and Kathleen (the manager) have a wonderful eye for product trends and a keen sense of merchandising. Their attention to detail is fantastic, and they often incorporate flowers from the gardens surrounding the barn into their retail displays.

Imagine the heart palpitations that I had when I walked in and saw this little display:

Really, it was all I could do to keep myself from scooping it all into my trunk and taking off. I've lusted after the plates for a while, on Room Service Home. The salt and pepper shakers are adorable, and I did buy two of the copper bird votive holders (a tealight sits in the wire "nest").

It is hard to tell in this photo, but there is a free-form wire bird with a feather tail woven into this wire "cage".

This is my new favorite plant, a perennial that they are displaying like a house plant next to this antique lamp, Oxalis "Iron Cross". It looks like giant shamrocks with burgundy centers.

Upstairs in the anteroom of the wine bar is this lovely display of teas, incense, napkins, coasters and picnic-ware. Check out that silk umbrella!

Wouldn't an ice-cold mint julep taste great out of this thermos at your next picnic?

Sweet little owls on these Japanese tea cups.

More handmade pottery tea sets, tea tins and another great thermos. Lovely.

If you ever find yourself in the Northwest corner of Connecticut, I do recommend putting Hopkins on your list of places to visit. And if it is during one of their festivals, look for me at the back register.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My birthday is a national holiday in Canada*

{Day 74: Birthday Cupcake, originally uploaded by • Sandra •.}

Well, maybe not this year, but quite a few times in my life, Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday celebrating Britain's longest-reigning monarch, has fallen on May 23.

I feel this is fitting for two reasons: it befits my royal demeanor, and it is a reason in some countries* to take the day off. I myself am taking the day off today and I suggest you do the same. Perhaps if we all take the day off, the government will recognize what an important day May 23 is, and acknowledge it with official decrees, parades, fireworks and some form of economic stimulus.

Cupcakes for everyone!

*Victoria Day is also celebrated in Scotland and the Cayman Islands. In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I don't get the connection

Dear Coldplay, Jack Johnson, Fiona Apple, Eric Clapton, Jamie Cullum and Duran Duran:

I'm sorry, but you have to go. I'm afraid I can't listen to you anymore. It seems that since I subscribe to Cottage Living, I'm supposed to like country music. I know there was that time in the early 90s when I said I would leave my husband for Garth Brooks, but I was young, and I thought he was cute. And then he went and left his wife for Trisha Yearwood, and, well, you can't trust a man like that, can you.

I like the cottage aesthetic, and the idea of living in a small space vs a McMansion. I guess that means I am supposed to want to see what the country stars' houses look like. I'm sure that they all live in cottages, not mansions at all. And I'm sure going "backstage" with them is going to be very realistic and not staged, and they'll show their little craft area on the tour bus and where they like to hang out with their dog and the organic farmers market that they stop at whenever they're in town. I'm sure none of them have a small army of personal trainers, chefs, hairdressers, masseuses (masseusi?), voice coaches, interior designers, assistants, managers and psychics to help them get through the trials of daily living. In their cottage.

ps - I have nothing against country music, and in fact could sing you most of Patsy Cline's catalog, although not as well as she could. I just don't get what is the connection between "cottage" and "country music".

Monday, May 19, 2008

New bird on the block No. 13 has been tagged

{Blue Bird Gift Tags from Ashleybug's Etsy shop}

This tag is cute, cute, cute, and so cheerful. Now, on to the other tag, sent by my best friend ML, whose birthday is tomorrow!

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. (Unlike ML, I follow directions.) Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

1998 - I was freaking out at turning 31 (30 did not bother me, but for some reason 31 did). I was working as a corporate event planner and contract rep in the commercial natural gas industry (i.e. the kind of company that supplies Your Local Gas Co), and since this was in the pre-Enron days, I had a huge budget and carte blanche to spend it. I was living in Litchfield County in a 1921 Craftsman Colonial whose charm still outweighed her monstrous reno needs (remember the Haney Place on Green Acres?), with a (soon to be ex) husband, two beagles, three cats and possibly a ghost (according to my friend Josephine). I was lead alto in my church choir, was avidly quilting and crafting, and was driving a 1990 Volvo 240DL station wagon with 100K miles on it (and adding 70 more miles a day with my commute).

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Well, I took the day off since I worked all weekend at my friend's winery (I will have a huge post about this, with great pix, come back later), so this will be my day today:

1. Clean apartment, as it hasn't been done since before I left for Chicago and Cape Cod.

2. Go to new Penzeys Spices store to stock up on saffron and curry and whatever else tickles my fancy, and get inspired about what to cook for my Birthday Dinner Party on Friday.

3. Buy and plant annuals and herbs for window boxes on balcony.

4. Read Board pre-meeting package for Condo Association meeting tonight (yeah, I am the Queen of Procrastination).

5. Have BF come over and fix whatever I screwed up on new HDTV that makes the HD channels have a big black border around them, effectively turning what should be a 42" widescreen picture into a 32" widescreen picture (yes, I measured).

3) Snacks I enjoy:

1. Cheese. Any kind of cheese. Goat cheese, cheddar cheese, brie, swiss. Melted, sliced, grilled, shredded on garlic toast and popped under the broiler. Mixed into mashed potatoes. Cream cheese with spicy chutney. Fondue. Gorgonzola crumbled in a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Cold ricotta spooned on hot elbow macaroni with peas and caramelized onions in chicken broth. Um, I guess I've digressed from "snack" to "entree"...

2. Chocolate

3. Olives. I used to hate them because I had been exposed to only canned black olives and green salad olives with pimentos. Then I tried kalamata olives and I was hooked on all kinds of olives. I love them as a snack, in salad, on a cheese tray (see above), or skewered on a pick and bathing in a Ketel One martini, dry, up.

4. Cherries, which are just coming into season. Mmmmm....

5. Ice cream. Between this and the cheese if I ever become lactose intolerant it will be the end of me.

6. Wine. I know it is not a "snack" but I do enjoy it!

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Quit my job and open my own business. Take Italian lessons in Italy. Rent a villa there for a month and fly my family over to enjoy it with me. Donate more generously to the charities that I think can actually effect change rather than just employ lobbyists and pay their CEOs monstrous salaries. Hire a personal trainer. Take painting lessons. Buy a cottage on a lake (or possibly the ocean, can't decide). Invest.

5) Places I have lived:

in order:

Bridgeport, CT
Milford, CT
New Rochelle, NY (college)
Milford, CT
Plymouth, CT
Hartford, CT

I did work in Manhattan after college, but I took the train...

6) Who I'm tagging:

First, I am miffed that ML tagged LittleByrd and Mrs. French before I could, but my list is so long it was hard to pick just 5 or 6 anyway.

1. Robin at A Little Bird Told Me. She is an amazing young woman who has lived a lot of years in a short period of time. She writes beautifully and pairs her posts with lovely and unexpected photos, and has cultivated a wonderful circle of friends.

2. Diana at Please Sir. She has a great sense of style and I always love her finds, her photos, and her comments.

3. Debby at She Knits by the Seashore. I first met Debby in real life at a bike event - her husband and my dad are biking buddies (she also bikes). Then I re-met her via my blog and in subsequent emails we found out how much we had in common, especially with regards to books and movies (particularly those of the British variety). I'm not a knitter, but she is prolific so she is picking up my slack.

4. Stacy at La Boudoir, and not just because I won a prize on her blog. Mostly because I think she will have some interesting answers to this tag, but after her trip to London & Paris I think she will have some really interesting answers to this tag, specifically Question 4 (that being said, Stacy if you do this tag you have to clarify the answers that are L&P inspired!).

5. Julie at Hooked on Houses, because I just found her blog and it is a great way for me to fulfill my need for voyeurism (of the "looking at other people's houses" variety) and want to share the joy.

6. My Mom, aka "Mumsie" in my comments, because she is wise and fabulous and one of my best friends. She doesn't have a blog but she likes to answer questions like these, so I will post her answers as a guest blog.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's The Lush Life for me & Simon LeBon

Stacy over at La Boudoir held a little contest in honor of her forthcoming trip to London and Paris, and yours truly won! I never win anything! She asked her readers to name their favorite UK band. Naturally there were many votes for the Beatles, but I had to stick with my first love, and the group everyone (at the time) said were the new Beatles: Duran Duran.

You have to remember I came of age in the 80s -- people, I was there when MTV launched. I went to my friend Kim's house every day after school (she had cable, we didn't) to watch MTV for hours. Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Flock of Seagulls, The Clash, Men At Work, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benetar and of course Michael Jackson, back before he became a weirdo. But Duran Duran was the best. They were cute, they had cool videos and they had great hair.

The prize from La Boudoir: a gift certificate to Lush, a yummy UK-based bath and body shop that specializes in using fresh, organic ingredients. I've been to their store in Banff, and they just opened a store in Connecticut at Mohegan Sun (ginormous Indian Casino), so I will get to go and smell everything in person.
When she's not counting down the days to London & Paris, Stacy blogs about design, fashion, art and other lovely things, with the occasional funny rant (I love the post with the Office Space still). Hop on over and say Robin (and Simon LeBon) sent you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New birds on the block Nos. 11 and 12

{Robin's Egg Soaps by Gianna Rose, available at PT Bunny & Co.}

While technically not birds (yet) these egg soaps are adorable and smell great. They also come in a sweet little lotus bowl or an apothecary jar. I bought the jar version last year at a boutique in Roscoe Village (Chicago) while visiting my friend Julie. The jar had an unfortunate run in with one of my cats, so I now display them in an empty Bath & Bodyworks candle jar (recycling!).

I like the mix of metal and wood, but I wonder if it would look as cute with my big black plastic car key/alarm and my jumble of office and home keys as it does with these vintage skeleton keys...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Honky-tonk highway, or The Two Cape Cods

{6A in Yarmouthport originally uploaded by rmcgervey}

{The Edward Gorey House originally uploaded by bigskyred. Edward Gorey drew the wickedly macabre illustrations for the opening credits of PBS's Mystery! series, among many other things.}

{139 Main Street Yarmouthport, originally uploaded by hallet02675}

Here are some lovely photos, taken by others (we will discuss the voracity with which my camera eats batteries another time), of Main St. in Yarmouthport, from whence I just returned. It was a lovely trip, a beautiful town and area, with one nagging sidebar:

How is it that someplace so beautiful, so full of charm and history and loveliness, with so many things to do (beach, walk, antiques, art galleries, fresh seafood, ice cream, biking, fishing, gardens, etc), be so teeming with tacky tee shirt/beach towel/flip-flop shops, sad motels, greasy fish shacks, run-down bars, broken and neglected mini-golfs? Is there really that big a market for the latter? Driving down the main drag from Yarmouthport to Chatham, I was dumbstruck by the honky-tonkiness of what must have at one time been the epitome of American entertainment. The main drag in Myrtle Beach is like this as well. Crummy bars and tee shirt shops and icky motels mixed in with expensive high-rise condos on what really is otherwise a nice beach.

{Poor Tiger originally uploaded by tankengine}

Dear readers, are your local tourist spots schizophrenic as well? Please pipe in.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Recovery room

{The Garden Room at Agape Bed & Breakfast, Yarmouth Port MA}

I am very grateful that when I travel for work, I get to stay in hip 4- and 5-star hotels. They are stylish and modern and functional, but sometimes their manufactured newness bores me. I am fortunate, though, to have a cousin who owns a charming B&B on the bay side of Cape Cod. For this visit -- a three-day post-Chicago recovery + Mother's Day getaway with my parents and sister -- she's tucked me in to the pretty pink and white room pictured above, with a lovely white iron bedframe, wide-board floors that creak and slant in all the right places and -- one of my favorite luxuries -- a clawfoot tub in the bathroom. It is the epitome of "girly" and I love it.

This morning I walked down the road to the used book store, later I will venture to the interiors shop across the street, and then my mom and plan to go for tea at the little restaurant up the road. I believe this evening's entertainment includes a private performance of "living-room ballet" by my cousin's five-year old daughter (whom I have plans to kidnap and take home with me, but that's a story for another posting).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rock yourself to sleep

{embroidered pillowcase, Hard Rock Hotel Chicago}

The Hard Rock franchise takes Rock 'n' Roll very seriously. Every hotel floor is named for different band or musician, with iconic photos engraved on 8 foot x 8 foot metal plates and glass cases with signed costumes or instruments (or both) in every elevator lobby. This visit I'm staying on the "Chicago" floor, with one of their old autographed (and heavily scarred) pianos and a trombone in a glass case by the elevator. Ever since I checked in (two days ago), their early hit ("Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?") has been running through my head. Over. And over. And over. Even after I sang a few lyrics of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" for the fab assistant Kelly when she said "I'm on the Annie Lennox floor, who is she?", I'm still stuck with "twenty-five or -six to foooouuurrrr...."

Anyway, the real reason for this post was to show off the sweet little guitars embroidered on the pillow cases. I am a sucker for details, and this is the type of little touch that sets a hotel apart from the rest.

Tell the truth now, how many of you know have either of those songs running through your head? And how impressed are you with yourself that you remember most of the lyrics?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Groovin' on a Tuesday afternoon

I'm in Chicago for a conference my company produces, and found time to play tourist this afternoon. My fab assistant Kelly and I had lunch in Millennium Park, where we sat outside (80 degrees!) and enjoyed the view of these trees blooming in front of the Crown Fountain and the lovely old buildings on Michigan Avenue (some date from the Chicago World's Fair days - any other fans of Devil in the White City out there?). I have no idea who these people in my photo are, but note the top of the recycling bin in the bottom of the photo. Next to it is a garbage can. We sat there for over an hour, and everyone who made a deposit sorted their trash. Just goes to show you, if you make it easy for people, they will willingly recycle!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sunny new purse cures gray day. Film at 11

{Glazy Days clutch in yellow, by Kenneth Cole Reaction}

My BFF will call me crazy for buying yet another purse (hey, cut me a break, I haven't bought one in two months, and I didn't have any in yellow), but I saw this today and felt it was the perfect cure for a gray day. Plus it will fit perfectly inside the carry-on bag that I tell the TSA is my "purse" when I go to Chicago next week. You can't tell from this photo, but the leather has a nice glaze to it, hence the name Glazy Days. I feel better already.