Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

I'm just going to say it:  I don't love New Year's Eve.  

I never have.

For me it's more of a time of reflection than of celebration.   I don't usually review what I've accomplished in the last year; rather, I set goals for the new year.   

Tonight, I'm getting together with a few close friends for a casual dinner; in fact, a friend of mine said he will cook since I made Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.  I couldn't allow myself to do nothing so I thought I'd make a baked artichoke dip -- basically chopped artichokes with a bunch of fat -- and some homemade crostini.

I love crostini.  They' so much better than any cracker.  I use a ficelle which is a skinny baguette and slice them on an angle which makes the perfect little shovel to scoop up a dip. I just brush them with olive oil, dust them with salt and bake at 375 degrees...

...until they're golden brown.

You got to watch them like a hawk to get them perfect.

These are perfect.

Hot artichoke dip with homemade crostini will be perfect
with a bottle or two of champagne before dinner.

I might even stay in my pajamas.

Whatever you do this evening, I hope you have a safe and happy time.  

And I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler in Life Magazine, 1956

When I went to MOMA a few years ago, there were a few artists' work that stopped me in my tracks.  Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Willem De Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler.

In case you've never heard of her, or seen any of her work, I wanted you to see a little bit.

Mountains and Sea, 1952

Frankenthaler worked much like Jackson Pollack in the way she poured paint onto the surface of the canvas.  She was, however, unique in her use of thinned paint that soaked in and became part of the canvas rather than sit on top of it.

Jacob's Ladder, 1957

Mauve District, 1966

Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown.

Savage Breeze, woodcut, 1974

Green Thought in a Green Shade, 1981

Snow Pines, 2004
34-color Ukiyo-e woodcut, printed with 16 woodblocks


Helen Frankenthaler passed away today at the age of 83.  

She was a true American gem.

- - - - - - 


I found more images of her and her work in real home settings so I thought I would add them.

This triptych is called Madame Butterfly from 2000.

Elle Decor

Helen in her NYC apartment, 1960s

Monday, December 26, 2011


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  

The cats were surprised by little gifts left in the tree by Santa.  Three little mice were more exciting when wrapped and tied with twine than they were once they were open.

And speaking of surprises, look what I found in my mailbox on Christmas Eve:  a personalized pillow cover made by Deb (from the Loyalist Cottage) and her husband just because I make them laugh.  Isn't that sweet?  I love it and it's just perfect in my living room.

Deb sells her handmade and hand printed pillow covers on etsy and was recently discovered by HGTV magazine who will be showing one of her alphabet pillows.  If you want one, you should order now before she goes viral.

The Christmas table.  I covered the table with a vintage linen laundry sack, totally unironed, so it's more casual.  I wished I had a few green plates to pick up on the natural theme with the skinny tree and paperwhites as a centerpiece.  Mix and match every day plates were used with my hodgepodge of  brown transferware.

I saw my transferware on Pinterest with someone seemingly desperate to know the name of the pattern so I thought I would show the different patterns I have and list the makers and names in case anyone is interested.

This is one of my favorites.  The most masculine of transferware if masculine could be applied to any transferware.  This is J&G Meakin and I believe the pattern is called Romantic England.  It says it's dishwasher safe so it can't be too old.

This one is Johnson Brothers, WindsorWare in the Dover pattern.

These plates were my grandmother's and it's another one of my favorites.  It's Mason's ironstone in the Bow Bells pattern.  It has an aesthethic movement feel and not too flowery.

I can't remember where I picked this one piece up but I really like the swirling scalloped edge.  This is manufactured by Clarice Cliff of Royal Staffordshire and the pattern is called Charlotte.

The back is almost as beautiful as the front.

The "Other Tree" in the dining room is now only a memory.  My research on living trees said the tree should only be in the house for 7 to 10 days.  The weather today and tomorrow are supposed to be quite mild so it seemed the perfect time to get it conditioned to the outdoors again, to give a good watering and  to get it planted before cold and snowy weather sets in.  I dug a hole a few weeks ago before the ground froze so it's ready to be planted.  It was feeling very dry so I hope it's okay.

The Boston fern still looks pretty good after being cut about nine days ago.

I got a lot of comments about the garland so I thought I would so a few closeup images.  I bought this at a garden center but I think it would be a fairly easy DIY project.  This one is two different kinds of pinecones, walnuts and sweet gum pods.

And the other one is slightly different using wood chips and little bundles of grapevine in lieu of walnuts.

I've had these for four years so it seems they would last at least several years.

I don't know about you but I'm beat.  I'm happy this is a short week and New Year's is much easier holiday in terms of preparation; in fact, I hope to spend a lot of time in PJs, watching movies, and planning for new year's projects.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Christmas Card to You

I'm normally a very humble and self-effacing person so I hope you'll forgive me if I gloat for a moment about winning "Best Tree" in the Holiday Decorating Contest on Scot Meacham Wood's "The Adventures of Tartanscot" blog.  The contest was judged by a panel of esteemed judges and prizes were awarded in three different categories.  I'm excited to have won what I think is the best prize:  Christmas ornaments from Gump's San Francisco that will be hand selected by Scot.

In all seriousness, I'm absolutely thrilled to have won.  There were some really amazing submissions and being chosen is a real honor.

Thank you all again for following along during the Christmas season.  It's been a lot of fun sharing the season with you and I'm blessed by all of your wonderful feedback.  Here is my Christmas card to you.

Merry Christmas to all!  May all the joys of the season be yours.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Woodland Themed Christmas Tree

First of all, WOW, thank you for all the comments!  This blog is a creative outlet for me but it's also a part-time job and your comments are my salary.  I think it's safe to say I just got a Christmas bonus.

Thank you very much!

The second tree I bought is a Weeping White Spruce and it's a living tree.  Since it will only grow about 10 feet tall and will stay quite narrow, I thought it would be perfect for my yard.  I'll plant it on my driveway side of the house so that when I expand and renovate the kitchen, I'll have a view of it from the kitchen sink.  

In case I ruined the other tree, this was my backup plan.  But why not enjoy it in the house for a short time anyway?

It's the perfect size for the dining room (albeit a few inches too tall).

I'm continuing with the woodland theme I've used in a lot of recent posts and using materials that are natural for the most part.

I've added some grapevine ball lights (available from, some blue-green eucalyptus, fronds from the back porch Boston fern (these live for weeks without water!), a few antlers...

...a garland of pinecones, sweet gum pods, wood chips, walnuts, a few little moss-covered nests into which I've placed a craft store partridge and few moss green floral ornaments for the little shimmer.

The tree is in a plastic container which I just placed in a large ceramic planter from the back porch and topped it off with some more moss.

Here's the kitty shot.

It wasn't until later that I noticed the other one
sitting on the refrigerator in the kitchen.  

I think he's wondering, "Can I jump on this thing?"

Around the base of the tree I've borrowed a few baskets from around the house which could certainly be used as a creative and green way to wrap a few presents.  These act as a base for some of the bulbs I'm growing.  On the left is a piece of artwork by Massachusetts artist Dawn Southworth (remember the wrenches in the middle bedroom?).  The artwork is diverting heat from a register in the floor but I kind of like how it looks too.

The table was made after I found the amazing antique pedestal seen below.  It was missing its top so a new top was made that was covered with zinc to update it.

On the table I have a kuba cloth that a bought several years ago with the intention of making it into pillows.  I might still but I think it looks great as a table runner.  On top of that is my advent wreath of Great Grandma's candle clips, a silver bowl with beach wood I've collected in Maine and the brass pitcher with  some of the trimmings from the other tree.

The Money Shot that'll end up on Pinterest

I love this little tree and I'm looking forward to having
Christmas dinner in here by tree and candlelight.

Now it's time to get all the boxes (hiding stage right) back down to the basement.  Except for Christmas dinner, all the preparations are done and it's time to enjoy.

Talk to you later in the week before the big day but today I'm linking to Cottage & Vine's Room by Room.

Also linking up with Nita's Mod Mix Monday.

Check them out.