The pink room

When I was a little girl, I would sleep in the pink room at Elmwood. It's not actually pink, but white with 1940s wallpaper that has trailing pink and white morning glories. There are two matching twin beds, a truly unfortunate pink carpet and some lace curtains that would melt into a pile of plastic if ignited. 

That's one of my favorite things about Elmwood. It's a beautiful place, so gorgeous you could and will weep when I finally invite you there in real life, but it isn't painfully art directed. There are some ugly curtains. Moldy wallpaper. The world's most miserable mattresses. A FUTON FROM THE 1990s. It's a real place, not perfect. And everyone who knows what's what knows that makes it all the more charming.
When I was up last weekend, the flowers in the garden made my knees buckle. There has been a lot of talk about lilac season being a letdown this year but our trees were basically rioting. Apple blossoms, too. Plus some bleeding heart from the front yard, the tiniest snipping I could take.

Going into the garden and making a little bouquet from what's fresh and free will lots of times beat overworked, over-thought, overly pricey flowers in my book. A humble bouquet, one that still has beetles and bees, cuts right to the heart of why people love flowers.


I'm suffering from that kind of total exhaustion that comes only from happiness and temperatures over 80 degrees. I got back to Brooklyn at midnight from 4 days alone at Elmwood and am now excited and dead-to-the-world tired in equal measure. For those who haven't spent a summer with an apple a day, Elmwood is my family's ancient, ragamuffin summer house on a secluded pond in New Hampshire.

The house is filled with faded wallpaper, chipping paint, 200 years worth of family detritus and this time around, a few decapitated mouse bodies that I was too terrified to touch; the pond, on the other hand, has sunfish, bull frogs, a private island of pine trees, a small beaver dam, a canoe, a rowboat, a leech or two and several snapping turtles the size of hubcaps. Calling it a summer house alludes to a certain Newport-ishness that it severely lacks, but I'm the happiest there, more so than anywhere else in the world.
Four days alone of paddling at dusk and swatting bugs, collecting lilac and lily of the valley, sleeping in the sun and huddling in the rain- I'm now seriously overwhelmed by ideas and plans. The freedom I've had in the past few months has been incredible, a gift I would have never dared to give myself. I'm over the moon to be able to spend time in places I love the most and also be dreaming up projects I couldn't have wished to hope for this time last year. We have so much to talk about, friends. The thought of summer is electrifying and I hope you are feeling it, too.

My burning house

This week last year, I was walking determinedly away from Elmwood in the middle of the night as dozens of fire fighters rushed in. Remember that story?

It was below freezing and all I grabbed as I left was an ancient down parka and my camera. House full of priceless family heirlooms from the past 200 years and I didn't ever bother with actual pants. When fellow New York blogger Foster Huntington asked me to be a part of his new project The Burning House, a photo documentation of what's worth saving, I couldn't help but laugh. I knew what I'd save and it wouldn't be much. But, of course, the spirit of the blog is more than literal, it's a visual articulation of what means the most to you.

I once read if you ask a woman what her favorite piece of clothing is, she'll show you her newest purchase and if you ask a man, he'll show you his oldest. I got this edwardian corset cover dress a few weeks ago, so the parable must be true. My most cherished shoes, on the other hand, I got 6 years back and they've been re-heeled every year since. Vintage alligator Ralph Laurens that cost an eye popping $25 at a thrift store, but if the shoe fits.

My aunt Teri painted this oil study of Elmwood and my other aunt put it in the giveaway pile a few years later.  She said she didn't think it was up to snuff, but I adore it to no end.

When I turned 18, my grandfather sent me my very own key to the house, complete with a hand written tag and the world elm dremmled on it. It lives in my wallet, just in case.

I bought these fancy rosewood clippers as a present to myself when I got my job at Saipua two years ago. I was over the moon with excitement. Even though the clippers aren't the most useful ones I have now, I really love remembering how thrilled I was when I got them.

My wallet might as well be priceless treasure. One of my dearest of friends gave it to me on a whim and it was love at first sight. I thought it was some insanely well kept ali macgraw in love story type deal from the 70s but it was a sample of a never made marc jacobs collection wallet he swiped for a song when we both worked for the company. If I have my way, I'll use this wallet until I die.

Lastly this little trio of bowls are the first things I ever made in my pottery class. I'd be heartbroken to loose the record of how far I've come and how far I have left to go. 

But of course, making it out alive is number one. Making sure my great-grandmothers ring is on my finger and my camera is around my neck is number two. Everything else is just hopeless sentimentality, especially since I discovered online computer backup last year.

The link to my post on Foster's blog is here and I hope you go through the more recent entries while you're over there. So many wonderful things and so many interesting people. He also accepts reader submissions, too. I'd really love to hear what you'd save if you could.

mother's day

Last weekend I drove the station wagon down to visit my parents for mother's day weekend. I brought along a little jar of loose flowers and on Sunday, I sat my mom down on the patio for a mini flower arranging class. Coral charm peonies, amaranthus, viburnum clipped ever so illegally from the side of the highway and a few coral bell leaves from my window box in Brooklyn.
My mom is pretty much an untapped floral genius. She kept on doing this thing where she'd furrow her eyebrows and really consider where she'd place the next flower- her attention to detail and eye for composition was almost unnerving. I kept on saying things like beautiful flowers look beautiful wherever you put them while jamming flowers in the vase. She was graceful but purposeful.

Her love affair with the coral charm peonies lasted for days. I'd come into the kitchen and catch her openly staring at them from a distance of 6 inches. It was a simple thing, our little flower class, but overwhelmingly nice, too.

Frances Palmer

Frances Palmer creates the most exquisitely charming pottery I've ever seen. She lives and works in Connecticut an hour and a half north of Brooklyn and about two weeks ago I visited her studio. 

A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon her work for the first time by seeing this photo and was instantaneously struck dumb by dahlias. Frances grows them herself, along with a host of other delicious flowers, in a cutting garden off to the side of her studio and she picks them periodically to use in photographs of her work. It's hard to verbalize the wit in her pottery, the purposeful imperfections and the undeniable functionality of her pieces. Her vases were made to hold flowers and her cake plates beg to serve a slice. To say that I am a fan is not enough. I'm enamored, enraptured and astounded by what she does.
The afternoon I visited Frances I found her with armloads of flowers, prepping a tablescape she designed for a fancy New York benefit gala the next day. She took the photo above of the small vases we stuffed with tulips, sweet pea and some still wet with garden dew daffodils. It was, honestly, the most inspiring little afternoon I've spent in some time.

Frances' website is a minefield of covetousness (this and this and everything else, too) and Ginny Branch's interview with her really paints a good picture of why she's my top shelf inspiration. Her work inspired me to start throwing my own vases and every time I sit down at the wheel, I realize a bit more of what a marvel she really is.