Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day Trip From New York...

Update May 2010: Sadly, Loam fell victim to a terrible economy in which to try to generate business.  The location, though beautiful, was tricky, and, people simply were not spending money over the last year.  Although they made a valiant attempt, Loam closed its doors not long into 2010.  I will leave this post, however, as an homage to a beautiful idea.

I did not actually drive from New York myself, but, the trip is only about an hour from the city and a beautiful and worthwhile trip it is!  We are talking about Loam, the super-chic, nestled-in-the-woods oasis of sumptuous handknit sweaters, industrial chic vintage goodies, one-of-a-kind gems, handmade baubles, original artwork and select vintage clothing (which, I admit, is partially provided by Carmen & Ginger!)
The charming and talented proprietor Beth (in first pic - disliking me for insisting on photographing that beautiful face of hers...) has been diligently  - and tastefully, of course! - dressing the place up for the holidays.  As if it could be made any more lovely!  If anyone can do it, she can, and she was still personally creating all the hand-felted ornaments for this tree when I arrived!
If you can believe it, smack in the middle of this gorgeous arrangements of touchable goods, is this incredible floor-to ceiling picture window view outside!
Carmen and Ginger is so grateful to have our merchandise so beautifully merchandised alongside all these wondrous objects!  We just dropped off some gorgeous vintage sweaters, a few more holiday dresses, some funky winter hats and a number of great vintage coats, so, if you've looked before, check again!

I was admiring the mural on the wall when I suddenly realized it was not a mural at all.  In fact, it was a beautiful arrangement of old metal water cranks!  This is just one example of the unexpected whimsy you will find alongside the sophisticated objects at Loam.
So, pack your bags, or, well, it's only an hour away, so, packing may be extreme!

13 East Shore Road
(Junction of Route 202 & Route 45 North)  
New Preston, CT
Open Thursday through Monday 11:00 - 5:00 daily.

From New York City:  Find your way north to Route 84.  Take 84 East to Danbury and pick up Route 7 North.  7 will merge into Route 202 which will take you straight to New Preston!

From Hartford: Take 84 west to Waterbury where you will pick up Route 8 North.  Take 8 to Route 118 towards Litchfield.  118 will end at Route 202 onto which you will make a left hand turn and follow several miles to New Preston.

Antique and Consignment Shops abound in both directions along Route 202.  There is a charming coffee & sandwich shop in town, and, additional eateries ranging from coffee and pastry to sit-down gourmet meals within miles in each direction.  If a day-hike is your thing, bring your boots and explore - there are countless beautiful hiking trails in the area.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

After feeling sorry for myself all week after having to cancel my husband's and my Thanksgiving plans because of illness, I decided I could at least share some of the goodies I'd prepared via the web.  No, this is NOT a food blog, nor will it ever be.  I just happened to document a few things along the way.

I purchased a pair of sugar pumpkins on the last day of the local Farmer's Market and the fellow advised me that they would last weeks as long as I did not remove the stems.  A month later, I roasted them in the oven and the smell was remarkable!  This sweet small of pumpkin gloriously filled the house - and I don't even LIKE pumpkin!  After roasting, I let them cool, and the flesh practically peeled right off the skin.  In fact, once I pureed it, I realized I had three times as much as I needed for the recipe from those two little pumpkins.

An on-line search suggested freezing in individual baggies in measured amounts so I set-aside these two one-cup bags for future (Christmas?) baking.  Will let you know how it turns out.

Another observation about the sugar pumpkins was that the seeds were much more plentiful than in the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins. These came away from the pulp easily. Also, since I'd cut the pumpkins in half as opposed to trying to extract pulp and seeds from the "head" this was an easier process!  Since my husband had thrown away all the seeds I'd saved from our Halloween pumpkin thinking they were trash, I decided to remove and roast these for our road trip (sigh).  I'm planning to season them and we'll eat them during our Frank Capra movie-fest later today.

The pumpkin puree was used to bake this Pumpkin Almond Tea Loaf.  It was going to be a "Thank You" gift to our friends who were going to feed our cats while we were away.  Excuse the plastic, when I took this pic it had been around a few days, but I had not yet frozen it as we were not sure if we were accepting any alternate Thanksgiving invites or not.  We've since declined, so, this is now in the freezer to make an appearance at a later event. 

Earlier this month I had also made a batch of these biscotti.  Half of them went to the folks at the Post Office who help me mail my Etsy packages three days a week.  Most of the remaining were set aside to be brought for Thanksgiving in North Carolina.  This is still in my freezer, so, will likely make an appearance at Christmastime and make my parents very happy!

I will sign-off by sharing this great Thanksgiving card my mother sent to us this week.  Great design but sort of feel sad for the Turkey, don't you?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Ok, so I was crawling around Etsy a few weeks ago comparing prices on wreaths made from antique ornaments when I discovered the vintage holiday creations of Georgia Peachez.  Holy Cats!  Before I knew it I'd marked half her shop as favorites and finally decided on the diorama/collage above.  What a decision it was!  Every time I look back I think, hmn...maybe I should have bought THAT one.  Her signature format is rectangular with a bell below and boy are they great!  I think I like this one because I just love the box.

I am a sucker for any vintage Christmas papers, and, for the past few years have been diligently collecting and displaying vintage boxes at Christmas time.  (Can you say "Firehazard?")  I'll post later on those, once I unearth them but for now we're talking creations.  I love the long format of this box and the quirky way she creates her dioramas!  Although I have no cash I just HAD to have one!

I must admit, as a long time collage and diorama artist I was a little jealous of her creativity.  I mean, I've been making these things for years and collecting the boxes (see above) yes, the boxes as well and I never actually put together the same sort of thing.  I use the boxes in my wreaths, and, have created sculptures and other strange things from old Christmas decorations but no dioramas.  Here is a photo of my all time favorite ornament box:

How adorable is that!  It's only about 4" long and I just love it!  In fact, I made my friend wait in the cold with me for half an hour last weekend (she brought coffee - yeah!) at the same church sale where I found it a few years ago as I am convinced I will find something similar there again.  Well, we each found some good stuff but no more of these little gems.  (Georgia Peachez, are you jealous?)  Look at the adorable side graphics:

I know it's weird to be so excited, and, well, look at me - competitive! - about old Christmas ornament boxes.  It's borderline insane.  I admit it.  I can't explain it, it's just a passion you have or not.  Either you are throwing this stuff away like 98% of the population, or, you are hanging on your wall like the 2% of us.

In my wreaths, I have always used bits of old papers.  (I can never bring myself to glue the box above though!)  In this 1950's wreath I currently have listed in Hang Out A Shingle, you can see a 1950's jingle bell card (with bells still attached), vintage Christmas cards, an old 1950's box of ornament hangers and of course, the assortment of 1950's family greeting cards that create the foundation of this wreath's 1950's motif!

Last month I found this awesome arrangement to resell - as is - but by the time I got home I knew I had to keep it for myself.  Look at that mid-century kitschery!  I had been collecting Japanese Christmas Picks and Berries all year, and, had just found a cache of great hard plastic elves and deer about the same time as a huge lot of bottle brush trees when I had thought last week to create some arrangements of my own.

I had found a few one-off vintage Japanese Santa cold paint cocoa mugs so I thought...let's create!  I think they are fun; hopefully someone else will too.  If they don't sell, Mom, which one do you want?

With Thanksgiving upon us, of course, I am madly scrounging for awesome vintage Christmas goodies before everyone else, um, I mean, giving thanks, of course!  (for people with good eyes, that is!) I wanted to share some of my favorite vintage Christmas goodies and sellers that I know or have found on Etsy...take a look, but be careful, they are all addictive!

I am sad to report (for you, not her!) that every one of Georgia Peachez' outstanding ornament wreaths has sold out!  (You can still take a look in her sold items)  Maybe she will make some more?  If not, she still has a few of these collages left.  Click on the one above and grab it fast - at $10 it cannot possibly last long!

Pumpkintruck certainly did not just fall off of one! ( I guess that's a turnip truck, but you get the idea!)  I have been scoping out this woman's shop for months now.  I finally allowed myself a purchase and used an awesome set of vintage 1950's party invites as the design basis for my own party this year.  Specializing in vintage papers and ephemera, you cen never be certain what you are going to find... (except certain that you will want it!)

Stacie over at Mid-Century Mayhem has not been doing Etsy for long but boy has she put together a nice little mid-century shop quickly!  And no wonder, look at all that vintage Christmas goodness!  And quite the merchandiser I might add...

Although I have been drooling over the items new-to-Etsy but not new to the biz seller Claudia has been listing over at 23 Burton Avenue, I just noticed this week that she started listing some of her awesome wreaths!  She and her partner Christine have been making these for years - and they have the hot glue gun scars to prove it!  There is just something about the oversized scale of this one that I love!  Look at how she put the wreaths over the red balls - vintage Christmas in your face, baby!

I am such a sucker for vintage Christmas Stockings - look at this terrific pair from Holiday Kitsch Klatsch. (Love the name, what a you-know-what to spell!) You don't have to spell it, though, just click the image or name above!  As I understand it, this girl has sold vintage on Etsy for a while and decided to open a sister shop with just holiday goodies - well sister, we LOVE it!

What sort of daughter would I be without a mention of my mom's shop Find Me a Memory!  I happen to own a set of these stencils and they are awesome!  (and from 1966, the year I was born).  Many of my mom's Christmas items have sold (her prices are better than my own!) but she's a sleeper, and can find anything!  Keep watching, as I happen to know she's headed to some of her secret spots next week (and I may join her for a couple...)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Old House

With any house comes many renovations but with an old house it seems endless.  When my husband and I decided to finally get to work on our kitchen, I thought choosing the paint colors was done.  We had actually decided on a trio of colors months ago.  Although I can take a while to commit to some changes, I'm usually surprisingly quick with paint.  We decided to (thankfully!) buy some sample sizes of the colors we had selected and lo and behold, the wall color just did not look right once we saw it on the wall.

It actually looks better in this picture than in person where it just looked too "orangey."  We are going for a 1930's enamelware palette, you know, to match those great old 1930's green and cream items.  We both agreed on the lighter color for the trim, medium tone for the wall, and were 100% in agreement for the green, but, that medium color was tricky.

When I said I was headed back to Lowe's to pick out some paint chips, my husband suggested "Don't we already have some?" we?  Oh, I guess we do.

I came up with some possibilities from these chips, supplemented with some chips from the store, and we still were not happy.  In fact, it took a second trip back for more little cans of paint to arrive at a decision.

It is moments like this that make me crazy when people ask my advice (as a designer) on what colors they should choose for their house.  They will say something like "I think we will go with a beige, will that work?" And I have no idea how to answer that without sounding like a snarky snob.  Beige? First, how do you define a color like beige, and, even if you do, do you realize how many possible variations of color may be called "beige?"  Color is not an easy decision.  It is something that should be done with care, over time, in different light sources and in the context you are planning to put the color.  Even white is not a simple choice!   Personally, I am a fan of Lowe's Valspar Paint.  I am not getting funded by Lowe's for saying this, it was actually Consumer Reports that first sent me in this direction and I've been hooked ever since.  If I could afford Benjamin Moore I might purchase there, but, at half the cost I find the quality of Lowe's Valspar to be very good.  The reason I bring up Lowe's is that they also have some very good color chip sections.  They supplement these with great sample layouts showing color combinations for both indoor and outdoor settings, in various colorways for those who may want some guidance.  And, the last time I stopped by, they had added a light box in the chips area where you can look at the chip under simulated daylight, incandescent and fluorescent lights!  How cool is that?

So, after seven options, we are going with the pale yellow on the far right in this pic.  Or, maybe I should head back to Lowe's....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Morning Coffee

Hey folks, just checking in to let you know we are alive at Carmen and Ginger and ready to start posting again!  See, we had a little coffee incident early this week.  I wish I could say it was an exciting incident, like coffee shooting out of my nose onto my keyboard as I choked reading a Regretsy listing, alas, it was much more mundane.  What is funny about spilling coffee on your keyboard is the denial.  When I first asked my husband for help, for instance, I simply said that my "a" key had stopped working.  I did not mention the spilled coffee (not far from the "a").  I was still hoping the issue was just some strange coincidence.  Then later, when the Dell woman from India asked me outright if I'd spilled anything on the computer I answered "Maybe."  Maybe?  "Maybe?" she repeated back to me. I could picture the spill and my attempts to clean it up quickly and still my brain was thinking "This cannot be my fault."  

I am proud to say that since my husband has been sick all week, I finally took a deep breath and installed the new laptop keyboard this morning.  I did not even curse once!  And look, my "a" key is working!  And yes, my cup of coffee is still beside me, but, hell, I'd get nothing done without it...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

So, I have been periodically peeking at Regretsy now for a month or two.  I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it.  I love it, and, I hate that I love it.  How can you not look at something that makes you laugh so hard you have tears streaming down your face?  Having a somewhat snarky past (no comments needed on THAT one, friends and family!) I am trying to be a kinder, gentler self.  This blog, for instance, which could go in any direction, has been pointed in a kinder, gentler direction for months now.  I have avoided snarky comments and, resisted airing my frustrations here.  Not that I don't have those thoughts.  They are here, believe me!  But, I'm trying a gentler path.  Yesterday, however, I saw this foam head with doll face surgically inserted into it and, well, I think I'm going to fall off the wagon...

Spied in a local antique mall, as you can see, lined up as a hat model alongside several unaltered heads.  I am going to presume that the proprietor of this booth either  a) had a damaged head and needed a quick-fix as the holiday season rapidly approached or b) is blind.  I am NOT going to presume that this was a premeditated act.  Not.  Possible.

Now, I am not going to tell you exactly where this head was found.  I am just sharing a disturbing sight that needed to be shared.  I have a hard time with Regretsy because they (so cleverly and insightfully) make fun of things that people make.  I have always had a hard time with this.  As an attendee of years and years worth of Church Fairs, I often return home with hand-knitted goods, homemade Teddy Bears, and other items I had no intention of buying simply because I could not make eye contact with the seller and not purchase something.  When an elderly woman spends three months on a beautiful handmade teddy bear with a $10 price tag, you MUST buy it!  When things are bad though, when they are bad it is so heartbreaking.

I shared a story with a friend on-line the other day and afterwards, it dawned on me that I honestly can't recall if this happened first hand to me or my dad.  I called him and he can't recall either.  The story is of a man proudly bringing his handmade beer can sailboat into the cafeteria of his place of employment.  He proudly displays it with a sign describing how to place a custom order.  Several months later, after no orders, he is witnessed sadly removing his creation.  Honestly, I feel like I am going to cry every time I think of this story.  And, if you are into beer can model-making then, that's GREAT!  There is nothing wrong with that.  Personally, I find them to be monuments of bad taste, however, the one above sold to someone on eBay so clearly someone likes them.  I guess this is the saving grace of Regretsy.  As much as they poke snarky fun at people, the stuff still sells! 

I use Google Analytics to track traffic to my Etsy site and blog, and, for some reason, I keep showing direct traffic from Regretsy!  I have scoured the site, and, cannot find any of my items listed.  I figure, however, it is just a matter of time.  Given my fondness for old stuff, and, lately, an obsession with glueing it all together, combined with my habit of typos in my title lines, they are bound to get me soon enough.  I can just picture the snarky comments on something like my above creation:

"Step away from the hot glue gun."

"Santa wants his elves back and he says to not bother leaving cookies this year either."


"Let us celebrate the birth of Christ by gluing someone else's 50 year old Japanese Christmas Ornaments to a fake branch made in China.  Hallelujah!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Come And Play...

Sesame Street turned 40 this month and there are all sorts of interviews and news stories around that have stirred up for me all of my personal nostalgia for this show.  I was born in 1966 and Sesame Street came along in 1969.  As a three-year old for the debut, I consider myself a member of the first full generation of Sesame Street.  At that age, I was only allowed to watch Public Television.  A wise choice by my parents.  I watched Mister Rogers, Sesame Street and the Electric Company with delight!  As I grew a bit older, I missed The Partridge Family, but fell in love with Zoom.   Sesame Street, however, holds the strongest and fondest memories for me.  In fact, you may be impressed to learn, the card above is not any old postcard, but a card personally sent to me from Ernie and Bert.

Try not to be too jealous, but yes, I do consider them close personal friends.

I kept my Sesame Street 45 RPM records in a case similar to this one.  My own, however, was covered in pink faux fur and had eyes, similar to a muppet monster.  Of all the 45's my favorite, hands down, is "I Love Trash."  I must have played that over and over again, and, can still recite all the lyrics for you if you like.  Perhaps, however, you would like to hear it from the master?  If so, click below:

One story line from Sesame Street that always stuck with me, was the invisibility of Mr. Snuffleupagus to adults.  Week after week I would sit and watch Big Bird talking to his enormous friend, and, watch Mr. Snuffleupagus's tail whisk around the corner just at the moment that an adult came into the area.  EVERY TIME I would think "Ok, this is it!  They are going to see him."  And EVERY TIME I would feel so sympathetic for Big Bird.

Eventually, I became too old for Sesame Street, and, by the mid-1970's had moved on to other things.  Even my younger brother, born in 1970, was no longer watching by the 1980's.  It was with shock, SHOCK therefore that I recall a day about 8 years ago that I stood in the break room of the local Public Television station where I worked, making myself a coffee, and glanced up at the monitor to see MR. SNUFFLEUPAGUS TALKING TO ADULTS!   What the?  I immediately started asking people "When could adults start to see Mr. Snuffleupagus?"  They had no idea what I was talking about.  "They could always see him." They replied.  Was this a conspiracy?  No.  They simply were born a little later than I, or, had watched it with their children beginning in the 1980's.  Upon further research I learned that there was an episode that had aired at some point where the adults DID see Mr. Snuffleupagus for the first time.  I started asking my PBS colleagues at meetings and conferences "How can I see that episode, you know, the one where the adults see Mr. Snuffleupagus for the first time?"  I thought this was a normal question.  They thought I was insane.

The other day, I was grinning and listening to an interview with Gordon from the show, and, it suddenly dawned on me... YOU TUBE!  OMG, my heart was racing, I went to the computer, and,...oh my...there it was!  The episode.  Episode #2096.  The episode where Snuffy is revealed.  November 1985.  24 years ago. I got it set up and took a deep breath and pressed PLAY.  If you want to do the same click below:

Ok, I admit it.  I cried.  I literally cried.  I had been waiting for this moment since I was 5 years old!  Finally, finally, Big Bird was vindicated.   The adults actually APOLOGIZED to him. What a moment.  What a moment...






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