Pardon the interruption...

I apologize for the unscheduled hiatus in posting, even the most commited archivists need a minute to re-group, re-up and re-stock the coffers. Visiting my mom's house in NY has been very bittersweet. Even though I have cleared so many of her belongings over the past year and a half, there are still so many special things of hers here. I saved all of the pieces I was not ready to part with at the time. I am actually so glad I did that, because as much as it can be overwhelming to deal with it all, I don't think I could have handled walking into her house with nothing of hers left in it. 

So thank you for the patience, I promise it will be worth the wait, and that I will keep my 365 day promise. 

xo

Day 144

The perfect storm

The only remaining decorative piece from my mom's old kitchen

The only remaining decorative piece from my mom's old kitchen

I will never forget October 29th.  It was the night Super-storm Sandy hit NY.  One of the hardest hit areas was the southern shore of Long Island, and in particular, the area near my parents home.  My mother was supposed to fly to Florida to be with my father (Grampy Mike) in Florida, but due to weather, all flights were cancelled, and my mother was caught in Long Island.  Friends that chose to stay in our neighborhood begged her to go to higher ground or locations that had generators, but she refused.  She wanted to stay in her home.  At that point, her cancer was taking over, and wether I want to admit it or not, she was tired.  She had been fighting so hard for so long, and I think she was truly exhausted.  She was on oxygen at this point, and could not bear the thought of packing up a bag and traveling anywhere.  And so she stayed.  She stayed in her home as the storm raged and destroyed the home that she loved so much.  Several feet of water poured into the house, trapping my mother on the second floor, without food or running water.  When the waters receded, my mother was able to go downstairs and access the damage.  It was as bad as you would expect.  My mother was able to get a flight out not long after that.  And then something amazing happened, a family friend named Hanne, and her incredible family, without our even asking, came to the house and moved every stick of furniture that they could to higher ground, packed up all of my families special treasures (art, family photos etc.) and moved them to safety.  

My mother needed to return to NY a couple of months later for treatments and follow up.  At that point, our house was stripped to the studs with no heat or water, and so Hanne generously let us stay at her home nearby.  I went to NY to be with her during that session of treatment and progress diagnosis, and when we all went  and saw the house stripped to the studs, I believe that something in my mother gave up. Construction is hard for even the most hale and hearty among us, but imagine that you are threadbare, and exhausted, and sick, and you have the looming Spector of months of upheaval, and mess and decision making...So with that in my mind, I decided that we all needed to try and put this house back together, and to make a light at the end of the tunnel, to give my mom something to look forward to. It was a family affair.  My stepsister Cynthia, who is an amazing kitchen designer, hand drafted an incredible kitchen layout, and we tried to incorporate all the things my mom loved in a kitchen.   As I have mentioned before, my mother loved the kitchen, it was truly the heart of the home for her, and I desperately  wanted her to have something to look forward to when she was so sick, so In addition to the kitchen, I worked on all kinds of mood boards for the house, anything that would giver her a reason to look forward, and not give up.  

My mother was able to see the beginnings, to see the images, and to look forward, but I think there was really no way to sweep away all of the sadness.  My mother passed away 5 months later.  She never did see the house put back together.

Remodeling my own kitchen takes me right back to working on hers.  After the storm, so may things in my mom's kitchen were destroyed.  One silly, simple thing that remained was the sweet little desk chair above.  The lemon pattern above happened to work perfectly with the sage colored cabinets. I am so glad that that chair and cushion are still there, it is the last decorative touch of hers in the kitchen.  

Below is a picture of the fabric that will be the decorative element in my new kitchen. (banquette cushion and cornice boxes)  I wish I could show this all to my mom, but truly, I believe she is seeing it all.  

Fabric for my kitchen

Fabric for my kitchen


Day 143

It's all black & white

Vintage leather and zebra hair handbag

Vintage leather and zebra hair handbag

This is another early acquisition from my mom.  I used to rock this bag in the reckless mid 90's, when I lined in NYC's  Lower East Side, when it was scary, like my landlord wanted rent paid in cash kind of scary…..You get the picture.  Anyhoo, this was my go to bag, fun and funky.  And great when I used to wear a black Betty Paige wig and 8" platform heels.  Man, I have to find those pictures!!!  


Day 142

Think Pink

Pale Pink Quartz pendant

Pale Pink Quartz pendant

This is a rose quartz pendant that I found in my mom's belongings.  I don't really know anything about it, but I think that it may have been given as a gift for healing.  It is simple and delicate, and I hope it brought her some healing and happiness.  


Day 141…

Set her down!!

The two most important sink in my life right now...

The two most important sink in my life right now...

The two most important sinks in my life right now are the 117lb behemoth on the left, that was actually set today! And the powder room sink on the right, with a basin the width and depth of a mid sized mixing bowl, you know the one, the one that also does not have hot running water? Ya, that one! I love my new sink, it is a big ol' artisnal, handmade in the English Country side, kiln fired to over 2000 degrees alright, alright, alright...but this little powder room sink has become our little MVP, our little southern lady, that all the sudden, when the Civil War broke out, strapped on some boots and learned how to hog farm.  Don't get me wrong, I NEVER want to see my dishes in that close proximity to my toilet paper EVER again. but, hey, who am I to complain?  At least we have running water, and a toaster oven and a makeshift triage mode kitchen set up in our dining room.  Because the reality is, these are all princess problems, I am getting a new kitchen, and I am so thankful and excited, and I cannot wait to celebrate in it, to cook my mothers food, and new recipes she would have loved.

Stay tuned for more developments.... 


Day 140..

Stuff Happens

Just a few delays…

Just a few delays…

Wanted to give a few updates on the kitchen.  Even as an interior designer, with a great contractor and the best subs around, even than;  S!*t happens.  There are "woopsies!" and delays and "ruh roh's."  And you know what?  It's all going to be ok, and I wish I could sometimes straight up tell clients this: Nobody is perfect, life happens, human beings are fallible, we make mistakes, miscalculations, misread things.  We make errors.  The honor lies in fixing your mistakes, standing tall and making things right.  The sink installation was delayed as the weight (117lbs!) was not read on the spec before cabinet that houses it was built, therefore it required modification and buttressing after the fact, and lights were installed where upper cabinets would be placed, necessitating some location shifting post drywall installation.  In the end this delayed us about one week, but in the end, It will not seems like that long.  


Day 139...

Moondance

July's "Super Moon"

July's "Super Moon"

This Saturday night, we had a full moon so big and bright it is called a "super moon"  When my mother was alive, she always lit a green candle under the light of the full moon, and prayed. She prayed for prosperity, for the health of her loved ones, for God's blessing.  In turn, I picked up the habit.  When she was sick, we used to try and do it over the phone together. She was three hours ahead and used to call me and ask "did you light your green candle yet?"  I would always forget, and then we would do it together. During those times, I would pray for her healing.  I promised my mom that I would always think of her whenever I saw the full moon. I had not lit a green candle in quite some time.  I think it was just too much.  But this past Saturday, on the 'super moon' I remembered.  And mom, I did think of you. And I always will.  I miss you.



Day 138...

Ghost Story

Neighborhood tag sale

Neighborhood tag sale

The purchases

The purchases

Today I walked into an estate sale at home in my neigborhood. Normally, the word 'Estate' is bandied about pretty indiscriminately at these sales. But this was truly an estate, a beautiful, but incredibly run down residence on a hilltop, with 5 bedrooms, a pool, and a sweeping view that spanned from downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean.  This house held room upon room of every imaginable type of furniture, clothing, dinnerware, cookbooks, house-wares, cookware, rugs, craft supplies, toys, art, fine linens, etc., etc, etc...I had never seen anything like it before, except I had.  I had lived through and sorted through all of this before.  It was a carbon copy of my mother's treasured items, but on steroids.  This was not old to-go cups, or decades of old newspapers that you would except to see in a hoarder's house, these were all pristine, beautiful, items, but there was just SO much of it.  More than anyone person could ever use: 23 sets of Laguiolle steak knives....3 exquisite dollhouses, you get the idea from the pictures.  As I walked through each room, I felt a hitch in my chest, each room looked so much like a room I had seen before in my mother's house. And then it hit me, the cacophony of judgmental voices swirling around me; "who was this woman?"  "how could one person have this much stuff"  There were people grabbing at the goods like starving carrion.  And my heart began to break.  I felt a fierce protectiveness of this woman.  No one could understand her like I did in that moment.  I wanted to yell out " Don't judge her, you don't know why she had all of this, what need she had to fill, what emptiness there may have been in her, or maybe she grew up without, and felt the need to acquire things to feel like she finally had something, and would never again do without."  I will never know this woman's reasons, nor will I ever know my mother's.  I could never have bared having her belongings pawed over, her life's accumulation snickered at.  And so I chose to handle it myself, with only a select few loving friends, that I knew would never judge her.

I am now the caretaker of the accumulation, the scribe, the historian.  As I wandered around this treasure trove, I managed to walk away with only one pair of silk embroidered slippers (because I needed a new pair of slippers) and a small bell to use for meditation.  And then left very proud of myself for my restraint, thinking my mom would have never been able to do that.  But Alas, I woke up  bright and early the next morning, and rushed back to buy a never been worn, pair of hot pink Swarovksi encrusted peau de soie silk Manolo Blahnik sandals, and an antique, hand embroidered South American skirt and top. Just like my mother would have done.  

The apple never falls too near or far from the tree.  Sometimes, it falls exactly where it needs too.  Here's to finding balance.

Day 137...

Vanderbilt Rules

Vintage Gloria Vanderbilt pumps

Vintage Gloria Vanderbilt pumps

These funky fresh little heels are vintage Gloria Vanderbilt, they are a little dated looking, but they are actually really comfortable, and hey the eighties are making a comeback!  I think they look sweet with a drapey white tee, and slouchy linen pants.  I really love summer.



Day 136

Color wars

The purple drywall

The purple drywall

Ok, I promise that this digital archive  (I cannot stomach the term "blog" anymore) has not jumped the shark, or lost sight of it's original direction.  But one thing that I have realized is that it has become a very unexpected platform for me to have a dialogue with my late mother.  There were so many things I shared with her on a daily basis, and this remodel of our favorite room in the house would have undoubtedly been the topic of many conversations, so with this in mind, I am giving myself the freedom to break from clothing et al. for a moment and focus on this exciting project.  To share with you what I would have shared with her.  

Drywall is UP!  Not Green board, but purple (As I learned from my amazing contractor as he sent the first shipment of green board back to the supplier)  Purple drywall is the gold standard of drywall (insert ironic color jokes here) And is apparently far better for wet conditions then even green board, which apparently makes white board a jokey joke.  This feels real and exciting, next to the pantry, in honor of my mom and Julia Child, I will have good old fashioned peg board for my pots and pans.  Cant wait to post more pics!

Day 135…

Life's a beach

Mom's Sea-life Bracelet

Mom's Sea-life Bracelet

Ok, I have to post this, because this used to be the time that we would visit my folks in Long Island, spending lazy days at the beach and having great dinner's at night.  Over the years the trips have shifted to August, but with great excitement, we are heading east on the 23rd.  I cannot wait.  My parents house on Long Island, and the surrounding special environs, are some of my favorite places in the world.  I love sharing that with our children, but it really is so bittersweet without my mom.  My stomach still lurches when I think about being there without her.  But I know it will be beautiful, and I really need a break!


Day 133

Ye Olde Kitchen

The before...

The before...

Ok-so on film this does not look too bad...These are the before pictures of my kitchen. But as a woman that cooks nearly every night, and loves to entertain, this kitchen has remained basically unchanged since we moved in almost 11 years ago.  My beefs?  The fact that to find a pot in a corner cabinet required spelunking gear, and that each white tile was a magnet for all things dark, and all the black tiles..you get the picture.  That combined with no pullouts for pots and pans, no ventilation and spotty lighting made for a charming but not terribly efficient kitchen.  My goal, to stay within the same footprint yet make it more useful, productive and above all beautiful.  Let the games begin!  I know my mom would have loved to go over all the details with me, and I think of her with each decision I make.


Day 132

Cloisonné elephant pendant

Vintage Elephant pendant.

Vintage Elephant pendant.

Just another sweet pendant my mom owned.  My mom really love talismans's, amulets, god luck charms.  As a result, I have never flown on a airplane without a piece of red ribbon on my body, never boarded (and still won't) a plane without touching the side and gently whispering "Happy landings, Big Bird."  She loved it all.  There was a time after my mom died when I would look at her collection of Angels and Saints, and "evil eye" jewelry, and be so angry, thinking, "great job on your protection!  She believed in you, needed you, and you let her down."  And then I had to think of the mercy, the fact that she lived as long as she did with a terrible disease, that she was with us for years after I excepted.  And I thought about the fact that when her time came, she did not suffer endlessly, and that my brother and I were by her side.  Those were all blessings.  I often say, "Man plans, God laughs."  But the reality is that we pray for luck and protection, but the universe unfolds as it will.  And as my grandmother used to say.  "I don't pray for outcomes, I pray for God's will."  Amen.  So we need to think of our blessings every day.


Day 131

Happy Birthday Murica!

Lobsta Roll!

Lobsta Roll!

So for the 4th of July-I thought, oh I should post one more sea life themed piece of jewelry, my mom owned, as we spent so many 4th of July celebrations together at the beach in Long Island.  But the reality is she would not have worn starfish earrings, she probably would have worn big ol' clip on earrings that looked like fireworks exploding.  And a crazy red white and blue blouse. Since I am in possession of neither of those, I have decided to post a picture of the fabulous meal we had with our dear friends Peter and Shannon.  This is a quintessentially American meal.  And I am proud to say, made from scratch.  Peter was the MVP, making homemade rolls.  As a group we shucked eight lobsters, and managed to save what could have been an undercooked catastrophe, by sautéing the whole lot in butter prior to mixing with mayo, lemon juice, pepper, and LOVE.  My mom would have adored this meal, and as butter was generally always her answer to any cooking situation, I'm sure I made her proud.  



Day 130…

Solid

Vintage Elsa Peretti for Halston solid perfume nacklace

Vintage Elsa Peretti for Halston solid perfume nacklace

I adored this necklace of my mom's when I was growing up. This is a fantastic piece designed by Elsa Perreti for Halston in the 1970s, and was filled with his solid perfume!

I did a little research on it (of course) and here is what I found out:

"It is the well known that Elsa Peretti designed for a few iconic fashion houses such as, Oscar de la Renta and Halston in the 70s. Her pieces are iconic. This piece is one of those creations. It is, as are many of her Halston designs, very similar to the best sellers she would do later for Tiffany & CO. The kidney bean pendant, although much smaller in scale, is still in production and being sold for several hundred dollars. Elsa's work possesses a simple, organic aesthetic. Thus, she has become known for timeless, understated pieces that are a favorite of the stars. Elsa was a model turned designer and her first client was Halston. This was his very first perfume."

xo


Day 129…

Dirty Copper

Mom's copper pots

Mom's copper pots

Copper Bowl

Copper Bowl

Today I am posting something incredibly special to me, this is a collection of my mother's old copper cookware.  I have mentioned this before, but my mother was an incredible cook.  She loved this cookware for good reason, not only is it beautiful, but it happens to be excellent for cooking. Copper is a wonderful conductor of heat, but quickly loses heat after removal from a burner, making it really great for food that needs flash cooking, (shrimp, scallops etc.)  Copper bowls are also the best for whipping egg whites, I could go into the molecular reasons for that, but that is just TOO food nerd.  (but I will put a link to why below;)

I am in the process of remodeling our kitchen, and I cannot wait to display these beauties in it. Another thing I inherited from my mother was a tremendous love of cooking. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house, and I delight in preparing meals for my family and friends,  just like my mom did.  Every time she would visit, there would be a night that she would cook a favorite meal for the family.  In honor of my mom, I am going to share a recipe for something I always asked her to make. This is not a fancy recipe, this is just pure, delicious comfort food.  There are not exact measurements, as this is a "to taste" recipe, but I will do my best to make it easy:

Mom's Lamb and Rice

  • 1lb ground lamb (or more if you want leftovers!)
  • lemon zest from one lemon
  • cooked rice (white or brown ok, mom always used white)
  • Greek seasoning  (http://www.greekseasoning.com)
  • fresh dill

Brown ground lamb in a large pan. After browning, drain lamb and return to pan (medium heat) add Greek seasoning (to taste) cooked rice and lemon zest.  Heat together.  After removing from heat, finish with fresh dill, and Voila, the simplest, yummiest comfort dish ever.

If your feeling saucy, this is also good with a little feta thrown in.  Enjoy.  xo

http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthingsworkfaqs/f/copperbowl.htm


Day 128

A simple twist of fate

Mom's everyday earrings

Mom's everyday earrings

These sweet gold twist earrings are just the kind of earrings that she would have worn on a daily basis. Honestly, she would have never have left that house without some sort of bling on, a little jewelry and some makeup.  Even when she was sick, she always made an effort to look her best.   Some would call that shallow, but I think it's a nice touch.  


Day 127…

Silver Streak

Vintage black silk caftan with silver thread.

Vintage black silk caftan with silver thread.

This caftan is a gem.  It is black silk, with silver threads running through it.  The silver threads are very thin but so closely woven that you can really smell the metal running through it.  I have been thinking a lot about what I want to wear to this upcoming wedding, and parties surrounding it, and this frock may be in the running at least for part of the time.  Actually I was thinking this would be good pre wedding with black flat sandals, I'm not crazy about how the shoes above look with it, Any one have any thoughts?  xo


Day 126…

Pass the Pucci 'pon the left hand side...

More Pucci!

More Pucci!

I know, this collection is very Pucci heavy, but what can I say, this was my Mom's metier.  These dresses must have really spoken to her, as she had so many of them.  Honestly, I think they must have appealed to her because they were, bright, eye catching, and flattering, that seems like a pretty good combo to me.