Monday, November 5, 2012

Why the Goodwill?  Why St. Vinnies?  And who the heck is Paul Smith?  Or when would I ever buy a $1000.00 sportcoat much less two? All good questions.  On this typical grey and wet November weekend, at first glance, the Goodwill or St. Vinnie's can look a little drab and may not be most people's first choice to lift them out of the emotional downturn that this time of year often brings, but if you spend some time and look a little deeper it may prove to be just the thing or you may find just the thing you didn't know you were looking for.

We love the Goodwill because it is so expansive.  Not that it is so big, but it expands us.  It expands our vision of ourselves.  It gathers the best from all over and lays it out for us.  One could also, say it gathers the worst from all over and lays that out for you too.  And that is true, but what is so beautiful about it is the best and the worst are offered at the same price.  It is up to you to decide which is best for you.  There is no advertising and no glitz it is all presented equally.  If you are a man that is set on Dockers, then you can walk in there find your Dockers and be on your way.  But if you enter with curiosity, you will find an opportunity to develop your own style and you will probably find, like I have, that quality sells itself.  Which brings me to Paul Smith.

Our good friend and builder Chris Russell, (remodeled our kitchen above) who has a great eye for style and fashion has, after a rare trip to Barney's of New York, mentioned Paul Smith and his great scarves or socks.  Chris is very into socks.  But that was about all I knew of Paul Smith, until this Saturday, when I was perusing the sportcoat aisle at Goodwill.  The other great thing about the Goodwill is you don't have to look at everything, just the nice things.  So, as I was working my way through the jackets, one jumped out at me with a little better fabric, a much nicer lining and fit me like a glove.  Paul Smith of London.

The jacket is in perfect condition.  I was thrilled to buy it for $9.99.  It is the Byard jacket and Barneys sells it for $1000.00.   With coordinating pants it sells for $1600 so the next day I figured I had better go find the pants.  No luck with the pants, but I found another jacket, also Paul Smith, but a slightly different style.  Another $1000.00 jacket for $9.99.  Paul Smith, I learned is a fantastic clothing designer, that never finished high school .  His father made him take a menial job at a clothing manufacturer in London.  He took evening classes for Tailoring.  A few years later, 1970, he opened his own shop with his girlfriend, now wife, and by 1976 he had his first fashion show in Paris. The stripes on the lining of this jacket are his trademark.

I did not know Paul Smith and I did not know his clothes would fit so well.  Thinking I would have to pay $1000.00 for a jacket I would probably not even try one on, but at the Goodwill and St. Vinnies anything is possible.

Which brings me to C.R. and our kitchen.  Chris Russell loves socks, he also is one heck of a builder with a great knack for maddeningly fine work.  The shoestringabundance of this project was salvaging the floors from under ancient linoleum, keeping the original cupboards and painting them in ultra high gloss marine epoxy.
In old houses like ours, there is usually an awkward cabinet that used to hold an ironing board.  Chris ingeniously turned ours into a spice cupboard with a sliding chalkboard door.   The shelving is mahogany plank from Edensaw woods of Port Townsend.

                     Our kitchen is not large, but Chris helped us maximize every inch of space.                                                              

The kitchen counter top is Black Laurent marble from France, our favorite, but actually one of the least expensive marbles available.  The tile is from Subway Ceramics through Norberry tile in Seattle.  Hands down the best subway tile on the market.  The kitchen nook table is from a second hand store.  We couldn't resist its great patina.  The marble slab is a remnant piece of Calcutta marble that is usually very expensive, we were lucky to find it locally for about a quarter of the regular price.
 Fashion forward Chris Russell swung by to replace our bathtub fixtures.  We had to snap this great photo that illustrates that no matter what the task he does it with great panache, always a nice scarf and usually, although not pictured, fancy socks.           Thanks CR.  We love our kitchen!

Other happenings this weekend was transferring a Crate and Barrel love seat to sister Heidi's.
            Heidi's style is so distinct and so completely her, it is a joy to contribute to her home.
Of course, we also occasionally take away.  Traded Heidi another chair for this one and just got it back from Heintz the Incredible of European Upholstery.
                                                             We really do love chairs!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remember I Can't Remember


 Though this seemingly has nothing to do with Shoestring Abundance we realized that the dementia/ Alzheimer's discussion belongs in the middle of our life, existing simultaneously with those things that give us the most joy.

We were successful in our experience with Grandma, because we were able to meld her life and her care into the fabric of our own.  Our friends and family embraced her, loved her and learned from her.  They treated her graciously in our home and accommodated her needs in theirs.  The phrase, "It takes a village" is so over used I hate to say it, instead I will say it takes a whole lot of loving and committed folks to make your experience a positive one.

Our goal for our book is to give everyone who reads it enough insight into dementia/Alzheimer's that they can be a part, even a tiny part, of that loving and committed group of people that make good care possible.

We will be posting quotes from our booklet occasionally.  "When a person loses their memory and their ability to perceive context, they have lost their ability to be their own advocate.  So this person, who no longer recognizes you as their child, does not know your name and cannot remember that you visited yesterday, needs you now, more than ever."

Our book is $8.95  available at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, as well as Amazon and kindle $2.99 and our blog is www.remembericantremember.blogspot.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beautiful Bountiful Abundance

                                                        Beautiful Bountiful Abundance!

This post is all about FLOWER POWER!  I love flowers....and recently did the wedding flowers for my wonderful friend Judy's daughter.   When presented with the opportunity for such a fantastic creative outlet I immediately call on all natural resources (my supply of vases, our garden, family gardens and, of course, friend's gardens) for all my textures, fillers and additional flowers.  In this instance I utilized Town and Country Market on Bainbridge Island as well as their sister store Central Market in Poulsbo, Wa. for the foundation flowers.

After all my garden raiding, my fabulous sister suggested that we check out the Dahlia farm just down the road from her place.  

Pretty laid back place....

and so beautiful.....

I was so thrilled with the place and really felt I now had everything I needed, but still sooooo much left to do!  It was 7:30 am on Saturday morning and the flowers needed to be out the door by 2:30!  To the rescue comes my, amazingly talented, friend Emily Russell!  HALLELUJAH!  She was at our house by 9:00 and made all the boutonnieres, corsages and the bridesmaid's bouquets.....Did I say THANK GOD!

Emily left a little after 11:00 and, in those two hours, completely saved my sanity!  Now all I had left to do was finish up the table bouquets, bridal bouquet and the center piece bouquet.  

One of the most stressful parts of this is often times the delivery, luckily this was a pick up.  They arrived a bit early and waited while I added the finishing touches.  Out the door went 8 table bouquets,  3 bridal bouquets, 9 boutonnieres, 2 wrist corsages and 1 very large center piece bouquet for the banquet table.  I sent off extra flowers to go on the cake and thankfully Emily, again, came to the rescue and adorned the wedding cake.  All this for approximately $225.00 in flowers.   This is an example of utilizing the ABUNDANCE that flourishes around all of us! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

                           The pre-post revolution evolution of the French Chair 1740 to 1998
Now we admit this is a very abbreviated history, but we are only using what we have on hand.  The chair above is generally thought of as a Louis XV.  It first came into fashion during the reign of King Louis XV.  He held the throne from 1715 to 1774 or from age 5 to 64, but did not actually rule until 1723 when he turned 13.  When someone says French chair, I believe, this is the one that first comes to mind.

People that analyze chairs, feel the curves and graceful lines of this one symbolize romance, love and sensuality.  The time of it's creation was a pretty bleak period in France so these same analyzers add that it represents people's need to create and hold onto something beautiful even in dark times and further add that it speaks to the human capacity to persevere through adversity.  At least in the sensual regard, it is fitting that this chair holds the Louis XV name, for even though King Louis was not considered to be a great king and was never as loved as this chair has been, he found ample time for sex.  There was a family with five sisters, four of them were his mistress, as was the Marquis de Pompadour, who first popularized the pompadour hairstyle, an O'Murphy from Ireland and countless others that will remain unnamed.  The four out of five sister thing, of course, elicits one of two obvious responses, I might say, "Wow! I wonder what was up with the fifth sister."  Whereas, Heather would undoubtedly say,  "Well, at least one of them had some sense!"

If things were pretty tough for the French people they were remarkably bleak, through no fault of his, for those that stood between Louis and the throne, three deaths from smallpox, one from bloodletting, one from a broken- heart, one a hunting accident and one from gangrene.  All in all, historically speaking, his reign was not terribly noteworthy and is remembered more for the furniture created than for anything achieved by the monarch.

This particular chair is late 1800's and came to us via a friend that dumpster dove for it.  We love it.  It needs to be recovered, but, so what, it works.  The beauty of this chair is it works in any home, in just about any condition.  Truly a foundation chair.

The map behind the chair is entitled, Environs de Paris and was also from the time of Louis XV.  It was created in 1740, by an abbe turned cartographer for the M. Le Marquis de Vatan.  The map was found at a Paris flea market in the 1960's by renowned northwest architect Roland Terry (check out his work if you haven't) was then acquired by a fantastic artist, James Wegner, that we will write much more about at a later date and, finally, came to rest in our home.

In 1740 when this map was created Napolean's birth was still 29 years away.  U.S. independence was still 36 years in the future.  The French revolution would come in 49 years.  Thomas Jefferson would be born in 3 years and would first arrive in Paris in 44 years.  The Eiffel tower would be built 149 years later, but what is there, is Versailles, and the Louvre and Notre Dame and the Champs Elysees and so much more.
 The Revolution was almost 100 years ago and now a new revolution is taking shape, too many this one is more inconceivable than the first, but to the revolutionaries it is the natural progression of things.  This is a revolution of how we see and how we express ourselves.  The impressionists, the Fauvists, the Cubists are about to take the world by storm and the foundation for those movements were formed by men and then women sitting on chairs, just like the one pictured here, in cafes along the very same streets outlined on the map on the wall.

Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Cezanne, Degas, Renoir, Seurat, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso and on and on.  And then Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, so much  of what we take for granted as our cultural history grew out of conversations that took place on hundreds of chairs just like this one.  Where the previous chair would have been a seat for the few this was a chair for the masses.  This chair, like it's predecessor, is wholly iconic of its time, but perfectly suited for a contemporary home.

The L4 or Le Corbusier lounge chair was created in 1928 by Le Corbusier, one of the pioneers of the modern architecture movement.  Le Corbusier was born October 6, 1887 and died in 1965.  His life span nearly encompassed the whole modern movement, from painting to architecture, his life witnessed the bulk of it.  He was born 147 years after our map was created.  His goal was to bring order to the city. He strove to improve living conditions for its inhabitants.  He would look at our map and see chaos. His heart was in the right place, but his methods invited strong criticism.  At the worst, to him, you could attribute the soulless city tenement.  At the best, he deserves praise for his mastery of structural concrete and his contributions to modern furniture, having created several iconic pieces.

Of all his work, this chair is our favorite.  It came to us via, Heidi Renee Dudley, who is not French, but her middle name is.  While shopping at Goodwill Heidi came across two things that piqued her interest; this chair and an interior design book.  The chair was interesting, but maybe not a must have.   The book, she bought.  Once she got home, she sat down opened her book, and there overlooking
Central Park in a beautiful, sparsely furnished apartment was this chair.  She called us, Heather knew the chair, we dropped everything and here it is.

The modern movement was meant to create utopias for the people, but it also saw the rise of one name designers and the great majority of the authentic furniture was priced out of the reach of most people.  It is this era of furniture that we are currently most passionate about and will continue to write at length about.  Frank Gehry, is one of the most recent in the long line of architect/furniture designer of which Le Cobusier was one of the first.

Ligne Roset 1999.  259 years after our first chair, a boundary pushing, quirky French company created one of the world's most comfortable chairs.  This is the Calin chair, designed by Pascal Mourque, it is meant to feel like a couch and it does.  If you aren't familiar with Ligne Roset look them up, they take furniture to a spot you may not be ready for or...maybe you are.

This chair was the result of a drive by.  We had not even parked, when we saw a set of four of these sitting in front of the Goodwill.  We could tell from the car, that the lines and quality were exemplary.  They were just waiting for us at $5.99 each.  A little tip, learn to recognize furniture that you don't think you will ever be able to afford.  We did have them recovered in leather, but when the chair is basically free you can do that.

That is today's tour through France.  I hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Word Art.  Great gift idea from Tracy Fisher, ( a Gig Harbor artist.  You come up with the phrase, or use one of hers, and she puts it on canvas.  Perfect for a house warming or wedding gift or whatever.  Prices vary with size of canvas.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In keeping with the theme of women in my life I should mention Heather, my wife.  After coming to the T&C coffee shop, for awhile, and getting to know me fairly well a customer heard me mention my wife, he remarked with surprise, "You're married?! Wow I just assumed you must be single." I think the next sentence was going to be something like,  "who in their right..." but he had the grace to just let it sit awkwardly.

Well, thankfully, I am married and in this post I will cover a few of the facets of my very talented wife. The pictures above, certainly, capture her in her happy spot.  Her paints in the garden, with a full day ahead of her is about as good as it gets.

When I think back to all the things I have gotten for $10.00, chairs, tables, paintings etc etc...nothing has proven to be more valuable than a certain psychic reading from Eugenia, The Mystic Rose. At the time Heather was certain her secretary job at a construction company encompassed all her talents and her future.  While waiting to pick her up one day I happened upon, The Mystic Rose, Psychic Readings $10.00.  I hardly had $10.00, which, of course, meant I had better get a reading.  Eugenia was in full gypsy mode in a little tiny room with a great big dog. The dog was a great dane that immediately affected the allergies that I did not know I had.  My reading went well, she said, I should/would write and best of all she did not mention any approaching calamities that would suddenly befall me.  Being calamity free I felt it was safe to bring Heather in.  So the next day we went in together; where my reading was circuitous and often vague Heather's was direct and crystal clear.  "Why aren't you painting?  I see color all around you.  You are supposed to paint!"  Coincidently we had just picked up a box of oil paints at a garage sale, because we liked the box.  Below is a sampling of Heather's work.

Walt Whitman has been her greatest muse.
                                                Most recently she has been on a bird kick.            

                                                                     From Idoodle app


 Heather, of course, co-authored and created the cover for our booklet, Remember I Can't Remember.

                                      She is most at home right here, surrounded by friends.

But spends most of her time here.
And here.

I could go on for much longer than I have time to, but suffice it so say I am very grateful for my lovely wife.