When I left home as a teenager, I wished that I had lots of money to buy newer, nicer stuff. Supporting myself, I needed to be extremely selective with how I spent my money. I chose to reframe my situation from “damn, why can’t I have what other people have?” to “lets see how beautiful I can make my life…with as little money as possible.” Whether it was my competitive nature or harsh reality, this became my challenge.
Growing up one of my household duties was to do all of the ironing. However, I made a deal that I could watch whatever shows I wanted while doing it. I spent hours ironing all of my mothers nursing uniforms, my fathers workshirts, and the uniforms that my brother and I wore to school. The upside, were the many classic movies I watched on Sunday afternoons. I therefore wanted to be Grace Kelly, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney among others.
When I was 20 and needed a new winter coat, I went to a local thrift shop and for $25 bought a 1940’s fur coat. Ahhhh my dreams were becoming a reality. Regardless of the fact my coat was thread bare on the elbows, I loved this coat and wore it every day with jeans, dresses whatever…didn’t matter. It kept me warm, it reminded me of the movies I loved so much and it meant that when this coat was finished it would not clog up a land fill. It would bio-degrade.
Fast forward 25 years, I have a family of my own, live a very comfortable lifestyle, and I still frequent thrift shops and antique stores. I found early on that you could often find better quality furnishings at a very low price, it is an environmentally friendly alternative, and also that it would make our home unique. That’s not to say I have kept all of my early furnishings, or even most (they would get donated), but the best and most endearing I still have.
From my cookshop and cafe I have an antique butcher block. From our first home a 100 year old wardrobe that received coats at the front door. Our century old piano, with its honest deep base sound, shares its soul with each key struck. This too cannot be found new, not only because the years have allowed it to mature gracefully, but that our daughter Emily, sat many a night at its call.
Our homes can be filled with all sorts of stuff, but whether it is full of clutter or be-loved items depends on us. We display Patricks great grandfathers top hat in his dressing room. HIs grandfather was both a farmer and a successful business man. Such beauty in the contrast. I see Patrick in that. Cutting and maintaining trails in his tractor on weekends, and running a busy law firm the rest of the time.
By-the-way, I wanted to call the farm Green Acres…and yes, I did have a feather boa at one time! Sigh….me and Zsa Zsa….
Before you fall asleep on me, here is a piece of art that makes me smile every time I look at it.
I bought it for our Naples home at a local consignment store. I love it so much, I tracked down the artist, emailed her and told her how much I am enjoying the piece. She was thrilled that I reached out to her and told me the story behind the painting, which she had completed in the 70’s.
She said that she was full of life, inspiration and joy. It was one of her favourites.
A few months later she was doing an exhibition in Naples and asked me to come and say hello, which I did. She shared the fact that she is a New York artist and even had a retrospective at MOMA. Incredibly, she was asked to show her work along side a Monet exhibit. Curators interested in showing a contemporary impressionist against Monet. We talked further when she asked me what I paid for the piece. I was slightly embarrassed to say $275. She laughed and was thrilled for me. She said for canvasses that size, her paintings now sell between 15K and 25K. Hee hee hee.
The artist is Francine Sokol. She no longer paints in the broad strokes of earlier years, but finds her sweet spot in the minutia of impressionism.
I saw Nate Berkus interview the great Maya Angelou and he asked of her: “which is your favourite room in the house?”
To which Angelou replied: “the one I am in.”
This I love.
Wishing you peace in home and life.