new dining room

kitchen & living seen from diningThe dining room only has one “real” wall. One is open to the kitchen, with a built-in china cabinet and a telephone alcove. Another is open to the living room, with a door to the basement stairs. And a third boasts a window that looks onto the deck.

table and one chairIf you’re wondering why there’s only one chair at our table, that’s a story with several plot points. First of all, the chairs that came with this table had splayed legs that tended to tangle. We had talked about getting chairs with more vertical legs but hadn’t taken action. Secondly, one chair’s support broke when somebody kept leaning it onto its back legs. (To be fair, that somebody probably just finished a job that many previous leaners had started.) And finally, we were running out of room in our UHaul. A friend who was helping us pack offered to take the chairs to a thrift store, so we let them slip out of our lives. Replacing them is near the top of our list of things to do.

That’s probably the most interesting thing about this room, unless you’ve never seen a blue ceiling fan, in which case you should definitely take a look at this. (Whose idea was this?!)

blue ceiling fanOne helpful thing about this strangely modern fixture is that it reveals which pull is for the fan and which is for the light. This should be standard! So much guesswork and frustration could be avoided if more fans had this feature! (Or am I the only one who always guesses wrong the first time, and even spends time pulling the chain, then flipping the wall switch, then pulling the chain again?)

light and fan pullsFrom the dining room we can access the living room through a doorway or the basement through a door. I’m not going to show you the basement (ever!) because it’s just a basement. It’s dark and creepy and there may never be a stitch of decor down there. But the living room is coming up next!

view from dining into livingYou saw the yard and the kitchen, right? Just checking.

how to test a hiding place {Lovey’s birthday}

I knew I was gambling, but I decided to bet that Lovey would not open this closet before his birthday.  Knowing I wouldn’t have time to blow up twenty balloons on The Day, I did it three days ahead of time and managed to keep my prep work a secret!

A little tip for those who, like me, become a slobbering, light-headed mess when attempting to inflate balloons with lung power: use a little air pump instead.  I used the foot-pump that came with my Pilates ball.  I had to wrap the balloon “stem” around the nozzle and hold it tightly closed to force air into the balloon, but once I figured out that part the inflation process was much less of an ordeal than it could have been!  Bonus: I talked on the phone with my sister the whole time.

closet full of balloons

When The Day arrived, I looped a piece of twine over each of the hooks that holds the daybed canopy in place.  I used clothespins to clip ten balloons to each piece of twine, which then looped over another hook on the opposite side of the room.

hanging the balloons

When I was finished I had two lines of randomly-spaced balloons stretching across the living room.  Lovey is tall and his friends are tall enough, so I made sure to leave the walkways and the standing-area in front of the couches reasonably balloon-free.  I didn’t want irritated men swatting down my handiwork.

balloon swags across the living room

Then I thought, “What about twinkle lights?”  So I ran to the Christmas decor box and grabbed a strand of lights to frame the dining room wall.  Yep, it was starting to look like a party.

balloons in living room, lights in dining room

And it only got better.  Acknowledging my limitations–nay, embracing them–I decided this party would be better catered.  I didn’t want to exhaust myself cooking for a crowd, or worrying about what could go wrong, or making people wait on me to get everything ready.  The perfect solution, Lovey and I agreed, was to order gyros.

gyros, baby!

We were not wrong.  (Just look at the expression on our friend Adam’s face!)  Everyone enjoyed the food, which, as I mentioned in this post, stands up well to its competition.  We also had a quinoa-and-pomegranate salad, which I just realized I never photographed.  Oh, well.  Here’s a link.  I used curly parsley and substituted quinoa for coucous.

balloons plus friends (to the power of gyros) equals party

Here are the girlies–no cute shots of the guys, because guys don’t do cute shots.  Besides, they were busy talking politics.  (Blech.)

N, J, & me with balloons

And while balloons and twinkle lights do pave the way to Party City, you haven’t arrived until you’ve crossed the candle bridge.  The way Lovey attacked the little flames led to lots of jokes about getting older and not being able to breathe, but he did get them all extinguished.  Then we ate carrot cake.  Lots and lots of carrot cake.  Lovey’s one (adorable) request was that his birthday dessert be “something with cream cheese frosting.”  He didn’t care what was under the frosting, as long as it wasn’t pumpkin.

candle-obliterationBy the end of the night we all had full tummies, drooping eyelids, and aching sides.  (“That’s like 26 miles an hour!”; “get yo’ ass inside!”; and “Oh, I’ve done that” were the big laughs of the evening, for those who were there and care to recall why those things seemed so funny in context.)

Here’s wishing Lovey a new year full of adventure and accomplishment.  I can’t wait to see where this year takes him!

protea, lizzy, lizzy, rose

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but there’s a painting by John Singer Sargent that I adore.  From the name, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, to the way he used pigment to recreate light, everything about this piece amazes me.  Hence the post title.  I didn’t have quite the same flowers: mine are protea, lisianthus (which in the shop we call “lizzy”), and roses.  And in that order….

yellow and red pincushion protea in a clear jar

These pincushion protea are in nicer shape than the last two I brought home, so they’ll give you a better idea what this plant should look like!  The details are stunning.  All flowers have something beautiful about them, but these strike me with the glory of their weirdness.  Each plant bristles with tiny torches of color.  If you want to read more about pincushion protea, check out this engaging and photo-rich article by Brian Johnston.  I learned some new facts from it–for example, each of those vertical tendrils is its own flower.  I had no idea!

yellow pincushion protea up close

Moving onto something softer, I recently had the pleasure of bringing home a bucket–not a vase, a bucket!–of lisianthus, or, as we call it in the flower shop where I work, “lizzy.”  Before it fully opens it’s easy to mistake for a rose, but its petals are more delicate and ruffled than most roses’.

white lisianthus up close

More differences become evident as lizzy opens.  See how thin the petals are?  Like poppies almost.

I barely knew what to do with my magnificent haul of lizzy.  I stood in the kitchen, cutting and cutting and cutting, going back to the living room to dig in the closet for more vases.  And by “vases” I mean jars.  For some reason I hoard glass jars–we’re talking jars from salsa, olives, etc.  Why do I do this?  I think it’s because I imagine myself doing craft projects that I rarely get around to completing starting.  But I did create a little tableau between the living room and dining room:

tableau with white lisianthus in a glass, white frame, green wine bottle with twigs, bowl of oranges, and white Gurgle pot

I scattered lizzy all around the apartment.  Two little clutches made it to Lovey’s and my nightstands.  One of life’s sweetest luxuries, I think, is to wake to the sight of flowers.  (Try it sometime!)

white lisianthus in a glass jar on a red tabletop with a yellow book

The same week I was living with lizzy in every room we had some “blown” (aka overly open) roses left from designing we’d done for a big party.  So I got to add one big splash of red to the floral palette.  Could a girl be luckier?!

The white urn I put the roses in is one I bought at a thrift store with the intent of having something nice-looking but childsafe.  (I was still nannying at the time.)  Its shatterproof plastic is this vase’s most winning attribute, but I forgot to account for the fact that it takes a lot of flowers to fill it!

a dozen red roses in a white urn on a red tabletop

In fact, a dozen roses amounted to just enough space filler that nothing slipped sideways.  If the roses hadn’t been so blown this might have looked a bit roomy.  But as it turned out everything fit snug-as-a-bug, resulting in a lush look by Lovey’s side of the bed.

I enjoyed having so many flowers around, even for a short time.  It had been a while since I’d brought home flowers, and then the riches all rained down at once!  In between times like these forget how good it feels to look around and see pretty bouquets here and there.  Maybe it’s a good thing I forget just how much pleasure I gain from flowers–that way I don’t spend money on something so ephemeral.  At retail these would have cost a lot, so  I really look forward to when I have a house where I can garden.  Then I’ll have “free” flowers!  All in good time.  For now I’ll enjoy flower-shop castoffs as they come.

How about you?  Do you love to see flowers scattered around your home, or is that a frivolity that doesn’t do much for you?  If you do like flowers, which ones are your favorites?  I think it’s interesting how people are drawn to different things.