"Rolling Homes"

For the last of the pillaging my mother's book shelf series may I present "Rolling Homes", the crowning jewel of hippie books in my mom's collection.

Mind you, I don't actually own this book yet. It can get pretty pricey on some of my trusty sources ($125, are you kidding me?) but there is one ending soon on eBay today and if any of you outbid me, I'll never forgive you.

Published in '79, it surveys the hippie phenomenon of wandering homes converted from pickup trucks, school buses and big rigs.

My favorite, the hitched Conestoga wagon trailer with removable ceiling, perfect for all your stargazing needs.

Half gypsy, half Laura Ingalls Wilder, I would die to take one of these on a roadtrip.

Now I've never been one for trailer living but I think I could easily handle this parked in the New Hampshire woods for the summer. Add a little porch, Victorian gingerbread trim, and of course a woodstove, I might even extend my stay through fall.

Curbside living? A real possibility, considering New York's looming "great depression". If next you see me I'm covered in saw dust and wearing tie dye, don't panic. I'm escaping the housing crisis and building my own rolling home.

From the Thanksgiving archives...

Today I'm thankful for my grandfather's collection of Italian rooster pitchers. Not only because they remind me of him, but also because after all of these years I never tire of seeing them ceremoniously throw up gravy all over my mashed potatoes.

Awash in Brooklyn

9:30 am on a bitterly cold Sunday morning found me elbow deep in muck, like a real respectable adventurer. The quarry was a century's worth of washed ashore treasure along Dead Horse Bay in Floyd Bennett Field.

A small group, organized by a fearless leader, plundered and pillaged the old bottles, shoe soles and general detritus of elder generations until frost bitten fingers seemed inevitable.

One may wonder why this is the only beach in the city that specializes in antiques instead of the usual Coney Island fare of cigarette butt's and loose Cheetos? Just ask the resident expert.

A real life terrarium. Complete with baby crab specimen.

Scrubbed and bleached, back at home. I've always been a sucker for milk glass and old ceramics.

I can hardly believe these tea cups managed to not break after being thrown away and then rolling around the bottom of the bay for 70 years. Guess they don't make em like they used to.

These have the most beautiful aged cracks. My deco vase looks like an old sea shell, fitting for something that literally washed ashore in a cloud of sea foam.

And I can't forget the namesake bottle.

I'll be heavily haunting this place for many a low tide come warm weather. It seems as though my little storage problem is going to be getting much bigger.

"The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book"

This is another classic tome of my mothers, found on eBay after many years of fruitless searching. It's basically a Dummy's Guide to Sewing Hippie Clothes and the little drawings are so wonderful. I love how crooked they are, even I can draw like that!

Their amazingly cute kids clothes ideas. A fringed vest is pretty adorable on a kid, and only on a kid, however.

These two women are pretty neat ladies. They dedicated the book to their swamiji (they must have lived on a commune!) and they are always referring to their husbands as "their old men". My old man this, my old man that, so endearing.

They also dole out some funny hippie wisdom such as "Men should be able to get over their uptightness about making clothes, about doing all kinds of things they have been brainwashed into relegating to women." Ha.

and regarding tailored clothes..

"We don't use darts because we don't use bras- they give your clothes a sort of funny shape.....except the no-bra kind which are better than most." Sounds like my family alright.

Also, how to make a dress with a tee shirt for a pattern. The directions are pretty loosey goosey and I totally ate them up in middle school. I ruined countless pairs of jeans by adding a triangle of fabric at the hem to make them bell bottoms, as I learned in this book.

These days I've moved on to making these little pouches out of leather to keep my camera in.

Thanks, mom, for finding another good one!

A recreated bookshelf: Converted into Houses

Some of my mother's books are just too special to waste away on her wicker bookshelf back on the homestead so I recently started the undertaking of recreating a "best of the best" of mom's collection back here in Brooklyn.

Some of her books captured my imagination so fully that I'm still hooked on them 20 years later. I've been trolling used book stores, eBay and the wonderful abebooks to find my favorites so I can have my very own copy, as I wouldn't want disturb the family archives.

First up is the wonderful "Converted into Houses", published in 1976. It contains a multitude of amazing (and amazingly hippie dippy) spaces and their conversion into living quarters.

I was born from wheat bread baking, chicken raising, overall wearing, tepee building, mountain hiking, skinny dipping, yoga doing parents in a depression era farmhouse; so these hippie dwellings remind me of home.

A former chicken coop.

A former butterscotch factory in SoHo. Hmm, I wonder why I love houseplants.

A tugboat. And yes, we totally had those wicker chairs when I was a kid!

A schoolhouse in Sebastopol.

It just goes on and on; sailboats, train cars, ice houses, fire stations, churches, mews, railroad stations, water towers..... My grandpa's mill house would have fit in perfectly.

Some girls are scared they'll turn into their moms but I say bring it on. She's a gentle and kind soul with a great eye for all things eclectic. While I can't run off to Woodstock like she did or hitchhike all over the world (student loans and a fear of no showers), I'm happy to live vicariously in her books.

Cold hearted

Yesterday's long walk has reminded me that Keds are not appropriate winter shoes. Cue my annual winter shoe maintenance drop-off at my favorite cobbler for re-soling, new heel caps, polish, shine etc.... Now I need a resupply of thick tights to make these ladies bearable for actually wearing outside.

If new wool tights aren't capable of melting my frosty heart, I have a backup plan, too.

Last night, Jim caught Minnie actually being sweet to me! Like the Grinch, my heart just grew about three sizes.

Moore, moore, moore.

*This post is solely for the enjoyment of my dad, Tom, as he loves a Botanical Garden as much as I do and loves Henry Moore even more.

As I traipsed through the NYBG's Henry Moore exhibit today, it was such a relief to be focused on my freezing toes and the state of the tree's leaves rather than the normal city soul torture of thinking about dream jobs, health insurance and loathed dental appointments.

Ahhh, to breath freezing air and hold a cup of hot coffee. Maybe winter ain't so bad after all, makes a girl feel alive.

The exhibit's over in January and it's such a treat, even better seeing it now than it was over the summer. (Though it takes two hours to get here from home! Sheesh, I might as well as gone to Philly for the afternoon and seen the Gee's Bend exhibit.)

But to make the long lonely ride on the 6 train worth it, I saw a wild turkey as I was leaving. Boy, they run fast. Especially with Thanksgiving approaching.

My mad scientist

At grandpa's memorial this weekend I came across some old photos of his brilliant scientist days.
Loving the white lab coat, grandpa. (that's him, front and center, as always!)

He developed these amazing foamy rooms. If you ask me what they're used for I'll deliver a well rehearsed speech using words like radio waves, stealth technology, naval research lab, NASA and submarine.

Truth be told, the science gene wasn't passed on like it should have been and I don't really know what I'm talking about. Wikipedia has apparently knows about his so called Anechoic chambers so all you smarties can fill me in on the basics.

The Race

The Merrick family as an annual race that starts in November. It's a race against our very natures and it has been going on for my whole lifetime, probably for hundreds of years before that, too.

It asks the honest question Can we plant our paperwhite bulbs in time to bloom for Christmas? Coming from a family of well meaning forgetful gardeners, I, too, am prone to worry that I've gotten my bulbs planted too late for a Christmas display.

Last year I came in dead last with blooms around new years, but this this I'm ahead of the game. Yeess, score one for the home team!

Moon river, wider than a mile.

After much (much, much, much) scouting for an cheapo old lamp that I liked, I've finally succeeded.
Last weekend at my beloved Hell's Kitchen Salvation Army I chanced on this hippie 70's basket lamp for $3.99. It's not perfectly me but it reminds me of my new-age grandmother, and really, what's not to love about that.

I went to my Brooklyn staple shop, Moon River Chattel, to find a shade for my little lamp. I'm kind of a lampshade dunce and Moon River has just a few styles and sizes so I don't get too overwhelmed. Only ivory or white muslin, no trims or junky patterns and they're mostly all under $20. Lord knows I'd hate to buy a expensive shade for my cheapo lamp.

I really do love this store, even though it's mostly out of my league. The girls that work here are very sweet, too, even though they know I only ever buy Mrs. Meyer's dish soap and the occasional terracotta pot.

While I do like to torture myself by looking at their beautiful antique furniture, the real torture comes from peeking a glimpse at the store's backyard. Old ivy covered brick walls, a real true city gardeners dream. Fountains, mossy stone. It's amazing.

If it was strung up with old lanterns I don't think I'd ever want to leave. I already have a below freezing mummy sleeping bag and I'll happily camp out in exchange for tending the garden. Owners of Moon River, please please please let's set something up.

An orange tree grows in Brooklyn

I've always loved the idea of having an orange tree but haven't ever felt very comfortable taking care of my own. Maybe it's the northern blood in my veins, what would little old me know about citrus tending?

Last week while working in Chinatown, the lovey Jennifer Smith of Cookie Magazine fame inspired me with her indoor citrus success story. Is it possible and downright doable to have blossoming orange trees? Inside? Sign me up!

We spotted these little guys outside a plant shop on Catherine st and East Broadway and unknowingly each bought one to take home. Now we have twin trees growing in Brooklyn.

I re-potted it into an old beat up terra cotta pot that was recently vacated (sob) by a creeping jade that committed suicide on my watch. During the re-potting I lost an orange and decided to do a bit of experimenting.

No matter the size, an orange still looks like an orange. I, however, took the experiment one step further and cannot even describe the sourness. Holy smokes, I'm sticking to sunkist from now on.

Soupy weather

It's a rainy mess outside and has been for the past week. I've always liked a bit of romantic English gloom in the air, but this is getting excessive!

I've been developing some coping mechanisms to deal with the depressing combination of near constant rain and a drastic reduction of daylight hours. For example: Stay at home and netflix Deadwood. Buy antiques to fill the void. Cook homemade soups like a mad woman.

Then I got very creative and combined all of my new blah-weather fixes into one. Inspired by my recent brush with beautiful soup tureens, I amazingly found an antique one at the Hells Kitchen's Salvation army, for nearly free.

Belly filled with vegetable soup from scratch, now I'm worried about the rain stopping, I don't think I'm ready to leave my cozy home just yet!

Rosy November

It seems as if this years crop of late blooming roses are even more heart breakingly beautiful than ever. June roses are certainly lovely but the later the bloom- the more amazing the flower.

This week I finally got around to visiting the BBG to say goodbye to the rosebushes before the first frost swallows them whole. Why is it that dying flowers seem to ooze more romance than their newly bloomed neighbors?

Prop Shop

Gosh, I think I'm the luckiest girl ever.

Through my course of travels for work I recently needed to go to the much fabled Prop Company, a rental only prop house that caters to the magazine and film industries here in the city.

What's that you say? Aren't interiors in magazines actually authentic to their owners? Sadly, no. Awesome stuff is rented, photographed and returned, while posed as an owner's awesome collection. Not fair, right?

It's a small comfort knowing none of their beauties are for sale cause otherwise i'd be a goner. I'm surprised, however, that they don't check your bag on the way out, the stuff it that good.

(just kidding, I would never steal..... or would I??????)

A little group of table top stuff I had to pull together for a freelance job. My two directives? White and homey.

Bowls, bowls, bowls.

Oh wait, is this a photo of my apartment? Just kidding. But if you've ever been to my house you know I have a problem storing all of my wool camp blankets.

The white marble tabletop section. Mental note- find useless marble stuff for the apartment.

The massive white ironstone tureen section, this was like a tenth of them.

This would be the perfect place to rent things for a wedding or a big party, as long as you can stomach the thought of returning your new pretty things. Which, knowing me, would never happen.