Friday, December 14, 2012

The Second Amendment

I had a fun fashion post scheduled for today.  When I saw the tragic news this morning, my heart was broken. Once again.  Suddenly fashion was unimportant, frivolous and shallow even.  My prayers go to the families, victims and survivors of the shooting in Connecticut.  How many of these tragic incidents do we need to happen before we stop the insanity? A discussion of weapon ownership is long past due.  Silence and cowardice are no longer luxuries we can afford.  Indeed if we continue to keep silent, we are complicitous in this insanity.  In other words: if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.  We each must take responsibility for our role in this tragedy.  It is blatantly untrue that this is a complex issue.  Here's a good place to start the discussion. Let's look at what the Second Amendment actually says.   The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States states in its entirety:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Isn't it amazing how such a few words can be so hotly debated?  I have read the Amendment over and over, and it seems to me the intent is that a Militia shall bear arms (e.g., the armed forces).  I see no reference to the rights of individuals to bear arms. In any event, this amendment was adopted in 1791. It is my belief that we should all lay down our arms.  At the very least, the amendment should be re-evaluated to clear up its ambiguity and to clarify its language. We no longer use language in this fashion, so we must be clear on its intent.
Keep in mind, the argument that "criminals" will still obtain weapons is an invalid one. A thorough examination of the mass shootings in the U.S. shows that most weapons used have been obtained legally.  Let's use this marvelous technology to affect real change.  Please, let's lay down our arms.  It's the right thing to do.  It really is that simple.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Obsession: Orange and Gray

Gray is my new favorite color.  I am obsessed.  I could decorate my place all in gray and wear nothing but gray clothes.  Since neither of those are in the budget, I've been on the hunt for the perfect gray nail polish.  The fabulous Mrs. Obama caused a stir recently by wearing gray nail polish during her speech at the convention.

Getty images via Shine

I adore her nail polish, but I had my eye out for gray nail polish long before she was spotted wearing it.  I read some stories about how shocking it is that a woman over 30 - and a public figure at that - would wear gray nail polish.  What hogwash.  I can tell you why Mrs. O wore it - it's pretty!  Being over 30 or 40 or 50.... has nothing to do with it.  Being a girl is fun at any age.  I finally found the perfect gray nail polish at Dots!  Only $1.00 a bottle!  And what's more, they had the perfect orange!  I love orange and gray together.

I love experimenting with nail polish, and it's a cost effective way to dress up an old outfit. Updating your look can be as simple that.  So before spending money you don't have on a new sweater, consider a new bottle of nail polish.  I am so in love with my orange and gray nails, I started thinking about this color scheme.  It's one of my favorites.  

I love how the concrete in this gorgeous loft is softened by the pops of orange and large amounts of white.

Love the orange accent wall with the concrete art installation and the mantel.  Above two images via Pangaea Interior Design.

I am a sucker for fashion photography, I adore the photo of the lady in the fabulous orange hat.  Also, that ottoman is incredible.  Image Max Kim-Bee via Desire to Inspire.  Want to see more of this gorgeous color scheme?  Click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vase Obsession

I love beautiful objects, just not too many.  As you know, I am obsessed with vases.  My favorite is ceramic, but I also love glass.  I love their simple forms and their tactile nature.  Loving simple living, and loving collecting vases is a delicate balance.  I panic when I think I have too much stuff.  Yet, I love to hunt for gems at the Goodwill.  My rule is one (or more) vases must be donated before bringing something new home.  Here are a few new vases I bought on the cheap from Goodwill.

I am in love with the simplicity of these beauties!  I am especially in love with the white one.  It reminds me of the concrete bowls I have been craving (see post below).  It has just the right amount of organic edge and I love the pop of silver.  These vases were both made in Vietnam and I got them for the incredible price of $3.00 each!  Just think, if it hadn't been for the lift on the trade embargo, we never would have experienced Vietnamese pottery (see previous post here).  President Obama recently made a historic journey to Southern Asia, including a stop in Burma, where he met feminist icon Aung San Suu Ki.  Perhaps there will no longer be a need for economic sanctions against Burma and we will be able to experience the beauty of their ceramic traditions.  Hope so!  Sorry, I digress.

I think of pottery as sculpture, and started experimenting with placing vases on top of each other.  Something I haven't done before.

The Influence

I think it would be cool to make a table or lamp out of vases.  For more cool sculptures, or assemblages as she calls them, see Hilda's work at art design kitsch.

So I piled vases on top of each other.  With a piece of glass on top it might make a cool table in an industrial/urban setting.  But it looks too much like a missile for my taste, so I disassembled it (like we should all missles, oops there I go again).

Here are some vases piled in my kitchen.  I kinda like them.  Not sure why, but I love orange and gray together.
Here is another new vessel.  Not sure if it used to be a light, but it is made of glass and is the most amazing color.  I got this one for only $1.00!
Here it is on my end table.  I love a pop of yellow! During the day it catches the sun in the most intriguing way.
The vase in the middle is new and was also $1.00!  I needed a piece with some height and I adore its matte finish. Simple vases with matte finishes are hard to find.  Periwinkle is another of my favorite colors.  I am amazed how much color I am using in my apartment!  So there you have it.  I spent my day doing one of my favorite things:  arranging pottery.  And it only cost me $8.00!  I really should own a pottery store and/or take a pottery class.

The beauty of an unexpected material

Concrete.  It can be the ugliest thing.  Living in the ghetto, there is so much concrete.  There are few trees and it holds the heat in an excruciating way.  Squeezing an already squeezed populace.  Tempers flare easily when there is an abundance of this material covering the beautiful Earth.  But....  Concrete becomes something else under the hands of skilled artisans.  Taken out of context, used in an unexpected way, concrete is a thing of beauty.  It is particularly striking when used in simple, organic forms.  And, of course, it's gray, my new favorite color.  Here are some lovely uses of the material.

Stunning zen-like simplicity.  I am dying to touch these pieces.  Above three pieces designed by Berezki.  I think these would look fabulous with the clothes by Jenfashion in the post below.

I need this!  Love the purity of its form.  Via ConcreteRing.

Gorgeous minimal pendant by Marta Bialy.

These beautiful beads have been lovingly hand crafted.  Love the concrete combined with the shades of blue.    DanidotDesigns.  Of course, you need a cute organic vessel to hold your lovely piece of jewelry.  Any of these would do nicely, or would work well on a coffee table in a minimal room.

Also roughfusion.  I am not participating in the holidays this year for many reasons (subject of a later post), but any of these would make a thoughtful and unique holiday gift.  Please consider supporting the hand made movement and artisans if you are buying gifts.  I am always interested in supporting artists, please let me know if you any items from Etsy as a result of this post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simple Living: Comfort Clothes

Simple is sexy.  There is nothing sexier than a woman who looks comfortable.  My favorite part of winter is the clothes!  Winter is the perfect time to look comfortable.  These pieces from Jenfashion fit the bill nicely.  Soft, comfortable, feminine with just the right amount of edge and perfect architecture.  I would like these to be my winter uniform.

This lovely lady is strong, confident and comfortable with who she is.  She's also a little bit mysterious.

Generally, I'm not a fan of the shaved side look (what do you call this style a reverse mullet?).  But... this girl rocks it!  I love the color of her hair.  I love the shape of her hair with that fab collar.  It's a total look.  Both simple and sophisticated.   I dearly love gray.  For a long time all I've worn is black.  Now I crave gray.  I'd love to have a whole wardrobe in gray sweat shirt and tee shirt fabric.   I think I could wear nothing but gray clothes and live in a place decorated in gray.  Such an easy color.

Look at this gorgeous coat.  I love how sculptural these pieces are.  I need all of these!  Jen's clothes are so gorgeous, I had a hard time picking only a few looks to feature here.  Do visit Jenfashion, you will be delighted.  Beautiful architectural clothes and at reasonable prices!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Simple Living: Large Art Work

For the next few days, I'd like to focus on simple living.  Living simple does not mean you have to live without beauty.  You can live simply AND stylishly in a small place, and with very little money.  If you are craving stylish simplicity in your home, think about your art. Just because your space is small doesn't mean you need small art.  In fact, one large piece is very impactful and looks much less cluttered than a grouping of small art.  You can use a large piece to delineate separate spaces in your place.  

Victoria, the writer of one of my long-time favorite blogs, sfgirlbybay, recently moved into a new cottage.  It is great fun to watch her new place evolve.  Victoria's style fascinates me, I am intrigued that she chose a black sofa for her new place.  Her places have always featured a large amount of white, and are done in a soft and airy way.  So far her place is looking simple, soft and sophisticated.  I am in love with the coffee table and rug.

One of Victoria's regular guest bloggers is the Jealous Curator.  She writes a series called "Art Goes Here,"  and has a knack for choosing unexpected art.  I was very inspired by her post yesterday, where she chose some potential art for Victoria's new living room.  I got a little carried away, and started envisioning some of my photos hanging in her place.  (Of course, IMHO she needs to add one or more pink pillows to this room.)

I am in love with enlarged urban photography.  Digital cameras have made everyone an artist!  Perhaps this piece is a little too masculine.  Maybe it should be hanging in a restaurant in Akron.

I love this one.  It's surprising the effects you get when shooting reflections while window shopping.  I need those lace boots!

I think this is my favorite.  I love photographing the tops of churches, and I am always intrigued by the patterns of wires.

I couldn't stop there.  I had to try out some of my paintings as well.  These pieces have been sold, but are from my Sans Electric Chair series.  I may do a new series of these.

What do you think, dear readers?  Did you ever try having a photo enlarged on a canvas?  Even the most mundane object becomes art when taken out of context, photographed and enlarged.  I've found that the most reasonable place to have your photos enlarged is Staples, and they do a great job.  Stay tuned for a post on how to make all those family photos into art.  If you'd like to see more of my urban photography, click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gratitude, Part II: My Apartment and Simplicity

As I mentioned below, I have many things to be grateful for.  Every day when I wake up, I thank the cosmos - the universe, or God (whatever you wish to call the miracle of creation) - for my apartment.   And every night when I put my head on the pillow, I thank the cosmos for my apartment.  It's small, noisy and humble. And I love it. My personal space is important to me, I prefer the peace and quiet of living alone.  Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of family and friends I love spending time with.  But I also love lots of solitude.  I adore living drama free. Over the past few years, as you know, I have been purging and simplifying.  I've gotten rid of many things and toxic relationships. I made a discovery along the way.  The more simple I make my life, the more content I feel.  I still love beautiful things, just not too many.  Clutter won't do.  I still adore minimalism, so I hope to achieve a flirtation with it.  Minimal and cozy sound like opposites, but they're not really.

I love simplicity.  Mid century modern is my favorite style of all time.  MCM's clean lines make it easy to layer many other styles on top of it.  Lately I've become interested in layering organic touches in my home.  I've been seeing many bloggers do this skillfully (perhaps the subject of a future post).  I particularly like layering Asian, Moroccan and industrial touches.  I want it to be girly - so hot pink must be prominent.  But, I don't want it too sweet.  Girly and a little edgy too.  Tall order.  The twist is it must be done with almost no  money.  Every now and then my mom gives me a little money (thanks so much mom!) and I buy a cute vase at the Goodwill.  Even though I try to live an austere lifestyle, let's face it - the artistry of the human race is amazing.  People make many beautiful things!  Every one needs retail therapy sometimes, and I'm no exception. The Goodwill meets this need for me without guilt.  Each time I go to the Goodwill, I bring one or more vases to redonate.  I don't believe in storage.  If something is in storage, you don't need it.  I take something out before something new comes in.  I like to think of objects being in motion and think of my place as an art installation.  My apartment is a dynamic  experiment in color, movement, sensuality and balance.

Sorry for the over abundance of words.  Why do I do what I do?  Because I have too.  More succinctly -  I friggin' love my apartment, even though it's tiny and lacking in funds.  Just wish I could paint the walls.

Here's a new obsession for me.  Rice paper lanterns.  The inspiration for these lamps are two of my favorite designs of all time:  the George Nelson bubble lamp and the Noguchi Akari lamp (which are only pipe dreams for me).   Now I absolutely adore the Nelson and Noguchi, but I'm poor.  Even if you're poor, you need pretty stuff and thank goodness there are cheap ways to find it.  No matter how humble, your home is still your refuge.  It's where you come to recharge.  It must satisfy your aesthetics and your senses, and allow you to relax.

The hexagon shaped lantern is new from World Market and was only $5.00.  I love it!  The cheapest Nelson I could find was $269! They have elements in common with the Nelson and the Noguchi.  For example, they look great hung in multiples.  When I first hung the second lantern, I was dismayed that my saucer lamp is hanging crooked.  However, after a few days I got used to it and now I love it!  As I've simplified my life, I've also learned to embrace imperfection.  Now I'm thinking of getting pink light bulbs, if I can find them cheap.  I prefer an ambient glow.  What about you, dear readers, have you used any colored light bulbs?

Pillows are the easiest way to add pops of color and texture.  Cute and inexpensive pillows can be found everywhere.  Even at the dollar store!  I've always adored pillows.  But mixing patterns is new for me.  I love these patterns together.  My mom made the pillow in front out of a placemat.

Another of my obsessions is painting vases.  I love finding abandoned, unloved vases at the Goodwill and giving them a new life.  I painted the blue vase on the bottom shelf recently, but forgot to take a before picture.
Here's what my living room looked like a few days ago.  All the hot pink makes me so happy!  I would paint the walls pink if I could!  Never too much pink for me.

I washed the pink sofa cover today, so thought I'd change the room a little.  Here is how it looks with a white sofa cover and white rug.  I like this look too.  If I had money, I'd probably do something drastic like totally redo the room in silver and gray.  Just because you live simply and with budgetary constraints, doesn't mean you can't make your home a stylish retreat.  Feel free to contact me if you'd like a consultation on simplifying and organizing your home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Got Mad Gratitude

Hello dear readers!  Sorry I've been so neglectful of this blog.  I've been considering whether to continue blogging.  I am sure most bloggers go through this.  I read on a techie site that if you have a smart phone, you really don't need your computer, and if you use instagram and Twitter you really don't need a blog.  For material that's not your own, you have Pinterest.  In terms of immediacy, blogs can be passe, according to this same article.   However, I don't find blogs passe.  Blogging is an important part of my life.  I really enjoy reading blogs and getting to know bloggers.  Blogs have taken the place of magazines for me.  I also really enjoy sharing, I always have so much I'd like to share!  I am grateful for my creativity.  I am grateful for the kind comments and emails I receive from my dear readers.  So I'm going to continue this journey, to see where it leads.  It's not over.

Right now my journey is taking me towards loving living simply and wanting to share that.  I've been working on a series regarding the joy of living a simple life.  But before I dive into that - did you have a nice Thanksgiving?  I did.  One of the best I've ever had.  I have so much to be grateful for.  Almost every day is Thanksgiving for me.  When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is give thanks for my many blessings.  I'd like to share a few of my blessings with you.

First, my baby brother returned home safely from serving in Afghanistan.  I love my brother so much, I get a lump in my throat when I look at him.  He is a fine man and I am very proud of him.  For his service to his country, he received the Combat Action Badge and The Bronze Star Medal for leading his battalion.  I prayed every day for his safety.  Thank you God for answering my prayers.  He is pictured here with his wife and youngest son, who are ecstatic that he is home.

Image by James Harlin, editing by Peggy

Later that day, my brother surprised his older son at his high school, where he was performing in the play Hairspray.  The play itself provided plenty of reasons to be grateful.  When I watched black and white youth performing together on stage, I cried.  I hoped Martin Luther King was looking down from heaven.  The kids in the play were quoted as saying that racism is not applicable to their time.  It seemed so appropriate to watch this play after the contentious presidential campaign we recently suffered through.  I felt pride as I have marched for civil rights, and have been careful not to perpetuate racism among children.

The story of how this play came about is fascinating.  It was a collaboration between several high schools, one of which does not have the money for its own drama department.  For the whole inspiring story, click here.

Moving to Akron has been a big adjustment for me.  I still feel homesick for Cleveland.  On the plus side, I am enjoying being closer to my family.  I am grateful and humbled that I have so many people who love me.  One of the big things I am grateful for is that I have reconnected with my favorite cousin, Jenny. 

A little background on my cousin.  She's actually my second cousin.  I was dearly in love with her father, my first cousin, and his wife when I was a child.  If you've been a long time reader of my blog, you know that I was an unhappy child and always felt ugly.  My cousin's wife, Sue, died much too young leaving Jenny to grow up without a mother.  I have just one memory of her, and it is one of my most precious memories from childhood, as I've said there are not too many.  At a family gathering, where I felt my usual acute awkwardness, she encouraged me to hold my head up.  She told me I was pretty.  I believe that was the first time an adult told me that, and I needed to hear it badly.  I have carried that memory my whole life.

A few years after Sue had passed my aunt, my cousin and Jenny, who was  about 7 years old, came to visit me when I was living in Florida.  I was about 25.  Jenny and I immediately connected with each other.  I  wanted to adopt her!  Ah life.  We get so caught up in the mundane we forget what really matters.  During my long tortuous descent into corporate insanity I neglected my family, including Jenny.  Jenny and I have recently reconnected and I am so grateful.  I thank God for her everyday.  We have a connection that is rare and remarkable, I have never felt so understood.  Perhaps that is because we are blood relations.  She is truly a gentle soul, an earth angel and I cherish her.

Here is artwork created by Sue that Jenny has in her home.  I had no idea Sue had been such a wonderful artist.  I dearly love these silk screens and that macrame frog is too fab!  So in tune with today's  handmade movement.

I am also very grateful for the loving hospitality of my sister-in-law.  She goes to a lot of trouble to host  wonderful holiday parties.  I always look forward to seeing the artful way she has set her table.   Thanksgiving was great again, and even better because my brother was home.  After dinner, he fell asleep on the couch, and all felt right in the world.  I must have kissed him on the forehead 100 times!

I am also grateful to you dear readers.  Thank you for taking the time to read this humble little blog of mine.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  And now I'd love to hear from you!  Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?  What are you grateful for?  I am not doing any Christmas shopping this year.  I don't have the money and no one in my family really needs anything, we have plenty.  I am also unable to subject myself to the insanity also known as Christmas shopping.  I am going to spend my holiday season focusing on my blessings, and letting every one know how much I love them.

All images by Peggy, except where noted


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