Friday, August 21, 2009

anna griffin peyton last of summer layout


It's been a few months since I've shared my monthly Anna Griffin layout class samples. Before I head off at the beginning of the week to fly to Phoenix and Creative Escape, here's a quick glimpse of my new September class, using the warm reds and ivories, accentuated with black, of the Peyton papers. We'll be making 3-D butterflies, a pleated frame, a paper ruffle, and photo pockets with hidden journaling tags for this "last of summer" 2-page layout. And since I'm always asked, yes, I've hand-written the "Sisters" title banner for this layout (it's not available as a stamp).


Friday, August 14, 2009

weekend in manhattan

After deciding on the spur-of-the-moment to spend our free weekend in NYC, my husband and I left early last Friday morning, unfortunately driving 6+1/2 hours instead of the expected 4+1/2 hours to get there. Apparently everyone else had the same great idea and had jumped in their cars to drive north, too. Nonetheless, we arrived just in time on Friday afternoon to meet Boruch, who wisely bicycled to meet us at his home in Brooklyn. Boruch "sells things for people." The thing that had caught my eye was a delicately scrolled crystal chandelier that had hung for some time in an old Brooklyn apartment.  How long?  Boruch and the woman who was selling the chandelier were guessing that it could be 100 years old, but it is electrified, so I doubt it. Still, it will add a lovely glow to my studio once I clean it up and reassemble the parts, and I'll enjoy telling you the whole story when you visit.

From Brooklyn, we drove into Manhattan for dinner. After checking into our hotel on W 39th Street (we agreed it wasn't worth driving home that evening, so we pulled over behind a street barricade on W 37th and used our iPhones to find an affordable room in a nearby hotel -- amazingly easy), we walked to Montenapo, the new Italian restaurant behind the New York Times Building, for an elegant dinner.  The spacious dining room was sparsely populated, perhaps still too early for the after-theatre crowd, and we had several waiters at our elbows.  Outside the windowed wall next to our table was an atrium garden with beautiful slender birch trees lit up for the night.  My very leisurely dinner began with cappesante, jumbo scallops with fresh black truffles.

Then we spent the rest of the evening walking some 30 blocks around Times Square, checking out all the sidewalk caricature sketch artists selling their quick images for $5 each, the live music and live comedy shows, and wondering why one long section of Broadway had been sealed off to traffic so people could sit out in lawn chairs (they all matched, so they must be city property?) on this pleasant night. Of course, I also checked out the store windows, like anthropologie. Their junk-to-art approach to display always intrigues me. In this series of windows below, the backgrounds are made of rough cardboard pieces painted in fallen-leaf colors and stacked in a falling cascade. Occasionally, some unpainted cardboard is stacked to mimic a birch tree trunk. Ingenious.  A few letters also peeked through the paint, like the "E" (3rd photo - maybe the initial of the crafter of this display?) and "She" (4th photo - enlarge photos to see).

In the summer, in place of the famous skating rink, Rockefeller Center sports an outdoor Rink Bar in the well next to the Prometheus fountain. Did you know that until it was resurfaced and permanently closed to traffic, Rockefeller Plaza was closed to traffic for just one day a year, allowing Rockefeller Center to continue claiming it as private property? Or that the promenade between the skating rink and 30 Rock was initially supposed to go straight through to 53rd Street, to the doorway of MoMA, co-founded by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller? It was blocked by the owners of the "21" Club, on 52nd St, who refused to budge.

Saturday morning we made a reservation for brunch at Balthazar's, a Keith McNally French brasserie in Soho. It's an extremely popular place. Even our taxi driver, when we gave him the address we wanted (without mentioning Balthazar's), replied, "Oh, so you're going for brunch." And he seemed to know the way by heart, zipping us there so quickly that we were 10 minutes early for our table.

With dark wood paneling, amber-colored ceiling tiles, racks of bread loaves and a large wine collection on display, the atmosphere is very French.  And, as you can see, very crowded.  We were fortunate to have a table at the leather banquette along the mirror wall and near the large front window. Instead of an entree, I ordered two appetizers, the warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart, plus the Balthazar salad with haricots verts and asparagus. Both were delicious.

You may think this next photo is peculiar, since it doesn't feature the well-presented food we ordered. But their place setting will remind me to use at home my "new" old red-striped linen torchons recently brought back from Auty. Having faced this question often in Paris, I was prepared when the waiter asked, "Do you want still or sparkling?" I opted for still, which came in the plain bottle you see. My husband said he wanted just regular water, please. :)

It was another beautiful day, so we walked some more around Soho, while I catered to my obsession with photographing interesting doorways and window casements. Nearby, the Chanel store displays in classic black and white were worthy of another close-up.

Later, during my much anticipated first visit to Tinsel Trading to see their remarkable collection of vintage and reproduction trims, my camera card was finally filled. I managed only a few photos of the wonderful bolts and spools on wall shelves and display cases. Guess I'll just have to go back again.

Can you believe the length of this post? I think I'll wait to share the Tinsel goodies I brought home. But here's one last photo. This is the "before" view of the chandelier, still in its makeshift carrying box, with many of the crystals loose on the bottom. Lots of work to do on this diamond in the rough.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

id check


Yesterday evening, while my youngest son is home visiting, we ate dinner with my second-oldest son and his wife at La Côte d'Or, a charming restaurant near their house in Arlington.  My daughter-in-law, who speaks fluent French, is planning on an école militaire in Paris next summer, and we all plan to visit her.  So she is encouraging us to get in the mood, starting now.

Our youngest, of ex-bartending fame, decided to be in charge of ordering the bottle of wine for our dinner.  This precipitated a rash of ID requests.  By the time the waitress and the maître-d' had asked not only our 24-year-old to show his, but also my 33-year-old daughter-in-law and then my 38-year-old son, I was feeling pretty young myself. It didn't take long for everyone to be exchanging pleasantries in French -- except my husband. Although he speaks several languages, including German and Finnish, French isn't his thing. As we left, he bade the staff farewell with a hearty "Cheerio!" that kept us laughing till the parking lot.

Hope you are all enjoying a pleasant week shared with family!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

friends and other treasures


On Sunday evening, Sue wondered if I could join her for lunch and some shopping Monday morning. She was heading to Lucketts to meet Karen, the Graphics Fairy, who was donating a basket of her Fleurish shop goodies to the Michael Weiss Foundation, a charity that skater-mom Sue supports.

Sue and Karen were waiting just inside the door of the Lucketts main store, where the hottest day this summer was already testing the limited air conditioning in the huge old building.  After sorting out our day's plan, Sue surprised me with a charming gift. Inside a little polka-dot bag, in a box filled with shredded book text and tied with some of Sue's vintage lace, was her delicate hand-stitched cuff bracelet in my favorite color. Of course, I happily wore it all day and showed it off whenever possible.

For the rest of the morning, Sue and I shopped the outside and inside vendors while Karen tended her "French room" at Lucketts. Then Karen joined us for the drive to Leesburg for lunch at her new find, a shoe repair shop recently converted into a coffee shop-with-character called Shoes Cup and Cork Club.

Along with its retained signs and other retro industrial design fixtures, this quirky shoe chandelier hangs from the awesome tin ceiling.  Black buckets shade the other ceiling lights, and a floor-to-ceiling blackboard sports a crazy quilt of customers' signatures. Emptied burlap coffee-bean bags serve as window valances.  We can all vouch for the roast beef sandwich heated in the sandwich press, the unsweetened iced tea, and the berry berry smoothie (none of us is a coffee drinker).  

Since Karen usually drives south to her shop at Lucketts and goes no further, we finished off our afternoon with her first visit to The Antique Emporium and The Cottage.

My found treasures for the day included this old green iron lamp base.  The color reminds me of the lamp posts on the bridges in Paris, but this will hold a fat white candle.  I love the red and pink painted chocolate tin, perfect for my studio colors.  A mercury glass goblet is just the right find for dripping strands of pearls, labeled from the Berlin flea market.  Sue has the eye for pearls, and helped me add medals, prize ribbons with boullion, and old photos to my stash.  Karen found the "Paris" embossed bottle for me, of course.

On the drive home, I stopped at Brossman's, a local farmstand on Rt 15, for their fresh garden produce to make a light supper on such a hot day:  open-faced sandwiches of thick tomato slices, goat cheese, fresh tangy parsley from my garden layered on Balthazar's crusty bread from Manhattan, chicken-noodle soup from the freezer, with sliced peaches and crumbled almond cookies for dessert. Yum!


Thursday, August 06, 2009

rushing to the post office . . .


Before heading off to NYC tomorrow morning, I'm squeezing in a few more RAKs (random acts of kindness) to send to ladies attending Creative Escape at the end of August. Two of the ladies are coming from Norway, so I better hurry these to the post office today. No fair if the little packages get to them late.

Keeping with this year's CE color scheme of black, lime green and pink, I used some of my Anna Griffin stash, like the flocked zebra paper for die-cut butterflies, the black crown brads to close the Bazzill Parakeet folder, and the black felt flower border (tucked inside).  The handwriting is done with a Sharpie marker.  Along with Prima flowers in lime and pink and other surprise goodies, I used Cari Kraft's idea to make a pink Bazzill "escape" flash card to add to the fun. Fun, too, that the cloth under the glass on my painting table coordinated with the overall scheme. Sometimes it's the little things that keep you going. :)

In just a few weeks, I'll be checking in with good friends in Phoenix, searching for some good shopping, and, oh yeah, taking some great classes..

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

old photos

During the past couple months, I've been happily using my passport again. Even after all these years of traveling, it's still fun collecting the stamps to fill the pages with reminders of where I've been.  As I carefully replaced my passport in its special drawer today, awaiting its next opportunity,  I looked through some of my expired passports in their little pile.  In one passport, I'm pictured with a tired and none-too-happy infant in my arms.  Below is my passport photo from my early 30's, when I was on my way to live in the Middle East -- with three little kids.

The other photo is my younger brother's high school graduation photo. He became a nuclear engineer. We joke that I became a nuclear-family engineer. See the family resemblance?  

Monday, August 03, 2009

french pinks


This summer I've been taking both long and short trips and enjoying the beautiful scenery in quite a few places. But my next big trip, scheduled to start last Friday, then this Friday, has now been postponed again for a month. Good thing we had refundable plane tickets, because the flight to Bangkok is long and expensive. I have my fingers crossed that this third scheduling will stick, and that I'll have lots of photos to share with you from there.

Meanwhile, since I do have a huge stash of photos from the south of France, here are a few more cheery ones for today. I guess I will have to unpack my suitcase for now and see what there is to see around home.