Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Object of My Desire is now every Monday on The Elegant Thrifter.

Please come visit me at

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Object of My Desire is packing up its mismatched China, its vintage bean pot and a shoebox full of memories and heading off to The Elegant Thrifter

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Easy Entertaining: Let's Eat Cake!

A pineapple upside down cake to pay homage to my favorite tropical fruit: that's was the delight I decided my friend Ruth Handel absolutely had to have at her retro-fabulous cocktail party in Los Angeles last month. 

We spent hours scrutinizing about the perfect menu, and I couldn't get the thought of this moist,  syrupy sweet treat topped off with maraschino cherries -- that a hint-o-mint chocolate 
cake, but I'll save that story for another day -- out of my mind.
And I happened to have exactly the perfect pan -- one with indentions to hold in place both the pineapple rounds and the cherries -- just hanging out in my kitchen cabinet.   When a dear friend's grandmother passed away, I became the keeper of the cake pan, which had waited for years in my kitchen until this day to claim its true place of honor!

Afraid that it might be taken away from me at the security gate, I carefully packed the pan into my checked bags and hoped it would make it to safely to LAX, and it did. Just look at this luscious creation, made with a simple yellow cake recipe and topped with both crushed and sliced pineapples. And displayed on one of Ruth's gorgeous examples of Fiestaware. Yum! Yum! And easy as pie -- I mean cake!

In May, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Living Memories: A Stitch in Time

Sometimes you'll make a find that warms the heart and evokes fond memories, even when the circumstances of discovery are bittersweet in nature. A few months back, I stopped by one of my favorite shops, Farfetched, a cheerful card and thrift shop that I have always known since I moved to New York only to learn that it had lost its lease. It's a common situation in New York these days, as greedy landlords raise the rent, or opt not to continue a lease, even when the proprietor has been there for more than 20 years.

I rummaged around the shop, flipping through greeting cards, lifting  vintage glasses and sifting through novelties until I stumbled upon this hand-made quilt that reminded me of both my grandmothers. Grandma Churchill made useful quilts -- ones functioning more for warmth than they exhibited refined style, but filled with charm and odd colored fabrics. Oh, there was the fabric from an old coat, a scrap from an army blanket or a piece of old upholstery -- all pieced together with charm and whimsy. And then there were the ones  Grandma Williams intricately designed  in novel shapes and bright hues. Hers were true masterpieces, crafted in beautiful fabrics and stitched to precision.

Even though this quilt still needed its backing, and quilting, for that matter, the overstitching on the butterflies is flawless, and the mix of vintage fabrics remind me of the fanciful feed sacks that people started using  for sewing projects during the Great Depression. Since cotton was so scarce at the time, feed makers hired designers to make beautiful feed sacks that end consumers could use to make clothes for their families and  gorgeous, yet useful, quilts. 

This quilt flutters like springtime and reminds me of those first bright days of childhood after a long, long winter: the marvel of the first daffodil to break through winter's frozen soil, the scent of a warm rain shower and  the sight of the first robin to bob its head outside the front window. It's  a body of work pieced together with care -- one that will endure time and brighten even the gloomiest of days.

In May, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Living Memories: A World of Fun

It's always about this time of year I start to think about the coming of spring, and I can't help but remember how much I used to anticipate the opening of Worlds of Fun, a world-class theme park in Kansas City, where I worked off and on from age 16 until the age of 21.  

I used to work as a photographer at a shop called Spittin' Image, one of those instant tin-type joints where customers dressed up in old-time clothes and had their pictures taken. 
Spittin' Image was atop the glorious Cotton Blossom docked in a lake with bright blue-green water right at the  front of the park.  You can see it in the map, here, just to the left of the park entrance  where there appears to be a larger-than-life duck swimming next to it. In fact, you could see the stately Cotton Blossom the way from the highway -- the same grande dame whose exterior appears in the 1951 film Show Boat. 

How I loved dressing people up, and I had my lines down: "Ladies, you can be a saloon girl, a southern belle or a bride. Gents, a Civil War officer, a gamble or a cowboy?"

I spent my summers at Worlds of Fun, hanging out with the workers at the Paddle Wheel Cafe, hiding out in the cool confines of the Cotton Blossom Gift Shop on the lower deck when there were no customers and it was scorching hot upstairs, and sneaking off to catch a show at The Tivoli theater or ride The Scream Roller. 

Sadly, I've learned that the Cotton Blossom is gone. Instead of saving her-- I remember she was in a rickety state the last time I saw her in the late 1980s -- she was torn down in 1995 to make room for another attraction. I can still hear the ragtime music that played in a loop over the loud speaker, and the screams of riders on the nearby Orient Express, which at the time was the world's largest steel roller coaster -- also gone. 

The park is still there, although somewhat stripped of its original charm, but the nearby water tower is still painted with the hot-air-balloon colors of Worlds of Fun, just as I remember it was all the way back when the park opened in the early 1970s. 

In May, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find,
 The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures Flea Market Objects, and Vintag Details. Pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Find: Colonial Curiosities

These greeting cards from Historic Williamsburg (the one in Virginia, NOT Brooklyn!) area absolutely charming. I found them from a vendor at the Brooklyn Flea's Pop-Up market the other day as I was just about to give up on finding anything that piqued my interest, or fit into my budget.

One set features authentic settings of people gathered, either in the middle of a chore or enjoying a meal, all in period outfits, of course. And then there's another box of authentic recipes to re-create over a woodburning fireplace and a cast-iron kettle. Clearly the person who purchased these back in the 1960s loved them so much that she couldn't bear to break up a set by actually using them, since all three boxes have their cards and envelopes in tact. 

In May, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Liza With a "Z"!

When you thoughtfully curate a gift that doesn’t cost a lot of money, the outcome is more often than not a one-of-a-kind, adored treasure that can’t be purchased pre-packaged in a store.

Back in December my dear friends Bevy Smith and Aimée Morris and I eagerly waited at the Palace Theatre stage door to get a glimpse of Liza Minnelli after her spell-binding performance. And as soon as this legend exited , Bevy walked right up and took her picture with her BlackBerry. The result was a gleeful, bubbly image that reminds us of our enchanting evening – an image not perfect, but perfectly reflective of the joy Liza created that night.

For Aimée’s recent birthday, I printed out the image, placed it in a dime-store frame and inserted under the glass the ticket stub from the event, and offered it to her as a special gift, paying tribute to a night out with some of my favorite gals: Liza With a "Z", Bevy with a "Y" and Aimée with an extra "E!"

In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works  Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on http://www.amazon.com, http://borders.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.